Archive for Dinner

Lasagne al Forno

I first made this lasagne years ago, when I lived in Germany (yes, Germany, not Italy).  There was this small family run Italian restaurant in the little German town we lived in.  Aside from the restaurants and cafés in Italy, that little Italian restaurant in Germany is the best I’ve ever been to.  It’s been over 15 years since I’ve been there, yet I have not yet found any Italian restaurant to compare to that one in Germany.

This recipe is my take on one of my favorite dishes served there.  The blend of the tomato and bechamel sauces take this pasta dish to a whole new level.  Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it.  🙂 

LASAGNE AL FORNO

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box no-bake lasagne noodles (have a 2nd box on hand in case you use a large pan)
  • Meat sauce (see below)
  • Bechamel sauce (see below)
  • 1 bag (1 pound) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese blend

Lasagne al Forno ingredients

Meat Sauce:
    • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
    • 1 pound lean ground beef (you can omit this if you want your sauce less meaty)
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
    • 2 tablespoons Dashida beef flavored seasoning
    • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
    • 6 leaves fresh basil, chopped into small pieces
    • Black pepper, to taste
    • 2 29-ounce cans tomato sauce
Directions to make the Meat Sauce:

1.  Brown the sausage and ground beef.  Drain any excess fat and liquid.

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 2.  After the meat has browned, add the Dashida, onions, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and basil.

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3.  Cook until the onions are translucent. 

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4.  Add the tomato sauce to the ground meat mixture.  Stir to combine.  Simmer for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.  Set aside.

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Bechamel Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 5-ounce bag grated Parmesan cheese
Directions to make the Bechamel Sauce:

1. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter.

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2.  Add the flour (all at once) to the melted butter.

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3.  Use a whisk to mix the flour and butter together.  Cook over medium low heat for about 2-3 minutes.  Whisk constantly to prevent burning.

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4. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream.  Whisk vigorously to ensure there are no lumps. 

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5.  Add the grated Parmesan cheese to the milk mixture.  Turn the heat up to medium high. Continue whisking; cook until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens.

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You know the sauce is thick enough when you dip a spoon into it, run your finger down the spoon, and you leave a line down the spoon that doesn’t disappear with runny sauce.

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6.  Add the grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn the heat off and set the sauce aside.  NOTE:  This sauce is EXCELLENT for fettuccine alfredo.  🙂

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Assemble the Lasagne al Forno:

1. Using a large lasagne pan, or a deep dish baking/roasting pan, spread a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.

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2.  Add a layer of noodles.  Don’t worry about filling in the spaces with noodles; these no-cook noodles will expand during the baking process.

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3.  Pour some bechamel sauce over the noodles, just enough to cover the noodles.

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4.  Sprinkle shredded and grated cheese over the bechamel sauce.  Top with another layer of noodles.

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5.  Repeat the layering process — meat sauce, noodles, bechamel sauce, cheese, noodles — until you’ve used up all of your sauce and/or noodles.  The last layer (on top) should be bechamel sauce topped with cheese.

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6.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the pan of lasagne on top of a large baking sheet.  Cover the pan of lasagne with aluminum foil.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. 

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7.  After 25 minutes, remove the aluminum foil.  Turn the oven to Broil — continue to bake the lasagne for 5 more minutes to brown the cheese on top.

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8.  Once the cheese has browned, remove the pan from the oven.  Before serving, let the lasagne sit for at least 15 minutes (don’t worry, it will still be hot) to allow the sauces to set.  If you serve immediately after removing the lasagne from the oven, the sauces will run all over the place (it will still taste delicious, but your presentation won’t be as “pretty”).  Serve with your favorite crusty bread and ENJOY!  🙂

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Short Ribs Soup (Kådun Kåtne)

It’s cold and rainy right now in the Colorado Rockies…perfect weather for Short Ribs Soup.  We call this Kådun Kåtne in Chamorro.  You can substitute short ribs with your favorite cut of beef–other favorites are oxtails (don’t knock it ’till you try it) and beef shanks.

