Semi Homemade Four Layer Lasagna

Well, maybe I should be more accurate. This is more than semi homemade. We made the noodles and the sauce by hand, but we cheated and instead of making a white sauce and using fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, we used ricotta and Sargento shredded cheese.

I think homemade noodles hold up SO much better than boxed noodles. Homemade noodles don’t get mushy in the oven. It’s a little more effort, but with all the leftovers lasagna usually makes, you’ll end up saving time by not having to make dinners the next few days:) And if you’re making the homemade noodles, you might as well make a homemade sauce because while the sauce simmers, you can make the noodles!

The noodle recipe is from Marcella Hazan. I have that memorized by now. And the sauce recipe is also from Marcella. One time we made her Lasagna with Bolognese Sauce (https://the365cook.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/homemade-lasagna), but this time I just took a sauce recipe from her book that looked like it would fit well in the lasagna. I used my Dutch Oven to layer up the lasagna because my regular lasagna pan doesn’t allow as many layers as I wanted.

So, finally, here are the steps and ingredients:

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

1- 5 tbs butter
2- 6 tbs each onion, carrot, and celery, finely chopped
3- 29 oz can San Marzano tomatoes plus two small fresh tomatoes chopped (because one can isn’t quite enough)
4- salt

And about a lb of ground turkey or beef to be cooked separately and added to the sauce later.

For the noodles:

1- 2 cups unbleached flour
2- 4 egg
3- Pasta machine

For the ricotta mixture:

1- 30 oz ricotta
2- 1 egg
4- 3/4 cup shredded cheese

Directions:

Start the sauce first:

1- Place all ingredients into a pot and cook, uncovered, at a very low simmer, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2- Brown the meat and then set aside.

While the sauce simmers, work on the noodles:

1- Put the flour on a clean work surface. Make a well and add the eggs. Use a fork to break up the egg and to incorporate the flour. Use only as much flour as you need to make a dough. Add more if needed. The eggs I use are always super absorbent, so I always need more flour.

2- Once the dough has come together and is no longer sticky, knead for a full 8 minutes.

3- Cut the dough in to about 10 small manageable pieces and start putting through the pasta roller. Start at 7 and work your way down to 4 putting the dough through twice on each number. Once rolled out, place on a kitchen towel. If the pieces are long, you can cut into a more manageable size.

Somewhere in the midst of this, start boiling a pot of water and have an ice bath prepared.

4- Once the noodles are cut, add them to the pot of boiling, salted water. Allow the water to come back to a boil and boil, literally, for about 30 seconds. Remove and plunge into the ice bath. Take them out and run them under cold water to remove excess starch. Lay on a kitchen towel.

For the ricotta mixture:

1- Mix the egg, ricotta, and cheese together. Easy.

Now preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Add the browned meat to the sauce and stir to combine. Begin to build the lasagna.

Layer of sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, etc. If you have extra noodles, you can cut into strips of pasta and save for later.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes to see if a crust has formed. If not, boost up 50-75 degrees and bake another 10 minutes. Do not bake more than 15 minutes is what Marcella Hazan says.

Let cool and enjoy. And of course you know lasagna is always better the second day:) We just had it for dinner last night and I put the rest in the freezer.

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Fancy Schmancy Meatloaf

Meatloaf isn’t exactly fancy. Even the name isn’t fancy. And it always just looks like an unappetizing brown lump. But boy does meatloaf sure taste good…and depending on what you put in it and what you bake it in, it can become fancy-ish. I think the meatloaf we made tonight fell into the fancy-ish category. We put in lots of fresh veggies and herbs and then baked the meatloaf in individual size ramekins to give it a special feel.

Ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

We used a little over 1lb of ground beef. To this we added these ingredients:

  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • thyme
  • onion, roughly chopped
  • carrot, grated
  • garlic, chopped
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs
For the glaze, mix together:
  • ketchup (this will form the base of the glaze)
  • worcestershire sauce (dash)
  • maple syrup (small pour)
Directions:
1- Add enough of the above ingredients so that everything comes together nicely.
2- Place meatloaf in the ramekins and place the ramekins on a cookie sheet or place the mixture in a loaf pan and bake in the loaf pan.
3- Bake at 325 for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and brush the glaze on top. Return to the oven and bake until the loaf reaches 155 degrees.
Serve directly in the ramekins, if using, or, if saving for later, let cool, turn out of the ramekins, and either refrigerate or freeze.

Turkey Burger Sliders with Mango Salsa and Sweet Potato Fries

My current obsessions include:

being at the beach nearly every day,

Adele’s new music,

our puppy’s little butt wiggle when he’s excited. It’s like he can’t contain his tail,

and

Mango salsa. I love all of its flavor combinations and definitely the color. 

