Friday, August 18, 2017

store bought favorite: tj's enchilada sauce










My husband texted me this picture of our glass recycle bin so I would begin to comprehend my consumption of this dream sauce- Trader Joe's bottled enchilada sauce.  There's nothing like it!  It started with one innocent bottle and has led to enchilada-eating that has grown to out-of-control proportions.  I admit it- I eat an enchilada for breakfast and lunch every day.  Every single day (except when I'm on vacation and there's no Trader Joes to be found).  I know.  It's weird.  But I ask you to just try an enchilada the way I make them.  Fresh every time.  Now my kids are asking for them.  I introduced them to my mother when she was in town and she has since introduced them to my brother and his wife.  It's a thing.  I'm telling you...

trader joe's enchilada sauce enchiladas
1 tortilla (I use whole wheat tortillas)
a nice scoop of shredded chicken (cooked in the crock pot with some salsa)
shredded mozzarella cheese (my kids prefer Cheddar but I prefer lower fat)
trader joe's enchilada sauce 

Place a tortilla on a microwave proof plate.  Spread a line of chicken across one end of the tortilla.  Pour some enchilada sauce over the top and a little cheese.  Roll up.  Pour more enchilada sauce over the top.  Be totally generous with the sauce- don't hold back.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds. 

pressure cooker teriyaki chicken










I asked my friend with a pressure cooker for a favorite recipe so I don't waste any time with so-so recipes and she enthusiastically shared this recipe, which she makes weekly for her family.  My family LOVED it.  I wish I had made more because 3 pounds of chicken wasn't enough (and I didn't even have any because the sugar content would put me into a coma).  Now my family wants it weekly.
I have to say I am a huge fan of these new pressure cookers.  They are silent!  I was worried mine wasn't working because I grew up with my mom using an old school super noisy, scary one.  I was always worried it was going to explode and kill us all after she warned me not to get too close.  I feel nice and safe with my Instant Pot.  Now onto the recipe:

pressure cooker teriyaki chicken (Dee-Anna found this recipe on allrecipes.com)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup chicken stock
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used frozen from Costco)
2 tablespoons cornstarch, optional
2 tablespoons cold water, optional

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic powder, pepper, crushed pineapple and juice and chicken stock and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
Place chicken thighs in the pressure cooker and pour in the sauce.  Stir gently to coat.  Bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, maintaining high pressure.  Cook for 20 minutes.
Stir cornstarch into cold water and set aside.
Reduce the pressure using the rapid-release method.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a serving dish; cover with foil and set aside.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.  Serve the chicken topped with the teriyaki sauce.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

instant pot beef gyros










My husband got me an Instant Pot for my birthday and after trying it out using this recipe...I LOVE IT!  I love this recipe and I love my new appliance.  These beef gyros were incredibly tasty.  INCREDIBLY.  I silently told myself about a million times what a good cook I am while I enjoyed my beef gyro.  Do not, I repeat do not use a store bought tzatziki sauce.  Make it using the recipe below.  You'll be telling yourself what a fine cook you are.

instant pot beef gyro (My Crazy Good Life)
2 lbs. beef roast, thinly sliced (I bought the carne asada meat because it was thinly sliced)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Pitas or Naan bread, or Flat Out pitas

tzatziki sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cucumber peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. salt and pepper
2 tbsp. fresh dill


toppings: sliced carrots, sliced onions, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, feta cheese

Directions for Instant Pot Beef Gyros:
1) Turn Instant Pot on saute and let the pan warn up. When it’s warm, add oil to the bottom of the pan and let it get hot.

2) Add meat, seasoning, garlic, and onion to Instant Pot. Sear and let onions soften for 3-5 minutes.

3) Pour lemon juice and broth over the meat. Give the meat a quick stir, then lock lid into place. Turn the steam valve to sealing. Using the Meat/Stew preset cook the gyro meat for 9 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 3 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure using the quick release method. 




