Monthly Archives: August 2014

What’s Your Thanksgiving Leftover Strategy?

This post is a bit late, but Bryan and I just got home from our Thanksgiving trip to his hometown in the Bay area. We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Now, if we can dig deep and go back a few days, here’s the debate…what’s your day-after-Thanksgiving-leftover-sandwich strategy?

We all know the drill: you’re standing in front of the fridge, faced with a mountain of leftover Tupperware containers. Turkey, ham, stuffing, yams, potatoes, green beans, gravy…

What do you do? Where do you start? What’s your go-to leftover sandwich strategy?

Bryan’s brother makes mini sandwiches piled high with mayo, turkey and pickle slices.

Bryan makes a similar version but adds spicy mustard. He heats up mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy on the side.

I, on the other hand, take the idea of a “leftover sandwich” to heart. I cut a roll in half, use cranberry sauce as my “mayo,” then spread on layers of mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey and ham. Hold the gravy. It’s a literal translation of Thanksgiving leftovers on a sandwich, and it’s fan-tas-tic.

You can make it hot or cold. You don’t need a fork. But you do need a napkin because it’s delightfully messy. Yum, yum, yum.

So, if you can, go back five days, when your pants were a little too tight and you were rummaging through the fridge for leftovers. Think about your leftover sandwich strategy. You know you’ve got one…

Evan Kleiman’s Angeli Caffe Pops Up at The Charleston, Monday, May 7

Chef Evan Kleiman’s Angeli Caffe might be gone, but it’s certainly not forgotten. In fact, the recently shuttered Italian institution is being reincarnated for one-night only on Monday, May 7, as the first in a series of guest chef pop-up dinners at Santa Monica nightlife venue, The Charleston.

Executive Chef Jet Tila is giving still-mourning Angelenos the opportunity to enjoy Angeli’s legendary chef and KCRW’s “Good Food” host Kleiman’s rustic Italian cuisine for two seatings, one at 6 p.m. and a second at 8 p.m.

Kleiman’s four-course, family-style menu includes an appetizer of Antipasti Misti from the Farmers Market or a Caesar Salad; primi choice of Gnocchetti di Ricotta or Linguine Vongole, secondi choice of Pollo Arrosto or her famous Lasagne Angeli Verdura, and a dessert
 option of classic Tiramisu or chocolate chunk bread pudding. The dinner is $45/person, not including beverages, tax and tip. For reservations, call The Charleston at (310) 828-2115. A word of advice: Reserve your spot soon because this Kleiman comeback is going to sell out quick!

The Charleston
2460 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 828-2115

Bakerella’s Got A Book: Cake Pops!

If you haven’t heard of Bakerella, get ready for a dessert-changing experience.
I’ve been a loyal follower of Bakerella – aka Angie Dudley – over the past few years and am always wowed at her work. She’s a master of all things miniature, especially desserts. But when she started to create mini cupcakes, cake balls and characters on popsicle sticks, I nearly died and went to candy melt heaven. Think mini wedding cakes, mini snowmen, mini graduation caps, mini Muppets. If you can make it and put it on a stick, Bakerella has thought of it. Here are about 1/100th of her creations:
Cupcake Pops
All Photos Courtesy of

Macaron Pops

Mini Wedding Cakes Pops (an actual proposal, in fact!)

Pie Pops

Sheep Pops for Easter!

That said, you can imagine my unbridled joy upon discovering she will soon be releasing a BOOK detailing over 40 recipes for her “pop” creations. It’s entitled Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks and Recipes For More Than 40 Irresistible Treats. I cannot wait to get this book. I’m already making the cupcake pops for a friend’s baby shower – it’s a boy! – and hope they turn out half as cute the Queen “B”akerella herself!
If you’re interested in getting her book, you can do so at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and Chronicle Books. Just know you’re going to need to clean out a giant cupboard somewhere in your kitchen to dedicate to your pop tools: candy melts, popsicle sticks, food colorings, frostings, edible markers, etc. It’s like arts & crafts in the kitchen…what could be better?

