Classic Beef Lasagna and Parmesan Herb Knots

For dinner last night, I decided to try some lasagna. And great big gigantic dinner rolls.

Usually my lasagna comes out all runny and looks more like a pasta casserole than lasagna.

I found this recipe in a magazine and have had it in my recipe binder for several years.

I had never made it but when I was working on my menu for this week, decided to give it a try.

It calls for pre-cooked lasagna noodles, which I love using.  The only problem I have had with them in the past is adding the water to make sure the noodles cook.  I always think it’s what makes my lasagna’s runny.  This recipe, though, calls for a cup of wine instead of  water.  Huh, that could be interesting.  All I had in the fridge was some Burgandy, so I used that.

It was so good.  The Burgandy went so well with the spaghetti sauce.  I never would have thought to try that combination but you can bet I will be adding wine to my lasagna from now on.

Santa was good to me.

He brought me this.

I was sooooo excited.  I’ve been wanting a stand mixer for several years but it never quite made it to the top of my list.

I’ve been making homemade dinner rolls every night for dinner.

To go with the lasagna, I made Parmesan Herb Knots.

They were delicious, but huge.  I think I could have made several more from the recipe than I did.

I haven’t used it for cookies or icing or anything like that yet.  We already have so much Christmas candy around that I don’t want anything else sweet in the house to temp me.

Try this lasagna.  You’ll be glad that you did.

CLASSIC BEEF LASAGNA

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided

1 container (15oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup red wine

1 jar spaghetti sauce

12 no-boil lasagna noodles

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and ricotta.

2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add ground beef; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into small crumbles and stirring occasionally.  Add wine; continue cooking 3 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Remove from heat and stir in spaghetti sauce.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In 13×9 inch glass baking dish, spread 1 cup beef-sauce mixture.  Layer 4 lasagna noodles over sauce.  Top with half of cheese mixture, 2 cups beef-sauce mixture.  Repeat layers.  Top with 4 remaining lasagna noodles and beef-sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

4. Cover with aluminum foil; bake for 40 minutes.  Uncover; bake 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

PARMESAN HERB KNOTS

Makes 18 rolls

Ingredients:

2 tsp granulated sugar

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2/3 cup warm water

1/3 cup fat free powdered milk

1/3 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes, unflavored)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

3 1/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional) for topping

Directions:

1. Combine the granulated sugar, yeast and warm water in mixing bowl.  Stir and let stand for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy and bubbly.

2. Add the cool water, powdered milk, potato flakes, olive oil, salt and 2 1/2 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.  Mix for 2 minutes.

3. Add the parmesan cheese and mix until completely incorporated.  If necessary, add the remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft smooth dough ball is formed.  Continue to knead the dough for 4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.  Turn to coat dough and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Combine 1/4 cup olive oil and Italian seasoning and let stand while dough rises.

4. Punch dough to deflate and divide into 18 equal portions.  Roll each into a 12-inch rope and tie into a knot.  Place on prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 35-45 minutes.  Brush lightly with herbed olive oil mixture.  If desired, sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of the optional Parmesan cheese.  Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Enjoy!!

I’m linking up here….

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Merry Christmas

I will be taking some time off to enjoy the Holidays with my sweet little family.

We would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

from

The Turner Five

Christmas Open House

We finally got our Christmas decorations put up inside and outside.  Of course I could only get pictures of all the lights when it is dark out.  This was the best one I got.  The other ones were all blurry.  It would have helped if I had used my tripod but I was just to lazy to walk into the house and get it.

So this is the outside.  Each year hubby adds a new element to the outside decorations.  This year he added a cross and manger.  You can see the cross to the left of the tree but the manger, which has lights, isn’t on.  Not sure why.

This is our frosty.  We’ve had him since the movie “Christmas with the Kranks” came out.  I just love that movie.

The front door.  Look at all those power cords.  Geez!

So, come on in.

The first thing you see when you walk through the door is our 10 foot Christmas tree.  And the loveseat.  Poor thing, it just doesn’t have anywhere else to go during the month of December.  And the dog just had to get in this picture, she wasn’t in the mood to listen to me when I told her to get out-of-the-way, I guess.

This is the view of the dining room from the entry way.

The is the view of the formal living room directly across from the dining room.

Another view of the formal living room from the dining room.  The front door is to the left.

This is also the room that houses my fun tree.  This tree actually belonged to hubbies parents.  It came home with us one year after they got a new tree.

