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Category Archives: Main Dish

Lasagna

lasagna noodles

What could be better on a cold winter night then a big old pan of Lasagna?!  After years and years of trying different recipes, following others, and adapting to my own, I have finally found the perfect combination of sauce to cheese ratio that my family just loves.

 

Lasagna

tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup chopped onion

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage (I have used both ground, and sausage I have removed from casings)

1 Large can of crushed italian tomatoes (good quality)

One 6 ounce can of tomato paste

1/4 cup of red wine for de-glazing the pan

1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

1 /4 cup fresh oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Tbsp of butter

12 lasagna noodles

1 lb Ricotta Cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 large egg beaten

1 lb fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup parmesan to top last layer

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F and move rack to center position
  2. Heat olive oil in the pan over medium heat and add onions cooking till translucent.  Add sausage and garlic, cooking and breaking up till the meat is no longer pink and cooked through.  De-glaze the pan with 1/4 cup red wine, and scrap the bits off the bottom of pan for flavor for about a minute.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered on medium low heat for 20 minutes. Add the tablespoon of butter. This ensures that there is not bitterness from your tomatoes.  If the sauce seems too thick, you can add a touch of water, but I have never found it to be a problem.
  3. While sauce is simmering, soak the lasagna noodles in a pan with hot tap water.  (No cooking of pasta needed, just the soak.
  4. In a large bowl, start the filling.  Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, beaten egg, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Building the layers; start by covering the bottom of the 9 x 12 x 2 pan with sauce, about 1/4th of the sauce.  Next lay out your lasagna noodles.  I use three noodles across and one at the top to fill in the gap.  Then add your mozzarella cheese slices, leaving space between for melting, and then ricotta cheese.  Repeat layers, starting with sauce until your last layer is the sauce again.  Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  6. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling.  Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.
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Kung Pao Chicken

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I have been on a Kung Pao Chicken kick for a few weeks now.  I decided that it can’t be that hard to make, and probably has  a lot less fat and sodium.  With summer coming and gardens abound with zucchini and other vegetables, this is a quick stirfry that can be adjusted to suit whatever vegetables you have on hand or none at all.  

So here is what I came up with on my first try.  I think overall it turned out pretty darned good. 

Kung Pao Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons light sesame oil or vegetable oil
1-2 small zucchini chopped into cubes
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp. chili paste (start with one and adjust to your desired heat level)
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger (can use fresh grated if preferred)
2 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar (whatever you have on hand)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 packet splenda or 2 tsp. sugar
1 sm. can water chestnuts, sliced
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
4 cups cooked rice, hot

Combine chicken and cornstarch in small bowl. Toss to coat and set aside

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet or wok on medium heat. Add chopped zucchini and red bell pepper, cook till tender, not too soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

Next add chicken to the pan.

Stir fry 5- 7 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Remove from pan.

Add onions, garlic, chili paste and ginger to skillet. Stir fry 15 seconds.

Add chicken and vegetables and toss with onions, garlic mixture.

Combine wine, soy sauce and sugar in small bowl and add to skillet.

Stir in nuts and water chestnuts. Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally.

(If sauce seems too thick, thin with a bit of white wine or rice vinegar)

Serve over hot rice.

 

 

Baked Sketti

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I can hear my kids now… Spaghetti again?  Actually it was Monday nights during the football season. Chris wanted nothing else.  For the entire football season we would eat Spaghetti.  The girls to this day I don’t believe like spaghetti very much. 

What reminded me of spaghetti was a friend who ALWAYS makes this dish when the grandkids come over.  They are at the age where they absolutely adore it, but because it is made with a BIG cup of love.  Now if it is especially good…. there is TWO cups of love.

I Was going to take spaghetti and just plop it in a baking dish top it with cheese and go from there, but decided to follow Paula Dean’s advice (yes the buttah lady) and do a slow simmered sauce and layer the ingredients. 

Baked Sketti

1 can diced tomatoes (about 2 cups)
2 cups tomato sauce or your favorite jarred sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup bell pepper (optional)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp of sugar
2 small bay leaves
1 lb of ground beef
14 ounces Smart Taste (small box) thin spaghetti
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup grated Monterrey jack

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large pot, combine the tomatoes, the jarred sauce, water, onions, garlic, parsley, seasonings, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for an hour.

Cook ground beef in a skillet; drain off fat and add to sauce. Cook an additional 20 min.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Cover the bottom of a 13 X 9 X 2 casserole pan with sauce. Add a layer of pasta, then 1/3 of each cheese, repeating layers ending with the sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Top with the remaining cheese, return to the oven and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

 

Healthier Mini Beef Wellington

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What could be better than Beef Wellington?  It is the perfect comfort food. But while watching the waistline expand it is one of those foods that you tend to put on the back burner.  I found a versioin that is only 328 calories and 14 grams of fat. The difference was instead of using puff pastry they used phyllo dough. It was easy to prepare with a great taste. 

Mini Beef Wellington
(Jenny Craig)

8 small beef tenderloin steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 4-oz. each)
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
6 Tbsp. dry red wine
6 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
12 phyllo dough sheets, defrosted
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add mushrooms; cook and stir 5 min. or until tender

Add wine; cook 2-3 minutes or until liquid is evaporated.

Stir in green onions, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8th tsp pepper. Remove from skillet and cool

Heat same skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet and cook 3 minutes turning once. (Steaks will be partially cooked. Do NOT overcook) Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Creat 2 stacks of 6 phyllo sheets on a flat surface, spraying each sheet thoroughly with cooking spray.

