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As Easy (and delicious) As It Gets: Pork and Snow Pea Stir-Fry with Pepper

It’s been WAY too long since my last post. Things got crazy with Etsy sales, Athleta events and then winter break for the kids…. Now that Valentine’s Day (gifts) are over and the kids are back in school, it’s time for a new recipe. My calendar for March and April is already jam packed, so this recipe will be a weekly addition to our menu!

I first made this on a Friday evening. The last thing I felt like doing was cooking dinner. Pizza or Chinese take-out sounded perfect. But I had a pork tenderloin and snow peas in the fridge that were about to go bad if I didn’t cook them that night. So I did a quick google search for pork and snow pea recipes and found a stir-fry recipe from Cooking Light, one of my favs. I knew it would need some minor tweaks for my family’s liking, but this was a great starting point. The whole dinner took me about 20-30 minutes from start to finish (including chopping the veggies!) – it was done in the amount of time it took to cook the rice! You can find the original recipe here but I will share my version below. I ended up making this with 3 pounds of meat that night and the 5 of us finished it off!

And before I start with the recipe – another awesome thing about this one is you could really substitute any vegetable. I think it works well with a pepper and another vegetable but there are no rules! Any color pepper would  be great, broccoli, snap peas, green beans, get creative 🙂

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2-3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 orange bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2-3 cups snow peas, diagonally sliced
  • white wine or chicken stock
  • white or brown rice
  • 1.5 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  1. Get the rice started. By the time the main dish is finished, the rice will be too!
  2. Chop veggies and slice meat.
  3. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper and then cook for 5 minutes, until browned, stirring frequently. Remove pork from pan. Because I cooked more meat than the original recipe called for, my pan started to dry up. Rather than adding more oil, I threw in a splash of white wine (or you could use chicken stock) which actually added some nice flavor.
  4. Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl using a whisk. Add sesame oil to the pan. Add bell pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, until crisp-tender and stir occasionally.
  5. Add the pork, soy sauce mixture and snow peas. I added in a cup of wine here (or you could use chicken stock) to make additional sauce and so the soy flavor wasn’t as strong. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Serve over rice and top with sesame seeds.
  7. ENJOY!

    yes, I forgot the toasted sesame seeds…

Win a Basket of My Hand Crafted Products!

I’ve been a little behind on blog posts recently as I’ve been busy updating my Etsy shop for Valentine’s Day. Since I’ve added some new products, I wanted to give everyone a chance to win an assortment of them! The basket will include 2 custom/monogrammed ceramic mugs, a soy candle made from a recycled wine bottle and a set of hand crafted note cards. To enter, just comment on this blog post with either a suggestion for a new product to add to my Etsy shop or something you would like to read about on the blog in the future.

One winner from below will be selected at random on Sunday evening, January 28th.

For additional chances to win, visit me on Facebook and Instagram!

Thank you for all the love and support! Good Luck!

XOXO

My Kids Asked for Banana Bread….

I have no idea why, but for the last week my kids have been begging me to make them banana bread. Like, asking me multiple times a day if I can make it for them. I’m not sure where this is coming from since I’ve never made it or had it in the house – I HATE bananas. So does my oldest, but apparently he still likes banana bread. That makes sense…. But I figure since it has bananas in it, it has to be a healthier option than the brownies and cupcakes I’m usually baking so it’s worth trying!

I thought it was going to be as easy as pulling out a recipe and mashing up the bananas I had on hand then mixing them into a little flour and sugar. HA! So I pulled out my newest cookbook that I got this Christmas since I seem to have good luck with the America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated recipes. Their banana bread recipe called for super ripe bananas….and of course this is one of the handful of times the bananas we have in the house are green….  So I learned about ripening bananas. If you put them in a brown bag and keep it closed (try and store in a warm room in the house) they will ripen much faster. (If you’re interested in this and want to know why it works, google it 🙂 Unfortunately it still took about 3 days – and I had 3 more days of explaining to the kids why they needed to wait longer for this bread…. I should have just looked up a different recipe at this point!

