Beef Stroganoff

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Baby, it’s cold outside! We just blew past those fall-like temps into the frigid winter of Gulf Coast Texas.  For a couple days at least 😉

While our winters may not be as brutal as our Northern friends, or last as long, the chilly outside still calls for warm dinners inside. In our house, that typically means either a slow-cooking something on the stove or a quick, warm, filling dinner before dark falls. This one fits the latter.

This recipe is adapted from one a friend shared with me years ago – back when we were just college babies learning to fend for ourselves. We didn’t add mushrooms and if we had there surely wouldn’t have been good wine to flavor them with! This beef stroganoff is time-tested and one I’ll happily make, good wine in hand and fond memories of friends in mind, for many years to come.

Here’s to you, Becca!

What recipe have you held on to for years?  Tell me about them!


Beef Stroganoff

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Worcestershire
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water fairly generously and cook the egg noodles until al dente.  Set aside.

Let’s talk mushrooms for a minute:

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To start, mushroom storage.  If you purchase prepackaged mushrooms, leave them in their packaging and place them in the fridge.  If you purchase bulk mushrooms, don’t worry about cleaning them first, just place them in a paper bag and stick them in the fridge.  This allows them to breathe a bit and stay firmer longer – plastic grocery bags can cause them to fade quicker.

To clean your mushrooms, avoid running them under water. Mushrooms retain moisture like a sponge, giving them more will prevent the mushrooms from browning nicely and give more of a chewy texture to them once cooked. Instead, use a damp paper towel and brush off any excess dirt.  Slice or chop them in similar sizes so that they cook up evenly.

Finally, don’t crowd the mushrooms in your pan and wait a bit before salting them.  Give your fungi some room to groove as they cook so that they saute and brown rather than steam.  Salt will bring out the moisture in the mushrooms, which is true for any veggie.  With mushrooms though, you want them to retain the moisture for a bit so that, again, they brown rather than steam. I’m willing to be that those that don’t care for mushrooms have had ones that lean more towards the steamed, flavorless side of cooking.  Let’s avoid that!  Mushrooms are like a sponge, right?  They’ll take on some of whatever flavor you give them but you want to give them a chance to develop their unique nutty, earthy flavors first.

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If you have a mushroom-loving family, you can most certainly start the mushrooms in a larger skillet and once they are beginning to brown, add the ground beef and cook it all together in the same skillet.  Just remember, you want to give the mushrooms a little time to brown up before salting them. I live in a house divided – one of us says they do not like mushrooms.  It’s okay, we can’t all be perfect 😉 I’m willing to go with it on this one though – I kind of like the presentation of having the sauteed mushrooms on top of the stroganoff rather than all mixed together.

Back to the recipe! In a medium skillet, cook the mushrooms in just a touch of olive oil or butter. Once the mushrooms begin to brown and release their liquid, season them with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and let the mushrooms continue to cook as you move on to the beef. I may be biased… but a splash of hearty red wine never hurts here.  You know the rule though – make sure it’s a wine you would drink as the flavor intensifies as it cooks. Worcestershire sauce is also a nice addition to the earthy veggies.

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Saute the onions, garlic and ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the meat begins to brown and the veggies soften, season the pan with Worcestershire, salt and pepper to your liking.

If your ground beef was fairly lean, add a tablespoon or so of butter to the pan. Add the flour and stir to absorb the fat and cook the flour a bit. Stir in the beef broth and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream and check your seasoning, adding salt and pepper as you like. Let the stroganoff simmer until heated all the way through.

Spoon the stroganoff over the egg noodles and top with mushrooms.  Enjoy!

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Full Recipe

Beef Stroganoff

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Worcestershire
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook egg noodles in boiling water until done; drain.

In a medium skillet, cook mushrooms in just a little olive oil.

Once the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, season with salt and pepper.

Saute the ground beef, garlic and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until the meat begins to brown and the veggies soften.

Season the meat with Worcestershire sauce.

If the beef was fairly lean, add a couple tablespoons butter to the skillet.

Add the flour and stir to absorb the fat and cook the flour.

Stir in beef broth and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream,  season to taste with salt and pepper.

Continue cooking until sauce is hot all the way through.

Serve sauce over egg noodles and top with mushrooms.

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

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Who needs an easy weeknight meal? Everyone, yes?!

