You are going to want to run out right now and make this! Its delicious! Its easy! It’s meatless (for those meatless Friday nights, or every night for some of you.)
I have made this twice now and keep forgetting why I dont make it more often. Probably because I just plain…forget.
The only hitch is, you should be using a brownie pan. You know, those square muffin type pans used to make brownies. Like this…
They are more shallow than muffin pans and hold the square ravioili’s perfectly. I tried them in the round muffin pans and I couldn’t get them in there. You would have to use smaller ravioli’s, like some fresh ones I found at the store. Continue reading “Mini Spinach Lasagne”→
(Here is an old post I thought worth regurgitating to you. I want to make this again and needed a refresher. But it all brings back “The Maltese Falcon”. Do you ever associate movies with foods?)
I told my son that I was making Lazy Mans lasagna.
“Hey!” He was offended.
“No, the one making it is lazy, not the ones eating it.” Although I could make a case…nevermind.
Lets get a closer look, shall we?
So much easier than lasagna and just as delish, well in my humble opinion. Not that I’m never making lasagna again. (gasp!) It’d be like giving up an old faithful dog for a cute new puppy. Sort of. Anyway sweetheart, its like this see…
(I should mention that we just finished watching “The Maltese Falcon” with Sam Spade, Private Eye playing the “I’m not going to play the sap” lead, so it may have colored my vocabulary tonight.)
I don’t even have a recipe for this and you won’t need one either. You see, you have to be too lazy to even have a recipe. Thats how lazy you feel tonight. So you line up your cast of characters…
(Fat Man: Well, sir, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names… or shall we go to the…” kitchen.)
Pasta. I used some kind of penne, but egg noodles or another fun shape would do. Not spaghetti types though. Sorry Angel.
Get a large pot of water to boiling and cook the pasta. In the meantime…
A favorite spaghetti sauce. I had half a jar of one in the fridge and a Trader Joes can of marinara I mixed with it and of course added “a little bit of this…a little bit of that…a pot, a pan, a broom, a hat” (oops, wrong movie.) I added some seasoning, but not much, ’cause I’m too lazy. I really don’t need to add any. Just heat it up.
Hamburger. I just happened to have some thawed out. So I fried it up, dicing it and adding it to the sauce. Could have added diced onions. Could have. Didn’t though.
mozzarella cheese. Grated. Some and be ready to grate more. But if you run out, just use what you have ’cause you’re too lazy to run to the store for more. (Your even too lazy to write out the whole word “because”.)
Cottage cheese. I use this instead of the ricotta.
Parmesan, grated. Now this can be fresh grated or the green can for all I care. (“People lose teeth talking like that. If you want to hang around, you’ll be polite”) Sorry Sam. I’ve loved the name Sam ever since my hero, Samwise Gamgee from LOTR.
Lets see, I think that’s it. Get a pot of any size that will fit whatever amount you are making. I used a small round La Cruset baking pan, but almost used the glass Pyrex. But I wanted it to be a little deeper than that to put layers in.
To make it easier on myself (of course) I mixed the pasta with the meat sauce. Then I spooned in a layer of pasta into the pot.
Now a layer of cottage cheese, a layer of parmesan and some mozzarella. More pasta with meat sauce, and the 3 cheeses. Do this as many layers as you have ingredients. I think I ended with 3 layers of saucy-meat-pasta, topping with mozzarella.
Now, under normal circumstances, you would now bake this for, oh, say 30 minutes on 375 oven. But since it was in the high 80’s the day I made it (It was high 90’s today, 90’s!…okay so I’m whining) I decided I had 2 choices.
(“You getting this all right, son, or am I goin’ too fast for ya? )
Get out my holiday roaster and plug it in on the patio to bake it. But that was too much work for a lazy lady like me. So I put on the broiler, figuring the casserole was all pretty hot to begin with anyway and wouldn’t need much help warming up. A broiler was quicker and I had every fan on. Then I walked away for a leedle too long, it cooked faster than a woman can think up a lie. I thought I burnt it! (“You… you imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head you”)
As luck would have it, the cheese got nicely browned and crunchy, just the way we like it around here on top of the “lasagna”. In fact that’s the part we usually fight over. We spooned some out into our pasta plate with some salad (and I pretended not to notice Paul didn’t eat that.) Now Paul had some the next night, since dad and I were having something he didn’t like. And some the next day for lunch. There is one portion left. With narrow eyes we watch to see who is going to try to eat it first.