So eventually the bananas were rip enough to give this a try. The kids loved it, my husband loved it, so if you like bananas (or maybe even if you don’t) then you should give it a shot! Fair warning – your entire house will smell of bananas, and not a good banana smell. Somehow, even the basement smelled like bananas (dare I say rotten bananas?!?) Maybe I’m just sensitive to the banana smell.

So this recipe is from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book – I highly recommend it – so far everything has turned out amazing!

You will  need:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 very ripe bananas (I only had 5 and this worked just fine)
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tsp sugar

  1. Adjust the oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350º F. Spray 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray (I used Baker’s Joy and it worked great).
  2. Place 5 bananas in a bowl, cover and microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allow to drain. Stir occasionally. After about 15 minutes you should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid.

    I know – not pretty – but keep going! (It’s going to look worse before it looks better)
  3. While you are waiting on the bananas, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Transfer the banana liquid to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and stir liquid into bananas. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth.
  5. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

    I’m assuming this is what it looks like to make banana bread….doing it for the kids…
  6. Pour banana mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Some streaks of flour should remain. If using, fold in walnuts. Scrape batter into pan.

    He makes it look a little better 🙂
  7. Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices and shingle on top of loaf in two rows (leaving an inch between). Sprinkle sugar evenly over top of loaf.

    Finally looking like something that may become edible!
  8. Bake until toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean. This can be as quick as 55 minutes, or up to an hour and 15 minutes. Mine was on the longer side. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan then transfer to wire rack to cool for an hour.
Not so bad after all!

This is best served warm but I did make a second time and it stays for a few days if tightly covered.

Now, how to get this banana smell out of the house…..

 

Easy Pasta e Fagioli

The frigid weather we’ve had over the past couple weeks had left my family in the mood for a “comfort” soup without all the calories that “comfort” usually brings. I had made pasta e fagioli before and it was really good, but I knew it could be better. Over the weekend I looked at a bunch of different recipes and combined what I thought were the best parts of each. I made it earlier this week and everyone in the house loved it. There are a few changes I would make for next time, so I am just going to include those below…. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. This is actually very simple to get onto the stove – then you can enjoy a glass (or two) of wine while it simmers!

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped (or 1 full onion if it’s small)
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef (I like to use ground beef, however this soup typically uses an Italian sausage. My kids prefer ground beef and I think it’s a perfect substitute. Most recipes also call for 1 pound of meat. I use more because with three boys, we need it!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, shredded or cut into short, thin strips (I did not use carrots this time but would add in next time for sure)
  •  2 stalks celery, diced (another one I didn’t use this time but would definitely add in next)
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 15 oz. can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp basil (optional – my husband hates it so we never use it!)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ditalini pasta
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley to garnish

  1. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and the meat. Cook until browned and little to no pink remains.
  3. Add the chicken stock, wine and water.
  4. In a food processor, puree the tomatoes and their juices until they are a consistency you enjoy (my kids don’t like chunks of tomato in their food so I puree until mostly smooth). Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the beans then mix in the seasonings. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed (the amount you will need will vary depending on the type of meat you are using). I add about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper at this point. Simmer for at least one hour (up to 90 minutes if you have time – my kids were starving and I let simmer for about 30 minutes and the beans were not as flavorful as we wanted).                                                                                                              
  6. When you are ready to eat, bring the soup back to a boil and add the pasta. It will absorb a LOT more liquid than you probably expect. If you want this to be more “soupy” add about 1/2 cup pasta. If you would like more of a stew consistency you can add 3/4 to 1 cup pasta. Cook according to the instructions on the package.

    Right before serving
  7. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley if desired!

(This is how it thickens with the pasta after sitting a while. I added too much pasta this time around, though no one complained!!)

Enjoy!

Snow Day Waffles

Yay – snow day!!!! This morning there was a little extra time to make the kids a fun breakfast instead of throwing a bowl of cereal in front of them to scarf down in 5 minutes before running to the bus stop. Their request…Star Wars waffles! Of course they request waffles when we are out of our favorite Aunt Jemima mix… so today I learned it’s actually super easy and quick to make waffles from scratch! And the ingredients are probably everything you already have in your cabinets.