You can even change this up further by adding your favorite vegetables–potatoes, taro, other types of squash, and baby bok choy are delicious in this recipe too!

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it.  🙂

 

SHORT RIBS SOUP (KÅDUN KÅTNE)

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 packages (9 pieces) thick cut short ribs (rinse each piece well)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons Dashida beef flavored seasoning
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small head cabbage, cut into small pieces
  • 4 small yellow squash, peeled and cubed

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Place half of the diced onions in a large soup pot.  Add the short ribs and garlic.  Brown the ribs on all sides over medium high heat.

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2.  After the ribs are browned on all sides, add 8 cups of the water, the remaining onions and Dashida.  Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil.  Every now and then, skim off and discard any scum that rises to the surface.

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3.  Cook the ribs for 45 minutes to an hour over medium high heat.  Keep the lid covered while cooking; uncover only to skim off any scum on the surface then replace the lid.  If you need to, add the remaining water (keep the ribs submerged in liquid during cooking).  After an hour, the ribs should be tender.  If the ribs are not as tender as you’d like, cook for 15-20 more minutes.

This is what the scum looks like — you want to scoop this out and discard it.

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4.  When the ribs are done (and as tender as you’d like them), add the vegetables.  First, layer the cabbage on top of the ribs.  Press down on the cabbage, just slightly so that the leaves are moistened with the broth.  Layer the squash on top of the cabbage leaves, also pressing them into the broth (do not stir the vegetables into the soup–they will cook ON TOP of the ribs).  Cook for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.

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NOTE:

Before serving, I usually scoop out a good amount of kådu (soup broth) into a freezer-safe bowl, then place the bowl in the freezer for several minutes.  All of the fat will rise to the surface and harden.  After the fat solidifies, I scoop it out and discard it, then reheat the kådu.

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5.  After the kådu is reheated, remove the pot from the heat.  Taste the broth; re-season if necessary with Dashida and pepper.  Serve with hot white rice and fina’denne’.  Enjoy!

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Homemade Beer Chili

Homemade chili such a versatile dish that can be changed up depending on the ingredients you add.

My family’s favorite is chili made with ground beef, but we also love white chicken chili and chili made with ground chuck (or cut into small pieces) and cooked in a pressure cooker.

It’s not only versatile in how it’s prepared, but how you serve it too.  Of course, being Chamorro, we love eating steaming hot chili with freshly cooked white rice.  We also love it served with chips–our favorites being Doritos or Fritos–or heaped onto a baked potato with a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

However you serve it, it’s delicious.

My recipe contains some unusual ingredients–my “secret” ingredients.  (Shhhh….don’t tell anyone.)  🙂

Among my treasure trove of secrets in this recipe, I add an entire 12-ounce bottle of beer–YES, BEER.  I like using ale in this recipe, but by all means, use your favorite beer or whatever you have on hand.  Don’t worry, though–all of the alcohol gets cooked out, leaving behind only a hint of beer, imparting a new dimension of flavor that will leave your friends wondering what you put in it.

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I also add about a cup of crushed tortilla chips.  This serves as a thickening agent without adding flours or starches to the chili.  Add more chips for a thicker chili.  I think I used about 5 or 6 handfuls of chips to get a cup’s worth of crushed chips.  Just put the chips in a bowl and smash it with your hands.

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Give my recipe a try–I think you’ll like it.  🙂

Click on the thumbnail photos below to open up a full-sized photo.