“You don’t have to trust me as long as you can persuade me to trust you.”
This was lazy, easy, rich and creamy. Enjoy.
“By gad, sir, you are a character”
Maybe I should have called it “Sam Spade Lasagna”. Or “Fat Mans Lasagna.” or even “Effies lasagna”. I bet she was tired at the end of the day and would have made this. (Effie is Sams trusty secretary and all around good Joe.)
“Look at me, Sam. You worry me. You always think you know what you’re doing, but you’re too slick for your own good. Some day you’re going to find it out.”
“Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be.”
“Don’t worry about the story’s goofiness. A sensible one would have had us all in the cooler.”
When I first heard that people were making noodles from zucchini’s I thought they were either terribly desperate or had lost their minds.
And yet here we are. If you are reading this you too must be wondering if I have lost my mind or else you have heard of this growing trendy-pasta-imposter thing and want to learn more.
If you or a loved one you cook for is having trouble either with digesting glutenous foods (or maybe just pasta) or perhaps are trying to lose weight, then making zucchini pasta is a way to get around this and still have something to eat with your meatballs. (Which we had just last night and I didn’t think to take any pics, sorry)
I have heard of mixing half zucchini and half regular pasta to cut carbs, but we went all the way and you know what? It really works!
Zucchini lends very little flavor of its own to whatever dish you are making and holds its shape, making it the ideal pasta substitute.
I am no expert in zucchini pasta but I will share what I have learned.
First, you need some kind of tool. I use a julienne peeler from Pampered Chef. It makes the stringy noodles you see above. It looks like I peeled the zucchini for this batch, but usually I do not. I just start running the julienne peeler down one side of the longest zucchini you can find, slicing it over and over until you reach the seeds. Then STOP!
Turn the vegy over so the flat side is down and start slicing again on the opposite side, until you reach the seeds, then STOP. Now start on another side and so on.
There are spiral slicers you can use to make flat spiral pastas. There are hand crank slicers that you can put zucchini in and they will make long round “pastas” out of them by going around the zucchini instead of just down its length, making much longer pasta. It’s on my Amazon wish list as we speak.
You could even just use a vegetable peeler and peel off thin slices of zucchini to make a type of ribbon “pasta”.
Now zucchini is a very wet vegetable even if it doesn’t feel like it. You will want to drain the excess moisture off. There are lots of ways people do this. One is to slice it, salt it and let it sit in a strainer for a while, like 10 minutes or so. Then wrap in paper towels or cloth towels and wring the dickens out of it. Then, oddly enough, you can put it in boiling water to cook, just like regular pasta, but not for long. I don’t understand that completely. Some people bake theirs on a low setting until dried out a bit.
Usually I just either cook it for 2-3 minutes in the microwave, drain it, then cook it a bit more in the sauce or I saute it, cooking out the water and cooking until tender, then adding sauce. However you decide to cook it, just don’t over do. Especially with the julienne peeled ones. They are very thin and if you over cook them, they might just break apart.
I usually make this with a tomato and meatball sauce but have also made a garlic, oil and Parmesan sauce for a nice side dish to go with maybe steak, instead of pasta or potatoes. Plus there are scads of recipes on the web using this type of “pasta”. Pretty much anything you can imagine.
There are lots of blogs out there showing how to make this type of psudo pasta too. Here are a couple of my fav’s:
Danielle Walker who wrote “Against All Grain” has a blog where she video’s herself making pasta out of zucchini. I tell you, it makes you want to run out and get a hand crank spiral slicer and a bushel of zucchini. Come to think of it though, zucchini pasta probably doesn’t freeze well, so maybe not a bushel. I wonder if you can dry them like regular pasta? Dehydrate them? Should I try it and start a business selling dried zucchini pasta?