I started with a receipe from Allrecipes.com and just tweaked it slightly. The batter tasted a little bland so I added a little extra sugar, salt and vanilla. (It’s a snow day – already loosening up on the New Year’s resolutions!) You can find the original recipe here.

All you will need is:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • fruit and whipped cream for toppings (or chocolate chips, etc.)

I mixed the ingredients with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, however a hand mixer would work just fine. You could probably also whisk ingredients by hand and get a little arm workout in!

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Beat the 2 eggs until light and fluffy – this took several minutes using the whisk attachment at medium to medium high speed.                                                                                                         
  3. Add the flour, milk, oil, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. (I switched to the paddle attachment to mix these ingredients.)                                                             
  4. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour mix into waffle iron and cook until golden brown.
  5. Top with fruit, chocolate chips, whipped cream, etc. and serve! (This made about 7 “Star Wars” waffles which are very large!!)

Enjoy!!

 

Happy New Year 2018!

Where did 2017 go?!?!

But what a fun year to look back on! We started the year with a family trip to Disney – my boys’ first time there! It was my youngest son’s first flight….and one we will NEVER forget (not in a good way – he screamed…and screamed….for what felt like hours). Fortunately the plane ride home was a complete 180 and this went down as our best family vacation yet (obviously we had a lot of help – my parents and brother and his family came along for this one).

We also spent a weekend with the kids in Vermont – a lot less relaxing than we anticipated since the original plan was a kid-free weekend away…. but they still talk about that weekend and I’m happy it worked out that they came with us 🙂

Over the summer we took the kids on a family trip to Jamaica, this time with my husband’s side of the family. Despite major issues and delays getting both there and home (hours and hours and hours of delays) we managed a little relaxation and some great tans 🙂

My oldest son started Kindergarten and my youngest started a 2’s program for a couple hours a day leaving me with 2 hours of kid-free time for the first time in 6 years!!! What a mix of emotions!

My husband and I (thanks to my parents for the gift card and his parents for the babysitting) got to have an amazing dinner at the famous James Beard House. This was a truly unique experience and an evening we’ll always remember!

Then just over 3 months ago I dug up the courage to start the blog I had been thinking about for quite some time. As I sit here writing this I can’t believe it’s only been 3 months because SO much has happened in not so much time….. I spent the first month trying to figure out how to set up the website and just get it up and running with some basic content. Then I had the amazing opportunity to host a launch party at my favorite store – Athleta – so the next month was jam packed with planning for that and building the website out even more.

I unexpectedly received requests for some of the products I made and put up on the blog so I started an Etsy shop and even had a table set up at several ladies “shopping” events in town! I never expected to receive as many orders as I did and ended up spending most of December filling these orders! (This led to some last minute craziness trying to start and finish my own Christmas shopping less than a week before Christmas then prepare to host Christmas at our house – but with some (or a LOT) of help from my husband it all got done and I think my boys had their best Christmas yet!)

 

Christmas Dessert Table
Lemon Bundt Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies and Cookies
Chocolate Cupcakes

I’m really looking forward to what 2018 has in store! I definitely plan to build this blog up as much as I can and also add new products to my Etsy shop. Maybe tomorrow I will even get back to the gym for the first time in over 2 months!!!!

A huge thank you to all my friends, family and followers that have been so amazing and supportive these last several months. Especially to my hubby who does more behind the scenes for this than you could imagine (this blog probably should have been called “CanthonyGrams”)!

Cheers to an amazing 2018 filled with much health and happiness!

XOXO

We tried to remove the Stormtrooper mask….that was NOT happening!

5 Days of Christmas Cookies!!

Christmas cookies are one of my favorite things about the holiday season. I love eating them, baking them and gifting them! Every year I would bake 3 batches of at least 6-7 types of cookies to enjoy and give to friends and family. Then kids happened and there went baking all those cookies. I still made the chocolate chip and Hershey kiss cookies that my kids love so much, but that’s about it.  This year the kids are a bit older (and all three are in school for 2 overlapping hours 4 days a week!!) so I am going to attempt a more delicious cookie tray this year! 🙂

Each day this week I will post the recipe and some pictures for a type of cookie or two. I am going to start with the most basic ones and if all goes well hopefully they will get better each day.

