I hope you’re not throwing out that yogurt or sour cream or ricotta, etc. that is only a few days old, just because it seems to have developed a puddle of watery liquid where you last spooned some out. I know it doesn’t look appetizing, and I usually just pour it off, but you can stir it back in, too, and move on with your recipe.
That liquid actually has a name—whey—and it’s full of nutrients and fine to stir back in. The process of the weeping has a name too—syneresis. Read more about it here.
But if you just can’t stand seeing that liquid, there’s an easy way to prevent it. After you spoon out what you need, use the back of your spoon to smooth out the top of the remaining food, as you might do when frosting a cake. Just smooth it to the point of having no large craters where the whey can seep out.
Here’s what happens when you spoon out some yogurt and just put it away. The next day, the space is filled with watery whey:
Here’s how to prevent that puddle:
Fresh carton of yogurt
Smoothing out the top
Here’s that container after a week of spooning out and smoothing—no whey!
So, if you’re grossed out by that weeping, and you know you’ve been throwing out good food, just smooth it out after using and you’ll be surprised at how brand new it looks every day.
Calling these muffins tropical was easier than putting all the ingredients in the title, and I figure anything with coconut can be called tropical. Besides ricotta, the ingredients that flavor these muffins are dried apricots, flaked coconut, and roasted almonds. The muffin batter is plenty sweet, so I used unsweetened coconut and apricots.
The batter is very thick and you can see that I used a large scoop of it in each cup without the muffin spreading out or running over the cup. I find that thick muffin batters work that way, so I don’t follow those fill to 2/3 full directions you see so often.
I adapted this recipe from my Heavenly Lemon Ricotta Muffins.
Tropical Ricotta Muffins
Preheat oven to 350°; line a muffin pan with paper liners.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 24 dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped (mine were oven roasted and salted)
- Beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
- Add ricotta and vanilla; beat until combined.
- Beat in egg.
- Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until beginning to combine. Do not over-beat.
- Add milk and beat at low speed until combined.
- Stir in apricots, coconut, and nuts until well distributed.
- Scoop batter into liners in muffin pan.
- Bake for 18 minutes and check for doneness. Mine needed another five minutes to be done in the center.
- Cool in pan on rack for at least 15 minutes before removing to completely cool.
You can never have too many mac and cheese recipes.
Sometimes you might be in the mood for a sharp cheddar or a nutty Gruyere or even a little blue, but you just about always want a creamy texture, not one that separates, leaving an oily trail and little curds of cheese—well, I would eat that, too. The following recipe starts out with this one from Kraft and adds whipped ricotta to the sauce, so that it’s extra creamy. I am not adding any cheddar to the top of the casserole, just a panko topping. I like to get a little crust on my mac and cheese, but sometimes you just want to eat it out of the pan, so skip the crumb topping and baking if you like.
The base recipe starts out with a very thick white sauce, into which cubes of Velveeta® are stirred. I usually make my white sauce with 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of milk, but this one uses 4 tablespoons per cup. Like any other cheese sauce, you need this flour base to keep the cheese from separating. I’ve tried that recipe making the rounds, where you use only evaporated milk and cheese, and it does not hold up—beware fads.
Notice the whipped ricotta
Stir in Velveeta
Stir in whipped ricotta
Thick and creamy sauce
Just eat it like this…
…or bake it
Ricotta-Velveeta® Mac 'n Cheese
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 8 oz. original Velveeta® cheese, cut into cubes
- 8 oz. whole milk ricotta, whipped in a food processor until smooth and fluffy
- 8 oz. macaroni or other pasta shape—I used whole wheat fusilli
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Boil the pasta according to the package directions while making the sauce. Drain the pasta and place in casserole dish.
- In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until fully combined. Stir in milk and continue stirring until smooth and thickened.
- Stir cheese cubes into thickened white sauce until all the cheese is melted. This takes a few minutes.
- Stir whipped ricotta into cheese sauce until combined.
- Pour sauce over pasta and stir to combine. You could serve it at this point without baking, or go to the next step.
- Combine panko crumbs and 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle over macaroni. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.
That’s a lot of Ts for one short title.
I had leftover angel hair pasta, dressed with olive oil, bacon fat, and Parmesan cheese, so I’m making a frittata. I think some whole-milk ricotta, a little more Parmesan, and some bacon will round out the flavors and creaminess. I like to pulse ricotta in the food processor until it’s very creamy and smooth, but you wouldn’t have to do that. I’m leaving out any watery vegetables, preferring to have them on the side; If you want to include them, make sure to cook them first and to choose the vegetable wisely. Sometimes we try to pile too much into a dish, when simplicity is enough. I’m only using 6 eggs, which is a little light for all the pasta I have, but I can’t justify more eggs just for myself; if you have a crowd, I suggest using 8-12 eggs with a half pound of leftover pasta.
Spaghetti Ricotta Frittata
Preheat oven to 350°
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 lb (more or less) leftover pasta, preferably without sauce
4-6 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and diced
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, pulsed until creamy in a food processor
4 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup whole milk
salt & pepper to taste
- In a 10″ or 12″ cast iron or other non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until softened and the onion is translucent, but not browned. Season to taste.
- Toss in the leftover pasta to warm, but not brown. Add more oil if necessary. My pasta already had oil on it.
- Toss in the chopped bacon. Turn off heat under pan.
- Whisk the eggs together with the ricotta, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, and milk. Pour over the pasta, vegetables, and bacon. Press down the pasta lightly. My egg mixture came just to the top of the pasta, but if you are using a larger quantity, yours may cover the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top.
- Place pan in preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. If you used 8-12 eggs, bake until the edges are done and the center is still a little jiggly. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.
Your frittata will differ depending on the amount of pasta and eggs you use. A frittata is really a baked omelet, but the addition of pasta turns it into more of a casserole. I did not choose to use the kinds of cheeses that melt, but you might like to use a cheddar or Gruyere for that kind of texture.
Looks like I know what my lunch will be tomorrow.