When deciding what to make last night, I knew two things: I wanted sweet potato fries and I wanted mango salsa. I usually always do a mango salsa to go with fish tacos, but sweet potato fries don’t really go with fish tacos. I went into the store really with no idea of what I wanted to do besides those two things. I started to collect the ingredients for those when I came across King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread in the perfect slider size! What an idea- turkey burger sliders with mango salsa and sweet potato fries- and there, standing by the buns, a dinner idea was born.

Unless I have recipe, I nearly never use any measuring tools, and even with a recipe, I rarely measure, so it’s quite hard for me to say how much of each ingredient to use. I think how much of each ingredient really depends on people’s preferences, especially when it comes to spices. It also depends on how many you are cooking for. Last night I cooked for 2. We each had 4 mango salsa sliders with a side of fries. Here’s the recipe minus the ingredient quantities.

If you’re making the sweet potato fries, start them first because they take the longest.

Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Ingredients:

Yam

Paprika

Crushed Red Pepper

Salt

Cumin

Vegetable Oil to coat

Gallon size ziploc bag

Directions:

1- Cut the yam into fry shapes

2- Once cut, put them in the ziploc bag, add the spices, add the vegetable oil to coat and shake vigorously until well coated. Put them on a pan and pop in the oven. Don’t trip over puppy who always wants to hang out in the kitchen while you cook so he can clean up what falls down:)

3- Bake for about 40 mins, possibly longer depending on how dark you want them. Mix them about every 10 mins. If you see that they are drying out, add some more vegetable oil.

4- While the fries bake, start the mango salsa and the sliders.

Mango Salsa- The amount of salsa you make will depend on the number of sliders you are making. Estimate about 1 tsp of salsa per slider.

Ingredients:

Mango

Cilantro

Red Pepper

Green Onion

Onion

Lime

Directions:

1- Chop all ingredients and combine in a bowl. Sprinkle lime juice on top.

2- That’s all- you’re done. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Turkey Burger Sliders

Ingredients:

1- Ground turkey

2- King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Directions:

1- Form the ground turkey into slider size patties. Make sure they are small and flat, so they don’t turn into little meatballs instead.

2- Put about 2 tbs of vegetable oil in a non stick skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the sliders and let the first side brown, flip the slider, and let the other side brown. Reduce the heat and cook through.

3-  While sliders cook, cut the rolls in half and then cut some of the extra dough off the rolls to make them a little smaller.

4- Put mango salsa on the bottom of the bun and the slider on top so the mango salsa stays on.

5- Serve and enjoy

And to drink we had:

Magic Hat Wacko Ale. It’s a crisp beer that pairs perfectly with a summer time type dish. It’s not that hoppy, which is good for me. People think Coors is the summer beer, but I think Magic Hat Wacko is much better.

Chicken and Pork Paella

The school year is starting soon, which means I will be back to work and won’t be able to make as many meals that don’t leave leftovers. For the next few weeks, I’ll be testing out some recipes that create leftovers. This is the first recipe in that series. This is an easy recipe that is also easy on the budget. We ate about half the first night and will finish it tonight.

This recipe is from a cookbook I got for next to nothing during my local Borders bookstore closing sale. It’s called Tastes of the Mediterranean and has lots of fun recipes. This is the first I’ve tried from that book.

Ingredients:

1- 1/4 cup olive oil

2- 1 lb chicken thighs cut into cubes (I used two boneless chicken breasts)

3- 7 oz chorizo sausage cut into pieces (I used Nature’s Promise chicken and apple sausage)

4- 7 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced

5- 3 garlic cloves, crushed

6- 1 lb tomatoes, chopped

7- 7 oz green beans, cut in half

8- 2 tbs parsley, chopped

9- 1/4 saffron threads dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water

10- 2 cups short grain rice (My supermarket didn’t have short grain, so I subbed in medium grain)

11- 3 cups chicken broth (I used 2.5)

12- lemon wedges

Directions:

1- Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan or paella pan over medium heat (all ingredients will eventually go in this pan, so use a big one or use an oval Dutch oven, as I did). Add the peppers and cook until soft, about 10 mins. Remove after cooked and set aside.

2- Add the chicken and cook until brown, about 10 mins. Add the sausage and cook for 5 mins or until golden on all sides.

3- Add the mushrooms and garlic and let cook over medium heat for 5 mins.

4- Stir in the tomato and pepper and cook another 5 mins, or until the tomato is soft.

5- Add the beans, parsley, saffron mixture, and rice. Stir together, then add the stock. Do not stir anymore. Set the timer for 30 mins and leave the mixture be. You want a crust to form on the bottom of the paella. After 30 mins, remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 mins. Serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy:)