One thing you will notice with each recipe I make – whatever the standard cookie size is, I probably cut it at least in half. And that’s because I love a small cookie. This way I can eat more of them. Actually, I started to notice at holiday parties and family gatherings, people take a bite or two of a cookie then put it down and that’s it. The rest lands right in the garbage. I think sometimes people just want to taste a cookie and not commit to a massive snack. Also, making smaller cookies yields more cookies per batch. This is extremely helpful when putting together so many cookie trays for gifts and parties.

DAY 1 – Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

The first cookie I am going to start with is just a basic chocolate chip cookie. I’ve tried so many different recipes – Martha Stewart, America’s Test Kitchen, several “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever” recipes from Pinterest – and I always go back to the Nestle Toll House recipe! It tastes just as good, if not better, than any other recipe I’ve tried and it’s super simple. Check out the recipe here.

Ohhh….and a side note about storing cookies. This is something I heard years ago (no idea where) and it’s worked perfectly. Store cookies in an airtight container with a slice of white bread in the container. You can even cover tightly with plastic wrap before placing the lid on. I’ve been able to store most cookies at least 2 weeks this way! (I have no idea about the science behind this, but it works and that’s all that matters!)

DAY 2 – Hershey Kiss Cookies

Hershey Kiss cookies are a classic in our house. Growing up my mom and grandmother made them every year and this is the one cookie I’ve made every year since I’ve been married. They are fun to make and a good one for the kids to help out with! There are SO many recipes for these – sometimes they are called Peanut Butter Blossoms, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, etc. and in our house simply Hershey Kiss Cookies. The recipes will all be very similar – the main thing to look for is that the recipe calls for only butter – some will use part butter and part shortening. All butter is the way to go! Check this recipe out here.

DAY 3 – Christmas Cookie Sparkles

The prettiest cookie trays (in my opinion) are full of color. I always struggle with adding color because I tend to make quick and easy drop cookies (standard cookie dough color and probably some sort of chocolate) that all look similar. I came across Sally’s Baking Addiction and had to try some of these beautiful (and so very tasty) cookies! These in particular caught my eye because I’ve had the sprinkles this requires for quite a while and could never seem to use them up. These do kind of sparkle and are the perfect addition to this year’s cookie tray 🙂 I have varied the recipe only slightly, you can find it here.

DAY 4 – Funfetti Shortbread Bites and Striped Fudge Cookie Sandwiches

Two amazing cookies today! I came across the Funfetti Shortbread Bites on Pinterest. Mini cookies and absolutely adorable. Much easier to make than I expected too! These are a perfect filler for any cookie tray! Check out the recipe with my pictures and comments here, or visit Cooking Classy for the original recipe!

The next one is for all you chocolate lovers (that’s me!). These take time to make but they are SO worth it! This is another recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction – a website I can’t seem to get enough of this season! Usually I don’t like any recipe that requires rolling out dough (why I will never bake a pie from scratch), but I made an exception for these!!! Check out my version of the recipe and pictures here.

DAY 5 – Spritz Cookies and Peanut Butter Munchies

Day 5 is here a day late – we were up until 3am wrapping gifts…..so I needed at least a little sleep to get through the craziness today will be! The first cookie for today is a spritz cookie. I make these because they taste great, they add some color to my cookie trays, and they have the potential to look so pretty! However, I never seem to have much luck with my cookie press and half of my cookies break on me 🙁 But I make these most years hoping for the best! Spritz cookie recipes are all about the same, check it out here.

It’s only fitting that I end with a chocolate peanut butter cookie. It’s a recipe I found in 2004 (that’s the year I graduated from college, didn’t realize I started baking back then, but that’s what it says on the bottom of the magazine page that’s torn out with the recipe on it) and I remember the first time I made it for my husband it was by far his favorite cookie. I haven’t made this one in years so am really looking forward to having it again this year! Here’s the recipe for Peanut Butter Munchies.

