Homemade Italian Lasagne…A Classic Italian Family Meal!

By Jodee Weiland

When it comes to a good hearty meal, Homemade Italian Lasagne is at the top of my list. Whether made with Italian Marinara or Italian Bolognese sauce, it’s actually pretty simple to make, especially these days.

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You can make it with regular lasagne noodles cooked, drained, and then placed in the layers of your lasagne, or you can use the no boil required noodles sold now.  No boil required noodles go from the box, straight to your layers making it easier and quicker than you might expect.  Even if you choose to make a Italian Bolognese sauce, it’s still not as hard as some might think.  It’s simply buying your ingredients and following the steps.

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When I was growing up in an Italian family, lasagne was served along with a full turkey meal on holidays. It was more like being served two meals rather than just one. That’s one tradition I don’t follow because it was too much food, but I have fond memories of our holidays together and the conversations and laughter that went along with those meals.  Having so much food on the table meant people tended to sit and visit longer. That may have been because we were all too full to get up and move away from the table. I learned early on that it was better to take small portions, despite the fact that everything on my mother’s table was delicious.  Besides, there were always leftovers to be had the next day!

http://learnfromyesterday.comHomemade Italian Lasagne…A Classic Italian Family Meal

Prepare your Italian Marinara or Italian Bolognese sauce by following the link

9 ounce box of no boil lasagne or a regular box of boil lasagne
2 cups Italian ricotta
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For top of the lasagne: About 3/4 cup mozzarella sliced or shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

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In a mixing bowl, blend together the ricotta, parsley, Parmesan Reggiano, mozzarella, egg, and ground pepper.  I do not add onion or garlic to this because I usually have sliced onions, chopped garlic, and sliced mushrooms in my sauce, which will be layered into the lasagne.

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The layers are simple.  Coat an 8” x 11” baking dish with olive oil.  This size baking dish works especially well with the no boil lasagne noodles.  Three across, slightly overlapped, fit the dish well.  Either way, once the dish is prepared, start layering by putting sauce across the bottom of the dish. Then put a layer of the pasta, followed by a third of the ricotta and mozarella mixture.  Next put about sauce on top of the ricotta mixture and spread across. Continue to do this for additional layers until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch or more from the top edge of your dish, finishing with pasta across the top.  Cover the top noodles with sauce followed by the remaining 3/4 cup of shredded mozarella.

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Keep in mind the lasagne bubbles up as it cooks and sometimes drips over the side, so place the dish of lasagne on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for easy clean up.  Bake covered loosely with foil or a baking dish cover, if you have one, until it begins to bubble, uncovering it the last 5 to 10 minutes to let the cheese melt. I uncovered it the last six minutes, and it was perfect.  Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  Let it sit for about fifteen minutes or longer before cutting and serving.

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My Homemade Italian Lasagne…A Classic Italian Meal cuts up into perfect square layered pieces of lasagne. I love ricotta and mozzarella, and as a result, I put plenty of both into the mixture for the three layers, then add sauce on each layer.  Our family members and friends who have had my lasagne will tell you that it is awesome!  Serve the lasagne with extra sauce, grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, crusty rosemary olive bread, and a Chianti wine.  Toss a light salad for a side and your meal is complete.  We love this meal in our house, so try it and enjoy!

Visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Great Towns, Great Food, Great Time!

By Jodee Weiland

Visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a wonderful idea for anyone, young or old.  The Cape has a series of small villages running all along its coastlines, and each one has something to offer tourists.

http://learnfromyesterday.comWe recently spent a week there and stayed in a condo resort in West Yarmouth on the Cape. Hyannis which is just west of Yarmouth is in fact the largest of seven villages that make up the town of Barnstable, one of many towns that make up Barnstable County, on Cape Cod. We chose West Yarmouth because it was centrally located on the southern coastline of Cape Code and was close to the ferries in Hyannis that would take us over the Nantucket Sound to either the island of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.

