Ah, lasagna . . . it’s all about the layering. I’m not the only picky one in this family so, as a result, I don’t use a meat sauce. Instead, I begin with a layer of meat – ground beef, Italian sausage, mushrooms, eggplant — covered with a layer of sauce. This allows me to customize the dish to everyone’s taste – half beef/half mushroom – you get the idea. This week it was ground beef all the way. It is so easy to prepare the lasagna ahead of time and pop it in the oven for a wonderful hot dinner. And, don’t forget, lasagna is always better the next day!
1-1/2 lb. ground beef, browned
40-48 oz. tomato sauce of your choice
1/2 lb. lasagna, cooked & drained (1/2 box)
4-6 oz ricotta
1/2 lb. mozzarella, sliced (about 12 slices)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
2. In a shallow pan (13x9x2), put a layer of browned ground beef, followed by a thin layer of sauce to saturate.
3. Use half of the noodles as the next layer, and spread the ricotta cheese in a layer over the noodles.
4. Follow with a layer of mozzarella and half of the remaining sauce.
5. Create a layer using the rest of the noodles, the rest of the sauce, and a final layer of mozzarella.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling hot. Let stand out of oven for 15 minutes before cutting.
I don’t really have that many natural talents in the kitchen. I’m a good technician — after all, my mother was a Home Economics teacher, and she had us in the kitchen at a very young age. I am competent, but not that creative. However, finding great things to do with my leftovers is one area in which I do think I excel. One of my goals is to use all of the fresh things in my pantry completely. With that in mind, I decided to use the remaining Cheesy Creamed Spinach in a quesadilla along with some of the remaining Beer Can Chicken. KITCHEN TIP: Turning a quesadilla is not always an easy task, and choosing the right tool is sometimes a make it or break it decision. I love using this extra-large palette knife for turning and transferring large items. It can handle everything from a quesadilla to a roast to turning a whole fish on the grill. Well worth the investment.
CHICKEN FLORENTINE QUESADILLA
5 ounces sliced chicken breast
1/2 cup creamed spinach
3 large bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 large flour quesadilla
softened butter, as needed
1. Saute mushrooms and tomatoes in olive oil until tomatoes are just soft. Remove from the pan and set aside, leaving the liquid behind.
2. Add sliced chicken to the pan and cook until just warmed through. Place a large pan over medium high heat until hot.
3. Spread creamed spinach on one half of a flat quesadilla. Layer the chicken, followed by the mushrooms and tomatoes.
4. Fold quesadilla and spread softened butter over the top. Slide the quesadilla, butter side down into the heated pan.
5. Spread more softened butter over the top of the quesadilla and turn when the bottom layer begins to get brown and toasty.
6. Cook until both sides are browned. Remove to a plate, cut in to sections, and serve.
It’s probably time that I admitted that I am a terribly picky eater. I probably eat only about 5% of the dishes that I prepare. That being said, it should be no surprise that I don’t like mushrooms . . . but I love, love, love to cook with them! This recipe (from allrecipes.com) is really lovely. The mushrooms are grilled first, and then sautéed with shallots and white wine until reduced. I think that roasting the mushrooms in the oven would be as effective if grilling is not convenient. These mushrooms would be wonderful as either a small plate or a side. The best part was the aroma that filled my house while it was cooking.
SAUTEED GRILLED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
4 Portobello mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1. Rub mushrooms with olive oil and place on a grill over high heat, smooth side up. Grill until they start to soften, about 10 minutes. Turn over, and grill on the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from grill and slice.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, and saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add mushrooms to the skillet, and increase the heat to high. Cook for about a minute, then pour in the wine. Continue to cook and stirring to deglaze until the wine is nearly evaporated. Remove from heat, and serve.