Tag Archive | Italian dishes

Mini Lasagna Cups

That’s right, I have another tasty treat for you. Umi LOVES these. I doubt they’re on my “diet” plan, but they’re damn good now and then, especially when I don’t feel like making an entire pan of lasagna.

Mini Lasagna Cups 1

Photo © 2016 Jinxie G

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
The easiest, simplest lasagna you will ever make, conveniently made into single-serving portions!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Italian sausage links, casing removed
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 24 2-inch won ton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12-cup standard muffin tin or coat with nonstick spray.
  • Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat and stir in marinara sauce.
  • Season ricotta cheese with salt and pepper, to taste; set aside.
  • Fit wonton wrappers into each of the 12 muffin tins, pressing carefully to make sure there is an opening in the center. Fill each cup with 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese. Top with 1 tablespoon marinara mixture and 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese; repeat with one more layer.
  • Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the wonton wrappers are golden brown.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

I don’t care for ricotta cheese so I just use mozzarella there too, and I use grass fed organic hamburger because nitrates are bad for you (found in sausage unless homemade). I also pre-bake the shells for about 5 minutes. Believe me, it makes a world of difference. Of course, I make my own marinara, but it’s up to you. I’ve linked my recipe if you’re interested. You could also alter this recipe to make Taco cups.

Photo © 2016 Jinxie G

Photo © 2016 Jinxie G

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Tortellini Soup with Vegetables

Once again, my good friend Deni has bestowed upon us one of her great recipes. Let’s see what she’s got for us today.

Tortellini Soup with Vegetables

tortellinisoup

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts cut into small (1/2 inch) cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Italian seasoning
4 garlic cloves minced
1 onion roughly chopped
2 cups celery (1 inch pieces)
2 cups carrots (roughly chopped)
5 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped (split 4+1)
3 cans diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 bag of frozen tortellini
12 ounces of cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

4-6 hours before cooking put chicken, olive oil, and Italian seasoning in a 1 gallon bag and refrigerate.

In a large pot, brown the cubed chicken and garlic using a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add onion,celery, and carrots allow to brown for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of the chopped spinach, tomatoes, broth.

Allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Add the bag of tortellini, bring back to a simmer. Stir in the cream cheese until melts into the soup. Simmer for 15 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)

Tomato Sauce Stock

Okay, so I thought I’d give this recipe a shot, though I’m now wishing either of my grandmothers were still alive so I could pick their brains about it (put down the crossbow Juliette! I’m NOT a zombie!). It’s the first time I’ve made it (because I got it from someone who used to be a friend) and it was a success, so I’ll share it with you.

Tomato Sauce Stock

Ingredients:

Tomatoes (lots of them, like a few pounds or more)

Water

Pretty fucking simple, huh?

Fill a stock pot (I have a pretty damn big one I use mostly for crab legs) at least ¼ to ½ full, cut up tomatoes—I sliced in half, then in thirds, and then cut chunks off into the pot.

*Thanks to Umi for being my hand model

Cover but vent the pot and bring to a boil. This is going to boil and then simmer for a good amount of time, and the tomatoes will cook down, so you can more water as they do. I let it simmer for a few hours and mash the chunks as it cooks before letting it cool off and sectioning the sauce stock off into separate containers. Since I no longer have my handy little handheld purée mixer, I think I’ll throw it into a blender before packaging next time. I’ll let you know how it works until I can get a new mixer.

I don’t add any seasoning to this other than a couple of dashes of salt (out of habit) to the water beforehand, and you can strain the peel and seeds out if you’d like, but I don’t. It makes for a nice chunky sauce too, which is great with chicken and pasta.

When I package it, I use at least 2-cup servings because 1 cup just doesn’t work. I’ll probably work with a larger amount of tomatoes and bigger servings next time because I’m trying to shy away from canned tomatoes, which are very bad for you, and I’d found myself still adding paste or diced tomatoes or sauce to it.

Essentially, this is the base for all your red sauces. I’ve now used it for the Red Clam Sauce and a Marinara, as well as a Chicken Parmesan recipe.

