Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant Lasagna? Did you ever wonder what no noodle, veggie, lasagna tasted like? Did you even care? I didn’t either. When I was a little kid our neighbor, Mrs. Paparella, used to mind me while my mom was at work. I would watch her cook. I loved everything she made, but, her lasagna was the best. I never would have imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would ever eat and like it without those wide lasagna noodles in it. 

Gammy,  learned to love lasagna too. From the first time I took her to an Italian restaurant and she stole some off my plate. Well a few years ago she learned she had to go gluten free and I would make her a batch with those gluten free rice lasagnas and a separate traditional batch for me. She didn’t like the rice noodles. I googled lasagna gluten free and saw a recipe where noodles were replaced with  eggplant. We tried it and I stole some off her plate.  Wow, I liked it and that became the only way I make now. I still make it the way that Mrs. Paparella showed me. The meat, the cheeses, (she said, “Ya gotta use at least 4 different cheeses”) the sauce, how to bake it properly, etc. But eggplant instead of pasta lasagna noodles. 

Here goes.

IMG_2288First let’s chop a medium sized onion and 6-8 cloves of garlic. Put the biggest frying pan you own on the stove at medium high. Add 2 tbsp. (or eyeball it) of olive oil. Add the onions and let them just begin to get translucent then add the garlic. Put the chopped beef in and break it up with a spatula or pancake flipper. 

IMG_2290You could cut the sausage into slices.

IMG_2291or slit the skin lengthwise and peel the skins off the meat. We like it that way because it winds up being easier to spread out as a layer in the lasagna.

IMG_2292About a tsp. of salt,  a tsp. of black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Continue to break up the meat and sausage chunks so you have a kinda “chunckless” mixture browning up in the pan. Keep turning occasionally as it browns. Pre heat the oven to 500deg.

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Cut the ends off the eggplants and slice them into about 3/8″ slices.

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Preheat the oven to 500F. Spray some olive oil on 2 cookie sheets. Lay the eggplant slices out on the sheets and spray them with the olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Turn them over and do the other side.

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Take them out when they start to get brown and reduce the oven to 350.

IMG_2297Spread a very shallow layer of sauce over the bottom of the baking pan and add a layer of the eggplant slices.

IMG_2296Add a layer of that super meat mixture. You’ve been keeping it stirred up, right?

IMG_2298Put a layer of one of the cheeses on top of the meat layer. We went with provolone.

IMG_2299Another layer of sauce, eggplant, meat and cheese. We went with ricotta cheese for this layer.

 

IMG_2336Then finish up with another layer of everything and top it off with Mozzarella. Moisten the top of the mozzarella with a very thin coating of sauce to keep it from browning. You want it soft and creamy. Drizzle with a very little bit of olive oil. Give it a good coat of grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with some dried basil and oregano.

IMG_2339Cover it with aluminum foil with the foil tightly wrapped around the edges of the pan. Bake it for a half an hour and remove the foil then bake it for about another 15 minutes or until the top is looking like you want it to. Hey, you’re the cook so you decide how you want it. Serve it up! With a good chianti or valpollicello or maybe some barolo, mmm, and some hot outa the oven homemade bread

Now ya got a lot of lasagna left. Put it in the fridge overnight.

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The next day cut it into whatever size portions you want and put them in zip lock bags in the freezer.

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Talk about a great quick and easy weeknight dinner. Just heat up the servings in the microwave with a little sauce and grated parm on them.

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Eggplant Lasagna is a great glutton free alternative to traditional Lasagna.
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. First let's chop a medium sized onion and 6-8 cloves of garlic. Put the biggest frying pan you own on the stove at medium high. Add 2 tbsp. (or eyeball it) of olive oil. Add the onions and let them just begin to get translucent then add the garlic. Put the chopped beef and the sausage in and break it up with a spatula or pancake flipper. Add the salt and peppers. Keep stirring it up occasionally while you get the eggplant ready.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 500 deg. rinse and dry the eggplants. Slice them crossways into 3/8" thick slices. Spray some olive oil on 2 cookie sheets. Lay the eggplant slices out on the sheets and spray them with the olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Turn them over and do the other sides. Put the pans in the oven and keep an eye on them. As soon as the eggplant starts to get brown take the pans out and lower the oven temperature to 350 deg.
  3. Spread a very shallow layer of sauce over the bottom of the baking pan and add a layer of the eggplant slices. Add a layer of that super meat mixture. You've been keeping it stirred up, right?Put a layer of one of the cheeses on top of the meat layer. We went with provolone. Another layer of sauce, eggplant, meat and cheese. We went with ricotta cheese for this layer. Then finish up with another layer of everything and top it off with Mozzarella. Moisten the top of the mozzarella with a very thin coating of sauce to keep it from browning. You want it soft and creamy. Drizzle with a very little bit of olive oil. Give it a good coat of grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with some dried basil and oregano.
  4. Cover it with aluminum foil with the foil tightly wrapped around the edges of the pan. Bake it for a half an hour and remove the foil then bake it for about another 15 minutes or or until the top is looking like you want it to. Hey, you're the cook so you decide how you want it. Serve it up! With a good chianti or valpollicello or maybe some barolo, mmm, and some hot outa the oven homemade bread. Cover it with aluminum foil with the foil tightly wrapped around the edges of the pan. Bake it for a half an hour and remove the foil then bake it for about another 15 minutes or until the top is looking like you want it to. Hey, you're the cook so you decide how you want it. Serve it up! With a good chianti or valpollicello or maybe some barolo, mmm, and some hot outa the oven homemade bread.
  5. Now ya got a lot of lasagna left. Put it in the fridge overnight. The next day cut it into whatever size portions you want and put them in zip lock bags in the freezer.Talk about a great quick and easy weeknight dinner. Just heat up the servings in the microwave with a little sauce and grated parm on them.
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Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore will always be a favorite at your house. “I guarantee it.” Translated from the Italian Cacciatore means hunter. It originated as something that hunters would make while out on a quest. I’ve read that it was first done with rabbit that was nabbed while on the hunt. Then as time passed it started to be done with chickens.

