Lasagna for Two
Tom and I never go out on Valentine’s Day. Everything is so crowded so I make something special at home. Last year we had steak but this year I wanted something else. My son and his wife are in Italy right now for their wedding anniversary as well as Valentine’s day…seriously, how romantic is that?! They have sent me some amazing photos of landscapes, architecture and food and I got very inspired to make something Italian! Here’s a gorgeous shot they took in Como.
I might not be able to eat in Italy this Valentine’s Day, maybe next year, 🙂 but we will eat like we are! If you haven’t read our love story head over here to check it out. I bet it’s not like most you’ve read! Now onto the lasagna!
This is super easy to put together and even though I don’t usually use no-boil lasagna noodles, I did in this dish and it really turned out great! Just go through the list of ingredients and get everything prepared ahead and the recipe will come together much easier. I used my food processor to chop the vegetables and shred the cheese.
Next, you’ll heat the oil until it shimmers and saute the onion for 5 minutes before adding the garlic, cook for another minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Toss in the ground meat and brown it until no longer pink. Stir in the cream and keep cooking until the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes, reserved juice and tomato sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste it and add salt and pepper, I added an 1/8 tsp of each. In a separate bowl combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, basil and 1/8 tsp of both salt and pepper.
Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of loaf pan that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Lay 1 noodle in pan, spread one-third of ricotta mixture over noodle, sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella, and top with 1/2 cup sauce; repeat layering 2 more times. Lay remaining noodle in pan and top with remaining sauce, remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella, and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. I had quite a bit of sauce left-over at the end to pour on top and you might too. Don’t be worried, just pour it all on and it will be perfect! I also wanted a bit more mozzarella on top so I sprinkled a little more on top, I like it ooey and gooey!
Wrap it all up in aluminum foil and bake it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake it for 10 more minutes or until the cheese starts to get brown in spots. Let it stand for 20 minutes before diving in. That’s the hard part but you can do it! 🙂 Set the table, light the candles, pretend you are in Italy! Buon Appetito!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- Salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces meatloaf mix
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus 2 tablespoons, grated
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 4 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in meatloaf mix and cook, breaking up meat, until no longer pink.
- Stir in cream, bring to a simmer and cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and reserved juice and tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
- Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper in bowl.
- Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of loaf pan. Lay 1 noodle in pan, spread one-third of ricotta mixture over noodle, sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella, and top with 1/2 cup sauce; repeat layering 2 more times. Lay remaining noodle in pan and top with remaining sauce, remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella, and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
- Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake until sauce bubbles lightly around edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until hot throughout and cheese is browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped basil if desired.
Pasta with Bacon, Butternut Squash and Sage for Two
Butternut squash and sage are two ingredients that say winter to me and I love them both, but together they are a marriage made in heaven! Add bacon and you’ve got a happy little family of yummy flavors!
Cooking the sage in the rendered bacon fat makes the perfect herb infused oil for sauteing the squash.
There are a few tricks to coaxing the most flavor out of butternut squash and one is caramelizing it. It helps to dry out some of the wateriness of the squash and brings out some of its inherent sweetness, adding butter and sugar help to bring out the sweet nutty notes of the squash even more.
The scallions add some brightness to the dish and the nutmeg adds just the right spice or earthiness to the dish. Adding parmesan and a little lemon juice at the end along with toasted almonds for some textural crunch really brings the whole dish together!
- 4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 large fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon minced
- 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 pound penne or other short, tubular pasta
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove bacon and reserve.
- Cook whole sage leaves in rendered fat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove sage leaves and reserve.
- Return infused bacon fat in skillet and turn to high heat adding olive oil to make one TBSP of oil if needed and heat until shimmering.
- Add squash in even layer and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spotty brown, 3-4 minutes longer.
- Add butter and allow to melt, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, nutmeg, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and minced sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add broth and bring to simmer; continue to cook 1-3 mintues or until squash is tender,
- Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer back to Dutch oven.
- Add squash mixture to pasta; stir in 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and reserved bacon-sage mixture, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta liquid. Serve with the sliced almonds and more parmesan cheese.
- I double this recipe for company!
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with Slaw and Spicy Aioli for Two
I was feeling sorry for myself because there are no Chik-Fil-A restaurants close to where I live now. When I lived in Florida I was a regular there and I was really starting to crave one, so I set out to find the best chicken sandwich recipe ever! I found it. This isn’t anything like the Chik-Fil-A sandwich though, it’s way better. I would even say that once you try this chicken sandwich you will measure every other chicken sandwich by this one! It’s a towering sandwich once all of its components are assembled on top of one another and just looking at it made me happy! 🙂
First, lets talk about the slaw. If you’ve been eating it on the side with your meal it’s time for a new rule: Slaw doesn’t go with the sandwich, it goes on the sandwich. This slaw isn’t mixed with heavy mayo either, it’s crunchy with a bright acidic kick that really balances the more fatty goodness of the meat and aioli.
