Archive for the ‘Food and Beverages’ Category

Lasagna Roll-ups

Author: admin

Lasagna Roll-ups

1 box Lasagna noodles
1 large jar Spaghetti sauce (or make your own)
1 container Ricotta
1 package Sausage
Parsley (dried or freshly chopped)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh tomatoes

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While the noodles are cooking, take the sausage out of the casings (or buy bulk sausage) and cook in a skillet.  Season to taste.  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the Ricotta, a handful of the Parmesan, a larger handful of the Mozarella, and some parsley.  At this point, you can add anything else to the mix that you want — some spinach for veggies (frozen and thawed), or some chopped hard-boiled egg, or some grilled eggplant strips…  get creative if you want.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.  Set aside in cold water so they don’t stick together before you get a chance to work with them.

Lay a noodle out flat.  Add spoonfuls of the cheese mixture and spread it out along the length of the noodle.  Sprinkle the cooked sausage on top.  Add thinly sliced tomatoes (you don’t have to do this, but I like the added freshness).


Carefully roll the noodle and filling, and put in a baking pan with the seam side down.  Continue with the rest of the rolls until the pan is full.  Wine is not on the ingredient list, but a few sips in between each of the roll-ups make it a lot easier to do.  Or, at least it seems to…  lol!

Cover with sauce, top with Mozarella, sprinkle some Parmesan, and sprinkle some more parsley on top.  Cover with tin foil.

Bake at 350 – 375 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes to brown the top.

Let cool a little, then you can scoop out servings a roll or two at a time.
If you don’t want to do roll-ups, you can lay the noodles flat in the pan and layer the cheese mixture with noodles and sauce and tomatoes and build it up like a regular lasagna.  Cook the same.

Beef Jerky

Author: admin

Beef Jerky

6 lbs. Top round steak
Soy sauce (low sodium if you want)
Light brown sugar
Chinese five spice
2 – 3 cloves garlic (optional)
1 – 2 Green onion (optional

My basic recipe uses just the top 4 ingredients. Sometimes I’ll mix things up a bit and add garlic and onions to the marinade, but lately, it’s been just the soy, brown sugar, and five spice. Use whatever marinade you like, but I do not recommend using store bought terriyaki bottles. They dry too salty.

In a large deep bowl, add about 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 cups water, 2 packed tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of five spice. Wisk to stir. Taste and adjust. Add more soy or more sugar according to what you want.

Slice the steak into 1/4-inch strips, against the grain. I use top round steak. I think it works better and comes out nice and “meaty.” I have tried other types of steak, but this one works best, I think.

Put the steak in the marinade. Make sure all of the pieces are coated and covered. Use some plastic wrap and cover the bowl. I usually put the wrap right on the surface of the meat and liquid to keep out any air. You could also put the meat and marinade in a plasic zip-lock bag. Put it in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Note that the amount of steak I buy completely fills my dehydrator. I have it down to a science — 6 steaks fills my 9 trays. Buy what will fit your tray set up.

In the morning, drain the steak and lay the strips on the trays with room between each piece so you don’t stifle the air flow.

I dry it at about 135 degrees, and it takes anywhere from 8 – 12 hours or more, depending on how thick you cut the pieces. Rotate the trays every 2 hours or so in order for the pieces to dry evenly. Dry until the moisture is gone and they are firm and a little brittle. If you keep a lot of moisture in the pieces, put them in the fridge, and eat them right away. You have to dry them completely for long storage — no moisture! Moisture will breed bacteria and mold.

I don’t have any pics of the finished product. I was charging my camera battery and forgot to take pics after. You know what good jerky looks like, though… LOL!


Otherwise known as Steamers…

2.5 – 3 lbs. Clams
1/2 Small onion
1 Beer (optional)

Put the clams in the sink and soak them to help get rid of any sand and grit.  Rinse and change the water a couple of times.  Some people use a sprinkle of corn meal to help, but I found that’s not necessary.  Just soak and rinse well, wash and repeat, wash and repeat… drain.

Slice the 1/2 onion into thin pieces.  Put them at the bottom of a large pot.  Add the clean clams.  Add the beer if you want, otherwise, add enough cold water to cover the clams. Yes, COLD water.  Cover the pot.  Turn the heat on high, and bring the pot up to boiling.  The clams will open.  Give them a good stir and let them cook for 1 – 2 minutes when they are open.  They should be cooked through, but not translucent.  1 or 2 minutes only.  If you overcook them, you will get hard, chewy clams.