I think we have all seen variations of a tater tot casserole – meat on the bottom, covered in cheese, topped with tots and baked.  This is no exception, but I am pretty proud of it.

I like a good Sloppy Joe now and then, the tangy almost-BBQ style sauce is a familiar, comforting flavor.  However, a Sloppy Joe sandwich presents a problem to me… soggy bread.  I am a hard pass on soggy bread. So to me, replacing bread with tater tots was a moment of brilliance. 😉

Will was challenged with the sauce recipe.  He played around and this one is our hands-down favorite.  It does closely resemble a BBQ sauce with the tang and sweet heat and utilizes ingredients that we consider pantry staples.  Perfect for a weeknight throw-down dinner.

Here’s my challenge to you: please enjoy this Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole.  But then, think about the ways you could change up the meat (Italian sausage or ground turkey anyone?), the sauce (is that jar of marinara in the pantry calling to you?) or the cheese (what about a Pepper Jack?) to enjoy a different flavor profile. You could also sneak in some veggies by adding beans or corn as you are sauteing the meat and veggies. Customize the dish to the likes of your family – and let me know how you do it!

Weeknight dinner – COVERED!


Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 pound ground meat
  • Bell or poblano pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 T flour
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (pretty much a 20 oz bottle)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more as needed
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Frozen tater tots
  • Green onion, sliced for topping

Preheat the oven to 375.

Saute the ground meat, pepper and onion in a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  As for the pepper – we like a little heat and tend to use poblano peppers in place of green bell peppers.  Coming up, the sauce also calls for red pepper flakes so you can adjust the heat level easily by either using bell peppers here or adding/removing the red pepper flakes later.  Customize the heat levels to your taste!

*Heads up here – you are going to bake the casserole after it comes together.  If you have one available, an oven proof skillet is great way to go here.  You can transfer it right into the oven and not mess with another dish later. I love our Calphalon cookware for this very reason!  If you don’t have an oven proof skillet available, spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray and set it aside for now.

As the meat mixture is cooking, grab a bowl and mix up the sauce ingredients. Whisk together the flour, ketchup, garlic, brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire.  Once it is all combined, check for seasoning and add salt & pepper as you like.

When the meat is browned and the veggies are softened, stir in the sauce mixture.  Simmer the mixture on low heat for about 10 minutes and check again for seasoning.

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At this point, if you are not using an oven safe skillet transfer the mixture to your prepared 9×13 pan.

Top the casserole with the shredded cheddar cheese, then the frozen tater tots.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tater tots are toasty and brown.

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Top with the sliced green onions and enjoy!

How will you enjoy this casserole?  Traditional Sloppy Joe?  Or change it up to something like Mexican taco flavor or Italian red sauce and mozzarella cheese?  Let me know!

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Full Recipe

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 pound ground meat
  • Bell or poblano pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 T flour
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (20 oz bottle)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more as needed
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Frozen tater tots
  • Green onion, sliced for topping

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute the meat, peppers and onions in a couple tablespoons olive oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.

When the meat is browned and veggies softened, stir the sauce mixture into the meat.

Simmer over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.

Pour in a 9×13 pan if not using an oven safe skillet.

Top with shredded cheddar and frozen tater tots.

Bake 40-45 minutes.

Top with green onion and serve.

Never Fail Meatloaf

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We’ve had a string a busy nights lately.  When life gets busy, there’s not much better than some comfort food.

My father is a minister.  He served as the Music Minister at First Baptist Church in Weslaco, Texas for many, many years. Growing up in the church, I got to know several of the ladies at FBC Weslaco.  I sat in their laps during Sunday night services, trick-or-treated at their houses, played cards with them at game nights, and ate their food at every Wednesday night supper or potluck. Those ladies can cook! They have the best recipes – recipes that aren’t complicated or fussy, they just taste really good.

This recipe has been adapted from one of those FBC ladies.  We’ve made a few tweaks, such as using poblano peppers, but the base recipe is true to form.  If you are curious about the original topping… it’s the soup. Easy, right?

Plan ahead – this one is ridiculously  simple to mix up but does take some time to bake.

What’s your favorite comfort food?  Where do you stand on the choice of toppings?


