Category Archives: Beef

grassfed beef, ribeye, skirt steak, london broil

Eggplant Timbale at Adele’s

Eggplant Timbale at Adele’s

When Adele first told me about her lovely dish I was very excited to get this on camera for you. Actually seeing this eggplant timbale being unmolded when you release the sping form pan its baked in is a whole other story! It really is one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen not to mention it’s absolutely delicious. The pasta filling is exactly like my “Lazy Mans Lasagna” and then you have the outer wrapping of the fried eggpant slices that bring the flavors to another dimension. 

I love this dish beacuse it’s fairly easy to make if you can plan ahead. Now if you have not been frying eggplant your whole life as Adele and I have there certainly would be no shame whatsoever in going to your local Italian deli around the corner and buying already fried eggplant slices! While you are there you can pick up the meatballs too. Then all you will need to do is assemble this magnificent dish. Taking advantage of this convenience allows for last minute planning here which can be a godsend! Trust me you will have as much fun as Adele and I did putting it together. When you present this eggplant timbale at your next holiday dinner the ooh’s and aah’s alone will have you sold!

When you make this eggplant timbale for your next holiday dinner you’ll need some easy holiday appetizers like Baked Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto, Crostini w/Gorganzola, Tomato & Basil, and Goat Cheese, Fig Jam, Fresh Pear & Mint in Pre-Baked “Fillo” Cups! My Gourmet Caesar Salad is a must, and some Zucchini Torta would be a nice surprise for your guests also! This Chocolate Pecan Pie is to die for and don’t forget my chewy chocolate chip cookies for the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS for Eggplant Timbale:

  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 8 meatballs broken up into 3/4″ pieces
  • 9 prepared/cooked eggplant parmesan slices (w/o sauce)
  • NOTE: If you are making your own eggplant you can switch out the bread crumbs to flour-either way will be delish….she dips her eggplant slices in flour first, then egg and then she fries the eggplant same as in my eggplant parm recipe except she doesn’t use bread crumbs
  • 2 cups shredded part skim or whole milk mozzarella, plus 2/3 – 1 cup for topping (use the packaged mozz. here not fresh)
  • 2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 3 extra lg eggs whisked
  • 8 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce (4 cups to mix in with pasta, 2 cups to top timbale and 2 cups to serve on the side for extra)
  • (1)- 9″ spring form pan

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º
  2. Cook 1 lb. rigatoni pasta until ADENTE, a little firm because you will continue to cook the pasta when you bake it in the oven
  3. Drain the aldente pasta BUT do not rinse!
  4. Add cooked pasta to a large bowl
  5. Add in whisked eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and mix to combine
  6. Now pour sauce in and mix gently to combine again
  7. Add in broken up meatballs and gently mix
  8. Spray spring form pan with Pam
  9. Lay prepared eggplant slices all around pan meeting in the center like a flower with edges folding back out of pan
  10. Add pasta mixture into the center of the eggplant drapped spring form pan
  11. Fold over the eggplant slices covering the pasta filling
  12. Add the last 9th piece of eggplant to cover the opening in the middle where the eggplant doesn’t reach
  13. Pour 2 cups sauce over the top of the eggplant timbale, sprinkle with parm & then 2/3 – 1 cup sliced mozzarella
  14. Put timbale into pre-heated 450º oven and bake 5 minutes
  15. Turn oven down to 400º and bake 20 minutes more until bubbly
  16. Take out and let sit 15 minutes…very important to do this
  17. After 15 minutes release spring-form pan from eggplant
  18. Carefully slice timbale and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a side gravy boat for extra sauce

#1 Meatball at Kevin & Jori’s

#1 Meatball at Kevin & Jori’s

It was definitely worth the wait to find out how to make Kevin and Jori Smith’s oh so sucullent and flavorful meatballs! It took a little patience to sync our schedules thru this busy holiday season but we were finally able to tape these #1 Meatball winners from the recent competition,  “Lisa & Vin’s 2016 Meatball Throw Down”! It’s a team effort between Kevin and Jori that produces one of the best meatball’s I have ever tasted. Watch out Dan Holzman from “The Meatball Shop” in NYC for these amazing meatballs will turn heads!

