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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.