Monday, November 17, 2014

The Comfort Casserole (or "What can we throw in a pan?")

Most of the time I am making dishes from scratch- carefully breaded chicken, homemade sauces, soups that take longer to create than they do to eat. Then there are those times that I want something easy. Something thrown together. In this case, that something was a casserole.

This wasn't going to just be any casserole. It was going to be a comfort casserole. I was at work having a particularly difficult day, and started thinking about what I wanted for dinner. I wanted something comforting, and in this situation, that meant something cheesy, potato-y, and chicken-y.

What part of the chicken do the rings come from? 

I really love those bags of frozen chicken rings. Basically, they're just small chicken patties with the centers cut out, but yum. Seriously. I had a bag of diced potatoes, and a random package of marked down bacon, a bag of white onions, some green onions, a few Roma tomatoes, and a couple of half-empty bags of cheese.

I cooked the chicken rings in my toaster oven, then lined the bottom of the lasagna pan with them. The diced potatoes were cooked on the stove top with a little olive oil, and the bacon was done in a smaller pan on the stove top. I topped the chicken rings with a mixture of the browned potatoes, sliced onions, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese. Popped it into the oven for 20 minutes or so at 400, and took it out. As I spooned the gooey concoction onto my plate, I topped it with some diced tomatoes and chopped green onion, and finished it off with some ranch dressing.

Not one of my more elegant dishes, but I'll be damned if it wasn't delicious. Sometimes the comfort foods are the best remedy for a bad day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Feeding the book club- Part II

It’s that time again- time to feed the book club! As I've said before, I look forward to it more than anything because I love cooking and serving groups. This time, I didn't spend that much time coming up with a specific dinner- it all just kind of happened randomly as I wandered around Kroger.

The first piece of the puzzle happened when I found some marked-down organic veal sirloin cuts. The price was too good to pass up, so I grabbed them. It’s been a while since I've cooked veal cutlets like that, and I didn't want to just do plain broiled or grilled. I ran a quick trial on some pork medallions to test three different methods and spices- broiled/chimichury, broiled/salt and pepper, lightly fried in olive oil with breadcrumbs and yellow curry. Lisa and I tried them all and settled on the fried variety. The trick was going to be A) not overcooking it and B) not having too much oil. This was going to be cooking without a net on the day of book club.



Sizzle sizzle!

The next piece of the puzzle was figuring out what to serve alongside the veal. I was thinking about doing a baked potato, but then changed my mind when I thought about what the veal sirloin looked like- mini steaks! So what would you have with a mini steak? Mini baked potatoes! I got some baby red jacket potatoes and cooked them like a regular baked potato, split them, and served them with the usual accouterments.

I forgot to get a picture of the potatoes, but they looked similar to these.

The last piece was the most difficult to conceptualize. I knew in my head what I wanted. Kind of. My doodles were the genesis of what became my crispy spinach salad, but it went through a couple of revisions before I had it right. 

Right in between interview questions and ERP implementation tasks. Where will YOU be when inspiration strikes?

It started with thinking about doing a spinach salad, but again, that’s a very expected side to go with veal and potatoes. I wanted to see if I would be able to make spinach crispy by either frying it or baking it. I decided to try baking it first- 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, single-layered on a baking pan. The spinach dried out and got crispy as I had hoped, but I ran into some problems with it sticking to the foil, so I tried again with a little spray of PAM. This time it worked great, and I was able to get the spinach off without any issue.

Baked and crispy spinach

The first pass was to stack spinach, provolone, and then more spinach, and top it with a bit of vinaigrette. It was, for lack of a better word, boring both visually and taste-wise. My second attempt added a tomato slice to the bottom, and this time I stacked the spinach, cheese and spinach on top of the slice of tomato and cooked it at a low temp on the stove top to melt the cheese and give the tomato a bit of a cooked flavor. I topped the finished product with Parmesan cheese and a drop or two of vinaigrette. This was miles better than the first try, but still was lacking…something. I wanted to have something that would add a savory flavor to the side. I went through my refrigerator and found exactly what I needed- Genoa salami!