Come to find out Kevin and Jori won Lisa & Vin’s Meatball Competition the year before as well! Once you have your first bite into these melt-in-your-mouth meatballs you will know exactly why.

Not only were we eating Kevin and Jori’s amazing meatballs while taping the #1 Meatball show but Vin made is homemade pasta we call “The Trucals” from the show “Homemade Pasta at Vin’s”. Vin makes his pasta with a special roller called the trucal iron hence the name “The Trucals”.  This trucal iron that belonged to his grandfather cuts thick strands of pasta as you roll over it making for a hardy, chewy, yet tender strand of pasta.

If it couldn’t get any better then that Kevin added in an incredible garlic-basil bread and Jori her luscious tomato-basil salad with fresh Burrata cheese! Talk about the perfect meal…OMG! I am truly excited that I am able to bring you Kevin and Jori’s winning meatball reicpe. I know you will love them as much as I do!

You will need to have some amazing desserts up your sleeve to live up to these meatball standards like my Drunk Blondie Bars with a Caramel Bourbon Sauce, Chocolate Crackle Cookies, OR my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe! Then there’s Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie or a Chocolate Pecan Pie where you’ll always need just one more little fork full! LOL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Bottom photos courtesy of Gianni Esposito)

Ingredients for #1 Meatball Makes Approx 55 Meatballs:                                                                -Note: this is a large recipe… you can 1/2 the reicpe for a lesser amount of course and remember meatballs FREEZE really  well, raw or cooked!

  • 6 lbs meat: 2 lb. ground beef 80/20, 2 lb. ground veal, 2lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 whole heads roasted garlic (Keep garlic heads in foil the whole time for this meatball recipe)
  • 3 cups grated pecorino romano grated cheese
  • 2 3/4 cups homemade ciabatta bread crumbs – 2 loaves of ciabatta – the bottom 1/2’s
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Prociutto di Parma
  • 4 lg basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7 eggs (Kevin likes 1 1/2 egg per lb of meat)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400º
  2. Drizzle 2 heads of garlic with a tbsp of olive oil wrap in foil, place into oven for 35-40 minutes
  3. Slice loaves of ciabatta in 1/2, save tops for garlic bread – recipe for spread below
  4. Cut up bottom havles in small cubes, place on a cookie tray and bake until golden approx. 12 minutes
  5. Cool bread cubes then pulse to a crumb in a food processor
  6. Add ground beef, veal, and pork to a large mixing bowl
  7. Add in chopped prosciutto, salt, Percorino cheese, and bread crumbs
  8. Mix with hands to start combining
  9. Add in 7 lg eggs to meat and again mix with hands to combine, folding meat over and over
  10. Squeeze roasted garlic bulbs out of their sleeves and put into food processor or little chopper with olive oil and 4 basil leaves and purée
  11. Add this mixture to the meatball mixture and again mix folding over and over to combine
  12. Roll into 2″ size meatballs
  13. Pour 1/2″ high olive oil into large sauté pan and heat on med/high – MUST BE OLIVE OIL!
  14. Add in 8-9 meatballs at a time, don’t over crowd pan
  15. Cook on all sides until golden approx 6 minutes
  16. Remove to plate and serve with pasta, you can find Vin’s homemade pasta, “The Trucals” which are sooooo worth the effort!
  17. Serve with garlic bread too…mangia mangia 🙂

Garlic Bread Spread:

  • Ciabatta tops
  • 3/4 stick softened butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pecorino grated cheese
  • 4 basil leaves chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped

Mix all ingredients above, smear onto ciabatta halves and bake for 12-15 minutes on 375º YUM!

Lisa & Vin’s Meatball Throw Down

Lisa & Vin’s Meatball Throw Down

Wow! What an impression 9 simmering trays of meatballs made when you walked into Lisa & Vin Esposito’s kitchen this past fall for their 2016 Annual Meatball Competition! There were meatball’s with sauce, meatball’s without sauce, and some topped with hot cherry peppers. All I know is the aroma’s of the meatball’s, tomato sauce, basil, and garlic had you salavating in mere minutes in anticipation of sampling these delectable little morsels.

