Country Number Two On My Food Journey Is

Korea

North Korea

South Korea

For these regions I chose

Beef Bulgogi

Several years back when I was watching food travel shows, there were a few that featured Korea and their mouth watering cuisine, especially their BBQ. I really wanted to try it. It just looked so tasty and was something that I had not tried before. You know those moments when you’re watching something about food and you find yourself mesmerized and salivating, like you’re a hairs breath away from licking the screen because it just looks that good? That’s how much I really wanted to try some of the BBQ. I mean, how can you not be lured by the sight of meat being grilled to smoky perfection. Then later I started hearing about Bulgogi. I admit, I had never heard of bulgogi…much less knew how to pronounce it… until I started watching Korean shows on Netflix (oh, how I miss you Sisyphus now that I’ve binged watched all of your season 1). Bulgogi most often would come up as a favorite dish or a must dish to try. It sounded so tempting. So when I started doing this food journey, I looked it up and oh my did it look so tasty, not to mention so easy. I knew I had to try this one for sure.

Bulgogi literally means fire meat. It is a dish of thinly sliced marinated meat that is traditionally grilled, but can be pan fried in a very hot pan as well. Bulgogi is believed to date back to the Goguyeo era (37 BC-668 AD) and was beef that had been grilled on skewers. During Joseon Dynasty it was called neobiani meaning thinly spread and was prepared for the wealthy and the nobility. Even though bulgogi originated in North Korea, It is now very popular in South Korea as well. It now can be found anywhere from upscale restaurants to pan ready kits at the local supermarket.

I can understand why it has become so popular. The flavor of the marinated meat is amazing. The marinade is a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. This gives the marinade that nice slightly sweet garlicky flavor. Some recipes also include ginger, scallions and a grated Asian pear. I didn’t include the pear in mine because I don’t like pears and I’m sure an Asian pear is hard to find here. Although some substitute a grated apple or kiwi. This marinade is also what helps tenderize the meat after it’s cut into thin strips, which helps the meat to cook quickly and still have that wonderful tenderness. The meat is usually made from Sirloin or other cuts of prime beef. Ribeye seems to be commonly used as well. Some recipes, as all seem to do, vary from chef to chef, but the basics are pretty much the same. This dish is sometimes served with rice, and accompanied by egg soup or Kimchi. I just served mine with rice.

I highly recommend try this dish. Not only is it delicious, but it is so easy and does not take long to cook. I used a cast iron pan to cook mine, but you can grill them as Bulgogi was first intended.

Here’s what you need:

*1 1/2 LB sirloin or ribeye steak

*1 TBS canola oil

*1 onion coarsely chopped

*1 green onion thinly sliced +more for garnish

*1/2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds +more for garnish

For the Marinade:

*1/4 cup soy sauce

*2 large cloves of garlic, grated or minced. I preferred grating this with a microplane grater

*1 1/2 TBS brown sugar

*1/2 tsp. sesame oil

*1/2 tsp. dried ginger or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger

Wrap steak in plastic wrap and freeze 1 to 2 hours. This will help with cutting the steak.

Right before the steak is ready to come out of the freezer, in a small bowl combine the ingredients for the marinade; set aside.

Take out the steak and blot dry with paper towels.

With a sharp knife slice against the grain in thin strips.

Place the steak strips in a deep dish or a zip top bag.

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Pour the marinade over the steak.

Mix the marinade well covering all of the beef.

I like to use my hands to do this because I feel I can get all of the beef covered better this way….not to mention it’s good to play with your food sometimes.

Cover the dish and marinate for at least 4 hours or over night.

In a cast iron pan add the canola oil and heat to medium high heat; add in the onions and green onions.

Cook for about 3 minutes stirring frequently or until onions are at desired tenderness.

Add in the beef with the marinade and the sesame seeds.

Continue to cook stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the beef is just cooked.

Garnish with more sesame seeds and green onions.

Serve with rice is desired.

Enjoy!

Taco Casserole

Want something a little different for taco Tuesday? This takes some of your favorite taco fillings and brings them together in a delicious casserole. It’s layered with black refried beans, tasty seasoned beef, salsa, cheese, crunchy tortilla chips and more cheese. If you have never tried black refried beans, you really should. It’s a nice change from regular refried beans.

My hubby actually loved the idea of a taco casserole so much, that he helped decide what should go in it to make this a really satisfying dinner. You can make this as mild or as spicy as you like. You can add some of your favorite taco toppings like sour cream or guacamole. This is even great to make ahead of time, just save adding the tortilla chips until the day you want to cook it.

