Archive | February, 2012

my first lasagna.. just so happened to be the world’s best!

27 Feb

Lasagna has long been a favorite of ours but I’ve always been terrified to make it. It just seems so daunting… the sauce, the layers, the TIME.. not appealing! I promised Charlie that I’d make it for Valentine’s Day…then spent Valentine’s Day praying to the porcelain gods, never wanting to cook/eat/smell/taste/walk/live again.

So last night (that’s right, two weeks later) I finally felt brave enough to try again. The results?…AMAZING. I’ll admit, I cheated. I cheated big time. I didn’t make my own sauce 😦 I would make a horrible Italian! But I was exhausted from softball practice (more on the inaugural championship season of the Sultans of Swat later), and didn’t feel like being in a hot kitchen for eleventy billion hours… in all honesty, this lasagna kicked ass anyway. We only have 1 piece left over! I got the original recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Worlds-Best-Lasagna/Detail.aspx, but tweaked it to satisfy my laziness. Don’t be scared! It’s seriously easy!

World’s Best Lasagna

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (24 oz.) jar of Clasico Four Cheese Pasta Sauce
  • 1 (24 oz.) jar of Clasico Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • dried basil leaves
  •  a couple dashes of fennel seeds
  • a couple dashes of Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles (depending on your dish.. I only used 8)
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large sauce pan, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in both jars of pasta sauce. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley (to taste… since I never ever measure my herbs/seasoning spices). Simmer, covered, while making your noodles. (See? This is where I cheated.. This step originally took 2 hours! I made it last like 30 minutes!)
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles (or however many it takes to completely cover the sauce.. I had to cut some of mine into weird shapes) lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a layer of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. To prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese. 
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

This makes quite a bit of lasagna, which was apparently fine by us since we ate the entire thing anyway. Goes perfectly with a salad and breadsticks! Hope ya’ll enjoy!

super easy pork stir fry

21 Feb

I’ve been sick. I’ve been very, very sick! I caught a stomach bug from Ray (Charlie’s nephew) and holy cow it almost killed me. Luckily.. Ray is adorable and I wouldn’t want to catch a bug from anyone else!

Anyway, so that explains my leave of absence. Yes, I was only sick for about 48 hours. Yes, I haven’t written in like over a week. My b 🙂

I made this incredibly easy stir fry last night and it was a hit, so I thought I’d share! Shocker, no pictures. I’m working on it!

 

Pork Stir Fry

1/2 cup chopped green onion 
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1.5-2 lbs pork (I always buy the “wafer slices” from HEB.. they are perfect for stir fry!)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups cooked rice, cold
pepper
salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
pinch of hot pepper flakes or cayenne, to taste
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
Sauté onions, celery, and pork in oil until vegetables are crisp and pork is cooked through.In a bowl, mix the rice, pepper, salt, egg, and soy sauce.

Stir rice mixture into the pork & veggies. Cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.

This recipe is fun because you can try it out with different add-ins, meats, etc. Enjoy!

vinny’s headshot (and baked chicken & artichokes.. but mostly vinny’s headshot)

9 Feb

I was knee deep in gymming, tanning, and laundry-ing a couple of weeks ago (actually I was just catching up with my favorite guilty pleasure, Jersey Shore), lost in a roller coaster of emotion and full of questions.. is Vinny coming back to the house? Will these trainwrecks get a new roommate who will ultimately turn out the be the biggest trainwreck of them all? When I stumbled upon a gem. A true gem, people.

Let me break it down real quick, the roommates ambush Vinny’s mom’s house (he..he..he) to “kidnap” Vinny and take him back to the shore house. All of the roommates are gathered around Vinny’s mom in the kitchen, when the camera goes in for a close up of Vinny himself. What happens next.. is magic.

Forgive me for the grainy image, but thank the Lord that Vinny’s mom, being the proud mother that she is, had Vinny’s headshot on the fridge for all of us to see.

BAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAAH! That is why I will continue to watch. That. Is. Why.

Now, on to the simplest recipe in the world. Literally. The simplest. If you’re like me and you love chicken and would possibly die for an artichoke.. this one’s gonna do it for ya.  I got this recipe from Life’s Ambrosia awhile back and have made it quite a few times.. maybe a million.

Baked Chicken & Artichokes

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the recipe calls for thighs, but I like breasts better.. wink wink)

1 large jar (or two 6 oz jars) of marinated artichoke hearts

Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine the chicken breasts, artichoke hearts and the liquid from the jars in a large ziplock bag (or.. a bowl. Your choice!). Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place chicken, artichokes and 1/4 cup of the liquid into a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2 – 4 minutes to brown the chicken. Enjoy!

monterrey chicken & green beans with lemon zest

8 Feb

First things first.. I totally have to brag!Image.KA-CHOW! Early Valentine’s present from Charles, the man sure does know the way to my heart! As a lifelong Spurs fan, and a newfound Bulls fan, this is sure to be the best night of my life (aside from the Foster the People/Cults/Reptar concert.. that was some good shit!).

Now, on to the good stuff 😉 Here is a quick and super simple recipe that is one of our favorites!

Monterrey Chicken and Green Beans with Lemon Zest

for the chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt & Peppa (had to!)