Turn the heat off, take the clams out with a slotted spoon or spider or hand strainer.  Reserve the liquid broth to swish the clams in or use for a chowder.   Discard any clams that did not open.

This couldn’t be easier!

Pepper Steak Stirfry

Author: admin

Pepper Steak Stirfry

This is a really simple stirfry. The most time-consuming part of this is slicing all of the veggies.


Shaved steak
Bell peppers
Snow peas
Hoisan sauce

I am not giving any specific amounts of anything. The ratio of veggies to meat is totally up to you. If you want more peppers than onions, go for it. You can also add water chestnuts or bean sprouts or any other veggies you want.

This time, I used Hoisan sauce. Hoisan is an Asian BBQ sauce. Our American BBQ sauces start with a ketchup and brown sugar base. Asian Hoisan is soy sauce and molasses. Each brand of Hoisan is different in taste. Some are sweeter, some are not. This one is sweet. I couldn’t find my usual one at the store, so I tried a new one. Not bad, but little sweeter than I normally like it. If you can find the brand Sun Luck in your store, that is one of the ones that I prefer.

You can use other prepared sauces. I like the Asian black bean and garlic sauce, too.

So, here are my ingredients.


Slice them all up and separate them.

Add a little oil to your wok (or skillet) and cook the meat until it’s barely no longer pink. When you cook the meat, it will release juices and fat. You don’t want that in your final stirfry. Take the meat out of the pan and put it in a separate bowl to the side. We will be adding that back in again later.

Rinse the pan and add a little more oil. Cook the onions to how you like them. I like mine soft and turning a slightly golden color. I don’t like raw onions, so I cook mine a little more. If you like a firmer texture to your onions, you can cook them less.

Add the peppers and cook them until warmed through, but still a little firm (don’t want soggy peppers…). Add the snow peas. Cook a little more. Add the meat. Stir to combine well. Add the sauce. I used almost the whole jar, but this is for at least 12 servings. If you are making a single-serving stirfry, I recommend adding the sauce a spoonful at a time to your liking.

This is the final dish.

You can put this over rice or noodles, you can eat it by itself, or you can put it in a roll or a wrap and eat it as a sammich. It’s very easy and very versatile.


No Pink Slime…

Author: admin

So, with all the disgusting things we’ve been finding out what’s really in our food, behold the beauty of pure raw meat… Yes, I got the meat grinding attachment for my KitchenAid mixer (thank you, Amazon points) and decided to try grinding my own. Can’t hurt to try, eh?

I did a lot of research online for the best cuts of meat to use and whether to add seasonings or not, but in the end, this turned out FANTASTIC! Well worth the effort.

Here is what I did.

This is a chuck roast that’s usually used for a pot roast. I cut it into strips when possible, and then smaller chunks to remove most of the visible fat.

The process is very easy and the machine does all the work.  Nothing to be scared of.

One thing that all of the instructions and Web sites with info on grinding your own fail to state is that you WILL have to do this in batches, because the longer and tougher strands of fat are going to clog the little grinder plate.  It’s easy enough to stop and take the attachment off and remove it, but nowhere did I see that it would be often.  Out of the whole process I envisioned, I didn’t think the blades wouldn’t cut the tougher fat.

That whole roast was processed in about 15 minutes, and I had to clean the blade twice in that time. It’s really not a big deal, but something you should be aware of if you are going to try grinding your own. I am sure that leaner cuts will be easier to use.  Something to think about.  And this is how we learn… lol

I ground it twice to make sure it was chopped enough.  Then when I was happy with the consistency, I pulled out my handy-dandy burger maker and made burgers. (Actually, I got that gadget for free with something I don’t even remember, it was so long ago.  This is the first time I used it.  LOL!)

The final test:  Cook one!   Cast iron grill pan on the stove, a little salt and pepper, and away we go…

Final verdict?  This was the BEST tasting steak burger that I’ve ever had.  It’s nothing like hamburger that you get in the store.  This is MEAT. It smelled like steak cooking, and it tastes like steak on the grill.

Totally worth the effort and I will absolutely be doing this for all of my ground meat needs.

Success!  🙂

Turkey and White Bean Chili


1 package of ground Turkey

2 envelopes of McCormack White Chicken Chili seasonings

1 large Vidallia onion

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

4 ribs of celery

3 small cans of undrained Canellini beans (or pinto beans or black eyed peas, or any other kind of beans you want)

Salt and pepper


Dice the onion, peppers, and celery.  Set aside.

Brown the ground turkey in a pan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

In a large pot, sautee the onions until translucent.  Add the diced peppers and celery.  Sautee until they give a little and all the rawness is cooked out.  They should still have some firmess to them (don’t overcook and kill them).