The Esposito’s actually started this meatball competition about 4 years ago with 22 meatball entries! Realizing that it was difficult to judge with too many to try in order to submit an objective ballot they are now down to 9 meatball entries in the competition.

It took a little patience to get thru the holiday’s to coordinate next week’s show, the winner of “Lisa & Vin’s 2016 Annual Meatball Throw Down” but it was worth it! Everyone loves a great meatball and I’m happy to say I had voted for the winner’s meatball in this competition! I’m excited to get you the recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So be sure to stay tuned next week when I will reveal this 1st place winner and the winning meatball recipe from Lisa & Vin’s 2016 Meatball Throw Down! In the mean time you can check out my Turkey or Italian beef meatballs. Then there’s the giant meatballs with a Secret ingredient in the Meatball Recipe from Glenn’s New Haven Apizza. You could always keep with a beef theme with my Braciole and while you are making all these yummy Italian dishes you will need some Homemade Pasta and a Caesar Salad! Mangia, mangia 🙂

 

 

Stout Braised Beef Short Ribs

Stout Braised Beef Short Ribs

The magic of braising, turning a tough cut of meat into fork tender, is a no brainer for me. Braising these beef short ribs in a combination of stout beer, red wine, beef stock, soy sauce, whole peeled tomatoes, a mirepoix, and creative assortment of spices make for a luscious dish. Then piling the stout braised beef short ribs on top of yukon mashes potatoes made with half & half, heavy cream, butter, paper thin red onions and a healthy drizzle of truffle oil puts it right over the top!

These stout braised beef short ribs came from Firefly Farms in North Stonington, CT. Firefly is one of two farm’s in Connecticut Certified Humane! When you are buying from a farm like Firefly, who’s practices are above and beyond, you know you are getting a product of a different caliber. The beef I used in this stout braised short ribs recipe was moist, tender, and packed full of flavorful.

We all have some idea of the instense amount of work that goes into farming but their practices at Firefly Farm take it way beyond that. Analyzing agricultural charts dating back to World War II to understand and perfect feeds for each of their endandered breeds they raise on their farm is a grand example of that. Getting the animals diets just right to yeild a most natural and high quality product.

The lard that Firefly offers makes the perfect pie crust, as shown in “Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie”. It is unsaturated because of the attention to detail of the mulefoot hogs diet, one without corn or soy. And oh boy, you should try their bacon!

The special stout I got to braise the beef short ribs was creamy and smooth bringing deep luscious flavors to the dish. The stout came from some friends who have made home craft brewing a hobby, and they call themselves The Bilco Boys Brewery. It’s like night and day to taste a fresh homemade-crafted brew. I find the beer much smoother and the flavors really fresh from citrus to notes of chocolate with a creamy mouth finish. Make sure to keep an eye out for another up and coming craft brewing show next week with The Bilco Boys!

I know you will enjoy the ease of these stout braised beef short ribs whether Flanken or English cut. The end product is the easy sell here. You should try my Homemade Caesar Salad to go along with the ribs, or how about  Spanakopita for an appetizer. If you have a little time on your hands one weekend definitely try this amazing Pickled Eggplant recipe, perfect for holiday gifts! You will need dessert too so be sure to take a look at the beautiful and delicious Pavlova or my special Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Ingredients for Beef Short Ribs:

  • 5-6 lbs Beef short ribs (Firefly Farms if possible)  Flanken Cut if you want to remove the meat as I did in show OR English Cut – 1″ X 3″ pieces
  • 2 bottles STOUT
  • 1 cup red wine, cabernet
  • 2 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 lg onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks coarsely chopped
  • 1 lg carrot coarsely chopped
  • 4 lg garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Wondra flour (quick dissolve flour)
  • 1 RECIPE Yukon Mashed Potatoes
  • OPTIONAL: Truffle oil – finishing oil to drizzle over stout braised short ribs, yukon mashed potatoes and gravy

