Monday, February 29, 2016

Shrimp Lasagna Rolls

Tax season 2016 finds me, once more, working 7 days a week. We've done it so many years now, we are used to it. Strangely enough, Sunday is the day I most look forward to.  No client appointments, no phone calls, no interruptions, I go to work in my workout clothes. I save my big projects for Sundays, turn on the stereo and work away!  I do, however, try to be home by 4ish and to cook us a nice dinner. This not only gives us a chance to relax, unwind, and chat, but also enables us to start the week with leftovers, either for lunch or for dinner. By the time we hit Thursday or Friday we're often eating cereal for dinner! Such is the glamorous life of two CPA's!
This week found me making Shrimp Lasagna rolls, a recipe from Giada De Laurentis. We love pasta and lasagna, and anything with shrimp in it, so it seemed like a good combination.  This wasn't a very involved recipe, was very easy to prep, or should have been. I had some unsettling medical news earlier this week and my mind has just been wandering all over the place.  I didn't buy enough ricotta so had to send my Hubby to the store for more.  The first four rolls I made, I used the marinara sauce as the filling, rather than the shrimp mixture.  I had to take them apart and re-do them! So if your brain is working correctly, these little rolls are easy to do!
We really enjoyed them.  The filling is flavored nicely with the shrimp.  They are a nice change from a traditional lasagna. A loaded green salad and a few glasses of wine made for a enjoyable Sunday night dinner!

Shrimp Lasagna Rolls

1 lb. lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 (15 oz.) containers whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 6-8 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and garlic to the pan and saute until shrimp are cooked, about 4 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat and let cool. Coarsely chop the cooled shrimp and place in a bowl with 1 cup ricotta cheese, the parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to combine.

In another bowl, combine the marinara sauce with the remaining 1 cup ricotta and stir to combine.

To make the lasagna, cover the bottom of a baking dish with 1/2 cup marinara mixture. Lay 4 noodles flat on a dry work surface (I used waxed paper). Spread about 1/4 cup shrimp mixture evenly over each noodle. Roll up and place seem-side down in a baking dish. Repeat to make 12 rolls total.

Pour the remaining marinara mixture over the rolls and top with the mozzarella. Bake until the lasagna rolls are heated through and cheese begins to brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Garlic & shrimp?  What's not to love about that combination?

The ricotta/shrimp filling.

Assembling the rolls was easy!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bloom Quilt Update

Six weeks ago I began participating in an online sew-along to make an appliqued quilt. Each week the instructor shares the instructions for another block. The finished quilt will consist of 20 different blocks. The instructions for block six will be released tomorrow, I finished block five yesterday.  Slowly, but surely, I am keeping up, even with my crazy tax season schedule!
I have now sewn the first four blocks together to make the first row of the quilt. My photography doesn't quite capture how bright and colorful the fabrics are, it's going to be a very cheery quilt!
This is my favorite block, so far, just love the colors in this one and the shape of the leaves. All the flowers and leaves of the blocks are made by using a plastic template to make the shape.  More information about the sew-along can be found here.
We are working seven days a week now, long days, lots of stress.  This quilt project has been a nice little diversion for me.  I try to do a little each night, to keep making progress, and decompress my brain some.  We have seven more weeks of tax season.  If I stay on track my quilt will be over half done by then!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Limoncello Lemon Loaf

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur, typically served cold and after dinner.  It's very thick and syrupy, very lemony.  It's also very potent. Be careful, because it goes down quite smooth!

Some of my friends make homemade Limoncello each year to give away as Christmas presents.  They start with vodka and lemon peels and let the mixture sit. Making some of my own is on my "someday" to-do list.  In the meantime, I keep a bottle in the freezer (it won't freeze due to the alcohol content in it) to have on hand for that after-dinner drink or in baking.  Limoncello is an easy, and flavorful, substitute for lemon juice.

