Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lasagna - Garfield knew what he was talking about!

Comfort food - why is it that MOST of the things that we love so much, that make us happy, that remind us of home, of love, of comfort, of true joy, are horribly bad for us?? Lasagna is one of those things that is full of the stuff that we are supposed to avoid. I absolutely refuse to make it with turkey sausage or soy cheese or fat free ricotta... that would just ruin it! Some things need to be done RIGHT :)

That brings to the table the other challenge for this particular lasagna. David and Nate did my grocery shopping for me. I was very specific about the brand of toilet paper and the conditioner that Kami needed for her hair. I guess I thought some things just go without saying. We eat out of the same refrigerator, right? I typically buy the same brands, the same things week in and week out. When I buy shredded cheese, it is always in the biggest bag I can find. Parmesan is almost always a hard wedge that I grate myself as I need it. And while we are on the subject - if I put hard taco shells on the shopping list, get hard taco shells. Don't leave them out because I am the only one that wants them... there... I feel better now!

Cindi told me that if I am making lasagna tonight, I need to post the recipe. So that is what I am doing. I will say that I use my own homemade sauce (recipe posted a while ago. look it up, make it and freeze it in 4-6 cup containers for nights such as this). So Cindi - here you go. I will try and remember to bring you a piece tomorrow night :)


1 box lasagna noodles - UNcooked (trust me - it works every time)
4-6 cups of meat spaghetti sauce
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, of course)
2 eggs
1/4 c. parsley
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
4 cups shredded mozzarella (or apparently colby-jack works, too)
1 1/2 c. water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your lasagna dish with extra long pieces of aluminum foil. It makes clean-up much easier! In a large bowl thoroughly mix the ricotta, 1 c. of the Parmesan, 2 eggs, the parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In the bottom of the baking dish spoon 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce and 1/2 c. water. Layer one layer of lasagna noodles (about 5-7 depending on the size of your dish). Top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Spread over the noodles. Top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and 1 cup of spaghetti sauce. Drizzle over 1/2 cup of water. Layer 2nd layer of noodles, top with 1/2 of remaining ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella, then another cup of sauce and then the remaining ricotta mixture. Top with third layer of noodles, remaining sauce and final 1/2 cup of water. Wrap tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. Remove the foil wrapping and top with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese and 1/2 c. Parmesan. Return to the oven uncovered for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

In this particular lasagna I added 6 Italian sausages that I baked last night and sliced in thin slices between the layers of pasta.

I'm off to eat, now that I have blogged about it :)

Enjoy your dinner. Until next time, stay warm (it's freezing in Tennessee) and safe, my friends!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Oven Baked Talapia

I keep wondering if I will ever get back to this on a consistent basis. I hope that I will this summer. For now, I made Talapia tonight with corn and a pasta salad. Kami started the salad... she cooked the pasta, made vinaigrette and tossed in some black olives. She was happy to leave it at that. I, on the other hand, had to take half of it out and add in marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, green peas and cooked diced carrot. It was much tastier that way :)

I love my "job", if you can call being a self-employed writing teacher a job. I have great students that may not always want to be there, but they engage (most of the time) and at least they do their work (most of the time). I will miss them during the summer, but to tell you the truth, I need a break - and they do too!

Baked Talapia

Talapia fillets
olive oil
bread crumbs
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Lay the fish fillets in an even layer. Sprinkle with dill, parsley, salt, pepper, zest of lemon (save lemons for juicing over the fish when cooked), and bread crumbs. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and toss in the oven. Bake until cooked through - around 15 minutes.

ps. I was gifted with some delicious coarse sea salt (some from Sicily and some from Spain), Hungarian paprika and several other spices/seasonings from some of my students. I used the Hungarian paprika and the Sicilian sea salt to make this dish. Thanks Lilly, Abigail and Tyler!

Until next time (I'm thinking lasagna??)
Stay warm and dry, my friends!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Croissant French Toast - Ali's Last Trip Home from College

Now don't freak out by the title. She is moving home on Wednesday at the end of her first year of college. Next year she is going to live at home, so she will no longer be "coming home" from college :) I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by. She is one-quarter of the way through college - at least her undergraduate degree. Knowing this typical first child, she will not stop with an undergrad degree. Anyway, she came home for breakfast yesterday and spent a little time at home relaxing before heading off for her last 4 days on campus. A couple of weeks ago, Ronda and I went to Mache is East Nashville and I had the most AMAZING french toast made with croissants. That was the inspiration for breakfast yesterday morning.

Speaking of french toast... When I was a senior in high school my mom and dad took my sister Marcy and me (yes, "me" not "I") to Disney World and Epcot Center. It had just been open for a few months, so there are a lot of exhibits there now that were not there or were not yet opened. We made some amazing memories that holiday. I remember eating breakfast one morning in one of the park restaurants. My mother ordered french toast (she lived on bread, practically) and a woman with a foreign accent asked my mother what she was eating. Turns out the woman was from France and she had never heard of french toast :) I know now they call it something different there - Pain Perdue, or something like that. I also remember one of the "cast members" from Germany flirting with my dad, but that is a  story for another day.

Croissant French Toast

12 croissants
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
dash salt

In a bowl whisk the eggs, cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Butter a hot griddle. Cut the croissants in half horizontally and dip in egg custard. Grill until lightly browned. Serve with butter, REAL maple syrup, powdered sugar, berries, or whatever your favorite french toast toppings are. It couldn't be simpler. Do me a favor, though, buy croissants from the bakery or bakery section - DO NOT use the Pillsbury crescent rolls. That would just be a travesty!

Got to get ready for church and a full rainy day.
Until next time, stay DRY and loved, my friends!