Easy Triple-Cheese Lasagna

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This is a very good lasagna.  What we found interesting was the day we made it, it was just in the “okay/good” pile.  The next day, after a night in the fridge, it morphed into something you would taste at a fancy, exotic Italian restaurant.  It got 100x better!  It had more depth of flavor and didn’t taste bland at all.  **We used 85% ground beef, ricotta, and shredded Italian cheese.  For the ricotta, don’t use fat free ricotta, at least use the medium fat one like we did – I think the ricotta was 6g fat a serving.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 6 uncooked dried lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded Italian cheese blend or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 2 T. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set oven at 350 degrees and preheat.
  2. Spray 2 qt. rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Spoon 1 cup crushed tomatoes into baking dish.
  4. Cook meat in large skillet, drain.
  5. Stir in remaining undrained tomatoes, bring to boil.
  6. Place 2 uncooked noodles in dish, top with 1/3 of the meat/sauce mixture and 1/3 of the Italian cheese.
  7. Repeat layers.
  8. Top with cottage cheese (preferably ricotta!),  then remaining noodles, meat mixture, and Italian cheese.
  9. When in doubt, if that’s confusing, JUST KEEP LAYERING! LOL
  10. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 for 1 hour.  Put a jelly roll pan under the baking dish to collect any spillage.
  11. Let stand 15 minutes to cool (or you’ll burn your mouth!)
  12. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Honey-Mustard Chicken Wings

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This is a slow cooker recipe, but I adapted it (see option 2) to make it in the oven when I ran out of time one evening.  It really was great!  We don’t like spicy brown mustard (or many mustards) so we just quartered the mustard ingredient and the flavor still came through and worked well.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs. chicken wings
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 T. spicy brown mustard (we reduced it to 1/2 T.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 thin lemon slices (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat broiler.  Cut off wing tips, discard.  Cut each wing at joint to make 2 pieces.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place on broiler pan.  Broil 4-5 inches from heat about 5 minutes per side.

SLOW COOKER OPTION 1)

  • Transfer wings to slow cooker.
  • Combine honey, BBQ sauce, mustard, and garlic in small bowl.  Mix well.  Pour sauce over chicken wings.  Top with lemon slices, optional.  Cover, cook on LOW 4-5 hours.
  • Before serving, remove and discard lemon slices.
  • Serve wings with sauce.

OR QUICK OPTION 2)

  • Transfer wings to large baking dish that has sides.
  • Combine honey, BBQ sauce, mustard, and garlic in small bowl.  Mix well.  Pour sauce over chicken wings.  Top with lemon slices, optional.  Cover, cook at about 375 degrees for about an hour, or until thermometer reads safe.
  • Before serving, remove and discard lemon slices.
  • Serve wings with sauce.

 

“Pizza” Shepherd’s Pie

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ABOVE: With half the cheese on, to show how it’s layered.

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What I love about AllRecipes Magazine is that I see recipes I would not have known to seek out.  This was one of them.  The idea of a meaty/cheesy pie interested me and I especially loved that it was comprised of only five ingredients!  I was expecting it to turn out “just okay”, but it stunned us.  It tasted like a Chicagoan deep dish pizza!  We will assuredly make this at least once a month.  I made it with a homemade “quick” pizza dough.  Please give this a try!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with garlic and basil (or Italian seasonings), well drained.
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella (next time I’d double that to be more pizza-y!)
  • 3/4 lb. frozen pizza fough, thawed – or homemade.

DIRECTIONS:

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Cook and stir beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain beef and return to skillet.
    3. Add tomatoes and black pepper to beef; bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
    4. Spoon mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
    5. Scatter mozzarella cheese over the top. Stretch pizza dough over top with your hands, pressing it onto the edge of the pie plate.
    6. Bake in the preheated oven until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
    7. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Eggless Cheesecake

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I’ve been making this eggless cheesecake for over a decade.  It’s creamy, delicious, and shockingly eggless.  This is a recipe you really need to make sure you make without distractions.  Put the child(ren) to bed, get the pets out of the room, quiet your phone, don’t check texts, turn off the TV, and focus on the measurements, because they aren’t the normal amounts used in other baking recipes, and this recipe is intermediate to advanced in skill.  One time with my son in the room, I added the entire can of sweetened condensed milk instead of 1/2 cup, it puffed up too high and was ruined.  So please pay attention.  This recipe is worth it.  If you have citrus or I.C. issues, you can omit the two lemon items, but it’s sadly so much better with them!  Enjoy!