Directions for Beef Short Ribs:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Rub spice mixture all over ribs anf marinate for 4-12 hours or over night
  3. Pat dry ribs without removing all the spices
  4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven or pan
  5. Begin to sear beef short ribs in pan with olive oil, you will have to probably do this in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan
  6. Sear the ribs 3-4 minutes on each side until browned
  7. Remove 1st batch of ribs, set aside in a lg bowl and brown 2nd batch of beef short ribs
  8. Remove 2nd batch of ribs to bowl
  9. Then add in mirepoix with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to dutch oven
  10. Sauté for 5-8 minutes until softened
  11. Add in 2 bottles stout, 1 cup cabernet, 2 cups beef stock, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 cup whole peeled tomatoes and 1 bay leaf to dutch oven
  12. Add all of the beef short ribs back into the dutch oven making sure the liquid is 3/4 up the side of the meat
  13. Bring to a simmer on the stove for 15 minutes
  14. Cover Dutch oven and place into a pre-heated 350º oven for 3 hours
  15. Every 50-60 minutes check on the ribs to fiip over and make sure you don’t need to add more liquid – it shouldn’t be dry (if it is you can add a splash of water, red wine, or more beef broth…all will work great)
  16. While the beef short ribs are braising in the oven whisk together the glaze
  17. At the 3 hour mark remove beef and place the ribs onto a cookie tray
  18. Put the oven on Broil
  19. Brush a coat of glaze on one side of the ribs and place under the broiler of 2 minutes (only 1 side)
  20. Tilt Dutch oven pan to the side to skim oil off the top of braised veggies
  21. Push all the braised veggies thru a strainer set over a bowl to catch all the juices
  22. Make sure to scrape juices on bottom of the strainer into the bowl too
  23. Add the strained gravy juices to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer on low
  24. Whisk in 1 tsp of Wondra flour into the gravy and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken slightly (if it gets too thick you can add in a splash of red wine or beef broth)
  25. If you have Flanken Cut Short ribs remove meat for bones and place in heat proof pan until you are ready to place on top of pile of mashed potatoes with a drizzle of gravy and truffle oil, and a sprinkle of chives
  26. If you have English Cut short ribs place 2 ribs per person onto a pile of Yukon Mashed Potatoes with a drizzle of thickened gravy, truffle oil and a sprinkle of chopped chives, then serve… mangia, mangia!
  27. NOTE: For a finishing oil drizzle Truffle oil all over dish for an extra wow!
  28. NOTE: If you are not eating ribs right away, and want to re-heat add to a heat proof dish, add 1/4-1/2 cup of red wine and beef stock and re-heat on a 350º oven for 30-40 minutes

Spice Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic granuales
  • 1 tsp onion granuales
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 2  tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp blk pepper

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp kethcup
  • 1 tbsp soy
  • 1 tsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • a few dashes of favorite hot sauce (Siracha)

Whisk in a medium bowl until combined and brush on ribs

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!

Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!

Hope you enjoy this secret meatball recipe show and remember he serve’s up 3 of these colossal meatballs in one “spaghetti and meatball” order from his restaurant! You might want to start with a few appetizer’s like my crab cakes, buffalo chicken dip, Mediterranean layered dip, spanakopita or my hummus!

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Glenn’s Mammoth Size Meatballs – makes approx 10-12 Colossal Size…Can make them smaller to yield more meatballs!

  • 2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
  • 2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly  (1 lb. about 1  loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
  • 2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
  3. Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
  4. Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
  5. Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
  6. Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
  7. Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
  8. Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
  9. Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!

 

Best Braciole Ever!

Best Braciole Ever!

Making Braciole for dinner or the holidays is one of those authentic comfort foods that’s so delicious it could easily become a tradition for you and your family, even if you are not Italian. Some of you may be asking yourself what is braciole? Well, it’s thinly sliced flank steak that’s rolled up and stuffed with Reggiano Parmigiano, Asiago, and fresh herbs. The braciole is sautéed in olive oil and garlic cloves and then simmered in a tomato-basil sauce for a couple of hours until tender and juicy. And I tell you it’s even better when re-heated the next day!

