Monday, August 31, 2009

Basil Pork Chops

Sorry for another hiatus! This summer has been absolutely crazy, and really it's not letting up anytime soon (even though summer is almost done). My mom did a staycation this past week at a resort in Scottsdale, so we spent some time up there with her. My friend Jen B. went with us last Wednesday and we hung out at the pool and had lunch. I didn't make dinner because I was still full from the yummy bacon burger I had for lunch--a total indulgence for me! Thursday the boy spent the night with my mom, so the husband, baby, and I went out to dinner at Los Dos Molinos, a Mexican restaurant near us that I'd wanted to try for a long time. Then Friday the husband, baby, and I headed up to the resort for the weekend. It was a great time, although it got off to a really rocky start. We witnessed a horrific car accident. Not a fun way to start our fun weekend--especially since I initially thought the husband had been hit by the car that ran a red light. Oh man...sucky, let me tell you! Anyway, we came home yesterday, but after a big breakfast we weren't really hungry for dinner. So now today it's back to it, but only for a few days. I think next year I'm making no travel plans!!

I had originally slated a new recipe for tonight from the Meal Planning 101 blog that I like so much, but after looking at the recipe again today I decided I didn't want to have to go get ingredients for it. I thought I had more of what it called for, but when I realized I'd need about five things for it I figured it wasn't worth it. Plus I couldn't have made it to the store anyway as the boy napped until 4:15 and the baby is still sleeping! I remembered this recipe that I had made awhile ago and really liked. The mushrooms in it stuck out and is how I remembered it. My mom gave me some mushrooms she wasn't going to use, and they really need to be used up today, so I thought this was perfect for tonight.

Basil Pork Chops

I think on the side we're going to have something similar to a potato recipe I made awhile back from Cook's Illustrated:

Skillet Roasted Potatoes with Chili and Cumin

The chili and cumin is a variation on the original recipe, I'm just going to skillet roast them with the olive oil and salt. When we were at Trader Joe's lately the boy picked up a bag of red, white, and blue potatoes (which is funny since he doesn't like potatoes), so I'm going to use those for it. Not sure on a veggie yet, maybe carrots or green beans because I know I have both of those in the pantry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

So, the chicken sausage recipe author said she had made mashed sweet potatoes to go with the sausage. I did another search on RecipeZaar to see what I could find because I conveniently had bought a bag of sweet potatoes at Trader Joe's last week. I really had no idea what I was going to do with them, other than maybe puree them for the baby to eat since he refuses to eat baby food anymore. This sounded easy, I had all the ingredients on hand, and it was listed as kid-friendly. And I figured without the honey in it the baby could have some too.

Apparently it's an Emeril recipe.

Emeril's Sweet Potato Mash
RecipeZaar Recipe #381427

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey

In a large pot over high heat, bring the sweet potatoes and water to a boil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Drain well and return to the pot.

Add butter, salt and pepper to taste, cinnamon and honey and mash until all ingredients are combined.

Serve immediately.


I used to not really like sweet potatoes, except at Thanksgiving with the marshmallows on top, and really then I always considered the sweet potatoes to be merely a vessel for the marshmallows. I don't know at what point I've started enjoying them, but it's been pretty recent. Actually over the weekend I had some sweet potato fries that were really yummy. I digress. This is one of the first times I've made sweet potatoes, and I have to say I was really quite pleased with how they came out, even though the recipe is pretty fool-proof. Everyone at my table liked them. The baby tore through his bowl, the husband had seconds, I scarfed down my portion. Yum. Super easy and a great new side dish to add to my arsenal!

Balsamic Braised Chicken Sausage

As you may have guessed, I decided to skip the cassoulet and find something else to make instead. I tell ya, it was getting a little hairy there for a minute because I needed to start the cassoulet at 4:30 and it was 4:27 when I was still looking for a new recipe. But, I found one on, of course! There was by no means a lack of recipes utilizing chicken sausage, I just didn't feel like having pasta or soup. Finally I came across this one, and I had all the ingredients for it. I love when the stars align like that!