Directions for Instant Pot Beef Gyros  stove top directions in italic):
1) Turn Instant Pot on saute and let the pan warn up. When it’s warm, add oil to the bottom of the pan and let it get hot. Do this on your stove top. 
2) Add meat, seasoning, garlic, and onion to Instant Pot. Sear and let onions soften for 3-5 minutes. Same directions for stove top. 

3) Pour lemon juice and broth over the meat. Give the meat a quick stir, then lock lid into place. Turn the steam valve to sealing. Using the Meat/Stew preset cook the gyro meat for 9 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 3 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure using the quick release method. Add lemon juice and broth, cover, let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

orange marmalade bbq chicken










My young son made this delicious chicken for dinner tonight.  True story.  I've been having each my kids make dinner one night per week and it's a smashing success!  If I had made this chicken myself he maybe would've eaten one drumstick.  He ate three!  He couldn't believe how delicious they were.  One of my daughters who doesn't like chicken ate it too!  Everyone loved it.  Three ingredients.  Three!

orange marmalade bbq chicken (slightly adapted from Lord Byron's Kitchen)
16 chicken drumsticks
1 cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
1 cup Smucker's orange marmalade
salt and pepper, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray  a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with foil (that's what I did).
Position the drumsticks on the sheet, skin side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Now stir the marmalade and the barbeque sauce together in a bowl and set aside.
Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon the sauce on top of each piece of chicken.  Use half the sauce.
Return the chicken to the oven and bake another 20 minutes.
Once again, remove the chicken from the oven and spoon more sauce onto the drumsticks.
Bake 10 more minutes.
Now spread the rest of the sauce over the chicken and bake 10 minutes more.
Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

no churn two ingredient ice cream













Happy Mother's Day!  I was spoiled today from morning til evening with delicious meals from my husband.  For dessert he made crepes and my oldest daughter pulled out this no church two ingredient ice cream that she made.  The ice cream went into crepes with more strawberries and Nutella than you have probably ever dreamed of.
This ice cream is decadent. (And not overly sweet like store brand ice cream.)  My kids decided I should stop buying ice cream and stock up on whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk.  My daughter says you can add vanilla extract or other extracts to the mix or whatever add-ins appeal to you like chopped cookies or fruit.

no church two ingredient ice cream
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream

My daughter says she poured the two ingredients into a bowl and used a hand mixer to whip it up until it formed soft peaks.  She poured it into a freezer safe bowl and froze it overnight. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

candy piano










We had a La La Land party because we had some celebrating to do so I looked online for party ideas and found this easy piano!  I didn't know where to find white chocolate kit kat bars so I texted a friend and what do you know- with her help I found them on the first attempt.  That's something to sing about.  (Tip:  Fred Meyer)

candy piano (makelifelovely.com)
white chocolate kit kat bars
mini kit kat bars 

All you do is line them up on a tray- as long as you want.  This made a really easy alternative to a birthday cake!!

tip: how to cut brownies










tip:  how to cut brownies
This double chocolate mint brownie recipe is one of my most loved and requested recipes and they're easy to make so I like to take them to parties, potlucks, etc.  The only thing I didn't like about them was cutting them into bars...until now.  I shared this recipe with a friend and she came back and asked if I had ever cut them with a plastic knife.  The answer was no.  Why would I think to use a plastic knife!  She's right- a plastic knife cuts them beautifully!  I just had to share this little tip if you should decide to make THESE wonderful brownies.  Taking two pans of these delicious brownies to school this morning for teacher appreciation was a cinch.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

coriander-crusted tilapia with brown rice and vegetables










Hall of Fame.  Again!  That's two in a row.  I felt so fancy after having made this dish.  It was soooooo good.

coriander-crusted tilapia with brown rice and vegetable (slightly adapted from Real Simple Magazine, March 2017)
6 tilapia loins (I buy them at Costco frozen then thaw them)
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups whole grain jasmine rice, cooked and hot
3 cups loosely packed arugula and spinach

