Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna

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Discovered by Cleo in the October issue of Real Simple magazine, this lasagna is downright addictive. Between our two households, it was made 4 times in the span of 2 weeks, and we foresee it being a recipe workhorse this winter. While delightfully easy to make, the original recipe was lacking in seasoning, so Cleo punched up the bechamel base with the addition of nutmeg, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and thyme. Perfect either for a cozy weeknight dinner or as a vegetarian option at a holiday meal, we guarantee this recipe's perfect marriage of sweet, savory, spicy and earthy flavors will become a favorite of yours too.


-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the foil -6 tablespoons all-purpose flour -4 cups milk (skim, whole, goat...go with whatever works for you!) -Salt and pepper -Dried spices and herbs: nutmeg, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, thyme or sage -1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced (preferably using a mandolin) -4 cups torn kale leaves (from 1 small bunch) -6 no-cook lasagna noodles -1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère (6 ounces)


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until foamy, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp thyme or 1/2 tsp sage (or both!) and 1/8 tsp+ of cayenne if you like a little extra kick. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to taste test your seasoning and add more if needed about 4 minutes into the thickening process.
  2. Spread a fifth of the milk mixture in the bottom an 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Top with a layer of squash, a layer of kale, more sauce, and then 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat, ending with the remaining lasagna noodles and milk mixture. Top with the Gruyère.
  3. Cover the dish with buttered foil and bake until the filling is bubbling and the noodles are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes, then feel free to broil until the top is golden brown, 2 minutes more. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving, if you can wait that long!

Thai Green Curry Turkey Meatballs and Veggies

Let's just get this out in the open right off the bat: I REALLY FRICKING LOVE PINTEREST.  I don't think I can say enough times how much more awesome, organized and inspired it has made my life; especially, in the kitchen.  If you're in any kind of cooking rut, get on Pinterest right away and go nuts pinning/re-pinning/testing/tasting/trying new recipes. Whether they're from home cooks, foodie bloggers or major institutions, there's a wealth of recipe gold available that's yours for the taking. Case in point, this Thai Green Curry Turkey Meatball recipe. I re-pinned it from Whole Foods, but it's originally from a website called Minnesota Monthly, under their Twin Cities Taste blog. I would never have found this recipe, unless maybe I was suddenly struck with a craving for Thai flavored turkey meatballs, which would never have happened before tasting these meatballs. But will now definitely be happening. During the weird Winter-to-Spring transition, I crave cozy but light fare, and this dish hit that nail smack on its flavorful head.

In summary, Pinterest = land of magic and endless culinary inspiration that will make your life extra tasty.

Recipe adapted from Minnesota Monthly

Turkey Meatballs (makes 6 servings)

2 shiitake mushrooms + 3 large white button mushrooms, finely chopped 1½ lbs. ground turkey (1/3 white meat, 2/3 dark meat) 2.5 tsp. fresh ginger, minced 2 tsp. Thai green curry paste, or more to taste 1 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce (nam pla nuoc nam) 1 Tbsp. soy sauce 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp. sugar 1 egg, lightly beaten ¹⁄3 c. green onions, white and green parts finely chopped ¼ c. chopped cilantro 4ish Tbsp. olive oil (basically, use as much or as little oil as needed to cook all of the meatballs without making a burnt mess at the bottom of your pan!)

--> In a medium bowl, combine mushrooms, turkey, ginger, curry paste, fish, soy and Worcestershire sauces, sugar, egg, green onions, and cilantro. Mix until well blended.

*Remember not to overcrowd the pan so that they all cook evenly, quickly, and so you have enough room to flip them without making a mess. Also, I found that they really cooked best when they were shaped like itty bitty patties, versus balls.

--> Heat the oil in a large, stainless steel (or nonstick if that's what you've got) skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook in batches until all sides are nicely browned, about 10 minutes total.

