COUNTRY HEAVEN LASAGNA

COUNTRY HEAVEN LASAGNA

1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1 package pepperoni slices
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon FRESH flat leaf parsley, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup Classico Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
1 small can crushed tomatoes
1 carton ricotta or cottage cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
Lasagna noodles

  • Brown meat, drain fat.
  • Add garlic and Italian seasoning to the tomatoes and tomato paste. Reserve 2 tablespoons.
  • Fold meat into tomato mixture.
  • Slice pepperoni slices into quarters.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parsley and Parmesan cheese.
  • In am oil coated baking dish spread an even layer of the Classico Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

Then layer twice:
NOODLES
MEAT MIXTURE
PEPPERONI PIECES
CHEESE MIXTURE
MOZZARELLA CHEESE

  • Bake 50 minutes OR until golden brown.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with salad and garlic bread.

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After I go grocery shopping I split the Italian sausage, ground pork and ground sirloin all in half. Then I mix them all together and freeze half for the the next time.

POTATO GNOCCHI ala BOLOGNESE

Using Russets or Idaho potatoes is critical to the success of this recipe. Without wheat flour which adds the stretchy gluten to hold the gnocchi together, starchy potatoes provide virtually the same structure you need. Baking the potatoes gives you not only stronger flavor, but also they do not absorb moisture that happens when you boil them. For that same reason baked potatoes versus boiled also require less flour which makes for a lighter fluffy gnocchi.  Wheat flour has been substituted with a combination of rice flour and sweet rice flour making the Gnocchi almost gluten-free. Sweet rice flour is made from glutinous short grain rice.

2 pounds russet potatoes, washed
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
2 large eggs
Pink Himalayan salt, fresh ground black pepper and a dash of paprika, to taste
1 batch BOLOGNESE sauce

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Pierce potatoes a few times with a knife and place on a baking sheet.
  • Roast until tender, about one hour.
  • Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool.
  • Whisk together white rice flour and sweet rice flour.
  • Using some of the flour mixture, make yourself a floured surface.
  • Peel the potatoes and pass through a potato ricer onto the floured surface.
  • Whisk together eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and paprika to taste.
  • Pour over the potatoes.
  • Work the egg mixture into the potatoes with a fork until potatoes begin to hold together. Mixture will be sticky.
  • Work one cup of the flour mixture into the potato mixture with a fork.
  • As soon as a dough begins to form, begin kneading the dough by hand until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be firm and not sticky. If it is sticky, add the remaining flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time. You can pre-test the gnocchi by boiling a small pot of water and cooking a small piece of the dough. The gnocchi should hold together.
  • Divide the dough into quarters.
  • As you work with each quarter, cut it in half.
  • Cover remaining dough with a damp paper towel.
  • Roll out each dough eighth into a log.
  • Cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Shape by either pressing a small indentation into each gnocchi or rolling the gnocchi over a fork.
  • Transfer shaped gnocchi to a lightly white rice-floured baking sheet.

Shaped gnocchi can either be cooked right away or frozen for future use.

To Freeze: Place baking sheet filled with gnocchi in the freezer. Once the gnocchi are frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Gnocchi may be frozen for up to two months.

To Cook: Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook half the fresh or frozen gnocchi in the boiling water until they float, about 2-4 minutes. Do NOT crowd the pot. Test a gnocchi to ensure it is cooked through. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a skimmer and transfer to a bowl or pot of sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. If gnocchi must be held for more than a moment, drizzle with oil and toss to prevent sticking.

BOLOGNESE SAUCE
1 pound COSTCO organic ground beef
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
5 large Roma tomatoes, slice thin
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • Brown ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic. Drain fat.
  • Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce.
  • Stir in sugar, salt, pepper, basil, Italian seasoning and fennel, mixing well.
  • Lay tomato slices evenly on top. Cover.
  • Simmer for 2 hours over low heat. Stir in tomato slices until well blended.  At this time you can proceed to finish the lasagna or refrigerate the sauce until ready.

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SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE & MOZZA STUFFED MEATBALLS

  • I start with whatever vegetables I have in the vegetable bin that are on their last legs for crispness. Today was Roma tomatoes, celery stalks, green onions and snap peas.
  • Then I drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper over them all and bake it for an hour at 400°.
  • I started the sauce with a can of Contadina tomato paste, 1 teaspoon Better than Beef Bouillon paste, 2 cups orange juice and a V8. This truly was a clean out the fridge day.
  • When done roasting add the vegetables to the sauce and set to simmer all day. The vegetables will continue to cook down into a uniform consistency with the sauce.
  • Salt & pepper to taste.


