Tag Archives: italian

Recipe: Homestyle Lasagna

27 Jan

This is probably Mr. Bacon’s #1 favourite meal. In fact, I believe after his first bite of this one he said lovingly (to the lasagna, not me), “Oh my god! Why are you so good????”

Yes, lasagna requires a fair amount of prep but my secret is that I split this recipe into three ‘just enough for two people’ mini loaf pans which means zero effort aside from defrosting and heating for subsequent meals. You could easily make this as a family size lasagna in a single 9×13 pan or you could double the batch and make six at once. They freeze wonderfully and in fact, I think they’re better once they’ve had a chance to sit.

Homestyle Lasagna

Homestyle Lasagna | baconavecbacon.com

1 package of FRESH lasagna noodles
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound mild or hot Italian sausage
5-6 cups pasta sauce (use your own or bottled)
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 block chopped frozen spinach, defrosted & drained
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp chopped garlic
salt & pepper
dried parsley

In order to make this as painless as possible, do like the chefs do and get your ‘mise en place‘ ready. That means preparing all of the elements and placing them within reach.

First I brown the ground beef with the oregano, basil, garlic and a bit of salt & pepper. I drain it and set it out on a plate covered in paper towel to drain further.

Then I brown the sausage breaking it up as much as possible. If your sausage comes in a casing vs. loose, remove it from the casing before cooking. When it’s brown, I usually whiz it with the food processor a bit so that the consistency is closer to that of the ground beef. Set it on a plate with paper towel like the beef.

Then defrost the spinach in a medium size bowl in the microwave. Drain as much water as you can from it by pushing on it with a paper towel and allowing the excess water to drip out of the bowl. Add the tub of ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper and 3-4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined and set aside.

Open your pasta sauce, grate your mozzarella and get your pan or pans out. Open the package of pasta and use a very sharp knife to cut through all layers of pasta in three evenly sized portions.

Your kitchen counter should look like this:

Homestyle Lasagna | baconavecbacon.com

Now you can begin building your lasagna one layer at a time. When I’m splitting lasagnas into three pans, I do one layer at a time over all three pans. Here is how to assemble it:

  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the ground beef
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the sausage
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/3 of the ricotta mixture
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the sausage
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the ground beef
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 cup (or more if you desire) mozzarella cheese
  • sprinkle of parmesan
  • sprinkle of dried parsley flakes

Homestyle lasagna | baconavecbacon.com

I like to have a dryer lasagna with defined layers but if you prefer yours more sauce-y, add more sauce at each layer. It’s OK if some of the ingredients fall off of the layers and into the edges of the pan. You won’t be able to tell once it’s been cooked.

When you have all three lasagnas assembled, place the mini loaf pans onto a cookie sheet and place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. The lasagnas should be bubbling and the cheese should be nicely browned.

Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.

For the ones you’re going to freeze, let them cool on the counter while you stuff your face. Then place each lasagna, pan and all into a 1 gallon ziplock freezer bag. Use a straw to suck out any air and seal tightly before popping in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat a frozen one, let it defrost in the fridge overnight or over a couple of days. Then cut into four slices, place onto a plate and heat in the microwave until hot. Trust me, it works better than the oven!

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Recipe: The (Spaghetti) Sauce

28 Nov

Once upon a time, there was a man who would only eat regular Prego brand tomato sauce. You know, that stuff that tastes like ketchup with a few flakes of oregano and basil? Yeah, I don’t get it either, but he loved the stuff. So much so that when I was making this beautiful from scratch meat sauce, he requested that I pick up a jar of Prego for his pasta. Well, there was none to be had at the grocery store so he deigned to try ‘The Sauce’ and his life was forever changed for the better.

That story is mostly true (hi Chad) and while this sauce might not change your life forever, it’s got depth of flavour that the canned stuff can’t touch and if you make a double or triple batch and freeze it in portions, it’s just as easy.

The Sauce

1 pound of ground beef
3 Italian sausages, casings removed
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
3 teaspoons oregano
3 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sugar

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onions, red pepper, salt and pepper. Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sweat it until it becomes fragrant. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook until brown. Add the remaining ingredients except for the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for for an hour.

At this point those who prefer a smooth (vs. super chunky) sauce should break out their immersion blenders. Remove the bay leaf and whizz just enough to remove some of the large pieces. It should not be pureed.  Take this opportunity to taste the sauce and adjust the salt and add the sugar. You may need a bit more or less depending on how acidic the tomatoes are. Put the bay leaf back in.

Simmer at least another half hour but an additional hour and a half to two hours is ideal.

The sauce can be cooled and frozen for 6 months or more and reheated in the microwave. It also keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Recipe: Easy Baked Cannelloni

17 Nov

Any food that requires three types of cheese is good stuff in my book, and cannelloni is no exception. Cannelloni is a tube shaped pasta that is filled and then baked. I like to fill mine with spinach, ricotta and parmesan so I can feel like the healthyness of the spinach counteracts the not-so-good for you parts of the dish.

Now this sounds like a lot of work, but there are a few secrets to make this a 10 minute prep dinner. First, buy ‘no boil’ cannelloni. Several different companies make it and it’ll say ‘no boil’ or ‘oven ready’ right on the package. That means you can stuff the shells while they’re hard, put sauce overtop and call it a day. Second, use a ziplock bag with the tip cut off to ‘pipe’ the filling in to the shells. Third, use your own pre-prepared frozen sauce or use some stuff from a jar.


Easy Baked Cannelloni

1 package ‘no boil’ cannelloni shells
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1 small tub ricotta cheese
3 cups tomato or meat pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
dry parsley
salt & pepper

Set your oven to 375 degrees.

Defrost the frozen chopped spinach in a medium sized microwavable bowl. Squish it down a bit with a spatula and drain off the excess water. Add the tub of ricotta, approximately 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, a dash of salt and some pepper. Stir to combine and transfer the filling to a large ziplock bag.

Snip the tip of the bag off and begin squeezing the filling into the cannelloni shells. Arrange the filled shells into an ungreased 9×9 glass baking dish. You may have to break the tips off of a few shells before filling to fill in the corner of the dish.

Cover the cannelloni with the tomato sauce and top with the mozzarella. Sprinkle a bit of parmesan and a few dry parsley flakes on top.

Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is browning and bubbly. Let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave for lunch the next day.