A few weeks ago, I was approached by a guy named Julien Miquel, who asked if I might be willing to create a recipe for his wine blog, Social Vignerons.
I had never been asked to “Guest Post” before, so this was a pretty big thing for me. Couple that with the fact that Julien found me on my Twitter account (@Alisportshots), his blog was recently voted the 2015 Best New Wine Blog, and is a trained wine maker…. this was HUGE to me!
I decided to create Stuffed Pork Chops with Dry Rose’ Wine for his blog. This is one of my favorite recipes but I had never posted it with a Dry Rose’ before… Sharing a special recipe with special people just seemed like the perfect fit. Julien also linked my formally-posted Twice Baked Potatoes recipe on his site, so I hope people find both recipes enjoyable!
I do hope that all who read this blog will begin to follow Julien and his wine blog… he offers a new perspective on some old-world expectations. Enjoy!
I have a confession to make…. I love lasagna. Rarely will I order it in a restaurant because I know that I love the taste of this recipe and can’t imagine ordering something *out* that I can make myself. I’m sure that there are tons of variations on this recipe… with or without meat, red sauce vs white sauce, cooked noodles vs the no-bake noodles… but this is my favorite “go to” recipe to use if I’m being honest. It originally came from a Weight Watchers cookbook but, as with most anything I make, it’s been altered and adjusted to fit our unique tastes. Here’s how I make it:
1 package ground turkey
1 large onion, diced
Dry red wine, about 1/2-3/4 cup
Spinach leaves (I used about 1 1/2 cups and sliced them fairly thin)
1 large can pasta sauce (use your favorite… I like a basic meat sauce)
1 16-oz container of low-fat ricotta cheese
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Italian seasoning (1 teaspoon or so… I simply shake it on until it “looks right”)
freshly grated nutmeg (don’t go crazy on this… you just want a hint)
1 package lasagna noodles (you won’t use the entire package… I typically use about 9 or 10)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium high setting. Brown ground turkey, using a potato masher to break up the meat into small pieces. NOTE:This is the BEST way to brown meat, in my humble opinion. Add onion and red wine to the meat and cook until the wine is thoroughly incorporated. Add spinach (or any other vegetables you care to add), cook until spinach wilts, then add pasta sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Boil noodles, as directed on package, or immerse them in boiling water until softened. Drain and set aside.
Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg whites, Italian seasoning, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.
Begin to layer your lasagna together. NOTE: I used a 9×9 pan and a 9×3 pan – normally, I’d simply use a single 9×13 pan. This is where your noodle amounts may vary. I used 11-12 noodles to cover these two pans, but the rest of the ingredients remained the same. I also vary the direction of the noodle placement with each subsequent layer so the finished lasagna holds together well.
Start by spooning a bit of the sauce to lightly cover the bottom of your pan(s). Place noodles over the bottom in a single layer. Top with 1/3 sauce mixture, then dollop half of the cheese mixture over the sauce. Repeat noodle, sauce, and cheese layers. Top with noodles and final third of the sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan. NOTE: If making ahead or freezing lasagna, this is the place to stop. Cover with foil and pop in fridge or freezer, then allow dish to thaw overnight before continuing.
Cover and bake lasagna for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until lasagna is bubbling and cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow the lasagna to set for 5 minutes before serving.
As I mentioned, this is my favorite lasagna recipe. Not only is it easy to make, it has delicious flavor and is a simple way of getting vegetables into your meal without much effort. I like to add a side of garlic toasts to accompany this dish.
NOTE: To make garlic toasts, I start with a roll from the freezer (Ciabatta rolls work well for this, as do sub rolls). Slice the frozen roll into bite sized slices and lay them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spray the slices with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic salt. When you remove the lasagna from the oven, turn oven off and pop the baking sheet into the hot oven. The toasts will crisp as the oven cools and be ready to eat by the time you finish plating the lasagna. I put the garlic toasts into a wooden serving bowl and pitch the foil… no messy cleanup!
I hope you’ll try this lasagna recipe sometime… it makes an amazing dinner and is always appreciated by my neighbors if I am able to share. Enjoy!
It’s been awhile since I last wrote… but that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped cooking, or planning out recipes for this blog! Here’s an amazing (and easy) recipe that is sure to impress even the pickiest of guests who enjoy shrimp. I love pulling a dinner together in under 20-30 minutes, and this recipe is one that delivers every single time. I hope you’ll try it and make it your own!
1 bag of frozen raw shrimp (I buy mine whenever they’re on sale at the local grocer and keep them in the freezer… anything sized large or above is worth the money, in my opinion)
1 jar of your favorite preserves (I happen to like using fig preserves these days, but apricot or any light colored fruit would work well)
Butter (just a pat to sear the shrimp) and olive oil (just 1T for searing shrimp)
Wine (or your preferred liquid of choice)
1 package microwave brown rice (for convenience… feel free to use the cheaper stuff if you’d prefer)
Peel shrimp and have them ready to cook. I always remove the tails because I hate the idea of having to put the empty tail shell back on my plate. I also like to salt/pepper my shrimp prior to cooking, but it’s up to you if you want to do this step.
