Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dying for Lasagna!

I was on the phone with my sister on Father's Day and asked her what they were doing for dinner. Apparently they had a meat sauce cooked up for a lasagna that never got cooked, so even though it was wicked hot, they were making lasagna.

As soon as she said that... I wanted some! I would have gone to her house for dinner, but it's a 10 hour drive.

So I just kept craving it.

But even though it was wicked hot here too, I couldn't hold out for cooler weather.

I wanted lasagna! I was able to wait almost a week before I made some!

There's no specific recipe for this. None of the amounts are exact.

I imagine it's pretty much how my mom made it.


1 box lasagna noodles
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage (I used both hot and sweet)
24 oz ricotta cheese
3 - 4 C shredded provolone & mozzarella cheese
1/2 - 1 C shredded asiago/parmesan/romano cheese blend
1 egg
a couple palm fulls of Italian seasoning
1 medium onion, diced
several cloves of garlic, minced
salt & pepper
6 - 8 C Spaghetti Sauce, your favorite recipe or prepared sauce

Brown ground beef & sausage in a pan with onions & garlic. Drain off fat, add a palmful of Italian seasoning and some salt & pepper to taste; add spaghetti sauce and simmer.

While that's simmering, boil lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box, rinse in cold water.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, provolone & mozzarella (reserve 1 - 2 C provolone/mozzarella), asiago/parmesan/romano cheese blend, egg, a palmful of Italian seasoning and some salt & pepper. Combine well.

Now the noodles, meat sauce and cheese mixture are all ready to be assembled.

Reserve 1 - 2 cups of meat sauce. Put a little sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Top that with a single, overlapping layer of noodles. Then evenly spread half of the meat sauce over the noodles. Next evenly spread half of the cheese mixtures over the meat sauce. Top with another layer of of overlapping noodles and repeat. When you get to the top layer of noodles, cover with reserved sauce and reserved cheese. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

So that's the jist of it.

Now when I was making this lasagna, I was totally yackin' on the phone with my sister. I was VERY excited because I found out that my schedule WILL allow me to attend my cousin Annie's wedding in August. Unfortunately Jon's schedule isn't going to allow him to go with me, but Tawny & Bobby will definitely go too. In addition to that, my cousin Charlie will be there WITH his daughter Nadia! I was VERY VERY excited! Can't wait to go to the wedding, can't wait to see Charlie, can't wait to finally meet his beautiful daughter in person, can't wait to see everyone who will be at Annie's wedding!

Sooo... excited and blabbering on the phone equals not paying too much attention to what I'm doing in the kitchen!

I was taking pictures, but totally forgot the onion and garlic with the meat.

So brown up the sausage & beef, with onions & garlic.
(Wanna add peppers or olives? Go for it! Toss in whatever you like!)

Drain and add sauce. I used canned sauce this time.

At this point I realized I forgot the onion & garlic, so I added onion & garlic powder with the Italian seasoning.

Let that simmer.

Boil your noodles according to the directions and don't forget to add salt to the water!

Mix up your cheeses!

Rinse the noodles in cold water.

Time to assemble!

Now into a 350F degree oven for about 45 minutes.

Pull it out of the oven and let it rest for at least 15 - 20 minutes. If you cut it too soon, the pieces will slide apart.


Take that time to throw some garlic bread in the oven and toss a big garden salad!

Now it's dinner time!!

Mmmmmm.... big meaty cheeses pieces of lasagna!


Jon likes it even better the next day.


Four minutes in the microwave and it's time for wicked good leftovers!

Sometimes it's worth being in a wicked hot kitchen when you just have to have some lasagna!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Release the Kracken Sangria!

It's the Summer of Sangria at Spryte's Place and I'll be putting up a new sangria recipe every week.

This week's selection I'm calling Release the Kracken Sangria!

I wanted to make a red sangria with rum. Most of the recipes I looked at called for white rum.


I LOVE The Captain! Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. I thought the spice would add a nice twist to the Sangria.

I typically have a few rums in the liquor cabinet, but I ran out the door to buy wine and totally forgot to double check.

So Hector and I got to the liquor store and I decided I'd just pick up some Captain Morgan's just to be safe. It's not like we wouldn't use it anyway.

But we got to the rum section and I started thinking that a fruity white rum might be good too.

Then we saw it.

The Kracken Black Spiced Rum

Jon really wanted that one and I have to admit, spiced rum with a sea monster on it is pretty appealing.

Since I grabbed wine on the cheap... I splurged the couple extra bucks for The Kracken!

And when you say the name, you can't just say "The Kracken"

You have to really roll that "R" with a Scottish accent... like Sean Connery or Groundskeeper Willy.

The Krrrracken!

