Slow Cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

The story of this Beef Ragu with Pappardelle started when Dana went up to a party in Brooklyn a couple of months ago.  The party was just around the corner from a pasta shop. Looking through the shop she spotted some of the best looking pappardelle around.  She had to buy it. Once she got home I was excited to try it out.  I wanted to make something to utilize the pasta to its fullest potential.  So I decided to make the ultimate comfort food, a Ragu!  To make it easy on me, I braised the beef in a slow cooker.  Set it and forget it.  It does not get any easier than that.

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Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

My son loves meatballs. Therefore, we have them at least once a week in our house. Since we have them so much, I get a little meatballed out. So I decided to make a little twist on the traditional meatball. I stuffed them with soft and gooey mozzarella cheese. These mozzarella stuffed meatballs are amazing! They are a must try, and have become the go to meatball recipe for our weekly meatball meal.

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Homemade Marinara

Homemade Marinara

The basis for a majority of Italian recipes is a good marinara sauce.  I have experimented and created the ultimate homemade marinara sauce.  This sauce is delicious and quick to make.  In less than 40 minutes you can be eating.  It is tangy, but not tart.  It is well balanced for everyone from kids to grandpa.  It is a must have recipe for your repertoire.

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Three Cheese Manicotti

Three Cheese Manicotti

My wife Dana is from New York City! When we visit NYC, we like to purchase food items to bring back Virginia.  One of those food items is fresh pasta.  Our favorite is Manicotti.  You just can’t beat the flavor of the pasta, from the pasta stores in New York.  Since we haven’t been to NY in a while, our stash has run dry.  So I wanted to surprise Dana with some handmade Manicotti.  I must say the three cheese Manicotti was freaking fantastic.  Even Dana said it was the best that she had eaten.  That says a lot.

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Dana’s Chicken Marsala

Dana’s Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

After spending a week in NY, I have been craving a good marsala dish, which is another popular choice in my good old stomping grounds of Queens.  That’s the one thing I miss the most about NY….the FOOD!  So, I am forced to recreate my favorites when I am craving a certain flavor!  Rex has been more open to sharing the kitchen with me these days….and so, here we go!

I was very happy with this recipe.  My only advice when following this recipe is to let the sauce thicken up more at the tail end of the preparation.  I was a ravenous beast after cooking this meal and smelling the amazing aromas this food was giving off made me rush the ending because I was dying to dig in.  Oh, and I had a cranky baby to deal with, who was ready for bed and needed a bath.  All things considered, this was a winner of a dish and will now be a staple in our house.  I hope you enjoy it!

Dana’s Chicken Marsala

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Enough to keep the chicken warm.

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Then, boil uncovered until reduced to ¾ cup (took about 20 mins on my stovetop). Set aside.

Reduce the broth

Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Cook the shallots in 3 tablespoons of butter in the heavy skillet. Stir until the shallots begin to turn golden, about 1 minute.

Cook the shallots

 

Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown (took me approx. 9 minutes, but this will vary). Remove from heat and set aside.

Browned Mushrooms

Add the flour to a pie plate or wide bowl. Gently pound chicken to ¼ inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using the flat side of a meat tenderizer (I halved 3 chicken breasts and pounded out the 6 pieces of chicken for this recipe).

Floured chicken

Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Then dip each piece of chicken in the flour, make sure to shake off any excess flour and set aside.

Cook the chicken

Heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium/high heat until the foam subsides, then saute’ 2 pieces of chicken (or however many fit in your skillet without touching) at a time. Turn each chicken breast over once, until they are golden and just cooked through. This should take approx. 4-5 minutes total once your pan is hot.

Cooked Chicken

Transfer the cooked chicken to a large heatproof dish, arranging in single layer. (I use a very large Pyrex). Place the dish in the oven to keep the chicken warm. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and cook the remaining chicken in the same manner, transferring to the platter in the oven as you are done.  Don’t wipe out the brown bits after the last batch of chicken is cooked.  You want that for the sauce.

Make the Sauce

After you are done cooking the chicken, add ½ cup of the marsala wine to the skillet you cooked the chicken in and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up the brown bits, for about 30 seconds. Add the reduced broth, cream, and mushrooms, then simmer. Stir occasionally until the sauce is slightly thickened (about 10 mins – I would extend this a bit, since I felt like I rushed this part and the sauce could have been thicker).

The Sauce

Add lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of marsala wine and ½ teaspoon sage.