Curry Sauce with Veggies

1 cupish of chicken stock (I'm not really sure on the exact amount as I eyeballed the adding of the stock based on what my vegetables asked me to add. Yes, I am a vegetable whisperer.) 1 medium onion, chopped 2 medium garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias 1 large red pepper, chopped into pieces roughly the same size as the carrot slices 3-5 white button mushrooms, roughly chopped optional, if they're in your pantry: dashes of coriander and Chinese 5-spice 1/2-1tsp. Asian chile sauce, such as Chinese chile/garlic paste or Thai chili sauce (Sriracha) 3 tsp. Thai green curry paste 1/4 cup of lime juice, plus about 1 tsp. of zest 13.5oz can light coconut milk (Trader Joe's is great for cheaply stocking up on this ingredient) splash of soy sauce, to taste 1 Tbsp-ish of flour

--> Once meatballs are done, remove from pan and set aside. Add a healthy splash of chicken stock to the pan to scrape up all the bits of flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add the onions, garlic, ginger and optional spices to the liquid in the pan.

--> Over medium heat, cook the mixture for about 3 minutes, then add the carrots, peppers, 1tsp green curry, 1 tsp of your spicy ingredient, and another 1/2 cup or so of stock. The liquid should come to about half-way up the vegetables so that they're getting a bit of a braise while they cook. Continue cooking for another 7 minutes, then add your mushrooms and another tsp. of green curry, and toss that all around for a couple minutes.

--> Pour in the coconut milk, lime juice and zest, the last tsp. of green curry and mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so you've got a healthy simmer going,in order to reduce the sauce. I added about 1 Tbsp. of flour after a few minutes to help the thickening process along, as well as a splash of soy after tasting, realizing that I hadn't added any salt to this dish! Once the sauce is almost as thick as desired, put the meatballs back in the pan to bathe in the curry and re-warm them.

--> I served with Trader Joe's AWESOME microwavable organic brown rice, which you can find in their freezer section. This was immediately delicious, but tasted even better as leftovers today... Jane went absolutely NUTS for it, politely stole some of my lunch, and then insisted I post it to the blog at once!


Happy cooking (and pinning), friends!!


Dena's Veggie Pizza With A Cheesy Cauliflower Crust

IMG_3017Our cousin/niece Dena is in town to lend the JT team a hand as we prepare for a busy season ahead. Dena is a vegetarian and a part-time healthy eater, so she brought  some yummy veggie recipes to share. As you all know, we are a cooking family, so she had to bring her A-game to the table. Boy, did she impress us! Dena will be sharing her nutritious recipes all month long, so keep checking back to keep your taste buds happy and your waistlines in check! And now, here's Dena with her first recipe: Veggie Pizza with a Cheesy Cauliflower Crust.  During that doozy of a snowstorm called Nemo, I decided to try my hand at a healthy take on everyone's favorite: pizza! This has become my new go-to recipe for a filling, hearty meal that is way healthier than it seems, and since Jane was down and out with a killer cold on Valentine's Day, I wanted to pump her up with veggies to help nurse her back to health.

Rather than your usual carbo-loaded pizza crust, I decided to take a chance on a cauliflower crust, which was surprisingly flavorful and satisfying. The savory crust balances out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and caramelized onion, making this a tasty way to pack in a handful of colorful vegetables.


Crust Ingredients

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or vegan Daiya Mozzarella)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Pizza Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons of soy milk (or skim milk, almond milk or any milk of your choice)
  • A sprinkle of cheese (goat cheese, mozzarella cheese or any cheese of your choice)
  • A dash of salt + pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Pierce sweet potato with a fork and wrap in tin foil, roasting for 45 minutes or until soft. 
  2. Prepare a cookie sheet or pizza stone, making sure you have generously greased it to prevent your crust from sticking to it.
  3. Remove stems and leafy bits from your cauliflower, and chop into medium sized chunks. Add chunks to a food processor and pulse until you have a rice like texture.
  4. Place riced cauliflower in an uncovered microwave safe bowl and cook for 8 minutes.
  5. Combine cooked cauliflower with the garlic, egg, cheese, oregano and Italian seasoning until the dough has become sticky and the cheese has begun to melt.
  6. Spread the dough out evenly onto the baking sheet or pizza stone to about 9-10 inches in diameter and 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch thick.
  7. Bake  for 25-30 minutes, until the crust has become golden on the top and crispy around the edges.
  8. While the crust is baking, caramelize the onion in a heated and oiled skillet. Cook the onion for about 15-20 minutes, until perfectly caramelized. Add the kale to the skillet and cover for 2-3 minutes, until tender and wilted. Remove the mixture from the heat and add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Scoop the insides of the roasted sweet potato into a medium bowl and mash, adding milk and a dash of salt. Combine ingredients until well mashed and smooth.
  10. Spread sweet potato mash to the finished pizza crust, and top with the kale and onion mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the oven at 400°F for 10 minutes, until all cheese is melted.
  11. Let cool for 5 minutes, slice pizza and enjoy your veggie creation!