Baking Knowledge level: Intermediate to advanced.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chocolate or graham crackers to make the crust (make it yourself like I do; see directions).
  • Four 8 oz. bars regular or Neufchâtel cream cheese, room temperature (I do a mixture of 2 regular bars and 2 reduced fat bars)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (Approximately half of a standard 14 oz. can, but measure it!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 T. pure 100% vanilla extract (you’re not still using that fake stuff, are you? 🙂 )
  • 1 cup sour cream

Necessary Tools:

  • A SPRINGFORM PAN like this, don’t use anything else
  • A jelly roll pan for underneath the springform pan
  • Aluminum foil

 

DIRECTIONS:

To make your own graham cracker crust:

  1. Make sure your springform pan’s latch is closed.  Read the directions for your pan before beginning.
  2. Using aluminum foil, cover the outside of your springform pan to prevent leaks.  Bring aluminum foil up 1″ around the sides of the pan and make an aluminum foil barricade just in case of a small leak.  Then place your springform pan (with foil around the bottom outside of it) onto a jelly roll pan to ensure if it leaks, even though it shouldn’t, you don’t have a large oven mess to clean up.  Set aside.
  3. Note: If your pan ends up leaking after baking, try to rescue your cheesecake and throw out the pan.  Life is too short for junky & frustrating bakeware.  Treat yourself to a new leakproof pan on Amazon or where ever you prefer to buy it.
  4. Crush or food process enough chocolate or honey graham crackers to make about 1/2″ medium size crumbs on the bottom of your Springform pan.  Melt approximately 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, let cool slightly.  Using your clean fingers, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the cooled melted butter in the bottom of your un-greased 9″ springform pan.
  5.   Pat graham cracker and butter mixture and tamp down until the entire bottom of the springform pan is covered in crumbs and compacted as best you can.
  6. Now set aside and finish your cheesecake filling below.

To make the cheesecake:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl with a handheld mixer, or in your stand mixer, beat everything except sour cream until smooth approximately 3 minutes.
  3. Add sour cream and blend well.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan (foil on outside bottom, with graham/butter crust on the bottom of the pan).
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour on center rack.  Thin knife inserted into outside of cake should come out clean when cake is done.  If it doesn’t, I usually add 10 minutes and re-test.  Middle of cake will still be creamy.
  6. Turn off oven and open oven door.  Let cake sit in oven for another 2-3 hours to cool slowly.  (DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!)
  7. Remove pan from oven after it has cooled.  Loosen sides of pan with knife.  Unlatch your Springform pan to open it up and remove sides.
  8. Place cake, still on thin metal pan base, on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely at room temperature before placing in fridge.  Lightly cover with plastic wrap if needed (monitor condensation).
  9. Refrigerate a few hours before serving.

Campfired Up Sloppy Joes

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This is a cool recipe I found in my CrockPot slow cooker book that I love.  It takes your classic sloppy joe ingredients and adds flavorful, easy add-ins like baked beans, bell pepper, and BBQ sauce.  It’s really better than I thought it’d be and very yummy!  It’s extremely simple – look at the directions!  This is one you could throw together in the morning in about 10-15 minutes and have a scrumptious meal come dinner time.  We’ll definitely make this again!

Makes 4-6 servings.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (or use powder)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed (or use powder)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 can (8 oz.) baked beans
  • 6 kaiser rolls, split and warmed
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional, but great!)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Brown ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic 6-8 minutes in large skillet, stirring to break up meat.  Drain and discard excess fat.  Transfer beef mixture to slow cooker.
  2. Combine ketchup, BBQ sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and chili powder in small bowl.  Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Add baked beans.  Stir well to combine.  Cover, cook on HIGH 3 hours.  (I did low and it was fine).
  4. To serve, fill split rolls with 1/2 cup sloppy joe mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese, if desired, before topping sandwich with roll lid.