 

 

 

10 More Days Until Christmas…Still Time to Get Your Artisanal Eggnog!!

I’m not an eggnog person. I probably never even really tried it, but the thought of it – no way! So when I heard of a local homemade artisanal eggnog I was skeptical. But the amazing mom who makes it is known to be great in the kitchen, so maybe this was the time to finally give it a try! I was at a ladies shopping event at my boys nursery school and she had a table set up with samples. Perfect! I made my way over and tried the chocolate hazelnut….so this was like a milkshake but with alcohol. Does it get any better???? Because I am so picky (don’t like coffee and typical favorite flavors) I stuck with just the chocolate, but from what I overheard everyone saying, the other flavors may have been even better! So I wanted to know more. As a working mom of three kids – how do you come up with this unique and awesome idea? How is there time to make all of this? Anything new to look forward to in the future? So I went to Marielle for the answers!

Marielle grew up in a large family in the Dominican Republic, which means she grew up around a lot of cooking. Her mom, aunts and cousins were all cooks. However, as a kid, cooking didn’t interest Marielle very much. All she could make was spaghetti and cheese paste for her favorite “sandwichitos”.

After college, she moved to Miami and started cooking more, but still not much. That changed when her younger brother came to live with her. He disliked most of what she made and felt that the quantities were too small. They became members of a wholesale food club, and he made amazing dishes from scratch – everything from pork crackling to lasagna and everything in large quantities.

Inspired by her brother, she developed a love for cooking. She then began hosting holiday dinners at her place for friends and family. Most of her friends were also from the Dominican Republic, so she would make dishes that reminded everyone of life back on the island, like sweet plantain casserole. One of their favorite holiday drinks was traditional ponche, or eggnog.  She made her mom’s almond ponche recipe every year, which made everyone nostalgic for the DR.

In 2010, her and her then-boyfriend, now-husband Andrew, moved to New York City. In 2016, after 8 years of busy city life, they moved to the ‘burbs’ with their three children. Here they found more time to socialize and make good friends. This past November, Marielle made her mom’s ponche again to prep for Thanksgiving. Her husband said it was so tasty that she should start selling it.

Marielle and her family

That seemed like a far-fetched idea. How would she be able to find time to manage her full-time job, three kids, and the house? She was skeptical, but then found some motivation when her cousin Laura told her about a class she had taken all about eggnog.  This prompted her to experiment with different spice blends. She eventually settled on six flavors—chocolate hazelnut, dulce de leche, pistachio, coffee, gingerbread, and the original almond recipe from her mom.

She started handing out samples to friends and family, who encouraged her to bottle and sell it. And that is how Salute! Artisanal Eggnog was born. Like Marielle, there are a lot of people in the US that miss holiday traditions from the Dominican Republic. Salute! is her way of bringing a little bit of home in DR here to the States.

With no plans of slowing down, she is working on new flavors for next year and is excited to be working on a new product line of fruit liqueurs. Each Salute! Product is made with high-quality ingredients, no preservatives, and love. Cheers!

To order, email ponchesalute@gmail.com or call 786.556.4021. Follow her on Instagram @ponchesalute

 

Brownie + Fudge + Peanut Butter = Heaven

I was recently at the grocery store and a new Betty Crocker brownie mix caught my eye – Fudge Molten Lava. It sounded pretty amazing so I bought a box to try and it didn’t disappoint!!! However, I didn’t love the packet of chocolate fudge that came with it – it was difficult to get all of the chocolate out of the packet and it didn’t spread evenly or easily. And maybe I would have liked even more fudge…. But I loved this concept of molten lava brownies and figured there had be a better way to do something similar, and maybe make it taste even better (think peanut butter). So I played around with this just a little bit and on the second try – NAILED it! The entire plate of brownies disappeared in about 90 seconds.(And it can’t get much easier than this either!)

All you need is:

  • a box of Betty Brocker Fudge brownie mix (even the classic Milk Chocolate will work fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 jar Smucker’s Hot Fudge Topping (11.75 oz)
  • 1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter baking chips
  1. Grease the bottom and sides of 8 x 8 inch baking pan (I love the Baker’s Joy spray). Preheat oven to 350º F. Adjust rack to middle of the oven.
  2. Combine brownie mix, eggs, oil and water and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined and batter is smooth.
  3. Pour half the batter into the baking pan, so that the bottom of the pan is just covered.