Balsamic Braised Chicken Sausage
RecipeZaar Recipe #280394

4-8 links chicken sausages (I used chicken apple sausage)
1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Put sausage and red onion in a large skillet. Add chicken broth, EVOO, and balsamic vinegar until it comes about half way up the sausages.

Cook over medium high heat until all of the liquid is evaporated. If you like balsamic vinegar you may want to add more to make more of a glaze.


Okay, I'm glad I decided to forego the cassoulet because this was FANTASTIC!!! Even the boy ate an entire sausage link himself, which I didn't figure he would. I used Trader Joe's garlic herb chicken sausage. The sausage was so juicy and flavorful. Yum!!! The husband agreed we should have this again, but I think he'd rather I cook two packages of sausage next time since there are only four links in each package. I made some mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish...that recipe will be coming next!


I have to say that I'm not really excited about dinner tonight. It sounded good when I read the recipe last week, so I put it on my menu plan for the week, but now I'm not excited. It just sounds too winter-y to me and not overly appealing for a 100+ degree day. But, I don't really want to come up with a new plan, so I'll just have to suck it up and go with it.

This is a recipe from the cookbook my message board put together. Just about every recipe I've made from it has been good, so I'm sure this will follow suit, I'm just not excited for it.


1 pound chicken sausage, cooked
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can black beans
1 can tomato sauce
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 small onions, sliced, rings separated
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme

To prepare the sausage, halve lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Rinse and drain the beans well to remove as much salt as possible. Combine all ingredients into a bowl, mixing thoroughly. Transfer to an ungreased baking/casserole dish. Cover and bake at 375 for 60-70 minutes or until carrots are tender.


I guess it's early enough that I still have time to come up with a new dinner idea. The idea of having my oven on for that long isn't appealing either. I'm so torn. I really want to try this, but I just don't know if today is the day.

Niman Ranch Burgers

Apparently I'm on some sort of Barefoot Contessa kick lately. My dinner plan for last night failed (more on that in my next post!!), so I quickly had to come up with something new to make at 5:30. I had made hamburger buns to use with my original dinner plan, so I figured I'd just go with some kind of burger. I remembered that my friend Jen B. had made these burgers and raved about them, so I pulled out my Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook to see if I had everything on hand for them. I did! Well, mostly but I'll get to that in a minute.

Niman Ranch Burgers

1-2 pounds ground Niman Ranch beef OR other beef (80 percent lean and 20 percent fat)
1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the grill
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 sandwich-size English muffins, halved OR toasted hamburger buns of your choice
Good mayonnaise, for topping
Caramelized Onions, recipe follows

Build a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill.

Place the ground beef in a large bowl and add the mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix gently with a fork to combine, taking care not to compress the ingredients. Shape the meat into 6 (3 1/2-inch) patties of equal size and thickness.

When the grill is medium-hot, brush the grill grate with oil to keep the burgers from sticking. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 4 minutes. Using a big spatula, turn the burgers and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until medium-rare or more, or cook longer if you prefer hamburgers more well done.

Meanwhile, break apart the English muffins and toast the 6 halves cut side down on the grill. Spread each half with mayonnaise and top with a burger and then with a heaping tablespoon of caramelized onions. Serve hot.

Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and sliced in half-rounds
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large shallow pot, add the onions and thyme, and toss with the oil. Place the lid on top and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes to sweat the onions. Remove the lid and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. If the onions are cooking too fast, lower the heat. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes, scraping the brown bits from the pan. Season to taste (they should be very highly seasoned).


I had to make a few slight changes. Like, I don't keep Niman Ranch beef on hand. I wish I sounds fantastic! But, at $7/pound it's kind of out of my price range for ground beef. And I don't know where to get it here in Phoenix. I didn't have English muffins, but that was fine because I had made whole wheat hamburger buns with the intention of using them. Sadly I didn't have enough time for the onions to really caramelize, but they were almost there.