Next we’ll talk about the chicken! It’s dredged in seasoned flour, then dipped in buttermilk and then back in the flour again. When you bite into this there is an audible crunch. There’s no sign of soggy breading here! The bread and butter pickles add the right sweet and tanginess to the aioli which is only slightly spicy…just enough to keep you wanting more. The bun is buttered and then grilled on a skillet to golden perfection! All of these parts add up to one unbelievably great chicken sandwich! I promise!
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 to 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, depending on how hot you like it
- 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
- 1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickle slices, plus 1/8 cup pickle juice
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper, don't skimp!
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, if the are very thick then use just one and halve it crosswise.
- Peanut or vegetable oil (for frying)
- 2 white sandwich rolls
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- Mix garlic, mayonnaise, and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl; cover and chill. Toss onion, jalapeño, cabbage, pickles, and pickle juice in a large bowl to combine; cover and chill.
- Whisk flour, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. Pour buttermilk into another shallow bowl. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Dip in buttermilk, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge again in flour mixture, shaking off excess.
- Pour oil into a large heavy skillet to a depth of 1/2". Prop deepfry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 350°F.
- Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet; season with salt. Spread cut sides of rolls with butter. Heat another large skillet over medium heat. Cook rolls buttered side down until browned and crisp, about 1 minute.
- Spread with spicy mayo. Build sandwiches with rolls, chicken, and cabbage slaw.
- If you have a deep fry thermometer use it to measure the temperature of the oil.
I have been making this chili for awhile now and like I said in my post Cook-Off Chili for Two, everyone always asks for the recipe, my family especially! I get called or emailed several times when fall kicks in with family asking for the recipe when I’ve given it to them a dozen times! They are always just tossing the email that had the recipe or lost the paper they wrote it down on so when I said I was starting a food blog, the first thing they all said was, PLEASE put that chili recipe up so I can just go to your site and get it whenever I want! Hahaha! That makes me laugh! So…here it is! I think I might actually miss getting those email requests and phone calls now!
This recipe serves 6-8, but you can easily double it if you’re hosting a party and need to feed a crowd, just use a big pot! Chili is such an effortless way to entertain. Put everything out and let everyone help themselves and put whatever they want on top. Some topping options are shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, chopped jalapeno, sliced ripe olives. Serve it with tortilla chips or even rice or elbow macaroni noodles!
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp gound cumin
- 2 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 oz) can Mexican-style chili beans, undrained
- 1 cup of water
- 1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
- 1/2 cup of salsa (jalapeno if you can find it)
- 3 to 4 Tbsps chili powder
- 1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans, drained
- 1 (12 oz) beer
- 1 (2 1/2 oz) can sliced ripe olives, drained
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Hot sauce to taste
- Shredded Cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips
- Cook ground beef, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 1/4 tsp cumin in a Dutch oven until meat is browned, stirring to crumble meat. Drain and set aside.
- Saute chopped onions, garlic, and jalapeno pepper in oil until tender.
- Add ground beef mixture.
- Stir in tomato sauce, chili beans, water, tomato paste, salsa, and 3 to 4 Tbsps chili powder.
- Cover and suimmer 20 minutes.
- Add kidney beans and next 5 ingredients, stirring well. Simmer 15 minutes or until ready to serve.
- Serve chili with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.
- You can double this for a crowd.
Orange and Red Onion Salad for Two
This salad is so easy to put together but looks so special. There is nothing ordinary about it! I think marinating the red onions and oranges in the vinaigrette really takes this salad to the next level but the candied slivered almonds…they take it over the top! Don’t leave the almonds out! They are so very easy to do, I candied them in minutes. I could just eat them all by themselves!
Go ahead and make the vinaigrette for the salad, you can make this ahead if you like and just keep it in the fridge until you are ready to make the salad.
Peel and slice your navel orange. I have an easy way of peeling them. Cut off each end of the orange and then score your orange with a knife cutting all the way through the outer rind in one-inch intervals and then just peel the sections you scored away, so easy!
Slice your red onion super thin. I used my mandoline to get thin slices. Big bites of red onion can be overwhelming! Put both the orange slices and red onion in the vinaigrette to marinate for 10 minutes. While that’s marinating get your slivered almonds out and mix up the sugar, cayenne and salt. Once the almonds barely start to turn golden toss in the sugar mixture and stir until the almonds are browned and nicely coated with sugar. Arrange your salad mix (I just used a baby greens mix) and top with the oranges, red onions and some of the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the candied almonds and chives. EAT! 🙂
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Juice of 1/2 an orange
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 naval orange, peeled, sliced into rounds
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 cups mesclun salad greens or baby greens
- Minced fresh chives
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp sugar
- Salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
- Whisk together vinegar, honey, Dijon, and orange juice in a small bowl for the vinaigrette. Drizzle in oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Marinate orange and onion slices in vinaigrette in a shallow dish (such as a pie plate) for 10 minutes.
- Toast almonds in butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. When barely golden, add sugar, salt, and cayenne. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until almonds are browned and coated with sugar. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool.
- To assemble, arrange greens on a platter; top with orange and onion slices, and desired amount of vinaigrette. Sprinkle with chives and candied almonds.