I made this cake a few weeks ago when I hosted our neighborhood book club. It was easy to make and well received. I think it's the last thing I've baked.  Between tax season dominating my time and an unplanned surgery, there hasn't been much baking being done in my house!

Limoncello Lemon Loaf

2 eggs
1 cup vanilla whole milk or Greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons Limoncello
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Limoncello
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, lemon zest and Limoncello.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.

Spray a loaf pan with baking spray.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Bake about 35 - 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, whisk the glaze ingredients together, adding enough Limoncello to make a smooth, pourable consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.

And, yes, I have in my collection an adorable lemon pan!  Cute cake pans? Well, it's an obsession, I'm telling you!

Monday, February 8, 2016


The end of the Mardi Gras season is this Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday or, by its French definition, Fat Tuesday. It's a day to indulge before the Lenten season. Eating is one of those indulgences! Mardi Gras is more commonly associated with the Louisiana area but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy some of the traditions while living in other areas of the country.

If you've been to New Orleans, you know that Cafe du Monde and their famous beignets are a must-have treat. Small little pillows of deep-fried dough smothered in powdered sugar. Yum! Though it's a fun city to visit, you don't have to go there to have beignets, you don't have to wait for Mardi Gras; they are easily made at home.
My Mom has been using this recipe for a while now.  She uses a powdered sugar glaze, I go the traditional route and douse them in plain powdered sugar.  Either way, they are good! The dough is made the night before, rests overnight in the fridge and requires no kneading. And I bet you can't eat just one! The recipe makes a lot, so invite some friends over.  We had a few neighbors over for beignets and mimosas! Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!


1 package ( 2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Add sugar, egg, and evaporated milk.  Gradually stir in 2 cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Add remaining flour, 1/3 cup at a time, beating after each addition, to form a smooth, firm dough.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

In a large pan, heat oil to 370 degrees.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to 3/8-inch thickness, adding more flour, if necessary.  Cut into 2"x 3" diamond or square shapes (a pizza cutter is ideal for this!)

In batches, drop dough into pan, being careful not to overcrowd them. Cook until golden brown, turning to brown both sides.

When done place on a rack over a sheet pan or on paper towels to drain. With a small strainer, shake powdered sugar over the beignets. Serve warm.

The dough doesn't look very impressive after mixing.

The next morning it's risen into a nice, billowy dough!

Little pillows of dough ready for deep frying!

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Valentine's Themed Tea Party!

This is the 10th year that the ladies on my Dad's side of the family have gathered for a tea party.  The first two years we met at a local tea room.  They closed, so we have been gathering in my home since then. (A recap of prior years' tea can be found by clicking on  2014 or 2013). 
We used to meet right after Thanksgiving.  My granddaughters have been involved in the local production of the Nutcracker ballet the last few years.  Between rehearsals and performances the time to meet was becoming a problem.  The last two years we have gathered in January. As we are almost to February I thought it fitting that we do a Valentine's theme this year.

As we've done all along, I provide the setting, scones, lemon curd, strawberry jam and the tea.  Each guest brings either a savory, such as little sandwiches or salad, or a sweet treat.  We never lack for food and share the leftovers.
I bought flowers at our local flower mart and made small arrangements, mostly using my favorite vessel, mason jars. My husband helped me hang lights, which I decorated with pink heart-shaped doilies.

Using a tutorial found on Pinterest, the napkins were folded to look like roses.  I tucked in a rose leaf for an extra design element. A few rose petals sprinkled on the tables carried out the theme.
I added pink sanding sugar and rainbow sprinkles to the sugar bowl, giving the sugar a little extra sparkle.
We had 21 in attendance this year, ranging in age from 4 to 91. I had music softly playing in the background but it got so loud the music couldn't be heard. A lot of chatter going on!
My sister, who is an awesome photographer, and I both lament the fact that we got so busy visiting that we have very little pictures of the attendees.  We have plans to have a family friend be the official photographer next year.

I feel very blessed to be able to host this party.  What a wonderful tradition we have established!

I am linking to Inspire Me Tuesday.