The Italians aren’t the only ones who have come up with this fun and creative idea of rolling up and stuffing thinly sliced beef then simmering or braising in a gravy until tender. There’s a German dish that I absolutely love that’s just as flavorful as braciole called beef rouladen. German beef rouladen is made up of thinly sliced top or bottom round stuffed with mustard, onions, bacon and pickles, then sautéed and braised in the oven with veggies in a beef and wine gravy until tender. It’s serve with sautéed red cabbage and spaetzle or potatoes and ooh is that scrumptious too! That will have to be another show I will put together for you!

Now that I have you in the mood for some creativity in the kitchen …get to work! lol You will be very happy to expand that recipe repertoire of yours after making this wonderful Italian braciole for dinner. Make sure to serve up your sliced braciole with a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta to give it that unexpected extra flavor and creaminess. I will get working on the German beef rouladen show for you:)

If you are going for the Italian theme you might as well treat yourself to some of my appetizer’s like baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, or crab cakes with a homemade remoulade sauce. Then you can really go for it with my SECRET manicotti recipe or homemade spaghetti that’s totally fun for the whole family and easy to make! Then end it all with some chocolate eclairs with the BEST vanilla custard you have ever had …enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lb flank steak sliced horizontally into 3 layers
  • 1 cup grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  • 1 cup grated Asiago
  • 1 tbsp dried ground Italian seasonings
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce but simmered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup red wine or white (I actually prefer to deglaze here with red)
  • 1 lb rigatoni

Directions:

  • Start sautéing the veggies for the tomato-basil sauce and use the same pan for sautéing the braciole logs
  • Slice or have your butcher slice the 2 lb piece of flank steak into 3 horizontal layers
  • Then cut those pieces in half so you now have 6 semi-equal pieces
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp each of Reggiano and Asiago on each piece
  • Lay whole basil leaves or chop basil and parsley and sprinkle onto flank slices
  • Roll up starting at the small end
  • Cut approx 40″ of cotton string and tie a knot at one of the ends
  • Then keep wrapping string all around the length of the rolled up flank til you are at the other end
  • Now come back tucking under each row of string going across like shown in the video til you get to the end and tie off a knot with the original piece of string you started with
  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil a large pan and a few large cloves of garlic kept whole for extra flavor and sauté 3 rolled up pieces of braciole at a time
  • Brown on all sides on medium/high heat about 3-4  minutes each side (remove the garlic coves when golden and smear on a baguette and dip into the tomato-basil sauce when you start to simmer with braciole…YUM!)
  • After browning the second batch of (3) braciole add back in the first 3 and de-glaze with red wine (I used white in the show but prefer to use red here)
  • Add in puréed tomatoes and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • Take braciole rolls out and slice 3/8″-1/2″ thick
  • Serve with pasta (rigatoni) and a dollop of ricotta on top with a few slices of braciole and grated Reggiano…mangia, mangia.
  • PS- It’s even better re-heated the 2nd day! 🙂

 

Lazy-Man’s Lasagna! – World’s Best!

Lazy-Man’s Lasagna! – World’s Best!

This world’s best lazy-man’s lasagna is the ultimate pasta dish because there is no fussing, layering or baking. It has all the ingredients and flavors of a traditional lasagna but without all the work! It’s done all-in-one pot and takes two minutes to put together after the ground meat is browned. It’s made with a tomato-basil sauce, homemade or store bought for convenience, rigatoni pasta, ricotta, mozzarella and a sautéed ground meat of your choice. The hardest part here is browning the meat, then it’s easy peasy from there on in.

When I first had this lazy-man’s lasagna it was made with ground beef. That’s the beauty of this pasta dinner you can customize it by browning up what ever your favorite meat is. I’ve actually made it with ground turkey, beef, Italian sausage and even a meatloaf mix of meats. What ever you decide I promise you it’s going to be delicious! In the show I used my favorite sweet Italian fennel sausage from Liuzzi Cheeses in North Haven, CT. I took the the sausage out of the casing and then browned it.

