Tag Archive: guest post

Goat Cheese Manicotti

My sister sent me a guest post without any prodding from me – clearly blogging runs in our blood. 

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As I’m sure you’ve gathered in Elise’s previous blogs, as kids one of our (or at least my) favorite meals was manicotti.  Its also one of the first dishes I learned to cook as my mom would "let" us mix and stuff the shells (I’m pretty sure looking back on it now it was a ploy to get us to help out in the kitchen, but I guess it worked – take notes, Elise!).

Anyway, since becoming lactose intolerant I have been craving some good home-cooked manicotti.  I know Elise has already posted recipes with tofu as a ricotta replacement as well as a Sabra hummus option (can you tell I’m a regular reader?), but Australia doesn’t have Sabra and I was too lazy to experiment with the tofu shenanigans so I went rogue and experimented with my own creation.  I don’t want to toot my own horn too much but it was delicious so I thought I had to share with you kind people. 🙂

Goat Cheese Manicotti [vegetarian, lactose free]

Ingredients (excuse the metric system):

  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 250ish grams (~1 1/4 cups) frozen spinach
  • 300 grams (~1 1/2 cups) goat’s cheese
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 (24 oz) jar tomato sauce of choice
  • 1 box (~12) manicotti shells


Chop onion, garlic, and sauté in pan with grated zucchini.
Thaw and drain spinach.
Mix all together in bowl (minus the tomato sauce).
Stuff into uncooked shells.
Pour half of sauce in bottom of pan, add stuffed shells and top with remaining sauce.
Cook in oven at 200 degrees Celsius (375 F) for ~35 minutes.

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I hope you enjoy your super easy lactose-free manicotti as much as I did!

[Elise, if you want to change this from the metric system so its easier for your readers go for it…I just couldn’t be bothered. Too busy watching The Voice Australia and drinking cider – much more difficult and time consuming than caring for an infant I’m sure, ha!]

I converted it guys.  You’re welcome.  😉

Lactose-Free Crème Brûlée

It seems my expat sister has taken quite a liking to dairy free dessert baking.  It figures she’d develop this hobby after moving to Australia, so I can’t even sample her delicious products.  But at least I get some great recipes out of it.  Here’s the latest one, from Laura:

One of the most devastating things to give up when I became
lactose-intolerant several years ago (other than nachos) was crème
brûlée.  Every time I saw it on a desert menu at a restaurant, I would
cry a little inside .  It never occurred to me to try to bake it
because, honestly it seemed a little too gourmet for me.  It wasn’t
until a recent episode of Masterchef Australia (my new favorite show)
when they made it that I was inspired to give it a whirl.

Step 1: Google search to find a recipe.

Coconut Milk Crème Brûlée

– 5 large egg yolks
– 2 large eggs
– 1/2 cup white sugar (plus more for top)
– 1 cup coconut milk (full-fat)
– 1 vanilla bean, scraped

1. Preheat oven to 300 degreed Fahrenheit.  Set kettle full of water to boil
2. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla until
creamy and smooth
3. Add coconut milk and blend until smooth
4. Pour into ramekins
5. Place in ceramic baking dish and pour hot water until it comes
about halfway up the ramekins
6. Bake for about 40 mins, until just slightly jiggly in middle
7. Cool until ready to serve or chill until cold.
8. When ready, sprinkle with about 2 tsp white sugar and torch with
brûlée torch until crispy and brown.

photo 1 photo 3 

Step 2: Get a brûlée torch…and butane gas.

On my lunch break at work, I ventured to a kitchen store in search for
a torch.  I found a kit that included not only the torch, but also a
set of 4 ramekins!  Perfect!  The butane gas was slightly trickier as
I had to venture to a hardware store for that – but still not too much
of an effort.

photo 2 

Step 3: Bake away!

