Great Lasagna

Great Lasagna

Lasagna was one of the first dishes I learned to make. I ate a lot of lasagna when I was in college and working late in restaurants. I found it very helpful to make a big lasagna and then refrigerate or freeze it in portions that I could heat up whenever I was hungry and had no time to cook. Lasagna is a great one dish meal and pairs perfectly with a simple salad.

When I got married and had children I continued to make lasagna on a regular basis. I typically make lasagna on Sundays when I never quite know if my kids will have a friend stay for dinner or my Dad may call and want to have dinner. If you make one big lasagna in the afternoon you will have enough for 6 hungry people. If you have fewer people just save it for another night. Lasagna reheats perfectly.

So let’s not overcomplicate this recipe but I insist that you make the lasagna with béchamel and not ricotta cheese. It makes the dish so creamy and delicious. When I was in Italy years ago I had the best lasagna and the owner of the restaurant told me to always make béchamel for your lasagna so since then I do. Try it and you will see why. You can also add pesto or ground beef to this recipe so consider this Lasagna recipe a base for whatever else you would like to add. If you would like to add ground beef and make it lasagna bolognese all you have to do is brown the ground beef, drain the oil and add the tomato sauce to the beef before layering the lasagna. When adding pesto you should mix it with the béchamel or the tomato sauce. You only need a tablespoon or so. I hope you enjoy. Share your comments!

Simple Tomato Sauce
Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce
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Lasagna
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Lasagna

the greatest lasagna
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 325kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups simple tomato sauce
  • 3 cups shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 box lasagna noodles (no boil is fine)

Bechamel Sauce

  • tbsp butter
  • tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

Make The Bechamel

  • melt butter in saucepan
  • add flour and make a paste
  • whisk in milk, salt and pepper
  • whisk until thickened
  • remove from heat

Make the Lasagna

  • preheat oven to 375
  • put some tomato sauce on bottom of baking dish
  • lay lasagna noodles over sauce
  • spoon more tomato sauce to cover the noodles
  • spoon in some of the bechamel
  • sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan
  • keep repeating layers so you have 4 layers
  • Top Lasagna with tomato sauce and mozzarella (no parmesan or bechamel)
  • cover with foil and bake for 50 min
  • remove from oven and let stand covered for 10 min then serve

Nutrition

Serving: 1person | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 986mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 979IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 577mg | Iron: 1mg

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Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

Carrots are rich in beta carotene, vitamin K1 and potassium. They also taste great and are beautiful to serve as a side dish. The bright orange color brightens up any dinner plate. I particularly like to serve glazed carrots with chicken or turkey which is why I am sharing this recipe a week before Thanksgiving. The other great thing about this glazed carrot recipe is that you can make it a day or two ahead of time and warm it up in the microwave or in a covered dish in the oven and they will be perfect.

The trick is to roast them in a hot oven so that they become caramelized. I add Tumeric to my recipe because I love the way the yellow Tumeric brightens the dish even more plus Tumeric is so good for you so I try to add it to my cooking whenever I can. So here you have carrots AND Tumeric in the same dish. It’s like a power dish of YUM!

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
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5 from 2 votes

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

Baby Carrots Glazed in Brown Sugar
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Side Dishes, Vegetables
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 182kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 oz baby carrots
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp Tumeric
  • ¼ tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Mix butter, oil and spices together
  • Pour over carrots and toss
  • Roast for 15 minutes then toss on pan
  • Roast for an additional 15 minutes until carrots are caramelized but not mushy

Nutrition

Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 311mg | Potassium: 281mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 15900IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg

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Let’s Talk Turkey

Let’s Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving is around the corner and I wanted to come up with an alternative to the traditional roasted turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, tender roasted turkey and I have a great recipe for one but it’s also fun to mix it up a bit.

I wanted to come up with a recipe that would combine several of our Thanksgiving favorites into one dish. I decided to experiment with a kind of Turkey Wellington. The idea was to wrap a boneless turkey breast in cranberry stuffing and then wrap it in puff pastry. A take on a classic Beef Wellington.

