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Once you have the simple marinara down pat, there are lots of things you can whip up.  This is one of our favorites.

4 cups Rob’s Simple Marinara
1 box no boil lasagna noodles
2c. shredded mozzarella
1/4c. grated parmesan cheese
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2c. ricotta
2 eggs
1/4c. grated parmesan cheese
2T. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2t. freshly ground black pepper
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1/2lb. carrots, peeled and sliced thin on the diagonal
1T. oil (veg. or olive)
1T. butter

Start by cooking the carrots.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat with the oil and butter until foaming subsides.  Add the carrots and saute until fork tender.  These are optional, but we love their buttery texture in this lasagna – they add a bit of interest.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and pull out a 9×13″ pan (we use a glass casserole dish).  Mix the ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan, parsley, and black pepper in a small bowl until fully combined.

Now start layering!  Start with a ladle of marinara to cover the bottom of the casserole dish.  Next, place three lasagna noodles in the pan, making sure they have a little room on all sides (the no boil noodles expand quite a bit when baking).  Smear 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on the noodles.  Spread the carrots in a single layer.  Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzarella.  Ladle a layer of marinara.  Repeat until you’ve created a nice deep lasagna (most likely three full layers).  For the final layer, place three more noodles on top, cover with remaining marinara, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 of the mozzarella.  Sprinkle with 1/4c. parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until bubbly and the noodles have expanded a bit (30-40 minutes).  Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is golden and delicious looking.  Cool on top of the stove while you make a nice salad.  Enjoy!

Makes 8 generous portions.

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I made these for a cookie swap this past winter and they were delicious.  Probably the simplest cookie recipe yet, with a tender chewy texture.  I have to say that Martha’s cookie recipes are consistently outstanding.  The Holiday Cookies magazine from 2006 is a staple on our cookbook shelf and we return to it time and again for new recipes.  That’s where I found this recipe originally, which is also available online.

Makes 1 dozen – I double it since almond paste usually comes in an 8 oz. can

Ingredients
4 ounces almond paste (about 5 1/2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
Pinch of coarse salt
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds for decorating

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put almond paste, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until crumbly, about 3 minutes. Add egg white and vanilla. Mix until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes.

Drop batter by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Place 2 almond slices on each mound of dough. Bake until cookies are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Just before serving, lightly dust cookies with sugar. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

3T. vegetable or olive oil
1c. chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1T. tomato paste
4c. chopped plum tomatoes with juice
1t. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2t. dried basil or 1-1/2T. fresh basil, chopped
1/2t. salt
2t. sugar
1/4t. crushed red pepper flakes
1T. fresh chopped parsley

Saute onion with oil on medium-high heat until transluscent and slightly browned (6-7 minutes). Reduce heat to medium and add garlic.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure not to burn.  Add tomato paste, stir to combine, and saute for 1 minute more.  Add chopped tomatoes and spices and stir to combine.  Simmer 20 minutes and adjust salt and pepper if desired.  Enjoy!

Freezes well.  Makes a generous 4 cups.

Rob came up with the magical egg-milk ratio and I added the fillings.  You can use any fillings you like; we recommend sticking to the 1egg-1/4c.milk ratio and then having some fun with it.  We have been using the inexpensive chevre from our grocery store (so far Ile de France is our favorite), but will plan to splurge on some artisan goat cheese from our local farmer’s market now that we have our recipe down pat.  Fresh dill and nutmeg are preferred, but you can certainly use dried if that’s what you’ve got.  We love making this in our springform flan baking pan, which has a lovely fluted edge. 

5 eggs
1-1/4c. milk
8 oz. goat cheese
1/4c. chopped fresh dill
1/2t. freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/4t. jarred ground)
1-1/2t. salt
freshly ground pepper
2T. olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
pastry for one pie shell (the rolled type from the refrigerator section – or make your own!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together eggs, milk, fresh dill, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Add a generous pinch of salt about half-way through.  Onions should be sweet and tender.

Line a 9″ pie plate or springform flan plate with pastry crust.  Spread the sauteed onions over the bottom of the pie crust.  Carefully pour the egg mixture over the onions.  Drop the goat cheese in small nobs (about a teaspoon each) into the egg mixture, distributing them evenly.

Bake quiche for 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!