Come on in! Let's talk FOOD!

"Bacon grease makes pretty much anything taste better!" is the local philosophy and I grew up on good, down home country cookin'! Although I've ventured into a healthier way of eating (some of the time) I still enjoy many of the favorites of my childhood. I also have a passion for Italian food and I'm slowly but surely learning the pleasures of cooking with fresh herbs. Here I'll share with you a broad spectrum of recipes...some healthier than others, but all of them guaranteed DELICIOUS! : )

*I have imported posts from my other blog. These posts may involve topics other than food, but they do include recipes or food related information at some point in the post. Future posts to this blog will be more strictly food-related but I did want to include these recipes here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meaty Lasagna...the regular version and the 'making do' version

The other day I got a text from my friend Brian asking if I had a really good lasagna recipe I'd be willing to share.  I was more than happy to oblige and while I was at it, I sent him the link to my White Lasagna  for future reference.  Well, he ended up making the white lasagna and loving it.  But that was of no importance to me, you see, because he had already implanted the idea of a meaty, tomato-y, cheesy lasagna in my head.

Now mind you, we've been enduring a horrid heatwave here, just like most of the rest of the country.  Who on earth in their right mind would want to heat up a kitchen for the amount of time it takes to boil the water for the noodles and then bake a pan of lasagna? 

Yeah, that would be me.  I managed to control the desire for several days but I eventually caved and made a pan.  And while I did not find everything I needed in my fridge and pantry, I made up my mind that I was NOT going to the grocery store and I would make do with what I did have.  You know what?  It worked.  And it worked well.  The Hubster said it was some of the best lasagna he's ever had and that kind of praise doesn't come easily around here.  ; ) The original recipe (which is also very good!) is first and I've added my 'making do' changes in the notes that follow. 

Kelli's Lasagna <------  Click here to print!

1lb mild Italian sausage  
1 lb. lean ground beef  
¼ to 1/3 cup minced onion (to taste)  
2 cloves garlic, minced  
1 28oz. can HUNT’S tomato sauce (I always use Hunt’s if I want it to be good! )  
1 lg. can Hunt’s crushed tomatoes  
1 small can Hunt’s tomato paste  
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (if it’s super fresh; if it isn’t very strong, use as much as 1 tsp.)  
Fresh basil, chopped (to taste…I use probably 4 or 5 large leaves…you can use about 1 tsp. dried, but it’s not as good)  
1 lb. whole ricotta (not low fat!)  
4 cups shredded mozzarella (reserve 1 cup for top of dish)  
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  
2 eggs  
1 tablespoon dried parsley  
½ teaspoon garlic salt  
Lasagna Noodles

    Place ground beef, sausage and minced garlic in large skillet. Crumble and brown meat. Drain well but do not rinse. Rinsing takes away all of the flavor! I usually pour mine out on a couple of layers of paper towels, then dump it back into the skillet. Add onions, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian Seasoning. Stir over medium heat until well combined and heated through. Add basil and stir. If mixture seems dry, add a little water or a little more tomato sauce as needed. You don’t want it overly saucy, but not completely dry either.

    Mix ricotta, 3 cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, parsley and garlic salt.

    Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, or use Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles. (If you really want to impress, don’t use the Oven Ready. The texture is a little different.)

    In lasagna pan (or 13”x9” baking pan…or slightly larger) spread a layer of meat sauce. Place single layer of lasagna noodles on sauce. Top with ½ of the cheese mixture. Add another layer of meat sauce and then second layer of noodles. Repeat with second ½ of cheese mixture and final layer of noodles. Top with meat sauce, making sure noodles are completely covered. Sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Cover with non-stick foil (or spray regular foil with cooking spray) and place in a 350* oven for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top turns golden. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

     * If you need to 'made do' because you're out of certain things, it's easy to change it up to suit your needs.  Just make sure that you substitute like items (wet for wet, dry for dry) for the things you're omitting.  I had no crushed tomatoes, garlic cloves, fresh basil or fresh Parmesan.  The sub for the Parmesan was simple...I used good ol' Kraft Parmesan in a shake can.  No problem there.  But the garlic and the fresh basil?  Those were major flavors in this dish.  And since I had no crushed tomatoes, I just grabbed a can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano.  I used about 3/4 of the can in place of the crushed tomatoes and the missing seasonings.  Voila!  It worked beautifully!  : )

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Sweet and Sour Veggie Salad

    Fresh, colorful and delicious, this is one of those YUMMY summer salads that is great to take to cookouts and picnics because it contains no mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise and hot weather scare me.  I don't like a sick tummy.  And this salad has been a hit whenever I've served it to guests.  There is always a chorus of "May I have the recipe?"  And of course I oblige.  : )  Gotta share the goodness!

    Sweet and Sour Veggie Salad <---  Click here to print

    1 can French cut green beans
    1 can whole kernel corn (preferably white shoepeg)
    1 can baby June peas
    1 jar chopped pimentos
    1 green pepper, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    2 stems celery, chopped

    1 cup sugar
    ½ cup oil
    ¾ cup vinegar

    Drain first 5 ingredients.  Pour into large mixing bowl and add remaining vegetables.  In saucepan combine dressing ingredients and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour over vegetables.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate at least six to eight hours, preferably overnight.  Stir occasionally during chilling time.

    *This stuff keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, no problem. :)