I have no idea why... that's just the way it always sounds in my head!

Anyway... back to the Sangria!

Release the Kracken Sangria!

2 bottles (750ml) Cabernet Sauvignon
1 C The Kraken Spiced Black Rum
1 C orange juice
2 nectarines, sliced
1 black plum, sliced
1/2 pint of raspberries
1 orange, sliced (plus one for garnish)
1 lime, sliced
lemon-lime soda

Pour all ingredients except lemon/lime soda, into a large pitcher and refrigerate for several hours.
Add some ice to wine glasses, pour in wine mixture and top off with lemon/lime soda.




That's it!

So we shared this with Erin & Andrew.

Unfortunately, I have to say, this is not a favorite Sangria.

The reason?

It mostly tasted like wine and well... I don't really like wine!

I love Sangria, but wine... not so much.

This recipe definitely isn't a fail. I'll try it again. Maybe I'll double the orange juice next time. Or add some triple sec.

Now if you actually enjoy red wine, you definitely should give this a try!


See ya next week with a new Sangria for Summer of Sangria at Spryte's Place!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chicken Pinto & Corn Enchiladas

Enchiladas, like quesadillas are so versatile.

You can roll up whatever fillings you want in them.

For these, I used the leftovers from my Pinto Bean & Corn Chicken Quesadillas.

First of all... if I'm using flour tortillas are they still enchiladas?

I have no idea. I usually use corn tortillas, but I had a bunch of small flour tortillas to use up. So that's what I used!

No recipe here either, just using up leftovers.

To start, pull out your leftovers.

Shredded chicken and beans, corn and green chiles.

Toss them together.

A big bowl of shredded colby & pepperjack cheese.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish with enchilada sauce.

Homemade or store bought, whatever you have.

Now it's time to assemble the enchiladas.

Grab a small flour tortilla and sprinkle a little shredded cheese down the center.

Then top the cheese with the chicken mixture.

Roll it up.

Place it seam side down in the baking dish.

Do that until the pan is full or you run out of fillings.

Now cover them with more enchilada sauce.

And top with more shredded cheese.

That's it.

Now bake for about 30 minutes at 350F, until cheese is all melty and everything is heated through.

Mmmm.... doesn't that look delicious??

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pinto Bean & Corn Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas are one of my go to dinners when I need something fast.

How easy is it to fold some fillings into a tortilla with some cheese and heat it?

More often than not, when I make quesadillas, I do kind of a Quesadilla Bar. But I wanted to try something different.

To start, I made a different version of my Smoky Mexican Chicken, by just doing it in the crock pot. I needed much less liquid in the crockpot. And since the liquids don't cook down and concentrate, it turned out to be a much more mild shredded chicken. So it was even more versatile AND convenient, because I just threw everything into the crock pot and went to work.

There are no real measurements here, I was just kinda winging it. Tweak it to your family's preferences.


Pinto Bean & Corn Chicken Quesadillas
Large flour tortillas
Shredded chicken
Pinto beans, drained & rinsed (about a cup)
Corn (a big handful or about a cup)
Onion, diced (1/2 - 3/4 of a smallish onion)
Garlic, minced (a couple of cloves)
Green Chiles, diced (a couple spoonfuls)
Lime Juice (about a tablespoon)
Cumin (a big pinch)
Salt & Pepper
ColbyJack & PepperJack cheese, shredded

In a skillet saute onion & garlic until tender. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 of a can of pinto beans. Or about a cup, if you're starting with beans you cooked from dry. Add a couple big spoonfuls of diced green chiles, and a handful of corn. I used frozen corn. You can use fresh kernels, canned, whatever you have on hand. Add lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper.

Cook until heated through.


Ok filling is ready!

Cover half of a large flour tortilla with cheese.

I put colbyjack on the bottom.

Top that with shredded chicken.

Then then bean mixture.

Top with some more cheese.

I used pepperjack this time to spice it up a little.

Now fold it in half.

This time I cooked them in a hot, lightly oiled, cast iron skillet, instead of my Foreman Grill.

Give it a couple minutes, until it gets nice and golden, then flip it.

Cook on that side until it's nice and crispy and golden and you're done!

Cut it into 3 or 4 pieces.

I love them with guacamole and salsa.

We really liked the pintos in the quesadillas. I'll definitely be making these again!

You know what makes the PERFECT dinner?

A Quesadilla paired with Tortilla Soup!

If you're looking for a nice little collection of Tortilla Soup recipes... check out girlichef's Tortilla Soup Challenge by clicking the badge below!

Find some new Tortilla Soup recipes or add your own to her list!

I had leftovers of chicken, the bean mixture, beans, corn, and green chiles... see what I did with them tomorrow!