Birthday Lasagna

I am partial to lasagna laden with mushrooms and spinach… with plenty of cheese, of course. 🙂

When requesting his birthday menu, my son wanted “regular” lasagna, “you know, with just meat and cheese!” His wish was my command. 🙂 It was delicious!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart. I used ground turkey and chicken sausage, added red pepper flakes, and increased the amount of garlic. We ate it with garlic bread and Caesar salad. He absolutely loved it. It was even more celebratory for him to eat it with our special “Happy Birthday” fork. 🙂

  • 1/2 sprig basil, (3 tablespoons coarsely chopped)
  • 4 ounces Parmesan, (1 cup finely grated)
  • 14 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella (5 cups grated)
  • 1 pound no-boil lasagna noodles (I needed 2 additional sheets.)
  • 28 ounces canned, diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-2 dashes red pepper flakes, optional, or to taste
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (casings removed) or sun-dried tomato-basil chicken sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, salt, and pepper 1 minute.
  3. Add turkey and sausage; cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Reduce heat; simmer 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Taste and adjust seasonings, as necessary.
  6. Coat baking dish with cooking spray or oil; spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  7. Top with a layer of noodles. (I used 6 noodles per layer.)
  8. Next, spread a third of the ricotta, then 1 1/2 cups sauce, on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Repeat these steps 2 more times.
  9. Top with a layer of noodles, the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
  10. Cover with parchment paper topped with foil; bake 20 minutes.
  11. Remove foil and parchment; bake 20 minutes more. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Vegetarian Variation: Clean and trim 8 ounces button mushrooms; finely chop in a food processor. Follow the recipe, but in step 2, cook onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. In step 3, add mushrooms, 1 cup diced zucchini, and 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper instead of turkey and sausage; cook, stirring, until just tender, about 6 minutes. After simmering with the tomatoes and oregano in step 4, stir in 4 cups chopped spinach along with basil.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Slow-Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili with Salsa Verde

My slow-cooker is really underutilized. When I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Dave Bakes, I fell in love with it. It had SO many of my favorite flavors. I loved that the chicken thighs and beans actually cooked in the salsa verde. The salsa imparted such a fabulously tangy and spicy flavor. What a wonderful slow-cooker meal!

A while ago, Dave of Dave Bakes convinced me to get a Pullman loaf pan… so I had to make a Pullman loaf of cornbread to accompany this meal. It was only fitting. 😉 Spicy and Great!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 12 to 16 ounces chicken sausage (about 5 links), such as chicken apple sausage or chicken other smoked chicken or turkey sausage
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (about 16 ounces each) organic Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2- 12 oz jars tomatillo salsa, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice, fire-roasted, chili-style, or plain
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 T finely chopped jalapeno peppers, or mild chile peppers (I used canned fire-roasted jarred green chilies)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • dash cayenne pepper, optional
  • sour cream, creme fraiche, or plain Greek yogurt, for serving, if desired
  • fresh cilantro, for serving, if desired
  • lime wedges, for serving, if desired
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, diced chicken, and sliced sausage; sauté until onions are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  2. Put the drained beans in a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker; add the skillet mixture and all remaining ingredients except the garnishes (sour cream (etc.), cilantro, and lime wedges).
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours. (I cooked mine on low for 7 hours.)
  4. To serve, top with a dollop of sour cream/yogurt/creme fraiche, sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and a lime wedge, as desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Chicken, Shrimp, & Clam Jambalaya

IMG_7848

Our family tradition is to enjoy Jambalaya followed by King Cake on Mardi Gras– is it terrible that we’ve only had the first course so far? Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year! So, the King Cake has been delayed to the weekend…. it will be well worth the wait. (My family doesn’t mind as long as I make it!) 🙂 I modified this wonderful, colorful dish to include clams- and not just clam juice. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and smoked chicken andouille sausage. This recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Hope you enjoyed your Mardi Gras celebration too!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 large sweet onion, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 medium celery rib, cut crosswise into quarters
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
  • 6 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 to 12 ounces andouille sausage (I used 12 oz smoked chicken andouille sausage), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used basmati)
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 6.5 ounces canned clams with juice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 pound large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), peeled and deveined, if desired
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley leaves, optional, as garnish
  1. In a food processor, pulse the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Do not over process; the vegetables should not be pureed.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the andouille; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chopped vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the rice, salt, thyme and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is coated with fat, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes with juice, clams with juice, broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to the pot; stir to combine.
  7. Place the chicken on the rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping the chicken on top. Replace the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken is no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife, about 10 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
  8. Scatter shrimp over the rice, cover, and continue to cook until the rice is fully tender and the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  9. While the shrimp are cooking, shred the chicken with your fingers into thin strands. When the shrimp are cooked, discard the bay leaves.
  10. Off the heat, stir in the parsley, if using, and shredded chicken; serve immediately.

One Year Ago:

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Chicken Sausage & Vodka Sauce

We are HUGE fans of Vodka sauce… and cheese… and chicken sausage… and pasta… and spinach– this dish had it ALL! Even my most picky eater (my daughter) enjoyed it. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I increased the garlic, spinach, and fontina. It was delicious!! Perfect cold weather comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8

  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 8-9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup vodka (optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 16 ounces (1 pound) baby spinach or chopped organic frozen spinach
  • 12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used roasted garlic chicken sausage)
  • 10-12 ounces fontina cheese, about 8 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

IMG_7337

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. (If using frozen spinach, cook for 3-4 minutes.) Drain, and return contents to pot.
  4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  5. Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

orchiette brocc rabe sausage
I modified this recipe by including greens from my CSA box in addition to the broccoli rabe: 4 baby bok choy, red kale, and beet greens.  I also increased the amount of garlic, vinegar, and chicken sausage.  This recipe is from Everyday Food. It is a healthier version of this traditional dish because it has more greens, chicken sausage, and less pasta. It is a great quick meal.
  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Total Time 35 minutes
  • Yield Serves 4
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 bunches (2 pounds total) broccoli rabe, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces orecchiette or other short pasta
  • 2-5 precooked Italian chicken or turkey sausages (6 ounces total), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2-3 tablespoons red or white-wine vinegar
  • 1-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe, and cook until bright green, about 1 minute. Using a wire skimmer or small sieve, transfer to a colander set over a bowl to catch drips (a few bits may remain in cooking water); set aside. Return water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage; cook, without turning, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add broccoli rabe, vinegar, and garlic. Cook until broccoli rabe is tender, scraping up browned bits in skillet, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add pasta and oil to broccoli rabe mixture. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve.

Broccoli rabe is a slightly bitter-tasting cousin to cabbage and is a good match for Italian recipes, especially pasta. Quickly boiling it tones down its bite without losing many nutrients.

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