Monday, October 6, 2014

Cheesy Beef Lasagna

Hi Everyone!
Clearly, I have been spending WAAAYYY too much time with my new breakfast sandwich maker.   It is the bomb but I need to get back to some blogging, right?  Well, if I can be honest I stopped blogging mainly because I was doing (still am) Nutri System.  Kinda difficult to be making all these luscious recipes AND trying to lose weight.  So far lost 45 pounds, yet it is still is a struggle only because my husband is NOT needing to lose weight that I have to prepare dinner for him and/or us. It's very complicated...regardless onto what I made this weekend.

For this month of October, I tried a recipe provided by sponsored by PAM®.  I was glad to take this on because I use PAM® A LOT.  When you are on a diet plan that wants you to eat virtually no FAT, then I use PAM® every time I cook.  I always used it whether on a diet or not. The Allrecipe Ambassador Allstars had a nice long list of recipes to choose from and since I had many of the ingredients for Lasagna and the weather is starting to turn cold, this was an ideal choice.

Lasagna recipes are funny....some people have the only ONE family recipe they use and none other and others try different ones all the time.  Other than a white lasagna or veggie one.  Are they really THAT different?  Phhffftt.... I think that a basic meat lasagna and it's prep is pretty standard.


This one was particularly attractive because you DON'T BOIL THE NOODLES!  Yay!!!!  Just so you know....whether you use the regular noodle to boil or the special noodles that say NO's all the same.  You never have to boil them.  I find a lot of people don't know this.

Use what you got, it doesn't matter.  However fresh pasta (if you can find lasagna noodles in your freezer section of the grocery) are THE BOMB!  The following is the recipe I used and for your entertainment at the bottom of the recipe I will add all the little tips and tricks I do to make my lasagna making easier (I am a Family and Consumer Science teacher in case you forgot, so I have a plethora of fun tips and tricks!)

Cheesy Beef Lasagna
-recipe from
JennyMac's Lipsmack adapted changes below

PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup water, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck beef (80% lean)
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Hunt's® Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
2 1/2 cups Hunt's® Tomato Sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
9 dry lasagna noodles, uncooked
2 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup Kraft® Grated Parmesan Cheese

 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with PAM® cooking spray. Combine ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons water, parsley and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl; set aside.

 2. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion; sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 7 minutes or until beef is crumbled and no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more or until fragrant. Drain. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, remaining water, vinegar and red pepper flakes to skillet. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 3. Assemble lasagna by spreading about 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of dish. Place 3 dry noodles over sauce, top with 2 cups meat sauce, half of ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of noodles topped with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

 4. Spray underside of aluminum foil with PAM® cooking spray; cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes:
1. First, are you going to eat this today, tomorrow or next month.  Crucial information.  Making today, spray your favorite (suggested deep dish) 9X13 pan.  Making tomorrow, spray.  BUT, if you are making for later to FREEZE, then line your favorite pan with foil, then spray with PAM.  Make your lasagna and FREEZE.  After two days of it finally being rock hard remove the lasagna from the pan with the foil so you can reuse your favorite 9X13 pan.  Why would you hold a pan hostage in the freezer like that?  Use foil and pop it out when it's frozen. Easy peasy!

2.  Ricotta cheese- 3 types, Nonfat, part skim and whole fat.  Use what you need.  If on a dietary restriction or trying to cut the fat in your whatever you NEED, don't be a slave to what a recipe dictates!  Make it so it works for YOU!  I choose part skim and I didn't use water because I used a beaten egg to help firm it up a bit.  I used a 1/4 cup liquid egg stuff it has no fat to help on the calorie content as well. As for parsley, use what you have...either dried or fresh.  I still had some from the garden this summer but use dried if that is all you have got.

3.  Beef and onion.  I used 1 pound 95% fat beef and 3 hot italian sausages and one whole onion.  GEEZ, it's a one pan meal here!  I am gonna use one whole onion....I don't have to time to peel, chop and MEASURE out 3/4 cup of onion.  I felt crazy enough to throw in the last poblano pepper from our garden too.  No crime in adding more veggies!  What is your SPICE/HEAT capacity?  As for the 3 hot italian sausages, one poblano that 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes did not ZING up the lasagna enough for my husband.  His only complaint was that this needed more ZIP.  I am the one with the higher tolerance for spicy foods so coming from HIM that means something.  So add more hot pepper flakes if you need to...I was trying to keep it calm for K-man and he said it was lacking so punch it up if you want.  Just taste will know.