Each year I get an ornament from the beach for this tree.

One day I would like to have this tree filled with snowman ornaments.

This is in the entry way directly across from the dining room.

The 1/2 bath, which is off the entry way, also gets a little Christmas cheer.

This is the view from the family room (at the back of the house) to the front door.

The kitchen gets a little decorating.  I try not to do too much because then it just gets in my way when I’m doing all my baking. Not to mention, the kids still load up the bar with all their stuff.

We decorate the window in the breakfast area.

One of the end tables in the family room.

The coffee table.

 These glass trees were full of M & M’s not too long ago.  My daughter (and hubby) have figured out how to lift the lid slightly to let the candies fall out.

Our 10 foot family tree.

This tree is decorated in red and gold and most of the decorations on it belonged to my grandmother.

Last but certainly not least; our fireplace.  You can see our mantle up close and personal here.

Well this sums up the tour of the downstairs.  It’s always such a fun time decorating our house every year.  I just love all the lights from the Christmas trees and of course all of my snowmen.

Peppermint Meringues

I’ve never made Peppermint Meringues before but the picture on the recipe really piqued my interest.

A couple of things about Meringues.  1) They take forever to bake, like an hour and a half.  And 2) if you are ever alone at home for that long, go ahead and make them so you don’t have to share.  Yea, they are that good.

So here’s what you need to do and the things you need to make it happen:

*Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 peppermint candy canes, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with foil.

2. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar to soft peaks.  Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks.  Drop by spoonfuls 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Sprinkle crushed peppermint candy over the cookies.

3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours in preheated oven.  Meringues should be completely dry on the inside.  Do not allow them to brown.  Turn off oven.  Keep oven door ajar and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool.  Loosen from foil with metal spatula.  Store loosely covered in a cool dry place for up to 2 months.

Store for 2 months? Yea, they probably won’t last that long.  If your going to store cookies for 2 months, what is the point of making them in the first place?

Enjoy!!!

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Hard Tac candy… a Christmas Tradition

I remember as a little girl hanging out in the kitchen with my mom and her sisters watching them make Christmas candy.  One thing they were sure to make every year was Hard Tac.

Us kids were always in awe of them working so quickly once the hard tac was poured from the pan onto their work surface.

They always used butter to keep their fingers cool so they could pick up the candy and cut it into smaller pieces.

I am so happy and thankful that I have been able to carry on this tradition with my own family.

Yesterday was declared my baking day.  I made 3 batches of Hard Tac.  Two batches of butterscotch and 1 batch of Grape.

All you need is sugar, 2 cups to be exact; light corn syrup, some water, food coloring and drams of the flavoring.  Used to be you could only buy these little drams of flavoring at specialty food stores.  I can remember prior years of looking everywhere for them and not being able to find them.  Just a couple of years ago, I discovered them at Hobby Lobby.  They are sold in pairs and are only about $3 for two bottles.

You will also need a good candy thermometer.  When we used to watch my mom do the candy, they didn’t have a fancy thermometer to tell them when their mixture reached 300 degrees.  They used to get a cup of cold water, drizzle some of the mixture into the water and if it got hard and “cracked” then it was ready.  I’ve never made it that way, I always use my thermometer.  In fact, last year; I was being very fancy and was using my electric thermometer, little did I know that it wasn’t working properly.  I ended up burning 2 batches before realizing it.  I think there’s a lesson to be learned from doing things “the old-fashioned way”.

And so, the recipe:

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups light corn syrup

3/4 cup water

1 dram (1tsp) LorAnn Gourmet Flavoring

1/2 tsp liquid food coloring

Powdered Sugar

In large saucepan, mix together sugar, corn syrup and water.  Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring mixture to a boil without stirring.  When syrup temperature reaches 260 degrees, add color.  Do not stir; boiling action will incorporate color into syrup.  Remove from heat at 300 degrees or when drops of syrup form hard, brittle threads in cold water.  After boiling action ceases, add flavoring and stir.  Pour syrup into lightly oiled candy molds or onto buttered cooking sheet.  (Make sure your cookie sheet has sides to it.)  Allow to cool slightly then with buttered fingers and scissors, cup candy into small pieces.  Drop into bowl of powdered sugar to keep pieces from sticking together.

I hope you will try the recipe.  Just remember, practice makes perfect.  This is one of those recipes that may not come out perfect the first time but the more you do it, the better and easier it will be.

Enjoy!!

 

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