RECIPE: Lasagna Cups

May I present to you Lasagna Cupcakes

It’s quick, it’s a great dinner party conversation piece and best of all… it’s yummy!

Here’s the short and quick of it: cut the corners off of wonton wrappers… yes, wonton wrappers. Tuck them into greased cupcake tins and then begin the normal lasagna layering process… just in much smaller quantities.

First start with the parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses… then spoon in some marinara sauce.

Add some browned meat (I used ground beef and italian sausage) seasoned with dried oregano, dried parsley and salt/pepper… followed by some more cheese and some more sauce and some more… yeah, you get the point.

Place the cupcake tin(s) into the preheated oven and let it bake away. It’s done in about 20 minutes and believe it or not they are easy to scoop up out of those tins. And they are yummy… and sure to be a crowd pleaser! (But that’s only if you want to share…)

Thank you for posting this idea just in time for this weekend’s dinner party…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…


killer homemade pizza…

I tested this out last week… the full blog post to follow the next time we have this for dinner.

What kind of pizza is this?

2/3 of this pizza is “Manly Meaty Goodness” (meatballs, bacon and pepperoni)
The other 1/3 of the pizza is girly-pesto-pepperoni yumminess…

Easiest dinner I’ve made in a long time… and my hero-of-a-hubby has transferred the “hero” title to me, at least for tonight.

Tonight we used the broiler pan (because our pizza stone recently cracked in half)… and I’m convinced that the broiler pan is just as good. The air circulates up under the crust and makes it crispy – just like we like it! LOVE IT!

Watch for the full post… within the next week, I promise!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Meatball Sandwiches just in time for the Superbowl…

It’s so easy it’s almost like cheating… in fact, it is cheating. I have to admit. There is nothing fancy about these meatball sandwiches.

However, they are so yummy they’ll be gone before halftime!

That’s right… frozen meatballs and marinara sauce. I said “easy”, right?!

Dump the marinara in the crockpot and turn it on high…

Toss in the frozen meatballs and pour more marinara over the top…

Put a lid on it and walk away. Come back in about two hours and toss the meatballs and marinara to make sure they are all covered with sauce. These will need to cook on high for another 2-3 hours (depending on your crockpot).

For the bread? Another frozen shortcut… I’m telling you, high-class baby!

But if you believe ANYTHING I tell you… believe this, your friends and family will be convinced that you kneaded the dough on these rolls yourself! So easy and so good!

I followed the instructions on the back of the bag to do a quick thaw (warm your oven to it’s lowest temp, or about 170 degrees F and then turn it off). Brush melted butter on the top of each of them and let them sit in the warmed oven for about 1 – 2 hours.

Once they’ve thawed and risen properly… then they get baked. Follow the instructions on the back of the bag. It’s that easy.

Disclaimer – as you can tell, this is only a partial blog…

With all the excitement of the Superbowl (and the endless amounts of food on the table… and the counter… and the tv trays… and the… ) I forgot to take a picture of the final product.

But I’m sure you can imagine what meatball sandwiches look like…

Cut the golden roll in half, shove in as many meatballs as possible (ladling some marinara sauce over the top) and add a slice of provolone or mozzarella. Enjoy…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs…

So, my hero-of-a-hubby has decided to join me in the attempt to eat healthier, make better food choices and take the overall step to be healthier and lose some unnecessary weight.

We’re taking small steps… by introducing ourselves to healthier alternatives. Tonight we did ground turkey meatballs, instead of ground beef. And we also did spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles.

We know this is going to be an acquired taste… because it isn’t truly an easy change to make.

However, we ate everything in front of us…

So, here we have it… a spaghetti squash.

It’s easy enough to prepare… in fact, the roasted instructions can fit on the small label slapped on the face of this puppy. See?

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F… and then cut the squash in half, length-wise. (Get the BIG knife. Trust me.)

Then scoop out the seeds and other “goop” from inside. (Yes, that’s the technical term.)

Sprinkle a little salt inside and roast it up… flat side down, for about 45 minutes.

And for the sauce… I used part roasted tomatoes (I had one more scrumptious container in the freezer) and part leftover sauce from a Halloween party (thanks Dawn!).

And I made my “Go To Meatballs” to give it all some heft. (My hero-of-a-hubby requires heft!) (See recipe below.) But like I said, tonight I used ground turkey instead of ground beef.

These meatballs are baked, and not fried. Another healthier choice!