For the sauce:
1 pound COSTCO organic ground beef
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
5 large Roma tomatoes, slice thin
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • Brown ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic. Drain fat.
  • Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce.
  • Stir in sugar, salt, pepper, basil, Italian seasoning and fennel, mixing well.
  • Lay tomato slices evenly on top. Cover.
  • Simmer for 2 hours over low heat. Stir in tomato slices until well blended.  At this time you can proceed to finish the lasagna or refrigerate the sauce until ready.

For the meatballs:
1 pound COSTCO organic ground beef
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 large slices sourdough bread, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Align Center1/2 teaspoon fennel
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 bunch green onions, finely minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic, jar
mozzarella cheese, about 4 ounces, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • Crumble bread into a large bowl.
  • Toss in Parmesan cheese, parsley, green onions and garlic.
  • Add meat and with your hands mix extremely well until you have a uniform mixture.
  • Roll meatballs around a Parmesan cheese cube.
  • Chill Meatballs until sauce is done.
  • Just before the sauce is finished, brown meatballs.**
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a medium high simmer until meatballs are cooked though, about 20 minutes.
  • Prepare pasta and Parmesan Cheese Bread while meatballs are cooking.
  • Enjoy

**If you prefer you can add the meatballs directly to the sauce and SLOW simmer for a couple hours instead of browning.

CHICKEN CACCIATORE ala SLOW COOKER

CHICKEN CACCIATORE ala SLOW COOKER

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Avocado oil**
Fresh ground salt and black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup beef consomme’
1/4 cup Wondra flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
PASTA

*Soak the mushrooms in 2/3 cup HOT water for 10 minutes.
*Toss carrots and chicken with avocado oil in slow cooker.
*Generously season chicken with salt and pepper.
*Strain mushrooms through coffee filter lined sieve, reserving the liquid for later.
*Finely chop mushrooms.
*Top chicken with chopped mushrooms, garlic.
*Strain tomatoes into the mushroom liquid.
*Hand crush tomatoes over top of the chicken.
*Whisk together the tomato mushroom liquid, tomato paste and red wine with the flour until smooth.
*Pour wine mixture over chicken pieces.
*Cover and cook on low 7 hours.
*Using 2 forks shred chicken.
*Let stand uncovered 15-20 minutes and sauce will thicken.
*Re-season as necessary.
*Serve over prepared pasta.

**NOTE: I don’t care for the flavor of olive oil, but it is a great substitute for the avocado oil.

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LEMON SHRIMP SPAGHETTI

LEMON SHRIMP SPAGHETTI
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned deveined and tails cut off
1 green onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large lemons, zested and juiced (1/3-1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese + garnish amount
salt and pepper, to taste

  • Prepare pasta per package directions and drain well.
  • Cut each shrimp into thirds.
  • Melt butter over medium high heat until sizzling.
  • Add shrimp, salt and pepper well and saute’ until pink and plump.
  • Scoop out shrimp and set aside.
  • Add green onion, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic blending well.
  • Add in spaghetti, shrimp and Parmesan cheese, tossing to coat.
  • Plate, garnish and enjoy!

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MEAT LOVER’S PIZZA MAC & CHEESE

I found A recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Mac & Cheese in the recent issue of Cuisine at Home. It was NOT what we had hoped it would be (though it was good)  so we made a few changes to help it be the GREAT recipe we thought it was going to be originally.

MEAT LOVER’S PIZZA MAC & CHEESE
2 cups dry penne pasta
3 oz. package pepperoni
2 mild Italian Sausages, skins removed
1 cup rotisserie chicken pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup Wondra flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
3 cups grated Provolone cheese
2 cups grated EXTRA sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup of your favorite Marinara sauce