Chicken Marsala

Serve chicken with the sauce. You can either pour all the sauce over the chicken or reserve some sauce to pour over the chicken when serving.  We served the chicken over mashed potatoes.  It was delicious!

Chicken Marsala

Enjoy, we devoured this dish!

Dana's Chicken Marsala
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
 
Dana's Favorite Chicken Marsala
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups reduced sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 16 oz mushrooms (I purchase sliced mushrooms for this dish)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage (you will use the ½ teaspoon sage at the very end of the recipe)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds total of skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I used 3 breasts, halved them and pounded them out for 6 pieces of chicken in total)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup of dry Marsala wine and 2 tablespoons of dry marsala wine for later in the recipe (I use Holland House)
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180-200 degrees. Enough to keep the chicken warm. Put your oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Then, boil uncovered until reduced to ¾ cup (took about 20 mins on my stovetop). Set aside.
  3. Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallots in 3 tablespoons of butter in the heavy skillet. Stir until the shallots begin to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown (took me approx. 9 minutes, but this will vary). Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add the flour to a pie plate or wide bowl. Gently pound chicken to ¼ inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using the flat side of a meat tenderizer (I halved 3 chicken breasts and pounded out the 6 pieces of chicken for this recipe).
  5. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the flour, make sure to shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium/high heat until the foam subsides, then sauté 2 pieces of chicken (or however many fit in your skillet without touching) at a time. Turn each chicken breast over once, until they are golden and just cooked through. This should take approx. 4-5 minutes total once your pan is hot. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large heatproof dish, arranging in single layer. (I use a very large pyrex). Place the dish in the oven to keep the chicken warm. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and cook the remaining chicken in the same manner, transferring to the platter in the oven as you are done.
  7. After you are done cooking the chicken, add ½ cup of the marsala wine to the skillet you cooked the chicken in and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up the brown bits, for about 30 seconds. Add the reduced broth, cream, and mushrooms, then simmer. Stir occasionally until the sauce is slightly thickened (about 10 mins – I would extend this a bit, since I felt like I rushed this part and the sauce could have been thicker). Add lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of marsala wine and ½ teaspoon sage.
  8. Serve chicken with the sauce. You can either pour all the sauce over the chicken or reserve some sauce to pour over the chicken when serving.
  9. Enjoy, we devoured this dish!
Notes
Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chicken-Marsala-232152

 

Bill’s Shrimp Marinara

Bill’s Shrimp Marinara

Shrimp Marinara

The Marinara Sauce from the other day is not Bill’s only specialty. My Father-in-Law also makes a mean Shrimp Marinara. This is a simple dish that utilizes his Sunday gravy. Sauteed shrimp and garlic mixed with awesome marinara sauce makes for a great meal.

Bill’s Shrimp Marinara

Peel and de-vein the shrimp.

peel the shrimp

 

Make sure to keep the shrimp cold while working with them.

Chilled

In a large sauce pan heat up the marinara sauce over medium heat.

Season

Preheat 6-8 quarts of salted water in a large pot for the spaghetti.  When the pot is boiling add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the box. Set aside.

Boil the spaghetti

In a large skillet heat 3 tbs of olive oil and add the garlic.

Brown the garlic

Saute the garlic until lightly browned.

Add the shrimp

Then add the shrimp.

Cook till lightly pink

Cook the shrimp roughly 1.5-2 minutes on each side, or until they turn light pink.

Simmer the shrimp in the sauce

Transfer the shrimp to the sauce pan and then allow them to simmer for 5 minutes.

Shrimp Marinara

Add the cooked spaghetti to the pot and toss.

Shrimp Marinara

Once the spaghetti is coated with sauce serve.

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 6 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic - finely diced
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan heat up the marinara sauce over medium heat.
  2. Preheat 6-8 quarts of salted water in a large pot for the spaghetti. When the pot is boiling add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the box. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet heat 3 tbs of olive oil and add the garlic.
  4. Saute the garlic until lightly browned.
  5. Then add the shrimp.
  6. Cook the shrimp roughly 1.5-2 minutes on each side, or until they turn light pink.
  7. Transfer the shrimp to the sauce pan and then allow them to simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pot and toss.
  9. Once the spaghetti is coated with sauce serve.