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Eager to see it all, we did the best we could. Although we attempted to see as much as possible in the week we spent there, there were certain areas that stood out the most for us. Those areas are the ones I have decided to highlight in this post.

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One of the first towns we visited was Hyannis for all the obvious reasons, such as the John F. Kennedy Museum, the JFK Memorial, the shops, and restaurants. In fact, one of the best restaurants we went to was right across the street from the Hyannis Inner Harbor, where you could take the Hy-Line High Speed Ferry or Traditional Ferry to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. They offered a variety of cruises as well for whale watching and more.

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After spending a day in Hyannis, we walked over to the harbor to get more information about the various ferries. We decided that we would take the Hy-Line High Speed Ferry the next day over to Nantucket. The reason for our choice was the trip would take about fifty-five minutes rather than the one hour and fifty minute ride on the traditional ferry. Since we were only going for the day that seemed the wiser choice, although the price was higher.

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While at the Hyannis Harbor, we noticed The Black Cat Tavern, a restaurant we had heard was voted the Best Clam Chowder on the Cape and the Best Giant Lobster Roll. We decided to have dinner there and enjoyed it so much, we went back a couple more times during the week.

http://learnfromyesterday.comThe award winning clam chowder was wonderful! It was creamy with fresh clams and a smooth flavor that left you wanting more. The Giant Black Cat Lobster Roll was fantastic! We were told it had about nine ounces of fresh lobster, and it was great. It wasn’t oozing mayonnaise, so you could really enjoy the taste of the large pieces of fresh lobster on a roll that was fresh and lightly toasted. It was served with your choice of chips, skinny fries, or sweet potato fries and a dill pickle, and it was absolutely delicious or as my husband would say, “Worth the price of admission!”

http://learnfromyesterday.comThe next day, we went across Nantucket Sound to the island of Nantucket on the Hy-Line High Speed Ferry.  Arriving at Nantucket Island, you can’t help but notice the beautiful town almost immediately. We explored the town with its quaint shops, museums, and restaurants. It really was quite beautiful and had a style all of its own. Visiting for a few hours really didn’t do it justice and didn’t allow for much exploration of the island itself, but I’m glad we took the time to visit.

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The next few days were spent driving through the various villages on Cape Cod.  We spent time browsing and shopping in the lovely Falmouth, went to the Yarmouth Seaside Festival, spent a day visiting Provincetown, the northern most point of the Cape, where we had lunch at the well-known Lobster Pot. We did some shopping in Barnstable and had dinner there on our anniversary at The Barnstable Restaurant and Tavern, another fabulous choice for fresh seafood meals and more.  We drove the scenic route 6A through various villages on the northern coast of the Cape, stopping from time to time, exploring antique shops and more.

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All in all, we saw most of the Cape during our week long stay and ate at some really great restaurants. We even had some of the best homemade ice cream ever at the Cape Cod Creamery in South Yarmouth, where colorful wooden Adirondack chairs lined the front lawns and porches around the typical Cape Cod style building. It was a lot of fun and an enjoyable vacation for us. In some ways, it wasn’t what we expected, while in other ways, it was exactly what we expected.  If we go back in the future, at least now we’ll know what we want to do and see, and be able to focus on those areas we liked the best. If you get a chance to go to the Cape, be sure to have fun and enjoy!

 

When in Syracuse, New York, Be Sure to Eat at Pastabilities for a Great Meal!

By Jodee Weiland

When I think about this particular trip, I can’t help but think about the wonderful Pastabilities! Oh, what a great place to stop and have a delicious meal!

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Recently, we drove from Chicago to Cape Cod with a few stops in between here and there.  We were on our way to an area just outside of Boston for a family wedding.  We decided to extend our trip another week, so we could spend time on Cape Cod.  On the way to and from the Cape, one of the cities we stopped at was Syracuse, New York, and this was no accident.