Put butter and olive oil into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium high. Allow the fats to mingle and get really hot..
Sear shrimp on both sides in the hot butter/oil mixture – my husband likes them to have a bit of “crisp” to the edges, so that’s how I make it in our house. Just make sure the shrimp is thoroughly cooked before making your sauce.
In a small bowl, make your sauce using the juice of the lemon, some wine (I used a half cup of sparkling white wine that we had in the fridge, but feel free to use whatever you have), and a few spoonfuls of preserves. Mix everything together.
Add sauce to the cooked shrimp and allow to thicken.
Pop brown rice in the microwave and cook on high for 90 seconds (this is why I prefer to use this type of rice… so easy and quick!)
Once the sauce has thickened, plate your meal with some brown rice, spoon the shrimp evenly between the dishes, and pour over the sauce.
Yes, it’s just THAT easy. Now, enjoy the compliments that come raining your way.
I have altered this recipe in many different ways, but I really love the way that lemon compliments shrimp. If you want, you can make a vegetable and top the veggie with some lemon zest… brings all parts of the meal together nicely. Last time, I used a bag of green beans, tossed the cooked beans with a pat of butter, salt/pepper, and the lemon zest. It was fabulous! Using the preserves counteracts the strong tart taste of the lemon juice and really does a nice job of pulling everything together. Enjoy!
NOTE: If making this shrimp dish, don’t use a red or deep colored preserve as it will make the shrimp look as if it’s under cooked or raw. Trust me… I did this once and will never forget the reaction.
Another one of our family “staple” recipes is this easy and simple Mazetti, a recipe that my mother-in-law gave me early in my marriage. Over the years, I’ve adjusted the recipe she gave me to either include lots of “hidden vegetables” or to use whatever quick ingredients I had on hand. NOTE: for those who are interested in the history of the name of this recipe, I would point you toward my friend, Jenna, at The Gleeful Gourmand, who wrote up this version of “Johnny Marzetti“. I was fascinated to read the back-story of this great recipe, including her own recipe. Back to my simple Mazetti… here’s the “down and dirty” of making a quick, hearty meal using just a few ingredients.
One package of ground turkey
1-2 cans tomato soup (I would use one can soup and one can of red wine)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta
Cheese (for topping, as desired)
Brown your ground turkey in a large skillet in a small amount of olive oil or margarine (whatever you have on hand). I also like to add 1/2-1 whole diced onion or some green pepper if I have things on hand and want to stretch the food a bit. I typically will add some red wine and brown the turkey and veggies until the liquid is totally absorbed.
Once the turkey is browned and starting to get a bit crispy, add your tomato soup (or soup and water/wine) and your pasta. I really like to use large elbow macaroni, but have used ziti, bow tie pasta, or even small shells… use your favorite pasta shape but don’t use egg noodles as they won’t hold up to the cooking process. NOTE: You are welcome to cook your pasta separately, but I like the way the sauce flavors the pasta pieces. Again, it’s entirely up to you.
I enjoy playing with flavors at this point, so I have the unique flavor that I want from each mazetti dish. I have been known to add more red wine at this point, but I’ve also added a shot of espresso (this darkens the flavor considerably), or just some stock or water. If the liquid is absorbed and the pasta isn’t thoroughly cooked, you just need to add more liquid. The pasta will soak up the liquid and become more al dente’… don’t ever give up on the dish as you’re cooking.
To serve, you can pop this into a casserole dish, top it with some shredded cheese and warm it up in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until everything is bubbly. If you’re serving from the skillet, you can either omit the cheese or add it on top just before serving and put the lid on your pan to give the cheese time to melt. Either way is delicious… my boys have eaten this dish in many different variations and have loved it each time.
An extra way to make this dish special is to top it with buttered bread crumbs. I have a recipe for making buttered bread crumbs on my website as a “bonus recipe”, included with “How to make a sauce“. Both of these recipes would qualify as “starter recipes”, so please feel free to check this one out as well. I’ve just added the “starter recipe” tag, so you should be able to find it that way as well.
I hope you’ll check out Jenna’s recipe and her history of this recipe… it’s so interesting to find out where recipes originate! Since my Mother-in-Law lives in Michigan and is originally from Rhode Island, her recipe could be a variation of Johnny Marzetti, but it will forever be one of my favorites from her. I was so touched when she shared one of her favorite recipes with me… it always reminds me of her, no matter how I actually end up making the final dish… it’s comfort food to me.