Crust Recipe Adapted From Eating Bird Food

Pizza Recipe Adapted From Oh My Veggies

Thanksgiving: Cleo's Cranberry Sauce

Every year, for the past 7 or so years (except for last year when my lovely future mother-in-law provided the cranberry accompaniment), I have made a version of this cranberry sauce from the Joy of Cooking. It all started my Freshman year of college, when I came home to celebrate Thanksgiving and it ended up being just my mom and I. It was a glorious day full of cooking in our p.j.s and then consuming a feast in the reclined position on the couch, while watching Hook. Needless to say, it's still one of our fondest memories.

The reason that I make a "version" of this recipe every year is twofold: 1. As they say, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," and this is very true when it comes to my parents' influence on my cooking style. We are constantly tweaking our recipes. 2. I never seem to properly prepare to make this sauce besides buying the cranberries (oops), so my citrus addition is dependent upon what we have in the house. Sometimes it's oranges, sometimes it's clementines, sometimes I don't add the OJ... but I always add the Cointreau because it's always on hand as it only gets used once a year :)

All that being said, please feel free to improvise on my recipe! We like ours with just enough sweetness to balance out the tart cranberries, hence my drastic reduction in the amount of sugar. (In my opinion, if you added the full 2 cups of sugar, it would be like eating some sort of desert sauce that would be better served with ice cream than turkey.) So try the recipe as is, or tinker to your tastes. It's all in the spirit of family, tradition and giving thanks... so don't forget to have fun with the preparation of your meal!






Chocolate-Caramel Tartlets

David Lebovitz just knows what we need when we need it!  What could be better than chocolate caramel tartlets after Hurricane Sandy.....besides a long hot shower if your power was out (!)?  Check this out and drool as I did after it popped into my inbox... I suggest you scroll down to the very last photo to see what I mean about drooling....

Chocolate-Caramel Tartlets

13 comments - 11.01.2012

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

People often ask me, after taking a bite of a caramel in Paris: Why can’t they can’t get caramels that taste like that in America? Like bread – those kinds of wonderful foods are, indeed, available, but you need to know where to look. A while back I was in Los Angeles and a magazine had mentioned Little Flower Candy Company’s caramels. So I ran to a store in Silverlake that sold them, and they were really excellent. They could rival anything in Paris, In fact, they were better than quite a few caramels I’ve had around here. And I’ve had quite a few.

caramel for tarts


I think I even wrote Christine Moore, who made the caramels, a fan letter after trying them and we kept in touch every so often. At one point, she even offered to send me some caramels. But the vagaries of overseas shipping made me decline. (I recently was called by the UPS shipping company while I was at home telling me that – in fact – I was not at home.) Through the grapevine, and through our scattered communiqués, I learned that Christine had to stop making her wonderful caramels after she lost her lease. And I was not sure what happened to her afterward.

rice flour caramel ganachetartlet dough

I guess I am a slow learner because I found out that her business blossomed again as Little Flower Café in Los Angeles, making not just candies, but salads, sandwiches, soups, and pastries. And, of course, those lovely caramels were back, too. (Her marshmallows are no slouch either!) I got my hands on her charming book, Little Flower: Recipes from the Café, and not only did it tell the whole story of how she overcame some obstacles when life bonked her with a few curveballs, but was full of sixty or so of her most popular recipes, which make it pretty clear she is now thriving as a successful café owner.