When the 45 mins is up, turn the squash over and roast it for another 15 or 20 mins (or until the flesh is tender, a fork slides in and out of it easily). I added a small pat of butter and some more salt/pepper for some additional taste.

And here comes the fun part…

And like I said, it’s all pretty easy. Take a fork, and pull the fork towards you, pulling the flesh of the squash through the tines. And have fun while you’re doing it…

Scrape out all of the meat of the squash, down to the outer skin of the squash.

Stir it up well to combine the seasonings and butter… and dish up like you would spaghetti.

Top the squash with sauce and meatballs… top with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve up to a happy home. It really is good…

But my hero-of-a-hubby said it might still take some time to get used to it. However, let it be known (here I am – sending it out into the blog universe and sharing it with the whole world) he ate it all and he said it was better than he expected.

I think we may have a winner here…

So here is the recipe for the yummy meatballs, like I promised…

Lori Jean’s “Go To” Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 egg
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs

In a large bowl combine beef, onion, egg, allspice, nutmeg, salt/pepper and heavy cream. Mix until well combined. With wet hand, shape mixture into 1″ balls. Roll balls in panko bread crumbs & place side by side in a shallow baking pan; cover & chill for at least 2 hours. You should have about 20-25 meatballs.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 min., or until brown – turn the meatballs after 15 min.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Swedish Meatballs with Dill Sauce

Oh, I’m speechless. THIS made my entire week… I’ve been calling on the flavors of my childhood (I can remember Gramma H making her version of this dish quite often) and researching other flavor ideas so I could update it a bit.

Here’s where I started…

In a large bowl I combined everything except for the bread crumbs…

… and I mixed it all up with the best tools in the kitchen!

With an ice cream scooper I made 1″ balls, rolled them semi-tightly in wet hands (to prevent the meat from sticking to my hands) and then rolled them in panko bread crumbs…

… and started the assembling line process. Oh how I love the assembly line process. (Seriously – it makes so much sense to my brain!)

Several recipes I read said it was a good idea to chill the meatballs before baking them off. But I didn’t (I simply didn’t have the time)… and I think they turned out ok.

So, as they baked I moved on to the dill sauce…

We don’t have fresh dill around here very often. But everytime I buy it I think to myself “Why don’t I use this more?! It’s so fresh smelling and yummy and kind of inspirational!”

It’s easy to work with… you can just pull it right off the stem and there isn’t even much chopping to do because it’s so fine already. (And the freshness comes out even more once you chop into it!)

While I was thinking I chopped it up and put together all the players of the sauce…

The sauce comes together rather easily… starting with a basic roux.

Then I moved on to the other parts of the sauce… starting with chicken broth, a little at a time.

Once that was all incorporated I threw in the other ingredients… and gave it another whisk.

But then it was a little too thick for my preference, so I added a touch more chicken broth.

In the meantime… the egg noodles had finished cooking and the meatballs were done. So I started plating up…

Just LOOK at those beautifully crunchy and flavorful meatballs!!! And the house smells SOOOO good right about now!

Here you have it… egg noodles, with a little sauce drizzled on top. Add the meatballs and a little more sauce.


(pardon me… I’ve been looking forward to this all week!)

OR… you can just eat them like this…

The onions in the meatballs and that dill sauce compliment each other so well. And the CR-CR-CRUNCH on the outside of the meatball. WOW!

But don’t take my word for it… try it for yourself! You can thank me later…

Swedish Meatballs with Dill Sauce
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 pound lean ground beef
½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 egg
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs

Dill Sauce
½ cup butter
1/8 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Pinch ground nutmeg
Kosher salt/pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine beef, onion, egg, allspice, nutmeg, salt/pepper and heavy cream. Mix until well combined. With wet hand, shape mixture into 1″ balls. Roll balls in panko bread crumbs & place side by side in a shallow baking pan; cover & chill for at least 2 hours. You should have about 20-25 meatballs.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 min., or until brown – turn the meatballs after 15 min.

Melt half stick of butter in a large pan; stir in flour; gradually stir in broth. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, till sauce bubbles & thickens. Stir in sour cream, ground nutmeg and dill. Add kosher salt/pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Chef John Besh’s Braised Beef Short Ribs… aka good food from Esquire magazine

Thank you Chef John Besh, for being from New Orleans … and for learning how to cook… and for sharing it with us. (Or should I thank Esquire magazine? That’s where I found this recipe online. Honestly, I didn’t know they were in the food business. Hmm…)

It was time for some braised beef short ribs. And I wanted to try someone else’s recipe this time. (And it dawns on me… my recipe isn’t on here. Oh darn. We’ll have to do short ribs again soon.)

