Sunday, October 19, 2014
Friday, October 3, 2014
Every family has there own way of making lasagna. Here is ours - it's a straight up ground beef/red sauce variety, but it gets rave reviews. If I offer to bring a casserole to an event or over to another family who is in need of comfort food, I've always heard, "Can you make your lasagna? It's wonderful!" It's actually not my lasagna; its my mother's version and where she got the recipe, I don't know. I do know that people seem to love it so I thought it was time I shared it here - now my daughters can look up the recipe in a snap as well as anyone else who is craving old school, traditional cold weather comfort food!
Meat Sauce for Lasagna
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place the hamburger into a skillet and break up into chunks with a fork. Dice the onion and add to the pan. Brown the mixture over medium low heat until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are tender. Put the garlic cloves through a press, add to the pan, and saute for 30 seconds. Drain any grease from the pan. Add the sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often.
To Assemble Lasagna:
Cook 8 oz of lasagna pasta (9 strips) according to package directions.
8 oz. ricotta cheese
3 (6 oz.) packages mozzarella cheese slices
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Then, Follow These Steps:
Spread about a fourth of the meat sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Cover the sauce with three of the cooked lasagna pasta noodles.
Spread a third of the ricotta cheese over the pasta. It helps to use the back of a spoon.
Curious about making homemade ricotta cheese? Click HERE .
Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese over the ricotta cheese.
Next, cover with six of the mozzarella cheese slices
Spoon and spread one fourth of the remaining meat sauce over the cheese layer.
Repeat the process again two more times so you end up with the meat sauce on top.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
In the Midwest there is no such thing as an endless summer. Each year in mid-September the night time temperatures start to drop into the low 50's and as the month progresses the days begin to get chilly as well. It's sad to see summer go, but it's also strangely refreshing to witness the change of seasons. The sunshine seems to look golden, the air is crisp, and the changing leaves give the eye a break from the dried out colors of August. In the hot weather, we eat a lot of salads at our house. When it starts to get cool, everyone wants soup. This soup is so easy; no sauteing necessary - just throw everything into a soup pot and simmer until it's done. This recipe works with any legume but our favorites are brown lentils and dried split peas. Serve with some crusty bread and a small salad.
16 oz. legumes: lentils, peas, or dried beans
8 cups chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) package cubed ham
1/2 cup water
2 medium carrots
2 medium celery stalks
1 medium onion
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Peel and slice the carrots, dice the celery, and peel and dice the onion.
Put the carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, thyme, broth, and water into a soup pan.
Rinse, drain, and pick out anything that isn't whatever legume you have decided on.and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium low. Cook until the legume of choice is tender. It will be about 40 minutes if you are using brown lentils. If you are using split peas or dried mixed beans (the beans have to be soaked over night), it will take one hour and 15 minutes. For lentils like the red ones or Belugas, the time will be much shorter, about 20 minutes. Stir every so often, making sure it is not burning on the bottom. Add a bit more water if it gets too thick before legumes have a chance to get tender. Ladle into bowls.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Just going to say it - I got this recipe from the August 2014 Bon Appetite. This recipe isn't a total rip off however; the tomato mixture is the same base for many of our family recipes that my girls love. Some prime examples are in an old entry called "Too Many Tomatoes" (Click Here to View It) . The other day I found myself with that happy problem again. I had gone to a farmer's market and bought a bunch of yellow, green, and red varieties. Then that night Roy came home with several more that one of his secretaries had given him from her garden. I gave some away, used several in salads, and decided to give this recipe a whirl. In the magazine, they used cherry tomatoes, but since I had a tomato surplus, I just diced up what I had. It turned out to be a riot of color on the fresh ricotta cheese spread atop the grilled bread - sort of like confetti at a celebration! What to try to make homemade ricotta cheese? Click HERE
6 tomatoes, various kinds such as red, yellow, even green.