  • Preheat oven to 400˚.
  • Prepare pasta per package directions. Drain.
  • Set aside several pieces of pepperoni for the top. Mince the remaining pieces of pepperoni.
  • In a large deep oven proof skillet heat the oil over a medium high heat.
  • Brown the sausage and minced pepperoni. Remove meats to a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of the drippings.
  • Sweat the bell pepper, garlic, onion, oregano and red pepper flakes in the drippings until softened.
  • Increase the heat and whisk in the flour until vegetables are well coated.
  • Whisk in milk, stirring until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and gradually add Provolone, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses whisking until smooth.
  • Fold in Pepperoni, Sausage and Chicken pieces until well coated.
  • Fold in Pasta.
  • Top with reserved Pepperoni pieces and Mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake 20 minutes until bubbly.
  • Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

5 CHEESE GOURMET MAC & CHEESE

NOT THE BEST PICTURE, BUT IT WAS OOEY GOOEY CREAMY DELICIOUS.

5 CHEESE GOURMET MAC & CHEESE

8 ounces macaroni or campagnelle noodles, prepared according to package directions
1/4 pound bacon, diced
1 small red onion, diced small
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 2 1/2 + 1/2 + 1
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
2 teaspoons DIJON mustard
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1/4 cup grated Bleu Cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere Cheese
1 1/2 cups EXTRA sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Asiago Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian Parsley
1/3 cup crushed Keebler Club crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons powdered Parmesan Cheese

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Butter a 9×9 baking dish.
  • In a large skillet brown bacon until crisp and crumbly. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • Add onions to  bacon drippings, sauteing until soft.
  • Add the 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter.
  • When butter is melted whisk in the flour making a roux.
  • Whisk in the mustard.
  • Gradually and alternately add the milk and cream, whisking constantly.
  • Add the thyme and salt.  Bring to a SLOW rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Strain into a large mixing bowl and discard any solids.
  • Add ALL 5 cheeses quickly, stirring constantly until melted and a smooth consistency.
  • Add in the cooked noodles stirring to coat.
  • Fold the noodle mixture into the baking dish.
  • Blend together the melted butter, Parmesan Cheese and cracers.
  • Sprinkle on top of noodles.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and rest 10 minutes before serving.

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CHEESY ITALIAN CHICKEN PASTA

I love this recipe because it is quick, simple and only uses a single pan!

CHEESY ITALIAN CHICKEN PASTA
8 ounces baby spinach leaves, divided
1-8 ounce jar Classico Sun-dried tomato pesto
1 medium large yellow onion, chopped
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bite size pieces
6 garlic cloves,minced
1 pound dry linguine**
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning*
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup Chardonnay wine
5 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded

  • In a 5 quart large saute/stock pan arrange half the spinach, tomato pesto, garlic, onion, chicken and linguine on the bottom of te pan.
  • Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
  • Pour chicken stock and wine over top. Cover and bring to a boil over a medium high heat.
  • Cook 7-9 minutes until pasta is al dente.  Toss pasta with tongs occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. 
  • There will still be liquid in the pan when the pasta is done cooking and that’s perfect as it will be the base for the cheese sauce.
  • Turn off the heat and add the cheese to the pasta. 
  • Toss pasta with tongs until the cheese melts into the pasta. 
  • Toss in remaining spinach. 
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

*If you don’t have any dried Italian Seasoning just make your own by combining 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.

**My pot is just a bit smaller than the length of linguine so I halve mine before putting it into the pot.

SIMPLE MAC & CHEESE – FLAVOR your way

In most worlds THE comfort food is a good MAC & CHEESE. I believe this is one of the simplest, but yet the MOST flavorful recipes I have ever made.  I simply change the cheese and/or seasoning to match my mood or whatever else I’m cooking.

SIMPLE MAC & CHEESE – FLAVOR your way

2 cups Dried Macaroni or penne for a dressier look
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
1 cup 1% Milk
3/4 cup buttermilk 
OPTIONAL: 2 heaping teaspoons Coleman’s dry mustard (I omit because of allergy)
**1/3 pound smoked Gruyere cheese, Grated
**6 slices thick quality (Tillamook) medium cheddar cheese – 4 slices set aside, 2 broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon sea Salt,
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Paprika

  • Cook pasta. Pasta should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain WELL.
  • In a small bowl, whisk egg.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter and sprinkle in flour whisking until smooth and cooking for five minutes, whisking constantly. Do NOT let it burn.
  • Pour in milk, add mustard if using, and whisk until smooth. 
  • Cook for five minutes until very thick.
  • Slowly add 1/4 cup of the sauce into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the egg whisking until well blended.
  • Pour egg mixture into the sauce, whisking constantly stirring until smooth.
  • Add grated and broken pieces of cheese stirring until melted and well blended.
  • Add salt, pepper, and paprika. 
  • Taste sauce and add more salt/seasoning as needed! DO NOT UNDER SEASON.
  • Fold in pasta until well coated.
  • Spoon into a buttered baking dish, top with cheese, slices.
  • Top with buttered Panko crumbs – optional.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. 
  • For a dressier look I stir the melted cheddar on top into the mac & cheese and spoon into a serving dish.

