Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the menu last night was....

For PJ's 32nd birthday we had some of his close friends over for a casual dinner, dessert, champagne get together.  I spent a lot of time trying to out-do myself cooking and baking for PJ.  From the response I think I was very successful.  Below are the recipes I created for the party.  I don't have pictures so you will have to make them yourself to see what they look like!

For the 4 Cheese Veggie Lasagna:
(a side note, when I cook I don't measure everything exactly I measure by taste so you can spice things the way you like or go with what I did)
1 package of  ready-to-bake lasagna noodles
1 package baby spinach
3 tbs garlic minced
1 lb. mushrooms, whichever mushrooms you like best, i used baby portobella, shiitake adn porcini, cleaned and sliced
1/2 lb fontina, grated
1/2 lb parmigiano reggiano, grated
1/4 percino romano, grated
12 ounces ricotta 
1 package quorn or morningstar crumbled beef (or for those meat eaters ground beef)
6 cups soy milk (or for those with indestructible stomachs you can use real milk)
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 tbs of Kate's spice mix (which is salt, european ground pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg and  garlic powder)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup tomato sauce 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large saute pan melt 1 stick butter on medium-low heat, when butter is melted add the flour and stir until smooth texture.  Add the soy milk  and the cheese, make sure to continue to stir this as the cheese and milk will want to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown which would ruin the sauce so make sure to pay attention.  Then add spices to taste.  I add about 3 tbs of my little spice mixture I came up with.  I like to buy glass spice jars and fill them with essential mixtures that I use with different meals.  But the spice mixture I used in this dish works great with any pasta dish.  When the mixture is nice and thick and everything is melted together add your tomato sauce to give it a little extra flavor.  You can put it aside at this point or even freeze to reheat another day.

Next in a large saute pan add 1/2 cup butter and minced garlic, after the garlic has begun to give off an amazing aroma you can add your sliced and diced mushrooms.  You can use as many or little as you want but remember that mushrooms shrink down in size when you cook them, since PJ loves mushrooms I like to use a little more than necessary.  Then once your mushrooms begin to shrink in size you can add your vegetarian ground beef or your real ground beef and maybe some more of my spice mix completely up to you and let cook into the good mushroom juices for about 5 minutes on low heat.  Once the meat has almost fully cooked add in your spinach, let this cook for about 2 minutes and finally add in your Ricotta cheese saving enough to sprinkle on the top of the finished lasagna. 

Now it's time to build up this mouth watering masterpiece.  In an 8x8 baking dish place enough sauce at the bottom to fully cover the dish.  Then add a layer of lasagna noodles.  Next pile on thick some of your mushroom, meat and spinach mixture.  Then add more sauce and then repeat process till you have no more filling and sauce.  On top of the last layer of noodles add the last bit of your sauce and sprinkle ricotta cheese on top (or parmigiano  reggiano, whichever you prefer, I sprinkle with ricotta because parm. sprinkled on top of food is over played). 

Bake this for about 50 minutes and then let cool a bit and serve.  Enjoy!!


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