Be sure to write the date and time on the Ziploc bags or containers, though they can last in the freezer for a decent amount of time, but certainly not forever. Nothing lasts in the freezer forever without getting freezer burn. Blech.

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)

Cooking Tips #12

 

I know this should be common sense, but some people fail to see the issue, so listen to me when I say…

If you have longer hair, always, ALWAYS pull your hair back/up BEFORE you start cooking, even in your own damn kitchen. I’m sorry, but finding a hair in my food makes me want to vomit and I’ll probably never eat at your house again. Just sayin’. I find it completely repulsive.

And that’s coming from a woman who’s owned dogs over the past 20 years and claims “The chef is not responsible for dog hair in the food.”

G-ma Rainie’s Swiss Steak

This should have posted yesterday, but I’ve been distracted by a friend in need for the past few days, so I apologize for the delay.

Both sides of my family have a Swiss Steak recipe and one is COMPLETELY different from the other, so I’m going to share both with you. You get one today, and one next Friday (if I can get Umi to write the damn thing down for me or dictate…whatever).

G-ma Rainie’s Swiss Steak

Ingredients:

1 boneless chuck beef roast (or roast beast, as I like to call it)

4 – 6 cups crushed tomatoes (canned or homemade)

1 cup diced onions, sliced carrots, and diced celery (optional)

After searing* and seasoning the roast beast with salt and pepper, put it in a Dutch oven (or slow cooker/crock pot).

 

Add the tomatoes, onions, carrots, and celery (each are optional – I don’t like cooked carrots), and add desired spices.

 

Cover and simmer for about an hour or so until beef is tender. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if so desired. Experiment with other seasonings as well. I added garlic powder and Italian seasonings this time around. Next time, I’ll likely experiment with a few others.

Now, the timing is based on using a Dutch oven. I used a slow cooker (or crock pot) and cooked it over several hours on a low setting while I slept all day. If you have a lot of experience using a crock pot, you’ll know what setting to cook it and for how long.

Instead of using diced celery and onion, I used celery salt and onion powder. Also, when I use salt and pepper, I use the kind you have to grind. Sea salt is much better than regular salt.

My g-ma Rainie always served this dish over mashed potatoes. It’s quite tasty! I have it next to the mashed potatoes.

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)

* Don’t know what “searing” is? What I’m telling you to do there is brown all sides of the roast before placing it in the Dutch oven or crock pot.

Cholesterol…Damn It!

In lieu of my typical recipe post, we’ll be talking about my health today. Why is this important, aside from the fact that not eating healthy can kill me? Well, mainly because it’s going to change the recipes I post on this here little blog. But that’s a good thing, trust me, because I can’t stand bland food, so I’ll be finding ways to make healthy good-for-you-food taste great. Hey, it’s what I do.

So my arteries are getting clogged up. That’s what high cholesterol does to you, which puts you at risk for heart disease. Awesome! But here’s the kicker….high cholesterol is 240 mg/dL and higher; mine is at 1900+. Wait, WTF? Yeah. Shouldn’t I be dead?

So here are the things I can’t eat anymore with my notes attached:

Butter, margarine and shortening – um, WTF? How am I supposed to cook and bake now?

Coconut and palm oils – not a problem! They aren’t in my diet to begin with.

Cheese – But I LOVE cheese!!! *pouts*

French fries – don’t care much for these anyway

Doughnuts – *gasps*

Whole milk – looks like I’m going back to 1% milk

Cookies – are you fucking kidding me???

On the plus side, olive oil, avocado, walnuts & almonds (neither of which I eat), sunflower seeds (along with sesame and pumpkin seeds), and seafood along the lines of salmon, mackerel, and herring are IN.

And on top of this, I essentially need to switch to a low carb diet with anti-inflammatory foods. Hey! Avocado is an anti-inflammatory food! Homemade guacamole, here I come!

Time to start looking up recipes….and of course, modifying them. 🙂

Cooking Tips #11

 

The first and foremost ingredients in seasoning your food is salt and pepper. Why? Using salt and pepper first brings out the flavor in any dish. If you don’t use salt and pepper, give it a try once and taste the difference.