Cut stakced sheets lengthwise in half, then crosswise in half, making 8 equal stacks.

Place 2 Tbsp. mushroom mixture in center of each phyllo stack, spreading mixture to diamter of steaks. Place steaks on mushroom mixture.

Bring all 4 corners of each pyllo stack together; twist tightly to close. (like a purse) Lightly spray each bundle with cooking spray; place on greased baking sheet.

Immediately bake in 425 degree oven for 9-10 min or until golden brown. Let sit for 5 min. before serving.

Honey-Mustard Pork Loin & Potatoes

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This dish was inspired by an article from Eating Well magazine. It intrigued me because of the way they did the potatoes in the dish. It is a healthier, lighter version of scalloped potatoes. The orignal recipe calls for turkey cutlets, but I used pork loins.  I also replaced the curry in the original with my favorite herb tarragon. I browned the loins before placing them on the potatoes to finish. 

I think you will agree it is a great twis on an old favorite. Feel free to substitute you favorite herbs or cut of meat.  Make sure that you check the temperature of your meats before serving.

Here is my adaptation of their recipe.

Honey Mustard Pork Loins and Potatoes

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced (3-4 depending on size)
2 Tbsp. Canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
1/4 tsp salt, divided
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 tsp Tarragon
1 pound pork loin chops

1. Prepare oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Placed sliced leeks in a colander; rinse and drain well. Toss the leeks, potatoes, 1 tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/8 tsp salt on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 min., stirring once.
3. Whisk the remaining oil, honey, mustard and curry in small bowl until smooth. Sprinkle both sides of pork loins with the remaining 1/4 tsp pepper and salt.
4. Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Toss the leeks and potatoes with 2 tbsp. of the honey mustard sauce. Place the pork loins on top of the vegetables and spread with remaining sauce. Return to the oven and bake until the pork is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. 12-15 min.

Leftover Turkey

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It is that time where turkey leftovers are getting boring.  I mean, how many sandwiches can one person eat?  Luckily this year I didn’t have a lot of turkey leftover so this one dish used up what I had.  With the weather cold here, and the need for some good comfort food, I decided to make Turkey Tetrazzini.  There are two ways you can make it, the easy way using canned mushroom soup, or the original way making your own sauce and adding your own seasonings. I chose the later, and it was everything I expected it to be.

Turkey Tetrazzini

4 cups sliced mushrooms
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp nutmeg
10 ounces spaghetti
3 cups chopped turkey
1 cup cooked peas
2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs

In a large saucepan, cook the mushrooms in 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. You want to cook them just long enough that the water from the mushrooms is mostly evaporated, takes about a minute or two.

Stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook over low heat for about three minutes.

Add milk, broth, and the wine, stirring and bringing it to a boil. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. At this point throw in the bay leaf, and nutmeg.

While sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted water. Make sure it is al dente.

In a large bowl, or in spaghetti pot, mix the mushroom sauce, the turkey, peas, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan, and transfer to a buttered shallow casserole dish.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the Tetrazzini and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.

Bake the Tetrazzini at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until it is bubbling and browned.

Ultimate Beef Stew

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This stew was inspired by Tyler Florence on the Food Network.  I intended on making his Ultimate Beef stew, but ended up changing quite a few things.  I ended up with my mothers beef stew.  I think it turned out beautifully.    I remember as a kid my father saying, “Laurie, pick out the Bay Leaf.”  Now as an adult I LOVE the taste of bay leaf in my food. 

I used a cast iron dutch oven for this stew.  The heavy bottomed pot lent great browning ability for the beef and left some good bits to be deglazed by the wine (which I used half as much).  The dutch oven is seasoned well, but the lid needs to be seasoned as good as the pot (will work on that this week). I served it along side a crusty Italian bread to soak up the extra sauce from the stew, and a dollup of Tyler’s horseradish sour cream. Yuuuummmm!
Moms Ultimate Beef Stew

Few turns around the pan of olive oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
2 lbs of stew meat, prepared by butcher, or a beef chuck roast or similar cut into 2 inch pieces
salt and pepper

2 cups Burgundy or good tasting red wine
8  sprigs of thyme
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves, less if you are bay leaf shy
2 1/2 cups of beef stock
9 small new potatoes, cut in half
5-6 carrots, depending on size, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 lb. white mushrooms, cut in half
1 cup of frozen or fresh peas

Preheat a large heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat, with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, mix flour salt and pepper together in on a large plate. Dredge the pieces of meat in the flour, shaking off excess and drop into preheated pan to brown meat. You may have to do this in stages. Remove meat to a plate and reserve.

Remove the pan from the burner, and add the wine, returning pan to burner. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the cooked goodies up from the bottom. After the wine has simmered a bit and has heated up, add your meat, thyme, smashed garlic, pepper and salt to taste, bay leaves, and beef stock. Bring it up to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered until the liquid starts to thicken. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours, add your halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acidity of the red wine. Simmer uncovered for 30 min. more or until vegetables are tender. At the very end add the frozen peas, just to heat through, and remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Serve in a bowl with a dollup of horseradish sour cream and a few slices of crusty bread. Can be served on TOP of the crusty bread. Depends on your preference.

Horseradish Sour Cream

1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
olive oil

Combine sour cream, prepared horseradish and drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.