October 12, 2009

Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , , , , at 10:26 pm by jenniec00ks

food 005Finally!  The weather in Atlanta is super chilly and I need to use my heater, aka my oven!  So I made this super easy 9″x9″ lasagna that makes ~3 large portions.  It’s currently meat-less because I didn’t have any cooked chicken on hand this week.  I think it would easily feed 4-5 if some shredded chicken meat was added (just buy a rotisserie from the store, shred ~2 cups your favorite parts, I like a combination of white/dark meat.)

This is similar to my garlic alfredo recipe from a while back, but even easier, if you can imagine.  In a nutshell, this is mushrooms, frozen spinach, milk, cheese, and pasta.  But here’s a more exact recipe for those who don’t have much luck tossing arbitrary amounts of food in a pot 😉

Ingredients:

2.5 cups of milk
12 oz. mushrooms, white or cremini, washed & sliced
1 cup of your favorite white cheese shredded (parm, romano, asagio, mozz)
1 box frozen spinach
6 lasagna noodles, I used the wider (~4.5 inches) no-boil kind.  If you only have the traditional kind, go ahead and boil 6-7 according to the time on the box.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter, your choice.  I used 1 tbsp of each.
2 tbsp all-purpose white flour
Salt, pepper, nutmeg

1. Cook the spinach in the microwave per the box instructions.  Drain as best you can. Doesn’t have to be bone dry, no worries.

2. Mince the garlic and set aside to have ready.

3. Start heating your choice of fat (olive oil/butter) over medium heat in a saucepan (pot).

4. While your pot is warming up, slice up the mushrooms.  Drop them in after you’ve chopped a few so that they don’t have the chance to turn pink.

5. After all the mushrooms are in, toss the garlic in on top.  Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and there’s quite a bit of liquid in the pot.

6. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour to the pot and stir.  It should absorb all of the liquid in the bottom of the pot and make the mushrooms sort of sticky.  Add a dash more if necessary.

7. Turn the heat up to medium high, and pour in the 2.5 cups of milk while stirring gently.

8. Stir until it boils, then turn the heat back down to medium and let simmer until it thickens a bit.  During all this stirring, season with a tsp of salt, pepper to taste, and dash of nutmeg.  Be careful, nutmeg can be overpowering.

9. Add 3/4 cups of cheese to the sauce and turn the heat off once it melts.

10. Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of 9″x9″ pan, then 2 lasagna noodles.  If you have the narrower kind that you have to boil first, then you’ll probably need to tear them up to fit 2 in one layer.

11. Add a layer of sauce, then noodles, and repeat 2 more times.

12. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on the top.

13. Bake in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

Y’all enjoyyyyyyy!  ❤ Jennie

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August 13, 2009

Turkey and/or Veggie Lasagna in Photos

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , , , , , at 9:09 pm by jenniec00ks

lasagna 047Phew.  I am blogging my butt off, and I have a BAJILLION pictures of this recipe.  So might as well take advantage of it, this will be a follow the pictures kind of recipe.  I did a turkey AND veggie lasagna, so my 9″x9″ dish was filled to the brim.  I was originally going to do 2 smaller lasagnas, but then I realized I cooked the turkey before the veggies, and therefore contaminated the pot and decided to throw it all together.

Ingredients:

9 x 9 inch glass dish (9×13 would prob work, may need a lil more sauce)
1 box lasagna noodles (9-12, bake/no bake, up to you)
1/2 lb turkey
1 bell pepper (any color will do)
6-7 large mushrooms quartered, ~8 oz.
S&P to taste
5 cloves garlic
3/4 jar (~20 oz) of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup diced onion (or whatever you have around)
1 small container ricotta (15 oz? sorry it’s been a while)
1 large egg
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian white cheese blend*

* Don’t get the 2% or fat-free cheese, it just WON’T MELT!!  >O

Brown the turkey.

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For the vegetarians, cut the bell pepper (click for a link to my new basics posts to keep recipes shorter) and mushrooms into large chunks & dice the onion.

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Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and toss the bell peppers in for a minute or two to give them a head start.  Then toss the mushrooms in and saute them for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.

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With that extra room on the cutting board, finely dice the 5 cloves of garlic and add them to the pot.  Just as a refresher since I haven’t posted a garlic mincing basic – pull the cloves apart and lay them on your board.  Lay the knife flat on top of each and give the knife (not the blade side) a good whack with your fist.  Then you should be able to pull the paper right off.

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(Click the photos for a larger image.)

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Add it to the pot and give it a stir for a 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Then add about 2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (3/4 of a 24 oz. jar), sorry this amount isn’t more precise.  Also stir in the onions and cover the pan so the sauce can simmer and soften the onions.

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Time to boil the noodles and drain them according to the package.  Or you can skip this step by buying those no-bake ones – so long as you’ve got enough sauce, the no-bake ones are great because they save time, energy AND a pot while not missing any flavor.

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Last step is to beat the egg and ricotta together in a bowl – you can throw in any grated parmesean cheese for extra flavor if you’ve got it around.  Make sure this layer is mixed well!

