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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Easy Breezy Lasagna

   Went apple picking again, with my oldest son, thanks, Eddie, couldn't reach the top of the trees without you!

   Made a few quarts of unsweetened applesauce for a family friend who is diabetic; just followed the regular stove top instructions, peeling, coring, and slicing about 4 different types of apples, a little lemon juice and water to keep it from browning and burning. I stuck a whole cinnamon stick in this pot, and ground up some fresh allspice. It was perfect, of course, just not sweet enough for my family's taste--so Richie, I hope you enjoy it!

   I bought a new cookbook last month; The Stocked Kitchen, by Sarah Kallio and Stacey Krastins. It is a system of stocking your kitchen with one grocery list and then having over 300 recipes using only those items you have stocked in your pantry. Sounded very intriguing and as it turned out I already stocked about 90% of the required items anyway.

  Over the course of the following weeks I have systematically picked up the items from the shopping list I didn't normally stock, because there were quite a few recipes I felt would work in my house. As for those items, its not that I didn't ever use them, but I don't usually have slaw mix on hand unless I planned on making cole slaw. I also didn't always have fresh ginger, but I bought a tube of it, so it will stay well in between uses.

   Finally I had enough on hand to try out a few of the recipes, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Although a few of the recipes had what I deemed "unusual" mixtures the final outcome was awesome! I tried the Moo Shoo Stir Fry Shrimp, serving them wrapped in flour tortillas. EVERYBODY  raved, and I got "permission" to make it again. Now that is a hands down home run in my house.

   I next tried the Kidney Bean Tortilla Lasagna, but, you know me, I had to tweak it just a bit. I added browned and drained chopped beef to the mixture,  and I omitted the mushrooms, as I do from every recipe--no one here likes them-- and once again: HOME RUN!

   That recipe gave me an idea to make regular lasagna using flour tortillas instead of the lasagna noodles. Holy cow--it was by far much easier to make and it stood up better than any lasagna I have EVER made. I haven't mentioned this here yet, but I make homemade ricotta and mozzarella, and later we will delve into those techniques, but for now, just use the best ricotta and mozzarella you can find (the fewest ingredients and no chemicals on the labels).

Easy Breezy Lasagna
  • 1 lb. lean ground round
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 15 oz.ricotta, drained for at least 30 minutes
  • Spaghetti sauce--Jarred,  canned, homemade--whatever you prefer --you'll need about 64 ounces,but don't dump it all in at once--use as much or as little as you prefer, but reserve about 1 cup for the top
  • 1 lb mozzarella shredded, divided
  • 1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup good grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic, divided
  • salt and pepper
   Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

   Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Brown ground beef and sausage meat until no longer pink. DRAIN fat from skillet. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the granulated garlic and as much of the spaghetti sauce you need to make a nice gloppy mixture, not runny, but not stiff. You want to still have about 1 cup of sauce left. Salt & pepper to taste if you want.

   In a separate bowl mix the ricotta with the parsley, the rest of the granulated garlic, 1/2 of the mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of the Pecorino, salt and pepper to your liking.

   Spread 1/2 cup (about) of the meat/tomato sauce mixture in the prepared dish. Layer two tortillas, 1/2 of the cheese, 1/2 of the balance of the meat mixture, two more tortillas, the rest of the cheese mixture, the rest of the meat, two more tortillas, spread the reserved spaghetti sauce over the top. (I usually then add about 1/4 cup of water to the dish--not on top--and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella, and Parmesan and all of the cheddar cheese on top. Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 15 minutes until it is bubbly and the cheeses are browned and melted. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

   I always serve Italian dishes with a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, oil and vinegar. Black olives are optional, as are croutons, and Italian bread--okay, yes I usually make it from scratch, too, but that's only if I have time..

   I found this recipe easy enough to make for not only special occasions--maybe not an after work meal, so a Saturday and definitely on a Sunday.

   Let me know how yours turns out!

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