Category: Italian


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1 package RPs Pasta Company or other fresh lasagna sheets

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

1 package (8 oz) shredded Italian 6 cheese

SAM_3070I bought some fresh gluten free lasagna noodles.  It didn’t say how many sheets are in the package, so I worried that I couldn’t make enough layers, so I decided to try something new, inspired by pastitsio. By the way, the package has 12 sheets, enough for three layers!

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I cook the sauce overnight in the crock pot.  This step isn’t necessary, but it certainly adds another layer of flavor that can’t be replicated any other way.

Day 1:  The Sauce:

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Combine ingredients in crock put.  Cook overnight 8-10 hours on low.  The house will smell amazing.

Day 2:  The Lasagna –

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

2 c. cooked sauce

Combine quinoa and sauce.  Add a little more sauce if it looks too dry.

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1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

Combine cheese, pesto sauce mix and egg.

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Spray DEEP lasagna dish, and spread quinoa mixture into bottom.  Top with layer of half of the ricotta.

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Place layer of noodles on top of ricotta.

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Top with sauce in a thin layer.

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Top with layer of noodles.

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Top with remaining ricotta.

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Layer the last of the noodles.

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Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

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We really loved this.  My daughter suggested stuffing peppers with a quinoa mixture like I used for the first layer and I can’t wait to try it.

I made garlic toast using Texas toast multigrain bread and premade garlic spread.

Yummy!

Naan Pizza

Stonefire Naan Bread – I used whole wheat bought on sale (can be frozen for future use)

Sauce of Choice (I had leftover from spaghetti night that I froze for future use)

Italian bread crumbs (to thicken the sauce)

Meat of Choice (I cooked Italian sausage and froze it when it was on sale)

Pesto (to stretch what turned out to be not quite enough leftover sauce!)

Peppers (chopped and frozen when on sale)

Shredded cheese (Italian six cheese – you guessed it – bought on sale – also freezes well)

Naan pizza is a great way to use up leftovers!  It’s also a great way to throw together stuff that you can easily keep in the freezer.  Quick weeknights were made for dinners like this!

  1.  Spray large sheet pan with coconut oil.
  2. Place naan bread on pan and spray tops with coconut oil. Obviously olive oil spray would also work well.  I didn’t have any on hand.
  3. Separate leftover sauce over all of the breads to make sure you have enough.  My sauce was a little watery, so I mixed in some Italian style bread crumbs to thicken it.  I’m glad I did this, because I realized I was a little short, and added a little pesto to each before spreading.  I then took some of the fat from the sausage that came out while it was defrosting and shook it in the pesto jar and spread that around the edge of each of the breads.
  4. Grind up sausage in chopper until crumbly, or cut it by hand if you like bigger pieces.
  5. Spread sausage evenly over all the breads.
  6. Top with defrosted peppers – or any other veggies you have on hand!  I can’t wait to try this with broccoli, cauliflower, beets, mushrooms, whatever!
  7. Sprinkle cheese evenly over toppings.
  8. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!  I’m running to the store while the naan is still on sale and stocking my freezer for future experiments.

 

 

 

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Today was food preparation Sunday.  I did my shopping yesterday (following the great, inspiring sales this week), and prepared food today.  The meatballs are a combination of several meats and I made them jumbo, like mini meatloafs.

3 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. ground pork  (optional)

2 tsp. baking soda mixed with 2 Tbsp. water

2 c. crumbled cornbread

2 eggs

1/4 c. sweet pickle relish

1/4 c. pesto

3 Tbsp. steak seasoning

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa)

4 oz. each ricotta salada and fontina cheeses, shredded

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Combine meats with baking soda water and add in relish, pesto, seasoning, ricotta cheese, and seasoning.

Prepare 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with cooking spray.

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Using large scoop, form meatballs and put into baking dishes sprayed with coconut oil.

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Bake at 375F for 40 minutes until internal temperature is 165F.

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Pour  spaghetti sauce over cooked meatballs and top with shredded cheese.  I used ricotta salada and fontina.