**The beauty of this recipe is that you can simply change the flavor by changing the types of cheese and/or the seasoning.

FIESTA CHICKEN LASAGNA

We have quite a few favorite recipes that I have never blogged about or added to my recipe file.  I’m trying to diligently add these as I make them again and get decent pictures of the finished products. This recipe is so easy and a great change up from traditional beef lasagna. 

FIESTA CHICKEN LASAGNA
1 box Barilla oven ready lasagna noodles
2 jars thick and chunky salsa, 1 jar drained well
1/2 pound chicken breast tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cans seasoned black beans, drained REALLY well
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded Jack cheese
1/4+ cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Spread a layer of the salsa on the bottom of the pan.
  • Top with a layer of the lasagna noodles.
  • Top with an even layer of chicken pieces, beans, salsa, cilantro, onions and cheese.
  • Repeat 2 more times, ending with cheese.
  • Cover and bake 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes.
  • Recover and let stand 10 minutes before cutting. 

I love my lasagna pan almost as much as the oven ready Barilla lasagna noodles, but the two are not compatible.  The pan was designed for boiled noodles.  So, I carefully break the oven ready noodles into thirds to use and it works really well.

    BAKED CARBONARA TORTELLINI

    I love a good carbonara, but this recipe is the best of both worlds with adding the cheese tortellini instead of plain spaghetti for an oomph of extra flavor.

    BAKED CARBONARA TORTELLINI
    4 slices bacon, diced
    1 small red onion, diced
    4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    Fresh ground salt and black pepper
    1/2 + 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    16-20 ounces cheese tortellini, prepared per package
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 cup whole milk
    2 tablespoons Wondra flour

    • Preheat oven to 450°.
    • Spray 2 quart casserole with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
    • Prepare tortellini per package directions and drain well.
    • Cook bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
    • Add onions and garlic to bacon grease and saute’ until fragrant.
    • Add flour, whisking until golden.
    • Add salt and pepper to taste.
    • Alternately slowly add the milk and heavy cream, constantly whisking.
    • Simmer 4-5 minutes until begins to thicken.
    • Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
    • Pour into large mixing bowl.
    • Fold tortellini into sauce.
    • Pour into prepared casserole and top with remaining cheese.  Salt and pepper again if you’d like.
    • Bake 5 minutes or so until cheese is melted and turning golden.

    HOMEMADE SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS

    MEATBALLS
    1 slice sourdough bread
    1 tablespoon milk
    1/3-1/2 cup Panko crumbs
    1 pound fresh ground beef
    3/4 pound fresh ground pork
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
    zest from 1 lemon
    salt and pepper to taste

    • Using your hands mix everything together until well blended.  Use only as much Panko crumbs as needed to keep mixture from being too “wet”.
    • Roll into 1 inch meatballs.
    • Cover and chill meatballs while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
    • When ready bake meatballs for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven.

    SAUCE
    3 tablespoons avocado oil
    1 small red onion, chopped
    24 ounce can whole tomatoes
    1 KNORR beef gel
    3/4 cup moscato white wine
    Juice from 1 lemon
    5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced into a paste
    3 tablespoons Classico sundried tomato pesto
    1 teaspoon fresh ground Himalayan pink salt
    1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon fresh ground red pepper
    1 teaspoon sugar
    2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
    2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

    • Heat avocado oil in a large saute’ pan over medium high heat.
    • Add onions and garlic sauteeing until tender.
    • Whisk together the beef gel, wine, pesto and juice from the tomatoes.
    • Add seasonings, blending well.
    • Add tomatoes and gently crush.
    • Bring to a SLOW boil.
    • Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours.
    • Add meatballs to sauce during the last 30 minutes.
    • Serve over pasta.
    • Top with fresh grated Parmesan Cheese.