Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Best Ever Lasagna

I made 3, count 'em, 3 pans of this Lasagna for my dinner group this week! I have to admit it was a perfectly flavored Lasagna. I'm not a huge fan of meaty lasagnas, but as far as a meaty lasagna goes, this was definitely the best one I've ever had. It was also the prettiest... it didn't fall apart in the pan or on the plates... it was the most beautiful presentation! (Probably because the sauce was so thick!) And best of all, it was easy... no special tricky ingredients. Just basic stuff that is probably already in your pantry! For full, step by step directions with mouthwatering pictures, go to Pioneer Woman's site. But for your basic ingredient list, here it is. The only thing that may be different is the addition of the tomato juice/V8... we liked it better with the extra liquid.

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. hot breakfast sausage (definitely use the hot... your lasagna will NOT be spicy and it adds the perfect kick to the flavor)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
3/4- 1 cup V8 juice or tomato juice
2 Tbsp dried Parsley
2 Tbsp dried Basil
1 tsp salt

10 oz. box lasagna noodles (you'll need at least 8 noodles... cook a couple extra just in case)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil

Cheese Filling:
3 cups cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
1 lb. sliced mozzarella cheese

1. Brown beef, sausage and minced garlic in heavy duty sauce pan. Drain excess fat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, basil, and salt and stir to combine. Then simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.

2. While your sauce is simmering, boil some water in a large saucepan and add your lasagna noodles. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. oil to your water to keep the noodles from sticking. Cook until "al dente"... you want them to still have some bite as they'll be baked still.

3. While your sauce is simmering and your noodles are cooking, mix up your cheese mixture by combining the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and salt. Mix to combine well.

Now, to assemble:
Layer 4 noodles along the bottom of your pan, slightly overlapping them. Next top with 1/2 of your cottage cheese mixture. Now lay 1/2 of your mozzarella slices on top of that. Finally top with 1/2 of your meat mixture. And repeat. Top off your final meat mixture with a very generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Now, pop it in a 350 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Trust me, this is good stuff. But how could you possibly go wrong with Pioneer Woman?


I'd never made my own Hamburgers before, but I tried these last week for my dinner group and they were fantastic. We made them really big, a la Red Robin... good stuff. I got this recipe from Our Best Bites (who got it from Family Fun). It's a good one to make with the kiddos... Gavin loved rolling and making his own patties.

1 1/4 lb. ground beef (the extra 1/4 lb. helps the meat stay together... don't forgo it!)
3 Tbsp. A1 Steak Sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion

Combine all the ingredients well and shape into patties. You should be able to get 4-6 patties.

Grill about 5-7 minutes per side, depending on how pink you want them.

I sprayed my grill rack first and made sure to cook them a full 7 minutes so they didn't fall apart when I turned over. These were mighty tasty and it's so satisfying to mix those ingredients by hand and make your hamburgers!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shrimp with Tomato Cream Sauce and Penne

Actually, on Pioneer Woman's site, it's called Penne a'la Betsy, but I thought mine was more descriptive and would help me remember what it was! This stuff is quite simply fabulous. I've made it at least 3 times and if I could, I would have it every week. Unfortunately, my hips may not agree, but since when have I cared what they thought! For beautiful mouth watering, step by step instructions and pictures, visit Pioneer Woman's site here. Otherwise, here's your ingredient list and basic directions:

3/4 lb. Penne (or Fusilli or whatever the heck you like best... I just happen to like the penne!)
1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp (Large or Extra Large is preferable)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided)
3 Tbsp Butter (divided)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth (or white wine for all you wino's--yes, you, Dacia!)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
Lots of fresh basil, chiffonaded (about 2-3 Tbsp at least) (I've only ever used the fresh basil... in fact, I liked the fresh basil so much, I went out and bought my very own basil plant! It was so worth it... I'm sure dried would work here, but if you can... definitely try the fresh. You'll feel so gourmet and it's sooooo good!) (Oh, and for directions for chiffonading, go to Pioneer Woman's site... she demonstrates... but basically you stack a bunch of leaves on top of eachother, roll them tightly and slice finely. I bet you could just chop them, too...)
Salt and Pepper to taste

First things first... bring a large pot of water to boil and add your pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain and set aside. Oh, and work on your sauce while the noodles are cooking.

Saute shrimp in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in saucepan until your shrimp is pink, and just opaque. Don't cook them until they're rubbery! Remove to a plate and let them cool off a bit. Once they've cooled a bit, chop into large, but bite size chunks. You could do your chopping while your sauce is cooking... just a thought.

In that same pan, add remaining olive oil and butter, garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally. Once your onions and garlic have cooked down a bit, add 1/2 cup chicken broth and let that reduce a bit. Next add your tomato sauce and stir together well. Then slowly add your whipping cream, stirring well to combine. Now dump your shrimp in and add some salt and pepper to taste. And finally, add your fresh herbs and there's your sauce. It looks so good!

Drain your cooked pasta well and add to your sauce, stirring well to combine and voila'... it's done. And heavenly. And amazing. And one of my most favorite dishes ever!