Large handful of fresh herbs such as chives, oregano, rosemary, basil
1 French baguette
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove. put through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 oz. fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
Chop up the tomatoes and place in a bowl. There should be able 3 cups. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper together. Pour over the tomatoes and set aside.
Cut the bread into fourths and then slice each piece down the middle lengthwise. Brush each piece with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Grill about 1 minute per side.
After the bread is grilled, roughly chop the herbs and mix them into the bowl with the tomatoes.
Spread 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese on each baguette piece. Then top each with a generous 1/3 cup of the tomato mixture. Cut in half if desired and serve immediately.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
As it gets closer to Labor Day, I find myself trying hard to hang onto summer. The salad in this post is a copy of one I had in Michigan on a perfect July day. Our family cottage is in Northwest Michigan which besides being the "Cherry Capital of the World", happens to be a good climate to grow grapes. We discovered a great place to rent bikes and a wonderful bike trail that had several wineries along it. Caroline and Adam were visiting for a few days, and our day of biking and viewing wineries was one of the best activities we did during their stay. Before we left the bike shop, the clerk pointed out a few must see wineries on the map and we stopped at one for lunch. We were starved and everything was so delicious - especially the salad. The dressing was made with verjus which is the juice of tart green grapes. I loved it so much, I bought a bottle of it at the winery and it could be bought on line, but champagne vinegar would probably be a good substitute for it. The dressing also included finely diced preserved lemons. I bought those at a middle eastern grocery but lemon zest could be used instead. The baked ricotta and hazelnuts really add a lot to the salad and the dressing wraps it all up in a bunch of lemony yumminess - Enjoy!
Ingredients for Four Salads
1 (5 oz. bags of spring mix salad)
1 1/3 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup plus hazelnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon or 1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup verjus or champagne vinegar
1 small clove garlic, put through a press
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
scant 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper plus a little more for sprinkling
Directions for the Salad
Mix the ricotta cheese with the lemon zest. Brush the inside of a small baking dish with a bit of the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the ricotta mixture in the dish evenly. Drizzle the rest of the 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. If the top isn't browned, place it under the broiler for two minutes, watching carefully so it browns by doesn't burn. Curious about making homemade ricotta cheese? Click HERE .
Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium low heat. Add the hazelnuts and stir for a minute or two until they begin to brown. Watch carefully so they don't burn. When they have browned, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
Whisk together the verjus (or vinegar), olive oil, pressed garlic, preserved lemon (or zest), salt, and pepper. Set aside. Curious about making homemade preserved lemons? Click HERE .
To assemble the salad divide the spring mix between four plates. Put 1/3 cup of the sliced strawberries on each plate. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon dried blueberries and 1 tablespoon hazelnuts on each serving. Cut the baked ricotta cheese into cubes and place 1/4 cup of the cubes on each plate. Give the verjus dressing a good whisk and drizzle 2 tablespoons of it over each salad.
Sprinkle a bit of fresh ground pepper over each plate to finish the salad off.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
It doesn't get much easier ( or tastier) than this! I have found that "cheating" by using frozen precooked shrimp allows me to whip up a meal in about 15 minutes. The shrimp tacos here are so quick to make but they are so yummy. They came about one dinner time when the only protein I had in the house was a bag of frozen shrimp. I was lucky enough to have an avocado and a lime as well as a tomato. I had just gotten back from California after visiting Jenn and I was dreaming of the shrimp ceviche we had eaten out of a paper cup in one of the many fish taco joints near her apartment. The shrimp mixture in these tacos tastes a lot like that; the lime makes the precooked shrimp tastes fresh. With the addition of a corn tortilla, avocado, and tomato - it's a winner!
Ingredients for Eight Shrimp Tacos
1 pound precooked large frozen shrimp
2 to 3 tomatoes
3 green onions
2 limes (enough for 3 tablespoons juice and garnish)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
16 (six inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
16 (six inch) corn tortillas