Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lasagna - Turned Up A Notch!

Almost every night, for at least half an hour, I'm in my kitchen watching my favorite cooking shows. The Barefoot Contessa, Cooking For Real with Sunny Anderson, Guy's Big Bite, Giada at Home (I know, I know, I have issues. I'm a Celebrity Chef Groupie *sigh*)... I sit there watching in awe, not only of their yummy-looking dishes but at how much fun they're having. The ease in which they create their dishes. Like it's the easiest thing to do... and they're there to show us how. But it just doesn't seem that way when I try to recreate the receipes. It seems like it's taking forever AND I make a massive mess of my kitchen.

Then I have an epiphany: These people take hours making their dishes and then are edited to fit in a 30 minute segment AAAAAND don't have to clean up after themselves! UGH! Of course, they don't show you THAT on the show! Because I'm pretty sure if I had a "staff" to clean up after me, cooking would be so much easier and I would look just like them!

For Christmas, my friend's mother gave me The Barefoot Contessa Family-Style Cookbook. I was so excited! I couldn't wait to try out a recipe. And finally did, this past Sunday. I was really craving comfort food so I decided to start out easy and try the Lasagna with Turkey Sausage. Now, I've been baking the same, super yummy lasagna for years. But, like Ina says "we're going to turn it up a notch!"...

...And so we did.

First off, Ina says the lasagna takes 20 minutes to prepare. You know what I say? She lied. It took me a good hour to prep the whole lasagna. For crying out loud, it's a 3 step process! Noodles, meat sauce and cheesy mix! 20 minutes?? I. Don't. Think. So. Plus, my kitchen was a disaster area! It looked like a tornado had just finished blowing through!

Second, I did make some changes to the ingredients to, let's say, fit more to my style. See my remarks in red below...
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion - 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (2 teaspoons minced garlic, from a jar)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (1 Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage Roll)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree (crushed tomatoes IN puree? No, just crushed tomatoes!)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided (1/4 cup dried parsley)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (1/2 cup dried basil leaves)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles (8 lasagna noodles)
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
The fact of the matter is, I only have a chance to cook on the weekends. To constantly buy fresh herbs, when I already have the dried ones in my cupboard (and refrigerator), for two people to eat, seems ludicrous. I almost never use fresh herbs and my meals are just as tasty. Also, I don't care for turkey... Unless it's a big, fat bird in the middle of my table at Thanksgiving dinner.

So, let me say this... I ♥ Ina Garten! I LOVE her recipes and will continue to recreate them. This lasagna was definitely a step up from the lasagna I'd been making. I think the thinly-sliced mozzarella was better than the shredded mozzarella I used to use. To me, it gave it a "thicker" taste. And the goat cheese? Why had I never thought to put that in my old recipe? I mean seriously, it gave it fabulous texture and taste! Much creamier with a little tang. I'll never go back! This is now MY recipe for lasagna going forward!

And how great was it that my new Temp-tations Old-World Oven-to-Table Set came just in time? AWESOME!


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