Simple (but delicious!) Ricotta Pancakes

Hi all– We’ve eaten more than our share of pancakes around here.  But these are the tenderest, lightest pancakes we’ve run across.  I’m already planning to make them again when the kids come in for Christmas– I think they’d be a hit!

SIMPLE RICOTTA PANCAKES
1 cup ricotta
3/4 cup buttermilk*
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
garnish: bananas (or your favorite fruit!), pecans, honey (or maple syrup)

In a mixing bowl whisk together the ricotta, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.  Then stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Heat the griddle on medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Pour the pancakes and turn when bubbles form on the top side.  Makes about a dozen pancakes.

Sere hot with fruit, nuts and honey or syrup.  Delish!

*If you don’t happen to have buttermilk on hand (who does?), pour 2 tablespoons cider vinegar in the measuring cup, and fill up to the 3/4 mark with milk.  Let it sit a couple minutes to thicken.

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Tomato Zucchini Ricotta Pizza

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Hi there–Went over the Jac & Jackie’s for dinner with a table of friends this week.  There were huge fragrant sales of lasagne and a bright summer salad for dinner.  And to start us off with a little glass of celebratory bubbly wine (one more retirement toast!!), I brought along this “pizza.”  It’s more of an appetizer than a full meal, cut into small slices, but could be a lovely summer lunch or supper as well.

TOMATO ZUCCHINI RICOTTA PIZZA

Crust (makes enough for 2 12″ pizza crusts):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Cheese Topping:
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (about 2 oz.)
3 tab. chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tab. milk

Tomatoes & Zucchini:
1 pint small tomatoes (varied colors are nice)
1 small zucchini
3 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
a little more chopped basil for garnish

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch half the dough onto a 12″ pizza pans that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Wrap the other half of the dough in saran and save for another pizza soon.  Cook the dough for 7 minutes at 350 degrees without toppings.

While it’s cooking, mix the ricotta, feta, 3 tab. chopped basil, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt and milk in a bowl.  Set it aside.

Slice the Tomatoes and lay the slices onto a paper towel to drain off extra moisture.  Then with a peeler, shave the zucchini not thin slices.  Mix the zucchini and with 1 1/2 tab. olive oil.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the partially cooked crust.  Layer the zucchini over the top.

Then in a bowl, coat the tomatoes with the other 1 1/2 tab. of olive oil and layer them over the zucchini.  Season with salt & freshly ground pepper.

Pop the pizza into the 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is browned and the ricotta is bubbly.
Sprinkle on a little more chopped basil when you pull it from the oven.  Cut in slices and serve hot.

Ricotta Meatballs

IMG_1199Hello Spaghetti & Meatball fans–  Made these scrumptious little meatballs when our parents came for lunch on Sunday.  It’s always always fun to cook for my father-in-law Stu.  He so kind. He’ll rave about anything you make.  And so I was pleased when he asked how these little meatballs turned out so tender!  (it’s the ricotta).  So glad you liked them Stu!!

RICOTTA MEATBALLS
1 large yellow onion, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tab. olive oil
2 eggs
2 1/2 pounds ground beef (80%)
1 cup parmesano romano
15 oz. carton of ricotta
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tap. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
Marinara sauce
Pasta

Pour the olive oil into a hot skilled and them drop in the onion.  Cook it 4 or 5 minutes until it begins to brown.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Take it off the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, beef, parmesan, ricotta, bread crumbs and basil. Add in the cooked onion and garlic.  This isn’t the time to politely mix with a spoon.  You really need to squish it all together with your hands until it’s thoroughly combined.

Then take a rounded tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a cute little meatball and place it on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Continue making meatballs with all the beef mixture– you should have about 80!  (you can freeze part of them after they are cooked).

Bake them in at 350 degree oven for 20 -22 minutes until they are nicely browned.

While that is happening, warm your favorite marinara sauce (homemade or in a jar) and cook up your preferred pasta.

Layer it all on a plate and set it on the table.  Delish!

Easy Zucchini Lasagna

IMG_1133Hi there you all– I’m loving this zucchini lasagna because it’s a little lighter than my heavy duty standard, filled with sausage and all that spicy tomato.  I think this must be the summer version of lasagna– just in time for when all those zucchini start ripening in your side yard.

And it’s easy with no bake noodles, a sauce you just whiz up in the blender and grated zucchini that you don’t have to cook ahead.  You pretty much just throw it together– and make a salad while it’s in the oven– summer dinner!

