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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Perfect Indoor Cookout

I love my apartment! The only thing missing is a yard...or a porch...or a balcony. Basically, no outdoor space whatsoever. Not to worry! With a few handy kitchen hacks (and a gas stove), you can bring the outdoors to you!

Make a vegetable packet
Back in scouts, we would make up packets like this and throw them on the campfire. You can do the same with your gas range. For mine, I used a combination of quartered purple/white potatoes and a chopped onion. I added 1 Tbsp olive oil, then some salt, pepper, and herbs. Wrap your veggies up TIGHT using 2-3 layers of foil. You can cook this right over the stove for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Grill meat in a grill pan just like you would on the grill...
For added ambiance, wear an apron and use a coozy!

Just for fun, you can use Christmas lights as regular lights. Candles are nice too. Your cat can help with any additional prep work; they're very good at helping.

     I like to keep it seasonal and use bright colors. Of course, the important part is the taste! With a little imagination and a lot of love, you can throw a perfect outdoorsy cookout in your own kitchen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lovely Lasagna

This lasagna is a real crowd pleaser; it's not messy, and it doesn't contain ricotta. I came up with it because I wanted a nice traditional Italian lasagna, but I wanted the result to be firm and sliceable. Adding the eggs to the traditional bechamel works wonders.

The ragu:
2lbs ground beef
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Crushed red pepper to taste, optional

The bechamel:
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
dash of nutmeg
3 eggs

15 lasagna noodles
4 cups mozzarella cheese (or pizza blend)

Brown the ground beef and drain fat. Heat olive oil. Cook onion and garlic until they begin to turn translucent. Add browned beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and seasonings. Allow sauce to simmer for an hour.
To make bechamel, melt butter in a saucepan and stir in flour. Allow this to cook down for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly stir in milk and seasonings. Cook sauce until thickened, then remove from heat and allow to cool COMPLETELY before beating in eggs.
Cook lasagna noodles as directed. You will need 12 for assembly, but cooking 15 allows room for mess-ups.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Assemble lasagna as follows, using 4 noodles for each pasta layer:
Ragu, pasta, ragu, cheese, bechamel, pasta, ragu, cheese, bechamel, pasta, thin layer of ragu, cheese.
Bake covered for 20 minutes then uncovered for 20 minutes.

(special thanks to miss Techno for helping me blog.)