The husband had one burger as written in the recipe and one with ketchup, onions, and American cheese. He said the one with cheese was his favorite, but I think if I were to have cheese on it, I'd want something like Swiss or Monterey Jack, but I really liked them as they were--mayo and the onions. These were a really tasty, flavorful, easy burger to throw together! We will be having these again.

Stuffed Eggplants

I had originally slated a vegetarian moussaka recipe in my meal plan for Sunday night, but then after reading it again I decided it didn't sound very good. I had already bought the eggplants for it, so I needed to find something different so they didn't go to waste. I was looking at my cookbook shelves and saw one of my great aunt's cookbooks called Healthy Heart, so I thought I'd give that a try. I had all the ingredients except mushrooms, but since I needed to go grocery shopping anyway that wasn't a big deal.

Stuffed Eggplants

One 1-pound eggplant
Kosher salt for sprinkling
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
i garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried
1/8 tsp kosher salt, optional
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup multigrain bread crumbs
1/2 cup egg substitute

Trim off the stem and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Make slits in the flesh and salt the halves. Place in a colander and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse, then wipe off all salt and moisture. Leaving a 3/8-inch shell, remove the flesh with a small paring knife or grapefruit spoon and dice.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes. add the diced eggplant, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are cooked through, about 15 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, stir in the bread crumbs and egg substitute until well incorporated and the eggs are cooked.

Mound the stuffing in the 2 eggplant halves. Place in a baking dish and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish without touching the stuffing, about a quarter way up the sides of the eggplant. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil from the baking dish and cool for 5 minutes. Slice in half with a sharp knife and serve immediately.


I had two smaller eggplants, so I went with those instead of one big one. And I just realized when typing this out that the mushrooms were to be chopped; mine were sliced. Oops. I also didn't feel like making breadcrumbs, so I just used some panko I had in my pantry.

These were pretty tasty, although I think I'd change a couple things. I thought some pine nuts mixed in would have given it a little bit of needed texture and crunch, and some parmesan sprinkled over the top would have been good, too. We all really liked them, even the boy at all of his filling! These were really easy to put together and a good dish to add to my eggplant arsenal. ;)

Peach & Blueberry Crumbles

One of the grocery stores near me had peaches for the amazingly low price of $0.39 per pound. I know, right?! Super cheap!! So I bought something like three or four pounds of them. I still had some blueberries in my fridge from when they were on sale the week before, and I had remembered seeing this Barefoot Contessa recipe. I love a good summer fruit crumble/cobbler/call it what you will, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Peach & Blueberry Crumble

For the fruit
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.


I ended up letting the fruit mixture set for longer than five minutes because I realized I needed to get started on our dinner, but I don't think it made any big difference. This was a FANTASTIC dessert. The boy helped me mix it up, but they were still too hot for him to have one before his bedtime. The husband and I each had one for dessert later and were in total heaven. I loved the combination of peaches and blueberries together, and the crumble on top was super tasty! I will definitely be adding this to my summer dessert repertoire!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mango Banana Daiquiris

Quite awhile ago, my friend Jen B. told me about a blogging group that makes recipes from the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks called Barefoot Bloggers. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I heart Ina Garten, so I was very excited to find this group and be accepted as a member!

Each month, two members each choose a recipe from one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and all the members of the group make those two recipes. I missed the actual date this was supposed to be done, but I think as long as I post by the end of the month I'm still allowed in the group. ;)

The first recipe for August was Mango Banana Daiquiris, chosen by Veronica of Supermarket Serenade. The husband is from New Orleans, and if you've ever been to New Orleans you've probably seen (or gone through) a drive through daiquiri stand (apparently if there's a straw it's considered an open container but no straw is fine). He is always game for trying some kind of daiquiri. I thought this would be a great accompaniment to our grilled pizzas tonight (which actually might end up being baked in the oven instead of grilled because it's looking a bit stormy outside).

Mango Banana Daiquiris
serves 4 (or 2 if you're at my house!)

2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup*
1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay
Mango slices, for serving

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.

*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.