Adobo seasoning

1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)

4-5 slices cooked bacon (chopped)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Either pound the chicken breasts until they are about an inch thick, or cut them in half (I cut them in half). Season both sides well with salt, pepper, and Adobo. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil, and put those babies in the oven for about 9-10 minutes, then flip them and bake for about 8-9 minutes more. Use your best judgement here. Cook them until the chicken is no longer pink. Once the chicken is baked through, remove from the oven and top each chicken breast with a spoonful of BBQ sauce, chopped bacon, green onions, and cheese. Throw them back in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese gets all melty.

*I usually add chopped tomatoes as well, but didn’t have any on hand and hello, I was already in sweats. No late night HEB trips for this girl.

for the green beans:

1 can french cut green beans

Butter (to taste)

Salt & Peppa (can’t stop, won’t stop)

Garlic salt (to taste)

Zest of 1 lemon

Throw all of your ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and nuke that sucker for about 4 minutes. Just as a disclaimer, I was allergic to green beans as a child and had never even tried them until I got an allergy test done (at age 25) and was informed that I am no longer allergic to green beans. This is the second time I’ve made them, so no judging the elementary school “recipe”.. THEY WERE DELICIOUS ok?

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Goddddddd why can’t my iPhone take better pictures? This thing looked way better in person! I PROMISE! Enjoy!

slow cooker ribs.. because everything I “cook”, is made in a slow cooker.

7 Feb

Am I the only person who watched the half time show last night and completely missed M.I.A. throw the bird?? Literally had no idea until it was all over the news this morning.. but I also had a pina colada with my breakfast taco yesterday morning. Super Bowl Sunday, don’t judge me!

We’ve been having crazy weather in San Antonio lately.. one day it’s hot and sunny, the next day it’s freezing, the next seven days it rains. Can’t complain though, if anyone needs rain, it’s us! Our backyard doesn’t really know what to do with all this rain, it’s looking especially lush (meaning there are no giant patches of dirt where the grass has decided to pack up and look for wetter pastures). Regardless, the threat of rain kept us indoors yesterday and we weren’t able to barbecue. We decided pretty early in the day that an outdoor BBQ was a no-go, so I had plenty of time to throw these deeeelicious ribs in the crock pot! This recipe is incredibly simple and I almost feel silly for posting it, but it’s just so so good! AND I TOOK PICTURES (kind of)!!

Slow Cooker Ribs

1 rack of baby back ribs (you can use beef or pork.. I used pork this time around. I also used two racks since we had company)

1 large-ish onion

1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s… mm mm mm!)

your favorite rib-rub (I use Rudy’s!)

Season your ribs with your favorite rib rub. Rub it in good too! Place your ribs in the crock pot, meat side out.

I had about a half rack left after making my “rib ring” so I stuffed them down into the bottom. Pour BBQ sauce over the ribs until all of the meat is covered. Chop your onion, and place it right in the middle.

Cover the ribs, and let them cook on Low for 4-5 hours. Once the ribs are done, it’s time to broil them. Do not skip this step!! This is what gives the ribs that gooey but crunchy crust! Preheat your oven to broil. While it’s heating up, cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil (you’ll be so happy not to have to scrape that pan later, lemme tell ya). I always place a small baking rack on top of my baking sheet, but I’m sure you could skip that part. Place the ribs on the sheet, meat side down. Using a brush or a spoon, cover the ribs with the sauce from the crock pot. Put them in the oven and let them broil for about 5 minutes. Flip the ribs, and cover them with sauce again. Broil for an additional 5-6 minutes.

 

These ribs are seriously killer. So much so.. that I was too busy eating to take a picture of the “After”. 😦 I swear I’ll get the hang of this! Enjoy!

the chair from hell and a sassy salsa

3 Feb

I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is the worst office chair ever. That is not an exaggeration, it really, truly is. After a year of working here and sitting in this stupid chair every damn day, my back, neck, shoulders, and EVEN MY HEAD hurt constantly. Take it from me.. and do not ever purchase this chair. He’s a bad boy.

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That isn’t my desk by the way.. mine is far more cluttered and “lived in”.

In other news, I completely lost my mind today and found myself ass deep in a Taco Bell gordita for lunch before I even realized what I was eating. Don’t judge me okay? It’s been a long week! I will say though, their conversation-ish salsa has stepped it up a notch. Why does this feel like my salsa is trying to get in my pants?

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….is it Friday yet?

slow cooker ranch pork chops

1 Feb

Okay ya’ll.. this is going to sound crazy.. but I’ve made successful meals two nights in a row. WHO AM I?? Again, you’ll have to imagine what this recipe looks like, since I did not even bother to take pictures before devouring not one, not two, but two and a half pork chops. That’s what’s up.

Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Chops

Ingredients

2 lbs pork chops, boneless 

2 cans Cream of Chicken soup

1 tbsp dried parsley (I’ll be honest.. I never measure herbs. I just eyeball it!)

1 tbsp dill

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Trim the pork chops and season with salt and pepper. Put the chops in the crock pot and cover with both cans of soup. Add the parsley and dill, and give the pot a healthy dash of garlic and onion powder. Cook on Low for about 6-8 hours (I did it for 9 because I worked late.. still good!). I imagine that you can cook them on High for around 4-5 hours, but I think it would make the meat a little tough.. not that I have any idea about that. Once your pork chops are nice and tender, slap them on a plate and cover them with gravy (ie: the liquid that’s left in the crock pot, hello gravy!). Enjoy!