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

Although I don’t get back to Los Angeles often enough, I am sure that’s probably a good thing because I would be stuffing myself with those caramels more often than I should. (Although according to that shipping company, perhaps I could be there, but without actually being there?) However when I was flipping through her book, the recipe for Thumbprint Chocolate Caramel Tartlets caught my eye. Here, my two favorite ingredients – chocolate and caramel – come together in bite-size little treats that are small enough so that you can eat a couple, without feeling guilty, but they’re so tasty that you’re completely satisfied after you’ve had one or two.

cocoa powder chocolate tartlet dough

However I can’t lie and will say that the last sentence I wrote isn’t entirely honest. Because after I made the two dozen that the recipe called for, I packed them up to give to my other half to bring to work for his co-workers. As they sat in his car and he was about to pull away from the curb, and I stood in my kitchen, alone – without any tartlets, I ran out, saying that I changed my mind, and that I needed a few more.

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

And no, I didn’t feel guilty about that, either.




Chocolate Caramel Tartlets Makes 24 tartlets Adapted from Little Flower: Recipes from the Café by Christine Moore Christine uses some rice flour in the dough, to make them a little crisper, but said that you could use all-purpose flour if that’s what you have. Rice flour is available in Asian markets and natural food stores, and I made the mistake in my local store in Paris of getting a rice powder that was baby food (crème de riz), rather than farine de riz.

Because she makes these in her café, she uses her tasty caramels. You can order them through the Little Flower Candy Company website, or use homemade or store-bought soft caramels.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time getting fussy, making sure each little tartlet dough is absolutely perfect. Press them into the pan and get the edges reasonably even, but don’t worry too much about perfection as the little tartlets – and any imperfections – will get swept under by a swipe of dark chocolate ganache.

For salt, I use fleur de sel, which has a light, delicate flavor. You can use any flaky sea salt to sprinkle on top. Chocolate Dough

4 ounces (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup (100g) sugar 1 large egg, at room temperature 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3/4 cup (110g) all-purpose flour 1/4 cup (35g) rice flour (or use 1 cup, 140g, all-purpose flour, total) 6 tablespoons (50g) cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process Salted Caramel Filling

4 ounces (115g) soft, salted butter caramels 3 tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream Ganache

4 1/2 ounces (130g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped 6 tablespoons (90ml) heavy cream flaky sea salt


1. To make the tartlet dough, beat the butter and the sugar just until smooth in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand. Add the egg, salt, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, rice flour, and cocoa powder, then mix it into the creamed butter.

2. Butter the indentations of 24 mini-muffin tins. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll each into a 3/4-inch (2cm) ball. As you work, put the dough balls in the indentations of the muffin tins. Take your thumb and press the dough down in the center of each indentation, then use your thumb to press the dough up the sides. (If the dough is sticky, dampen your thumb very lightly with water or oil.) Freeze the pans of dough for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. Bake the tartlet shells for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough appear dry and cooked. Remove from oven and use the handle of a wooden spoon to widen and smooth the inside of the little tartlet shells, pressing the dough that’s puffed up somewhat firmly against the sides. Let cool completely, then remove the tartlet shells from the muffin tins – the tip of a paring knife might be needed to help aid them out – and set them on a wire cooling rack.

5. Make the caramel filling by warm the cream with the caramels in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Divide the caramel into each of the tartlet shells.

6. Make the chocolate ganache* by heating the cream in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk the chocolate into the cream until the mixture is smooth.

7. Top each tartlet with some of the ganache and take a butter knife or small metal spatula and swipe off the excess. Sprinkle each tartlet with a few grains of sea salt. *I had a bit of extra ganache left over from the original recipe, which called for “1/2 cup cream” and “1 cup (about 6 ounces) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate.” I adapted the recipe to use the chocolate by weight, and reducing the amount of ganache called for. I don’t think you’ll need more, but If you do, melt together 2 tablespoons of cream with 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate.

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets