Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli-Lasagna-ingredients

Autumn nights call for meals that warm us as well as nourish our bodies.  However, the kids are back in school, sports are on t.v., and there’s a dip in the temperatures. Time is precious and we need go-to meals that can get us out of the kitchen quick.  Casseroles by nature free up the cook to work on other projects like homework, laundry, Halloween costumes, Christmas gifts, etc.

This quick version of Lasagna is perfect for busy weekdays.  There is nothing homemade in this casserole, hence the speediness of the preparation.  I purchased these ravioli at the grocery store and they are average-sized, but Sam’s Club sells some very large 3-cheese ravioli that work even better with this casserole.   Typically I make two of these at a time; one for dinner, and one for the freezer.

If you decide to make a pan of lasagna to freeze, buy the aluminum disposable pans that fit in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag.  To freeze; Wrap the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Slide the pan into the 2 gallon Ziploc bag and seal it.  Using a straw, suck as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it for good.  That is a trick that I learned from my friend, Bev.  It really does help keep the ice out of the bag when you are freezing for long periods of time.

If you are really in a hurry, just open a bagged salad to serve with this.  I always tape a paper with the name of the dish, the date it was made, and heating directions right to the foil, before I place the casserole in the plastic bag.  This encourages others to help make dinner.  Not really, but it does refresh my memory when I’m buried deep in fabric, need a quick dinner, and am concentrating on making a quilt or getting the flannel  PJ pants done in time for Christmas Eve.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

3-25 oz. bags Cheese Ravioli (you only need 2 1/2 bags, saving the leftovers for another meal).

3-8 oz. bags shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1-67 oz. bottle Prego pasta sauce

Parmesan cheese, for topping

2-8×11 inch aluminum disposable pans (I reuse mine)

1-2 gallon Ziploc bag

Pam

 

Directions

1. Spray the pans with Pam.

2. Pour enough pasta sauce in each pan to lightly cover the bottom.

Ravioli-Lasagna-sauce

3. Place an entire row of frozen ravioli over the sauce.

Ravioli-Lasagna-ravioli

4. Sprinkle the casserole with Mozzarella cheese.

Ravioli-Lasagna-cheese

5. Pour some pasta sauce over each casserole, and spread to cover.

Ravioli-Lasagna-1st-layer-done

6. Continue this sequence of ravioli, Mozzarella, and sauce 2 more times (3 rows total) to finish the casserole.

7. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each casserole.

Ravioli-Lasagna-with-parmesan

8. Wrap, label, and freeze one casserole for later use.  Cover the other casserole with foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Uncover pan and cook about 10 minutes more, or until casserole is bubbling and browned a little.

Roasted Fall Vegetables and Lentil Salad

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-salad

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

We were planning on having this dish for dinner so I decided to modify the recipe and add a few starchy root vegetables so that it would be more filling.  The grocery store only carried regular brown lentils and although I had to make a special trip to a health food store to find them, the French green lentils were not expensive, and they tasted so good that they justified the trip.  They were peppery and nutty, and they cooked up tender, yet firm.

There were so many wonderful flavors and textures in this dish and the picture does not do them justice because so many of the veggies are hidden.  I highly recommend that you include parsnips and rutabaga in the mix when you make this.  Parsnips provide a little zing to the mix, and rutabagas have a sweet flavor.  After plating the veggies and lentils, I sprinkled on some shaved parmesan to put the whole thing over the top.  Enjoy!

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-veggies-with-bag-of-lentils

Ingredients

4 carrots; sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each

1 yam; peeled and cut into 1/2  inch slices

1 small acorn squash; halved, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 rutabaga; peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 turnips; peeled, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 parsnips; peeled, sliced into thirds lengthwise

1 onion; cut into 1/2 inch slices (reserve 1 whole slice to cook with the lentils)

3 stalks celery; cut in half lengthwise, and then into thirds, reserve leaves for garnish

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup dry French green lentils

reserved slice of onion

juice of two lemons (about 5 Tablespoons)

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

olive oil (equal to the amount of lemon juice)

salt

pepper

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

shaved parmesan for garnish

 

Directions

1. The vegetables need room to roast, mine were very crowded and did a lot of steaming at first instead of roasting.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Place chopped vegetables on cookie sheet(s).  Drizzle  3-4 Tablespoons olive oil over the vegetables, then sprinkle coarse salt over all.

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-raw-veggies-2

2. Bring pot of water to a boil.  Rinse lentils and pick over them looking for debris, sticks, etc.; drain.

3. Place vegetables in oven and roast for 30 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between the two racks halfway through the roasting time (because of the overcrowding, I had to add 15 minutes to the roasting time).

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-raw-veggies1

4. While veggies are roasting, add lentils and slice of onion to the boiling water.  Do not salt the water.  Bring pot back to a boil, and then lower the temperature and simmer the lentils for 20 minutes.

Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-French-green-lentils

5. While lentils are cooking, make the vinaigrette;  Mix lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and Dijon mustard with a whisk.  Add olive oil, fresh garlic and salt and pepper.

6. Drain lentils.  Pour vinaigrette over the lentils.  Cover and set aside to keep warm.

7. Remove veggies from oven.  Pile roasted veggies on plate, spoon lentils over the top, and garnish with shaved parmesan.Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-salad

Pittsburgh Steelers Mac-n-Cheese

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-on-plate

Pittsburgh Kielbasa and Bacon Braised Cabbage Mac-n-Cheese

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Christopher Bonfili of Avenue B

5501 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Continuing with the football theme, this is the recipe that I make for Danielle’s team.  The first time I made this it was such a hit with everyone.  Even though there is a lot of work involved, this recipe makes a ton, and I even cut the original recipe in half.  You will have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day, and believe me, it gets even better after it sits.

The list of ingredients is long and diverse, and you may look at it and be discouraged or think that some of those things do not go together.  Stick with the plan and you will be pleasantly surprised.  You will need a large skillet, a casserole dish, a pot, several bowls and three hours to soak your cabbage before you can even start cooking this dish, but it is so worth it.  Avenue B’s Chef Bonfili came up with this recipe, which is a nod to the Polish heritage of Pittsburgh.  As you take a bite, you are bombarded with so many different flavors.  It is Polish comfort food at its best.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

1/2 head green cabbage

1 pound elbow macaroni

6 strips bacon, chopped

1/2 large Spanish onion, diced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 pound Kielbasa, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar, shredded

1/8 cup Tabasco (If you don’t like spicy food, this is a lot of Tabasco.  Tone it down a little if you must, but don’t remove it totally.)

1 1/2 teaspoon honey

salt and pepper

Topping

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, snipped

3 green onions, sliced

 

Directions

1. Dice cabbage and soak in cold water for 3 hours.

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-cabbage

2. Preheat oven to 350°F .

3. Cook elbow macaroni until al dente, drain.

4. Spray a large skillet with Pam and saute sliced Kielbasa until the edges are blistered.  Remove Kielbasa.

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-Kielbasa

5. Cook bacon in the large skillet til done, remove bacon but leave the fat in the skillet.

6. Saute onions in the bacon fat until they are translucent.  Drain the cabbage and add it to the skillet.  Stir.

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-raw-cabbage

7. Mix together the vinegar and sugar.  Add the mixture to the skillet, stir,  and reduce the heat.  Cover the skillet and cook on low until the cabbage is tender.

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-braised-cabbage

8. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, Kielbasa, bacon, braised cabbage, cream, cheeses, tabasco and honey.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt and pepper and mix again.

9. Spray a large casserole dish with Pam and transfer the mixture into it.  Cover the dish with foil and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-before-topping

10. Mix Panko breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, and green onions together in a small bowl.

11. Remove foil from pan after 30 minutes and sprinkle Panko mixture over top of casserole.  Bake uncovered until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Pittsburgh-Kielbasa-and-Bacon-Braised-Cabbage-Mac-n-Cheese-with-topping

Green Bay Packers Cheddar-Beer Queso

Superbowl-XLV-Menu-queso-with-pretzels

Adapted from Green Bay Packers Cheddar-Beer Queso by Stiletto Sports

 

In our family, showing some love for professional football is not unusual.  On the contrary, it is celebrated.  The guys are fans of the New England Patriots, Danielle is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and I am a proud Cheesehead!  I know that in some families everyone has the same rooting interest, but believe me, it is much more exciting to be pitted against each other like we are several times a year.  When our teams play one another, there is usually a pretty good amount of trash-talking that goes on. Sometimes this talking is backed up with a friendly bet.

I have special recipes for each team and this is the one for my team.  It is quick and easy to make, tastes great, and after you mix it all together, the queso can be poured into a small crock pot to keep it warm.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

16 oz. package Velveeta, diced

10 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained

1/2 cup Wisconsin beer

1 cup Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar, shredded

Superbowl-XLV-Menu-queso-ingredients

Directions

1. In a pan over medium-low heat, melt Velveeta.

2. Add the tomatoes and stir.

3. Add the beer and stir.

Superbowl-XLV-Menu-queso-with-beer

4. Add the sharp cheddar and mix thoroughly.  Add more beer if necessary to make a smooth queso.

5. Serve with big, fat bready pretzels to soak up all the gooey cheese.

Superbowl-XLV-Menu-queso-with-pretzels

*If you are concerned about the amount of fat in this recipe (it is substantial), I would suggest that you try to fit some veggies into your tailgating menu.

