Archive for February, 2012

I make lasagna for parties and potlucks; I often make it for the first night of our annual girlfriends four-day Cambria road trip, but I’m fairly sure my honey has never had it for a dinner with just the two of us. Mostly because, in true Perry fashion, I only know how to make a batch for 10 or more guests. I’m sure you can make smaller amounts, but why? The leftovers are even better for lunch or dinner the next day and the rest freezes perfectly for that night you are just too exhausted to prepare dinner. So here you go – dinner for 10 – just add salad and garlic bread.

Good friends, a bottle of red & Red & White Lasagna

This lasagna uses both a red sauce and a faux bechamel/white sauce–it’s not a true bechamel because I don’t adorn an onion with whole cloves and steep it in hot milk for an hour. (That makes for a delicious sauce, yes, but I have a day job. And a life.)

Easy Red Sauce

1/2 small onion, chopped
1-2 tbls olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lg cans Italian stewed tomatoes (try to find Italian, they’re better!)
1/2 cup red wine (good wine, follow my mantra – if you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp Trader Joe’s 21-Seasoning Salute*
2 tsp Trader Joe’s Pasta Seasoning Blend
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet; warm the olive oil (you want medium heat–olive oil burns if your heat is too high), then add onions and sauté until tender (about 3 minutes). Pour in the tomatoes and smash them until they’re in smaller chunks. Add tomato paste, spices and red wine. Simmer with a screen cover (so it doesn’t splatter all over your stove) for about half an hour. Salt and pepper to taste.

Easy White Sauce

1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
1/3 cup flour
1 qt half and half
1 tbls Knorr Caldo de Pollo powder
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg (or to taste; sometimes I use more)

Melt butter in large saucepan until bubbly. Add flour and stir in; the flour should be absorbed. Stir for about 3 minutes; don’t allow to turn brown! Add wine and then the milk until the mixture is thick and starts to bubble (it might not take the full quart). Then add in the pollo de caldo powder. Last, turn off heat and stir in nutmeg.

Hazel’s Red-and-White Lasagna

Red and white sauces (purchased red is ok if you have a favorite, although I prefer my own)
1 package of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formagio cheese mix
1 8-ounce package of sliced white mushrooms
1 small onion, halved and thin sliced
1 package TJ’s Italian sausage (Chicken)
Olive oil
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
1 tub Ricotta

Bring a large sauté pan to heat and splash in a couple tablespoons olive oil. Squeeze the chicken sausage from its casings and crumble into the pan. Sauté til cooked through, crumbling into big chunks. Remove from pan and add the sliced onions and mushrooms. Sauté til golden, then remove from heat.

In a large deep lasagna baking pan splash the bottom with olive oil, and smear over the bottom and sides of pan. Ladle in approx 1 cup of your red sauce and add the first layer of dry, uncooked lasagna noodles. Add another cup of red sauce to the top and spread roughly with flat wooden spoon. Sprinkle half your sausage over that layer. Add half the mascarpone by teaspoonfuls across this layer and then add about a cup of the cheese mix. Add another layer of noodles, this time covering with a cup of the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle this layer with half the onion-mushroom mix and the balance of the mascarpone and another cup of cheese mix. For the next layer, red sauce and the balance of the sausage and another cup of the cheese mix. For the final layer, cover with noodles, the last of your béchamel sauce and mushroom/oinion mix and the last of the cheese mix. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!


*Another WordPress blogger who is equally devoted to Trader Joe’s seasoning blends notes that Costco carries a similar product–in, of course, a much larger package. Check out Carrol’s comments in What I Crave here. I too run out of 21-Seasoning Salute all too often, so this is info I can use!


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A delicious low-cal dinner in minutes!

Lulakabob! What is it really? you ask. If you’re of Armenian descent, you already know; for the rest of us, it’s a happy discovery.
My first experience with lulakabob was at a barbecue – of a sort. It was at a automobile-salvage yard in the middle of a winter afternoon just before Christmas several years ago; it was cold, muddy and windy. One of the yard guys laid a grill over a big hub cap full of hot coals and then grabbed a skewer and squeezed some kind of ground meat onto it and laid it on the grill. He kept transferring meat to skewers as a bottle of Grey Goose and a bottle of Black Label were passed around and plastic cups were filled. Ice and mixer were offered, but with a look that told me only sissies would use them. A heavenly aroma rose from the grill, and when I was handed a skewer hot off the fire, I found out why.

I’ve been a lulakabob fan ever since.

They’re so simple and delicious. I recommend them as an appetizer for parties, although my honey and I have them for dinner too. You can make them on the small wooden skewers you find at the market, but I recommend going to the cooking store of your choice and picking up flat metals ones because they do work much better. I’ve found them at barbecue-supply stores for lots of money, but I’ve also seen them at the 99 Cent Store. Needless to say the chi-chi ones are of better quality, but if you’re in a hurry or on a tight budget, go the cheap route!

As you may have deduced, lulakabob isn’t from these parts, so the hardest part of this recipe can be finding a Middle Eastern market that carries the essential ingredient. If you’re in Glendale, there are lots of them, including my favorite Central Grand Market on N. Central. I have discovered a new favorite out here in the Inland Empire called simply the Farmers Market on Foothill and Archibald in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s a great store with a fabulous stock of exotic foods and a fresh meat market at the back, stocking lulakabob already mixed; you can buy ground, spiced lamb, chicken or beef. Feel free to buy cucumber dip or tzatziki while you’re there and if you find a great market like the two just mentioned, you’ll be able to pick up fresh baked flat bread to accompany your lulakabob.

You can also buy a package of dried lulakabob spices with the directions to make any ground meat into lulakabob. I always have a couple packages on hand.

Uncooked Chicken Lulakabob

Take it home, open up your white butcher paper and let the kabob building begin. It’s easy; wash your hands well, scoop out a handful of ground meat and squeeze on to your skewer – it’s that easy. Make as many skewers as you think you need, and then add a couple more. Place them on a hot grill and turn them every two minutes; they only need about 7 minutes altogether. It’s a quick, yummy dinner – serve with a fresh salad, flat bread and a yogurt dip of your choice. That’s it — a perfect, lo-cal, low-fat dinner. Make them in smaller bite-size skewers for appetizers. They’ll go over great at any Super Bowl party, I promise!


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