 

Bill’s Sunday Gravy (Marinara)

Bill’s Sunday Gravy (Marinara)

Bill's Sunday Gravy

My Father-In-Law Bill came down to visit a while back and he made some awesome Marinara.  It was so delicious, I had to get the recipe to share.  The Sauce had great color, texture and best of all – taste.  It is a simple recipe that uses the best ingredients.  The best types of recipes are the ones that use basic ingredients to their best potential.  There is no need to add a ton of seasonings when you start with the best ingredients.

Bill’s Sunday Gravy (Marinara)

In a large saucepan or stock pot over medium/high heat, add the olive oil and onions.  Stir and then add the garlic.  Continue to stir until the onions turn translucent and slightly start to brown.

Sweat the onions and garlic

Add the two cans of crushed tomatoes and the tomato puree.

Add the tomatoes

Season with the oregano, basil, red pepper flake and salt.

Season

Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes.

Toss with freshly cooked pasta

We boiled up some spaghetti and then tossed it with the sauce.  However, this recipe makes a lot so you can use what you need and then refrigerate the rest.  It is a super simple but super tasty meal.

Bill's Sunday Gravy (Marinara)
Author: 
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
 
The perfect Marinara Sauce.
Ingredients
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes...prefer Roma
  • 1 10.75 oz tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 med onion finely diced
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp red pepper crushed to taste
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan or stock pot over medium/high heat, add the olive oil and onions. Stir and then add the garlic. Continue to stir until the onions turn translucent and slightly start to brown.
  2. Add the two cans of crushed tomatoes and the tomato pastes.
  3. Season with the oregano, basil, red pepper flake and salt.
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes.

 

Quick Ragu Pasta

Quick Ragu Pasta

Quick Ragu Pasta

I know that when the average foodie hears the like of Rachel Ray they cringe, but I just tried a take on one of her recipes and it was pretty darn good.  As a man that likes to eat I will try just about anything once.  Granted I have tried a couple of her recipes and had less than great results. However, this one hit the nail on the head.  Her Christmas Pasta recipe is great.  I modified it a bit to help with standard shopping ingredients and sizes, but for the most part left it as-is.  The pancetta to start if off adds some great flavors.  Plus this recipe makes a ton of sauce and then allows you to cook only the pasta necessary for each meal.  Only two of you, make 1/2 lb of pasta and you are good to go.  Want some leftovers for lunch, boil some fresh pasta and toss it with some leftover sauce.  There is nothing like fresh pasta to make leftovers not taste like leftovers. I also changed the name as it is more of a Ragu than anything.

Quick Ragu Pasta

Heat a dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.

Brown the garlic and pancetta

Add oil, bay, and pancetta bits and brown for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Make sure to stir frequently so the garlic does not burn.

Add the meat

Add meats and brown.  Using a wooden spoon crumble and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the veg

Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes.

Veggie time spectacular

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.

Sauce it up

Add stock and tomatoes to the pot.

Spice it up

Stir in parsley, allspice and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

The perfect sauce

Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving.

The Pasta

Cook as much of the pasta as needed. Toss the pasta with a couple of ladles of sauce.

Toss it up

Finish the pasta off with some freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley.

The perfect meal

 

Quick Ragu Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Ragu
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A quick Ragu Pasta based on Rachel Ray's Christmas Pasta. Boil as much pasta as needed and toss in the sauce. Save the sauce in the fridge and heat as needed. This is the perfect pasta for a whole week full of meals.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • ¼ pound pancetta, thick cut, chopped into small bits (Italian cured pork, ask at deli counter)
  • 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 1 pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Cabernet Savignon
  • 14oz can beef broth
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans chunky style crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs flat leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 boxes penne
  • Grated Pecorino Romano
Instructions
  1. Heat a dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add oil, bay, and pancetta bits and brown for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Make sure to stir frequently so the garlic does not burn..
  2. Add meats and brown. Using a wooden spoon crumble and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add stock and tomatoes to the pot.
  6. Stir in parsley, allspice and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving.
  8. Cook as much of the pasta as needed. Toss the pasta with a couple of ladles of sauce.
  9. Finish the pasta off with some freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray's Christmas Pasta - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/christmas-pasta-recipe/index.html

Nobody was more surprised than me by how easy and delicious this recipe actually was.

Quick Ragu

You have to try this out!

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

I had a block of mozzarella cheese sitting around, so I decided to stuff some meatballs. A lot of people ask how I come up with recipes. To be honest, most come out of necessity or based on what is left in the fridge. Mix and match and usually something good will come out.

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Cut the mozzarella into 32 equal portions.