Mmmmmm...I love me a good fruity frozen drink. I hate cutting up mangoes, so I took the easy way out and bought a bag of frozen mango chunks at Trader Joe's. My bananas aren't super ripe, but I'm not too concerned about it. Heck, it may give me a reason to try these again soon. ;)


You know what I just saw? This is my 600th post! How exciting!!

It's Saturday night now and the husband and I just finished off ANOTHER batch of these bad boys. We had two batches last night. I think we've found our summer go-to drink (fantastic, now that it's late August)! These are so super yummy. When I said my bananas weren't that ripe--wow, that was the understatement of the year. They were still green and difficult to peel. I think with ripe bananas, these would be even better. I added a little more simple syrup to try and compensate for the lack of extra sweetness ripe bananas would have added to it. I found the first batch to be too limey (which may have been because I just haphazardly squeezed in juice from four limes instead of measuring it out), and we left the lime juice out of the second batch. Now, whether they were really better without the lime juice or if it was just because we were on batch #2, I'm not sure. The husband wanted to add more rum, and I tried to convince him to just try them as they were, but he insisted that it needed another shot. He added one to his and then said it was too much rum. He obviously doesn't know to trust Ina!! Although, I did add 1-1/2 cups rum instead of 1-1/4, so I guess technically I did add extra but not once they were done.

Ina, once again you've done me right!!!!

Pizza Night!

I know I missed a couple nights posting, but there wasn't anything new, so you're not missing out. I'm so, so, so, so, so excited for dinner tonight! It occurred to me that we hadn't had grilled pizza for one of our Friday mini date nights, so I put it on my meal plan for this week. I wasn't sure what toppings to do on each until today, although I did buy dough at Trader Joe's earlier this week. I was thinking back to pizzas we've really liked, and I remembered the veggie pesto pizza we had awhile back. I knew I had pesto in my freezer and most of the veggies in my fridge, so I decided it was meant to be. Here's my original post:

Veggie Pesto Pizza

I don't know why I feel the need to have two pizzas, but it's nice to have a little variety I guess. I was looking at another food blog that I really like, Aggie's Kitchen, and saw a pizza that looked fantastic. Actually I was looking at the pictures on her Facebook fan page and saw a picture of a different pizza that looked yummy and while searching her blog for that one I came across this pizza. How's that for confusing?! Anyway, I didn't think the husband would dig it if I told him what it was, so I sent him a picture of it from her blog and he thought it looked tasty. Actually I gave him the choice of this or BBQ chicken and he said "whatever" so I chose this...I interpret that as him thinking it's tasty. ;) I can't wait to try this!!

Spinach Alfredo Pizza

Spinach White Cream Sauce - melt 2-4 tb butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tb of flour into butter, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups half and half to butter mixture. Add dash of salt, pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg to cream. Bring to a simmer, continually stirring to avoid bottom of pan burning. Simmer for few minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Take sauce off heat and bring to room temperature. Add 8oz thawed chopped frozen spinach to sauce.
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese


Okay, so there isn't a real recipe I guess, but I'm going to assume that anyone reading this can figure out how to assemble a pizza. Dough, sauce, cheese, go! Doesn't it sound amazing? You should go see the picture of it on her! The recipe title up there is a link to the post on her blog, and if you scroll down you'll come to it. Or if you're lazy like me, hit Ctrl+F to do a search and type in "spinach" and there you go.

I can't wait for dinner!! My kids' bedtime can't get here soon enough! Of course, the baby is still napping, so I'm thinking he's going to need to be woken up here soon so that he goes to bed at a reasonable time!

ETA: In a crazy twist, Jen B.--whom I originally got the pesto pizza recipe from--got the idea/recipe from Aggie's Kitchen as well! So I guess it's Aggie's Kitchen's Pizza Night at our house this evening!