Beef Wellington was first created in England many, many years ago. It is a classic dish that my mother would prepare for the holidays. Classic Beef Wellington is made with Filet Mignon, Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Puff Pastry. It is absolutely delicious and I will be sharing my Mom’s recipe at a later date. It is a great dish to serve on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

I wanted to come up with a Thanksgiving all-in-one dish and I loved the idea of wrapping the Turkey Breast in puff pastry. Kind of like wrapping a delicious flaky biscuit around turkey. Instead of mushrooms I put a layer of stuffing which I mixed with dried cranberries. I let the dried cranberries simmer in the chicken broth to soften before mixing in the dried cubed bread. I really don’t want you to be intimidated by this recipe. You can absolutely use a store bought stuffing mix like Pepperidge Farm or you can make your own. I wanted this dish to come together fairly easily and look fantastic on your Thanksgiving table.

So I went to the supermarket across the street from my apartment and they did not have the puff pastry I was looking for so I decided to buy a box of pie pastry. You can absolutely use ready made pie pastry for sweet or savory dishes. I did roll it out a little so the pastry would fit around my Turkey Breast. I also decided to use Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix in a bag. I happen to love this stuffing, as did my mom. Of course we would also make homemade stuffing every Thanksgiving but there is something absolutely delicious about this mix in a bag. So we would make both. The other thing I would like to mention is that this beautiful fancy looking dish is very affordable. The total of all my ingredients was just over $30. The recipe can feed 6 people so you are looking at a cost of $5 per person. You can serve the Turkey Wellington with some gravy and sautéed string beans on the side or whatever side you like and you have a beautiful meal to serve your friends and family.

It is important to chill the turkey for a half hour after you wrap it in the stuffing. This will make it easier for you to wrap it in the puff pastry. Please make sure that you buy puff pastry and NOT phyllo dough. The two are similar but are not the same. Phyllo is much flakier than puff pastry and will not work well with this dish. After rolling out the puff pastry I also cut out some leaves out of the puff pastry and rolled a long string so I could make a vine shape on the top of the Turkey Wellington. I think this is a nice touch and makes for a pretty presentation on your holiday table. This is not difficult to do and only requires a knife to cut out the leaf shape. You do not need any special equipment. When you bake the Turkey Wellington the puff pastry may crack a little. This is perfectly fine and helps to show the authenticity of your dish. I think the cracks are beautiful and organic. You made it after all! Cooking is a fluid, natural process and you should not obsess over perfection. Save perfection for baking. Baking is much more precise and leaves less room for error.

Turkey Wellington. Turkey breast wrapped in stuffing and pastry.
Turkey Wellington

I think this recipe is a big crowd pleaser. The turkey stays juicy when baked in the puff pastry and the combination of the different flavors are amazing. This recipe says “home” to me. It is perfect for Thanksgiving or any other Fall or Winter evening.

Turkey Wellington
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5 from 2 votes

Turkey Wellington

Turkey wrapped in cranberry stuffing and puff pastry
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Resting time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Holiday Meal, Thanksgiving, Turkey
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 lb boneless turkey breast
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 8 oz chicken broth
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups stuffing mix
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 egg plus 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Melt butter in pan
  • Add onion and saute until transluscent
  • Add dried cranberries and chicken broth
  • Simmer for 5 minutes
  • Add stuffing, toss and set aside
  • Remove skin from turkey breast
  • Season turkey with salt and pepper
  • Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on counter
  • Spread stuffing in a single ¼ inch layer on top of plastic wrap
  • Place turkey on top and lift plastic wrap to wrap stuffing around turkey
  • Seal tightly and refrigerate for ½ hour
  • Unroll puff pastry, place on parchment paper and roll with rolling pin to make it large enough to wrap around turkey
  • Brush edge of pastry with egg wash and wrap snug around turkey. Seal edges
  • Remove from refrigerator, unwrap turkey and place on puff pastry
  • Using the tip of a knife cut a few leaves out of puff pastry and roll an 8 inch long string
  • Make a vine pattern on top of puff pastry
  • Brush egg wash over puff pastry
  • Bake in oven for 1¼ hours
  • Remove and let rest for 10 minutes then slice and serve

