Classic Italian Lasagna

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Classic Italian Lasagna- I am still trying to figure out how in the world this recipe made it into a cookbook that is called EVERYDAY Italian.  The only way that this dish could be made "everyday" is if you purchased store bought marinara and béchamel instead of using the two homemade sauce recipes that I recently shared.  Using store bought might be the option for you, but I cannot speak for the end result.  Even then, there is still the par cooking of the noodles, grating of the cheese, thawing out the spinach (don't forget to use my easy method HERE), the cooking of the meats and then mixing a few things together before layering it all together. Are you still with me?? I hope so because this is one superior lasagna recipe!!

What really sets this recipe apart from other lasagna recipes is a mixture of the marinara and béchamel sauce.  It is rich, creamy and full of flavor.  The other stand out component is the meat layer.  I don't use ground beef.  Instead, I use a mixture of Italian sausage and pancetta.  After all, this is an Italian dish. As far as the cheeses, use whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella and not part-skim.  This is not something you will eat everyday, so splurge and get the good stuff.  


Kitchen Tip

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How to Cook Lasagne Noodles the Easy Way

Lasagne noodles have to be the most cumbersome dried pasta to cook.  Stirring them in an extremely large stock pot to keep them from clumping together is almost impossible without one or two tearing.  I know there are no boil pasta sheets, but I prefer the texture of  dried lasagna noodle. I am sure fresher is better, but...I won't go there quite yet. 

So, If one normally puts the lasagna in the boiling water, why not put the boiling water OVER the lasagna?? Let's just say it works and it is the only way I use to par cook those large noodles.

*Note-- Is it lasagnA or lasagnE? Both are acceptable, but after a little research, lasagnA is one single noodle and lasagnE plural. I won't mark either wrong on your recipe card if you won't mark it wrong on mine😜.


Béchamel Sauce

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I could spends hours talking about this classic French white sauce. From the seasonings to the roux... I am channeling my inner Joy of Cooking with this building block. 


Marinara Sauce

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I am going to share the lasagne recipe, but before I do that, I need to share a few building blocks and add them to my recipe caché.

This is a pretty straight forward recipe that you can use on just about anything. I use it with pasta (no brainer- see Spaghetti and Meatballs), eggs (purgatory), toast (because I like it that way) and I have even added some chicken stock and called it tomato soup. 

Trust me, you are going to love this and need this.


Sunday Dinner take III

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Radicchio and Parsley Salad with Anchovy Dressing

Baci and Espresso

Remember that lasagne dinner that I was in the mood for a couple of weeks ago?  Well it was on for the menu last Sunday and yesterday as well, but then the doggie oh-nos struck! 

First, Miss Hazel ran into something, ate something, or was bitten by something in the backyard last Sunday. She came to me that morning and her face was blown up like a ballon and she had hives all over her nose.  Five dogs, all of the same lineage, and only this one had an allergic or toxic reaction to something in our back yard. Needless to say, after a  looooong week of cleaning up and a few dollars short in my wallet from vet bills, Miss Stinker-Dinker is back to her old self.

Then, as I was prepping for dinner last night, Ruby started acting weird and wouldn't stand or walk. I literally thought her back legs were giving out and she was dying. Once again, Sunday dinner was put on the back burner.  We still haven't quite figured out what is wrong, but I am willing to bet it is just constipation. Wouldn't be the first time with her!

So, here I am and here is the menu.  I love serving this salad along side a rich pasta dish or a white pizza.  It nicely cuts the richness and acts as almost a palate cleanser.  Don't let the anchovy paste in the dressing scare you. It just adds a bit of a salty note and offers a nice balance between the tart lemon and briny capers.  I like to add a little red pepper flakes for a kick, but that is, of course, optional.  Happy MONDAY!


Turkey Barley Soup

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Now, what do you do with that super simple turkey stock? Make a super simple soup! If you love chicken noodle soup, then you are going to enjoy this. The turkey replaces the chicken and the barley stands in for the noodles. A simple mireprox of onions, celery and carrots boost the flavor of the soup base. To add a bit of body and brightness to the soup, I make a slurry of lemon juice and cornstarch.  It is comforting and delicious!


SUPER Simple Turkey Stock

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I know. Turkey Day was a week ago, so why am I posting this now? Well... 1) I haven't done so in the past and 2) I guarantee you will want it for the next round of holiday eats this year and on down the culinary road.

There are more words in this recipe title than there are ingredients.  All you need is a leftover turkey carcass and water. That's it! No onions, carrots, celery, herbs, wine or spices. When you cooked that turkey initially, you added so many flavor components, so there is no need to add any more.  Trust me, you will be surprised how flavorful the stock will be. 

This base recipe calls for a carcass from a 12-14 pound turkey which should yield about 4-6 pounds of bones and bits.  If you have a larger turkey carcass, adjust the amount of water; about 1 1/2 cups per pound.


Turkey and Cranberry Barbecue Pizza

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How many of you still have leftovers lurking in your refrigerator? Even after leftover plates, sandwiches (turkey, cranberry, and mayo with a pinch of salt on a homemade roll is my all time favorite!) and gumbo on Sunday, I still have just a wee-bit of turkey and cranberry sauce to put to good use.  

I found this recipe last year, but I didn't try it because I was, sadly, out of my barbecue sauce (how that is even possible, I don't know).  Thankfully, I booked marked it and the culinary stars were aligned this year.  If you follow me on FB, you'll know that I made a hickory smoked pulled pork poutine. With that said, I thankfully had some of my barbecue sauce on hand. 🤩 

I like to use my homemade pizza dough   my leftover whole berry cranberry sauce and my tomato-based barbecue sauce, but of course, you can use any good quality store bought ingredients.  Chihuahua cheese excellent for its flavor and melting properties, but Monterey Jack would be a nice substitute. I used only breast meat on my pie, but if you prefer the dark meat of the thigh, then go for it. Red onion and cilantro add a nice fresh flavor, but the real kick to this recipe is the thinly sliced jalapeño. If you are sensitive to anything on the Scoville scale, I would just omit it.  But, you might want to give it just a little taste test first.  Sometimes they can be as mild as a green bell pepper and others, well, they can be 🔥. If you can handle a little heat, but not too much, then I would removing the seeds and ribs of the pepper and chopping it into a fine dice. If you are on board with a little zap to the taste buds and maybe a little nose run, then go for the whole slices! 

It seems like it is an odd combination of flavors, but it gets an even two thumbs up 👍👍 in our house. 

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