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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs

Homemade SpaghettiO's (1)

What’s better than reliving one of your favorite childhood meals. You know the one I’m talking about, SpaghettiO’s with meatballs! Well, I’ve recreated this dish for you and its super easy to make.

Making homemade sauce and meatballs takes this to dish to a grown-up level that will definitely surprise you, guests. I have a couple of great ingredients tips for the meatballs that are going to blow your mind.

Let’s start by making the meatballs and getting them into the oven before working on the sauce.

Normally I wouldn’t use a store-bought basil pesto, however; in this instance, I’m using it as an ingredient in the meatballs. If you’re going to go this route, buy the basil pesto you get from the refrigerated section, of the grocery store, rather than the jarred version. In some of my earlier posts I’ve mentioned using basil pesto in meatballs really elevates the flavor, and when you think about it, they’re really ingredients you would most likely add to the meatball mixture anyway.

When making the mixture for the ground meat, you want to start with the flavorings in a bowl first. That mixture needs to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, you’ll add your choice of ground meat and combine. I use a fork to slowly combine the wet flavoring mixture to the ground meat. Keep the ground meat as loose as possible, do not over mix. This will ensure you’ll have super tender meatballs. Below are 3 ice cream scoops. The middle one is about an ounce or a 2 tablespoons scoop. For my mini meatballs, I’m using a scoop which is about half the size of a golf ball, for this recipe.

ice cream soops.jpg

 

Yields: 48 meatballs
Equipment: 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients For Meatballs:
2 pounds (your choice of ) ground meat, chicken, turkey, pork, beef, or veal.
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup half and half, room temperature
1/4 cup water, room temperature
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup of a fresh store-bought basil pesto
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano_ Reggiano cheese. (grated Parmesan cheese is fine too)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 heaping tablespoons dried parsley flakes (finely chop and use double this amount of fresh)
1 to 1 1/2 cups of  Italian bread crumbs (you want the consistency of wet sand)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients For Sauce:
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1-15 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 large onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, basil sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, for cooked pasta
2 packages of la Molisana pasta

Directions For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them both with non- stick cooking spray.
Start by placing all the flavorings for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl. When blending in the bread crumbs, start with 1 cup, add an additional 1/2 cup if needed. The finished consistency should look like (and have the texture of) wet sand.

Add in the (your choice of) ground meat. Using a fork to combine the flavorings and meat together, do not over mix.

NOTE: If the ground meat starts to stick to the ice cream scoop, spray with a little non- stick cooking spray so the meat releases easier.

Scoop the meat mixture into your hands, roll into balls, then place the meatballs on the greased parchment paper lined baking sheets. Each baking sheet should hold 24 meatballs. For nice golden brown meatballs, spray the tops of the meatballs with a little non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes.

Directions For Sauce:
While the meatballs are in the oven, start the sauce. On med-high heat add the olive oil to a heavy bottom pot. Add in the onions, cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, brown sugar, and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Next, add the chicken stock. Let the stock come up to a bubble and reduce by half. Once the stock has reduced, add in the tomato products. Turn the heat down to med-low and let simmer until the meatballs come out of the oven.

After the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce. Simmer sauce for another 45 minutes.

Cook 2 packages of the pasta according to the directions. In a large serving bowl, add the well-drained cooked pasta. Add 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese and toss through. Ladle the sauce with meatballs to the pasta and toss through. Add fresh basil leaves. Serve up table side into individual bowls. Garnish each bowl with sprigs of fresh basil. Have extra cheese on hand for your guests.

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (2)

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (3)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Before I get into this post, a video at www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel is going to be posted on my  YouTube channel, for this recipe. There’s a couple of things I want to mention.
1). I take you through a shortened version of this recipe. No one wants to watch an entire video from start to finish on making a Lasagna. The video would run over an hour and a half long and with everyone having busy lives, I thought, that would be just a bad idea. to keep the video short and sweet, I decided to prepare all the components for the lasagna in advance. In the video, I generally go through the steps on how I made each one. The video really concentrates on the assembly and the cooking process.
2). Something else I decided not to mention is adding fresh and dried Thyme to my sautèed mushrooms.  I felt it’s an ingredient that’s a personal preference. Thyme has a slight lemony flavor that I think pairs really well with mushrooms. In my ingredient list below, I include both dried and fresh Thyme but made them optional.
3). It’s important that if you want to make this recipe the ingredients and directions are at the bottom of this post.

After coming out of the oven, lasagna needs to rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting. The reason for that is that lasagna needs time to set up.

The top picture is after it’s been done cooking and rested for 20 minutes. The picture below is after the entire casserole dish had been refrigerated overnight and then a piece was cut.  You can see a big difference in the presentation. Truth be told, I think lasagna is always better the second day.

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (1)

My Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna is loaded with flavor. I promise, you won’t miss the meat! Mushrooms are such a great substitute for meat. Their meaty texture and earthy flavor paired with spinach, fresh mozzarella, and creamy Béchamel sauce takes comfort food to a whole other level.

