Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lasagna Loves Breader Beginnings...

Sooooo... I really like to cook. Strictly because I really like food. I like the way it looks, the way it tastes, it's innate ability to bring people together, etc. I think experiencing "real food" is in Heavenly Father's plan for His children. Unfortunately, "real food" is becoming as scarce as words like "duty" and "honor" in our society. (Yes, Mom, I said duty. Laugh it up.) Real food is just one of the perks associate with having land or even having highly domesticated, traditional ideals. And I truly believe it's towards the top of the list. Real food makes us feel better, think better, love better, serve better... you get the idea.

So, here's to Breader Beginnings and Lasagna...

The following recipes are not original. When it comes to things of the kitchen, I actually have a hard time coming up with anything original. Come to think of it, I have a hard time coming up with anything original in almost every aspect of my life, which is probably why I am an avid reader, and usually of self-help and information related books. I can give you a beautifully formal letter, but I'll do that by finding a template and twisting it. I can whip up quite a dish in the kitchen, but it will derive from someone's else's recipe and I'll screw with it. Very piratey of me, arrr??

Laura's Lasagna
( A lasagna you can be proud to feed your Italian friends)

1 lb ground beef or pork (We use our own pork for this recipe.)

1 lb ground sausage (Again, our own.)

A couple teaspoons pickling salt (Iodized is fine, too.)

1 teaspoon ground pepper

A couple of onions

1 quart jar tomato/spaghetti sauce (I don't really know what to call this... any tomato based product would be fine - I just use the sauce we make each year with our tomatoes - it has oregano and onion and a couple other mystery things in it.)
Garlic (I really like to use minced garlic that you buy in the grocery store if I don't have fresh on hand. The stuff is p-o-t-e-n-t!)

1 teaspoon sugar (I actually don't put this in mine just because our original sauce has a sweet flavor since it's fresh, but the recipe I base my recipe off of calls for it.)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon butter

2 Tablespoons basil

8 ounces Ricotta cheese

8 ounces Cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Romano cheese

1 box lasagna noodles

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook your lasagna noodles as directed in the package. Set aside.

Combine the ground beef (or pork), and sausage in a large saute' pan over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the fat off the meat and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan (I just use the one I cooked the meat in) over medium heat. Add the onion (chopped), garlic (about three cloves or 1 Tablespoon minced garlic), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato/spaghetti sauce, sugar, and oregano and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and the basil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

(they call is "Gussied Up Marinara Sauce") will keep in the refrigerator for a week, and they say the flavor improves over time. Never done it, but the theory is sound.>
Combine the "Gussied Up Marinara Sauce" and the meat. Set aside.

Mix the ricotta, cream cheese, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Season with the remaining pepper. Set aside.

Cover the bottom of the prepared dish with 1 cup of the meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce evenly on top. Add half of the cheese mixture by spoonfuls evenly over the meat sauce (I get my hands a little dirty doing this because the only way to do it right, of course, is with your fingers), then sprinkle with basil. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, the remaining cheese mixture, and sprinkle again with basil. Top with the with a layer of noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, and the final layer of noodles. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the top, and sprinkle with mozzarella and romano.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.


Now, here are my less-than redeeming cheats...

1) I put the lasagna on to boil, the brown the meat, I mix the cheeses - all at once. It's faster that way. Sheesh! What do I have - all day? Then I make the marinara sauce, add it to the meat, and start layering.

2) I taste every step. More of the cheese than anything. I can't HELP myself.

3) I actually make the bread first so it has a chance to rise. THEN I start on the lasagna - when it's done I use two ovens (Yes TWO OVENS... there are perks to living next door to your mother - this is just ONE, of course!) to bake them both at the same time. I guess if I had to choose one to get cold it would be the bread, but that is just such a crime!!

Now for breader beginnings...

Last night's bread was an experiment. I mentioned on Facebook that my bread was very sticky. I chalked it up to the higher-than-average humidity... however, I have a confession to make. I think the humidity had something to do with it, but I also added about 2 1/1 cups of cream of wheat (leftover from that morning's breakfast) and I am one of the few who have never added anything to my bread. I've been scared. Yes, scared. So, yesterday I experimented, and wound up with sticky, high-rising bread that was healthier than normal, and still delicious even though it stuck to the bread pans BECAUSE it was so sticky. I'll have to play with that.

Anyways, I got this recipe from a woman in Salem at a Stake Super Saturday - thank you sister!

Again, I messed up on the recipe and wound up stumbling across something beautiful! A bread that is light and fluffy, but stick-to-your-ribs flavorful and no fuss. No kneading, really no rising until the oven... just low-maintenance bread. Which is my kinda bread.

White "No-Fuss" Bread
Flour mixture:
2 cups flower (total 5-6)
1/4 cup sugar 1 Tablespoon baking powder 1 Tablespoon salt 2 Tablespoons yeast

Liquid Mixture:
Heat until very warm: 2 1/4 cup milk 1/4 cup oil

Add later:
1 egg Add liquid to flour mixture. Mix with a whisk for 3 minutes. (I mix my breads by hand as I do not have a mixer - if you want to use one just mix for 1 minute low and 3 minutes medium speed.) Add one egg. Stir in 3-4 cups flour.

Oil a large bowl (I use one of my stainless steel mixing bowls - you know the kind they don't make anymore. Ugh.) Put your dough ball into the bowl with a little oil on it so it doesn't dry out. Cover and let rise 40 minutes. Form into loaves, "slap down" and let rise 20 minutes. Bake 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

While baking, I brush the bread liberally with melted butter. It keeps the crust soft and give the outside a delicious flavor. Now I'm hungry.

Well, there you go. Now go cook!!

1 comment:

  1. I am jealous of your desire to cook. I wish that I had the drive to prepare a fresh meal, but truth is I just don't. Besides the obvious, and discussed benefits, what motivates you? Is it the feeling of accomplishment when your meal is thoroughly devoured, or something else?