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We had seen a restaurant called Pastabilities featured on the TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, with Guy Fieri.  They talked about the Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil that the restaurant served to customers with fresh baked bread, while waiting for their meal.  It was a bread dipping sauce in place of the typical olive oil.  It looked delicious, and that’s all it took for me to put Syracuse, New York, on the route we would take to the Cape!

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This was one of the best choices I have ever made in planning our road trip routes.  Pastabilities is without a doubt a wonderful restaurant that serves a choice of pastas and more, including homemade pastas.  The Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil is not only used as a dipping oil for bread, it is also used as a sauce for pasta.  I had it with homemade linguini, and I have to say it was beyond delicious.  It was superb or as my husband would say, “Best of the best!”  We both loved it and wish we could go there more often to enjoy this and all the other wonderful selections on the menu.

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The owner, Karyn Korteling, not only has her restaurant, Pastabilities, but also owns a shop across the street called Pasta’s Daily Bread, where they bake delicious fresh bread and sell the Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil as well.  You can, also, purchase it at the restaurant and online.  Needless to say, we left with a full supply of this wonderful sauce to bring home and enjoy!  I guarantee we will be buying more online until we can go back again.  If you can’t get to Syracuse, but would like to try some, just go online and order it.  Trust me when I say, if you order this Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil online, you won’t be disappointed!

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While dining at this fabulous restaurant, Pastabilities, Karyn came and greeted us at our table and told us she would be opening a place behind her restaurant where they would now be making even more homemade pastas, and perhaps having workshops for those interested in learning how they do this.  I would love to be able to attend one of her workshops once they get it going, because everything she makes is above and beyond delicious!

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According to her website for Pastabilities, Karyn claims her success is due to the fact that everything is homemade from pastas to desserts.  The breads served with her Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil are all baked fresh throughout the day at her own shop. This is all true, and I am glad I had a chance to experience it firsthand.   Pastabilities is one of the best restaurants I have had the pleasure to have had a meal.  But don’t take my word for it, since Guy Fieri of HGTV did a whole show on this restaurant and said the same thing!  If you ever have the chance to visit Syracuse, New York, this downtown restaurant is a stop you should put at the top of your list.  So when in Syracuse, New York, be sure to eat at Pastabilities for a great meal! You won’t regret it!  Enjoy!

Thank you to owner, Karyn Korteling, for all her help, for allowing me to take pictures of her restaurant for this post, and for taking the time to talk to me about Pastabilities.  Thank you so much, Karyn!

 

Apple Galette, the Versatile French Pastry We All Love to Eat!

By Jodee Weiland

Galettes were originally French pastries that were usually flat and shaped into various freeform shapes.  More often now, we see them in a round or oval shape, but the shape varies from what I’ve seen.

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Today just about anywhere in the world, you will see recipes for this pastry crust, which vary in how they are made from a sweet crust to a bread like crust and can hold just about anything from fruits to vegetables and more. When I decided to make my Apple Galette, the Versatile French Pastry We All Love to Eat, I chose to use my pie crust with a touch of cinnamon and a version of my apple pie filling.

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This recipe was a lot easier than making an apple pie, but getting the crust edges right proved trickier than I thought.  Since this was the first galette I have ever made, I gave myself permission not to be perfect.  By doing so, I relaxed a little and let myself keep in mind the word freeform, which implies perfection is not a requirement.  That done, I found making this galette a rewarding experience to add to my list of previous cooking experiences.

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Apple Galette, the Versatile French Pastry We All Love to Eat!

For the flaky crust:

1 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted whipped butter
3 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water

In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the texture is crumbly with the butter in small pieces.  Add one tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing the mixture as you go.  You may use only three tablespoons of water, but if needed, use more.  Add water until the mixture looks crumbly, but can be formed into a ball in your hands.  Roll out the dough to a 10 inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  When rolled to the right size, fold it in half to make it easier to move to your baking sheet.  I use a pastry sheet with printed circles of various sizes to roll out my dough in order to get it the right size and shape.  Once on the baking sheet, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while finishing your pie filling.