4.  Assembling the lasagna- I felt weird putting 1 cup of sauce down first but it needs are using DRY do it.  Those DRY puppies need something to slurp up and make them soft, so don't be stingy. However I did not put 3 noodles but 4!!!  It was too much exposed lasagna layers to do it that way even though I know they will expand...but they won't expand straight across perfectly separating my layers!!!  So I had plenty to spare so I went rogue and did 4 per layer.  I also wet them.  Start the absorption please!  As for the cheese I used 3 cheeses.  The recipe said CHEESY Beef Lasagna.  Two cheeses weren't cheesy enough for me.  I like the meltability of Monterey Jack cheese as opposed to the stringy-ness of the Mozzarella and the potent tang of the Parmesan.  I wanted to make my own blend.  I added an additional cup of Monterey Jack to the Mozzarella and parmesan.

5.  I sprayed the foil and covered and put it in the fridge for the next day.  I never make a lasagna and eat it the same day.  I think my lasagna tastes better this way.  Of course the cooking time will be twice as long heating it up stone cold as opposed to warm from the preparation.  All the seasonings, and herbs and garlic all just co-mingle and be better the first day....rather as leftovers when everything had time to 'sit'.  The next day, preheat your oven bake for 1 and 1/2 until bubble with foil and NO CHEESE.  Remove foil and add remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes until all melted and bubbly.  Put in your garlic bread to toast.....and let it stand for another 15 minutes (this is a must!) I don't care how hungry you are and if the kids are chanting and banging their forks on the table.  The lasagna needs to set or you will not get a piece like this...

See?  No sauce running all over or cheese oozing out.  It's a must!  Just a simple spinach salad on the side.  And look at how swollen these noodles get?!

The noodle were swelling practically over the handle on the glass dish.  SO use a deep dish pan if you have one.  If not....put a cookie sheet under the dish just in case.  We will have it again tonight for dinner then the rest must go wrapped up as individual servings in the freezer.  Yes, the husband K-man has a two day limit to all leftovers.  Back when I was single, this was my lunch and dinner for a WEEK!

Enjoy, we did!

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Toy

I have a new toy and a confession....

My name is Jenny Saunders and I am addict.  

I am addicted to utensils, gadgets, gizmos and other fun unique appliances. Other than your usual electric mixer, blender and food processor....I own immersion blender, 2 crock pots, mini chopper, 2 waffle makers, George Forman 5 in 1, toaster oven, air popper, Chop Wizard, 12 pc. Genius Nicer Dicer, tortilla maker, Jack LeLann's Juiceman, Cotton Candy Maker, Sno-cone maker, S'more maker (so many more I can't remember what is in the drawer) and my latest acquisition....

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker.  Found it on for only 16.99.  Don't know why they are $19-$33 now.  It came in a plain brown box not like the ones you see all pretty with their product on the outside.  Perhaps that is why.  It was sent in this box from HB for Amazon.  I guess the pretty pictured box cost $4-$16 depending on who you get it from.  I do make a lot of breakfast sandwiches for K-man.  Since I have received it last week I have made 5 sandwiches.  4 for K-man, one for me.  It's very petite and I really like it!!!

When you heat up the maker, you get out your needed items, english muffin, meat/sausage/bacon, cheese slice, egg/egg beaters, toothpick and non-stick spray.

When the green light come on you spray the surfaces with Pam.
1.  Place the bottom muffin on the lower area and on top of the muffin your meat of choice and cheese. 
2.  Lower the upper section and place your whole egg (pierce the egg yolk with toothpick), scrambled egg or egg beater product. Season as you like, top with remaining muffin and close maker. 
3.  In 4-5 minutes it's done.  Slide the hinged middle plate out to the for the egg to drop below to the bottom layer.
4.  Lift bottom ring to reveal your stacked Breakfast sandwich, remove with a non-metal turner.

The above pictured is our "snow day breakfast" of bacon with provolone and whole egg.  Last weekend, since I am doing Nutri System currently I made for lunch with Arnold Sandwich Thins (100 cal), Morningstar Farms Sausage (64 cal), slice FF cheese (31 cal), 1/4c egg beaters (30 cal) and Mrs. Dash.  Not too bad for 225 cal when most NS products are 250 cal.  You do have to trim away some of the bread since these "thins" are wider to get it to fit.  It was pretty good for a lower fat/calorie sandwich. 
You can also make these with deli meats and the cooked egg for a sandwich for lunch.
This little product does help in some areas when it comes to dishes.  No toaster or oven, no bowl or whisk (using the egg product), we always have cooked bacon that I bake on weekends to use during the week for K-man (you can use the pre-cooked bacon from the grocery or deli meat).  The rings totally lift out for easy cleaning, wipe off the cooking surfaces on the maker and ZING....all done.  My new addition to the family will fit nicely in my cabinet between the air popper and blender. 

