"World's Best" Lasagna

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"World's Best" Lasagna adapted Big Oven
1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage
1/2 cup Onion; minced
4 cloves Garlic; crushed
28 ounce Tomatoes; crushed
13 ounce Tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Sugar; white
1 1/2 teaspoons Basil leaves; fresh and chopped
1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper; ground
12 noodles Lasagna Noodles
60 ounces Ricotta cheese
4 ounces Mushrooms; sliced
4 EGGS
1 1/2 pounds Mozzarella; sliced
3 ounces Mozzarella; shredded, optional
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese; grated

Directions:  1. In a Dutch oven, cook onion, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat until well browned.
2. Once the onions, garlic and mushrooms are browned, mix in and cook the sausage until browned.
3. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1.5 teaspoons freshly chopped basil, .5 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, .5 tablespoon salt, .25 teaspoon black pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley (optional). Simmer covered, for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. (or cook using hot water in a pan, which is much easier)
5. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with eggs, remaining parsley (optional), and .5 teaspoon salt.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
7. To assemble, spread 1.5 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices.
8. Spoon 1.5 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with .25 cup Parmesan cheese.
9. Add remaining 6 lasagna noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Cover with remainder of ricotta cheese mixture, one third of mozzarella cheese slices, then the remainder of the meat sauce, and then top with remaining one third mozzarella cheese slices and Parmesan cheese. Add extra shredded mozzarella cheese to put this dish way over the top.
10. Cover with foil. To prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
11. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes (don't overheat!).
12. Cool for 15 minutes before pigging out!

Modifications:
-I used Sweet Italian Turkey sausage.
-I used shredded mozzarella cheese.
-The recipe called for 60oz of Ricotta cheese but I used 15oz of Ricotta and 15oz of Light cottage cheese and it worked out just fine.  I actually think that it would have been too runny with 60oz of cheese.
-I used whole grain lasagna noodles.
-I didn't use fennel seeds.

Here's what I started with:


Here's how I did it:

#1  I sliced up some mushrooms, diced an onion and smashed up 4 garlic cloves.


#3 They went into a dutch oven with some olive oil to brown up.


#4 While the onions, garlic and mushroome were cooking.  I took the Italian sausage and removed it from the casings.



#5 Once the onions were browned, the sausage went in.


#6 After the sausage was browned, the crushed tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, fresh parsley, fresh basil, salt, pepper and sugar went in.  Covered and simmered on low for about 45 minutes.


#7 After the sauce had simmered for about 45 minutes to an hour, I preheated the oven to 375 and put some lasagna noodles on to boil.  Once finished, I drained them and rinsed them off with cold water.


#8  I mixed 1 15oz container of Ricotta cheese and 1 15oz container of Light cottage cheese with 4 eggs.

#9 Next came the layering.  I sprayed the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and spread out the meat mixture, noodles, cheese mixture and shredded mozzarella cheese.  After the final layer, Parmesan cheese went on the top.





#10 I covered with tin foil and it went into the oven for 25 minutes and then the tin foil came off for another 20 minutes.


The Finished Product



Review:

This was fantastic; however, it was very labor intensive.  I have a horrible habit of not reading the recipes, other than the ingredients, until it is time to actually make the dish.  I didn't see that the sauce was supposed to cook for 1 1/2 hours!  I just let it simmer for 45 minutes and it still tasted great.  I would say that it would be acceptable to use jarred marinara sauce but I really think you need to keep the onions, garlic, mushrooms, basil and parsley.  

The Sweet Italian sausage tasted good but Scott said that he couldn't tell that it was turkey so you could probably get away with any kind of ground meat (turkey, sausage, pork or beef).

Hope you enjoy!
April

Skillet Beef Stew

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Skillet Beef Stew adapted from Shine
2 Tbsp. cooking oil

2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. dried thyme or oregano, crushed
6 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery, cut in 2-inch lengths
2 medium onions, cut in 1/2-inch slices
6 cups lower-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 recipe Potato Mashers

Directions: 1.In 12-inch skillet brown beef in hot oil over medium-high heat with thyme and 1.4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Remove, set aside. Add carrots, celery, and onions to skillet, cook and stir 5 minutes. Return beef to skillet. In bowl whisk together broth and flour; add to skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Uncover; simmer 10 minutes or until meat is tender. Serve with potatoes. Makes 8 servings.

2.Potato Mashers: In microwave-safe bowl, microcook 8 Yukon gold potatoes (23.4 lb.), half at a time, on high (100 percent power) 8 minutes, covering bowl with vented microwave-safe plastic wrap. Mash potatoes with 1 cup milk, 1.2 teaspoon salt, and 1.2 teaspoon black pepper.

Modification:
-I didn't use mashed potatoes.  I just peeled and cut up some baby red potatoes and threw them in.
-Scott isn't a fan of celery so I didn't add it.


Here's what I started with:


Here's how I did it:

#1 I put some stew meat into some olive oil to brown.


#3 I added some dried parsley to the meat, about 1/4 of a palm full.  I also salted the meat.


#4 Once the meat was browned, I pulled it out and threw in some carrots and 2 cut up onions.



#5 The meat went back in with the onions and carrots. 


#6 In a separate bowl, I put a handful of whole wheat flour into a bowl with a can of beef broth.  I whisked it together and then put it in the skillet.


#7 I added another can and a half of beef broth, covered the stew, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.

The Finished Product:


Review:

This stew was awesome!  This is a very easy, stick-to-your-ribs, comforting, cold weather meal.  The prep time took less than 10 minutes and the rest was just letting it "stew" together. 

