Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Homestyle Lasagna

Today we are making the entree of our meal~The Homestyle Lasagna!
Let's start with the sauce. This sauce makes about 4 cups. This is plenty, and you will have some left over for spaghetti with meat sauce.

 Here's the recipe:
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil                               
1 small Onion, finely chopped
2 garlic Cloves, minced
1# extra lean Ground Beef
28 ounce can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 3/4 cups Water
pinch of Sugar
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper

  Start by chopping your onions. I used
                                a food processor,but you can dice them                             
            with a knife. I used the minced garlic that 
comes in the container ready to use.
 Sometimes I use  the fresh garlic
 but these are very handy.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet until shimmering.
Add the garlic and oil; stirring a few times until lightly         
browned, about 5 minutes.

      Add the ground beef to the skillet, and cook until browned.           
As the beef cooks, break it up with a spatula or spoon,
so that it all gets cooked.

Drain the ground beef grease. I like to do this by pouring the beef into
a small colander. Let it sit so that all the grease drains. 
            Then pour the beef mix into a large pot.             

Add the tomatoes. I bought the whole peeled tomatoes. You 
can also buy tomato puree, but I love the San Marzano brand.                 
I bought them at Whole Foods.  Puree the tomatoes yourself 
in the processor.

Place the tomato puree, tomato paste, water, sugar, 
and herbs into the large pot with the beef. Add the 
salt & pepper and bring the pot to a boil. 
Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until thickened,
about 45 minutes.

Now, lets cook the pasta. Here is what you need to finish the Homestyle Lasagna. 

Lasagna Noodles, Ricotta Cheese, Shredded Mozarella, Sliced Provolone, Parmesan Cheese, Sauce

Put water in a large pot, and once it begins boiling, place the lasagna noodles in the pot. Let them cook for 15 minutes. Once they are done, drain the water and let the noodles cool. They can even get cold, as we will be putting them in the oven to cook in a few minutes.

In a 13 X 9 pan, cover the bottom, lightly, with the sauce. Cover with the lasagna noodles.

Your next layer is provolone cheese. Layer like in the picture and you will have plenty, because the cheese will melt and get on every slice.
Place a layer of sauce over the provolone cheese.

Now, start it all over again. Layer with the noodles.

Place the Ricotta Cheese on the noodles.

Layer with the meat sauce.

Top with the shredded mozzarella.
Bake at 350 until done, about 30 minutes.

There you have it! Homestyle Lasagna that you and everyone you serve it to will love.

Tomorrow we will make the side dish~garlic bread.

Thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Today we are making the soup portion of our Lasagna meal. This soup has a chicken base, although if you are looking for a vegetarian soup, you could easily substitute a vegetable broth. Here's your recipe:
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)

1  15 ounce can low sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed (Whole Foods)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
32 ounce low sodium chicken broth (Whole Foods)
1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes(Whole Foods)
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Put half of the canellini beans in a bowl and mash with the back of a
 spoon. Don't forget to drain first!!


Heat the olive oil in a soup or stock pot over medium to high heat.
                                                                   Add the onion, 

 the carrots,

the celery,

 the dried thyme, sage, garlic, salt & pepper.
Don't forget to dice your veggies.
Add your zucchini and stir until tender. 
It should take about 5 minutes.

Add the broth.

Add the diced tomatoes, and bring the soup to a boil.
Add the mashed canellini beans, both mashed and whole,
and the spinach leaves and cook until the leaves are wilted.
 Serve the soup topped with grated Parmesan.
When I shopped for the items I needed for this recipe I got several products at Whole Foods, I love that place. Whenever I need something that is special or of a higher quality, they always seem to have what I need.

This soup is a great addition to our Lasagna meal. A chunk of the bread from the antipasto tray would taste great dipped in the soup. Thanks for dropping by, and hope to see you tomorrow when we make the entree, Lasagna.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Antipasto Tray Appetizer

Today we are putting together an antipasto tray as an appetizer for our meal. The great thing about an antipasto plate is that a chef that is just starting out can put one together easily, as most platters are assembled with ingredients that are ready to eat when purchased.  A well stocked pantry makes it  simple to put together an antipasto tray  quickly and at the last minute. It's a great idea to stock up on a few non-perishable gourmet items so you have them when you need them.

