Spag Bol Redux

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I have so many fun and exciting things to show you guys in the near future, but I thought I’d do a little bit of a retrospective today. My very first entry on this here blog, five-plus years and 900-odd posts ago, was a recipe for spaghetti bolognese. I make this spaghetti sauce all the freaking time, so I thought I’d do another post just to show you how things have changed over the years, but they still remain in essence the same. For one, the Pie and I went vegetarian for a month when I made that post so there’s no meat in that sauce. For another, I was way lazier when it came to chopping things up, so my sauces were much chunkier. I like them a bit more uniform these days.

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Some things stay the same, though: I always load it down with diced onions to start. I made a crapton (a metric measurement of course) of this so that I could freeze it so I can’t give you exact measurements. Just lots.

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I always add diced red pepper (I’m allergic to green) and diced mushrooms. You can add whatever you wish, though. Sometimes I chuck in whatever’s in my fridge that needs to be used: avocadoes (they add a nice thickness the sauce), tomatoes, sometimes even carrots.

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And then of course a variety of tomato-based canned items. I used to use jarred spaghetti sauce as my base but I found they were sneaking green peppers into the mix and it wasn’t doing my digestive system any good so I switched to canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and canned diced tomatoes.

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First I start by sautéeing up the onions with olive oil and a little butter. I let them go until they’re smelly and soft. Then I pull apart a large hunk of lean or extra lean ground beef. I like to break it up with my fingers to ensure that there are no big chunks in the pot. You can also use ground turkey or pork or whatever works for you. If you’re going the veggie route and using TVP, add that last.

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After the meat is browned to my satisfaction I tip in my vegetables, as well as some minced garlic, salt, pepper, and various spices.

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I like a mix of italian spice plus extra basil.

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I add in all my tomato things as well and give that a grand old stirring.

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Let that simmer for at least half an hour so the flavours can mingle, and feel free to adjust the spices as you see fit. I like to let it simmer as long as I can, but it’s good either way.

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Cool and freeze or serve hot on top of your favourite fresh pasta, baked into a pasta casserole, or glopped on top of bread as a sloppy joe!

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Turkey Meatball Rigatoni with Pesto

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Happy Canada Day!  Today is a holiday here in the Great White North.  Last Monday was also a holiday for those of us in Newfoundland, and I cooked this recipe up on that particular day.  We are trying to consume the contents of our pantry and freezer before we move (and we’re doing a pretty good job) so this gets rid of a chunk of the stuff in there.

Turkey Meatball Rigatoni 1

Anyway, my landlord is doing some renovations to her house, which is directly behind ours, and she needs our yard for access.  The first thing I said to the Pie when he got up and joined me in the kitchen last Monday morning was, “Oh good, you’re clothed — there’s a man in our tree.”  And there was.  And there were several in the backyard.

Morning View

And in the front yard.

Rock Collection

And in the side yard.

Gravel Road

And everywhere.  All.  Day.  Which made Gren very grumpy.

Couch Potato

And all the shops were closed so we had to make do with what was around for our dinner.  So start making up some meatballs, okay?  Preheat your oven to 375°F and grab a baking sheet. Ignore the small highway being created in your backyard.

Dirt Road

Finely grate up a medium-sized carrot.  Chuck that in a bowl.

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Slice up some green onions.

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Then dice ’em.  Chuck those in the bowl with the carrots.

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Then add a few spoonfuls minced garlic.

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Plop in 2 eggs.

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And about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.

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Give that a thorough stirring.

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Add in some ground turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper.

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Stir that all together, then use your hands to squish it into golf-ball-sized meatballs.

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Plop those onto your baking sheet and let those cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

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To test for doneness, cut one open and see that there’s no pink inside.

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Grab yourself some pesto, too.  However much you want.  I like lots.  You can buy it or make it yourself, it’s up to you.

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And slice up some tomatoes.  I used grape tomatoes here.

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Boil up a pot of water and cook up some pasta.  We used rigatoni, because it was something we needed to get rid of.

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Drain the pasta.  Dump the tomatoes and the meatballs into the pot with the pasta.

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Add the pesto.  Stir like there’s no tomorrow.

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Serve it up hot!

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Quick-Fry Breakfast Sausage (Gluten-Free)

I’m trying out some of the neat settings on my new wee camera. This is one of the shots where I ventured out of Easy Auto Mode.  This is a big step for me, people.

Signal Hill at Night

And did you know my wee camera has a FOOD setting? No longer do I have to frantically compensate in post-production for the lack of light on this ocean-bound rock: I can do it all before I even take the picture! Awesome. And these shots don’t look half-bad, considering it was a cloudy morning.

Breakfast Patties

This recipe comes from Lexie’s Kitchen and I totally LOVE it.  Well actually, I didn’t end up using her recipe at all, but the idea was fantastic.  You know when you’re looking for a little something extra in the morning but you want something easy, and for once, you (gasp!) don’t want any bacon?

Breakfast Patties

Why not try a breakfast sausage patty?  These ones are made with lean ground pork, but you can make them with any ground meat (bonus points if you grind it yourself).  When Jul and Cait were here I made some with ground chicken, and added a bit of almond meal to improve the consistency.  I bet moose patties would be worthwhile trying. Some day I am going to figure out a nice gluten-free veggie patty. But today is not that day.