Usually, I serve up this lazy-man’s lasagna immediately after I combine all those yummy ingredients. Although, you can easily pour it out into a baking dish and top with one cup of shredded mozzarella to bake immediately or cover with foil and into the frig until you are ready. Granted, I do love to put together a tray of layered lasagna for the holidays but for those in between days when you want those gourmet flavors but don’t want to go through all the work this world’s best lazy-man’s lasagna is your dream come true.

You can check out my Live TV Cooking Segment on “CT STYLE”, WTNH – Channel 8 where I make Lazy-Man’s Lasagna in The Bender Kitchen with hosts Teresa Dufour and Ryan Kristafer!

If you are looking for something hardy and gourmet you should check out my Boeuf Bourguignon or Indian Spice Tomato-Cream with Snap Peas, Pulled Beef Taco’s with Mango Salsa, or for a lighter note you could check out my Swordfish with Black Bean Salsa or Asian Shrimp and Noodle Salad and for something sweet you just can’t beat Pavlova! Mangia Mangia…enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta, zit rigati or your fav pasta!
  • My 20 minute tomato-basil pasta sauce recipe or a favorite store bought brand
  • 2 lbs ground meat OR 3 cups after browned of: ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, meatloaf mix, or sweet fennel sausage (Liuzzi makes my favorite sweet and spicy Italian fennel sausage)
  • 1 lb. whole milk ricotta (really easy to make your OWN HOMEMADE – check it out!)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella – 2 cups to mix into the lazy-man’s lasagna plus additional 1 cup to sprinkle on top if you are going to put the pasta into a baking dish to bake later
  • grated Parmesan
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Brown the ground meat in a sauce pan on medium high heat
  2. Drain the meat to remove excess oil in a small strainer over a bowl
  3. Put the meat back into the pan on medium high heat add 1/3 cup of red wine to de-glaze the sauce pan scrapping up the little brown bits stuck the bottom of the pan
  4. Keep the browned meat on warm
  5. Heat tomato-basil sauce through – you want it hot to melt the mozzarella
  6. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente …(Having a pinch of firmness to it so it’s not overly cooked)
  7. Drain the pasta and put it back into the same pan
  8. Immediately add 2 cups of hot tomato-basil sauce, 1 lb. of ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella, 3 cups of browned meat and begin to stir
  9. Add another 1-1 1/2 cups of tomato-basil sauce
  10. Mix ingredients until combined and pour out into a serving platter
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan and julienne fresh basil…mangia mangia 🙂

Pulled Beef Taco’s & Mango Salsa


Pulled Beef Taco’s & Mango Salsa

Just wait until you taste the flavors in this pulled beef taco dish that ONLY uses three ingredients! Yes, that’s right we only use three ingredients… red wine, Trader Joe’s Autentica Salsa and a chuck roast that braises in the oven for two and a half hours with the cover off. I almost feel like we are cheating here by only using these three items because it seems as though something this amazing in taste, similar to Boeuf Bourguignon, should involve way more effort and ingredients. I think it’s important here to use the oven instead of a crock pot because the dry heat helps to caramelize the beef really building on all those layers of flavors.

This is the perfect dish for having groups of friends over because it’s a total make ahead dish. You can even make my mango salsa the day before. If you are really in a pinch for time you could always buy fresh made salsa at the store. I personally like to make this homemade pulled beef the morning of the party so that the house fills with all the aromas of the braising chuck roast, red wine and tomatoes. Really gets the juices flowing!

You can use your favorite hard taco shells to serve up the homemade pulled beef, corn and flour tortilla’s or even serve it on a bed of lettuce with shredded cheddar cheese and my mango salsa! I would also offer sour cream and Siracha in the side fixin’s and just let people go to town making their own creations. How fun is that?
You may just want to make my decadent Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake for dessert! You won’t believe how EASY it is to make! You could also try my Chocolate Crackle Cookies that melt in your mouth. Then there always Fresh Berry Granita or Berries in a Dreamy Cream for dessert too. You’ll be able to actually relax and have lots of fun with your family and friends.

