Cover Girl Lasagna.
I’m a fan of make-ahead meals.
During a busy week, my make-ahead meals are a life saver, a budget saver and a health saver.
Instead of ordering pizza or grabbing something on the way home, I can come home, open the freezer and bake a main dish within an hour.
My favorite make-ahead meal: Lasagna.
After several attempts with several recipes, this is my absolute favorite.
While it isn’t the easiest to put together and requires some time on my part, it is quite worth it.
I never get tired of lasagna. I can have it for a week-straight – lunch and dinner – which is exactly how long this recipe lasts.
My Favorite Lasagna
– adapted from here
- 1.5 pounds of lean ground beef
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
- 2 (6.5 oz) cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 12 lasagna noodles *I buy the ones you do not have to pre-boil
- 16 oz skim milk ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Heat a dutch oven (or large pot) over medium-high heat.
- Once pot is hot, add olive oil and wait for it to heat up.
- Once oil is hot, add onions and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, until soft.
- Add ground beef. Cook until browned.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
- Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 T salt, pepper and 2 T parsley.
- Cover and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Make ricotta mixture: combine ricotta cheese, egg, 2 T parsley and nutmeg.
- Assemble in the following layers: (a) 1.5 cups of meat sauce at the bottom of the lasagna dish, (b) arrange approximately 6 noodles to cover the meat sauce, (c) add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture to the noodles and spread evenly, (d) add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices, (e) add 1.5 cups of meat sauce over the cheese slices, (f) sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over the meat sauce, (g) arrange another 6 noodles to cover the top, (h) add remaining 1/2 of the ricotta mixture to the noodles and spread evenly, (i) add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices, (j) add 1.5 cup of the meat sauce over the cheese, (k) add remaining mozzarella cheese slices, (l) sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
- Spray foil with non-stick spray and cover the lasagna dish.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to set for about 10 minutes before serving.
Are you a fan of make-ahead meals? What’s your make-ahead meal?
I once made The Perfect Party Cake.
What didn’t go into that story was that while making the butter cream, I made a boo boo. Instead of following the recipe, I accidentally and prematurely combined 1 cup sugar, 3 sticks of butter, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. After mixing these ingredients, I read the recipe again and realized my blunder.
Despite my error, I was not willing to part with the butter/sugar/lemon mixture. I was determined to find something that I could make with those ingredients. And, due to the recent move, work and other cooking endeavors that came in between, my determination for my butter/sugar/lemon mixture was pushed to the back burner.
Until last week. Last week I discovered that not only could I use my forgotten mixture, but could also use up some cornmeal that I have had on hand. The bright lemon flavor combined with the nutty texture of cornmeal really makes this cake the wonder that it is.
The batter will be somewhat thick.
Oh and did I mention that it comes with a glaze that melts into the cake?
This would pair well with coffee (as Binks has told me) and (from my experience) blueberries!
My Saturday morning was that much sweeter and brighter with this delicious lemon cake.
Lemon Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from here
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (usually juice from 2 large lemons)
- zest from 1 lemon
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. (You can also use a bundt or tube pan).I was giving one half away so the two cake pans were perfect.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and beat in one at a time until each egg is fully incorporated into the wet mixture.
- Change the speed of the mixer to low.
- Add in the flour/cornmeal mix to the wet ingredients slowly. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter into the cake pans.
- Bake for 60 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test (toothpick comes out clean).
- Allow cakes to rest for about 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack – be careful because the cake will be moist and tender.
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- Mix sugar and lemon juice together.
- Pour over cakes after cake has been resting for 5 minutes on a cooling rack. (Please be careful as the cake will be quite moist)
- Cool completely before serving.
It has been my goal as of late to make efforts (substantial efforts) to get rid of things in my pantry/fridge before I go grocery shopping. For instance, do you know what I can do with a gallon of raw milk that I cannot finish by the expiration date? Well, I figured it out – so tune in! 😉
In this case, it was spinach. I usually use it up with green monsters, salads and the like, but I had some extra to use up.
This is where Diana and her Green Monster Muffins enters the scene. I have had this recipe printed and bookmarked since early early 2010 (I have to stress the early). With that said, this was definitely not the first time I have tried one of Diana’s recipes (here).
And, like her cookie dough balls, the muffins were another hit!
*The only change I made was to add orange zest instead of lemon and I only had cinnamon apple sauce. Loved every bite!
Moist, fully flavorful with a hint of the orange, and an excellent crumb.
And, I did eat every single one of those crumbs.
My review of these chic muffins: très bien!
Have you tried Diana’s Green Monster Muffins? How do you make efforts to use things up in your pantry/fridge? Do you enjoy grocery shopping?
So, since the invention of my Kitchen List, I have been on a mission to cook, cook, and cook.
First on my to-do list: Bittman. 😉
His no-knead bread really rocked the socks off much of the culinary world for many reasons. First, because the art & science of bread-making is brought down to my level – the idea of making a beautiful artisan bread is now an easy reality! Second, the bread is just damn good. Binks and I have been eating this bread and butter for the past few days. No judgment!
The process is easy.
Most of the time was spent allowing my new bread baby to bundle up and rest!
Your time and patience yields one of the best breads you will ever make!
My heart skipped a beat when I pulled this beauty out of the oven. Yours would too!
The crust was perfectly crisp with a soft and chewy interior – just like you would find at any bakery.
Great with butter.
Great the next morning!
Great with the good stuff:
Enjoy your heart out!
Are you a bread fan? Do you bake bread? Have you tried the no-knead bread?
If I had to be honest (which I most certainly almost always am), Binks and I order pizza in about once every two weeks. When vowing to be husband and wife, we also made a sub-vow to find the best pizza in any city we live in. The sub-vow helps keep the main-vow strong! It’s the power of pizza.
We have yet to find the best in Dallas. For my Dallas/Texas readers, help me on this front! In Houston, it is New York Pizzeria – hands down. The original location, not the new trend of Russo’s. I just want a slice. Hold the ambiance.
Obviously our pizza addiction sets us back a bit of money every two weeks. So, in an attempt to keep the addiction home – because people tend to stare when you take it outside – I attempted home-made pizza.
And it was easy as pie.
First, the yeast and the proofing.
What you see is just the beginning stages of proofing. Let your yeast/water/sugar mixture get really frothy (i.e. look to the very right side of the picture below – that’s all proofing baby!)
Then the kneading. And, resting.
Done and done!
The pizza crust is from here and the sauce is from here.
I promise you this is a keeper!
Do you order out? How often? What’s your place/food of choice? What’s your favorite pizza restaurant in your area (make sure you tell me your area)?