Squash Lasagna

At the season’s end of our last farmer’s market, I decided to load up on a variety of squash. I’ll admit that I am not too big of a squash lover, but I did it for my wife, as she is the one that likes them. But as I stared at the delicata and butternut squash, I decided I would roast both of them. That’s when the idea came into play, probably because I was searching for ideas for dinner and something everyone would love and agree on, and that’s when I thought of lasagna. Lasagna with a twist that is. Who doesn’t love a great dish of lasagna? What no one knew is that I had a good couple of cups of that delish, roasted squash, and ever better I did not tell them until after they devoured a couple of slices. Yep, that’s where my kids are now, two slices, and eating me out of the house.

Squash Lasagna Recipe
Squash Lasagna Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 1 small butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, rubbed onto sliced squashes
  • 9 sheets of lasagna, oven ready, or par boiled
  • 1 lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 2 mild Italian sausage links, casing removed, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/12 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of red chili flakes
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the squashes to a baking sheet, and cook flesh side up for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Once the squash is cooked, scrape out, and mix into a bowl. You will only need about two cups, but feel free to use more or less based on your preference.

Start by cooking both of your meats. Feel free to combine these in a large skillet. Break apart the meat as it is cooking to prevent large clumps. Strain the meat mixture, removing the fat, then return the meat back on the stove on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, the red chili flakes, and the garlic powder. Give a good stir, cooking for a minute or two, then add in your sauce. Stir, and let this reduce down a bit, cooking for about 10 minutes.

To another mixing bowl, add the egg, ricotta cheese, the squash, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and half of the parmesan cheese. Give that a good mix so that the squash is fully incorporated into the cheeses.

Now let’s get to this lasagna. Take a good ladle of your meat sauce, and add to the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add the lasagna sheets. Mine fit three to the pan.

Squash Lasagna Ingredients
Squash Lasagna Ingredients

Next, be generous and add enough of the ricotta and squash mixture to cover the pasta sheets. Lightly sprinkle on mozzarella cheese, then more meat mixture, pasta cheese, more ricotta mixture, more cheese, more sauce, then remaining pasta sheets. Cover with meat sauce, the cover with cheese. Shower with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Spray the back of some aluminum foil with some cooking spray. I’ve found this to prevent all of that wonderful cheese from sticking onto the foil when removing from the oven.

Cover the baking dish, and place into a 375 degree oven, cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

The end result was everything that is wonderful about a great lasagna, but there was that bit of hidden sweetness from the blended squash that made this one even better. After the kids were finished eating (as well as my wife), I said “So how did everyone like the squash?”. They had confused looks on their face, but all replied that they had no clue it was in there, and loved every bite. What’s not to love about that? Gotta get the good stuff in there somehow, I was successful on that front. Hope you enjoy!

New Mexico Hatch Chile Pork

Recently our local grocery store began selling New Mexican Hatch chiles, something I have been wanting for many, many years. Granted I have made plenty of chili over the last ten years or so, but I have always been wanting the Hatch chili. To me, it is a bit like any other. I remember it clearly when we vacationed in New Mexico back in high school. The Hatch chili is crisp, spicy, and offers an awesome brightness. So when I found out the grocery store was finally selling these, I was bound and determined to make some real New Mexico style Hatch green chile with pork.

This chili is not only easy to make, yields a ton, and has plenty for leftovers, but it was one that had just that right amount of heat.

Hatch Chili Pork Recipe
Hatch Chili Pork Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into cubes
  • 1 lb New Mexican Hatch Green Chiles, lightly oiled
  • Charcoal fire or broiler
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 large tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, washed

That’s it. Simple ingredients.

Start by charring your Hatch chilies. I do this on my grill, flipping when the chilies get nice and charred, and softened. Once softened and charred, remove the chilies and place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or plastic zip lock bag, allowing them to steam, and ensuring that the exterior skin is easily removed.

After about 10 minutes, remove the chilies, and peel away the exterior charred skin. Cut off the top stem, and remove the seeds from the inside of the chilies. Discard the seeds, then roughly chop the Hatch chilies. Set them to the side.

Hatch Green Chili Pork Ingredients
Hatch Green Chili Pork Ingredients

Next, take your onion, cilantro, tomatillos, Hatch chilies and garlic and add them to a food processor. Pulse down until you have a smooth sauce.

Season the cubed pork with salt and pepper, then heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once heated, add in the canola oil, then add the pork in batches. Your goal is to get a nice sear on the exterior of the cubed pork shoulder. Turn the pork to get all sides nice and seared. Once seared, remove to a bowl, and repeat with the remaining pork.

To a slow cooker (please feel free) or large pot, add the pork, as well as the onion mixture. Cook low and slow until the pork is super tender. I did mine in a slow cooker for 8 hours (a perfect thing to do when you head to work).

When you are ready to serve, ladle the Hatch green chili pork into a serving bowl, get some warm tortillas or ladle over an easy cooked egg, and you are ready for a game changer. I added some cannellini beans towards the end of my cook process, but that is only optional.