Tomatoes on top of salami, waiting for the spinach and cheese

The final revision was the same as the second version, only this time the tomato/spinach/cheese was placed on top of a slice of salami and then cooked. A happy accident occurred when, as the salami heated up, it curled up and over the edge of the tomato slice, which looked really nice. I eliminated the vinaigrette, as the salami/tomato/cheese had enough intermingling flavors that it was no longer required.
Lid on to help melt the cheese

Fully assembled but not cooked

With the dinner planned, all that was left was to make it for everyone. One thing that I’ve always excelled at (even back to my days as head cook at Hoggy’s!) was getting everything to come up at the same time. It’s a strategy, to be certain, figuring out how long everything needs to cook and raising or lowering temperatures speed or slow things. This worked out great- the veal with the breadcrumbs and curry was flavorful, tender, juicy and crispy. The salami/tomato/spinach/cheese “salad” was as delicious as it was unique, and the baby baked potatoes were the perfect complement to the rest of the dish.  

Yes, I even created a menu for them!

In the end, this dish wasn't as impulsive as the rest of the meals I've blogged about, but it is interesting to follow the train of thought from idea to plate from time to time.

Until next time!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sllabtaem yseehc

Dreams are like repressed desires of things we wish we could have. In this case, my repressed desire consisted of a cheesy meatball risotto. I mean, if you're going to dream, dream big.

Do they serve meatballs in the Black Lodge?
Basically I had a dream where I was eating meatballs in a creamy, cheesy sauce, but it was a little spicy and had a lot of tomatoes in it. Think sort of like a tortilla and cheese soup, but a little thicker, served over risotto. Why? I don't know. Most of my dreams are typically night-spanning epics, involving subplots and cliffhangers, but this...this was different. Maybe it was a commercial? Anyway, I wanted to make it.

Since I had other things going on that night, I opted for pre-made meatballs and baked them in the oven. The sauce was going to be 100% trial and error. I started with about two cups of water and a few chicken bullion cubes. I added about 3/4 cup of milk as well. I brought that to a boil and added Velveeta (well, the Kroger version) and a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes to the sauce. I let that all start to simmer and then added a small can of chipotle sauce that I had purchased a bunch of when they were marked down to $0.29. 

The sauce began to thicken and the meatballs were nicely baked, so I removed the meatballs from the oven and combined them into the sauce. I figured any mingling of flavors would be good while the risotto cooked. As the risotto finished, I ground some black pepper into the sauce. 

I plated the dish with risotto on the bottom and meatballs on top, covered with the cheesy sauce. It didn't turn out as thick as it was in my dream, but then again I literally threw this together with stuff I had at the house (and I had spent most of the evening working on my Mustang, so it was nearly 8pm when I started cooking!)

Gratuitous picture of my Mustang

In the end, it turned out to be delicious! A little spicy, lots of tomato, oodles of cheese, and a really nice risotto base. It made a ton, so I am looking forward to eating the leftovers. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I've taken up smoking

For Father’s day this year, my wife got me a charcoal grill and smoker- something that I had wanted for a while. I had never once in my entire life cooked with, or even eaten food cooked with charcoal, but had chicken that was and knew I needed to have one.
No, got-dangit! Taste the meat, not the heat!
My inaugural meal on the grill was the old standby- ribs. While I have no photographic proof, you’ll have to take my word that they were fantastic. It really isn’t that hard to get a charcoal grill going, but it is a little disorienting cooking without a flame, only heat. I was using the charcoal that already had the lighter fluid in it, and getting it started was a breeze.

Gimme some of that mmm mmm good, meat falls of the i'm hongry, i said baby you hongry?

After doing the ribs, I wanted to try burgers, which were delicious. I mixed in some A1 steak sauce with the beef and grilled them. I’m pretty sure I could never go back to gas grilling!

Artist's depiction of a burger

The real test came when I wanted to smoke something. I initially tried smoking some chicken, but had no idea what I was doing. I had the wrong kind of wood, didn’t soak it, etc. It turned out ok, but was very wasteful when it came to how I actually proceeded.  This time, I bought a really nice looking pork loin, some applewood chunks, and I was ready to roll.

One yummy pork loin
Soaking the wood was something I didn’t know you were supposed to do, but it makes sense- otherwise the wood burns too quickly and you don’t get any smoke. Well, very little smoke, and for a very short time. So the wood was soaking, and I made a simple rub for the pork, consisting of sea salt, red wine salt, black pepper, onion powder and seasoned salt.


