Thursday, January 21, 2010


I made this BEAUTIFUL Pasta Pie last night for dinner. PJ took one look at it and said that I have too much time on my hands! Little did he know, but this was soooo easy to make! I cheated and added a jar of ready made sauce to the browned beef. Other than that, I followed the directions to a T.

Pasta Pie
From The Noble Pig
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 pound rigatoni
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can (28 ounces) good quality crushed tomatoes
Butter, for pan
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces coarsely grated mozzarella
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until slightly underdone (I cooked mine for 12 minutes when the box indicated 14 minutes). When done, rinse in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 1 Tablespoon olive oil to coat. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more.Add crushed tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end. Spread meat sauce on top of pasta.
Push the meat sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up. Stuffing the meat into the holes is a weirdly satisfying task. I used the back of a wooden spoon and just poked around!
Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. That step is VERY important if you want your masterpiece to stay together!
Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then unmold. Cut into wedges and serve with any remaining meat sauce you might have.

For step by step pictures of this, go to the Noble Pig...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Last night I made an Asian dinner. It included Hot & Sour Soup. I found a recipe online that sounded good so that's what I used. It was really good but needed some more HEAT and actually some more SOUR! But the overall flavor was very good. Instead of me tweaking the flavors, I let PJ and Alyssa adjust it to their liking any way they wanted. Alyssa used Sweet Chili Sauce that was actually spicy! She had 3 or 4 bowls of the soup!!!
It wouldn't be typical Lynn if I followed the recipe without making some changes so I'll post them in RED.

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
(makes enough for 4 light meal sized servings, I doubled it! )
6 dried tree ear mushrooms (also known as wood ear mushrooms) I didn't used either of these mushrooms but substituted about 2 cups of chopped shitaki mushrooms
6 dried black mushrooms
8 dried lily buds (otherwise known as golden needles)skipped these
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar I didn't have that so I increased the rice vinegar
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon oil
4 ounces pork loin (optional, cooked and shredded) I skipped the meat
4 cups Asian chicken stock (or chicken stock or vegetable stock)I used Veg Stock
1 package tofu (cut into small pieces)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon black pepper (ground)
1 teaspoon white pepper (ground)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili oil (to taste) oops... I didn't see that!
1 tablespoon chili sauce (to taste)
4 green onions (sliced)
1. Soak the tree ear and black mushrooms in boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes, and shred them. didn't do
2. Soak the lily buds in warm water until softened, about 20 minutes, and shred them. didn't buy them
3. Cover the bamboo shoots in water, bring to a boil, drain and shred. I just opened the can, rinses them and cut them julianne style
4. Mix the vinegars, soy sauce, salt and sugar in a bowl.
5. Mix the cornstarch into the water in a bowl.
6. Heat the oil in a large pot.
7. Add the pork, tree ear and black mushrooms, lily buds and bamboo shoots and saute for a minute.
8. Add the broth and tofu and bring to a boil.
9. Add the vinegar mixture and the cornstarch mixture and stir until it thickens.
10. Pour the eggs into the soup in a thin stream while stirring the soup.
11. Stir in the peppers, oils and chili sauce.
12. Serve garnished with green onions.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tonight I made Louann's recipe for
French Cream of Onion Soup Shots with Bacon Swizzle Sticks.
This is a very FUN to serve recipe! Besides that... It was delicious!!! I took this picture before we actually ate dinner with what I think is a sherry glass. I don't have shot glasses and didn't want to ask Alyssa where her's are! I served them then in soup crocks because we wanted a lot! PJ had 3 BOWLS of it! The picture doesn't do it justice!!!
The recipe is VERY easy and uses basic ingredients. The bacon is really a great addition to this soup.


3-4 onions, sliced
4 TBSP Butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. broth (any kind; vegetable, beef, chicken)
2 c. milk
3 egg yolks lightly beaten
1/4 c. heavy cream (can substitute fat free 1/2 & 1/2)
1/2 c. grated parmesan or swiss cheese

In a large saucepan, saute' sliced onions and cook gently in butter until tender and golden. Sprinkle with the flour. Add broth and cook for about 20 minutes. Strain or puree in a blender, working in small batches. Return to the saucepan. Stir in the milk. Add a little of the pureed mix to the egg yolks, whisking to incorporate; but not scramble the eggs! Add mixture to the soup and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until thickened. Stir in cream and cheese. Serve in "shot" glasses with Bacon Swizzle Stix as a garnish.


1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 ts. cinnamon
24 slices of bacon (I only got to use 8 slices for some reason!)
24 wooden skewers, soaked in water
Broiler pan

Preheat oven to 350. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Lay strips of bacon flat (wax paper is a good idea) and rub with 1/2 of the sugar mixture. Turn over and repeat with the remaining sugar mixture. Wrap each piece of bacon tightly around a skewer. Transfer to a broiler pan (do not use a cookie sheet, it will NOT work. ** See note at bottom) Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer bacon to a wire rack. These can be served warm or at room temperature. Arrange on a napkin - lined dish... which I didn't do.
** I used a cookie sheet that had a wire cooling rack on top of it. I haven't used my broiler pan in 5 years and I'm NOT about to start now! This method worked out fine. I think you need the air distribution from the top and underneath to make the bacon crispy.