HEY! Be proud that I did not purchase the breakfast sandwich maker cookbook that Amazon suggested I buy with this maker.  That is another addiction that I am trying to wean off of.....

This was not an assignment from any program or website, no company sent me this for free to endorse.  It was just me, JennyMac who found something new and fun and wanted to share it with you!

PLEASE! Feel free to comment and tell me the gadgets and gizmos you have like this or JUST ask me what other products I didn't list that I have or kicked to the curb.....I have no shame....

Sammich Anyone?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kick'N Chicken with Mango Salsa

Ooooohhhh, you're gonna like today's post.

Our second recipe to make this month for Allstars was Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa. Unfortunately since that recipe was not possible I opted for another recipe from Mazola® Corn Oil.  Aside from chicken being one of our favorite proteins but I really enjoy the "sweet and savory" combination.  This recipe rings some bells.

This recipe came at a good time.  Remember the big rain Los Angeles was having before the Oscars?  That same Monster storm swept across the US and pounded our eastern area with SNOW.  One the day it was supposed to started to drizzle and I cranked up the grill before the snow developed from the rain.  Best snow day ever GRILLIN'!

Kick'N Chicken with Mango Salsa 
from Allrecipes and Mazola®

4 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons chicken seasoning
1/4 cup Mazola® Corn Oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
Mango Pepper Salsa:

2 cups diced fresh mango
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat grill to medium heat, or between 350 degrees to 450 degrees F.
2. Trim excess fat from chicken, rinse and pat dry. If necessary, pound chicken to 1/2-inch thickness. Place chicken into a 1-gallon size resealable plastic bag. Add seasoning, oil and lemon juice to the bag. Seal bag and turn to thoroughly coat chicken.
3. Grill chicken over direct high heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn chicken and continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to a serving plate.
4. Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl; stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.)
5. Top grilled chicken with mango salsa and serve immediately.

Cook's Notes:
1. I bought two regular organic breasts.  They were almost about 8 oz. apiece.  I sliced them in half horizontally. If you buy the breasts that are already sliced thinly keep in mind...they will cook QUICKLY.
2.  My husband prefers thighs and I cooked four breasts and several thighs.  I didn't follow the amount of the chicken seasoning because I spread out all the chicken and just seasoned away my favorite Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning.
3.  I used 3 mangoes, half red pepper and two thick slices of red onion, chopped.  I don't chop and measure things like fruit and veggies.  I don't want a 1/4 cup of anything leftover until I have a use for it.  This salsa provided enough for two dinners for two.

I am an Allrecipes Allstar brand ambassador (a voluntary position) and I'm not compensated for my work with  Products received from the advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on Jenny Mac's LipSmack.  The reviews, content, and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of JennyMac.  To learn more about the Allrecipes Allstars program visit, Allrecipes Allstars.


LipSmack this,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce

Tasty Time! 
Plus-  New Season of Fun with recipe exploration as a Ambassadors AllStar.
This month's Sponsor is with Mazola® Corn Oil 

I have never made carnitas before.  Eaten them plenty.  When I saw the recipe said "pork shoulder" I remember seeing it in the store but I recall making barbecue with either ribs or butt portions.  Our store did not have any out.  I asked for a pound and they were happy to oblige.  The cost of it was rather inexpensive too!
My husband and I are taking a new outlook on eating.  I am currently doing NutriSystem to get my health back on track and my husband (who is a very athletic cyclist) is enjoying eating more vegetables because there are more now in the house instead of breads and cookies and cakes.  Lucky for me my cholesterol level is under the radar but cooking more veggies with heart-healthy Mazola® Corn Oil can help.  Click here for more recipes using Mazola!

Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce 
from Allrecipes

1 pound pork shoulder
2 tablespoons Mazola® Corn Oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Spice Islands® Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon Spice Islands® Chipotle Chile Powder
2 tomatillos, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
4 corn tortillas
1.  Cut pork into 1 inch cubes; season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add pork, onions, garlic powder, chili powder and chipotle chile powder; saute 3 to 5 minutes to brown the meat.
2.  Add enough water to barely cover pork. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer an additional 45 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.
3.  Combine chopped tomatillos, tomatoes and cilantro in a small bowl.
4. Place an equal amount of pork on each tortilla. Top with tomatillo salsa.