I had read that you want to slow-cook the pork, and that required a lower heat. I lit the briquettes, then added the wet applewood to the top and let them start to smolder. I kept the heat inside of the grill around 200 (occasionally spiking to 250 when I wasn’t paying really close attention…) and occasionally freshened the wood chips. With about 30 minutes left, I put on a coat of Open Pit BBQ sauce. For what I wanted, which was basically just to have a glaze, it was perfect. As the pork neared completion, the sauce turned to a dark, sweet glaze. The aroma wafting up from the grill was damn near indescribable. As my wife put it, the whole yard smelled like the fair.

What's wrong with the license plate? I should get that looked at.

It took about 3.5 hours from start to finish. I had to add a couple of pieces of charcoal, and I found some chicken quarters in my fridge and tossed them on the grill as well.

Do not drool on your keyboard (or iPhone or Android...)

I wish I could show you picture of everything plated….but I was so excited to carve into the pork loin that I didn’t get any pictures. If you don’t have a smoker, you really should get one. It opens a smoky door to another smoky world. I can’t wait to try more! Anyone out there have any recommendations? Wood type, meats, etc?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Feeling a bit saucy

I've been experimenting a lot lately with different kinds of sauces, but haven't gone too far from the basic tomato-based variety. Inspiration struck last week though, and I had a major taste for something involving onions. I thought about what I had available, and struck off into uncharted (for me, at least) territory.

Next stop....Sauceville!

As I mentioned previously, I am part of a co-op program called Azoti. They partner with a local small farms to bring fresh vegetables and meat products directly to the public. You place an order weekly and the food is delivered, in my case to my work. I had just taken a delivery of both meat and vegetables, and had an idea about what I wanted to do. It was going to be an interesting mix of flavors, so all I could hope is that it was going to work out. 

A small portion of my first fresh delivery. The bacon is hands-down the best i've ever had (both smoked and peppered)

My thought process went something kind of like this: I want onions. Mmm. But what? Maybe an onion sauce? Oooh, like a creamy onion sauce. Using what though? Milk. Cheese? Parmesan cheese. It'd still be too thin. What about a sour cream base, cut with a little milk? That should be thick enough. Ok, so that. Dice up some onions and cook it in the sauce. Onion powder? I don't have any. How about onion salt? That'll work. Yeah, still too thick. Let's add some chicken broth. There ya go. It's too bland looking. I've got fresh peppered bacon! Yes, that. Exactly that. Cook then crumble the bacon annnnnnd....done.

Listen closely- you can actually hear it sizzling!

So the sauce took shape pretty quickly. As with just about everything that I do, I had absolutely ZERO plan as to how I was going to make the sauce. I've found that throwing together a sauce is so incredibly rewarding when it turns out because it's instant gratification. The sauce was creamy without being too thick, but thin enough that it could be poured on top of pasta or chicken and not look out of place. Of course, I had to have something to put this sauce over.

Mild Italian sausage links 

The meat portion of my Azoti delivery comes from Oink Moo Cluck Farms here in Central Ohio. One of the meats I ordered were fresh mild Italian sausage links. I envisioned cutting the links into medallions and searing them in a pan and then serving them on top of a bed of pasta with the onion sauce. I had cooked beer bratwurst from Oink Moo Cluck before, so I had an idea of the consistency, which is different than the store-bought varieties. Typically the kind you buy in the store is has a lot more fat and fillings, which in turn makes the sausages cook a lot faster. I've found that these are much leaner, which makes them a lot more dense. This, in turn, requires a little longer cooking on the stove. 


I started by browning the links in the pan, then removing them and cutting them into slices. Getting clean, even cuts is not important, as having some asymmetry to them enhances the overall look of the meal. Once they were cut, back into the pan they went. First at a high temp to char the outsides, then lower to finish the cooking while retaining the juiciness. 

The smell of fresh tomatoes is indescribable

I could eat these all day long
While this was cooking, I made one of my summertime favorites- tomato and cucumber salad. I had a package of cherry tomatoes, a couple vine ripe tomatoes, and some seedless cucumbers from my delivery. If you've never made a salad using freshly-picked veggies, you are really doing yourself a disservice. The salad itself couldn't be more simple- slice the cherry tomatoes in half length-wise, dice up the big tomatoes, quarter the cucumber and then cut into slices. Mix these together, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, Lowry's garlic salt, and a couple sprinkles of onion salt. For best results, letting it all mingle overnight is recommended, but not necessary. If it were possible, I could live on this stuff.

