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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.*

Chicken Barley and Vegetable Soup

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I wasn’t going to do another chicken soup post, diagnosis but after requests for this recipe and some thought, diagnosis I realized that this is different then the last chicken soup I wrote about.  While I was writing, for sale I wondered how many versions of chicken soup must be out there?  I have at least 3 to 4 myself.   I will post more as they get remade or made for the first time.  Until then, here is another addition to the cannon of probably the most American soup out there.  I give you, my other chicken soup, which I will officially call; Chicken, barley and vegetable soup.

Chicken, Barley and Vegetable Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lg onion or 3 small
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 2-3 bay leafs (1 or 2 if big)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Couple sprigs of Savory
  • 1 Tablespoon of garlic chives chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Chop onion, separate into thirds or if you have three small onions keep separated
  2. Peel and chop carrots
  3. Chop celery and zucchini.
  4. Open corn and drain liquid
  5. Sautée ⅓ or one of the small onions in olive oil, salt and pepper
  6. Salt and pepper both breasts in same pan as onions, on medium high heat place breasts skin side down
  7. Cook for a couple minutes, or until you get a good sear.
  8. Flip breasts over cover and cook on low till done.
  9. Check every once in a while to make sure they don't burn
  10. Meanwhile cook barley according to directions, minus 5-10 minutes - it will fully cook later when you add it to the rest of the soup.
  11. Once chicken is done set on a plate to cool
  12. You should have some good drippings left in the pan.
  13. Add another third of onions and a handful of carrots and celery and sautée
  14. When onion is translucent add this to your stock pot, along with broth and veggies
  15. When chicken has cooled off tear from bones (using the skin is up to you, I love it).
  16. Add chicken and barley to soup.
  17. Add savory and garlic chives to soup
  18. Bring to boil then lower to a slow simmer for about 10 minutes or until veggies are how you like and barley is done.