Monday, April 30, 2012


 The cute firefighter really likes lasagna.  He works very hard so I thought he deserved some when he came to visit this past weekend.  My lasagna usually takes three days to make but I did not have time to make that recipe.  Shopping is one of the difficult things for me to do with one hand these days so I had to whip this up from stuff I had on hand. 

 First I browned some ground bacon and pepperoni.

 I had some locally made sausage patties so I used them.  4 hot Italian and 4 sweet Italian.

 They were too hard to break up so when they were done cooking, I pulsed them in the food processor.

 This gave me a nice uniform grind.

 I hardly ever use a food processor but because of the bad paw, I chopped my onion, carrots and celery in it.  Wow!  It worked really well!  I should probably use it more often.  I used one large onion, 4 carrots and 3 stalks of celery.  I sauteed them until they began to soften.

 After returning the meat mixture to the pan with the vegetables, I added salt and pepper, oregano, thyme and granulated garlic.  Taste and adjust seasoning at this point.

 And of course, anchovies.  They bring out the flavor in the meat.

 Add a couple tablespoons of butter to enrich the sauce.

 Add 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes.  This recipe is for a large lasagna.

 Add 2 cans of tomato paste.  Stir it and taste it and add 1 tablespoon of sugar if needed.

 Add 2 packets of Swanson's beef stock concentrate.

 I had some pesto which I had just made so I added about 1/2 cup of it.

 Stir in a bunch of chopped fresh parsley.

 I always spray my pan to keep the lasagna from sticking.

 I used 2 large containers of Ricotta.  To it, I added 4 eggs, 1  1/2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper and oregano.

 I started the layering with a double row of noodles topped with a layer of mozzarella cheese.  When the lasagna bakes, the cheese melts into the noodles giving the lasagna a solid base.

 I place a layer of pepperoni on top of the cheese and top it with sauce.

 More noodles and a layer of the ricotta mixture.  Then a layer of Provolone, noodles and more sauce.

I always add a layer of very thinly sliced smoky ham.  I used Westphalian ham here.  This adds lots of flavor and you don't even know it is there.  I also like adding a layer of fresh basil.
 I keep layering until I reach the top or run out of ingredients.  Top it off with sauce and a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 325 degrees until it is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden.  This took a couple of hours for one this size.

I wish I had remembered to take a photo of it when I served it but that was when the kids arrived and I got caught up in the moment and forgot.  They went home with lots of leftovers!

This is one of the best lasagnas I have ever made.  The old recipe is a goner!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Breakfast For The Kids

I made breakfast for the kids and took it to them in the guest house on Saturday.

The firefighter loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so I made him some from scratch.  I used the sandwich bread I baked the other day.  I ground honey roasted peanuts and made peanut butter.

I cut up a bunch of strawberries.

And made strawberry jam.

This is how I now slice bread!  I hold it down with the back of my forearm and pray!

I made some of the peanut butter chunky and some smooth and spread a bit of both for each sandwich.

If you like PB&J's, you should try one of these someday.

They left this morning with full tummies and a trunk full of food!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Best Chocolate Cake

I made two of these cakes the other day.  This recipe is easy to throw together and is one of the best cakes you will ever taste.  It is dense, moist and very chocolatey!  The fire fighter groaned when he took his first bite. It is a very typical reaction to this cake

Click here for the step by step recipe:

Let them totally cool before frosting them.

I will post more of the kids weekend food tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Classic Macaroni Salad

 With summer approaching and my daughter bringing a very hungry firefighter home for the weekend, I dusted off some favorite classic recipes and whipped up one of our favorites.  Old time macaroni salad.

 Finely dice 1 large onion.

 Dice several stalks of celery and 3 large carrots.

 Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.

 I used 1 pound of small shells for this recipe.  Cook them in salted water until al dente.  Add about 1/2 C. mayonnaise (not miracle whip...UGH!).  Add 1/3 C. sour cream.

 Sprinkle 1 T. cracked black pepper, 1 tsp. salt and 1 T. celery seeds

 Add 6 chopped hard boiled eggs.  Sorry for the blur!  Cooking and taking photos with one hand can be challenging at times!  Mix it all around and taste for seasoning.  I add a bit of milk to make it creamier.  This is best made a day in advance.

It is a great side dish for summer meals.

I will post the other dishes I made in the next couple of days.  The very cute firefighter brought me a DC Fire and EMS hoodie!  Cool!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is one of the ways I used the rolls from yesterday.  I made pulled pork sandwiches.  I will show the recipe for the macaroni salad later.

Brown a 3 # pork shoulder on all sides in a heavy pot with some oil.  Season the pork with lots of pepper, salt and thyme before browning.

I wanted to use up a bottle of Belgian beer I had left from the carbonnade and some beef stock so I used this for my liquid.

Add the beer and stock, cover the pot and bake at 300 degrees for 5-6 hours.

You can peel the fat off in a complete sheet.

The meat will shred easily.  Cover the meat and refrigerate.

Pour the juice into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.  The next day you can easily skim off all the fat.

Add the gelled juice to a heavy pot and warm over a low flame.  Add 2 T. ketchup, 1/2 C. honey, 1/4 C. apple cider vinegar, 1 T. brown sugar, 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. hot sauce.

Add 3/4 C. of yellow mustard.  Bring this to a slow boil and then simmer it for about 20 minutes.

For the slaw, thinly slice a large onion.

After the 20 minutes, pour the mustard sauce over the pork.

Thinly slice a small cabbage, 1 red pepper and 2 carrots and add them to the onions.  In a pot, mix 1 C. apple cider vinegar, 2/3 C. oil, 1 T. yellow mustard, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 C. sugar and 1 T. celery seed.  Heat this until the sugar dissolves.   Cool slightly and pour it over the cabbage mixture.  Toss several times until the cabbage wilts.

Place some of the pork on the bottom of the bun.  Top with the slaw.

Add the top of the bun and there you go.  I can make these with one hand but I sure can't eat them with one!