Of course it doesn’t have to be Tuesday to enjoy this taco casserole. This might become a favorite during any night of the week. I know it has at our house.

Here’s what you need:

*1 lb ground beef

*1/2 bag tortilla chips

*1 can black refried beans

* 1 jar of salsa mild, medium or hot; I used medium

*2 cups of shredded cheese; I used cheddar and Monterey Jack

*fresh of dried cilantro for garnish (optional)

Taco seasoning ( you can add the premixed taco seasoning if you prefer)

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*2 tsp. chili powder

*1 tsp. garlic powder

*1 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. cumin

*1 tsp. coriander

*1 tsp. paprika

*1 tsp. oregano

Preheat oven to 350°

Pour tortilla chips in a zip top bag and using your hands, roughly crush them.

This makes a great stress reliever. Just try not to pulverize them if you’ve had a trying day. My first attempt turned to dust. I think hubby was a little afraid to come into the kitchen during this moment. Set aside

In a large pan over medium high heat, add ground beef and cook until no longer pink; drain if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and add in the taco seasoning.

Stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes stirring frequently. If the seasonings start to turn dark, turn the heat down to low.

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with no stick spray. Spread the black refried beans on to the bottom of the dish.

Spoon the beef mixture over the refried beans in an even layer.

Pour the salsa over the beef mixture.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the salsa.

Add the crushed tortilla chips over the cheese.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tortilla chips.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

*Note* If you like the cheese to taste a little like toasted cheese, then add it on at the beginning as noted. If you would prefer the cheese just melted, then add the cheese on top at the last 5 minutes of cooking.

To reheat any leftovers, I recommend rewarming it in the oven or toaster oven so the tortilla chips stay crispy. I tried reheating my first portion in the microwave and the tortilla chips became soggy. It was still really tasty, but it had lost that nice crunch.

Asian Inspired Meatballs

I love a good meatball… who doesn’t. I usually make my meatballs the same way and serve them over spaghetti or in a marinara sauce for meatball subs or quesadillas (Slow Cooker Meatballs with Marinara Sauce). This time I wanted to try something different.

These Asian inspired meatballs turned out really well. They are well seasoned with the usual ingredients and with an added Chinese 5 spice powder, which I think adds a really delightful flavor. They are brushed with a sweet and tangy sauce before and after cooking that really sets them apart. These tasty morsels of meat can be eaten as an appetizer or as a meal over rice.

I know I will be making these again soon.

Here’s what you need to make your own:

Sesame seeds for garnish

For the Meatballs:

*1 lb ground beef

*1 small onion chopped finely and sautéed in 1 TBS of olive oil until soft.

*2 garlic cloves, minced

*3/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder

*1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

*1 tsp. salt

*cracked pepper to taste

*1 egg

*2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

*1 tsp. sesame oil

For the Sauce:

*1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

*1 tsp. lemon juice

*1 tsp. white wine vinegar

*1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

*1 TBS brown sugar

*1 TBS olive oil

*1 TBS honey

*1/2 tsp ginger

*2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a small sauce pan, mix all of the sauce ingredients together and simmer.

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs.

Be careful not too over mix the beef mixture or the meatballs will be tough.

Shape into desired size balls.

Line a baking sheet with foil. This will make clean up easier. Spray a baking rack with non stick spray and place it onto the baking sheet.

Line the meatballs on to the rack making sure there is a space between each.

Baste the meatballs with the sauce and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink.

Turn the heat to the sauce to medium and cook for about 2 minutes; remove from the heat and baste the meatballs once again.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the meatballs and serve.

Enjoy!

Pan Seared Marinated Steaks with Rosemary Garlic Butter

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know by now that I love a good steak. You might also be thinking…another steak post? Yes, but this time I wanted something a little different. I marinated these lovely steaks. I don’t usually do that, I just add a few things to them and sear them in the skillet or on the grill. This marinade added so much flavor and the rosemary garlic butter took it to the next level. This marinade is quick to mix up and great for any cut of steak or even chicken or pork.