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Ingredients for the Pulled Beef Taco’s:

  • 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast (look for some good marbling)
  • 1 bottle of red wine – Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s Salsa – Autentica
  • 3 tbsn olive oil

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º
  2. Slice  the chuck roast into 6 pieces
  3. Salt and pepper the pieces
  4. Add 3 tbsn of olive oil to a large pan on med/high heat and begin to add the beef pieces
  5. Turn up the heat to high and quickly sear all sides til browned – this takes 10 minutes
  6. Add in 3/4 of the bottle of red wine (be careful of steam here) and the whole jar of salsa
  7. Bring to a simmer and pop into the oven for 2 1/2 hrs.
  8. Every hour turn the beef pieces over so the other sides can caramelize
  9. At 2 1/2 hours take the braising meat out of the oven and begin to remove the beef to a dish wear you can start to pull apart the beef pieces
  10. Tilt the braising pan to the side so that you can skim off the fat that rendered out of the meat
  11. Pour the left over juice onto the pulled beef and serve with taco shells and my mango salsa…enjoy!

Ingredients for the Mango Salsa:

  • 2 lg mangoes chopped 1/4″ cubed – (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 avocado chopped 1/4″ cubed (1 cup)
  • 2 med/lg size tomato’s or 5 small tomato’s chopped 1/4″ cubed (1 cup)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion (or yellow) FINELY chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 FINELY chopped jalapeno (2-3 tbsn)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • a dash of Siracha (optional)
  • S & P

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. We really love to eats this salsa with blue chips too
  3. I have also served this salsa up on the tips of endive leaves, and or with a cooked shrimp on top of that ….yum!
  4. I must warn you this salsa is highly addictive……consume at your own risk! LOL

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TIP:  There is an easy way to get the pit out of a avocado which I have displayed in the pictures above.  After running the knife around the flesh of the avocado against the edges of the inside pit… put the knife down and twist the avocado halves and pull apart. Then stick the knife into the pit and do the same thing holding on to the knife with one hand and carefully twist the avocado pit and it will pop right out.  Then knock the pit off onto the board away from your hands.  This can be a little tricky the first time so I would advise that this would be for an adult to try.   Finally, Insert a large spoon and scoop the avocado along the edge of the avocado skin to remove avocado flesh.

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ is real fine homemade gourmet BBQ with a mustard base sauce that makes you pucker, all awhile biting into a succulent piece of pork rib that just melts in your mouth. The savory hickory smoked flavor of their ribs is something you will definitely be back for with out a whole lot of time lapsing in between visits. The mustard-vinegar based sauce just grows on you and you can’t really put your finger on it so you just keep dipping into this sauce for another lick. I recently had the opportunity to eat here when my son Reilly and I met up with his tennis team in South Carolina for his National Team competition.

Well, I tell you, when I travel I want to visit places to eat where their heart and soul is served up to you on a plate.  To taste different foods from other regions is one of the most wonderful opportunities we get when we travel. If you are not into this kind of thing you ought to open your self up and try to appreciate new tastes and ways to prepare foods that have become traditions for people in that region. That’s what makes the world such a diverse place with so many different flavors to soak up.

I decided that during our stay in South Carolina I wanted to accomplish a few of things before heading back. First off, was having Southern BBQ, of course! The second was to get my son, Reilly, to Carowinds Amusement Park in North Carolina which would be an easy task since we were flying in and out of Charlotte and the third was to get in a couple rounds of golf! My friend Luanne, one of the other tennis mom’s, had the same point of view as me on the whole Southern BBQ thing and tasting new foods from where ever you happen to be traveling especially if you are miles away from where you live. On one of the afternoons at tennis practice much of our group was ready to hit up Chic-fil-A AGAIN! I am happy to say that didn’t even enter my mind nor did I go there during our stay in South Carolina. I looked at my friend Luanne , we began to laugh and said lets go, lets do REAL BBQ. She had already looked it up on her phone and it wasn’t far from The Cayce Tennis Facility so off we went in my rental car.

