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Greek Moussaka

In the process of cleaning out our freezer and realized I had 500 gm of ground lamb. What to do? I have always liked moussaka in a Greek restaurant, but never made it at home. Good old Pinterest to the rescue, for what appeared to be an easy recipe and without the potatoes on top….less calories. The recipe looks complicated, but I decided to prepare the ground lamb ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the complete dish. It gave me time to prepare the eggplant while I was cleaning up from the lamb prep. The dish turned out perfectly, with our guests taking home this recipe! The photo below is from the Pinterest pinner…we got so carried away enjoying the dish that I forgot a photo. Check out Sniff It Out on Pinterest for more tantalizing recipes!

Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

About 500g of lean minced (ground) lamb
2 Aubergines (Eggplants) medium to large in size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
3 fl oz. (75 ml) red wine or more
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt topping for the Greek Moussaka – I used a large CorningWare casserole dish and ended up doubling the yogurt in order to cover the top.

150ml Greek yogurt (double if necessary)

1 medium egg, beaten

50g feta cheese or more

25g freshly grated parmesan or more

 

  1. Preparing the Aubergines

Leave the skins on and slice the Aubergines into approximately 10mm thick slices.

Put the slices into a colander and sprinkle them with about 1 level dessertspoon of salt. Stand the colander on a plate to catch the water which comes out of the Aubergines and put another plate on top of the aubergine slices.

You now need to weigh this plate down with something heavy (I find that a couple of tins of soup works quite well) and leave them for about an hour to let the juice come out.

After an hour, squeeze out any of the excess juice from the aubergines and dry them well in a clean cloth.

Spread the aubergine slices on a baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them tossing them around to get a good coating.

Put the baking sheet in a pre heated oven (around 200 degrees) and roast the aubergines for 30 minutes or until they are browning at the edges.

I usually roast the eggplant simply because the baking tray is much bigger than the frying pan and I can get the slices done all in one go, but, if you would rather sauté the eggplant to use in the moussaka you can do that too.

 

  1. Preparing the lamb for the Moussaka recipe (I did this step first)

    Because the mince can have quite a lot of fat come out of it I usually dry fry the mince until it is nicely browned then remove it from the pan and put it to one side then discard any of the fat which has come out of it before using it to make the moussaka.

Then heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions, garlic and thyme gently, without colouring, for about 10 minutes.

Stir the minced lamb back in and add the parsley, cinnamon, tomato purée and red wine and stir to combine the ingredients. Season the mixture well and cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  1. Prepare the topping for the Greek Moussaka recipe

    It’s true that Moussaka isn’t the most healthy dish on the planet, that’s why I prefer a yogurt topping for my moussaka recipe because it is a bit lighter than others I have tried but that is purely my preference. Mix the yogurt with half of the cheeses and the beaten egg and season with ground pepper.

 

  1. Putting everything together for the Greek Moussaka!

    Line the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of aubergine, then spoon over some of the meat mixture. Build the layers of the moussaka up until all the meat and aubergine has been used.

Cover with the topping mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF for about 1 hour until golden and bubbling.

Let the Moussaka stand for about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving and this will ensure that it keeps its shape when you serve it.

 

 

 

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Skillet Italian Sausage and Peppers with Penne

Canadians…Are you tired of turkey already? Try this easy one for something different.

Skillet Italian Sausage and Peppers with Penne

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

This comforting Italian sausage and pepper penne pasta is cooked in one skillet and comes together in 30 minutes or less for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 1 pound Italian sausage links (1 package)
  • 1 small green pepper, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
  • ½ cup red wine (merlot or pinot noir)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 12 ounces water
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Parmesan Cheese for finishing

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve starchy cooking water.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Brown sausages on all sides, until almost cooked through, remove and cut into ¼ inch slices. You don’t have to worry about cooking them all the way through, they will finish cooking while the sauce simmers.
  3. In the same pan drizzle another teaspoon or so of olive oil and sauté the peppers and onions until slightly softened, about five minutes.
  4. Return sausage back to the pan and deglaze with red wine.
  5. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes.
  7. Add penne to the skillet, toss with sauce. If needed add starchy pasta water to loosen the sauce up.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

http://www.ohsweetbasil.com/skillet-italian-sausage-peppers-penne.html

Filet Mignon with Balsamic and Rosemary Glaze

Trying to come up with a dinner without too much meat and found this one on Pinterest (a great site BTW). Simple to put together with some baked potatoes and  steamed broccoli. The glaze was very flavourful.

Filet Mignon with Balsamic Glaze
(makes 4 servings)
Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon (set aside) butter
• 4 filet Mignon steaks
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• salt to taste
• 2 shallots
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup dry red wine
• 2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
Directions
1. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. Pepper and salt both sides of each steak to taste. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, then add the fillets to the pan and allow to sear for 4 minutes, then flip and let sear for another 4. Four minutes resulted in a medium well meat. Next time I would try three and three or less! I like medium rare.
2. Transfer the filets to a plate, and keeping the burner on medium high. Melt the last tablespoon butter then add the shallots and saute for 3 minutes. Add the wine and vinegar to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape off the browned bits. Add the rosemary. Bring the mixture to a boil, and season with salt to taste. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
3. Return the fillets to the pan and cook to desired doneness, flipping halfway through. Plate the steaks with steamed vegetables and potatoes, then spoon the reduction over top of the steaks.
4. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from All Recipes

Reg’s Lasagna

Just realized that one of my favourite go-to recipes has never appeared here! When you get tired of that turkey, my American friends, you might give this dish a try. I’m leaving the kitchen for  a few days but wanted to share this with you before I put all the dishes away…LOL…Buen Provecho as always!!

Reg’s Lasagna (easily feeds 8 people)
1 cup diced white onions
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup carrots sliced
1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef and pork mixed (you could use ground chicken or turkey instead)
1 or 2 garlic cloves minced
14 oz. can cubed tomatoes
5 ½ oz. can tomato puree
1 19 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
½ cup red wine (optional)
2 TBSP. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. each of basil and oregano
12 lasagna noodles oven ready
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 package fresh spinach stems removed and chopped
1 small package of fresh mushrooms sliced
1 large bag shredded manchego or mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan (don’t use the Kraft powdery stuff!)
In a little olive oil, brown the carrots, celery and onions until tender and slightly browning. Add in the pork and beef mixture and cook until browned and almost no pink visible. Drain off the fat if there is an excess. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, ½ of the tomato sauce, sugar and seasonings. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add in the sliced mushrooms and continue to simmer until they appear softened.

While this has been cooking, mix the ricotta cheese with the chopped spinach in a bowl. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish pour a little of the remaining tomato sauce and spread over the bottom. Place four noodles in the bottom of the dish. Add ½ of the meat sauce to cover the noodles. Add 1/3 of the grated manchego or mozzarella cheese.

Cover this with four more lasagna noodles. Add the layer of ricotta and spinach. Add four additional lasagna noodles. Cover with the other half of the meat sauce and 1/3 of the cheese.

Add four more lasagna noodles ( if you have no sauce left, heat the remaining half jar of spaghetti sauce and pour over the top noodle layer. Cover with the remainder of the cheese. Over top of this add the Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Cover with foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Test the noodles with a sharp knife to make sure they are softened. Remove from the oven and let sit before cutting into desired portion sizes.

I make this a few hours before company comes and let it cool before refrigerating. 45 minutes before serving remove from refrigerator to let the dish warm to room temp. Return to 350 degree oven for about 15 to 25 minutes.