I have her book Against All Grain on our Kindle and have relied on it for several meals. She has an awesome Thai “Peanut” vinaigrette recipe I made with a broccoli slaw the other day. I will post my variation of it later on. She doesn’t use peanuts thought because as a legume, they are not eaten on a paleo diet. I guess they are hard to digest for many people, not counting those with allergies. I want to try her ginger-garlic broccoli in the hopes of actually liking broccoli. (which so far has only happened when it is raw, such as in broccoli salad and slaw). And we all loved her barbecue bacon burgers with rosemary-garlic mushrooms.
I also made a variation of her wonderful Thai coconut soup (tom kha gai). I never knew you could have so much fun making soup with coconut milk! Its my new favorite thing. This soup was, as my sister would say, “The bomb!” That post will be next. You’ve got to try it!
Hobbes here must have partied hearty last night because he slept most of the day away.
I was trying to come up with yet another way to use some of these fresh tomatoes that are currently coming out my ears. I freeze lots of them for future sauce, but the little yellow ones I would rather use fresh. Seems kind of silly to freeze a billion little tiny yellow tomatoes. Maybe I could make yellow pico de gallo? Or yellow salsa and can it?
Anyway, I needed a side dish last night, so after looking at a few recipes, I pooled together what I had to make this pasta side dish with fresh tomatoes, as well as basil and parsley I had in the garden.The picture isn’t the best and I figure I was lucky to get even one out of it, we were so busy digging in. I had put a chicken on the rotisserie (one of my favorite summer appliances) and then sautéed some spinach with garlic, which takes all of 2 minutes-DONE! Continue reading “Fresh Tomato Pasta”→
I am going to go out on a limb and say that, if you are reading this post, you probably like lasagna. Maybe even love it and want to marry it. I have spent the cooking part of my life searching for the perfect lasagna recipe.
I think I found the perfect fried chicken recipe.
I know I found the perfect donut recipe.
But I was still searching for the perfect lasagna recipe. Have I found it? I am not quite sure.
There are some frozen lasagna out there that aren’t too hideous. But tastes change too. We used to love Stoffers frozen lasagna back in our early ‘salad years’. Then we found better and better lasagna and left that in the dust.
When I go out to eat, and we happen to get a lasagna, I will perform a dissection first, carefully peeling back layer upon layer of noodles to reveal its delicious stuffing’s.
Fillippis in San Diego was my first taste of jaw dropping lasagna. Theirs was different in that it was layer upon layer of cheese stuffed noodles, with a ‘mama mia!” sauce slathered over the top. I guess like a giant multi-layered cheese stuffed ravioli, covered in sauce.
Now, lets step into the way-back machine and step back several years ago. Hubby and I were in San Diego, and, while driving along, came upon a unique little book store. We stepped inside to pass the time, since we were early for…something. I wandered toward the cookbooks while he checked out books on sailing.
Thats where I found this interesting book called “Carmine’s family style cookbook. More than 100 classic Italian dishes to make at home” (whew). The picture of spaghetti and meatballs on the cover still makes me drool. I am currently drooling on the keyboard right now, with the book at my elbow. There is also a picture of a restaurant on the cover. It would seem Carmine’s is a famous Italian place in New York (and now in DC. as well.) All the pictures looked wonderful and I purchased the book.
I have never regretted it. Every recipe I have tried from that book has won me accolades. Whether it’s the “halibut with seafood risotto” which is actually halibut, shrimp and scallops with a white wine sauce, and risotto. Or steak with peppers and onions. What I really like about it is that each recipe teaches me some basic skill or recipe that I can use across the board with other recipes. Like the Carmine’s bread crumbs. Basic, but it has made all the difference in my meatballs!
Anyway, enough about the book review.
The things I learned about lasagna are this…
Are you ready?
First, make the sauce ahead of time. Like, days ahead of time. It needs to be cool or cold when assembling the lasagna. I never knew this! This one simple thing makes quite a difference in the ease of assembling. So lavage is not a last-minute decision, but must be planned ahead.
Make the noodles a bit ahead of time, rinsing with cool water and tossing with oil.
After baking the lasagna for an hour, let it sit an hour to settle. Who knew? That way it doesn’t slop around the pan and your plate when you go to serve it up.
Lastly, have some hot marinara sauce on the side to pour over it.
