Tag Archives: Cheese

Lasagna Express

Lasagna Express

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Lasagna Express
We have been running pretty hard lately with travel and events. Sunday we returned from a long weekend trip and were thrown into the work week unrested and unprepared. It was a perfect occasion for some food Rx. Jill loves pasta and lasagna in particular. I had the ingredients but didn’t have the time so I opted for a “lasagna express”. What is great about this recipe is that it’s really good but without the typical fuss of a normal lasagna where you cook and layer everything and then bake it off. The presentation of a typical lasagna is superior but if the meal is intended for consumption only, this is the way to go.

You can adjust this to your liking by using as many noodles as you like, cheeses to your preference and meat and sauces to suit your palate.

Ingredients:
1 lb organic ground beef
1 Jar of Pasta Sauce
1 16oz of Tomato Sauce
1 cup of Chicken Bone Broth
1 cup of Red wine 1 8oz tomato paste
1/2 finely diced white onion
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 package of lasagna noodles
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 tbs of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs of kosher salt
2 tsp of black pepper
1 pinch of oregano
1/4 cup of olive oil

Directions:
1. In a medium heated pan add the olive oil and diced onion and cook until soft and translucent.
2. Add a splash of bone broth and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the ground beef and cook until browned.
4. Add the sauces, paste, wine, and broth until you have a fairly wet sauce.
5. Snap the lasagna noodles and add them directly to the sauce and stir constantly. Make sure your sauce isn’t too thick and that the noodles aren’t sticking to the bottom. Stir for about 10 minutes until the noodles are softened.
6. Stir in 3/4 of the parmesan cheese into the sauce. Add dollops of the ricotta cheese and then top with mozzarella and the remaining parmesan cheese.
7. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned. Let it rest for 10 minutes to avoid scalding your mouth.

Frito Chili Pie

Frito Chili Pie

  • Servings: 10+
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Frito Chili Pie
IMG_0641IMG_0636IMG_0637IMG_0639
I am loving the change of weather in Texas. When contrasted against our hot and mostly unbearable summers, that first cooling front excites me like a fat kid over cake. Football on Saturdays and Sundays is just hard to beat. Such a great time of the year.

At the State Fair you see these bags of Fritos Corn Chips cut open and chili, cheese and onions added to your liking and given a spork to eat it right out of the bag. We haven’t had chili in a while so I made my a version of my Uncle J’s chili and topped it with fresh shredded cheddar and Fritos The other nice thing about it is that you can freeze the left overs or use it on other dishes (burgers, dogs, enchiladas,) and/or eat it throughout the week.

Ingredients:
Bag of Frito Corn Chips
Fresh block of extra sharp cheddar cheese
Uncle J’s Chili https://whiskeynwry.com/2014/12/29/uncle-js-chili-103/

Directions
1. Follow my recipe for my Uncle J’s Chili or your own favorite chili recipe. I catch grief being from Texas and using beans. Don’t know why it’s a big deal down here but I like what I like. Top it with chips and cheese and enjoy it with your favorite beer.

IMG_0636IMG_0640IMG_0638

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pizza Margherita

IMG_0316IMG_0315IMG_0313IMG_0312
While I am still working on my pizza dough experimentation my Basil has been thriving in my herb garden. Tonight we were going to hunker down and watch the World Cup Finals. So I picked up a ball of dough at our favorite pizza joint and decided to make a Margherita pizza. This pie really turned out well. Thin crispy crust, perfectly melted mozzarella with a super simple tomato sauce and my fresh basil.

I purchased one of those Presto gas powered pizza ovens because it can get up to 900 degrees. I prefer to stay at 700 degrees to let the crust really crisp up. So really the only thing I made here was the sauce and it was super simple because I cooked the two cloves of garlic in olive oil and added crushed San Marzano tomatoes and 2 tsp of sugar. I also used low moisture mozzarella cheese.

We recently saw an episode of Best 5 Pizza Places in the US on FoodNetwork. It showed the Chicago joint called Pequod’s that does a deeper dish but they line the edges of their pan with cheese so as it cooks it makes a nice crispy cheese edge. Jill tried it on one of the pies and it really did turn out perfectly. (if you’re into burnt cheese).

Ingredients:
pizza dough
14 oz of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
handful of fresh basil
2 tsp of sugar
2 tsp of crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Parmesan cheese
Low moisture Mozzarella

Directions:
1. Made the sauce by cooking the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes and then adding the tomatoes and spices.

2. I took a non stick square brownie pan and put some olive oil on the bottom. I spread out the dough to the edges and then added some parm, then the sauce and finally the mozzarella and basil. IMG_0308

3. My oven was right around 700 degrees so it took about 6 minutes to cook.
IMG_0310

Attempt at Pequod's crispy cheese edges
Attempt at Pequod’s crispy cheese edges

“California” Ground Beef Tacos

California Beef Tacos

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

California Ground Beef Tacos
IMG_9864
Growing up, taco night right up there with the rare mythical pizza night. Back then, it was the simple hard shell ground beef taco topped with cheddar cheese. Today my taco aperture is fully widened. To adapt a JBJ lyric … “I’ve seen a million tacos and I’ve rocked them all” or something close.