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Once the spinach has thawed completely, squeeze all the excess water from the spinach. You want the spinach to be as dry as possible.

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (10)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Ingredients:
2 boxes of dried oven ready lasagna noodles ( you may only need a little over 1 box)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, 1 stick for Bechamel sauce, 3 tablespoons for mushrooms, the remainder for greasing baking dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of freshly minced Thyme leaves (optional)
1 tablespoons of dried Thyme (optional)
4 cups whole milk
2 -10 ounce packages of thawed, drained spinach, squeeze out excess water
3/4 of 32 ounce container of Ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (for Ricotta mixture)
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Ricotta mixture)
3 large eggs
1 large package of fresh Mozzarella, slice into 14 rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon for freshly ground nutmeg (store- bought ground is fine)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Bechamel sauce)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for sautéed mushrooms)
2 pounds of sliced sautéed wild mushrooms
4 large cloves garlic minced
1 cup of grated Parmesan
8 ounces (1 cup) store-bought shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup of fresh and finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for Ricotta mixture,
2 tablespoons dried parsley for top

Directions For Spinach:
Thaw both boxes of frozen spinach the day before. Once thawed, drain and squeeze dry any excess water. You want the spinach to be as free of any water as possible. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Directions For Cheeses:
Place store bought shredded Mozzarella cheese in a bowl and set aside. Chop up the Parmesan cheese into small chunks and place them into a food processor. Pulse a few times until you have the consistency of ground cheese. For the fresh Mozzarella, slice the Mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place all prepped cheeses in the frig until needed.

Directions For Ricotta:
In a large bowl add Ricotta, 3 beaten large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, and pepper, and finely chopped fresh flat leave Italian parsley. Mix together until well combined and set aside.

Directions For The Bechamel Sauce:
Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick) in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, whisking constantly until flour has cooked out and becomes blonde in color. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg, and cook over med-low heat, whisking for 3-5 minutes, until thick. To double check on the thickness of the Bechamel sauce, dip a wooden spoon into the sauce. Take your finger and make a line down the back of the spoon, if the sauce stays separate and doesn’t run together, sauce is ready. Immediately transfer to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly over the sauce, preventing a skin from forming, and set aside.

Directions For Sautéed Mushrooms: click the link below for recipe

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

YouTube Video for this recipe is at www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel

Assembling The Lasagna:
Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of the buttered 8 x 12 x 4 inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of oven-ready noodles on top, then ladle more Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle both grated Parmesan and shredded  Mozzarells cheeses. Next, add the half the spinach and mushrooms. To that, add the fresh Mozzarella slices.  Repeat this process once more. Next, add all of the Ricotta mixture and top with another layer of the noodles. Lightly press, with your hands, on the top to make sure all the ingredients are nice and level in the dish. Over that last layer of noodles top with the rest of the Bechamel sauce and a final sprinkle of both grated Parmesan and shredded Mozzarella cheeses. Add a sprinkle of dried parsley over the top for color.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Once out of the oven, let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Directions For Reheating Refrigerated Lasagna:Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pour between 2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup of water over the lasagna (depending on its size). Spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place the sprayed side down over the lasagna and seal tight around the edges of the baking dish.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until lasagna is hot and bubbly.

Directions For Freezing Fully Cooked Lasagna:
Make sure the lasagna has cooled completely, at least an hour and a half. Wrap the entire baking dish in freezer safe plastic wrap. This ensures there are no gaps in the wrap where air can get in and cause freezer burn. Then place foil over the top. Can keep up to three months.

Directions For Cooking Frozen Lasagna:
Transfer the frozen lasagna to refrigerator 24 hours in advance. Before going into the oven, remove the foil and plastic wrap from the baking dish and replace it with new foil that’s been sprayed with some non-stick cooking spray, on the dull side of the foil.  Add  2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup (depending on the size of the lasagna) of water over the top of the lasagna. Place the sprayed side down over the top, seal the edges tight. This will prevent any cheese from sticking to foil. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

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Perfectly sautéed mushrooms can elevate any dish to the next level. Whether you’re using them as a side dish, or maybe in lasagna, their beef-like texture and earthy flavor make the perfect meat substitute. Here’s a little secret I’m really excited about, my new upcoming  video, on how to incorporate sauteed wild mushrooms into a dish that puts a spin on a traditional recipe we all love. www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel

Mushrooms are like little sponges, they absorb flavor really well. The three things that all mushrooms love are butter, garlic, and Thyme. Whether you choose a domestic mushroom, wild mushrooms, or a combination of both, the cooking technique is the same. This is my recipe for the best sautéed mushrooms EVER!

First, I’m going to my hanging herb garden to grab a few sprigs of Thyme.

Thyme

Thyme is one of those herbs that pairs well with so many dishes. When Thyme matures,  the stems become hardy and wood-like. If that’s the case, you only want to use their leaves.  The outer sprigs of my plant are still green and tender so, as I snip off a few sprigs for this dish, I don’t worry if the stems getchopped up along with their leaves.