Mmmmmmm...these were both really good pizzas! My white sauce for the spinach pizza got a little too thick because I added an extra tablespoon of flour, forgetting it would thicken up as it cooled. oops. It wasn't bad, just a little thick. I probably could have put a little more pepper and nutmeg in it as well. I wouldn't hesitate to make it again, though. Tasty!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pork Katsu Donburi

I'm so excited for dinner tonight. I was feeling kind of ho-hum earlier today about what we were eating this week, but then I looked at my meal plan again and wondered why exactly I felt like that because there are some tasty things slated for every night! I've been thinking about this dinner for a few weeks now, how we haven't had it in so long. I don't know why I haven't made it more recently (apparently St. Patrick's Day was the last time...yikes).

Pork Katsu Donburi

Yum, yum, yum! I cannot wait for dinner. I went to Trader Joe's today (the boy's preschool is a mile away from TJ's...that may end up being detrimental to my grocery budget) and got some egg rolls, so we'll have those along with this.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grilled Caesar Salad

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back into the blog updating game. We got home from my cousin's wedding last Monday night, but I was super lazy all last week. Then the husband and I had our first overnight date night this past weekend since before the baby was born! It was fantastic!! Now today I'm trying to get back into the groove of everything. Really I could use a day to recover from the weekend, but what are you going to do.

I wasn't really sure what to do for dinner tonight because I don't think I'm going grocery shopping until after the boy goes to bed, so I needed to come up with something that I already had the ingredients for. I bought romaine hearts at Costco last week and remembered seeing recipes for grilled romaine. I thought a caesar salad would be a nice, light dinner for tonight since we're still recovering from excessive food and drink from the weekend. I found recipes on for both grilled romaine and a Caesar dressing for which I had all the ingredients. I'm excited for dinner tonight!

Grilled Caesar Salad
Recipe #3624450
1 romaine lettuce hearts, sliced in half with stem still attached
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
2-4 tablespoons prepared caesar salad dressing
1/4 cup crouton
anchovy (optional)
fresh shaved parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)
1/2 lb grilled chicken breast, well seasoned (optional)

Preheat grill to medium high. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over romaine and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Place cooked romaine on 2 plates and drizzle with dressing top with anchovies, cheese and or croutons. Enjoy!

Low Sodium Caesar Dressing
Recipe #98907

1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves roasted garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Blend all ingredients. Shake or stir before serving.


I don't think I'm going to roast just four cloves of garlic, so I'll just use regular garlic. I don't have eggs or mayonnaise on hand right now, so I had to filter those out of my search results because a lot of the recipes called for those. I'm excited to try both this dressing and the grilled salad. I will grill a chicken breast or two as well to throw on top of the salad.


The husband and I were both pretty skeptical of how this was going to turn out and had a frozen pizza in mind as our back-up plan. We were both really surprised--this was FANTASTIC!!! He was probably a little more worried about it than me because I don't think he'd ever heard of grilling lettuce before, but the flavor of the lettuce after it was on the grill was really tasty. And this was super fast and easy to put together; the longest part was grilling the chicken! This is definitely something I will make again. It was a great summer dinner, too, as it was really light!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I'm back east for my cousin's wedding, hence the lack of posts. I am in clam heaven back here!! We met my cousin and her maid of honor for lunch yesterday, and I tried Rhode Island Clam Chowder. I swear I was reading about this somewhere recently but can't for the life of me remember where. It's a clear broth instead of cream or tomato. When I saw it on the menu I had to try it, and it was super tasty. I think the broth must have been clam juice. It was really good, and I have to assume it's healthier than New England clam chowder, which I love though too. I had an oyster roll for lunch, which is the Yankee version of a po' boy. Or so I figure.

Today we went to Newport, RI for the day. What a cool town! It reminded me of a CA beach town only a lot bigger houses and a lot more old money. We did a harbor tour and saw some of the amazing mansions built during the Guilded Age that were used merely as summer homes for 8-10 weeks of the year. Then for lunch we went to a seafood restaurant. My cousin (not the one getting married, her brother) said his friend told him that grilled clam pizza is big back here. Sounded interesting, and they had it on the menu, so I tried it. Freakin' awesome!!!! It was a white sauce pizza with little chunks of grilled clams...yum. I was quite happy with my lunch selection! My brother had a yellowfin tuna sandwich that was good, too.