Vegetarian Butternut Squash + Mushroom Lasagna

Butternut Squash + Mushroom Lasagna

I’m always on the look-out for new and interesting lasagna recipes. Over the holidays, I was on the hunt for a vegetarian recipe that would appeal to both a carnivorous and vegetarian crowd. I wanted it to be substantial enough to please both camps but also delicious enough that I would want to add it to my recipe repertoire. Enter this butternut squash and mushroom lasagne recipe, loaded with tender steamed squash, cremini mushrooms sauteed with onion, thyme and sage, and a rich Parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta cheese mixture.

Simply put, it was a winner-winner lasagna dinner. But during assembly, I was shocked at how much lasagna the recipe makes. Surely the quantity of ingredients would easily make two lasagnas, right? Not the case. After all was said and done, my large glass casserole dish was bursting with FIVE dense layers of squash, mushrooms and cheese. And that’s not counting the eggs, which I omitted to accomodate the vegetarians in the crowd. The hour-plus cooking time was long but the house was wafting with the amazing aroma of bubbling cheese, earthy vegetables and herbs. Well worth it.

My meat- and veggie-loving guests ate the lasagna right up. Literally. Bryan and I had leftovers the next day and arguably, it was even better. 

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 4 tablespoons sliced fresh sage, divided
  • 3 15-ounce containers whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • Olive oil
  • 1 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles

Directions: Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to high; add mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl; set aside.

Add squash, broth, 3 tablespoons thyme, and 3 tablespoons sage to same skillet. Cover and simmer over medium heat until squash is just tender, about 6 minutes. Uncover and cook until squash is very soft but still retains shape, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon sage in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper; mix in eggs.

Brush 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with oil. Spread 1 cup ricotta mixture over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles on top. Spread 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/3 cups squash mixture over. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mushrooms and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with 3 noodles, then 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, half of remaining squash, 1/2 cup mushrooms, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat with noodles, 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, remaining squash, and remaining mushrooms. Top with 3 noodles. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with oiled foil.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna, covered, 35 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. DO AHEAD:The lasagna can be assembled one day ahead and refrigerated.

Scrape the potatoes into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; scatter the marshmallows on top. Bake in the top third of the oven for 25 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden. Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The sweet potato puree can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and top with the marshmallows before baking. The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Brie & Fig Jam on Waffle Crackers

I discovered a great appetizer yesterday at a friend’s bridal shower. The hostess always puts on a great spread with dips, breads, a cheese platter, a variety of sandwiches, mimosas, Susie Cakes desserts, etc.

Cheeses of the Manchego, Parmesan, and Brie variety – just to name a few – are some of my favorites. While I love incorporating them into new recipes, I also love finding appetizer recipes where the cheeses can truly shine. It may sound ridiculous, but sometimes there is nothing better than just enjoying the flavor of a truly wonderful, aged cheese like Parmesan.

Yesterday’s appetizer focus was on a fantastic combination of Brie cheese, fig jam and wafer crackers. It’s a sweet combination, but one with a great crunch of the wafer, sweet earthiness of the fig jam and creamy saltiness of the brie. Best of all, it’s super simple. Here’s what you need to make it.

  • 1 box of wafer crackers* (I got Trader Joe’s Belgium’s Butter Waffle Cookies)
  • 1 round of soft ripened brie
  • 1 jar of fig jam (e.g. Ficoco)

I cut a few slices of the brie and arranged it on a plate next to the wafers. I placed the jam container between the two with a cheese knife for spreading. To make the wafers, spread about a teaspoon of the fig jam on the wafer and top with a small slice or two of brie.

That’s it! If you prefer appetizers on the sweet rather than savory side, this is the way to go. The brie adds a nice touch of salt, too. It’s pretty delicious.

*Note: The bridal shower hostess had smaller, round wafer cookies and I would rather use those than the crackers I bought. They were lighter, thinner and smaller and worked better for a bite-sized appetizer.