Never Fail Meatloaf

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 T worcestershire sauce
  • ½ c ketchup
  • ½ c milk
  • 1 c breadcrumbs, Panko or cracker crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 sm diced onion
  • 1 poblano or bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

Topping – choice of:

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

-or-

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 6 T brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a baking dish.  You  can also use a loaf pan here, but then you get less crispy edges.  Who wants less crispy edges?!

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, salt, brown sugar, paprika, worcestershire, ketchup, milk, bread crumbs and milk.  You want to mix the ingredients into the ground beef until they are well incorporated but be careful not to overmix, making the meat tough and then end product brick-like.  Not fun.

Regarding the bread/Panko/cracker crumbs – use whatever you have on hand.  In this particular instance I used about a 2:1 ratio of Panko and plain breadcrumbs for a little added texture with the Panko.

Add in the onion, pepper and garlic and mix until just blended throughout the meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

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Pat the mixture into a loaf shape in the middle of your baking dish.

Decision time!

If you are looking for super quick and easy, top the loaf with the canned soup.  Done.

If you want to put forth just a touch more effort mix the ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard and worcestershire in a small bowl and spread that over the loaf.  Done again.

If you have two varying opinions about the topping of choice in your house, do both! Any guesses as to who prefers which topping?

Bake the loaf for 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.

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Easy enough for a busy week!


Full Recipe

Never Fail Meatloaf

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 T worcestershire sauce
  • ½ c ketchup
  • ½ c milk
  • 1 c bread/Panko/cracker crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 sm diced onion
  • 1 poblano or bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

Topping – choice of:

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

-or-

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 6 T brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly grease a baking dish.

Mix all meatloaf ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.

Pat into loaf in baking dish.

Top with soup or ketchup mixture.

Bake for 1 ¼  – 1 ½ hours.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

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I love stuffed peppers.  I love the Philly Cheesesteaks, though I can’t say that I have ever had an authentic one.  (Sounds like a travel plan, yes?)  So the two put together makes for a great, easy weeknight dinner.  I like the peppers to be soft but still have some bite, and the stuffing to be extremely flavorful.  You can change up the protein to your tastes, using mushrooms in addition to or instead of the beef.  This recipe is quick, flavorful and fits easily  into your dinner rotations.

Try it out and let me know what you think!


Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 bell peppers for stuffing
  • 3 T Pickapeppa or steak sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • Provolone slices or shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt.

Deseed the stuffing peppers, saving the tops or sides for chopping.  You can use any color of bell pepper for stuffing, we have even used poblano peppers, just keep in mind that they aren’t a thick and meaty as bell peppers and won’t require as much boiling time. When you pick your stuffing peppers, grab some that will either sit easily on their bottoms and hold stuffing well, or have a semi-flat side to lay on in a baking dish.  Using a paring knife, cut a hole around the stem of the pepper, or down one side of the pepper as I have done in the picture below.  Remove all seeds and save the piece of the pepper you remove to chop and add in your recipe later.

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Boil the deseeded peppers until beginning to soften, about 5-6 minutes.  If you  like your peppers firm you can skip the boiling step.  The peppers will continue to soften in the oven as well.

Remove the peppers from the peppers from the water and drain any water from the inside.  Lay/stand the peppers in a baking dish.  If the peppers don’t stand easily on their own you can use some of the stuffing around the peppers later to stabilize them some.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil.

Add the onion, chopped bell pepper (one whole and the reserved trimmings) and garlic to the pan and saute 3-4 minutes until crisp tender.

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Add the mushrooms, if using, and saute another 2-3 minutes.

Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes until no longer pink and drain off any fat.  You can mix up the protein by using ground turkey, a variety of mushrooms or whatever feels right for your weeknight.

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Stir in the Pickapeppa, beef broth and Worcestershire.  Pickapeppa hails from Jamaica. It is a thick, pourable sauce that has a distinct tangy flavor.  You can find it in most grocery stores around the condiments/hot sauces.  If you don’t have Pickapeppa, try a steak sauce such as A1.  Try out the Pickapeppa at some point, it’s also great just poured over cream cheese as an easy  appetizer!

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Cook the mixture over medium heat until most of the liquid is gone, checking your seasonings as it cooks.  Keep in mind that the Worcestershire and Pickapeppa will add a salty element, you may want to balance that will a little more black pepper.  I also like to use the reduced sodium broths to control some that that flavor.