Pat tilapia dry with paper towels.  Combine coriander, pepper and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl.  Season tilapia all over with the mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tilapia and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes.  Flip and cook until opaque, about 1 minute.  
Simultaneously, heat a smaller skillet with 1 tablespoon oil..  Add carrots and green onions and cook until almost tender.  Add broth and lemon juice and cooked rice.  Cook until hot.  Add greens and cook until wilted.  
Serve tilapia with brown rice and vegetables.
 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

sheet pan chicken thighs with fennel and shallots











Absolutely delicious.  Hall of Fame meals are infrequent but my husband declared it Hall of Fame.  I agree. This is my new favorite way to eat fennel...and everything else in this salad!

sheet pan chicken thighs with fennel and shallots (Real Simple Magazine, April 2017)
1 large fennel bulb, sliced into 1-inch thick wedges
4 large shallots, quartered (I used 2 onions)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips (I used red and orange)
2 lemons, halved crosswise
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (I cut that in half)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
8 (6 ounce) bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless chicken thigh strips)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 cups loosely packed baby arugula (I used a combination of arugula and spinach)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds.  Toss together fennel, shallots, bell pepper, lemons, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper on a rimmed baking sheet.  On a separate baking sheet, rub chicken thighs with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.  Season with thyme and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Roast vegetable mixture on top rack and chicken on bottom rack until vegetables are tender and lightly charred, 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove vegetables from oven and transfer chicken to top rack.  Increase heat to broil and cook until chicken is cooked through and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes more.
Add arugula to baking sheet with vegetables and toss until wilted.  Squeeze 1 roasted lemon half over vegetables; serve with chicken and remaining lemons.

Friday, April 14, 2017

hoppy easter cake




















My twelve-year old "beehive" in Young Women's went to mutual last night and made this adorable bunny cake and brought it home.  Previously, she had asked if we could have carrot cake on Easter while our bunny Berkeley munches on carrots but now we certainly don't need another cake- this one takes the cake! :)
Happy Easter weekend!

hoppy easter cake
You'll need two round cakes, baked.  One cake is the face.  The other is the ears and bow tie.
icing
coconut
misc. candy
 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

broccoli chicken










Everyone wanted seconds and thirds but there wasn't enough.  That's a good sign.

broccoli chicken
1/2 bag Tyson frozen boneless, skinless chicken thigh strips, thawed (2.7 pound bag)
2 bunches broccoli, separated into florets (I think my store separates whole heads)


sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar

Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil in pan over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook until cooked through.  Add broccoli and sauce.  Stir fry until broccoli is bright green.  Serve with rice.  We like Trader Joe's frozen vegetable fried rice if we need something quick.

Friday, April 7, 2017

baseball cupcakes











It's baseball season.  This is our family's first experience having a player on a team and we are going to embrace it.  We'll start by taking these to practice this evening.  Thank you to my girls for helping with them!  Blue raspberry cupcakes with vanilla icing and stripes.  Yuck to the artificual blue raspberry.  I mean yum (if you're 7)! :)

baseball cupcakes
This is a see-and-do recipe.  I saw them in a magazine years ago and looked forward to the day it would come in handy. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

italian meatloaf cupcakes




























I'd seen these all over the internet and wanted to make them for April Fool's Day.  I used my favorite Italian meatloaf recipe and they were quite tasty!  As I piped the potatoes onto the base my son said I was using quite a lot of icing.  When we sat down to dinner one of my daughters toasted two slices of toast- she said she thought cupcakes for dinner sounded weird.  She ended up eating one.

italian meatloaf cupcakes
meatloaf:
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


mashed potatoes (homemade or store bought- great use for leftover mashed potatoes!)
gravy (I used leftover gravy from when we had a roast earlier in the week)
bacon bits


Prepare muffin cups by lining each one with a square of foil.  Lightly spray each cup of foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce and  oregano.  Make sure the ingredients are mixed well.  Use a round 1/3 cup scoop to scoop up the meat mixture and put one into each cup.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  

Warm some mashed potatoes and put them into a sturdy zip-lock bag.  Force the potatoes into one corner.  Snip the corner like a pastry bag and pipe the potatoes onto the "cupcake".  Sprinkle some bacon bits on top and drizzle with gravy.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

citrus cream cheese pull apart rolls










HALL OF FAME!  I am re-posting these because they are so extremely fantastic.  We've been making them every 6 months for General Conference for a minimum of 5 years.  Today I used mini chocolate chips instead of cranberries and I think that will be a new tradition.  We love chocolate.  These are truly amazing.