Get 2 chicken breasts, whole with the bones and skin still on. Cut the breasts in half if you want to. Just lay them bone side down on a cutting board, cut down to the bone then force the knife through  the bones. A chef knife and tap it with the heel of your palm to get it through the bone works good. 4 thighs with the bone and skin left on or 2 legs cut in half so you would have 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks. Or, you could just go with some chicken tenders for a quickie version. Put a skillet with about 2 tbsp. of olive oil on med high.

IMG_2249Sprinkle the skin side with salt and pepper.

IMG_2250Put the chicken in the pan with the skin side down and salt and pepper the up side.

Now you will start on the veggies.IMG_2252

Cut a red, or green, pepper in half lengthwise and clean out the seeds and the white stuff.

IMG_2253Chop it up the size you want. Not too small, you’ll want it to be  to be “rustic” like a we’re on a hunt. Ya know?

IMG_2256Now the onion. Cut the ends off then in half. Peel the skin and the first layer off each half.    Cut into it vertical but not completely end to end. Leave the stem end holding it together. Did I say that right?

IMG_2257Now horizontal. The space between all these cuts is going to determine the size of the chopped pieces.

IMG_2258 Then chop it cross ways for the finish!

IMG_2254Check on the chicken. When it is browned and crispy turn it over.

IMG_2259Lay you knife sideways on a garlic clove and smash it with the heel of your hand. Smash them all, one at a time.

IMG_2260Peel the skins off the cloves.

IMG_2262Cut the brown little stem things off.

IMG_2263Chop them up.

IMG_2255The chicken should be crispy on both sides by now. Take it out and put aside in a bowl that will catch the drippings.

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Add the veggies to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon scraping the good stuff off the bottom of the pan so it can mix in with the veggies. About a tsp., or more each, of salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. When the onions and garlic start to turn translucent add the tomatoes and the capers. Don’t strain the water off the tomatoes put the water from the can right in the mix.

IMG_2267Put the chicken and the drippings in with the veggies. Mix up the chicken with the sauce and turn the pieces so they get coated on all sides. Turn the chicken over and stir things up every 5 minutes or so. You can leave the heat up and have it ready to serve in about 20 minutes or you can lower it to a simmer and let it go slower. Fast won’t get the flavor in as deep as simmer will but it’ll still work fine. While it’s getting good go ahead and cook up about 1/2 lb. of pasta. But you already thought of that didn’t you. If you feel that the sauce starts to get a little too thick add a little of the pasta water.

IMG_2279

 

So serve it up! With some chianti and some of Poppop’s ,,er,,your homemade bread.

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Chicken Cacciatore is real good and it's easier to make than you think.
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 min.
Cook Time 20-40 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 min.
Cook Time 20-40 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Get 2 chicken breasts, whole with the bones and skin still on. Cut the breasts in half if you want to. Just lay them bone side down on a cutting board, cut down to the bone then force the knife through the bones. A chef knife and tap it with the heel of your palm to get it through the bone works good. 4 thighs with the bone and skin or 2 legs cut in half so you would have 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks. Or, you could just go with some chicken tenders for a quickie version. Put a skillet with about 2 tbsp. of olive oil on med high.
  2. Lay the pieces of chicken with the skin side up and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Put the pieces in the frying pan skin side down and salt and pepper the up side.
  3. While the chicken is getting browned chop up the veggies. When the chicken is browned on the skin side turn it over and when the other side is done remove it to a bowl that will catch the drippings.
  4. Add the veggies to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon scraping the good stuff off the bottom of the pan so it can mix in with the veggies. About a tsp., or more each, of salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. When the onions and garlic start to turn translucent add the tomatoes and the capers. Don't strain the water off the tomatoes, put the water from the can right in the mix.
  5. Put the chicken and the drippings in with the veggies. Mix up the chicken with the sauce and turn the pieces so they get coated on all sides. Turn the chicken over and stir things up every 5 minutes or so. You can leave the heat up and have it ready to serve in about 20 minutes or you can lower it to a simmer and let it go slower. Fast won't get the flavor in as deep as simmer will but it'll still work fine. While it's getting good go ahead and cook up about 1/2 lb. of pasta. But you already thought of that didn't you. If you feel that the sauce starts to get a little too thick add a little of the pasta water.
  6. So serve it up! With some chianti and some of Poppop's ,,er,,your homemade bread.
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Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

 

Fettuccine Alfredo is easy!