Add the Panko to the pan and stir.  If your filling seems a  little loose or you have extra moisture, add more Panko.

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Time for stuffing!  Fill your boiled peppers with the stuffing. I like to pack them fairly tight but as I mentioned earlier, if your peppers don’t stand well, use some of the stuffing to brace the peppers in the baking dish. Those bits in the dish get nice and toasty as a little tasty bonus.

Top the peppers with the cheese.  Provolone slices are nice, but shredded cheese works just as well.

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Bake the peppers for 5-10 minutes.  I like to then broil the cheese for a couple minutes for that extra toasty cheese texture.

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Remove from the oven, plate and serve with your choice of sides.

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So what’s your favorite stuffed pepper?  I want to hear what you think!


Full Recipe

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 bell peppers for stuffing
  • 3 T Pickapeppa or steak sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • Provolone slices or shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Deseed peppers for stuffing, saving tops/sides to chop.

Boil peppers until desired softness, 6-7 minutes.

Add EVOO to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the onion, chopped bell pepper and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes or until crisp tender.

Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink.  

Drain off any fat.

Stir in the Pickapeppa, beef broth and Worcestershire.

Cook over medium heat until most of  liquid is gone and check the seasonings.

Add Panko/breadcrumbs to desired consistency.

Stuff the pepper halves with filling.

Top with provolone slices or shredded cheese.

Bake 5-10 minutes, broil tops as desired.

Cowboy Cornbread

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I asked my mom if this recipe originally came from my Grandmother or my Aunt. We can’t really remember, but that probably is just because it became such a staple at the dinner table in our own house.  In true fashion, Will and I have since changed it up just a little.  It’s kinda what we do.  One of the fun things about this recipe is that you can change up the flavors easily to make this different each time you make it.  Maybe you are feeling chili seasoning and ground turkey?  Maybe you need a little heat and want to toss in some jalapeños or shredded pepper jack cheese? This one is easy to adjust!  For this post, I’ll stick with our classic version with onions and green chiles. Try it out and let me know what flavors you add!

This one’s for you Grandma… or Aunt Jerrie!


Cowboy Cornbread

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pkg corn muffin mix*
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¼ c milk
  • 2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 small can green chilies, diced

*Corn muffin mix includes baking powder for a fluffier cornbread.  If you use a plain cornbread mix, add up to 1 tsp of baking powder to the mix.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Chop the onion.  (Side note – look at that fabulous knife Will is using!  It was custom-made from Houston Edge Works and I can’t wait until mine is in my hands!)

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Add a little olive oil to a skillet and saute the ground beef and onions.  Season with salt and pepper.

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At this point, you can play with the flavors of the meat mixture.  Add taco seasoning or chili seasoning, chop up a bell pepper or a couple jalapeños, add a can of black, red, or pinto beans.  You could also swap out the ground beef for ground turkey, or we have many times used ground venison.

While the meat and onions are cooking, prepare the cornbread mixture.

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In a medium bowl, mix the corn muffin mix, corn and eggs. Stir in the milk. You can add to the recipe here as well – maybe some candied jalapeños?

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Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour half of the cornbread mixture into the pan and smooth to the edges.

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Cover the cornbread mixture with the ground meat mixture, then chopped chiles, then 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese.

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Cover the pan with the remaining cornbread mixture, carefully smoothing it to the edges to cover, not mix, the cheese.

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Bake the cornbread at 350 for 45 minutes.

Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese and bake another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

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Enjoy and let me know how you change this recipe up!


Full Recipe

Cowboy Cornbread

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pkg corn muffin mix*
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¼ c milk
  • 2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 small can green chilies, diced

*Corn muffin mix includes baking powder for a fluffier cornbread.  If you use a plain cornbread mix, add up to 1 tsp of baking powder to the mix.


 

Chop the onion.

Add a little olive oil to a skillet and saute the onion and ground beef until no longer pink.

While the beef and onions are cooking mix the corn muffin mix, corn and eggs in a medium bowl.

Stir in the milk.

Pour half of the cornbread mixture into a greased 9×13 pan and spread to the edges.

Cover with meat, the diced chilies and 1 ½ cups cheese.

Pour the remaining cornbread mix on top, being careful to spread over the cheese.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Top with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese and back another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

For the first post on the new blog I’ve got to post something very… me.  Right?  I’m pretty sure this is it.