citrus cream cheese pull apart rolls (Your Home Based Mom)
1 package frozen roll dough (25 ounces)
cooking spray
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries (I use chocolate chips today)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 (8 ounce) block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1 cup powdered sugar
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Thaw roll dough at room temperature.
Cut rolls in half. Place 24 halves, cut sides down, in bottom of each of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Brush butter evenly over rolls. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 30 minutes. Sprinkle with dried cranberries. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cream cheese, orange juice and egg; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over rolls. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and rinds. Sprinkle evenly over rolls. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Note:  Sometimes I stop here and refrigerate the rolls overnight to bake the next day.
Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover with foil. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until rolls in center are done. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over rolls.

Friday, February 17, 2017

it's about LOVE- ward party















Primary is in charge of this activity and it's going to be a fun one- we just set up this morning.  Our ward congregation is going to enjoy an ice cream buffet followed by a service project.  For the service project, in the RS room we've set up a cookie/candy buffet with cellophane bags and gift tags so we can assemble goodie bags for friends and neighbors.  There are enough bags so that 100 can be distributed after the activity.  All we need to do before the activity is put toppings into glass pedestal dishes that we made for the last ward activity we hosted and set of the ice cream, warmed Nutella and whipped cream.  I am hoping for a good turn out!
(I made 100 paper flowers using Martha Stewart kits I found 80% off on clearance at Michael's.  That find was meant to be!) 
 



Saturday, February 11, 2017

tender, yummy beef

 











My teenager said I don't serve enough beef so I made this for dinner.  It turned out to be super flavorful and versatile.  We used the beef for sandwiches the first night then my daughter made some nachos grande that looked amazing.  The beef would also make a great filling for fajitas or red enchiladas (have you tried Trader Joe's bottled enchilada sauce?  So good!).

tender, yummy beef (pass the peas, please)
1 1/2 pounds beef bottom round roast pre-sliced ("carne asada" style)
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 green bell pepper, sliced into rings
1 cup water
whatever you need to make sandwiches, nachos, fajitas, etc. 

Spray slow cooker with nonstick spray.  Put the sliced meat into the slow cooker with the onion soup mix, onion and pepper rings.  Pour a cup of water over the top.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Remove meat, onions and peppers with a slotted spoon and serve it as you wish.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

yippee chippee valentines













I love Costco.  It just made Valentine's Day so easy (if I don't think about the Valentine's luncheon that I am hosting at my house that day).  Two of my kids will be passing out valentines at school so I needed 48 of something.  Sooner rather than later.  I didn't know what until I saw a box of 50 bags of chips at Costco.  I quickly Googled "valentines made from bags of chips" and what do you know- my children will have fun valentines!
I hope my kids are not disappointed that I did not consult them.  I'm pretty sure they wanted Harry Potter valentines.  Sorry kids!   If I have my way this will be our new go-to!

yippee chippee valentines
I was able to find some cute sayings and made some tags:
(I used a super cute font called Cupid de Locke which is a free downloadable font)
Classic, Sour Cream & Onion and BBQ:  Because a classic cannot be beat, I think you're super neat.
Cheetos & Doritos:  I hope this isn't too cheesy a way to say Happy Valentine's Day!
Cool Ranch: This might come across a little silly but I think you are COOL- really! 
Fritos:  This may be a little CORNY but- will you be my valentine? 
DONE! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

chicken alfredo soup










This is a really nice feel-good soup.  I doubled the recipe so I could take some to a friend...which I realize is risky when making a new recipe but I figured this one would be good.  I grabbed a few new cookbooks at the library last night and this is the first of several new recipes I'd like to try.

chicken alfredo soup (adapted from BH&G New Cook Book, 16th edition)
3 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups chopped celery
1 onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 jars light Alfredo sauce
1 envelope vegetable soup mix (I used Knorr Spring Vegetable Recipe Mix)
2 cups cooked broken whole wheat spaghetti 