Slice the cheese into equal portions

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients but the beef. Make sure to mix everything together.

Assemble the Ingredients

Then add the beef.  My suggestion is to mix this by hand. Make sure not to mix too much as it will cause the meatballs to be tough.

Portion into equal sized meatballs

I had a few pairs of rubber gloves lying around from barbecuing. They made cleanup a snap. I would recommend buying some powder-free latex gloves. Once mixed, portion the meatballs. I would use about 1-2 tbs of meat to form each ball. Using your hand roll each one into a perfectly formed ball and set aside. A cookie scoop is a great way to portion the meat so that all of your meatballs are the same.

Form the ball around the cheese

Flatten the meat into patties, then add a cube of cheese.  Wrap the meat around the cheese and form the meatballs.

Arrange on a sheet pan

Place meatballs on baking sheets, not touching. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating trays half way through cook time.

Cooked and ready to eat

When cooked, lift the meatballs to drain and then add to the simmering pasta sauce for 30 mins. You may notice that some of the mozzarella cheese may leak out the side. This is fine. The cheese gets crispy and adds a nice texture to the sauce.

Gooey Cheese

Once all of the meatballs have been browned, let them cook in the simmering sauce for 20-30 minutes. They will absorb the great marinara flavor.

Perfect Meatballs

Serve over fresh spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
The Italian classic with a fat American twist!
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs dried parsley
  • 3 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 8oz block mozzarella
  • pinch kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cut the mozzarella into 32 equal portions.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients but the beef. Make sure to mix everything together.
  4. Then add the beef. My suggestion is to mix this by hand. Make sure not to mix too much as it will cause the meatballs to be tough.
  5. I had a few pairs of rubber gloves lying around from barbecuing. They made cleanup a snap. I would recommend buying some powder-free latex gloves.
  6. Once mixed, portion the meatballs. I would use about 1-2 tbs of meat to form each ball. Using your hand roll each one into a perfectly formed ball and set aside. A cookie scoop is a great way to portion the meat so that all of your meatballs are the same.
  7. Flatten the meat into patties, then add a cube of cheese. Wrap the meat around the cheese and form the meatballs.
  8. Place meatballs on baking sheets, not touching. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating trays half way through cook time.
  9. When cooked, lift the meatballs to drain and then add to the simmering pasta sauce for 30 mins. You may notice that some of the mozzarella cheese may leak out the side. This is fine. The cheese gets crispy and adds a nice texture to the sauce.
  10. Once all of the meatballs have been browned, let them cook in the simmering sauce for 20-30 minutes. They will absorb the great marinara flavor.
  11. Serve over fresh spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

This was a great meal.  The cheese added a nice texture to the meatballs.  Needless to say, we will be having these again.

Grilled Meatballs

Grilled Meatballs

I know it is hard to believe but sometimes I get cook’s block.  It is like writer’s block except I can not think of a single thing to make for dinner.  So earlier this week Dana requested something from chicken and something from ground beef.  I went to the store  and picked up the basic ingredients.  With the chicken I ended up making Bourbon Chicken.  However, the beef was harder for me. I scoured my cabinets and found the stuff to make pasta, but I have done meatballs many times before. I had no idea what to do.  Then I happened to stumble across Grilled meatballs over at NibbleMeThis.  It was a great idea, it would add a nice smokey flavor to the meatballs. I thought, what the heck, why not make meatballs and cook them on the grill.  So I went to my basic meatball recipe and took out a tad bit of liquid in order to make sure that they did not fall apart on the grill.  Then it was on.

Grilled Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs dried parsley
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 4 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • pinch kosher salt

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients minus the bread crumbs and meat.  Mix together.

Add the ingredients to a bowl

Then add the ground beef and the bread crumbs.

Add the meat and bread crumbs

Next mix everything together.  Your hands are the best tool for this.  I have found that picking up some rubber gloves from the pharmacy helps out a ton.  That way you are not picking out bits of meat from under your finger nails for the next week.

Perfect little meatballs

Once mixed, form the mixture into meatballs.  I would use about 1-2 tbs of meat to form each ball.  A cookie scoop is a great way to portion the meat so that all of your meatballs are the same size.  Using your hand roll each one into a perfectly formed ball and set aside.

Preheat your grill to medium/high.

Place the meatballs directly over the heat on the grill.

Grill the meatballs

Rotate the meatballs every 3-4 minutes so that they get browned on all sides.