Here’s what you need:

*Desired cut steak; I used Ribeye

Marinade:

*1/2 cup soy sauce

*1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

*1 TBS olive oil + 1 TBS for cooking the steaks

*1 TBS lemon juice

*1 TBS brown sugar

*1 1/2 tsp. Penzey’s Mitchell Street Steak Seasoning or you can substitute

*1/2 tsp onion powder

*1/2 tsp. garlic powder

*1/4 tsp. paprika

*1/8 tsp. dill weed

*pinch of allspice

*cracked pepper to taste

Rosemary Garlic Butter:

*3 TBS butter; softened

*2 large garlic cloves smashed and minced

*1/2 TBS dried Rosemary or 1 TBS fresh chopped

Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade together.

Place steaks in a zip top bag and pour the marinade over the steaks. Gently squeeze the bag to get as much of the air out as possible and seal.

Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or over night, turning the bag over at least once during the marinating time.

While the steaks are marinating, mix all of the ingredients to the rosemary garlic butter.

Place butter mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and start rolling the plastic wrap around the butter.

Form the butter into a sort of log shape.

This will make it easier to cut the butter into slices later.

Twist the edges of the plastic wrap to secure the ends.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Take the steaks out of the refrigerator and out of the marinade 45 minutes before cooking; dry well with paper towels and discard the marinade.

Heat a cast iron pan with the olive oil to medium high heat. When the pan is searing hot, add the steaks.

Take the Rosemary garlic butter out of the fridge and cut in half and place on one side of the pan.

When the butter starts to melt, tilt the pan and using a spoon, begin basting the steaks with the butter mixture. If the butter starts to burn, turn the heat down to medium.

Cook for about 3 minutes while continuing to baste the steaks with the butter mixture.

Turn the steaks over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes for medium rare. Cook about 4 minutes for medium.

  • Medium Rare (soft, dark pink inside): 145 degrees F
  • Medium (soft, some pink inside): 160 degrees F
  • Well Done (very firm, no pink inside): 170 degrees F

Take the steaks out of the pan and place on plates; cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Spoon any leftover pan drippings over the steak if desired and serve.

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos with Guatemalan Slaw

Nope, it’s not Tuesday but who says you have to eat tacos only on a Tuesday. These slow cooker pork tacos are good for any day of the week. All you have to do is throw together some ingredients, marinate the pork then do a nice rub down with some spices and let the slow cooker do all the rest of the work. Look at that tender, tasty pork topped with some crunchy Guatemalan slaw (my version anyway) and cilantro and tucked away in warm tortillas. You know you want one too so go….go and make you a few right now…. ok you can make more than a few, no one will know, I won’t tell.

Here’s what you need:

*aprox 3 LB pork loin; pork shoulder works great too, but this was all my grocery store had at the time.

*1 pkg of flour tortillas

*chopped cilantro for garnish

Marinade:

*1/2 cup orange juice

*1/4 cup lime juice

*1/2 large onion, chopped

*4 garlic cloves

*2 TBS soy sauce

*2 tsp. white wince vinegar

*1 TBS. Worcestershire sauce

*2 tsp. brown sugar

*1/4 cup olive oil

*1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped stems and all

Rub:

*2 tsp. dried oregano

*1 tsp. cumin

*1/4 tsp chipotle powder; or more or less to taste

*1 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. garlic powder

*1/2 tsp. salt

Braising Liquid:

1/2 cup orange juice

2/3 cup sprite, 7 up or Sierra Mist

1/2 large onion, chopped

For the Slaw:

*1 bag of shredded cabbage

*1 TBS Mayonnaise or more to taste

*cilantro, chopped to taste

*olive oil, to taste

*salt to taste

*lime juice, to taste

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients to the marinade

Blend until well combined.

Place the pork in a zip top bag and pour the marinade over the pork; squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible and seal.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night. Turn the bag over at least once during the marinating time.

30 to 45 minutes prior to cooking, pull out the pork from the bag, with paper towels wipe the excess marinade off. You still want to leave some on if possible.

Mix all of the ingredients together for the rub.

Place the pork in to a shallow dish and rub the spice mixture on all sides of the pork.

Let sit for 30 to 45 minutes.

Mix together the braising liquid; set aside.

Place the pork in to the slow cooker. If it has a fat cap, that will go right side up. Pour the braising liquid over the top and around the pork.

As you can see, I did not cover the pork over half of the way up with the orange juice mixture. I wanted just enough to give it flavor and tenderize it, but I also wanted the flavor of the pork to shine through instead of the braising mixture.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

While the pork is cooking, mix up the Guatemalan Slaw. See recipe on the link to Slow Cooker Apple Whiskey BBQ Pulled Pork with Guatemalan Slaw. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a large cutting board. Let it sit for 15 minutes.

