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Lasagna

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Lasagna! Filling Onions, <a href=website like this celery and bay leaf” src=”http://houseofzeta.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/image-300×225.jpg” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

 

With winter setting in, ask we all want to hunker down and eat.  And what better way then with a big ole piece goodness called lasagna?!  Do you make it at Christmas or New Years, or whenever you want that giant casserole dish of baked noodles with sauce and cheese?  Do you add meat or vegetables?  Maybe you’re a white sauce kind of person?  For me, it all comes down to one thing, tomato sauce.  It screams lasagna.  All red and bubbly with veggies and Italian sausage, yum!

I usually start with one large and one medium can of whole tomatoes.  Giving them a medium rough chop so you have nice chunks of tomato.  Then I saute onions, garlic and whatever vegetables I want in my sauce, like celery and bell peppers, all seasoned with the herbs I’m using in the sauce.  I find it helps get things going.  If I am adding sausage, I cook the veggies in with the sausage, onions and garlic first then the rest.  Next I combine the tomatoes, veggies, meat and simmer for a few minutes then add some paste to thicken.  More herbs and simmer for as long as necessary.  I even slice zucchini to put in between the layers.

When it comes to cheese, fresh is best.  But we all know we can’t always get it or have the time to make it.  So do your best and it will be just fine.  I do stir up my ricotta if it comes store bought, makes it easier to spread or drop.  But my big discovery is to grate most or all of your mozzarella, which can be evenly distributed.  This will keep you from having that moment when you accidentally sliced it too thick and don’t have enough to cover the top.  Oops!  Been there done that! And who ever thought of cottage cheese as a substitute for ricotta should be shot.  Don’t do it ever! You are not doing yourself or your guests any favors.

Then there is the debate on the noodles.  Fully cook, don’t cook, cook partially.  What do you do?  Ive done all three.  I prefer to cook them al dente so they finish with the flavors of the sauce.  Also cook and extra one or two just in case one rips.  If not then have fun eating it while the lasagna cooks.

Once you have done all this, simply put it in the oven at 350 till golden bubbly, about 30-45 minutes and when done, let it stand for about 15 minutes and serve.   What could be more perfect and easy then that?

*if you think you need more sauce, always add another can of tomatoes, medium or large depending on how saucy you want your lasagna.  Or add another dollop of paste to thicken.*

Inspiration

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Pulled Pork Lasagna

This week we are happy to share one of our new found inspirations.  The NY Times columnist Melissa Clark.  Not only is she smart and makes great food, check she’s also funny and cute!!!  Yes we are totally crushing on Melissa Clark.  This last weekend she inspired us to to make two things.  Quick caramelized garlic and small-batch pulled pork.  Both were quick and easy to make.  We used the garlic in a lasagna, information pills by adding it to the onions and sausage, along with putting it in the sauce.   Our guests we had over on Friday night were loving the it so much I am surprised there was any left!  I would have to say the garlic was a big part of that.

Our second dish of the weekend was the small-batch pulled pork.  This was really amazing and easy to cook.  The ingredients are things most people have in there pantry.  Which made this super easy to make.  Also the pork is boneless so it took a lot less time to cook.  We put it on some potato buns with cornichons and paired it with our famous coleslaw.  It was so good we couldn’t wait for the next day to have leftovers!  Well, it looks like it’s going to be another great weekend and we are really excited to see what Melissa has in store for us.  For the recipes and video’s we talked about, check out Melissa at the N.Y. Times website link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/2013/05/10/dining/100000002217020/small-batch-pulled-pork.html