Superbowl-XLV-Menu-fresh-veggies

Herbed Green Onion and Cheese Bread

Cooking-Baking-and-Dancing-in-the-Kitchen-herb-rolls

Now that cooler weather is right around the corner, we need a good bread recipe to accompany our simmering soup pots.  I jotted this recipe down a long time ago and do not know of its’ origin, however, it is delicious.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

2 Tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg, beaten

3 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons yeast

 

Directions

1. Saute green onions and herbs in the 2 Tablespoons butter until the onions are soft and the herbs are fragrant; cool.

2. Place ingredients in bucket of bread machine in the order listed.  Use the dough setting.

3. When bread machine cycle is done, remove dough from bread machine bucket and shape into a loaf or rolls.  Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes, or until dough is doubled in size.

4. Bake in a preheated 350°F. oven for about 18-20 minutes for rolls, about 30-40 minutes for loaves.

 

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili-bowl of chili

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home

September has arrived and the weather will be cooling off before we know it.  When the temperatures drop, we eat lots of soup at this house.  The great thing about soup is that it’s a whole meal in one pot.  Also, many soup recipes can be cooked in the crock pot, leaving you free to do household chores, go to work, or my favorite… watch sports.

If your family likes to eat lots of soup, do yourself a favor and buy some actual soup spoons.  You will notice a difference when eating with a real soup spoon, rather than a large tablespoon.  The soup spoon is shallower and has a wider bowl.  This allows the soup to cool faster, but also places it back further on your tongue allowing more and different taste buds to be bombarded with flavor as you eat.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-14 oz. cans chicken broth (or 1-32 oz. box)

1-4 oz. can chopped chilies

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne

chipotle seasoning (optional, it gives the chili a nice smoky flavor)

3-14 oz. cans white beans, (Navy beans, Great Northern beans, Cannellini beans)drained and divided

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used C0-Jack)

jalapenos, chopped (optional)

 

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook chicken and onion in olive oil until lightly browned.  Add garlic, cook 1 minute.

White Chicken Chili-onions and chicken

2. You’ll notice that there are quite a few browned bits in the bottom of my Dutch oven, that’s good because there is a lot of flavor in that browned mix.  Slowly add about half of the broth and work the browned goodies loose from the bottom of the pan.

3. Stir in the rest of the broth, chilies, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and optional chipotle seasoning.

White Chicken Chili-broth

4. With a potato masher, mash one can of beans until smooth.

White Chicken Chili-mashed beans

5. Add all the beans to the Dutch oven (smooth and whole).  At this point you can finish cooking the chili on top of the stove, or in the oven:

If cooking on top of the stove, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer the chili for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the onions are tender.

If cooking in the oven, set the temperature to 170° F-190° F (crock-pot setting) and cook for about 4 hours.

6. Top each serving of chili with cheese and optional chopped jalapenos.

White Chicken Chili-bowl of chili

7 Layer Dip

7-Layer-Dip-dip

Recipe courtesy of Joyce Levesque

This recipe comes from my Mother-in-law, Joyce, and is one of our family’s favorite appetizers, it makes an appearance at all of our sports celebrations and most BBQ’s.  This dip could not be simpler to make, but you do need to start it several hours in advance.  I always make it the night before the event, so that the cream cheese-sour cream-salsa layer has time to firm up before I add the chopped accoutrements.

It is a colorful and tasty addition to the buffet table.  Recently I’ve even gone low-cal and low-fat with some of the ingredients, without affecting the flavor at all.  College football kicks off this weekend, and our Buckeyes will be defending their title this year…Go Bucs! and Enjoy!

Ingredients

15 oz. can refried beans

6 oz. container unflavored, fat-free Greek yogurt (this replaces the sour cream)

8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

salsa (an amount that will make a loose mixture, I use about 18 oz.)

Co-jack cheese, grated (can use fat-free or low-fat)

1/2 large tomato, chopped, and seeded

3 green onions, chopped

1/2- 16 oz. can black olives, drained and sliced into thirds (or substitute 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained).

Directions

1. Choose a somewhat shallow serving dish, a deep-dish pie plate works well for this dip.  Spread refried beans in bottom of serving dish.

7-Layer-Dip-refried-beans

2. Place softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt in a large bowl.  Using a wire whisk, mix cream cheese and yogurt with salsa.  The amount of salsa will depend upon your preference for spice, but keep in mind that the mixture should be quite loose.  It will firm up as it chills in the refrigerator.

7-Layer-Dip-salsa-layer

3. Pour the mixture over the refried beans, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

7-Layer-Dip-acouterments

4. Remove dish from refrigerator.  Sprinkle grated cheese over entire surface of salsa layer.  Sprinkle chopped tomato, chopped green onion, and sliced olives over cheese layer.  Place in refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to serve.   Tortilla chips, especially Tostitos Scoops are great with this dip.

7-Layer-Dip-dip