Choose your items from a few or all of the following categories:
Breads~such as French or Italian Bread slices, Breadsticks, Pita Breads, Crackers
Meats~Dry Salami, Prosciutto, Pancetto, Ham
Vegetables~Marinated Sun Dried Tomatoes, Marinated Mushrooms, Roasted Artichokes, Capers,  Peppers,
                   Pepperoncini Peppers, Capers
Cheeses~Goat Cheese, Mozarella,Parmesan, Brie
Fresh/Dried Fruits~Cantaloupe, Grapes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Figs, Dates, Raisins, Cranberries,
Other Items~Tapenade, Hummus, Chutney.

For the antipasto tray we are making, I chose 3 cheeses~ Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella, and Boursin. I used Roasted Red Peppers, Oven Roasted Artichoke, French Bread Slices, Whole Grain Wheat Crackers, and Dried Sliced Salami. I know there is a picture of asparagus above, but after I took the picture, I changed my mind about using it. I would have liked to use some other meats also, like Prosciutto or Pancetto, but we are a low salt household, so salami is all I used.
Everything I used for the platter was purchased ready to go, except for the artichoke. I oven roasted the artichoke, and it was very easy to do. The first thing you need to do is scrub the artichoke  to clean it up a little.     
Cut off the bottom stem from the artichoke so it can lay flat. Cut the tips off each of the leaves, so they are straight across.

Your artichoke should now look like this. Next, place the artichoke on 2 pieces of foil. Don't drown it in oil, but pour it into the artichoke so it gets into every level. You can also pour some balsamic vinegar in with the olive oil.




  Place bits of garlic between the leaves of the artichoke.


                                                                                                                                                Double wrap the artichoke in foil.

                                   Bake in the oven for 1 hour @ 425. When the artichoke is done, pull the leaves apart to place on your plate.

Put all your platter ingredients together. Make your plate look stylish and appealing by grouping the colors together so they compliment each other.I put this antipasto platter together on a white plate. I think I should have used a plate color that contrast with all the white bread, green artichokes, and red peppers. I could have used lettuce as a base, or I have even used banana leaves in the past. Use your creativity. That's what makes cooking and entertaining fun!

If you want to know more about artichokes and different ways to prepare them, you can get more info at Check it out!

If you have any questions about any part of this antipasto platter blog, please send me an email. You can reach me at You can also say whatever you want in the comment section of my blog. I will be happy to answer you. I would love to see pics of your antipasto platters. Send them to me!!

Tomorrow we will make Tuscan Vegetable Soup. See you then. Thanks for stopping by!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lasagna Dinner Meal

Today is the first post of my newly designed Freshman Cook. I hope you like it! Lets jump in!!!

The menu for this week:

Appetizer: Antipasto Tray
Soup/Salad: Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Entree: Homestyle Lasagna
Side Dish: Garlic Bread
Dessert: Tiramisu Mousse

I hope this sounds good to you!!               Here is your shopping list:

Antipasto Tray~Cheese ( I used 3 kinds-Boursin Garlic & Herb, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella)
                         Fresh Artichoke
                         Salami ( I bought mine sliced)
                         Loaf of French Bread
                         Whole Grain Wheat Crackers
                         Fresh asparagus
Antipasto Ingredients

Tuscan Vegetable Soup~15 oz can low sodium Canellini Beans
                                       extra virgin Olive oil
                                       Onion (you will need 1 cup, diced)
                                       2 Carrots
                                       2 stalks Celery
                                       1 small Zuchini
                                       1 clove Garlic
                                      dried Thyme Leaves
                                      dried Sage Leaves
                                      Black Pepper
                                     32 ounces low sodium Chicken Broth
                                     14.5 ounce can no salt added diced Tomato
                                      2 cups chopped Baby Spinach Leaves
                                      1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Tuscan Ingredients

Homestyle Lasagna~ extra virgin Olive Oil
                                 1 small Onion
                                 2 Garlic Cloves
                                 1 pound lean ground beef
                                 28 ounce can Tomato Puree
                                 small can Tomato Paste
                                 Dried Oregano
                                 Dried Thyme
                                 Bay Leaf
                                 Salt & Pepper
                                 1 box Lasagna Noodles
Lasagna Ingredients