Here’s where I started…

Then I salted and peppered, and browned…

Oh, I forgot these two ingredients. You’ll need to add this to the fluid portion of this dish.

In this large bowl is a bottle of red wine, some beef broth, sugar, diced tomatoes, kosher salt and bay leaves… and you see me adding some garlic and thyme. (Yes – the recipe below calls for zinfandel. But I used merlot. Just being different, again…)

Then it’s time to prep the aromatics…

Once the rest of the ribs are browned… remove them and set aside.

But let’s take a quick look at what’s happening at the other side of the stove. I’m reconstituting some dried porcini mushrooms.

Bring some water to a boil, stir in the mushrooms and turn off heat. Let the mushrooms sit for about 5 minutes, and then strain out of hot water. Just set aside. You’ll use these later…

Add those aromatics to the hot pot so they can cook down and then bring the meat back to the pot.

Now it’s time to add the wine/broth mixture and let it all settle in for the long winter…

OK – really it only takes about 2 hours…. and it’s worth every minute.

Don’t forget to add those mushrooms and give it a little stir.

Bring it to a boil… let it roll for a while and then place the lid on and walk away. Do NOT be tempted to take the lid off and smell it. Do NOT be tempted to peek inside to see how it’s going.

Walk away…

Wait at least 2 hours and then test for doneness…

Before serving allow the fluids to reduce down by about half… it will make a nice sauce to drizzle over the ribs.

Enjoy! We did… we served them up with creamy mashed cauliflower… that recipe will follow tomorrow… oh yum!!!

Halfway through dinner, my hero-of-a-hubby happily announced: “You can definitely make this again!” (Gee, thanks babe!)

Chef John Besh’s Braised Beef Short Ribs

4 lbs beef short ribs, cut flanken style
Coarse salt and black pepper
3 cups zinfandel
½ cup sugar
6 oz canned chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme, picked off stem
2 bay leaves
3 oz canola oil
1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (1/2 cup)
2 oz dried mushrooms, preferably porcini

1. Season short ribs with salt and pepper; be rather generous. In a mixing bowl, whisk together zinfandel, sugar, tomatoes, beef broth, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt.
2. Pour canola oil into a heavy pot or Dutch oven (at least 5 quarts) and place over high heat. When oil is hot, working in small batches, brown the meat. Turn each piece to brown on all sides before removing from the pot. (Tip: A sturdy pot that conducts heat well has a lot to do with the success of this dish. Get yourself a cast-iron pot. It’ll outlast you.)
3. When all beef is browned and removed from pot, add onion, carrots, and celery, allowing onion to cook until browned, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Return beef to the pot along with wine mixture. Allow wine to come to a boil before reducing heat, skimming fat from surface.
5. After simmering for several minutes, add mushrooms. Cover and simmer over very low heat until meat is fork tender and nearly falling off the bone, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
6. Once the beef has cooked, remove from pot and keep warm. Turn up heat and reduce the pot liquids until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Transfer ribs to four shallow bowls, spooning liquid over top.

John Besh is the chef and owner of August in New Orleans.


enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Crock Pot French Dips

My Mom mentioned to me that she was making french dip sandwiches the other day… and all of a sudden I knew that’s what I wanted for my birthday dinner!

It can’t get much easier than this… tri-tip roast, dried onion bits, garlic, pearl onions, crimini mushrooms, chicken stock and soy sauce. That’s all you need.

It really is this quick… plop the un-trimmed roast into the crockpot. Toss in the dried onion bits and crushed garlic.

Peel the pearl onions and slice them in half… toss them in too…

Add a few splashes of chicken stock…

And some soy sauce and mushrooms…

Yes, that easy.

About 3 hours later it looks like this… but it’s not ready yet. Turn it over, replace the lid and resist the urge to open it again for at least 2 more hours.

When it’s ready, slice it against the grain in thin strips.

Then strain the au jus… you can toss the remains of the very cooked onions and mushrooms. They’ve reached their flavor destiny at this point…

But don’t hesitate to squeeze out the last bits of juice … press the juice out with the back of a spoon. You want as much au just as you can get.

Remove any excess fat… and place the meat into a pot with the drained au jus.