Breakfast Patties

So you take your pork and you plop it in a bowl.  Add some spices.  Or whatever.  I used some paprikaground garlicdried chives, and then some Worcestershire sauce and some sweet and spicy Tabasco.  Then I added a pinch of sea salt and a lot of black pepper.  Isn’t this grinder awesome?  Cait brought it for me.  You press its nose and it poos out pepper.  Moai pepper anyone?

Breakfast Patties

Stir all that goodness together.

Breakfast Patties

Then make yourself a bunch of wee patties.  Any size you like, really.  Just remember that the thinner they are the faster they cook up, and the harder they are to move around when raw.  I suggest spraying a sheet of waxed paper with cooking spray to hold your patties until you’re ready to cook.

Breakfast Patties

You can save yourself some time in the morning and make them the night before — just cover them with an additional sheet of sprayed waxed paper and chuck ’em in the fridge.

Breakfast Patties

The rest is really quite simple.  Plop the patties in a heated frying pan (non-stick works best) and cook for a few minutes, flipping once or twice, until they are done all the way through.

Breakfast Patties

My non-stick pan is so good that when I was flipping the patties, one of them *may* have accidentally taken a flying leap out of the pan and smashed itself to a million pieces on the floor. So Gren *may* have gotten a bit of extra breakfast this morning.

Breakfast Patties

We served ours with a bit of barbecue sauce, some eggs, and a big ol’ croissant.  But I’m sure what you have planned is also good.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Patties

Turkey Lasagna

Turkey Lasagna

We’ve made quite a few lasagna dishes here at Ali Does It.  Some of them have been pretty fancy, while others were more simple.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the best, as you know.  But sometimes a teensy tweak of those simplest things makes them even better.  This particular lasagna dish is pretty classic, as things go, but I used ground turkey instead of beef for a bit of a lighter meal, and then added eggplant to the mix because I remembered the richness of it in the lasagna I made with béchamel.

This recipe makes enough for two small (7″ x 10″) dishes, and freezes really well.

Dice up an onion or two and sauté the pieces with a bit of olive oil and some minced garlic in a large saucepan until tender and translucent, a few minutes.

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Chuck in a package of ground turkey, and stir it around until it’s all broken up and the pieces are no longer pink.

Turkey Lasagna

Chop up a medium-sized eggplant, two red peppers, and a handful of mushrooms and add those to the mix.

Turkey Lasagna

Add in two cans tomato sauce and simmer that for a few minutes.  If you’re planning to cook this right away, then keep it warm, but if you’re planning to freeze the lasagna then feel free to let it cool.

Turkey Lasagna

In a bowl, mix together two tubs ricotta cheese with two cups chopped spinach (fresh or frozen, your choice).

Turkey Lasagna

Now you can put it all together.  Start with your oven-ready lasagna noodles.  Stick them raw into your dish to line the bottom. Scoop on a generous amount of your tomato/turkey sauce and smooth it down.

Turkey Lasagna

Add another layer of noodles, then a heap (half, if you’re making two lasagnas) of ricotta mixture.  Smooth that down.

Turkey Lasagna

More noodles, and you’re probably reaching the top of your container right about now.  Scoop on a final layer of tomato/turkey sauce and then sprinkle the top with a generous layer of grated mozzarella cheese.

Turkey Lasagna

Let the dish cool completely before freezing, or pop it in the oven right away.

You can bake this, uncovered, from frozen at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and the cheese is starting to brown.

Here are some of the other Ali Does It lasagna dishes for your review:

Beef Lasagna with Eggplant and Béchamel

Egg Won Ton Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Lasagna

Gluten-Free Dog Treats

In honour of Ruby’s first birthday, Cait and I got together and concocted some fabulous dog biscuits for her and Gren.  Being a corgi and therefore very food-obsessed and prone to obesity, Gren only took home a few to try, but they were still enjoyed by all.  I even had one, as I won’t feed my dog anything I wouldn’t eat myself.

Ruby murders Gren

Fortunately, we were able to easily find a dog treat recipe online that conformed to our philosophy of feeding our dogs biologically appropriate food.  That means most definitely no corn, no wheat, and no soy, and none of those other things that people seem to think dogs need, like salt, sugar, and artificial flavours or colours.  This recipe from Sandra over at dog-nutrition-naturally.com totally fit the bill and was easy to do.  We tripled the recipe so that there would be plenty of birthday treats for everyone.

First, peel yourself a large sweet potato.  And I mean LARGE.  Cut that sucker up.

Plop the potato pieces in a pot and boil them silly until they’re mashable.  Then of course mash them.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

In a large bowl, plop in 1lb ground meat.  We used extra lean ground beef, but you can use turkey, chicken, pork, or lamb — or really, whatever you want.

Add to that 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) and a large egg.  Drop in 5 tablespoons large flake rolled oats as well, just for cohesion purposes.

Chuck in the mashed sweet potato and mix it well.

Spread it flat on the prepared cookie sheet and smooth the top.

Bake for about an hour.  The cookie will shrink and pull away from the sides.  Now you can score the cookie into smaller pieces, or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes.  A pizza cutter is handy about now too.

Reduce the oven heat to 250°F and pop the cookies back into the oven for another hour or so to dry out.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Tada!  That’s it.  Now SIT.

Good dog.Make sure to store your treats in an airtight container, and of course remember that treats should never be used as a substitute for your dog’s regular diet.  Yum yum!