Homemade Beer Chili
 
This is a hearty and very tasty chili that contains my "secret" ingredients that are sure to make you come back for more!
Ingredients
  • 2lb ground beef
  • 6 tablespoons Dashida beef flavored seasoning (found in Korean or Asian stores)
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 12oz beer
  • 3½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 can (28-oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 2 cans (15.5-oz) white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cans (16-oz) dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • jalapeño peppers (chopped, as much as you like)
Instructions
  1. Place the ground beef in a large pot. Add the Dashida; stir.
  2. Add the onions to the pot.
  3. Cook over medium high heat until the meat has browned. I like using this utensil from Pampered Chef -- it's used to break up the ground beef into smaller pieces as you cook it (I switch to a cooking spoon after the meat has browned).
  4. Pour in the beer. I like using a good ale, but you can use your favorite beer. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Keep the heat on high until the liquid in the pot has dried down and the alcohol has cooked out.
  5. Add the chili powder. Stir to combine.
  6. Add the paprika. Stir to combine.
  7. Add both cans of tomatoes (crushed and diced) to the pot. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium.
  8. Add the crushed tortilla chips to the pot. Stir to combine.
  9. Add the beans and stir. Keep the heat at medium; cook, uncovered, until the mixture returns to a boil. The crushed chips should have softened and dissolved into the mixture by now, thickening it up quite a bit.
  10. Add the Parmesan cheese; stir. I like adding grated cheese to this recipe. It adds a bit of saltiness and gives it added depth of flavor.
  11. Add the brown sugar; stir. The brown sugar adds another layer of flavor in my recipe. I find it also balances the saltiness from the Dashida and grated Parmesan cheese, as well as compliments the spiciness from any added chili peppers (optional).
  12. At this point, you can stir as much hot chili peppers you like. My kids don't like spicy chili so I don't add it.
  13. Serve over hot rice, or in a bowl with a side of your favorite chips (we like Fritos or Doritos with this). Enjoy!

 

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Chicken ala King

Chicken ala King is a classic comfort dish.

Growing up, chicken ala king was usually served at rosaries, after the prayers were completed, of course.  It was chicken ala king, beef vegetable soup with glass noodles or long rice, rosketti, and custard pie that I remember being served most often after rosaries.

Now you don’t have to wait for those somber occasions to enjoy this comfort meal.  My recipe and step-by-step photos show how easy it is to prepare yourself.

My daughter calls it chicken pot pie without the crust.  I wouldn’t say it’s quite like chicken pot pie, however.  I think it’s BETTER than chicken pot pie.  Who agrees with me?  Give my recipe a try and I think you’ll agree too.  🙂

CHICKEN ALA KING

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MAKE THE FILLING:

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INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING:

    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 5 tablespoons butter
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons powdered chicken bouillon, more or less to taste
    • 2 cups flour
    • 3 cups water
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
    • 2 16-ounce bags frozen corn
    • 2 12-ounce bags frozen peas and carrots
    • 4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

This is what heavy cream looks like. You can find it in the dairy section of your grocery store.

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DIRECTIONS:

1.  Cut the chicken breasts into very small pieces then place into a large soup pot.

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2.  Add the butter, garlic and chopped onions to the pot.  Cook over medium high heat until the chicken is done.  Add in the powdered chicken bouillon.  Stir to combine.

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This is the powdered chicken bouillon I use.  You can find it in most grocery stores.

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3.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the flour all at once; stir.

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4.  Pour in the water, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps from forming — the mixture should be very thick at this point.  Mix in the heavy cream and evaporated milk.  Keep stirring until there are no more lumps.

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5.  Stir in the frozen corn, peas and carrots.  Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook over medium high heat until the mixture has thickened once again.

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6.  After the mixture has thickened, stir in the chopped eggs.  Pour the filling into the pastry shells and enjoy!

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MAKE THE SHELLS:

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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SHELLS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

1.  In a shallow bowl, beat the two eggs.  Mix in the milk and water.

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2.  Mix in the flour, corn starch, sugar, salt and garlic powder.

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3.  Whisk until there are no more lumps.  The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.

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4.  Place the molds in the oil while the oil is heating up.

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5.  When the oil and molds are hot, lift the molds out of the oil.  Let as much of the oil drip off as possible (if you still have oil on the molds, the batter won’t stick to it).  Dip the molds into the batter, but careful not to submerge the molds.  Dip the molds only to just below the rim (if the batter goes over the rim, it won’t release into the hot oil).

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6.  Lift the molds up out of the batter.  Allow any excess batter to drip off.