 

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Meanwhile as part of food prep Sunday, I browned the remaining ground meats I bought (about 3 lb. total) to freeze and use in a future meal.

I bought a variety of sauces on a clearance sale at the local market and put boneless chicken breasts and thighs into large containers and coated them with the sauces and froze the chicken for future meals.  I only used half of the meatballs I made for tonight’s dinner.  I froze the rest for another night.

 

I served the Jumbo meatballs tonight with a tortelloni that was on a BOGO sale at my local supermarket.  I also bought their spinach ricotta ravioli, and everyone loved the freshness of this delicate pasta.  I will go buy more before the sale ends!

rana-tortelloni

All in all, a successful food preparation Sunday, ending with a delicious, easy meal made of ingredients bought on sale!

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1 lb. hot Italian sausage

1 package Simply Potatoes Steakhouse Seasoned Diced Potatoes

1 c. coarsely chopped peppers (I used  mini sweet red, yellow, and orange)

1 package broccoli slaw

1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil or other flavorful oil (I used walnut oil)

Remove casing, cut into little pieces, and brown sausage.  Add in fresh veggies and oil.  Cover and cook over medium low until veggies are slightly softened (about 15 minutes).  Add canned tomatoes and simmer about 15-30 minutes more over low.

I didn’t add seasoning, because the sausage and potatoes were seasoned.

Easy add ins:  squash, mushrooms, cabbage, spinach, any veggie! A great way to use up leftovers!  This could also be cooked in the crock pot, but I would still brown the sausage first to give it a nice crust.

I served this with quinoa and green lentils cooked in the rice cooker.

This got rave reviews!!

Pasta alla Norcina

Okay, so I am totally food obsessed and spent the last couple of days binge watching America’s Test Kitchen.  I already know it will totally be worth it, even if I just try the Pasta alla Norchina!  The picture above is from the America’s Test Kitchen website.  I haven’t actually tried the complete recipe, but I have tried the trick about cooking the ground eat as a burger and then chopping it up and finishing the cooking of the meat in the sauce.  I made a lasagna that had ground pork and turkey that were cooked according to the directions for the meat in this recipe and will never again suffer through chopping ground meat as it cooks with a spatula.

Here is the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Pasta alla Norchina.  If you get a chance to watch the video, it is worth watching!

4 tsp water

1 ½  tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

Incorporate water, salt and baking soda into 1 lb. ground pork.

Let rest for 10 minutes

Add the following to the pork:

1 tsp garlic

¾ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

¾ tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Smear the meat up against side of the bowl  for approx 15 seconds to blend all the seasonings all the way through.

Form into large patty – place on greased dinner plate and set aside.

Place  oz. cremini mushrooms in food processor and chop finely about 10 pulses.

Heat 2 tsp oil in skillet

Brown both sides of the pork patty, but leave raw in middle – about 2 minutes per side

Meanwhile cook pasta.

Transfer patty to cutting board and chop into fine pieces.  Place in bowl and add ¾ c. heavy cream.

Add oil to skillet and cook mushrooms w/ 1/8 tsp salt about 8 minutes till nicely browned.

Add 2 tsp oil, 2 tsp garlic, ½ tsp. rosemary, ½ tsp. black pepper.  Cook 30 seconds.

Add ½ c. dry white wine.  Cook until wine completely evaporates.

Meanwhile drain pasta and reserve ¾ c. pasta water.

Once wine is evaporated, add sausage cream mixture and ¾ c. pasta water.  Simmer approx 3 minutes until pork is fully cooked.

Turn off heat and add in ¾ c. pecorino until melted and smooth.

Pour over pasta.

Add 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add more pasta water if it looks too thick.

Serve immediately.

 

SAM_2612

1 box La Piana cheese tortellini

1 package Trader Joe’s  Sweet Italian Pork Sausage

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 onion, sliced thinly

1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly

1/4 each red, yellow and orange peppers, sliced thinly

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. pesto

1 Tbsp. Tuscan seasoning mix

Parmesan to taste

Directions:

Put on water for tortellini.

Remove casing from sausage and cut into 1 inch pieces.

Heat olive oil in large skillet to brown sausage.