In a dutch oven, cook chicken with carrots, celery and onion.  When chicken is no longer pink, add broth, alfredo sauce and vegetable soup mix.  Add spaghetti.  Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

meatballs with creamy mushroom sauce










It was one of those days when I had NOTHING planned for dinner. I had some meatballs in the freezer so went looking for a super speedy sauce to go with them and found this recipe.  They were a hit but honest to goodness next time I will make my own meatballs.  Packaged meatballs are just not as good as homemade.

meatballs with creamy mushroom sauce (adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 package meatball, 24 meatballs (I strongly prefer homemade!)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used Campbell's healthy request)
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley (fresh would be better but I was in a hurry, remember?)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 can milk

For the sauce, whisk the soup, parsley, pepper, Italian seasoning, chili powder and milk together in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat then turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add cooked meatballs to the sauce and coat the meatballs with the sauce.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

ice cream pie










You can use this recipe for any kind of ice cream pie.  It just so happens I made two peppermint ice cream pies last month, put them in the freezer and forgot about them! :)  It's just as well- my family has been loving them and they're better appreciated a month after Christmas when the house is not as candy-filled.  Four ingredients and you have an impressive dessert- your kids' eyes will pop out of their sockets.

ice cream pie (pass the peas, please)
1 carton of any kind of ice cream (I used peppermint)
2 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (I used chocolate)
Hershey's chocolate sauce or Nutella
whipped cream

Let the carton of ice cream sit out for about 10 minutes to soften.
Scoop half the carton of ice cream into one pie crust.  Scoop the other half of the carton of ice cream into the other pie crust.  Use a spoon (and fingers) to spread the ice cream evenly into the pie crusts.
Cover with the plastic cover that came with the pie crusts and put into the freezer.
When ready to serve, cut each pie into 8 slices.  Pour chocolate sauce over the top or a big glob of nutella and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!


Saturday, January 14, 2017

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing










My daughter and I made some desserts for a wedding reception tonight to add to a long list of homemade desserts that others have made.  I made chocolate mint fudge and sugar cookie bars.  My daughter made these smooth-as-silk chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing.  It's the icing that's special, and the recipe is all hers! 
Erin- if you're reading this, think of this as a buckeye cupcake. :)

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing (my daughter)
46 of your favorite chocolate cupcakes, baked and cooled

icing:
3 sticks butter
2 cups smooth peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter.  Add the peanut butter and blend until thoroughly combined and creamy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar. 
Load a decorator's bag full of icing and go to town!  Add some chocolate sprinkles if you wish.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

greek honey cake










Get your taste buds ready for some good cake.  My daughter and I found this recipe for Greek Fest which is taking place today!  We made two batches of this cake this morning (6:15am) so it's fresh and warm and gooey with an orange essence.  It's going to be a hit.

greek honey cake (food.com)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chopped walnuts (we omitted since we made it for a school project)

glaze:
2 cups sugar
2 cups honey (We used Turkish honey from Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. 
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set aside. 
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. 
Pour honey syrup over the cake. For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

world's best lasagna



















No joke- I think this really is the world's best lasagna.  Over 10,000 people at allrecipes declared it 5 stars.  My husband is sure it's the spicy sausage I used, which was my idea. :)  My entire family enjoyed this dish and my husband typically doesn't enjoy lasagna, nor two of my kids.  They kept remarking that it tasted like pizza.  My oldest was eating it out of the pan as I was trying to put away the leftovers.

world's best lasagna (adapted by allrecipes.com)
Note:  I made it simpler and lower in fat.
2 pounds hot chicken Italian sausage (see image below)
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 1 Tbsp sugar substitute)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
10 no-bake whole wheat lasagna noodles (see image below)
16 ounces ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, paste, sauce and water.  Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and half the parsley.  Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours.
Combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To assemble, spread 1 1/2-2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Arrange 5 noodles over meat sauce.  Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture.  Top with a couple handfuls of mozzarella cheese.  Spoon 1 1/2-2 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.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before serving.