Add the seasoning packets and a glass of water.  I know the packets say Chicken Chili, but trust me — it’s much better with ground turkey. Stir thoroughly.  Add the cooked ground turkey into the pot.  Stir thorougly.  Add the beans and again, stir thoroughly.

Get your potato smasher out of the drawer.  Go to town on the chili and smash down the beans and smooooosh everything together. The smooshed beans thicken the sauce.

Turn heat down low and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Take off heat and let cool down.  Stir every now and then as it cools.

The longer this sits, the better it gets.



Crockpot Spinach Lentil Stew

1 med onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped (or use baby carrots sliced if you have them)
1 bag dry lentils
1 large can chicken stock
10 o.z bag of frozen spinach (use fresh chopped if you want)
15 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
1-2 bay leaves

Chop onion and carrots, add to the pot.  Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones, add to the pot.  Add whole can of diced petite tomatoes along with the liquid to the pot. Stir.  Add salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.  Add bay leaves.  Add spinach.

If you have a 5-qt crockpot, add enough chicken stock to come up to just 1″ below the rim.  If you have a larger crockpot, add the whole large can of chicken stock.

If you want a little tang, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (I don’t usually).

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  It’s done when the lentils are soft and tender.


Chorizo, Kale, and White Bean Soup

This is a hearty soup that will warm up your insides for the cold weather that’s coming.

* 3 oz of Chorizo, removed from casing
* 1 cup diced onion
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced
* 4 cups of chicken broth
* 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
* 4 cups of fresh kale, washed and chopped
* Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the Chorizo from casing and cook for 2-3 minutes. Break it up in the pan as you cook it.

Add the onion and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes more, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth and beans.  Use a potato masher and mash some of the beans to help thicken the soup.

Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the kale and simmer for a few more minutes, until the kale starts to wilt.  You want it to still have some texture.  Don’t simmer the crap out of it.  LOL!

That’s it!  Easy and delicious.

Note:   This might be a little spicy for young children.  If you want to make a less spicy version, use regular sausage or kielbasa.

Turkey Spinach Artichoke Quesadilla

These stemmed from trying to create a version of one of my favorite sammiches.  Panera has a turkey artichoke pannini that’s simply delicious!  It’s sliced turkey, an artichoke spread, and caramelized onions on a thick bread.

I always wanted to try making a spinach-artichoke dip, so
I thought, why not just try making a spread and use it on a sammy?

So, tada!  Easy-easy.

1 package of frozen spinach
2 cans of artichoke hearts
1 cup of shredded cheese (parmesan, cheddar, monterey…  use what’s on hand)
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Defrost spinach and squeeze out the excess water.  Chop the artichoke hearts into small pieces.  Add the cheese and Mayo.  Mix together.  That’s it.  (Well, that was my original attempt.  Last night making the quesadillas, I added a can of black beans for interest…)

If I was to make this into a dip, I would put it in the oven and heat it so that the cheese melts.  Using it as a spread in the sammy, the cheese melts when it’s cooked in the pan.

I took some leftover Thanksgiving turkey, spread the mixture on the flour tortillas, folded them, then put them in the skillet.  The golden-brown, crispy outside provided the perfect crunch to remind me of the pannini, but without all of that extra thick bread.

This version has more filling inside and less bread, whereas the Panera pannini has more bread and less filling.

This is a nice way to get some extra veggies in…

Mini Apple Tarts

Author: admin

Mini Apple Tarts

These are always a hit! 

The secret is to buy the prepared phyllo dough cups in the frozen food section.  They are already baked, so all you have to do is defrost them.

You can fill them with just about anything — make them sweet or make them savory…

This time, I made little mini apple tarts with them.  This recipe isn’t really a recipe — it’s more like a method.  I just usually “wing” all of the amounts.

Wash, peel, and dice some apples.  If you are doing a large batch, put them in a bowl of cold water with a quirt of lemon juice.  This will keep them from browning.  When you’re done with the apples, drain them well.

Add a little bit of brown sugar and add a little bit of cinnamon (to taste).  Mix thoroughly.

Put the mixture into a baking dish, cover with tin foil,  and bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes or until the apples soften to the consistency you want.  I like my apples to still have a little “bite” to them.

Cool the mixture.

Fill the tart cups with about 1 tablespoon of the mixture.

Melt some caramels in a microwave-safe bowl.  Drizzle it over the top of the apples.

Done.  Voila!  How easy is that???

I’ve made these before using a sausage stuffing mixture, and they came out extremely well!  Get creative!