Skillet Lasagna

The alternative title for this post was “How Not to Dirty Every Dish I Own”, as that seems to be the general plan whenever I make lasagna.  Get out the sauce pan, the cutting board, the tomato smashing tools, the garlic press, the big pot for the noodles, the strainer to dump the noodles in, the bowl to mix the cheeses, the various spoons and such for dealing with all the things that are going in the pots and bowls…the pan for the lasagna.  Then quick, while it is bubbling away in the oven, wash everything.  Then get out more dishes for the salad, the garlic bread and the dinner plates.  That would be why I have not made lasagna in, ummmm, well I can’t remember how long.  It an exhausting dish to clean up around.

But much like Garfield, I love lasagna.  I kept thinking that there had to be a better way around this until I can afford a lackey whose sole job was to do dishes behind me, the poor unlucky future bastard.  I have been tinkering around with some versions of this skillet lasagna.  This is my favorite, and last night was the final tinkering: fresh mozzarella or shredded.  I made the dish and melted half and half.  The fresh mozzarella not only looked better but it won on taste hands down.  My family has had a long-standing argument about the ricotta vs cottage cheese in lasagna.  Over the years we have come to a compromise in mixing half and half.  If you prefer one or the other, go nuts, my recipe is what I make to keep the odd cottage cheese folks happy.  I won’t say I eliminated all of the dishes, but less than a sink full when all was said and done is a victory to me.

Skillet Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 12 ounces of mafalda noodles (think miniature lasagna noodles, go ahead and substitute-I don’t judge)
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced thin
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese for topping
  • Fresh basil leaves for topping
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a 12 inch skillet, cook onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add pepper flakes and heat for another minute.
  2. Add ground beef to skillet and brown, breaking beef into crumbles.  Once fully cooked, spoon off most, but not all, of the fat.
  3. While beef is cooking, stir together crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Italian season in a large bowl.
  4. In an even layer, add noodles on top of the beef and pour tomato mixture over the top of the noodles.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low-medium.  I occasionally need to add a bit more water from time to time, but usually there is enough moisture in the tomato sauce to cook the noodles to al dente.  Add salt/pepper to taste to the sauce.
  5. Mix the cottage cheese with the ricotta in a small bowl.  Once the noodles are al dente, drop spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese mix onto the lasagna.  I like to drag the spoon through like you do when creating a swirl in a cake.  It spreads it around a bit but not too much where you lose the taste by spreading too thin.
  6. Scatter the pieces of fresh mozzarella over the top of the lasagna and cover with a lid for about 5 minutes.
  7. Chiffonade the basil and add it with the shredded Parmesan to the top and enjoy.
  8. Find someone to do the dishes:)
Left side fresh, right side bagged.  Fresh is the best.

Left side fresh, right side bagged. Fresh is the best.

Burrito Casserole

burrito

I love cleaning out my fridge, to the point of almost being therapy level.  Finding something to do with all of those little leftover bits that didn’t fit in the previous recipe always brings joy.  It means I didn’t waste any money and I am not throwing away food that could have better served starving children somewhere.  As a side note..is it just me or do we all carry around a miniature version of our mom with all of her favorite sayings in our heads?

The following recipe is great for using up those last two large tortillas in the package.  Especially if you bought all of the ingredients to make burritos and realized when you got home that you only had a couple of tortillas, not the full package you thought was hiding under the bread.

Burrito Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 2 large tortillas (burrito size)
  • 1 (16 ounce) can of refried beans
  • 2-4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 4 ounces of sour cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Brown ground beef and drain
  3. Add taco seasoning to beef and combine.
  4. Add refried beans to taco meat and mix.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup and the sour cream.
  6. Spread 1/2 of the cream mixture on the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
  7. Lay a tortilla over the top of the the cream.
  8. Add 1/2 of meat mixture on top of the tortilla.
  9. Add 1/2 of the cheddar cheese.
  10. I do the next layer in slightly different order.  Add the second tortilla, then remaining cream mix, then the meat mixture, and finally the remaining cheese.
  11. Bake in the over for 30 minutes, and enjoy.

Simplicity Itself Pot Roast

I tend to be a bit of a masochist, and today was no exception. Bed at 12:30am and up at 4am for work, not my finest day. Originally the plan was to not sleep at all but my old body overruled that concept or I would have passed out hours ago. I am so tired at this point that I am not sure whether or not I won’t be typing in “wingdings” by the time we are through. Stick with me and you will either get the easiest pot roast recipe you have ever made or a beginning study on the motor skills of the sleep deprived. (I would keep my fingers crossed for you, but that would hamper my already weak attempts at typing.)

When I was a kid, this dish was the one I always requested for my birthdays. It has remained a favorite now that kiddy-hood has fallen far behind. It has about as many steps as a grilled cheese sandwich and only three ingredients. For all of its simplicity, the taste is pure comfort food. My Grandpa Ed called it chocolate meat because of the way it melts in your mouth. You can make it in a covered stoneware pot like I do now, or in an aluminum “packet” like I used to. The roast makes its own gravy, so you save some time and effort. It is so simple, I could even make it now.

100_1369

Simple Pot Roast
Ingredients
1 chuck roast/arm roast or similar, at least 2 pounds
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 packet onion soup mix
Directions
Preheat oven to 350
If using a pan with aluminum foil, use a sheet at least twice the length of the roast.
Spread half of the onion soup on the aluminum foil.
Place the roast on top (I haven’t lost you yet have I?)
Spread the remaining half of the onion soup mix on top of the roast.
Pour the cream of mushroom soup over the onion soup mix.
Fold the aluminum foil together to seal in the roast and place in oven. A 4 pound roast needs 3 hours.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Enjoy, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.