When it was first done, hundreds of years ago, Fettuccine Alfredo was just pasta with melted butter and parmesan cheese. I had it like that myself a few times growing up in New Jersey. Then the world turned and it had to have “Alfredo sauce” included to the extent that it’s now what we all think of when we see or hear of Fettuccine Alfredo.

Ya gotta do it for yourself. It’s so easy and so good. Or, you could buy some ready to go Alfredo sauce in the store on your way home. I won’t tell on you.

Get a pot with about 2 quarts of water on the stove, set it on high.  Add about a tsp. of salt. When it starts to boil reduce it to medium high and add the fettuccine. With a pair of tongs get all the fettuccine down into the water. Stir the fettuccine around so that won’t stick together and stir it occasionally as it cooks.

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While the pasta is cooking get a frying pan on Medium heat and put in about a tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil and a tbsp. of the butter. A pinch of salt a pinch of black pepper. Get it smooth looking and add the garlic. Right away add the shrimp and cook them just enough to turn them pink, flip them over with a pair of tongs and pink up the other side. Remove the shrimp to a plate where you can have the drippings collecting.

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Put the rest of the butter in and when it is melted add the milk, or the half and half or the heavy cream and let it simmer.  

IMG_2214

 

IMG_2215

When the sauce has thickened to how YOU like it put the shrimp and the drippings  back in the pan and let them warm back up. Serve it up! With some good pinot grigio or maybe a nice chianti. That wouldn’t be a sacrilege with a shrimp dish, would it? Also, of course, some of poppop’s,,,,,,er,,,,Your homemade bread.

IMG_2216

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A real easy and good pasta and shrimp dish.
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 0
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Instructions
  1. Get a pot with about 2 quarts of water on the stove, set it on high. Add about a tsp. of salt. When it starts to boil reduce it to medium high and add the fettuccine. With a pair of tongs get all the fettuccine down into the water. Stir the fettuccine around so that won't stick together. Stir it occasionally as it cooks.
  2. While the pasta is cooking get a frying pan on Medium heat and put in about a tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil and a tbsp. of the butter. A pinch of salt a pinch of black pepper. A pinch of red pepper flakes if you like. When the butter stops making bubbles add the garlic. Right away add the shrimp and cook them just enough to turn them pink, flip them over with a pair of tongs and pink up the other side. Remove the shrimp to a plate where you can have the drippings collecting.
  3. Put the rest of the butter in and when it is melted add the milk, or the half and half or the heavy cream and let it simmer. When it is has thickened up a little put in the pasta, the shrimp, about three tbsp of the pasta water and the cheese. Let it all come together as you gently keep it stirred up with the tongs that you were flipping the shrimp with.
  4. When the sauce has thickened to how you like it, serve it up! With some good pinot grigio or maybe a nice chianti. That wouldn't be a sacrilege with a shrimp dish, would it? Also, of course, some of pop,,,,,,er,,,,Your homemade bread.
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Sauteed Spinach

Sautéed Spinach poppopcooks.com

Sautéed Spinach, besides being real good it is also real good for you. Ya know? Spinach, garlic and olive oil.

 

IMG_1958

Put the widest skillet that you own on med. low heat and add about 3 tbsp. (you can drizzle it in and “eyeball it”) good EV olive oil. While it’s heating up chop up 6 garlic cloves add to the pan. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. This is optional, a pinch of crushed red pepper. We like it because it livens things up a little.

Sautéed Spinach poppopcooks.com

 

Don’t add the spinach until the rest of your course is on the plates. Have a pancake flipper ready and start tossing it all, getting the garlic and spinach mixed together. The spinach is going to wilt real quick so be ready to portion it out to the plates when it is as wilted down to how you like it. Divvy it up on the china and enjoy!

Sautéed Spinach poppopcooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A great veggie.
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Course Veggie
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1
Cook Time 1-3 minutes
Servings
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Course Veggie
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1
Cook Time 1-3 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
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Rating: 0
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Instructions
  1. Put the widest skillet that you own on med. low heat and add about 3 tbsp. (you can drizzle it in and "eyeball it") good EV olive oil. While it's heating up chop up 6 garlic cloves and to the pan. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. This is optional, a pinch of crushed red pepper. We like it because it livens things up a little.Don't add the spinach until the rest of your course is on the plates. Have a pancake flipper ready and start tossing it all, getting the garlic and spinach mixed together. The spinach is going to wilt real quick so be ready to portion it out to the plates when it is as wilted down to how you like it. Divvy it up on the china and enjoy!
    Sautéed Spinach poppopcooks.com
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