If "fresh" had a taste, this would be it

While cooking the sausage and making the tomato salad, I had the pasta boiling. For this particular dinner I used the San Giorgio Trio Italiano pasta, which is a mix of three kinds of pasta. Once that was finished and drained, I plated the meal with a bed of pasta, topped with sausage and sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. As a side dish, I cooked a bag of Brussels sprouts ($1.29 a bag at Aldi!).

Not only did the meal sate my desire for onions, as the sauce was deliciously onion-y but not overpowering in the least, but mixing the flavor of the amazing Italian sausage and the perfectly cooked bacon while really made for a unique experience. I think of all of the other things that sauce would be good on and want to make it again. I absolutely will make this meal again- not only because it's awesome for dinner, but the leftovers are even better the next day. That's the mark of a fantastic meal!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Denny's Deli-Dinger!

I've received a lot of traffic from people searching for the ingredients on a Denny's Deli Dinger. This was a sandwich that was a staple of my diet through the 90's, but is sadly unavailable anymore. Luckily, through some super-secret back channels, midnight meetings in abandoned parking lots, and paying off several high-ranking officials, I now possess the long-lost recipe. No need to thank me- your happiness is my reward.

3 slices of sourdough bread
1/8 lb sliced deli turkey
1/8 lb sliced deli ham
2 pieces of bacon
1 thick slice mild cheddar cheese
1 thick slice American cheese
2 tomato slices
1 piece of lettuce
REAL mayo

Cook the ham and turkey on the stove top until they appear to be cooked. Toast the bread and melt the cheese on each slice. Melt the cheddar on one and the American on the other. The two pieces with cheese will be the middle and bottom of the DeliDinger. Once the meat is ready, put it on top of the now-melted cheese. Top the meat with bacon as shown below.

Once you've got the meat and cheese finished, you're just about there. Spread a little bit of mayo to the bottom of the middle piece of bread. Add a piece of lettuce to the top layer, then take the tomato slices and put them on top of the lettuce. Spread a heroic amount of mayo on the bottom of the top piece of bread, cut the sandwich diagonally and you're done! I'm pretty sure these taste better after midnight and with a cup of coffee.

The toasted sourdough bread can and will tear the ever-loving crap out of your mouth! You have been warned!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Azoti- Connecting communities to locally-grown food!

A very cool perk of my job is having access to Azoti- a local company that co-ops with local farmers to bring food from the farm to your table. It's a subscription service, but offers a lot of different levels to choose from. I'm going to be signing up for both the meat and the fruits/vegetable package. I wanted to get the word out now in case anyone was interested in checking them out. The nice thing is that you can try it for a month and see if you like it. If you don't, you're able to cancel at any time.

I've heard nothing but rave reviews of the program, and have sampled some of the meat from Oink Moo Cluck (the local farm that raises the pork/beef/chicken) and I have to tell you, the bacon is pretty much the best thing I've ever had. I really can't wait to try some of the other stuff, especially the steaks!

Hello! I'm cute but delicious!

They can be found at

Look for some Impulsive Chef meals using farm-fresh ingredients in the coming months!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Feeding the Book Club

It's not often I get to cook for more than one or two people, so when I have a chance to cater one of Lisa's book clubs (and I use that in the absolute loosest term possible) it's like I'm running my own restaurant. I go into full-on chef mode; deciding (usually around the last minute) what i'm going to make, how I want to do it, and most of the time making something I've never made before. That's half of the fun- making something that you think is going to turn out well, but you don't actually know until people eat it. So it basically comes down to your dinner being good and everyone enjoying it, or ordering pizza while scraping their plates off into the garbage can. Cooking without a net, i'll call it. It's the culmination of all of the impulsive meals that I cook for just Lisa and I.
Lisa hosts twice a year, and typically there are about six people including her. I like to make enough for me to have a plate as well, and now I have to consider Calvin having some too, so it really comes out to cooking for eight. Really not a big deal- I cook like that on most occasions anyway, which is why we always have leftovers (and i'm Italian, so there's that too).