A few decades ago on a visit to the the mother in law, she made us some “California” tacos. At this stage in my game, I had soft and hard shells but not oiled ones. It’s the same basic taco set up but she would take the corn tortillas and softened them in a heated and oiled skillet. Kind of what you might do to an enchilada in sauce.

Between us, I am not sure that single act of hot oil made them “Californian.” My hunch is someone, not from California, made them for her whilst she was living out there in her post college days. To me the California taco is a proper fish taco or some street barbacoa or carne asada tacos. The only reason I point that out is out to calm down any Californian who might read this and feel the need to educate me. I get it. The name is more about my MIL vs the state.

For my beef filling I like to really concentrate and reduce the sauce to a deep, spicy, rich salty mixture. I also like a fine cut of my ground beef while adding beans too. For the flavor, I will play around with my mixture by adding, beer, tomato sauce, green sauce or salsa etc.. This batch I went heavier on the tomato sauce but will use the typical amount in my base recipe.

Ingredients:
1 lbs ground beef (chopped further before browning)
corn tortillas
1 onion
8 oz of tomato sauce
8 oz of beer
4 oz of beef stock
Shredded cheddar for topping
1 green pepper (seeded and spined)
1 jalapeno (seeded and spined)
1 can of jalapeno pinto beans (rinsed)

Spices
2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs ancho chili powder
2 tbs of Penzey’s taco seasoning
1 tbs of cumin
1 tbs of paprika
1 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of cayenne

Directions:
1. Take your ground beef and chop it on a cutting board. Add to a medium heated skillet to brown. Drain some of the fat.

2. Mince your onion, jalapeno, green pepper and add to the mixture and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Now add your spices and let them bloom for 5 minutes more.

3. Add the wet ingredients and simmer until it is really reduced and tight. You can cheat with cornstarch if you are in a hurry. Just put a 1tbs in a little water and then add and stir. IMG_9850IMG_9860

4. I add my beans towards the end and kind of mash it up a bit.

5. For the tortillas I take about a tablespoon of peanut or vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and heat it up. I use my hand so be careful of burning your self. Tongs tend to rip them. Since I cooked 4 tacos I put all 4 tortillas in the skillet. I flip all four and then take the top two, flip them and then flip all four. The point is each one needs to have contact with oil and heat. This is a one to two minute ordeal. Pull from heat and let them rest on a paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

6. Fill the tortillas with beef, cheese and anything else you want. I also made a simple salad and used avocado, lime juice and oil and blended it until smooth. I smashed a few chips to top.
IMG_9867IMG_9871IMG_9865

Ham and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

Ham and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ham and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes
IMG_9822IMG_9834IMG_9835
When working on the Easter menu, I have to include potatoes with my ham. When I cook a ham I have a ton of leftovers so decided to incorporate some into my scalloped potatoes. My favorite potato is the twiced-baked because I love the skin. That said, sometimes the mashed or scalloped seems more appropriate for certain dishes. Given that scallop potatoes uses milk/cream they tend to have a kiss of sweetness over a twiced-baked.

For some reason, which makes no sense to me, cooking scalloped potatoes is always tricky. It seems like mine require an extra 20-30 minutes to get to the tenderness I prefer. We pulled them out and had to put them in for another 30mins. Luckily the Pea Salad and Ham aren’t served hot. But if you like a tender tater like us take note and leave a time cushion just in case. These are lava hot out of the oven so letting them rest is okay if you finish a little early.

Ingredients:

3 Potatoes (sliced on mandolin)
1 cup of diced ham
1 diced yellow onion
1.5 cups of fresh grated cheddar
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour
Black Pepper
Kosher Salt
Paprika
Cayenne Pepper

Directions:
This a three part recipe.
1. Dice your onions and ham and put them in a medium heated skillet to sweat and brown. Use a little butter or oil if you need to keep it from burning or sticking. Set aside.

2. Grate your cheddar while onions and ham are cooking. IMG_9818

3. Cut the potatoes using a mandolin. If you dont have one consider buying one or just making a mashed potato using these ingredients. If you go the mashed route I would cube and boil them and then add the bechamel, cheese, onions and ham once the water is drained. IMG_9817

4. In a sauce pan make a roux by melting butter on medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for a minute or two. Pour the cream and half and half in a glass measuring cup and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then slowly pour it into the roux. Add the Parmesan, sour cream and seasonings.

5. Assemble your dish by first buttering the bottom. You are going to make three layers and build it like a lasagna. So divide everything into thirds. First the potatoes, then ham and onions followed by the sauce and finally a layer of cheese. Do this three times.
IMG_9818IMG_9819IMG_9816
6. Cover with foil and bake this in a 350 degree oven for 1hr. Remove the foil and let the cheese brown for about 20 more minutes. Use a spoon, fork or knife to push to the bottom and feel the firmness of the potatoes. If there is any resistance cover and put them back in the oven until the potatoes are tender.
IMG_9822