P.S.  I know it’s not summer yet.  But all the teachers at school (that’s me) are anticipating summer break around the corner (and the kids are too!).  I guess it’s just on my mind!

EASY ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

Topping:
1/4 cup parmesan romano, grated
2 tab. bread crumbs
1/4 pine nuts

Sauce:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Other ingredients:
16 oz. fresh mozarella, broken into small bit with you fingers
2 cups zucchini, grated (2 small)
2 cups yellow crooked neck squash, grated (2 medium)
9 non-cook lasagna noodles (I use Barilla)

Mix the 1/4 cup parmesan and 2 tab. breadcrumbs and set aside.  Hold on to the pine nuts til later.

With a blender (or stick blender or food processor), mix together the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, milk, garlic, basil, salt and pepper– into a creamy sauce.

Then in a 8″x10″ baking dish layer the ingredients:

First, a thin layer of sauce, then 3 noodles-side by side, the zucchini & squash, mozarella and then 1/3 of the remaining sauce.

Do a second layer and then a third.  To them all off with the parmesan mixed with the bread crumbs.  Cover it closely with foil (try not to touch the top of the lasagna with the foil– it will stick).  And pop it into a 375 degree over for 45 minutes.

Pull out the lasagna.  Take off the foil.  Sprinkle on the pine nuts and cook 10 minutes more to brown the top a bit.

When you take it out of the oven, let it sit about 15 minutes before you dig into it so it will firm up a bit.  Oh yumm.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake

IMG_2517Hello all– This little cake really surprised me.  I guess I should have imagined that a cake with all that ricotta would be be creamy and smooth. It looks like cake– tastes almost like cheese cake, lemony and so tender and light. Can you tell I liked it a lot? I think you would too…

LEMON RICOTTA ALMOND CAKE
Peel of 1 large lemon, grated
1/4 pound butter (1 stick), room temperature*
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs– yolks & whites separated
2  1/2 cup almond meal**
1  1/3 cup ricotta
1/2 cup sliced almonds
powdered sugar to dust the top

IMG_2531Beat together the butter, 1 1/3 cup of the powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon peel with the electric mixer until well blended and creamy smooth.

Beat in the 4 egg yolks with the mixer and then beat in the almond meal.  Next blend in the ricotta.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites unit soft peaks form– several minutes!!  Then add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and beat a few minutes more until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

Spoon the batter into a 9″ spring form pan (or cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the almonds over the top of the cake.

Pop it all into a 325 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes –until firm to the touch.

Let it cool completely and then dust the top with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Ricotta Gnocchi

IMG_2501Hi all–  I’ve had this recipe on the back of my mind for a while now.  But I wasn’t quite brave enough to try it.  It seemed a whole lot more complicated than dropping a package of pasta into a pot of boiling water.  But it turned out to be happily easier than I anticipated (like a lot of things I put off and put off!) and the gnocchi turned to be pillowy tender nibs of ricotta and zucchini– topped with my old favorite weekday spaghetti sauce.  Hope you give it a try too!

ZUCCHINI RICOTTA GNOCCHI

2 cups zucchini grated (with skins on)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup ricotta
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup parmesan
1 cup flour, divided

IMG_2491Grate the zucchini and combine it in a bowl with the salt.  Then spoon it into a colander and let in sit and drain for 20-30 minutes.  Press the zucchini to squeeze out the excess moisture.

Then stir together the zucchini, ricotta, egg yolk and parmesan.  Blend in 3/4 of the cup of flour, adding a bit at a time until you have a soft tender dough.

Sprinkle the other 1/4 cup of flour on a flat surface and form the dough into a ball on the flour.  Then divide the dough into 3 sections and roll them into long ropes 1″ in diameter.  If the dough feels too sticky, sprinkle on a bit more four.

Then cut the ropes into little sections and shape into ovals.  If you want, you can score the tops with a fork to make little grooves.

Drop the gnocchi about 10 at a time into a large pot of boiling water.  Leave them in the water until they rise to the surface (just 4 or 5 minutes) and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon to a waiting plate.

A big bowl of gnocchi with some bright pasta sauce, a crispy salad, a glass of wine– just about perfect…

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Spinach Ricotta White Pizza

IMG_0859Hello there–  We do love pizza around here.  So in the endless search for a new, interesting, tasty version of this yummy stuff, we tried out a “white pizza” for dinner on Saturday.  (thanks Danielle for the suggestion!)  The ricotta takes the place of tomato saucy topping.  Add some mozzarella, spinach, pine nuts…  It’s lovely.