This recipe goes back to a cooking class that myself, my sister and one of our friends took on a weekend getaway in March of 2009 to The Shelby Inn just outside Round Top, Texas.  We were going to enjoy a bed & breakfast stay, some antiquing and just hanging out, but the highlight was to be the cooking class on Saturday night.  The chef asked beforehand what we wanted to work on and it turned out to be an Italian night – we would learn how to make a simple risotto, fresh pasta, and a hearty meat sauce that would be used to assemble a lasagna.  We were to bring the wine and be ready to chop.  We could do that! We can laugh now about the “breakfast” portion of the stay, the smears of tomato sauce and/or wine on our take-home cookbooks and the amount of flour all over The Shelby Inn’s kitchen, but we have great memories and a stock of recipes we’ll remember for years to come.

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That hearty meat sauce has been adapted since I’ve made it frequently at home.  Will is the fresh pasta maker, so if he is around this lasagna is made with fresh pasta sheets.  If it is a cold, winter day like today when I am home enjoying a day off from work, I use basic dried pasta sheets found in the grocery store.  The other major adaptation is the absence of the traditional ricotta cheese between the layers of pasta. Will hates ricotta.  Hates it. We’ll keep working on that in other recipes, I mean ricotta is a cheese after all, but replacing ricotta with a classic Bechamel sauce really does compliment the lasagna.  It makes for a creamy inside that adds to the comfort-food characteristic of the lasagna.

This Lasagna with Meat Sauce is a labor of love but makes for a pretty tasty dinner.  The leftovers aren’t bad for lunch either 🙂  Try it out and let me know what you think!

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Lasagna with Meat Sauce

For the Sauce:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 celery stalks, leaves included, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 15-ounce can tomato puree
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2-3 bay leaves (I used 4 small)
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp whole thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 T sugar

For the Bechamel:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg, or shave fresh nutmeg

For the lasagna:

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cover the bottom of a large, heavy pot with EVOO, a couple turns around the pan.

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Chop the carrots, celery, onion and bell pepper into a small dice. You can use any color of bell pepper – or add a couple if you like the variety!  I just happened to have a sweet yellow pepper on hand today.  Mince the garlic. Saute carrots, celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic a few minutes until softened.

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**A quick note about chopping bell peppers:  you will have a more stable cut if you place the skin of the pepper on the cutting board and slice inside the pepper.

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Add the ground pork and beef, crumble and brown. The meat you use in this meat sauce can be changed up depending on your tastes. We happened to have a half-pound of ground pork leftover from another dinner and I like the addition of some pork over using all beef.  Have some Italian sausage or ground turkey?  That would be great as well!  Make it your own by mixing up the protein.

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Add red pepper flakes and continue to brown.  Will and I like spicy food and generally add a good amount of heat to our cooking.  In this recipe, I added around 2 heaping teaspoons to the pot.  Start with about a teaspoon and work your way up as you taste throughout the cooking process.

Add red wine, scraping bottom of pan to release brown bits.  So what wine should you cook with?  The answer is always “wine that you would drink in a glass”.  You don’t have to use your best bottle when cooking, but keep in mind that the flavor of the wine is concentrated as it cooks down.  If you don’t like the wine in a glass, you won’t like it in your food.  For this recipe, use a slightly-dry to dry red wine – cabernet, merlot, zinfandel, good red table wines all would work.  Just stay away from a sweet red in the tomato sauce.  This is what was in my fridge, so it went into the sauce today 🙂

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Add crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring to combine.  Here’s what went into the sauce today:

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Add bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil.  The recipe calls for 2-3 bay leaves – my bay leaf stash is calling to be replenished, so today I used 4 small leaves.  Just remember what you put in so you can pull them back out later!

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Stir in sugar.  Sugar helps to neutralize the acid of the tomatoes a bit.  Start with about a tablespoon but as you check the sauce while it simmers, add a touch more if you’d like to settle the tomatoes down a bit.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour, stirring now and then and checking seasoning. Sauce can simmer on the stove top for several hours as flavors continue to develop.  Since today was so cold and rainy, I started this sauce mid-morning and let it simmer very low all afternoon.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and remove sauce from heat when ready to assemble lasagna.

