Monday, June 11, 2012

The Perfect Lasagna


Ok so this lasagna takes some work, and this picture leaves a lot to be desired.  I'll admit it...You really should let lasagna rest for 30 minutes after cooking before dishing it up so it looks pretty and stays in layers, but seriously, who can wait that long.  NOT my husband. 

Fortunately or unfortunately (however you want to approach it) this isn't one of those recipes where you just mix together some beef, some canned spaghetti sauce and layer away (not that those don't have their place in the kitchen.) This lasagna takes some TLC but it is sooooooo worth it.  I've been making the lasagna for awhile now, and there are only a few things that I have changed based on what works best for us.  And let me tell you...it comes out perfect EVERY TIME.  When I’m entertaining a large crowd and really want to wow, I pair this with my cheesy garlic bread.  Just really puts everything over the top!

Lasagna
makes 12 servings
Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb hot breakfast sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans whole tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
3 cups cottage cheese
2 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
1 (10 oz.) package lasagna noodles

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.
3.  In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).

To assemble:
1.  Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary.
2.  Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.
3.  Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.
4.  Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

*If baking from frozen, it will definitely take longer to bake.  Cover and bake at 350° for approximately 1 hour or until the center is bubbling.  Remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes to finish the top.

*I try to remember to set out my lasagna to thaw in the morning that way it isn’t frozen when I get home from work.  Cooking this lasagna after thawing it should only take about 45 minutes

Adapted from

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Easy Cheese Ball



Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite family get-togethers.  We go to my grandma's house and have appetizer type foods and pretty much stuff ourselves all day long.  And once I turned 21? Let me tell you, a cocktail or glass of wine can make a gigantic plate of food seem even better.  I always wondered why the adults in my family had so much fun every year.  My favorite part though, is always catching up and telling old (and new) stories.  I have found I always laugh the hardest on Christmas Eve.

My mom used to always take this cheese ball every year, and once I appreciated how yummy this was, I never looked back!  I could probably sit down and eat a whole bowl of this by myself, but that would be embarassing, and I've never let myself get to that point...well maybe once.  But I am known to make one and eat the rest for lunch the next day, if I'm lucky for there to be any left!  Anytime I need to take a quick fix appetizer to take to work I always fall back on my mom's cheese ball.  People always ask for the recipe, and I always tell them you won't believe how easy it is.  You really can't mess this one up, I promise!


Cheese Ball
Ingredients:
2 blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
2 packages of deli beef (I use Carl Buddig beef, the little $.79 packages)

Directions:
Chop meat and green onions and add to cream cheese.  Mix with hands and form into a ball.  Wrap with plastic wrap and chill until ready to eat.  Serve wth Ritz Crackers.

*Quick Tip: If you have a very sharp knife it is easy to chop the meat and onions.  In a pinch I have been known to use kitchen shears, which makes things super easy.  I also spray my bowl and my hands with just a little bit of cooking spray so more of it ends up in the ball and not on your hands!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Grilled Green Beans



I have to thank my sister-in-law Brandy for introducing me to cooking green beans this way a couple of years ago.  There really isn't much of a recipe...she told me "green beans, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil"...Let me tell you, these green beans are so unbelievably delicious I constantly tell Timothy that I really could eat just a whole entire plate of them.  I really could.  Sorry for all you ham hock & onion, cook to death green bean lovers out there (I still love those by the way) but these are stinking amazing.  And I don't use that word lightly.  Try it, I swear I'll make a believer out of you!

The best green beans I have found are the frozen ones from Sam's Club.  They are whole, long, green beans and are not cut.  You can use cut frozen green beans, those work just fine.  But these are skinny and long and the ends char up really well....So take those beautiful frozen green beans and mix in all the rest of the stuff.  I love garlic so I put in 2 cloves, plenty of salt, and pepper.  If you put too much on, no big deal, it really flavors the green beans and most of it ends up in the bottom of the pan.

Spread them out on a pan, pop them into the oven, and let the magic happen...Mmmmmmmmm, check those out!  There's a few beans in there that have charred edges, but that's the best part.  I usually cook them even further than this, but Timothy was starving, so I pulled them out a little ahead of time.  Still delicious, crispy, flavorful...just plain good!

Grilled Green Beans


Ingredients:

2-3 cups frozen green beans
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°. Drizzle the green beans with enough oil just to coat and give them a little shine. Add the garlic and sprinkle the salt and pepper. I toss with my fingers to coat all the green beans. Place on an ungreased pan (this is where the stoneware comes in handy, but a cookie sheet will do too.) Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until green beans have crisped up on the edges and start to wrinkle. You may want to use tongs to turn them halfway through.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits




A couple of years ago I wrote on a cooking blog called Yum in my Tum with my best friend Lori.  It was a great place for us to store our recipes and try out new things.  Plus I like to think I'm more of the down-home cook and she’s really adventurous when it comes to food, trying all different flavors and textures.  She’s a sushi lover at heart (no really, she is…check out her blog ) and I’d rather have steak and mashed potatoes.  But the blog was a great way for us to mesh our different culinary favorites.  Then she got busy with her photography and design business ( and by the way, she’s amazing) and I got busy with coaching and it sort of fizzled out…But she encouraged me to continue blogging, so I started this little blog, and the rest is history! 