SPINACH RICOTTA WHITE PIZZA

Crust (makes 2 pizzas):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2 12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Topping:
1 1/2 cup ricotta
2 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 bunch of fresh spinach
2 tab. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 more tab. olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 handfuls of pine nuts

While the crust is rising a bit, in large shallow pan, heat the 2 tab. of olive oil.  When the pan is hot, throw in the garlic and the spinach and stir it just a minute or two until the spinach wilts a bit–not long enough to let it cook completely. (You know how spinach can cook down away to nothing!)  Mix the ricotta, mozzarella and basil together in a bowl.  Then take the two pizza crusts and spread a tablespoon of olive oil on each one.  Top each with half of the ricotta mixture.  Then spoon the spinach over the pizzas.  Sprinkle on the parmesan and pine nuts.  Slide the pizzas into a 375 degree oven for 25 to 20 minutes until the crust browns around the edge and cheese is a bit bubbly.  All that’s left it to eat it up!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

IMG_0337Hello there–  One chilly day in San Francisco Larry and I hiked  for breakfast with our kids to Park Chow–a favorite of mine.  We sat at a small table by the fireplace over hot cups of tea & coffee.  Larry settled on lemon ricotta pancakes.  They were beautiful and have been on my mind ever since.  So when I ran across a lemon pancake recipe, I knew it would be our Sunday lunch.  Here they are hot off the griddle…

LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES
1 1/2 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup ricotta cheese
lemon peel, grated from one lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

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Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then stir in the milk, egg, oil vanilla, ricotta, lemon zest and juice.  That’s it.  Heat your griddle to medium heat and coat it with butter or cooking spray.  Pour out the batter by about 1/3 cupfuls. Makes about 16 medium pancakes.

Serve them up with a shake of powdered sugar and a jug of maple syrup– and bacon, of course, bacon.  Pancakes are really just my excuse to cook up a couple strips of bacon.  Enjoy!

Ham Ricotta Sandwiches with Apricot-Mustard


Hello all–  A while back we had a family Tea Party to shower our dear Katie with gifts and wish her well before her wedding to Nathan.  Everyone brought sweets or yummy sandwiches to munch with our tea.  It was a happy celebration.  God Bless you Katie.

HAM RICOTTA SANDWICHES WITH APRICOT-MUSTARD
1 loaf of small “cocktail” size bread (or cut regular bread slices  into 4 squares)
7 leaves of red leaf lettuce
50 slices of ham*
1 16 oz. tub of ricotta
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/3 cup brown mustard with seeds**

First mix together the jam and mustard in a small bowl.  On the small slices of bread layer a piece of lettuce, 2 slices of ham, a tsp. of ricotta and a small spoonful of the apricot-mustard.  Put them on a pretty plate for a tea party –or just gobble them on the spot for lunch!

*I accidentally picked up a package with turkey and ham mixed, so the sandwiches in the picture have a slice of each.
**I love “Maille Old Style Whole Grain Dijon Mustard”– it is the seediest!

Earlier this summer, we saw a display for fruit flavored mustards in the Salumeria store in San Francisco and picked up some blackberry mustard.  Yummy.  But I like this apricot-dijon combination even more.  I think it would be great on a plain a ham sandwich on ciabatta or a grilled cheese and ham on sour dough.  I’m going to experiment…

Three Toast Toppers

THREE TOAST TOPPERS
Hi friends–  Here’s some savory little snacks that are just right for a summer lunch sitting with a good book or to have with a pitcher of Sangria and a table full of friends in the backyard on a summer evening.  I was surprised how quickly and easily they went together.

1 avocado
garlic salt
red pepper flakes
cherry tomatoes
fresh basil, cut in ribbons
olive oil
a tub of ricotta
orange peel, grated from 1 orange
honey
1 baguette, sliced and toasted

AVOCADO TOASTS
Pile chunks of avocado on the toast and sprinkle with garlic salt and red pepper flakes.  That’s it.  Easy!

TOMATO TOASTS
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Arrange them on the toasts and sprinkle the cut basil over the top.  Splash on some olive oil and they’re ready.  (Unless you’d like to add a little garlic salt)

RICOTTA TOASTS
Spoon the ricotta onto the toasts.  Spread a little of the orange peel on top and drizzle honey over it all.  Delish.