Lately I’ve been a whirling dervish in my choices of what I’m craving to eat. Cravings all over the place, and most of them leaning toward the ethnic side of food. Thai one night, Korean the next, Middle Eastern and as always one of my faves: rich sausag-ey Italian pasta. Lasagna, that’s what I need.
I’ll chalk it up to the fact that ever since I came home from Mexico I can’t quite get the flavors of other countries out of my system. I think its a sign that I just want to travel. It’s true! The night we got home I was on the internet stalking new travel adventures for me, my Smudge and my man, new places to create new memories.
This past week definitely resulted in a trove of memories I’ll be happy to reflect back upon. Converting online relationships to real life with talented foodie bloggers who traveled to Salt Lake City to attend Alt Summit was the highlight.
Showing off the best of SLC to Melissa, Kathryne, Erin, Jeanine and Kelsey with my local SLC blogging buddies Maria and Becky included dining at our favorite tapas restaurant—the only place I’ll eat Brussels Sprouts—plus a quick lunch date in Sundancing Park City to meet up with Kelley. It also gave us plenty of quality time to swap stories not just about our blogging biz tips and tricks and all the minutia food blogging entails, but about real life beyond the blog, even divulging and discovering a few secrets along the way. Change is in the air my friends!
Typical blog chatter and Instagraming ~ photo by Erin
Life in front of our screens and keyboards made our original connection, and luckily led to what I hope are continuing real life relationships. It’s not so far fetched these days to say you met online and it seems like blogging is kind of like an online dating site, but you get to know a whole lot more about the blogger than from just one personal profile. At least that’s what I’ll surmise since I was married before the dating site surge, but I liken it still.
Probably the best part of the weekend was a somewhat impromptu dinner party at my house, introducing local Utah food bloggers Annalise, Deb, Krista, and Dara to our out of town guests. And I said I’d be serving dinner. To a bunch of food bloggers.
Kathryne knows what it takes for a fun dinner: big smiles and plenty of vino ~ photo by Erin
Now, you might be thinking, “Heidi! What the hell are you doing? Whoa lady, you’re feeling pretty bold, eh? You think you’re going to make dinner for a bunch of food bloggers? FOOD BLOGGERS? These ladies do this for a living! It’s their passion!” Not to mention the combination of vegetarians, lactose intolerant and meat lovers ready to fork up to the table. But I had my secret weapon recipe of Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Lasagna in my back pocket and the local foodies contributed a few of their specialties as well.
Melissa dishes it up: both her charm and her food ~ photo by Erin
This was a forgiving group and all hands were on deck. As my mom says, “Many hands make light work.” I mean, what else were we going to do but eat, drink and be merry? Plus I had seen Sandy do it with ease and grace so I knew it could be done. Erin did a grand job capturing the night in her photos, and shared the links of all the tasty vittles on the menu. Plus you’d hate to miss out on seeing how my photo-bombing dogs mysteriously appeared in nearly every shot. Oh right, there was food around. They’re dogs. That explains it.
So basically it all comes back around to lasagna. Whether it’s butternut squash or this cheesey, sausage Italian, lasagna is just good basic food for the soul. Yep, food for the soul, just like the relationships we choose to care for and cultivate.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, cook pork sausage and ground beef over medium high heat just until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add onion with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes or until onion becomes translucent. Add wine and cook for 3 minutes or until nearly evaporated, then add milk and cook until absorbed. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and kosher salt, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl whisk egg and add ricotta cheese, parmesan and parsley and mix well.
- Spoon a generous portion of tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of an ungreased 9 X 13 baking dish or lasagna pan. Add a single layer of 4 lasagna noodles, spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, then ⅓ of the sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Repeat with 4 more noodles, remaining cheese mixture, ⅓ sauce mixture and 1 cup cheese. Top with 4 more noodles, the remaining sauce and top with cheese.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting. Add extra parmesan for serving.
If you like a thicker lasagna, bake the day before, refrigerate and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for a half an hour.
No boil noodles need more sauce than cooked noodles since they absorb the moisture from the sauce. Don't be shy when ladling your portions.
Add in spinach, kale, or zucchini for an extra veggie vitamin punch and a touch of green.
If time is an issue, substitute the homemade sauce for a great quality jarred sauce added to the meat mixture. If ricotta is hard to find, my mom always uses creamy cottage cheese instead.
Last year when I posted my Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Lasagna recipe I also highlighted some terrific lasagnas from around the web. Like I said, I can’t get enough of it, and since I’m a betting woman, I bet you want more too. So here you go, lasagna all around.
Deb does it again. Delivering another unique twist on a traditional dish with Taste and Tell’s spin on Rachel Ray’s Lasagna Bread Pizza. Sorry, folks a pile of napkins is not included, but neccessary.
It’s no matter whether you’re vegan, gluten-free or just plain want to eat a lasagna on the healthier side, Dawn guarantees she’s going to blow your mind with Florida Coastal Cooking’s Cheesy and Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Alfredo Lasagna.
Like so many kitchen creations, Bev created a cooking miracle thanks to a shopping mishap in Bev Cooks Sausage and Mushroom Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups. She says she’s a changed woman. I hope she doesn’t change tooooo much ‘cause I like the old Bev just right.
Sometimes a delicious dinner all comes down to cleaning out the fridge. Bree suggests we use whatever combo of veggies we like in Baked Bree’s Veggie Lasagna, perfectly prepped a day ahead and easy to fit in the freezer for a killer weeknight eat.
We can’t talk Italian and not go to an expert. Enter Elaine, who ditches the meat and the tomato sauce to concentrate on the fresh flavors of basil and cheese to in The Italian Dish’s Pesto Lasagna.
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Sonia takes the classic combo of artichokes and chicken to create a lush layered feast with an added twist of crunchy chestnuts (I don’t think I’ve ever even cooked with chestnuts—changing that toot sweet!) in The Healthy Foodies’ Cheesy Chicken and Artichoke Lasagna