It was the tastiest meal I had on this trip to South Carolina and it totally lived up to my BBQ standards. I ordered the pork ribs, collard greens, and coleslaw and needless to say I wore much of it that mustard based BBQ sauce all over the front of my white with navy blue pinstripe cotton dress I had on. Too funny but it was definitely worth it…should have gotten a picture of that 🙂 The ribs  were moist and falling of the bone tender slathered in their mustard-vinegar sauce and I can’t help but love that hickory smoked flavor. The collard greens were delicious, earthy but not too bitter and the chopped style coleslaw was a refreshing balance with the mustard sauce from the ribs. Each item complemented one another very well! I did buy a bottle of Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ sauce to take home with me. They have quite the assortment of sauces to choose from (shown below) but I bought the one I had that day. To my surprise I was able to get the yellow mustard stain completely out of my dress before it dried.

On the last day Reilly and I headed to Carowinds Amusement Park and he had the time of his life bravely riding on several loop coasters over and over again! We actually found another gourmet BBQ eatery in downtown Charlotte which was a bonus. I was also able to get in two rounds of golf during our stay so it was a wonderful trip all around. Don’t you forget to treat yourself to Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ when you are in Cayce, South Carolina …you won’t regret it!

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Grilled-Marinated Steak on Skewers

Grilled-Marinated Steak on Skewers

These grilled marinated steak strips on skewers are bursting with flavor. You can marinate them for 15 minutes and still get an amazing taste or all day for a deeper, richer taste. These little “steaks on a stick”…what my kids call them, get caramelized on the edges from the brown sugar addition in the marinade. They happen to be one of my kids favorite things to have for dinner!

I first saw this recipe on a grilling special with Paula Deen and Bobby Flay. I did add scallions and a bit more brown sugar and garlic to the recipe as always I need to tweak it to my own perfection. This recipe is unbelievably easy and so delicious once you try it you will have it as a go to marinade especially now that summer BBQ’s are here! You won’t even want to dip with these grilled-marinated steak on skewers into a sauce of sorts because you’ll love them just as they are.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. of Sirloin Tips or ribeye
  • 1/4 cup Tamari Sauce (it’s a darker, slightly more concentrated and thicker then soy) OR 1/2 cup of Kikkoman reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 green onion scallions – 1/4″ slices
  • pkg of wooden skewers
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • OPTIONAL: 1 recipe Green goddess sauce 

Directions:

  1. Put wooden skewers in a dish of water to soak (so they are less likely to burn on the grill)
  2. Slice Sirloin tips or ribeye into strips length wise so they are about 1 1/2″ wide, 1/4-1/2 thick and 3.0″ long pieces
  3. Cut a 15″ x 16″ piece of parchment OR you can use a large Ziploc baggie
  4. Place 4 steak strips in between the layers at a time
  5. Pound out steak strips to 1/8″ thickness…they will almost dbl in size to .125″(1/8″) x 2.25″ x 5.0″
  6. In a medium/large bowl add tamari sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, and scallions and steak strips
  7. Cover and marinate from 15 minutes to all day
  8. Take the marinated steak pieces out and dry them off on Bounty paper towels (you don’t want t paper towels to fall about and stick to the steak strips…so use Bounty)
  9. Take the skewers and pat those dry
  10. Begin to thread each piece of meat with the skewer right down the middle
  11. You will get about 20 skewered steak strips
  12. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt on each side
  13. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to lightly coat
  14. Add the skewered steak to a hot grill lining up the skewers so that the wooden ends overlap over another piece of meat…see photo above for line up
  15. Sear for 3 minutes on each side til caramelized on the edges
  16. Mangia!

You can add some yummy veggies to this meal like:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cold Asparagus Salad

Cold Asparagus Salad

Perfectly Mashed Potatoes and Red Onion

Perfectly Mashed Potatoes and Red Onion