Garlic Bread~loaf of Italian Bread
                     Minced Garlic
                     Unsalted Butter
Garlic Bread Ingredients
 Tiramisu Mousse~8 ounces Mascarpone Cheese
                            1/4 cup brewed Coffee
                            2 eggs
                            1 cup Whipping Cream
                            Cocoa Powder
Tiramisu Ingredients
On Monday's post we will talk about how to oven roast the artichoke, and prepare the antipasto plate!
 It's the beginning of a wonderful meal!!!
 Culinary Talk ~Mascarpone Cheese is made from low fat content fresh creme. It is a triple creme, and looks a lot like creme cheese.It is rich tasting, and has a buttery flavor. It comes in the same type of container as creme cheese, and it is pronounced [mas-kar-pohn]. I have purchased mascarpone at Walmart, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and most grocery stores.

See you tomorrow!!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 2 ~ Seafood Scampi for 2

Today we are making Seafood Scampi for 2. This scampi is a mix of my husbands favorite seafood, shrimp, scallops, and crab.  Because these are his favorite, I thought this dish would make the perfect Valentine's Day meal. When I went to buy the ingredients for this meal, I bought a little big. What I mean by that is that I bought a lot of extra, planning on using the leftover in future meals. For instance, I bought a large bag of scallops, a big bag of shrimp, and a huge amount of king crab legs. It is not necessary to buy like I did. I bought my ingredients at Sam,s Club, but you can by all of the same ingredients by going to the seafood counter in your local grocery store, and just buying the amount you want. Here is my list of ingredients:

2 scallops
4 colassal shrimp
1 king crab leg
angel hair pasta
loaf of Italian bread cut into slices

Begin by melting 2 tablespoons of butter. As that is melting, begin cleaning your shrimp. I bought shrimp that was uncooked, but deveined. You need to peel the shell off, and then I like too devein the underside of the shrimp also. I like to use a small paring knife to devein the shrimp. It gives me more control because of its' small size.

Once your butter is melted, add about 1 teaspoon of garlic, and let it simmer in the butter. Add more if you are a die hard garlic lover!
This garlic butter will be used for your garlic bread. Make sure you keep an eye on the butter and garlic, as you don't want your garlic to burn.
Your scallops don't need any prep at all. Just take them out of the bag, and they are ready. Your crab will be ready to use as soon as you get it out of its' shell. Just crack the shell, pull out the crab, and get ready to cook.
Put your water on to boil for your pasta. Also slice your bread from the loaf, coat it with garlic butter, and put it on a baking sheet ready to go into the oven.
Put 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 teaspoons of garlic in your frying or saute pan. Start by cooking the scallops first.
The scallops take the longest, but not by much. Turn the scallops over a few times, and as soon as the scallops begin to get a little flaky, add the shrimp.
See how the scallops are just beginning to get a little brown? They should look like this. Aren't they a thing of beauty?!!
Your scallops and your shrimp should be browning nicely. As they become browned and nearly finished, add the crab. You only want to heat the crab slightly.
See how pretty everything looks! Turn the pan off, and get your bread slices and put them in the oven under the broiler.
Drain and plate your pasta. Then place your seafood pieces on top of the pasta, and pour the butter garlic mixture over the top.Sprinkle with parmesan, mozzarella, or your favorite cheese.
Bon Appetit!

Tomorrow~ Day 3~Valentine Petit Fours

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 1 of 14 Days of Valentines!

For day 1 of our celebration we are making white chocolate Valentine tumbleweeds! Gather your ingredients and make these as a special treat for friends, family, neighbors, teachers, or a special someone. Everyone loves tumbleweeds!

3 cups of chinese noodles
2 cups of white chocolate chips
2 cups of party peanuts
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
decorative sprinkles, like hearts or circles in Valentine colors like red or pink 
  Melt your chocolate by putting the white chocolate in a double boiler. 
Stir the chocolate until it is smooth and completely melted, Add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate to thin it a little.
Add the melted chocolate to the noodles, and mix. Add the peanuts and mix again.

Make small mounds of tumbleweeds on your cookie sheet. 

After all your tumbleweeds are made, go back and add decorative sprinkles or valentines conversation hearts.

There is no limit to what you can decorate with.

 Day 2 of 14 Days of Valentines-Seafood Scampi!!!!