With 2 forks shred the pork.

Place in a bowl or shallow dish and cover with foil to keep warm.

Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and heat until it starts to have a few dark spots, about 15 to 20 seconds; flip it over and warm the other side. Repeat with each remaining tortilla.

Place the shredded pork on a tortilla and add any desired condiments such as cheese, sour cream or guacamole. Top with the Guatemalan slaw and cilantro. Serve and Enjoy!

Creamy Cheesy Beef Skillet Pasta

This dish is total comfort food. I made this after a really long, stressful day at work and it is definitely a winner. The beefy tomato sauce and pasta make this a really hearty meal, while cream cheese gives it a nice creamy flavor. Then there is the cheese…. I mean, you can never have too much cheese. I had some nice Gruyere and aged cheddar that I grated and threw in some Monterrey jack, it really made this cheese loving girl happy. What’s even better is that it’s all cooked in one pan….yes even the pasta. Can I talk about the pasta for a minute? I found this Conchiglie pasta at one of my Fresh Market stores.

I had never even heard if this one before, but I thought it would hold up great in a beefy tomato sauce. They look like a cross between shells and elbow pasta.

What’s even better, is that all of that beefy sauce and cheese fill up the center of the pasta, then when you bite into it….it is heaven. This dish is definitely for a cheat day, but it’s worth it.

Here’s what you need:

*1 LB ground beef

*1 small onion, chopped

*3 garlic cloves, minced

*olive oil

*14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained

*28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

*2 tsp. dried Basil, or more to taste

*2 tsp. dried oregano, or more to taste

*2 tsp. dried marjoram, or more to taste

*1 tsp. onion powder, or more to taste

*1 tsp. garlic powder, or more to taste

*1 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste

*1 tsp salt, or more to taste

*2/3 cup of chicken stock

*2 1/2 cups Conchiglie pasta or elbow pasta, uncooked

*4 oz. cream cheese

*2/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

*1/2 cup shredded aged Cheddar cheese

*1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Heat a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. When the pan starts getting hot, add the onions and the garlic.

Sauté until the onions just start to get tender, about 2 minutes. If the onions and garlic start to turn brown, reduce the heat to medium. Add the ground beef to the pan and turn the heat back up to medium high heat if you had to lower it.

Break up the beef while stirring the onions and garlic to combine. Cook until the beef is brown, about 5 to 8 minutes stirring frequently; drain if needed.

Add in the diced and crushed tomatoes.

Stir to combine the tomatoes with the onion beef mixture. Next, stir in all of the spices and herbs.

Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes; taste and add any more herbs or spices.

Dump in the pasta and the chicken stock.

Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is al dente.

Cut the cream cheese into cubes.

Add the cream cheese to the beef and pasta mixture.

Gently stir until the cream cheese starts to melt, then add in the shredded cheeses.

Stir carefully to melt and combine the cheese with the beef pasta mixture. Do not over mix or the pasta will start to break apart.

When the cheese is melted and heated thru, serve with some nice crusty bread.

Chicken with Herbs, Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese

I made a version of this dish several years ago when I discovered my love of prosciutto and fontina cheese. Since then I’ve tweaked it a bit….well ok a lot. My original version I stuffed the cheese inside the chicken, which was good, but most of the cheese ran out. This time I melted the cheese on top of the prosciutto. I really liked it better this way, not to mention it’s way easier. This chicken packs a lot of flavor. It’s seared with herbs, wrapped in prosciutto and topped with fontina cheese then cooked in a white wine lemon sauce. This dish is great when you want to serve a little something special or you just want something a little different than your everyday chicken dinner.

Here’s what you need:

This Makes 3 Servings

*3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

*1 1/2 tsp. dried sage +1/2 tsp

*1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

*1 tsp. dried Thyme

*2 TBS butter divided

*2 TBS olive oil

*Thin sliced prosciutto; 1 or 2 slices per chicken

*Fontina cheese, sliced

*1/2 cup white wine or you can use chicken stock

*1/3 cup chicken stock

*the juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Preheat oven to 400°

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Mix together 1 1/2 tsp sage, oregano and thyme. Season the chicken on both sides with the herb mixture.

and yes, that is one extreme close up of the chicken. I don’t know if I was really hungry or just really getting into the beauty of that chicken.

Take one slice of the prosciutto and wrap it around the chicken.