I could not believe how easy it was!!  Not only was it relatively
inexpensive because there are so few ingredients, but it was pretty
simple.  The highlights for me were definitely scraping the vanilla
out of the vanilla bean and torching the sugar on top.  I have only
ever used vanilla extract for vanilla flavoring, but (again, after
seeing it on Masterchef) I felt inspired to actually use a vanilla
bean and it was SO deliciously flavorful!  Torching the sugar was
definitely the most fun because not only did I get to play with fire,
but it felt like I was using a new toy.

photo 4 photo 5 

-for small ramekins, they really only need to be in the oven for about
30 minutes, until its just starting to rise around the outside
-practice using your torch to test flame size before applying to the
desert (I may or may not have had a situation where sugar when flying
all over the kitchen)

I highly recommend this recipe because not only is it incredibly easy,
its SOO delicious.  I can’t believe I missed out on it for this long!

Oh. My. Gosh.  I can’t believe how crazy (fun) torching sugar looks!  I’m seriously heading to the hardware store as soon as possible to make this.  And by the way, Laura and I are serious pyros (we get it from my dad), but since this blog is read by a larger audience I feel compelled to add some kind of warning.  So don’t try this without supervision and a fire extinguisher near by, in case things get out of hand…  now what other things can I torch?

From Gwyneth Paltrow’s bestie

My sister really likes food.  She also really likes celebrities.  She has been known to say “I feel like we could be best friends” about several A-listers (and some B-listers too).  But I won’t tease her too much because she’s moving to another country soon and I’m afraid if I’m not nice to her she’ll never come back.


Posting this photo isn’t a great start.

Anyway.  Every time we talk she is raving about a new recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow, so I told her to send me a guest post.  And she delivered.  Take it away Laura…

cookbook picture 

Fact: Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook is bomb-diggity (yes, I just said bomb-diggity).  My Dad gave it to my for my birthday this year, which I found very appropriate because of its title, My Father’s Daughter, and I keep finding myself flipping through it for more and more recipes.  Also, since I am currently living with my parents in limbo (recently back from 9 months of travel and moving to Australia in April) I not only have great test subjects, but a vast array of spices from which to choose.  One of the main things that annoyed me about trying to cook when I was living in an apartment in San Francisco, was that a) I didn’t have much cabinet space to stock up on spices, and b) they cost SO freakin much!  Who wants to spend $8 on 1 tsp of something that you may or may not ever use again??? It can really up the cost of cooking for one.  So, ANYWAY, back to the point….I recently made Gwyneth’s "Best Stir-Fried Chicken" and paired it with her "Fried Rice with Kale and Scallions."  As my BFF Gwyn puts it, it’s great for when you’re "in the mood for good Chinese takeaway but don’t want to have the MSG."

Here are the recipes:

rice recipe

Fried Rice with Kale and Scallions

chicken recipe 

Best Stir-Fried Chicken

And here’s how it went down…

sizzlin chicken picture 

I am obsessed with sesame seeds, so I added a sprinkle handful to the chicken at the end. 

final product picture 

I can’t tell you how delish this sauce is…sticky, gooey delightfulness with a bit of a spicy kick…yum!  The rice is really good too!  I had never attempted fried rice before, but it was ridiculous how easy it was.

I had made some cookies the day before (also from the same cookbook) so I thought those were worth sharing also…

cookie recipe 

Lalo’s Famous Cookies

cookie photo 

After reading this blog, you might assume that this is my only cookbook, or that I’m being paid under the table to promote her book (I wish) but, alas, I am just a fan of the recipes.  Healthy and delicious…hard to beat that combo!

Thanks for the guest post Laura!

It figures it takes an A list celeb like Gwyneth Paltrow to convince her to try kale when her own sister has been singing the delicious green’s praises for years, but whatever.

Now I want this cookbook, too!  The kale and brown rice dish is similar to some previous meals I’ve shared, but I am definitely trying the chicken stir-fry recipe (replacing the chicken one with tofu). 

Who has a favorite cookbook to recommend?