Homemade Lasagna

I am on a roll today – the Blooming earlier, and homemade Lasagna tonight. This also my first try at making homemade Lasagna – and it was a resounding success!

I started with browning about 1 1/2 pounds of Ground Beef, and mixing it with 36 ounces of spaghetti sauce and simmered for a while.

Then I mixed some eggs, Ricotta Cheese, Cottage Cheese, and Parmesan Cheese. Also, I grated 2 pounds of Mozzarella Cheese, and boiled 9 Lasagna Noodles.

Then I put some of the the Meat Sauce in the pan, then started layering everything into the pan, layer by layer – Noodles, then Cheese mixture, then Mozzarella, then Meat Sauce – and finishing with Mozzarella Cheese.

Then I cooked it at 375 degrees for a total of 70 minutes – 50 minutes covered, and 20 minutes uncovered. Then we served it with Whole Kernel Corn.

This was a great way to end the Sunday evening – everybody went back for seconds – a very good meal.

My Blooming Onion Try

Well, here is my try at a Blooming Onion in the Air Fryer. This is an interesting undertaking for me – since I don’t like onions. I started with a large White Vidalia Onion, and removed the skin, and cut off the roots, and then cut off approximately 1/3 inch off the top.

Then I removed the core of the Onion, then turned it upside-down and carefully made 4 slits with a knife in a “cross” pattern, then added 2 more slits in each section.

Then I mixed a milk and egg mixture, and a breadcrumb (and spice) mixture. I opened up the Onion and coated everything in the egg wash then coated them with the breadcrumb mixture.

Then I put it into the Air Fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Here is the final result:

My granddaughter said that the Onion was way too strong. My wife liked it – but agreed that the Onion was strong. I will definitely do this again – but will tweek it as I go.

Homemade Pan Pizza

Today, I used my 2 cast iron skillets to make some Pepperoni, Mushroom, and Sausage Pan Pizzas. I made the dough from scratch – again, this was a first time effort for me – and it turned out good.

I made the dough, and let it rise in the refrigerator for 6 hours.

I put some Peanut Oil in the pans, and spread the dough out, and let it set for 2 more hours at room temperature – then started to make the Pizzas – sauce first.

Then I put some cheese and Mushrooms.

Then I put the Pepperoni, the Sausage and some more cheese.

Then I put them in a preheated oven at 550 degrees for 15 minutes.

We let them cool for 10 – 15 minutes before eating. They were incredible! I will definitely do this again.

Pizza Pot Pies

Tonight I made some Pizza Pot Pies from scratch. I saw them on TV, and decided to replicate it. I started by cooking some Pork sausage, with some Pizza sauce, Marinara sauce, Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder for 3 hours.

I made the Pizza dough from scratch, and set it aside to rise. I took four 5″ ramekins and applied melted butter to the inside. Then I started by putting 4 slices of Mozzarella Cheese in each one, then some Pepperoni.

Then I added Onions and Black Olives in 2 ramekins, then added sliced mushrooms in each one.

Then I scooped some of the “Sausage Pizza sauce mixture on top of each one. The I divided my dough into 4 equal batches, rolled it out and carefully placed one over each ramekin. I coated them with an egg wash to help them become a golden brown.

I baked them in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes. I let them cool for a few minutes, then carefully turned them over onto a plate to cool. They were absolutely amazing – all that I had expected.

Deep Fryer vs Hot Air Fryer

Well, as many of you know, I am a sucker for fried foods, lol. At our house, we have a deep fryer on the counter, that we use on a regular basis – albeit with Peanut Oil – but, still not a very healthy option. So, fast forward to a few months ago – my brother-in-law gave us a Hot Air Fryer – which, I have to admit, I sort of rolled my eyes at it. After all, how can you “fry” something with “hot air?”

Well, my brother-in-law kept asking what we thought about it – but, since we hadn’t tried it, I couldn’t answer that question. So, I tried it on some small things, like a piece of a cut up turkey, and some frozen wings – and they turned out ok. The frozen wings were definitely better than cooking them in the microwave, lol.

So, last night, I decided to put this “Air Fryer” to the test – and did a head to head test with the Air Fryer vs the Deep Fryer – knowing that I would be able to tell my brother-in-law that the Air Fryer doesn’t hold a candle to the traditional Deep Fryer.