It’s ok if the prosciutto does not completely cover the back, it will stay once seared.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat and add 1 TBS of butter and the olive oil. When the oil and butter mixture is very hot, add the chicken. I start with the side where the prosciutto may not fully cover the chicken into the pan first.

Cook for about 3 minutes and then turn them over. If the oil and butter mixture seems to get too hot, turn the heat down to medium. Turn the chicken over and cook another 3 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

To the pan add the remaining butter, white wine, chicken stock, lemon and 1/2 tsp. sage. If the heat was at medium, turn it back up to medium high heat until the sauce starts to lightly bubble. Stir with a spoon or whisk making sure to scrape up all of those delicious bits stuck to the skillet that the chicken left behind.

Cook until sauce is slightly reduced and starts to thicken, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken back to the skillet and place into the oven. Cook about 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165.

Top the chicken with the fontina cheese.

Place under the broiler until cheese is melted.

Take out of the skillet and spoon some of the sauce over the chicken.

Enjoy!

Chicken Paprikash

This is a dish that I learned to cook way back when I started cooking. I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years, but it’s still that same comforting dish that reminds me of the days when I would cook dinner for my mom and dad. They would come home from work and dad or mom would help out in the kitchen if I needed some finishing touches on the meal. We would all sit at the table together and just enjoy the moment of simply being together at the end of the day.

This is not authentic, but it still has that same rich flavorful sauce. I usually use boneless chicken breasts, but this time I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead. I also added bacon, which is not in a traditional Chicken Paprikash, but I wanted that smokiness that you can get from the bacon….. not to mention….well…I love bacon in just about anything. This is great served with rice on the side to soak up all of that delicious sauce, or even pasta.

Here’s what you need:

*Boneless, skinless chicken thighs

*4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces

*3 TBS flour divided (2 TBS to coat the chicken and 1 TBS for the sauce)

1/2 tsp salt or more to taste

*2 TBS butter

*1 small onion, chopped

*1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

*1 TBS olive oil or canola oil if needed

*2 large garlic cloves, minced

*2 TBS paprika; I recommend using a good quality, nothing expensive, but the better the quality, the better the flavor

*1 3/4 cups chicken broth; I used Better Than Bullion

*1/3 cup sour cream or more to taste

*Parsley to garnish; I used dried because it was what I had on hand, but you can use fresh

30 minutes before cooking, take chicken out of the refrigerator and dry with paper towels; set aside.

Heat a large pan on medium high heat and add the bacon pieces.

Stir frequently until bacon browns. If the bacon starts to cook too quickly, turn the heat down to medium. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and onto a small paper towel lined bowl to drain; set aside.

Pour off the bacon fat from the pan except for 1 TBS; add butter to the pan and turn heat up to medium high once again.

In a large zip top bag, combine 2 TBS of flour and the salt. Add the chicken and shake to coat all sides. Take out the chicken one piece at a time, shaking off any excess flour and place into the pan, repeat with the remaining chicken that is in the bag.

Cook for about 3 minutes or until chicken turns a deep golden color, turn over and cook the other side until it browns.

You only want to sear the meat, not cook it. It will continue cooking in the sauce.

Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic to the pan. If there is not enough oil in the pan to brown them, add in the olive or canola oil.

Turn the heat down to medium if the pan appears too hot. Frequently stir the vegetables until they are soft, about 3 minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the bacon back to the pan and cook a few seconds more.

Add the paprika and the remaining flour, stir to combine for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Paprika can burn easily so be sure to keep stirring.

Slowly stir in the chicken broth.

Stir until the broth and the paprika flour mixture is well combined and the sauce slightly starts to thicken.

Place the chicken into the sauce.

Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked thru and the sauce has slightly thickened even more, about 20 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sour cream.

Add the chicken back into the sauce and garnish with parsley.

Serve over rice or noodles.

Enjoy!

Mini Chicken Quesadillas

Hubby and I love quesadillas. They’re easy to put together and you can add just about anything you love. When I recently came across these mini street flour tortillas, I knew I had to try them out.

I filled these pillowy soft tacos with some leftover rotisserie chicken flavored with some herbs and spices then topped it with lots of shredded cheese. These are quick to put together, especially if you are in a hurry to get dinner on the table. Pair it with refried beans and rice and you have a full meal.