It's like this, only minus the books.
Of course, at a book club like this, sitting around on the couch talking takes up the first hour or so. Coming up with tasty appetizers is very important, as it sets the stage for the remainder of the evening. Chips and salsa? Boring. Cheese and crackers? No thanks! The appetizers that I decided on were Carr Valley Bread Cheese- otherwise known as Juustoleipa. It's a very dense cheese with a taste that I can only describe as a cross between mozzarella and a salty/sweet cream. I typically will prepare it by cutting it into 1"x 1" cubes and cooking them with a little bit of butter on the stove top. I flip them often enough that all of the sides get nice and crispy, which is interesting because even though the cheese gets melty, it never actually melts, so it retains the cube shape. This is beneficial for ease of serving! Once they're done, they go on a plate, and are paired with raspberries and blackberries. It sounds like it wouldn't be good, but Oh. My. God. Those paired together are fantastic.

Raw (kinda) in the pan

Nice and crispy

If you eat it with fruit, it's healthy!

Along with the bread cheese, I put out a loaded baked potato dip made from green onions, freshly cooked and crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, seasoned salt, onion salt, and pepper. For dipping, I served pretzel thins. Nothing earth-shattering, but a nice compliment to the heavier bread cheese.

For the main dish, in the days leading up to book club, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do- something pasta based, but not boring. I mean, not something that you'd have on a Wednesday night at home, but something special. I picked up about two pounds of gemelli (meaning "twin") pasta from Whole Foods, so I knew I had my base. Granted, it was a really, really wide open base, but a base nonetheless. I've always liked a buttery pasta, whether it's a buttery garlic or butter with shrimp, so I figured that I'd do a buttery sauce, but top it with another sauce. I guess making the butter be more of a coating for the pasta, then topping it with a cheesy alfredo...that sounded so good!


The pasta would be good just like that- but it would look boring. White pasta, white sauce....just blah. It needed to be spiced up a little. I thought adding a little protein in the form of chicken was a no-brainer, so I planned on some chicken breast cutlets. To finish off the pasta, I looked through my cabinets and found a jar of sun dried tomatoes, and I had my main dish set.

The pasta was cooked in the standard way- salted water brought to a boil, pasta added, cooked al dente, then drained. Once it was drained, it went back into the pot that it boiled in and I added some butter. There wasn't  much else involved in preparing the pasta!

Creating a sauce can be very difficult or very easy. I love alfredo sauce, but I absolutely loathe the kind that comes in a jar. It's always way too thick and never tastes like cheese. A while back, for one reason or another I bought a packet of Kroger powdered alfredo sauce mix, and it turned out to be delicious! I  think I bought it because I was going to mix it with some red sauce we had, but I don't really remember. Making it with milk, butter, and then adding some garlic powder and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese gave it the perfect consistency- thick, but not too thick, thin but not watery. It was a good flavor to mix with the background flavors of butter, pasta, chicken and sun dried tomatoes.
There were several ways that I could do the chicken- shredded and mixed into the pasta, cut into pieces and cooked in a pan, or the way I ultimately decided, which was to get my cast iron grill as hot as possible, and then quick cook them on the side with the raised grill marks. As a quick aside, I've found that cooking steak on a cast iron skillet rivals those being cooked on an open flame grill. I would consider myself someone who knows a good steak, and when I read about cooking it inside, I had to try it for myself. The cast iron is amazing for cooking cuts of meat- and would be perfect for these chicken cutlets.

Working the iron
I seasoned each cutlet with oregano, parsley, and poultry seasoning. Nothing fancy, I just wanted the chicken to be moist and juicy. Once the iron is hot (typically I'll leave it on for 5-10 minutes on high flame) I dropped each chicken onto the grill at an angle, strictly for aesthetics. The grill marks should be at an angle, it just looks better. After a minute, the chicken gets flipped, and after another minute, it's done. It's really that simple! The chicken comes off incredibly juicy- much more so that flame grilling. I put two cutlets on top of each plate of pasta.

Prepping the sun dried tomato mixture
As I said earlier, at this point the dish was still very monochromatic. I cut up a couple of the whole sun dried tomatoes, poured about 1/4 cup of the alfredo sauce into a glass, then took my immersion blender and blended it until it was a beautiful red/orange mixture. I poured it into a small sandwich bag, snipped the corner of it off, and used it like a pastry icing bag to 'drizzle' it over the top of the pasta and chicken. The pop of color really set it off!
It was a little bit more dramatic in person...
What to do for a side dish though? I racked my brain for ideas, and while walking through Kroger, I saw in the frozen food aisle they had boxes of green bean fries. I understand that a "typical" green bean fry is battered or covered in breadcrumbs and then fried, but I wanted to do something a little lighter. I bought two pounds of fresh green beans and a container of grated Parmesan. The preparation for them is actually quite easy- snap any bad ends of the beans off, lay them all flat on a pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, give them a quick spray of canned olive oil, shake Parmesan cheese over them (as much or as little as you'd like) and bake! I bake them for about 15 minutes at 400, but you can adjust to suit your tastes. I prefer mine to be a little more crispy, but either way, the cheese makes a really tasty coating for the beans.
I could serve them just like this and they're still really yummy

But....cheese makes everything better.