So, what happened when I went to assemble that turned it into lasagne-zilla?
I followed the instructions most carefully. I had everything ready to go, cool, mixed and so on.It called for an 8 x 11 pan, which just looked too small to me. So i used my Pyrex 9 x 13 pan. It didn’t look deep enough, but after rummaging around the pantry, garage and cupboards, I realized that I did not have anything deeper that wasn’t just too big.
Or oval. I did not want an oval lasagna.
But it should be alright, right?
I read the instructions and found it would have 5 layers. A meat sauce layer, a ricotta layer, meat sauce layer, another ricotta layer then the marinara layer. All these layers had some mozzarella and Parmesan as well.
I started building.
3 layers in it became apparent that this pan was NOT deep enough. So what to do? It’s not like I could unbuild it. And I had no deeper pan!
E gads! What’s an Italian mama to do?
Then a little voice whispered in my ear. Kind of Field of Dreams.
“Build up the pan with foil” it whispered to me.
“Build up the pan with foil”.
I kind of wish it has said something before I started building. But whatever.
I tore off some aluminum foil, folded it in half and proceeded to ‘tuck’ the foil strips around the edges. But the gooey lasagna did not want to give. Where I pulled away here, it slithered over there. It was like trying to put panty hose on an octopus. I finally took a bench scraper and used it to pull the noodles away from the edge. I pushed the foil down as well as I could and made a dam as it where all around the pan, raising the level of the pan.
It seemed to be working!
I put the whole baking dish on a baking sheet, (forgetting the parchment, oops) and popped it into the 400 degree oven.
It bubbled and cooked.
It grew and grew.
It reached up to just about the top of the foil!
Then I took it out and let it rest.
It settled. It shrunk, it toned down a bit.
And it was fabulous. When I pulled the foil away, there it was, at least an inch above the baking pan, sitting high and beautiful.
It was lasagna heaven! The best I’ve made yet. But not for the faint of heart. First, you had better get a freakishly deep pan to bake it in!
Then, allow yourself several days to leisurely prepare everything. Sauce one day. Ricotta another. I used Costco marinara sauce in jars, so that step was easy.
For those few of you who are not scared away, I will share the recipe in my next post. This one is too long already.
(I noticed that this recipe is 4 years old and needs to be taken out for a dusting. We had some tonight and so I am updating the pics and the recipe just a little.) (I also added a wonderful discovery at the end, unrelated to this dish.)
If you have never heard of this, you would not believe it. Spaghetti with bacon and eggs. Ewww! I pictured a plate of spaghetti with a fried egg on top and maybe some boingy bacon in it.
Then one day I was having dinner out with hubby and friends at a nice Italian place. He ordered Fettuccine Carbonera. hmm, looked good. Creamy with bits of pancetta. He graciously let me have a bite, then two, then…he started body blocking me with his arm and shoulder. I turned to bribery and blatant flirting. Turns out this Roman dish is quite wonderful and so easy to make, it’s just silly. Here are the list of main characters:
You need some pasta, like spaghetti or fettuccine.
You need some eggs, lets say 2, cracked into a bowl and beat until mixed.
You need about 4-6 slices of good bacon. I use thick sliced. Or Pancetta if you can get it. It’ s the Italian equivalent to our bacon.
2 cloves of garlic, whole.
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, or just buy a bend of the 2, like at Trader Joes. Sometimes I use the block of cheese and grate myself. Just not this time.
This dish does not take long to make.
You do not need cream. Some versions use cream, but that makes it a different dish.Good maybe, but different.
Here is what you do:
Boil the water for the pasta. Add salt when it is boiling.
Put a little olive oil in a skillet, maybe brushing it around with a basting brush, and heat on medium heat.
Dice the bacon or pancetta and put into the pan with the oil.
Put the garlic cloves in too.
When the bacon is just crisp, not overdone, take a slotted spoon and lift it out onto a paper towel lined plate. Take out the garlic too and set aside or discard. Leave the bacon fat in the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, I hope you started boiling your pasta. (I actually made 2 pots of pasta, one regular and one corn pasta which is gluten free. Hubby prefers it.) Read the directions on the package and don’t over cook. Probably not more that 8 minutes or so. You don’t want mushy noodles for this. One of the things Roman dishes are noted for is their almost crunch pasta. I’m not saying to make it like that, but time it and taste it. You want it just done, not over. Save some of the pasta water in a mug before you drain it.