Here’s what you need:

*1 package of mini flour tortillas; I used Missions street tacos (flour tortillas)

*2 cups diced chicken such as rotisserie chicken; you can also use unccoked diced chicken

*1 TBS canola or olive oil

*1/2 tsp. onion powder, or more to taste

*1/2 tsp. garlic powder; or more to taste

*1/2 tsp. dried oregano, or more to taste

*1/4 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste

*1 tsp. dried cilantro

*1/8 tsp. salt or more to taste

*1 tsp. lime juice

*1 1/2 cups shredded cheese; I used a Monterrey Colby Jack blend

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a large pan, heat oil on medium high heat; add chicken. Cook for about 1 minute and add herbs and spices stirring frequently.

If cooking raw chicken, cook longer until the chicken is almost cooked thru, then add the herbs and spices. Cook another minute and add lime juice; set aside.

Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet. I chose not to fold these over, I wanted to encase the chicken cheese mixture in between the tortillas, so if you’re doing the same, keep enough tortillas that will become the top layer.

Spoon some of the chicken onto each tortilla.

Sprinkle on the cheese on top of the chicken.

Top with another tortilla.

Place into the oven for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and the tortillas start to lightly toast.

Serve while still warm.

Lasagna

I first posted this almost a year ago when this blog was still spanking new. I think I had only 5 followers at the time…and you are still very much appreciated as are all of you that have joined me along the way. I wanted to revise this a bit, because to be honest, it never hurts to revamp now and then and I really wanted to give this some love. I mean, it’s Lasagna…. one of the ultimate comfort foods.

This has always been one of my go to meals. It’s what I get requested frequently when I have people over for dinner. This is pretty easy and what’s not to love with layers of hearty pasta, a meaty sauce and all that cheesy goodness. Throw in some nice crusty garlic bread, a salad on the side and you have a great meal.

Here’s what you need:

For the Meat Sauce:

2 cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 small can tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2TBs olive oil

1 1/2 ground beef
1Tbs. dried basil and more to taste
1 Tbs. dried Thyme and more to taste
2 tsp. dried oregano and more to taste
2 tsp. paprika and more to taste
2 tsp. onion powder and more to taste
2 tsp, garlic powder and more to taste
2 tsp. chili powder and more to taste
1 tsp salt and more to taste
1 tsp. sugar
1 bay leaf

Or use my Shortcut Meat Sauce , truth be told I use this frequently

For the Lasagna:

1 box of oven ready Lasagna noodles
1 large container of cottage cheese
2 tsp. dried basil or more to taste
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese plus 1/2 C. reserved
1 egg
3 C. Shredded cheese; I use a Mozzarella, Colby jack and cheddar cheese blend

I start out by making a meat sauce. You can make this the day before. Don’t want to make a meat sauce from scratch? No problem. Just make a Shortcut Meat Sauce.

To make the homemade sauce,

In a large sauce pan add about 2 to 3 Tbs of olive oil. Heat to medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes or until onions become tender. Remove onions and garlic; set aside. In same pot, add beef and cook over medium high heat until meat is brown. Drain if needed.
Add onions and garlic back to the pot. Sprinkle in basil, Thyme, oregano, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, 1/2 can tomato paste and salt. Stir well with beef mixture and cook about 1 minute more.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes and add sugar; mix to combine. If sauce is too thick, add a little water. Taste and add any more spices or salt if you prefer. Add in bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove bay leaf.

Grab the cottage cheese and place in a bowl. I prefer cottage cheese in my lasagna rather than ricotta. To me, it’s not as dry as ricotta and I prefer the flavor, but if you like ricotta, then use that in place of the cottage cheese. Next add basil and the 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan ( fresh or the kind that comes in the shake-able container….no one is judging). Mix together and taste to see if you need to add any more basil or cheese.

Add in one egg and stir to combine.

Spray a large baking dish with non stick spray. Spread some of the meat sauce to cover the bottom.

Place about 4 oven lasagna noodles in a layer, slightly overlapping one another over the sauce.
I like for the pasta to cook with the sauce, I think it adds more flavor to them, not to mention it saves on time not having to boil them first.

Next, add a layer of sauce on top of the noodles.

Spread a layer of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the sauce…..

then add a layer of shredded cheese. I use a mix of mozzarella, Colby Jack and cheddar.

Then add another layer of noodles, sauce, then once again a layer of the cottage cheese mixture and then more shredded cheese. Top with one more layer of noodles and then the rest of the sauce.

Lastly, sprinkle on 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and rest of the Mozzarella, Colby Jack Cheddar mixture.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake 15 to 20 minutes more or until the noodles are done.

Let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.