Tomorrow night is the rehearsal dinner, and I will be having my first lobster roll. I'm pretty excited for it!

Monday, August 3, 2009


One of my favorite food blogs is Food Is To Love. She has some fantastic sounding recipes she's posted, and I feel a kinship to her because she has trouble growing plants as well, although her tomatoes are doing a heck of a lot better than mine. I was going back through her blog over the weekend reading all the recipes and saw this one. Tonight is our last Bible Study, so we're having a potluck and Wii tournament. I thought lasagna would be a good choice because I could have it assembled early and everyone likes lasagna. I was debating if I should make my usual lasagna or my grandma's recipe, and then I saw Andrea's and thought I'd give it a go.

Andrea's Lasagna
© 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb hot Italian pork sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves minced garlic, separated
2 large cans whole tomatoes
1 large can tomato puree
1 small can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 egg
1 large container part-skim ricotta
2 tablespoons dried parsley, or 1/4 cup fresh
6oz fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 thinly sliced
1/2 -3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
9 lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional kosher salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until there is no more pink. Remove the meat and drain the liquid/fat over a bowl. Put about 1/4 cup of the beef and pork fat back in the pot and cook the onion and green pepper for 3-4 minutes, then add the 3 of the cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Next add all your tomato products (2 cans whole tomatoes, 1 can puree, 1 can paste), the bay leaves, sugar, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. 2 1/2 hours will give you a thicker sauce, which means a firmer lasagna. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. The whole tomatoes should have broken down. If they are still mostly whole, take a potato masher and break up a little.

While the sauce is simmering, in a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Mix in the ricotta, last clove of minced garlic, parsley, cubed mozzarella, half the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. (I always use fresh mozzarella and grate my own parmesan. I think pre-grated and shredded cheeses are too dry and lose a lot of their flavor. Buying it whole and cutting/shredding yourself is more work and costs a little more, but the flavor is stronger so you'll actually end up using less.)

When your sauce is almost ready to use, heat a large pot full of water to boiling. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook your noodles for about a minute less than the box directions say to. Drain and spread out on a couple of kitchen towels. Cover with a damp towel.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pour a large ladle full of sauce in a 9 x 13 pan (9x11 is okay too, but you may need to trim your noodles to fit them), and spread out. Now layer 3 noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1 or 2 ladles of sauce, 3 noodles, 1/3 ricotta, sauce, 3 noodles, the last 1/3 ricotta mixture and another ladle or two of sauce. Press down after each layer of noodles. Top with the thinly sliced mozzarella, tearing with your hands if needed, and the rest of the parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the broiler to 500, leave the oven door open slightly and brown the top of the lasagna for 3 or 4 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes (The longer it sits, the easier it will be to remove from the pan). Serve with some crusty bread and a salad.


I had to go grocery shopping with both kids this morning, and I didn't want to take the time to find fresh mozzarella, so I just bought shredded. Taking both kids grocery shopping I think is the third level of hell, so I try to make it as fast as possible when I have to do it. Oh, and I forgot to get a green pepper. I may have one in the fridge. I need to get my sauce simmering so I can let it go for awhile and still have time to assemble the lasagna. Mmmm...I can't wait for dinner tonight!


Wow. WOW. This lasagna was AWESOME. The sauce is my new go to meat sauce--I couldn't stop taking bites of it while it was simmering. I had to tell myself several times to step away from the pot of sauce. The husband had the same problem when he got home and tasted it. Based on the sauce I figured the lasagna itself would be good, and it was. Everyone loved it--there was only one small piece left after all was said and done last night. I think with fresh mozzarella it would be even better. I had a bit of an issue with my parmesan cheese--I was just about out so I went out to my garage fridge to get the chunk I had purchased recently at Costco, only to find it was moldy! Gross!! It wasn't that long ago I bought it, and the sell by date wasn't until November, so that will be getting returned!! So I was kind of shy on the parmesan, but it was still super tasty. I really wish there was more left so I could have some today, but the husband has already claimed the leftover piece for his lunch.

Thanks, Andrea, for sharing a fantastic recipe!!!