Mix half the cheese in with the eggs. Stir it up good. You are about to undertake the only tricky part…
And that is mixing the raw eggs with the hot pasta. You do NOT want to cook the eggs and end up with scrambled eggs in your pasta. That’s what I got when I ordered this dish in Venice. I could not believe it! I would have thought in Italy of all places you would get good Carbonara. But it is a Roman dish, not a, um, Vesuvian?
First, I put the drained pasta in the skillet that I cooked the bacon in and mix it around. The pasta picks up the bacon fat. This gives it a silky texture. If the pan is cool, you can work right from there. If it is still hot, pour the pasta into a mixing bowl at this point. (Remember, we don’t want the eggs to set and became scrambled.
Add the cheesy egg mixture to it and stir it up quick! Toss-toss-toss.Add the rest of the cheese and the bacon. If it looks too dry add some of the pasta water to it. You want it a creamy sauce. Mix it all up. Taste. Mmmm. Need a little salt? Probably not. Both the bacon and the cheese are pretty salty already.
What you will not see in this old picture is peas. I thawed out some frozen peas this time and added them in at the end, both for color and because it’s a veg. Now see a new picture with our new pasta bowls:
That’s it! Once you get the hang of it you will start making it regular like. Impress your friends. Add a Cesar salad and bread sticks. A side of Parmesan Asparagus maybe? Enjoy!
I was at a Pampered Chef meeting (fun stuff, really.) and the guy from Chicago (used to be a policeman, got injured and was strong armed by sister to sell Pampered Chef. Now he loves it and does great!) showed us how he uses the apple wedger to cut his onions for fajitas!
Wow, just never occurred to me to use it for anything other than apples. I am so an ‘in-the-box’ thinking girl.
So, trying to break out of my box, I thought of what else you could cut with the apple wedger. I was making beef stew that night. I got out the little red potatoes and…
So now we know they work for apples, onions and little red potatoes. Anything else you can think of?
This is not cooked with chicken feet! Do not run out and get chicken feet yet!
Yes, there is a story behind this wonderful, creamy dish’s new name, and if you were there, you will never forget it. Let me explain.
We had just haggled at the feed store for 2 golden hens. Their owners had raised them from chicks, in their apartment! They had decided the girls really needed more than a patio to roam on and had brought them to the feed store to trade for a duck. Yes, aduck. Because ducks don’t need a yard to roam in and a pond to swim in, do they? (What were they thinking?)
Here is a weird recipe. I will tell you that upfront.
I found it years and years ago in some book or other, modified it a bit and weird though it is, I LOVE IT!
I only make it once every year or so. Probably because I eat too much of it.
I stopped shoveling it into my mouth long enough to snap a picture though.
It is pretty simple, if you have some sherry around. Really, you must have sherry. It is a key ingredient.
You need some steak. I usually use a sirloin steak. I used to slice it up and saute it in butter, like the recipe called for, but I found it turned grey and steamed instead of fried. Probably because I tried to saute too much meat at the same time. Better to do it in batches. But instead of that I grill or fry the whole steak, then slice thinly.
You can use whatever meat floats you carnivorous boat.
Steak and Pepper Pasta
1 lb. sirloin steak, slice thin and pat dry
¼ cup butter
2 large cloves garlic, (presses in garlic press. Only 2, really?)
3 large onions, cut in half and sliced thinly
2 small green peppers, chopped
¼ cup (or more) dry sherry
2 tsp salt, some pepper
Start the water for the pasta because it seems to take forever to boil. Cook pasta when boiling. In the meantime, while waiting for the watched pot to boil…
In skillet, melt half the butter and sauté half the steak until still pink. Remove to a platter and keep warm while sautéing the other half of the steak. Remove to platter.
Add the vegetables to the same skillet and cook until crisp tender. (I am thinking about 10 minutes.) Add the garlic and sauté a minute more.
Add sherry and seasoning. (Sometimes I would add some Lawry’s here.) If it seems too dry, add more sherry, then cook off the alcohol for just a minute. I don’t really measure it anymore.
