Homemade Lasagna

I just spoke via Skype with a friend who I haven’t been able to speak to in months. Currently, she is living in Seoul, South Korea and teaching English to kindergartners. Although it’s been a vast adjustment, she has enjoyed all of the challenges, scenery, and culture. She is a very brave young woman and I’m proud of her for pursuing that opportunity!

I especially enjoyed hearing about her travels and new experiences. Since I love food and trying new things, I undoubtedly felt compelled to inquire about South Korean cuisine. Basically, mixtures of rice, noodles, vegetables, and various meats comprise most meals in combination with plenty of spicy flavors and seasonings.

However, although she is having a blast sampling Korean cuisine and other fare from her travels, my friend does miss traditional meals from home as well as classic Southern dishes. That being said, I decided to make one of her favorite dishes and dedicate this post to her (this may seem cruel – but, we talked about it on Skype and she though it would serve as a great reminder of home!). Since I don’t have a deep fryer, I thought that some type of pasta dish would be best. Instantly, the thought of lasagna came to mind. So, after replenishing ingredients at the store, I made a delicious Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna.

Step 1: Saute Onions, Chopped
Mushrooms; Add Sausage and Garlic

Step 2: Layer Noodles, Tomato Sauce,
Cheese, and Sausage Mixture (Alternating)


[Use Flat No-Bake Noodles — They are
easier to use and taste better!]

Step 3: Bake, Slice, and Enjoy!

[The flat no-bake noodles don’t look as aesthetically pleasing.
Despite the appearance, the flavors mixed together wonderfully.]

Lasagna can be a great meal when done right. Often times, an overabundance or shortage exists of one of the items and in turn creates a taste bud rollercoaster. For example, I have had lasagnas in the past where the amount of ricotta cheese was too prevalent or lasagnas which contained a sparse serving of meat/vegetables and seasonings.

The key to a great lasagna is setting up the best ratio of noodle to sauce to cheese to meat/vegetables. This can be found by happening to stumble upon a great recipe or through trial and error. In my case, I was lucky and happened to find a great recipe on the first try!

Cheers!

P.S. To my friend in South Korea — I miss you dearly and I hope this reminds you of home. In fact, I’ll make it upon your return!

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Happy 2011! New Year’s Sunday Brunch

 This year my friends and I decided to host a New Year’s Sunday Brunch. We thought this would be a perfect time to get together, catch up on each other’s lives, and cheers to a Happy New Year.

Naturally, I awoke too early on a Sunday and had plenty of time to mosey around the house before everyone arrived. With the extra time, I conjured up a few items that I think no casual Sunday brunch should be without.

Sunday Morning Paper

Different Coffee Mugs

Vanilla Candles

Flowers 

Non-Traditional Holder for Utensils

New Year’s Sunday Brunch included a Spinach and Bacon Quiche and Belgian Buttermilk Waffles with Glazed Bananas.

I chose to make a quiche for several reasons:

1. Can easily alter/modify/add ingredients

2. Option to pre-buy the crust or make from scratch

3. Simple and I have never made one before!

That being said, for this quiche, I altered the ingredients to cater to certain food preferences and allergies of my friends (I substituted cheddar cheese for swiss cheese (on one-half of the quiche only), nixed the bacon, and added mushrooms and roasted red peppers). I also chose to make the dough/crust the day before in order to avoid waking up too early to make it the day of brunch. Despite the fact that I had to bake the quiche for 20 minutes longer than the recipe suggested, the quiche turned out well and next time I’d like to experiment with other ingredients such as chicken, asparagus, and gruyere!

Step 1: Use a Blender/Food Processor
to  Make Dough; Fill 9-inch Pan with Dough

Step 2: Chop Dry Ingredients; Place in Crust


Step 3: Blend Liquid Ingredients;
Pour Onto Crust

Step 4: Bake, Cut, Serve!

The waffles seemed like the easy, go-to choice to complement a savory dish for this brunch. Plus, I couldn’t remember the last time I actually ate waffles and almost had forgotten what they taste like. That fact by itself solidified this choice as a done deal. These were very crunchy and the bananas provided a great flavorful kick in combination with maple syrup!

Step 1: Mix Dry Ingredients Together; Mix
Liquid Ingredients Together; Combine


Step 2: Preheat Waffle Iron and Pour
Batter (3 minutes each round)

Step 3: Heat Butter Until Foam Subsides;
Place Bananas on Pan for 1 Minute Each Side

Step 4: Add to Waffles, Drizzle Syrup, Enjoy!

I’m hoping that we can make New Year’s Sunday Brunch a tradition for next year too!
Cheers to a Happy 2011!