One of my favorite recipes I wrote on that blog was for Garlic Cheddar Biscuits, very similar to a fish lovers chain restaurant…you all know who I’m talking about!  I had been making a simple cheddar biscuit recipe for years but I swear the addition of the cold butter in this one really put it over the edge.  Well fast forward to last week, when I made the homemade baking mix.  I decided to try these biscuits again using my own mix in the recipe, and Oh. My. Word.  Well, I take that back, words really can’t describe these.  They tasted so so close to the deliciousness you get in the restaurant and you really can whip them up in no time!

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

makes 8-10 biscuits

Ingredients:

Biscuits:
2-1/2 cups baking mix
4 Tbsp cold butter
3/4 cup cold milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Glaze:
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Combine baking mix and cold butter with a fork or pastry cutter.  Don’t overmix.  You still want to have small bits of butter in your dry mix. 
2.  Add cheese, milk, and garlic powder.  Mix until combined, but again, don’t overmix. 
3.  Drop onto cookie sheet.  (I use stoneware for this and don’t grease it, but if using a regular cookie sheet, you may want to).  Bake for 15 minutes or until they are lightly brown. 
4.  Mix together your butter glaze and brush on immediately after taking out of the oven.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Homemade Baking Mix


I've been really trying to get back into the swing of things blogging and cooking.  I've even started a little redesign process for this blog that I hope will freshen things up a bit!  I went on a bit of a cooking spree last week and was able to write 5 recipes and take photos of all of them.  Woo hoo!

Two weeks ago, we had the old standby of breakfast for dinner and I made biscuits and gravy.  I used up the last of my Bisquick mix and put it on my shopping list that I needed to buy another box.  I use baking mix for a lot of my quick dinner needs.  I have always wanted to make my own however, because with grocery prices increasing, I knew that this was one area I could cut back.  I have been mixing up and rolling out biscuits with the store bought baking mix for a long time now instead of using the canned biscuits, and let me tell you...it is SO worth the extra 5 minutes, I promise!  I still felt though that there was no reason that I couldn't make the mix on my own.  I looked up a lot of recipes for homemade baking mix and most of them contained shortening.  I'm not a huge fan of shortening, because I think it lacks flavor...butter is my weakness.  It adds so much more of a depth of flavor...and if I am going to add inches to these thighs, it better be because of some flavor!  I found a recipe over at allrecipes.com and adapted it a bit and I think this mix is going to be something that I end up making regularly and keeping in my fridge for a very long time!  I have also listed some extra recipes below that are typical "back of the box" type recipes.  Enjoy!

Homemade Baking Mix

Yields: about 36 drop biscuits
Ingredients:
5 cups flour
1/4 cup baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cold butter
Directions:
1.  Mix together all dry ingredients.  Use a food processor to "cut" in the butter until the butter is well mixed in the dry ingredients.  If you use a pastry cutter, this will take longer but you want the butter to be mixed in well. 
2.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or in the freezer for longer. 

Adapted from
Biscuits
Ingredients:
2-1/4 cups baking mix
2/3 cup milk
Directions:
1.  Heat oven to 450°.  Stir ingredients until soft dough forms. 

2.  Turn onto surface dusted Bisquick mix.  Knead 10 times.  Roll dough 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with a biscuit cutter.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
3.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Pancakes
Ingredients:
2 cups baking mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Directions:
1.  Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°.  Grease with cooking spray, vegetable oil, or shortening.
2.  Stir all ingredients until blended.  Pour by about 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle.
3.  Cook until bubbles appear and edges are dry.  Flip; cook until golden.

Friday, March 16, 2012

For the approximately 4 people (give or take 4) out there in web-land wondering why the heck my cooking has ceased to exist for the past 6 months, well there's been a legit reason...and a pretty big one I have to say.  You see, for at least the end of 2011 I had trouble even looking at food, let alone cooking it.  The culprit?...

So blogging has sort of taken a backseat to our little June bug...but I realized a couple of weeks ago (when I was adding a ridiculous amount of food photos to Pinterest) how much I missed blogging, and cooking, and everything else about it.  Now while my food posts will probably be a little scarce for awhile, my best friend kindly reminded me that I can take this as an opportunity to add some new things to the blog, like how the pregnancy has been so far, and nursery decor (another Pinterest obsession)...So I'm going to try!  I'll attempt to relive this whole pregnancy through this blog...and all the food I've missed out on for the past few months :) Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dill Dip


Every month at work there is a special day...A special day that celebrates all of the birthdays in that month.  My favorite part about this day is that I don't have to pack my lunch.  There is usually enough food to feed an army (you wouldn't believe how much food a bunch of teachers bring to the party) and I love that I can try many different things.  I'm not going to lie, this sampling can last all day.  Grazing as I like to call it.  Don't judge, I just make sure to wear stretchy pants that day...Last week it was birthday celebration day at school and I needed a quick recipe.  I've been making this dill dip since my college days and it is a quick and easy addition to any party.  Dip and sweet bread?? Ummmm yes please.  I'll leave you with this...Ain't no party like a teacher party cause a teacher party don't stop!


Dill Dip
makes 2 cups
Ingredients:
1 cup low fat sour cream
1 cup low fat mayo
2 Tbsp dried dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp season salt

Directions:
Stir together all ingredients.  Cover and chill overnight to let the flavors come together.  Serve with cut up sweet bread or in a sweet bread bowl.

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