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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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

Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Can you think of anything better than a Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese? I’ll bet your answer is no, and I would agree.

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Cook Time: 50 minutes
Equipment: 9 x 13 baking dish

Ingredients:
1 box or pound of Cavatappi (or elbow macaroni)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter plus 6 tablespoons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12-ounces Gruyère  cheese, grated (4 cups)
8-ounces white Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
4-ounces Mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sweet Paprika (substitute smoked paprika)
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes, plus extra for garnish
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish on top (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to the instructions of the box, 6-8 minutes, drain really well.

At the same time, heat the milk and heavy cream in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Melt 8 tablespoons (1-stick) in a large (6-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes while whisking, until it’s light blond in color. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the pepper, Kosher salt, and grated nutmeg, continue whisking until sauce thickens and becomes smooth.

Off the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, stir in the Mascarpone first, then the Gruyére and white Cheddar. Add the cooked macaroni, and half the parsley, stir well. Pour into a 9 x 13 buttered baking dish.

Topping:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the Panko breadcrumbs, Paprika remaining parsley and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole. *Dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and macaroni is browned on top. Optional, sprinkle finely shredded Parmesan cheese and parsley over the top while hot.

Serve hot.

*Dot: To scatter bits of butter over food.

 

Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes

 

 

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Homemade Lasagna

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Do I dare to say that we all love Homemade Lasagna? I’m going to say YES. This recipe is going to utilize using leftover meat-filled tomato sauce.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I make a pot of meat-filled tomato sauce, Sunday Gravy as my nana used to call it, I always make too much. I’ve either put the sauce in the frig, thinking to myself, I’m going to make something with this sauce tomorrow and just never get around to it.

So often, life can get really busy and time can get away from us. Not anymore! Making two meals from the same meat-filled tomato sauce does take some planning but, having the sauce ready makes pulling together a Homemade Lasagna much easier. I don’t ever have to think about how I’m going to use my leftover meat sauce anymore. I’m just going to make my Homemade Lasagna.

How To Freeze Uncooked Lasagna:
Once you make the lasagna, you can freeze single-serving portions in a freezer-safe storage container or freeze the entire pan. If you decide to freeze your lasagna, cover the entire lasagna, baking dish included (most ceramic dishes are freezer and baking safe), tightly with several layers plastic wrap making sure there are no gaps where air could get in and cause freezer burn. This way it will keep as fresh as possible until your ready to bake.

Note: It’s important that you don’t plan on freezing lasagna made with ingredients, including the meat, that’s been previously frozen. Food that’s frozen more than once also suffers when it comes to flavor and texture

When making lasagna, because there are so many components to the dish it can seem daunting. Just by eliminating, having to make, one of the ingredients makes this dish so much easier. The link for Meat-Filled Tomato Sauce is at the bottom of this post.

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I’m using Grana Padano cheese for this recipe. It’s very similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano in flavor and texture but not quite as expensive. The cheeses come from two different regions of Italy which, without getting down into the weeds, basically means there’s a difference in the grass the cows eat. There’s a great piece called Grana Padano v. Parmigiano-Reggiano at www.talkoftomatoes.com. helped me understand how and when I could substitute one cheese for the other.

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This style of lasagna sheets is my favorite. I like the flat thin pasta style for my lasagna. They’re much lighter in texture than the traditional lasagna sheets and they’re oven-ready. This is awesome, I’ve eliminated two steps while making this dish.

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 12 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sautépan, 9 x 13 x 3 baking dish, 6-quart Dutch oven, 6-quart saucepot,2 large mixing bowls, ladle, rubber spatula

Ingredients:
2 boxes of Barilla oven-ready lasagna sheets, (safe to not to run out of sheets)
10 cups of meat-filled tomato sauce (for my recipe, meat-filled tomato sauce, click the link below, baked Cavatappi)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, (2 tablespoons for the mushrooms, 4 tablespoons for the *roux, 2 tablespoons to *dot the top of the lasagna, and 2 tablespoons to grease the baking dish)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, freshly grated
2-quarts whole milk, heated
1 1/4 cups of Kraft shredded Mozzarella, reserve 1/4 cup for Bechamel sauce
1/2 cup of freshly grated Grana Padano, reserve 1/4 for the top
1-15 ounce container whole milk Ricotta
1 large egg, beaten
4 tablespoon flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped, reserve 2 tablespoons for the top
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Part 1
. Leftover Meat-Filled Tomato Sauce.
Click the link below, for my Baked Cavatappi recipe.

Part 2. Sautéed Portobello Mushrooms.
In a large sautépan on medium-high heat melt unsalted butter with olive oil. To the pan add the sliced Portobello mushrooms and dried thyme, stir and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until brown. Once the mushrooms have browned and released all their liquid add 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Transfer the sautéed mushrooms to a bowl. Set aside. It’s time to move on to the next step.