If you’d like, dip the toasted side of the hoagie roll in the au just to soak up some additional flavor. Top with meat slices and if you’re like us, some provolone cheese.

Serve it up with whatever side dish you think goes well with french dip. Tonight we did Braised Yukon Golds… so yummy!

But don’t take my word for it… do it yourself. Here’s the important stuff…

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

2-3 lbs tri tip roast
1 ½ tablespoons dried onion pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
8-10 small crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 cup pearl onions, halved and skins removed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Hoagie rolls

Without cutting off any fat, place tri tip roast into crock pot. Top with dried onion, crushed garlic and mushrooms. Add soy sauce and chicken stock to bottom of crock pot. Place lid on crock pot and go do something fun.

Once you can insert a fork and it comes back out of the meat easily, slice meat against the grain and set aside. Strain out any large pieces of fat, mushrooms and pearl onions out of au jus. Transfer au jus and sliced meat to large pot and set on medium low heat, cover and keep warm. Toast hoagie rolls, if desired. Quickly dip toasted side of bread into au jus and top with meat and additional toppings. We like provolone cheese.

Cooking time
High temp: 3-5 hours
Low temp: at least 8 hours

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Maid-Rite Sandwich

What exactly is a Maid-Rite sandwich? It’s the sandwich made famous by the restaurant chain by the same name, based in Iowa. While there recipe might be a highly guarded secret… this is my version.

I love to taste something and then try to recreate it, or make it my own. Tonight we have my version of the midwestern favorite! We start with just a few ingredients…. and it comes together pretty quickly. Let it simmer for an hour… and make your sandwich, topping it with your favorite condiments.

Come with me on a journey to Iowa, where it all started…

Brown the ground beef and onion…

Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder (or the garlic cloves if that’s what you’re using)…

Add the “W” sauce… and the soy sauce…

… and the water… and a good stir.

Place a cover on it and allow to simmer for at least an hour.

Place some meat mixture on top of toasted buns… add cheese if desired. Or prepare to top the loose meat with ketchup, mustard and pickles.

Or if you like green olives as much as I do, add some diced olives as relish. Oh man… they add a buttery taste, amazingly enough…

4 for the sandwich and 1 for the cook!

Yummy in my tummy!

Thank you, Iowa! I owe ya one…

Maid Rites

1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb. ground beef
½ onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon THICK Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup water

In canola oil, brown the ground beef, onion and garlic together. Drain. Add “W” sauce, soy sauce, salt/pepper and water.

Simmer for at least 1 hour. Serve on buns with mustard, ketchup, pickles, etc.

Confession: I like diced green olives on just about ANYTHING!!! (except maybe waffles…)

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Just another reason to bake some meatballs…

I didn’t need to be talked into it… but I did need to make some more meatballs! For more info on the full story, click here: Baked Meatballs.

Tonight we enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs…

And when I do spaghetti sauce I usually start it off with some sauteed veggies (crimini mushrooms, onion and garlic)… and then pour in a high quality tomato sauce! (I don’t make EVERYTHING from scratch … not yet!) The sauce usually sits on the stove top for about 30 minutes while I’m doing other things.

Once the meatballs have finished baking then I drop them in the sauce… and let them simmer a bit longer.

Tonight my hero-of-a-hubby paused the television (gasp)… and said “Honey, thank you for making a great dinner tonight. Thank you!” Then he hit the “play” button again …

And that’s all there is to tonight’s story…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Open-faced meatball subs…

Yesterday I made these for dinner… Baked Meatballs which then turned into a mid-afternoon snack (I may or may not have eaten a few, as pictured below, before dinner…) . And from here they turned into meatball subs…

My husband fell in love with me all over again…

Meatball subs are super easy…

You need a hoagie roll or two with some butter slathered on top, and slid under the broiler to crisp up…

Then start layering the goods, starting with a little bit of marinara…

Then some meatballs…

Some more sauce…

And of course some mozzarella cheese! Don’t forget the mozzarella cheese (or leave it off because you’re on a diet)… if you did I’d have to kick you!

Back under the broiler for just a few minutes… watch it closely! You don’t want these puppies to burn! That would be meatball abuse…

And voila! There’s dinner…

I think my hero-of-a-hubby must have said “I LOVE YOU!” at least 5 times during dinner last night…

I love you too, babe… that’s why I cook all of this yummy food, JUST FOR YOU!
(And if you believe that… well, I love you too! Muah!)

enjoy your time in the kitchen…