If you are not able to find fresh Thyme, dried Thyme is perfectly fine. If you’re not a fan of this herb, just leave it out, it’s totally optional.  I love the minty/lemony flavor of thyme, so I’m using both types for this recipe.

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I’m using a combination of domestic and wild mushrooms for this recipe. Let’s talk about the different varieties I have here.

Oyster Mushrooms

This one in the above picture are the Oyster mushrooms. Whenever using mushrooms, take a damp cloth and clean the outside to remove any dirt that may be on them. To cut an Oyster mushroom, use a sharp knife to carefully cut around the firm central stem and the individual caps will fall away. Tip:  Reserve the stems for adding to stock. I’m not slicing the caps any smaller because these are the perfect size.

Trumpet Mushrooms

These are  the Trumpet mushrooms. I just slice of the tip off the bottom of the stem,  the rest of the mushroom I cut up into 2 inch chunks.

Both the Cremini (baby Portobello mushrooms) and white Button mushrooms I slice the same way, with their stems.

Shitake Mushrooms (2)

With Shitake mushrooms, I remove their tough stems and slice the caps.  Save the stems for stock.

Portobello Mushroms

The Portobello mushrooms, I remove the stems and then using a spoon, clean their gills from underneath the cap, then slicing them, fairly thick

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Now we are ready,  the mushrooms are prepped

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Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: Deep sided sauté pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried Thyme
( about 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms total)
2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 pint of white Button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 pints of Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
5 Oyster mushrooms, cleaned, central stem removed and discarded
6 Trumpet mushrooms, bottom tip removed, then sliced into 2 inch pieces
10 Shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted beef stock, or a good red wine

Directions:
In a large deep sided sauté pan ( if you don’t have one of these pans, sauté your mushrooms in two batches, about 5 minutes per batch) on medium heat,  add unsalted butter, olive oil, fresh and dried Thyme. When butter has melted, add the mushrooms, tossing and stirring continuously. As the mushrooms cook they will start to release their water.  Add in the minced garlic and black pepper, again, stirring occasionally.  Once all the their water has evaporated, there will be mushroom bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock and scrape all those delicious bits up using a wooden spoon. Once the mushrooms have really started to brown, this is when you want to salt the mushrooms. Continue stirring and allow the mushrooms to cook, absorbing the remainder of the beef broth and become tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

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Farro Breakfast Bowl

Farro Breakfast Bowl (3)

Farro is an ancient grain from Rome. Its delicious nutty flavor, and slightly chewy texture, reminds me a lot of barley. Farro has been a long time coming. You just couldn’t get your hands on it anywhere! Now, it’s readily available in your local grocery store.

I’m showing two pictures here, one above, topped with an egg, and one below without. That’s where Steve and I have a strong difference of opinion. I’m not even sure if “opinion” is the even the right word. I’m no fan of the fried egg.  To be fair though, eggs are a big part of breakfast and Steve loves them, so that’s the reason for two pictures.

Anyway, this Farro breakfast bowl is easy to make while combining flavor, color, and texture. Here’s how this dish comes together.

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Let’s talk about Farro

 

I took a screenshot of this brand, because it’s the one I’m used for this dish. You know I love to take help from the grocery store, this cooks up in about 25 minutes, and includes some Porcini mushrooms. I’m SOLD!

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Equipment: large saute pan, sauce pan with tight fitting lid.

Ingredients:
1 package of cooked Farro with Porcini mushrooms
1 pound, cooked bulk Italian sausage ( casings removed)
1 small can white shoepeg corn (rinsed and drained)
1 cup diced red bell pepper ( 1 med size pepper)
1 cup diced yellow bell pepper ( 1 med size pepper)
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Pistachios (optional)
7 ounces diced Feta cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped basil
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint
1 fried egg (optional, cooked to the temperature of your choosing)

Instuctions For Farro:
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Follow the instructions on the back of the package. Feel free to use either water or unsalted chicken stock for cooking the Farro. In place of the butter on the package, I use olive oil. Cook the sausage while the Farro is cooking.

Directions:
Start by cooking the Farro. While the Farro is cooking on very low heat, in a large non-stick saute pan on medium heat, start browning off the Italian sausage. I don’t add any oil to the pan because the sausage will release its own fat, plus it browns nicely. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage. Don’t worry about the sausage bits sticking to the pan because once the vegetables are added, they will release their water which will allow those bits to be released. Once the sausage is about 70% cooked, and there is no more pink color showing, add in the vegetables, Kosher salt and black pepper.  Continue stirring, and scraping as much of those brown bits off the bottom of the pan, that’s all flavor! Saute until the onions are translucent, all the vegetables have softened and the sausage is nicely browned and fully cooked.

In a large bowl, add the cooked Farro and shoepeg white corn. Using a slotted spoon, add the sausage and vegetable mixture. Next, add the pistachios (optional),  Parmesan cheese, diced feta cheese, and fresh herbs, then toss.

Finish by adding the Farro mixture into a serving bowl and top with a fried egg, or not. Serve hot!

 

 

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