The beans are fantastic on their own, but I wanted to make a couple of sauces to give everyone the option to dip them if they so desired. The first sauce was a buttermilk ranch (from Aldi, the absolute best store-bought buttermilk ranch I've ever had) Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black peppercorns. The other was a fire-roasted tomato sauce with a bit of cheese added. Both turned out great, and were quickly prepared with things I have in my fridge.

Along with everything else, no Italian meal is complete without some bread for the table. I had purchased a loaf of rustic ciabatta bread, brushed the top of it with butter and garlic powder, and baked it in my toaster. Tearing off as much as you want from the loaf is such a great dinner experience.

About to serve
So that's the story of my book club meal- my ever-so-brief brush with having my own restaurant. It's times like that I wish I had the financial ability to open a place. My passion alone would bring people in, and the food would bring people back. Sigh. Maybe someday!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Guest Post: Lasagnahhh!

Hello, Impulsive Chef fans!  Ms. Chef here, aka Lisa.

In my first guest post, I mentioned how though I am not a frequent cook, thanks to the wonderful talents of Mr. Chef (aka Brian), I love me some Italian food.  At every big holiday gathering, my mom would make a big tray of lasagna, and over all the years of watching and helping, I absorbed the process, and I can whip them together from scratch without a second thought.

Perhaps for some, making lasagna seems intimidating or even difficult, but I hope this post will show you how wonderfully easy it really is.

So, I start with getting my sauce cooking.  This I also learned from my mom, who would make a big pot of sauce every week.  I certainly don't have a recipe I follow, but it's quite simple.  I start with an olive oil base, to which I add a healthy amount of fresh minced garlic and fresh Italian herbs (I love the refrigerated squeeze tubes of herb "paste" - so easy!), and let simmer on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes (don't let the garlic burn, not that I speak from personal experience or anything!).

I then add tomatoes.  I use crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. I love the texture of the crushed tomatoes - they don't need to be blended - and the tomato paste adds just a bit of necessary sweetness to the sauce.  I stir it all together thoroughly to ensure everything is integrated (especially the oil).

At this stage sometimes I add a little more oil if needed, to thin the sauce somewhat.  And then, the crucial ingredient - milk.  (Or cream, if I'm really splurging.)  We typically have whole milk on hand these days, with my 15-month-old toddling around, so I use that.  Again, no measurement on that - it depends on the size of the sauce batch - but I just pour, stir, let simmer for a few, and then taste - and if it needs more, I splash in more.  Yes, Italian cooking is MY kind of cooking.  Anyway, the purpose of the milk (or cream) is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  My personal preference is a slightly sweeter sauce.

So while my sauce simmers (medium-low heat), I brown my meat.  I like to use 95/5 ground turkey, which is a somewhat healthier alternative to beef, and readily accepts however you choose to season it.  I use dried Italian seasoning and a light sprinkle of salt, and cook the meat JUST until it's browned (it will also bake for quite a while in the lasagna).

Next up is to prep the ricotta.  The goodness of fresh ricotta is just amazing, so I don't do much to alter it - just a spoonful of minced garlic and a sprinkling of salt.

How much do I love when it keeps its shape out of the container?  ;-)

Now, it's time for assembly!

I prep my baking dish with a thin layer of sauce, then put down my first layer of noodles (I use the no-boil kind, and it's crucial that they be surrounded/ covered with a moist layer, whether that's the sauce or the ricotta cheese.)  On top of the noodles I spread sauce mixed with the turkey, then comes a layer of ricotta, next fresh spinach leaves, followed by a generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.

Upon this foundation I repeat the layering process until I either run out of noodles or out of space in the dish, always topping my creation with mozzarella.

Ready to go!
I then cover the dish with foil, and it bakes at 375° for about an hour.  (Careful not to take off the cheese along with the foil when it's done!)

fresh outta the oven
Try to let it cool for a bit, so you don't burn your mouth as you shovel it in.  ;-)