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To assemble lasagna:

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water once it is boiling and add the lasagna noodles, stirring to separate the noodles.  When cooking pasta, you want the boiling water to be salty like the ocean to season the noodles.  If you are using fresh noodles, use less salt in your pasta water.

Cook until al dente, 10-12 minutes.  Drain the noodles and set aside.

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As the noodles are cooking, make the Bechamel sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth and golden in color – you are making a roux, but you don’t want to get it as toasty brown as you would for a gumbo or brown gravy.

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Whisk in the milk and add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

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Whisk until thickened, about 4-5 minutes.  Check seasoning and adjust as needed.  Keep in mind that the Bechamel sauce is in place of layering cheese inside the lasagna, so you want the sauce to have a good amount of flavor.

Remove from heat.

Spray a 9×13 pan, or two 8×8 pans, with cooking spray.  At this point, I always make a little assembly line of all the lasagna components.  It definitely makes it easier to keep going as you assemble the pan (s). I often make two small pans, one in a disposable aluminum pan, and freeze one for later.  The lasagna stores nicely in the freezer and is handy to keep for no-dinner-idea nights or to gift to friends.  Who doesn’t like to have a lasagna on hand?!

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Spread a light layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan(s). Lay lasagna noodles across the pan in one layer – it’s okay if the noodles overlap a little. Will and I both like the edges and the pieces where the noodles fold over and crisp up a bit… it’s a struggle when dishing out dinner.

Spread a layer of meat sauce across the noodles. Drop a few tablespoons Bechamel sauce across the pan. Spread with the Bechamel across the meat sauce with the back of the spoon. Cover with another layer of lasagna noodles.

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Repeat 2-3 times.

Top with a final light layer of meat sauce and cover with shredded mozzarella.

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*If freezing a pan set lasagna aside to cool, then cover and freeze.

Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan to bake.

Bake, covered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.

If desired, broil a few minutes to brown the top.  We always broil.  Always.

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From frozen:

Bake, covered, at 350 for 1 ½ hours from frozen (1 hour if thawed).  

Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.

If desired, broil a few minutes to brown the top.  

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There you have it – one of the most “Lindsey” recipes to start of How We Cook.  Let me know what you think!  It sure did brighten up our cold day.


Full Recipe

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

For the Sauce:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 celery stalks, leaves included, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 15-ounce can tomato puree
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2-3 bay leaves (I used 4 small)
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp whole thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 T sugar

For the Bechamel:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg, or shave fresh nutmeg

For the lasagna:

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cover the bottom of a large, heavy pot with EVOO, a couple turns around the pan.

Saute carrots, celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic a few minutes until softened.

Add ground pork and beef, crumble and brown.

Add red pepper flakes and continue to brown.

Add red wine, scraping bottom of pan to release brown bits.  Cook out wine.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring to combine.

Add bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil.

Stir in sugar.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour, stirring now and then and checking seasoning. Sauce can simmer on the stove top for several hours as flavors continue to develop.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and remove sauce from heat when ready to assemble lasagna.


To assemble lasagna:

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Salt the water and add the lasagna noodles.  

Cook until al dente, 10-12 minutes.

Drain the noodles and set aside.


As the noodles are cooking, make the Bechamel sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

Add the flour and whisk until smooth and golden in color.

Whisk in the milk and add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Whisk until thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

Check seasoning and adjust as needed.

Remove from heat.


Spray a 9×13 pan, or two 8×8 pans, with cooking spray.

*I often make two small pans, one in a disposable aluminum pan, and freeze one for later

Spread a light layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan(s).

Lay lasagna noodles across the pan in one layer – it’s okay if the noodles overlap a little.

Spread a layer of meat sauce across the noodles.

Drop a few tablespoons Bechamel sauce across the pan.

Spread with the Bechamel across the meat sauce with the back of the spoon.

Cover with another layer of lasagna noodles.

Repeat 2-3 times.

Top with final light layer of meat sauce.

Cover with shredded mozzarella.

*If freezing a pan set lasagna aside to cool, then cover and freeze.


Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan to bake.

Bake, covered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.

If desired, broil a few minutes to brown the top.

From frozen:

Bake, covered, at 350 for 1 ½ hours from frozen (1 hour if thawed)

Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.

If desired, broil a few minutes to brown the top.