Apple pie filling:

2 medium apples thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of butter crumbled on top of filling

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Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Gently stir this mixture into your apples.  Place the apple slices decoratively on to the crust center leaving about an inch or more to fold over. Cut up the 1 teaspoon of butter and spread it over the top of the apples.  Fold up and over the apple edges, creasing and sealing the crust edges.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes until the crust turns a lightly brown.  Once done sprinkle a little sugar across the top, then set the galette on a cooling rack for at least one hour before cutting.

http://learnfromyesterday.comMy Apple Galette, the Versatile French Pastry We All Love to Eat, turned out delicious, and I know I’ll being baking more galettes in the future.  Now that I have made one, I can’t wait to try more, varying the crusts and the fillings.  The dessert galette I made today is a quick and easy way to capture the flavor of apple pie without the extra work.  You can, also, vary the size, making your galette for less people or more.  I love this idea!  I hope you do, too. Enjoy!

Sweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie is Perfect for Apple Picking Time!

By Jodee Weiland

Years ago in fall we would go apple picking with our children, and when we got home it was time to bake.  We liked to bake Apple Walnut Bread, and we always made enough to freeze some for a later date.  We, also, made Sweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie.

http://learnfromyesterday.comSweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie is perfect for apple picking time and perfect for dessert as well. In our family, homemade apple pie is perfect any time because we love it. Consequently, I can’t imagine apple picking without baking apple pie!

http://learnfromyesterday.comThe pie crust we made was usually a combination of the basic recipes we found, and to this we would add what I would call an overload of apples.  Why an overload, you might ask?  Well, I always felt the apples were the healthiest part of the pie, so why not get as many in as possible.  I usually stacked my fresh apple mixture higher than required, but that only made the pie tastier.  Apples cook down so much that piling them high gave me a nice high pie instead of a flatter one.  Call me silly, but that’s how I like it!

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Sweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie is Perfect for Apple Picking Time!

For the flaky pie crust: (this recipe is enough for the top and bottom crusts)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted whipped butter
6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the texture is crumbly with the butter in small pieces.  Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing the mixture as you go.  You may use only six tablespoons of water, but if needed, use more.  Add water until the mixture looks crumbly, but can be formed into 2 balls in your hands.  Refrigerate one ball, while you roll out the other to fit your pie dish on a lightly floured surface.  When rolled to the right size, fold it in half to move to your pie dish.  I use a pastry sheet with printed circles of various sizes to roll out my dough in order to get it the right size and shape.  My pie dish is a 9 inch dish.  The other ball will be rolled out later to create the top crust for your pie.  Refrigerate the pie dish with the bottom crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while finishing your pie filling.

Apple pie filling:

6 to 7 cups of thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter

Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Gently stir this mixture into your apples.  Spoon the apple mixture into the pie dish with the bottom pie crust. I like to stack it up high, but only high enough so I can still cover it with the top crust.  Cut up the 1 tablespoon of butter and spread it over the top of the apples before putting on the top crust.  Roll out the top crust to fit over the top of your apples and then press the edges together all the way around the pie dish sealing the pie crust edges.  Now cut several small slits in the top pie crust with a sharp knife, so the steam can escape while cooking.  I usually cut eight one inch slits like a star burst at the top.

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Place the pie dish on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper to catch any juices from the pie and for an easier clean up afterwards.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until the crust turns a golden brown.  Once done sprinkle a little sugar across the top, then set the pie on a cooling rack for at least one hour before cutting.

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When you serve your Sweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie, you can either serve it plain or choose to serve it with an ice cream of your choice.  Either way, you will enjoy this delicious sweet and juicy apple pie.  The children love to eat this pie with hot chocolate or just plain milk.  I love a cup of fresh coffee with my pie, but no matter how you choose to eat this dessert, you’re going to love it!  This Sweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie is perfect for apple picking time, so have some fun and finish off your day with a great dessert!  Enjoy!