Toss in some- lots- of Parmesan cheese. That and the sherry are the main hero’s here.
Spoon out into a pasta bowl and add more parmesan.
I’ve got my spies. Minions who tell me what is going on.
And mama ain’t happy with some of the news about a dirty house, about letting the dog in, about chips and stains on the floor while she is Alabama!
Mama is very happy to see some pictures of the new kitchen, almost done. But I am not heading home until the dishwasher is installed, just so you know.
Day, what is it now? I lose track. Day 5.
We are preparing for dinner guests. I get to play in this nice big kitchen today, making dinner for 8 of us. Easy-peasy. I hope.
First, here are some photos I took around the inn this morning while I walked around looking for pecans to pick up. I plan to raid Aunties freezer of pecans, which cost more than gold back home, so I want to help contribute by harvesting them. Good thing I don’t make a living at it. I hardly had a pocket full.
Okay, now back to dinner. I will give you the recipe here for my chicken parmesan. Then the homemade pound cake recipe will have a link to where you can find it on my new site, “chicken wings n apron string”. More on that in a moment.
Chicken Parmesan: for 4
2 chicken breasts, slice in half such that you have two thin pieces.
some parmesan, grated, about 3/4 cup
flour, some for dredging
salt and pepper
favorite spaghetti sauce, your choice
mozzarella cheese, grated, about 1/2 cup
1 lb. pasta of your choice
It is easier to slice the chicken if it is partially frozen. Slice carefully and watch the fingers. Slice it through the skinny way.
Put the flour in a plate.
Put the eggs, mixed up in a bowl.
Put the parmesan in another plate.
Get a skillet hot and put some oil in it.
Dip both sides of the chicken in flour, then dip in the egg, then the parmesan. Set aside on a plate. When the skillet is hot, lay the chicken in it, not overlapping. I cooked 2 at a time, so they wouldn’t crowd. You only need to fry them about 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and fry another 2 minutes.
In the meantime, while they are frying, get out a baking pan. Put some spaghetti sauce, either homemade or jarred, into the bottom of the pan. Just few spoonsful, not much, but enough so that the chicken is laying on some sauce. As the chicken is fried, lay it in the pan, spooning some sauce around the sides. I do not cover with sauce.
Put the pan into a 350 degree oven and allow to bake 20 minutes. Too long and it will dry out. Too little and they may not finish cooking. Just as it comes out of the oven, I sprinkle on some mozzarella and pop it back in oven for another 5-10 minutes.
While this the chicken is baking, boil some water for pasta. When boiling, cook your pasta of choice. I made mostaccioli pasta which are like penne. When they get done, I drain them and rinse them a little to keep them from sticking. You can also spoon some sauce in with the pasta and it will keep it from sticking. Then hold it until everything is ready. If need be, heat back up my mixing in with the bubbling sauce.
Then I spooned some al dente pasta in a pasta bowl, then some sauce, topped with a piece of chicken.
On the side we had a salad and a slice of Italian Cheese bread. I will have to see if that recipe is posted yet.
For the sauce, I just took a bottle of Ragu, with veggies. But first I browned some diced onions in olive oil. Then added a big heap of garlic. Sizzle, sizzle. Sprinkled in some Italian seasoning, then poured in some wine. I wish I could say it was red. It should have been. But you know, white works just as well. And we had a bottle handy. So I glugged in about..mm…1/3 cup of wine and let it reduce down as it simmered. Then I added a large can of crushed tomatoes and then the Ragu. Some salt, some pepper. Voila! Red sauce madness. Or is it Mad Men Red Sauce? Or Men Mad for Red Sauce?
Earlier in the day, Aunty did what she does best, gets the table setting ready. She has an eye for a lovely table.
Of course it wasn’t the food or the setting that really made the dinner, but the people sitting around the table.
So my new friend, Mrs. Linda Blair made this Baptist Pound cake to share with dinner. Seems she has been making this recipe for her family forever. It comes from an old church cookbook. I have made it several times now and it has come out perfect-EVERY TIME! Great to have with strawberries and whipped cream. Thank you Linda dear!