Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stove Top Lasagna

Lasagna is delicious.  It is also a pain to make.  You must boil the noodles, making sure that they don’t stick or tear.  Then you have to make the sauce.  Then you have to assemble the lasagna.  Then you bake it, hoping it doesn’t spill into the oven. Then you must scrub the pan later. Delicious, but a pain.

This version is easier, not easy, but easier.  By making it on top of the stove and using oven ready pasta, you lower the number of pans used from three to one.  The oven ready pasta also makes assembling the lasagna easier.  Just make sure that all the pasta is submerged or it will be crunchy.  Not good. You could save yourself even more time and mess by using a jar of sauce, but really? You want it to taste good right?

Servings: 6-8
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a very deep skillet with a lid, a can opener, a mixing bowl, a very large bowl, a fork, a wooden spoon, a ladle, a silicon spatula
Time:  Prep:  15 minutes    Cooking: 1½ hours

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled, diced
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound Italian sausage (mild or spicy)
  • 1-29 oz. can tomato puree
  • 1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes (you can use the kind that comes with basil, garlic, and onions)
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup of ground parmesan
  • 1 pound oven ready lasagna noodles

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet on medium.
  2. Remove the sausage from the casing.
  3. Cook and crumble the sausage, ground beef, and garlic until they are no longer pink.  (About 7 minutes)  Drain most of the fat from the skillet.
  4. Add the Italian seasoning and tomatoes. Allow the sauce to come to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Mix the ricotta, eggs, pesto, and pepper and set aside.
  6. Pour most of the sauce into the large bowl. You should leave the bottom of the skillet covered in sauce.
  7. Layer the pasta over the sauce.  You may need to break it to cover the bottom. Use the spatula to spread about ½ of the ricotta over the pasta.  Sprinkle with ½ of the shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle with ½ the parmesan. Top with ½ the remaining sauce. Repeat the layers ending with parmesan. Make sure that all of the pasta is submerged.
  8. You might not use all the pasta.  You can store it in a plastic bag for later use. If you have leftover sauce you can freeze that, too.
  9. Return the skillet to the heat.  Allow to come to a boil.  Turn down to a low simmer and cover with the lid. Simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the lasagna to sit, uncovered,for 10 minutes.
Serve with garlic bread and a green salad.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tex-Mex Burger

My husband loves Tex-Mex food.  You could probably figure that out from counting the huge number of dishes I make using the spices and techniques of Texas.  Authentic Mexican food is much more varied than the food we find in American Mexican restaurants, which are in reality, Tex-Mex. I have read complaints about people sprinkling taco seasoning on something and calling it Mexican food. I understand that and agree. I am careful on my blog to say my food is ‘inspired by’ rather than authentic.  The only food I am qualified to make and call authentic is Southern food.  That said, I think it is silly to say that because I am not Mexican or from Texas, that I cannot use their flavors and methods as a starting point.

Which leads me to these burgers.  Jeff’s birthday was last week.  We went to a great steak house the next day to celebrate, but I wanted to make him something that I knew he would like for dinner.  I thought all day.  I knew he would love tacos, but we had eaten those earlier in the week and I was bored.  I wanted a big juicy burger!  So I figured why not do both?  I dug around in the pantry and found a can of green chilies and a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. I already had 2 avocadoes.  So I took a chance.  This was wonderful!  The chilies made the burgers really moist and added more flavor.  You could substitute Monterey cheese for the pepper jack cheese if you don’t like heat. I wouldn’t use cheddar, however, because it would clash with the flavors. I used Kaiser rolls and toasted them so that they wouldn’t fall apart because the burgers, guac, and mayo were all juicy.  

Servings:  5 burgers
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a can opener, an airtight container, a whisk, a mixing bowl, a spatula, a heavy bottom frying pan
Time: Prep-10 minutes, Cook-7-10 minutes

  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce (1½ tablespoon)
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 4 ounce can green chilies
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
  • ⅔ cup guacamole
  • 5 bun size slices of pepper jack cheese
  • 5 toasted Kaiser rolls
  • Pickled jalapeño peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion slices for garnish

  1. Chop the chipotle and whisk into the mayo and sour cream.  Put the mixture into the airtight container and place it into the fridge until needed.
  2. Mix the spices, can of green chilies (liquid and all), and the beef together in the mixing bowl.
  3. Divide the beef into 5 equal ¾ inch patties. Sprinkle both sides with salt.  When making hamburger patties, it is best to shape them like bagels only instead of a hole make an indentation.  When they cook, the middle will swell and the burger will be evenly cooked.
  4. In the pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high.  Cook each burger for 4 minutes and then flip.  Cook for 3-4 more minutes. Check the thickest burger to see if it is cooked enough for you.
  5. Place a slice of cheese onto each burger during the last minute or so of cooking.
  6. To serve place the burgers onto the split buns.  Top each burger with 2 tablespoons of the chipotle mayo and 2 tablespoons of guacamole. Offer your guests pickled jalapeño peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion slices.  Serve with fries, corn chips, or a green salad.