Using the beef broth added a lot of flavor but be sure not to re-salt it.  Try to choose a low-sodium beef broth as this could be too salty for some people.

Hope you enjoy!
April





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Chicken (Turkey) Parmesan Burgers

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicken Parmesan Burgers from The Epicurious.com
10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves
3/4 cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce
12 ounces ground chicken (white meat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 large radicchio leaves

Directions:  Blend diced bread and Parmesan in processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.

Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. Turn patties over; top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes. Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves, and warm marinara.

Modifications:
-I used ground turkey instead of chicken.
-I uesd Italian bread crumbs instead of making my own.
-I used shredded mozzarella cheese since that is what I had on hand.
-I used 9 whole grain Italian bread.

Here's what I started with:


Here's how I did it:

#1 I poured the marinara sauce into a sauce pan.  I minced some fresh basil and then put 2 Tbsps of the basil in with the marinara sauce.

#2 Spooned out about 1 1/2 Tbsps of the mixture into a separate bowl.


#3 I grated about 1 Tbsps of onion into the bowl. 


#4 Next came the ground turkey.


#5 I formed the mixture into 3 patties.  I used 1lb of ground turkey.


#6 I rolled the patties in some Italian bread crumbs.


#7 They went into a skillet with some olive oil.  They cooked for about 4 minutes on that side, until they started to crust up.  Then I flipped them over and added some shredded mozzarella cheese.



#8 I covered the burgers so the cheese would melt and let them cook for another 4 minutes or so. 


#9 While the burgers were finishing up, I cut up some 9 grain Italian bread and threw the slices into the oven to toast up.


The Finished Product:



Review:
"Those were awesome!"  Those were the first words that came out of Scott's mouth when we were finished with dinner.  I guess I could just stop right there.  LOL

Even though these burgers were really, really good they were also really hard to work with.  They were really "loose" and wanted to fall apart.  After I got the initial crust on them, I realized that I had probably made them too thick and the middle was not cooking.  I committed the ultimate burger cardinal sin and I split them open and turned the insides facing down so they could actually cook (they had been on for about 13 minutes at this point).  Once they were finished, I just put 2 sides on the bread and covered it with the marinara sauce and basil.  Scott couldn't tell the difference.

As I've stated before, I'm not a basil fan but I am determined to adapt!

I served these burgers with yummy oven-roasted sweet potatoes--cube up some sweet potatoes, add about 1/4 cup of olive oil to coat, liberal salt/pepper and throw into a 475 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Stir at about 15 minute mark.

Hope you enjoy!
April


*****(5 Stars)--This dish was fantastic!

What's For Dinner This Week

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Skillet Beef Stew

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Bulgur, Garbanzo Beans and Cucumber Salad

World's Best Lasagna

Nacho Slide-Size Burgers

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nacho Slide-Size Burgers from Rachel Ray
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 15-ounce can lard-free spicy refried beans
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1/4 cup grated onion
2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 tablespoon ancho or other medium-heat chile powder (about a palmful)
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin (about 1/2 palmful)
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (about 1/2 palmful)
1/2 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika or sweet paprika (about 1/2 palmful)
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) or vegetable oil, for drizzling
24 tortilla chips
2 cups shredded yellow sharp cheddar, smoked cheddar or pepper jack cheese
1 heart romaine lettuce or 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Pickled sliced jalapeƱo chile rings, drained, for serving

Directions: In a medium saucepan, bring about 1/2 cup water to a boil. In a small cup, mix the tomato paste with a few spoonfuls of the boiling water to thin the paste. Add the refried beans to the pan, stirring with the water in the pan to thin out a bit while they heat through. Lower the heat and keep the beans warm.

Place the beef in a bowl and add the reconstituted tomato paste, onion, garlic, chile powder, cumin, coriander and paprika; season with salt and pepper. Form the meat into 8 small patties (thinner at the center than at the edges). Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle the patties with EVOO, add to the griddle and cook for a couple of minutes on each side.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the broiler. Place the burgers on a rack-covered baking sheet and top each with about 2 tablespoons beans. Spread 3 chips with some of the remaining refried beans and pile on a burger (the beans are the glue between the chips). Repeat with the remaining chips, beans and sliders. Top the chips with the cheese and broil for a minute to melt.

Scatter the lettuce on plates or a platter and top with the sliders, tomatoes and pickled jalapeƱos.

Here's what I started with:


Here's how I did it:

#1 Measured out some tomato paste.  I put 1/2 cup of water on to boil.  Once it was boiling, I then put a few spoonfuls of hot water into the tomato paste.

I then put some refried beans in with the remainder of the boiling water.



#2 I put 1 1/2lbs of ground sirloin into a bowl and then grated 2 garlic cloves in with the meat.


#3 1/4 cup of onion


#4 the reconstituted tomato paste


#5 and all of the spices.





#6 I shaped the burgers and put them into a medium-high cast-iron skillet.


#7 I turned on the broiler.


#8 I pulled the burgers out of the skillet and put them on a baking sheet.  The burgers did fall apart a bit.


#9 Next came a couple of tablespoons of the refried beans onto the burgers with some tortilla chips and cheese.


#10 They went into the broiler for a couple of minutes.


The Finished Product:


Review:

These little burgers had such good flavor.  They did fall apart a bit while in the skillet but I was able to form them back together on the baking sheet and then "glue" them together with the refried beans.  The actual ground sirloin and herbs could definitely be used in tacos and would taste great!  I think that I will start using this recipe instead of the little taco packages.

I served them on a bed of lettuce with some tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream and salsa on the side.  I ended up just tearing my burger all apart and basically made a "nacho/taco" salad out of mine but Scott kept his as a burger. 

Hope you enjoy!
April