Well, I started with some boneless Chicken Breasts, sliced them in half, so they aren’t so thick, then lightly coated them with Olive Oil.

I then dredged them in a mixture of bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Then I started with the Air Fryer, cooking them for 10 minutes at 390 degrees – flipping them at the 6 minute point. They were cooked to perfection, very moist and tender – yet fully cooked.

Now, for the traditional Deep Fryer – all preparations were identical – but they were fried at 375 degrees for approximately 8 minutes. As with the Air Fryer, the Chicken Breasts were cooked to perfection, moist and tender, but fully cooked.

The picture with 2 breast pieces are from the Air Fryer – and as you can see – the color and appearance of the Chicken Breasts are very different between the 2 fryers – as was the taste. Now, for the results:

As I stated earlier, part of my purpose was to prove what I already “knew” – and that was that the traditional Deep Fryer would produce a much “tastier” end product than the Air Fryer. I tasted the 2 different types, then had my son, Jesse try them both, then had my wife try them both – and all 3 of us had the same opinion – and it was not even a close call: the winner is – HOT AIR FRYER!

While the consistency and texture of the Chicken Breasts were very similar with both fryers – the taste could not have been more different. The most telling sign, and the first thing that I noticed is that with the chicken cooked in the Air Fryer – you could immediately taste the mild bite from the Cayenne – while with the chicken cooked in the Deep Fryer, you could not taste any Cayenne at all – as though it was cooked with a different breading. The overall taste of the Chicken Breasts cooked in the Air Fryer was FAR better than those cooked in the traditional Deep Fryer. I could not have been more wrong in my perception of what this Air Fryer was capable of. This experiment has made a believer out of me, and now I am anxious to cook more things in the Air Fryer.

Short Ribs and Zeppole

As I get older, I continue to want to make new things that I have never made – hence today’s post. Today, I made Beef Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans for supper. I started with 4 pounds of Short Ribs and a Dutch Oven. I put some Canola Oil in the Dutch Oven, heated it up, then took the Short Ribs and rolled them in flour and salt, and seared on all sides.

Then I added a quart of Beef Stock and 1 1/2 cups of Burgandy wine, then added 2 peeled and sliced carrots, 3 sliced Celery sticks, and 1 sliced Yellow Onion, with some Rosemary on top.

I then put the lid on the Dutch Oven and put in the oven at 350 degrees for 4 1/2 hours. To accompany the Short Ribs, I made some homemade Mashed Potatoes – with Russet Potatoes – with 1 1/2 cups of butter, a little bit of milk, and some salt and pepper. It was absolutely amazing! The meat was falling off of the bones – with amazing flavor from the vegetables and the Wine. The vegetables were super tender and tasty as well.

Then, to top it all off, I made some Zeppole for dessert. The easiest way to describe what Zeppole is: an Italian Donut Hole.

I start by melting butter in water, then adding some sugar and stirring it in. Then I added the flour, and continue to stir until the batter pulls away from the sides of the pan. Then I let the batter cool slightly, then stir in 4 eggs (one at a time), while mixing with a mixer.

Then I scooped them into the deep fryer with a small Ice Cream scoop, with the oil at 375 degrees. Once they are a golden brown, I removed them from the fryer onto a paper towel covered plate. Then I rolled them in a mixture of 1 cup Sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. My granddaughter, Leana, helped me with this part.

What a great Sunday night meal.

A Bent Ring No More!

This is a story about a Bent Ring, and some Woodworking. My wedding ring has been very badly bent for several years, and sometimes gets very uncomfortable – and sometimes I can barely get it off my finger.

So, since I have a wood lathe, I thought – why not just just a piece of Oak into a nice piece that I can straighten out my ring. So, here goes:

I started with a piece just like this:

Then I cut it down and started turning it on the lathe:

It probably took me longer to turn this small piece than it should have – but, I am still learning how to use this tool. Here are some more pictures:

It is a slow process of gradually reducing the size, and putting nice taper on it – then sanding it smooth.

Here, you can see that the size is substantially reduced, with the taper where I needed it. The remaining pictures show a finished product, as well as the ring on the finished piece of wood, and the ring after straightening it to a more “round” shape.

Now, the only thing left to do is to clean up the mess, lol.