Rotate and continue cooking

Rotate so that all of the edges of the meatballs are browned.  This will take about 16-18 minutes in total.  Cook till the centers of the meatballs are 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fully cooked Meatballs

Remove the meatballs from the grill and place them in a simmering pan of your favorite sauce.

Sauce them up

Simmer the meatballs for 10-15 minutes.

During this time cook your favorite pasta.  Dana loves angel hair pasta.  So it is our staple.

Plate the pasta and top with the meatballs and sauce.

Angel Hair with Meatballs

I added a tad bit of fresh parmigiana and dinner was ready.

Pasta with Grilled Meatballs

Not a bad meal for only having ground beef to work with.

The meatballs were moist and delicious! The added hint of smokey flavor from grilling really complemented the hearty red sauce.  It was a great meal.

Birthday Lasagna

Birthday Lasagna

This week Dana got a year older.  For her sake, we will not divulge the exact age.  However, her only request was to have lasagna made with beef and not Italian sausage.  So I whipped up some homemade noodles and put together her Birthday Lasagna.  It was a great little lasagna.  I may not be Italian, but I made some awesome pasta.

Birthday Lasagna

  • 1 pound sheet (lasagna) noodles, fresh (recipe below) or dried
  • 32 oz marinara sauce (recipe here), or two jars of your favorite red sauce
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs basil
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbs fresh parsley, 2 tbs dried
  • salt and pepper

Homemade Pasta

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

The Pasta – Step 1

The first step is to make the pasta.  If you are using dried pasta skip this step.

Mix together the eggs, water and oil in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together the semolina, all-purpose flour and salt.  Slowly mix the wet ingredients while slowly adding the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  I used my kitchen aid mixer with the flat paddle blade.

Mix up the noodle dough

Then roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it until it is no longer sticky.

Cut the dough into four portions and then roll it out using a pasta roller.  If you do not have a pasta roller, roll up your sleeves as it is going to take some good ole fashioned strength to roll out the pasta.

Using a pasta roller make flat sheets

Dust the pasta lightly with flour and set aside.

The Sauce – Step 2

In a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium/high heat, add the olive oil and sweat the onions until they are translucent.  Add the garlic, basil and ground beef.  Add a dash of salt and pepper.  Brown the meat over medium/high heat, approximately 6-8 minutes.

Brown the beef

Turn the heat down to medium and then add the marinara sauce to the pan.  Mix the beef into the sauce, lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Taste to see if it needs extra seasoning.  It may need a little salt depending on your sauce.

Add the red sauce

While the beef is getting all saucy, boil the dried noodles if you opted to not make your own.  They need to be partially boiled according to the box directions.  If you made fresh noodles, no need to boil them.  You are good to go.

The Cheese – Step 3

No lasagna is set without cheese.  In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, egg, parsley and 1/2 tsp salt.  Mix it till the egg and ricotta are one.

Ricotta Mixture

Assembly – Step 4

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish or your dedicated lasagna pan.  I am not ashamed, I have a dedicated lasagna pan.

Add a layer of sauce to the bottom of the pan.  Roughly 1 1/2 cups of sauce.

Start with the sauce

Then add a layer of noodles.

Add the noodles

Top the noodle layer with a layer of the ricotta mixture.  Top the ricotta with a couple of handfuls of mozzarella and a dusting of the Parmesan cheese.  You may need a rubber spatula to help you distribute the ricotta over the noodles.  It can be a little hard.  If you can’t get it just right, it will be fine.  When it heats up, it will distribute itself.

Then start the layers again using the sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan.

All layered up

I then ended my lasagna with a layer of noodles and topped it off with cheese.  I would recommend that you save a tad bit of sauce for the top so that the noodles do not dry off too much.  I went a little overboard with the sauce early on and had none leftover for the top.  Keep that in mind when you make it.  However, I did love the crispy top.  It is up to you.

Baking – Step 5

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Make sure that the foil does not touch the cheese.  If you feel the foil might touch the cheese, grease the bottom side of the foil with non-stick spray.

Once the 30 minutes are up, remove the foil from the pan and cook for another 25-30 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

Fresh out of the oven

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.  This way you will be able to get perfect slices.

Perfect Slices

I loved the lasagna.  It was tasty and the noodles were perfect.

Birthday Lasagna

Although I did not put a tiny layer of sauce over the noodles, I ended up loving it.  The top was crispy and added a nice texture to the dish.

Homemade Lasagna

Homemade noodles are the way to go.