The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

Cheesy, Creamy and Delicious Homemade Mac and Cheese

Thanksgiving is coming up and I wanted to share a great mac and cheese recipe to complement that delicious turkey you are going to make. Homemade macaroni and cheese is the perfect dish to serve at your dinner. This recipe is simple and quick to prepare. The results are infinitely better than any boxed mac and cheese you can buy. Mac and Cheese must be cheesy and creamy with just the right amount of crunchy buttery bread crumbs on top. This is a decadent dish and needs have the right ratio of sauce to macaroni. You don’t want it to be too soggy. I like to use sharp cheddar cheese in my macaroni and cheese but you can feel free to experiment with other cheese that you like. Try mixing in gruyere or mozzarella for an added layer of flavor. You can also mix in some crumbled crisp bacon into the macaroni right after adding the cheese sauce. This will give the dish a little smoky flavor. My recipe calls for a bit of evaporated milk. I think that the evaporated milk really helps make the sauce creamy and delicious. Mac and cheese can be baked and eaten right out of the oven but is also great reheated the next day. I recommend making a big dish so you can enjoy it now and later. Try serving leftover mac and cheese with a big salad the next day. In many of my recipes I pair arugula salad when I am serving a dish that is creamy. The peppery bite of the arugula helps to cut the creaminess of any dish. The two compliment each other. I think that this is the best mac and cheese recipe. It’s a great pot luck dish and perfect if you are feeding a larger group and want to be able to make something ahead of time.

Best Mac and Cheese
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The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe

macaroni and cheese recipe
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 506kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Topping

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • preheat oven to 350
  • grease a 3 or 4 qt baking dish
  • cook macaroni a minute less than directed on box
  • melt butter in large sauce pan and whisk in flour
  • slowly whisk in milk and evaporated milk
  • keep whisking slowly until it starts to thicken – about 5 minutes
  • add dry mustard, salt and pepper
  • mix in shredded cheddar cheese
  • pour mixture over macaroni and gently mix
  • pour macaroni into baking dish
  • mix panko bread crumbs with melted butter and grated parmesan. Blend until crumbs are all covered with melted butter
  • spinkle over macaroni and bake in oven for 30 minutes until bubbly and golden

Notes

Mac and cheese is all about the cheese. Do not buy pre shredded cheddar or grated parmesan. Take the time to grate the cheese yourself. This will result in a creamier , meltier mac and cheese

Nutrition

Serving: 1person | Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 331mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 775IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 497mg | Iron: 1mg

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Handmade Orecchiette

Handmade Orecchiette

With Sausage, Spinach, Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella

The orecchiette shape literally translates to ‘little ear’ and originated in Southern Italy . This pasta is perfect for catching sauce in its cup-like shape . Making the pasta fresh, by hand, is a fun activity to do alone or with friends and family. The dough is mixed together in a matter of minutes and only requires a half hour of rest time before you can start making the pasta. The result is also infinitely better than boxed pasta. The recipe listed below was one of the most popular pasta dishes at my restaurant. There was a time when I tried to remove it from the menu in order to make room for a new dish and I had to put it right back on due to popular demand. I mix hot and sweet Italian sausage together but you can absolutely use one or the other depending on how spicy you like your food. This pasta shape will also work well with my Simple Tomato Sauce.

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Hand-Made Orecchiette
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5 from 1 vote

Handmade Orecchiette

Easy Handmade Pasta
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Resting Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 265kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • extra flour for surface

Instructions

  • mix flours and salt together
  • add water
  • mix together then remove from bowl and knead until dough is elastic (about 5 min)
  • Place dough in a bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap
  • allow to rest for 30 minutes

Make the shape

  • flour a working space on counter
    Pasta dough
  • cut dough into 8 pieces
  • roll each piece with your hand into a ½ inch rod
  • cut each log into ½ inch pieces
  • use your thumb to press and swirl dough into small cup shape
  • place pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil
    Pasta

Cooking method

  • add ½ tbsp of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil
  • drop orecchiette in pot
  • when orrecchiette rises to top allow to cook for another minute
  • Total cooking time should be around 5 minutes

Notes

Please don’t worry about every piece of orecchiette looking exactly the same. This is homemade pasta. You will get the hang of it as you go along. Some people like to use a measuring spoon to help push the pasta into a cup shape.