Part 3. Bechamel Sauce.
To make the Bechamel sauce, start with a large saucepot on medium heat, heat the milk to just under the boiling point. In a Dutch oven (or heavy bottom pot) melt unsalted butter. Add all-purpose flour whisking together until the flour and butter become smooth, blonde in color, and paste-like (this is what’s known as a *roux), 2 minutes. Add freshly grated nutmeg then slowly add the heated milk, continuously whisking. Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Switch to a wooden spoon continuing to stir as the sauce thickens, coating the back of a spoon. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Off the heat add the shredded Mozzarella, grated Grana Padano cheese, and 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, stir to combine and set aside.

Part 4. Ricotta Mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, add whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 beaten large egg, 1 tablespoon of fresh finely chopped Italian parsley, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Mix together until combined. Set aside.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 x 3 baking dish.
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

Part 5. Assemble The Lasagna.
Start with 2 ladles of meat-filled tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking sheet. Spread the sauce around evenly to cover the entire bottom of the baking dish. Place the lasagna sheets down over the sauce for the next layer. If the sheets don’t fit perfectly, it’s ok if you need to slightly overlap them so they fit the size of the baking dish. Refer to the pictures above. Next, ladle the Bechamel cheese sauce, Using a rubber spatula, evenly spread the cheese sauce over the lasagna sheets. Add the slice sautéed Portobello mushrooms on top, placing them so they’re evenly set throughout the layer. Lay another layer of lasagna sheets, then ladle the ricotta mixture on top. Use a rubber spatula to gently spread the ricotta mixture over the lasagna sheets. To the ricotta layer, evenly add 1/2 a cup of the Mozzarella cheese. Lay on the final layer of lasagna sheets. Ladle the remaining meat-filled tomato sauce spreading it evenly all over the top. Sprinkle remaining shredded Mozzarella and remaining Grana Padano cheese over the top. Dice the remaining butter into tiny pieces and *dot the top the lasagna.

Tip: Spray the dull side of the aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray. This will prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.

Part 6. Baking Lasagna
Bake covered
for 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, golden brown and bubbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish the top with the remaining chopped parsley.

Let rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. This way it will have set.

Directions For Baking Lasagna Once It’s Been Frozen:
Preheat the oven to 375- degrees F.
When you’re ready to bake the lasagna start by defrosting it overnight in the refrigerator. If it’s still not completely thawed at that point, take it out of the frig, remove the plastic wrap. Allow the lasagna to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until heated through and bubbly around the edges.

*Roux: A roux is flour and fat (butter) cooked together and used to thicken sauces.
*Dot: To scatter butter in bits over food.

 

Baked Cavatappi

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Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Strata just mean a layered casserole. They can be sweet or savory. I guess you could say it’s almost like a type of bread pudding. Anytime I’m looking for a recipe that will feed at least six people my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom And Asparagus Strata is perfect. Not to mention, it’s comfort food in every sense of the word. Let’s start from the beginning…

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I like spinach to keep its beautiful green color, so I immediately remove the pan from the heat. Once the spinach wilts, toss in the chopped thawed asparagus. Remember this dish still has to go into the oven.

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Prep Time: 30 to 40 minutes (time includes the cooking of all the ingredients going into the Strata)
Cook Time: 45 to 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sautépan, 9 x 13 baking dish, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans,  1 medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, Chef’s knife

Ingredients:
unsalted butter for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of thawed frozen asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
1 loaf of Ciabatta bread, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes and toasted
Dozen large eggs, room temperature
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half, room temperature
4-ounces grated Gruyere cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
4-ounces grated Fontina cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300-degrees F.
Butter casserole dish for the Strata. Next cut the Ciabatta cubes up into 2-inch cubes, spread them out on sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes or until dry at 300 degrees. While the bread is in the oven start the filling.

On medium heat, add the olive oil to a large sautépan. Next, add the Fresno chili and garlic, sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves. Sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes or until browned. Season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

To the pan, add the sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up with a wooden spoon. Add the rosemary, fennel seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Sauté until all the sausage is brown and cooked through, around 10 minutes. Next, add the fresh spinach leaves. Toss the leaves through until just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add in the thawed chopped asparagus pieces and toss those through. Set the filling aside.

For the bread, I used a Ciabatta. Slice the Ciabatta then cut into 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes onto two rimmed sheet pans. Spread the cubes out into one even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread cubes become dry and style-like. Let the bread cubes cool for 10 minutes.

Adjust oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Start the custard by adding to medium-size mixing bowl the eggs, milk, grated cheeses, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, whisk until combined.

In another large mixing bowl add the sausage mixture and cooled bread cubes. Gently toss to combine. Pour the custard over the sausage and bread cubes.

Gently fold the ingredients with the custard. Allow the mixture to sit for around 10 minutes giving the bread cubes a chance to absorb the custard, or at least most of it. In the meantime, butter the baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime butter, a 9 x 13 baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime get a deep casserole dish and lightly butter it all over. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

After the 10 minutes, pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Drizzle (around a 1/4 cup) of olive oil all over the top to ensure the bread browns evenly.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until you can see no more liquid coming up on the sides or up through the center. Once a wooden skewer comes out clean, the dish is done. The Strata should be nice and golden brown on the top.

Allow the Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata to rest for 20 minutes before cutting.

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