4. Scoop about 1/3 jar of the hot fudge topping into  plastic sandwich bag. Cut off one of the corners of the sandwich bag – just small enough to allow a thin line of fudge to squeeze out.

    

5. Squeeze the fudge out in lines running both horizontal and diagonal as shown below.

6. Sprinkle as many peanut butter chips on top of the fudge as you would like. (Just omit this step if any peanut allergies, or if for some reason you don’t love peanut butter).

7. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the fudge and peanut butter chips.

8. Bake on the middle rack for about 35-40 minutes. Baking time will vary by oven. The edges of the brownie should crisp up and slightly pull in from the edge of the pan. The middle should be firm if you shake the pan, but a toothpick inserted will still come out with fudge on it.

9. Let rest for 2 hours, cut with a plastic knife and enjoy!

These are seriously the BEST brownies I’ve ever had in my LIFE – and I’ve had my share of brownies!!! Go ahead and try these – I would love to know what you think!!

xoxo

** Note – I did try making these with actual peanut butter the first time around, rather than the peanut butter baking chips. It was good, but the baking chips are better.

Cast Iron Skillet Lasagna

It’s been just over a week since I made this for dinner and I’m finally getting around to sharing it. That’s what happens when all three kids get sick in the same week, at the same time….

This is not a quick weeknight recipe – I only make this on a Friday or Saturday when things are usually not as crazy around the house. It’s very easy to make but involves taking out the food processor. I HATE the food processor. Digging it out, using it for 30 seconds, then cleaning and putting away all those parts!  The recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen and I’ve adapted it slightly for my family’s tastes. You can find the link to the original recipe here and my variations will be noted below.

Ingredients

  • Three 14.5 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (recipe calls for Italian sausage but we like to use 93% lean)
  • 12 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese (original recipe calls for 2 cups, we like extra)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I have also used Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked and broken in half (original recipe uses no-boil noodles)

1. Preheat ove‌n to 400º F. Boil water and cook lasagna noodles according to instructions on the box. I cook about a minute or two less since they will be going in the oven. (ATC’s recipe calls for the no-boil lasagna noodles, however I find that in my oven it takes too long for them to cook all the way through in the middle).

2. Pulse tomatoes and their juice in a food processor. The original recipe suggests for 10 seconds, until coarsely ground. My kids don’t like chunks of tomato so I do about 20-30 seconds.

3. Heat 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering and hot. Add onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook another 30 seconds. (Original recipe also calls for the addition of 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes here. My kids are not happy if they get a taste of the tiniest flake so usually I just add regular ground black pepper instead.)

4. Add the ground beef and cook all the way through, until no pink remains. Sometimes I use my potato masher to help break up the meat.

5. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.

6. While sauce simmers, prepare the cheeses. In one bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg yolk, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper. In another bowl combine the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Set 1 cup of this mixture aside.

7. Once sauce has thickened slightly, transfer it to a third bowl. Spread about a cup of the sauce over the skillet and then arrange lasagna noodles around it as shown below. Scoop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and then sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella mixture on top of that. Add 1/3 of the sauce on top of the cheeses. Repeat this layering process two more times, beginning with the noodles and ending with the sauce. Sprinkle the reserved 1 cop mozzarella mixture over top. **Note – We do not love ricotta cheese in this house so I typically use about 1/2 to 3/4 of the ricotta mixture. We also love our carbs, so I use more noodles than shown in the original recipe.

Noodles!
Layering
Ready to go in the oven

8. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook about 30 minutes – sauce should be boiling and cheese browning on top. It’s best to let cook about 10 minutes, as suggested in the original recipe. However, my kids are usually starving and can’t wait – so it ends up looking like this when you cut into it to soon (but tastes just as delicious!)…..

If you would like the perfect dinner roll to serve with this, try Cook’s Illustrated Fluffy Dinner Rolls. I’ve made them several times and the dog never gets a crumb!

Give these both a try and let me know what you think!