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7.  Place the batter-covered molds into the hot oil.

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8.  Keep the molds submerged in the oil for about a minute or so — the shells/cups should drop right off the molds all by themselves.  If they don’t drop off by themselves, use a chopstick or fork to nudge the shell/cup off the mold.

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9.  Lift the molds out of the oil.  Fry the shells/cups until golden brown.  Remove from the oil and place in a metal colander to drip off any excess oil.

NOTE:  The molds must be hot before dipping them in batter.  If the molds have cooled off (while you’re waiting for a batch of cups to fry), dip them back in the hot oil to reheat then repeat the process again.

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10.  Let the shells/cups cool then fill with Chicken ala King and enjoy!

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“Crack” Chicken

When I was stationed in Korea a few years ago, my family and I used to frequent a fried chicken place that served the most delicious chicken wings.

The menu included spicy (mouth on fire) wings, plain, but our favorite had a garlic-soy glaze on it.  They were so good (and addicting) that my friends and kids nicknamed it “crack chicken”.  🙂

This is my version of those wings.  A word of warning — it’s HEAVY on the garlic (just the way I like it).

Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it!  🙂

“CRACK” CHICKEN

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INGREDIENTS FOR THE FRIED CHICKEN:

  • 5 pounds chicken wings (I like drummettes)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil, for frying

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped (use 10 cloves if you LOVE garlic like I do)
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • Optional: Pepper flakes

Cooking Instructions:

Make the Sauce:

1. Place the sauce ingredients (except for the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the water) into a medium sized sauce pan; whisk to combine. Optional: Add pepper flakes (omit if you do not want your sauce to be spicy).

2. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low; continue to cook at a low simmer, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and set the sauce aside.

3. When the chicken wings are done, reheat the sauce, bringing it back up to a boil. Mix together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water; whisk into the boiling sauce. Bring the sauce back up to a boil; the sauce should begin to thicken. Cook for an additional 2 minutes then pour over the fried chicken.

Batter the Chicken:

1. Rinse the chicken. Place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Into the mixing bowl, add the ingredients for the fried chicken: salt, black pepper, eggs, garlic powder, flour, corn starch, and water. Using your hands, mix the chicken and the rest of the ingredients together. After mixing, the chicken should be fully covered in a thick batter.

Fry the Chicken (1st Frying):

1. Place the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Heat the oil over medium high heat, to about 375 degrees.

2. Carefully drop the chicken into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan (the chicken needs room to cook).

3. Let the chicken cook for about 5 minutes on each side.

4. For the first frying, fry for a total of 10 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain in a metal colander. Set aside and continue to fry the remaining chicken. After all the chicken pieces have been fried for the first time, it is time for the 2nd frying. The 2nd frying will make the wings extra crispy and golden brown.

Fry the Chicken (2nd Frying):

1. This step goes much quicker. For the second frying, it’s okay to overcrowd the pan. Place as many chicken wings into the hot oil as can fit. My pan fit about 12 wings for the first frying; for the second frying, I placed about 18 wings into the pan.

2. For the second frying, fry for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain in a metal colander. *See the difference in coloring between the first and second frying in the photo attached to this recipe.

3. When all the wings have been fried for the second time, place in a large mixing bowl. Pour the prepared sticky sauce over the chicken.

Garnish and Serve:

1. After pouring the sauce over the chicken, gently stir to ensure each wing is generously coated with the sticky sauce.

2. Optional: sprinkle pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds over the chicken.

3. Serve with hot rice and ENJOY! It’s so good, you’ll be addicted to it!

 

The photos below illustrate my step-by-step process.  I hope this makes it easier to understand.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  🙂

1 - Crack Chicken

2 - Fried Chicken Ingredients

3 - Sauce Ingredients

4 - Make the Sauce

5 - Batter the Chicken

6 - First Frying

Oops!  # 4 (above) should read, “fry for a total of 10 minutes” (not 8).

 

7 - Second Frying

8 - Garnish and Serve

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