Meanwhile slice veggies and add tortellini to boiling water.

When sausage is nicely browned, add in veggies, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft and translucent.

After gently boiling tortellini for 15 minutes, drain.

Stir in butter, pesto, and Parmesan.

I bought Italian made dried tortellini at The Fresh Market.  It was much better than the frozen kind!

The pesto, olive oil and seasonings were all super quality products my friend Stephanie gave me for my birthday that she got from Marshall’s.

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1 Jar sauce (I used Gia Russa low sodium again) YUM

1 box Barilla no boil lasagne noodles

4 c. leftover bolognese and veggies.

2 lb. ricotta cheese

1 c. shredded cheese (fontinella is our fave)

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Spread part of a jar of sauce in bottom of a deep 13 x 9 baking dish.

Put four sheets of the lasagna on top and then spread 2/3 of the bolognese and veggies over it.

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Again put a layer of four sheets of noodles.

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Mix remaining bolognese and ricotta.  Spread in a layer over noodles.

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One more layer of the noodles, then sauce (to which I added some more leftover veggies I had on hand) and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

No one complained about eating “leftovers” and this time, there were none!

 

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I have a new way of cooking spaghetti squash that is now going to be my go to!  Puncture whole spaghetti squash with a sharp knife and place in crock pot with an inch of water.  Cook overnight.  In the morning, put the squash in the fridge.   No more handling hot squash!  Also, I read somewhere that cutting it crosswise instead of lengthwise is the way to go, and I agree.

SAM_2510When I got home from work, I put the squash on a baking sheet and baked it next to some zucchini @ 350 F for 20 minutes.  I tossed them both with olive oil, a little pesto, some garlic, and cubed butter, and then roasted them.  You could also sprinkle with Parmesan, but I was out.

 

The bolognese cooked in the crock pot all day.  I cooked up ground meat and sausage and used the Gia Russa low sodium tomato basil sauce straight from the jar.  Amazing how low the sodium, sugar and carbs are, and how amazing it tastes!  No doctoring needed.  20 mg. sodium, 4 g sugar, 7 g carbs per 1/2 cup.

Gia Russa low sodium

 

Ricotta Salata Stuffed Chicken.jpg

10 chicken cutlets

1/2 lb. ricotta salata cheese, cubed

2 c. marinara sauce

1/4 c. pesto

2 c. shredded Italian six cheese

Preheat oven 350 F.

Pour 3/4 of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Roll cutlets around ricotta salata crumbles and place seam side down in sauce.

Mix remaining marinara with pesto.  Spoon over chicken pieces.

Sprinkle shredded cheese over dish.

Bake 40 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 F

Ricotta salata is amazing.  We had this with fresh angel hair pasta, romaine lettuce,  and bread from Fresh Market’s Thursday Little Big Meal.

Everyone loved this.

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1 box large shells

Uncooked Giant Shells

Meatloaf/Meatball mix –

Combine ground turkey, ground Italian sausage (1.5 lb. each) with 1 c. ricotta, chopped red pepper, onion and parsley, 1/4 c. pesto sauce, 1/4 c. sweet pickle relish for meatball/meatloaf mix.

Meatball Mixture

4 C. of your favorite pasta sauce

1 c. wine and 1 c. water

Pour 2 c. of your favorite pasta sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish

Stuff uncooked pasta shells with meat mixture and arrange in sauce.

Mix remaining sauce and wine and water.  Pour over shells.  (You and cover and refrigerate for future use at this point).

Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for one hour.

Remove foil and top with 2 c. of your favorite Italian cheeses.

Bake 15 minutes more.

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Serve with garlic toast.

I make meatballs the same night I make these because I always seem to have too much (usually) or not enough (occasionally)stuffing for the shells!  I use up the mixture with sausage first, and then add in ground turkey to make the meatballs  – adding in egg and bread crumbs – from the remaining shell stuffing.

Turkey Meatballs

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with tuscan seasoning mixture or garlic salt.

Bake 375 F for 40 minutes.

Baked Meatballs

Freeze in plastic containers or zip locks for future meals!

 

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