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Finally, the layering.  Well, better get your oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit right about now.  We’re going to do pasta, ricotta, sauce, shredded cheese.  But we’re actually going to start with an exception, and put an extra layer of sauce on the bottom.  Some say to do it to prevent sticking, but it’s pretty much required if you’re using the no-bake noodles.  If you’ve got boiled noodles, I think it’s optional.

lasagna 033 Sauce at the bottom, still piping hot!

lasagna 034Noodle layer and half of the ricotta/egg mixture.  Don’t need to spread it all that evenly, it will melt in the oven and make a nice layer.

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Sauce, again.  I had veggies + meat in the sauce, but you might want just one or the other.lasagna 037Shredded cheese!

Then we do it again, but use up all the ricotta you’ve got left.

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Then the final layer of pasta, sauce, and shredded cheese for the topping:

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Pop this heavy sucker into the oven for ~45 minutes (uncovered!) or until the cheese is golden brown.  I put it on a foiled sheet pan in case anything boiled over, it didn’t mess up the oven.

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w00t! Golden brown! Time to eat!

April 22, 2009

Baked Ziti in Photos

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , at 10:23 pm by jenniec00ks

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

This baked ziti has evolved from a mesh of recipes I looked up several years ago.  It’s very easy on the budget and easily adaptable.  I actually have someone who’s already duplicated this recipe without photos, it’s just that easy.  It’s also great for parties and potlucks because you can feed an army with minimal additional work.  If you’re not sure what I mean by that, imagine the time it takes to toss more ingredients in a pan versus rolling out 30 more meatballs for an couple extra dinner guests.  This recipes also got a *ton* of pictures since my sister was operating the camera while I cooked at home (you’ll see the kitchen’s different).

prep-003I made this recipe in a 8×8 inch square dish, but you can use up all the ingredients in the picture if you’ve got a 9×13″ dish (& the people to help you eat it).  Aside from the usual salt/pepper/garlic powder – you’ll need a can/jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (~3 cups or 26oz), 8 oz of cheese, 1/2 an onion, ~3/4 lb. of ground turkey (half the package shown), and ~1/2 lb. of ziti (or rigatoni or penne) pasta.  Feel free to mix it up to your tastes, you might like less cheese, more onion, a higher meat to pasta ratio, or even some roasted vegetables instead of the turkey (remind me to make a note about that later).

prep-046First get some water on to boil 1/2 lb. of pasta; I like to use a 5-6 qt pot about half full, but you could probably get by with a tall 2 qt pot almost full (leave an inch so it doesn’t boil over, and stir so cooks evenly).  When the water comes to a boil, throw half the box in and cook for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes shorter than the box says.  So I promised I’d show you how to dice an onion in photos – or at least how I’ve learned from Giada/Bobby.  If you’ve got a better/faster way to do it, please disregard and skip right to browning the turkey!

prep-010Cut off the top and bottom of the onion.prep-011Make a shallow cut down the side.prep-013Peel the papery layer off the onion.  If the layer underneath doesn’t look so good, then you can pull that too, but it’s not necessary.prep-016

Cut the onion in half and lets start dicing!  We’re going to make several cuts in 3 different directions.prep-017Step 1.  Leave the onion connected at the end farthest from the knife (the part where my fingers are holding the onion)prep-021Another view of the onion after step 1.prep-022Step 2.  The cuts are horizontal, with the knife parallel to the cutting board.  Keep your fingers out the way by pressing down on the top of onion.prep-030Finally, make the third cut and you’ve got nicely sized pieces 🙂prep-032Since they’re still connected at the edge, I give that extra piece a rough chop; holding the tip of the knife steady.

prep-0551Preheat a dry saucepan (or wok) over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Might want to use one that has a cover since tomato sauce splatters quite a bit when it simmers.  When the pan is preheated, add half the ground turkey from the package and brown it (just like you would ground beef).  Season the turkey with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your liking.  Once the meat is brown, pour in the spaghetti sauce, add about 1/3 cup of water to the can (or jar), and pour that in too.

prep-0661Stir the onions into the pan, cover it, and turn the heat down to medium.  Simmer until the onions are soft, it usually takes about 10 minutes.  Drain the pasta whenever it’s ready.  Ideally, it should be done about the same time as the meatsauce.  Get the oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you layer the dish – sauce, pasta, cheese, sauce, pasta, (any extra sauce), and cheese.

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Sauce

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Pasta

Cheese

Cheese

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Sauce layer 2

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Pasta layer 2

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Extra sauce if you've got

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Cheese topping

prep-114Then tent the top of the dish with foil and put it in the oven for ~30 minutes.  After that, remove the foil and return the ziti to the oven for an extra 15 minutes to brown the top.  and Voila!  Enjoy!

So that side note if you want to change it up – the turkey can easily be swapped out for beef for whatever reason you want.  I think ground turkey tastes different and gives it a good flavor, but it can be more expensive if it’s not on sale that week.  If you want to go the vegetarian route, roast 2 cups of your favorite vegetables chopped into 1 inch pieces at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and add that to the sauce instead of the turkey.  I’d recommend bell peppers, onions, zucchini or yellow squash (summer squashes), and/or mushrooms.  I’ve also tried broccoli, asparagus, and green beans; which are good, but not fabulous.