I was blown away. Seriously. This chili was perfect. It had great heat, great citrus flavor, and screamed comfort all around. If you have access to Hatch chilies, try them. Now I am heading back to buy some more before they are all gone. Hope you enjoy!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sandwich

On a recent visit to our local grocery store, I noticed that pork tenderloin was on sale. I love me some pork tenderloin, and it is something that I have not made in quiet some time, so I decided to pick a couple of them up knowing exactly what I was going to do with them.  This grilled pork tenderloin and mushroom sandwich may be one of my favorites, and I do not kid when I say that. My wife loves it, my kids love it, and so that makes it a real winner in my book.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sandwich Recipe
Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sandwich Recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 oz package of Baby Portabella mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • Slices of Provolone cheese
  • French bread sliced sandwich style
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp red onion, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional)

Begin by drizzling olive oil over the pork tenderloin, and coat it well. Rub the minced garlic all over the pork tenderloin. Now wash your hands well. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the tenderloin, and use a fork or tongs to turn as you continue to sprinkle. Place in a ziplock bag and let marinate for at least an hour.

If you are fortunate enough to grill, light it up, and bring to a medium-high heat. Lube your grates with a bit of oil (use tongs and paper towel), and place the tenderloin on the grill, searing all sides. Reduce the heat, and cook until no longer pink. Remove from the grill, and let rest for approximately 10 minutes, sealing in the juices.

In the meantime, to a skillet, add the butter. Bring to a medium heat, and add in the mushrooms, cooking for about 15 minutes. Take the pork tenderloin off of the grill, and let it rest on a plate. Once rested, slice the pork tenderloin into thin medallions.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sandwich Ingredients
Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sandwich Ingredients

Slice your French bread. Add a slices of cheese to the bottom layer to cover. Add slices of pork tenderloin across the cheese, top with some of the sauteed portabella mushrooms, and then cover the mushrooms with more provolone cheese.

Preheat your broiler. Place the sandwich(es) underneath the broiler, cheese exposed, and cook until the cheese is melted, being careful not to burn the bread.

While the sandwich is cooking under the broiler, add the mayonnaise and red onion to a small bowl and mix well. Season with additional salt and pepper. This will serve as the condiment to the sandwich, and trust me on this one, this condiment is hard to beat.

Remove the sandwich from the broiler, plate, and serve. Hope you enjoy.

Filipino Bicol Express

It has been weird in some ways not sharing a weekly recipe creation with all of you. Fortunately, however, my family was able to disconnect (well except for my kids and their darn devices) and take a week long road trip. Where you may ask? Tennessee, the whole state and wow was it a blast. I think, and I hope we got so much in during the week. I went down on a mission, a different one than my wife and probably kids for that matter, and that was to try some of the best barbecue and fried chicken I have ever had; hands down ever. In summary Rendezvous ribs and barbecue nachos, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Peg Leg Barbecue ribs (got the last rack and it was only noon (they opened at 11)), and Hatti B’s Nashville hot chicken. So with that said, I’m ready to share with you a great recipe, and one that has some heat to it, much like Hatti B’s!

Bicol Express is a Filipino dish that finally has some heat to it. Don’t get me wrong here, I love pretty much any Filipino dish that has come my way, but I’m always questioning in my mind ‘Do they not use any heat when cooking?’.

This is the perfect answer to that question. I love how the Filipino’s use vinegar, garlic, and lots of black pepper in some of their dishes, and that is right up my alley, but this recipe has me. It’s a stew with very simple ingredients. It’s comforting. It has the perfect heat, and is great served alongside rice.

Filipino Bicol Express Recipe
Filipino Bicol Express Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb pork belly, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 tbsp roasted shrimp paste (this stuff stinks but brings such umami)
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 14 fresh chilies (Thai Bird, Indian Green Chile, or Serrano) of your choice, stems removed, chiles sliced in half
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cooked rice, optional

Start by heating a medium sized pot (you will cook everything in this pot) on medium heat, then add the oil. Once the oil comes to temperature, add in the cubed pork belly.

Cook the pork belly, turning along the way, until all sides become browned.

Once the pork is browned, add in the onions, garlic, and ginger. Give a good stir, and continue to cook for about 3 minutes or so.

Next add in the shrimp paste. Turn on your vent on high as this stuff has some funk (good funk), and continue to stir. Toss in the chilies, stir again, then add in the coconut milk.

How to make Filipino Bicol Express
How to make Filipino Bicol Express

Bring this to a simmer, and cook for about 1 hour, on low, stirring along the way.

Before serving, taste and season with any salt or pepper.

Now you are ready to dig in. I like to serve with a small bowl of rice to the side, along with a soup bowl of the Bicol Express. This dish is rich, creamy, spicy, funky, and overall totally comforting and right up my alley. Don’t be scared of the chiles as you can eat around them. The chilies overall bring that subtle heat to the dish overall, but if you are searching for a bit of that chili punch when eating, go ahead and bite into them! Hope you enjoy, and it’s great to be back!