Nutrition

Serving: 4people | Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 582mg | Potassium: 112mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 3mg
Pasta with Sausage
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5 from 1 vote

Orecchiette with Sausage, Spinach, Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella

Sausage, Spinach, Chopped Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Sauces and Dips, lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta Sauce, sausage
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 575kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ pound Sweet Italian Sausage – casing removed
  • ½ pound Hot Italian Sausage – casing removed
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 pint Yellow and Red Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
  • cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cup Pasta cooking water – from cooking orecchiette
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese- grated
  • 6 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – chopped
  • 1 lb Orecchiette – cooked al dente (firm)

Instructions

  • Add 1 tbsp of oil to pan
  • Mix hot and sweet sausage together and add to pan
  • Use a spoon to break up the meat while it begins to brown – around 5 min.
  • Remove sausage from pan and set aside
  • Add the remaining tbsp of oil to pan
  • Add sliced garlic and cook until light brown on both sides
    Garlic
  • Return sausage to pan
  • Add tomatoes and cook for 5 min.
  • Add spinach, chicken broth and pasta water
  • When spinach is wilted add cooked orecchiette and butter allow to simmer in broth for a few minutes
  • Add grated parmesan
  • Turn off stove and toss in chopped fresh mozzarella

Notes

Serve with extra grated parmesan on the side and some crusty Italian bread.

Nutrition

Serving: 1person | Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 901mg | Potassium: 612mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2796IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 290mg | Iron: 3mg

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Life can be difficult, cooking doesn’t have to be…

Life can be difficult, cooking doesn’t have to be…

Chicken Milanese topped with Arugula, Tomatoes and Shaved Parmesan

So last night I was feeling tired. It had been a long rainy day training my puppy and waiting on line to vote. Let me rephrase this…Waiting on a very LONG line to vote in the rain. So when I got home I wanted to make something for dinner that would be delicious, easy and quick.

I realized that I hadn’t shared my Chicken Milanese recipe yet. This is my go-to prep for chicken any time of year. Meaning, it works just as good on a cold winter night as it does in the heat of summer. Learning to properly bread chicken, fish and vegetables is the foundation for anyone learning to cook. You can build many delicious recipes off of the classic breading method.

I chose to serve my thin sliced chicken breast Milanese with a simple arugula salad on top. I like the way the peppery arugula freshens the lightly fried chicken. I toss the arugula with Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and a touch of Dry Mustard.

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5 from 2 votes

Chicken Milanese

Panko Breaded Chicken Breast
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, American
Keyword: chicken, Breaded Chicken
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs thin sliced chicken breast
  • 1 cup flour-for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  • Mix Panko with onion flakes, salt, pepper, oregano
  • dredge each chicken breast into flour first, then egg, then panko mix
  • Fill frying pan with 1/2 inch vegetable oil and heat over medium heat
  • When oil is warm add chicken and cook until golden brown on each side
  • Place on paper towel to absorb the extra oil

Notes

This recipe is a base for many dishes. Serve the chicken with a salad on top or top with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese to make delicious chicken parmigiana. You do not need to deep fry the chicken, you need enough oil to wet the breadcrumbs. I like to place the chicken on a paper towel after frying to remove extra oil.
This recipe can be made in advance and reheated in the oven.
arugula salad
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Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Arugula, Tomatoes, Parmesan and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Italian, American
Keyword: Salad
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 6 cups baby arugula
  • 1 pint yellow and red tomatoes cut in half
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • tsp pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • shaved Parmigiana Reggiano for topping

Instructions

  • Place arugula and tomatoes in a bowl
  • In another bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and sugar
  • Pour dressing over salad and top with shaved Parmigiana