Cook's Notes:
1.  I found the pork shoulder was marbled with plenty of fat.  I think in the future I would  cut off some of the fat to reduce the fat rendering.  It was swimming in fat when it was done.
2.  I find a lot of people do not like the flavor of cilantro.  I admit, it took me a long time to appreciate it.  I suggest chopping the leaves finely and add a little bit to develop it's taste.  Making this without cilantro really would be a crime.  Cilantro adds a lot of flavor....ease your way into it.
3.  I personally added more onions and green peppers to AMP up the veggies content to make this more heart healthy.

I am an Allrecipes Allstar brand ambassador (a voluntary position) and I'm not compensated for my work with  Products received from the advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on Jenny Mac's LipSmack.  The reviews, content, and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of JennyMac.  To learn more about the Allrecipes Allstars program visit, Allrecipes Allstars.

LipSmack this,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beef Empanadas

 Here is my 3rd and last Goya recipe for this month of August.  We were also supposed to do a beef recipe from "Beef, It's what for dinner" council.  August is a really busy month with me going back to the classroom so I did a beef recipe with my Goya product.  Knocking out two and one.  So this last one, I really wanted to see if I could find the Goya "Discos" or the puff pastry circles to make Empanadas.  Luckily at my second attempt at a Safeway that seemed to have lots of Goya on their shelves...I tried my luck in the freezer to look for the dough and SCORE!!! I scooped up two.  I stay away from recipes most times that have you make your own doughs.  I just don't have the time or patience for it anymore.  When I saw that Goya made its own dough for Empanadas I had to see if I could find it and so happy I did.
Allrecipes had only one empanada recipe from Goya and in true JennyMac fashion I tweaked it:

-I did not use all their prepared seasonings and such.  I was fearful of it being too salty,
-None of the seasonings (Sazon Goya and Goya Soffrito) were included in my box of goodies so I wasn't going to go out and buy them.
-I added a non-traditional food in it, (K-man doesn't like olives) sweet potato.
-I did NOT FRY them.

Beef and Sweet Potato Empanadas
by JennyMac Lipsmack on

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup Goya Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp. Adobo seasoning
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 (14 ounce) package Goya Discos (yellow or white), thawed
About 1/4 c. Oil, for cooking and brushing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat about 1 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove and put to side.  Put another tbsp of oil and onions and sweet potato in the already heated pan. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, adobo, garlic, oregano and black pepper and add the ground beef back into the pan mixture. Taste for seasoning
On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until 1/2-inch larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
Line cookie sheet with either a silpat or parchment.  Brush with oil.  Place 12 empanadas on sheet and brush with oil.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Turn empanadas over and bake for another 5 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.

This is the second time I took a classically FRIED recipe and baked it (I also bake egg rolls now instead of deep frying them) and the dough comes out just as crispy as though it was fried and so little oil is being absorbed by doing this.  

All in all, the Goya products were top notch and I used them before, so it was a no-brainer to me about using them.  Also we like to eat beef here so a double  assignment of making a beef recipes wasn't to difficult since we eat it at least twice a week.  It was fun taking a beef recipe and creating a new filling and using a new Goya product.  This was a good month for food from Allrecipes Allstars.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cheesy Chicken and Yellow Rice

Time for my second Goya Recipe review.  I find that I really have to play with rice when it comes to K-man.  He is not a fan of plain rice at all and any flavored rice has to be really good for him to finish what is on his plate. 

My tweak on this recipe was adding a little cream of chicken soup.  That made this a winner to K-man.  Clean plate. 

I also didn't want to mix all the veggies and chicken in with the rice because K-man likes to have his food somewhat separate.  Although, personally I don't care K-man perhaps thinks he gets more of a variety through eating a bite of the chicken and pepper then the rice.  Not rice coated chicken and peppers.  It's not like he is OCD and the chicken can't touch the vegetables and the rice can't touch them either.  He's not THAT bad! 

All in all, I felt this was a pretty good recipe and would do it again.

Cheesy Chicken and Yellow Rice
by Goya on

1 (8 ounce) box GOYA® Yellow Rice
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 tablespoons GOYA® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 3/4-inch pieces
GOYA® Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning with Pepper, to
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
In small saucepan over medium heat, bring 2 cups water to boil. Add contents of yellow rice mix, tomatoes and 1 tbsp. oil; return water to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with Adobo. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and onions to skillet. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes more; remove from heat.
In skillet with cooked chicken, stir in cooked rice until combined. Mix in cheese, stirring until melted. Serve warm. (I did not stir in my rice with chicken as shown above but you can do what pleases you most)

Cook's notes:  I added 1/2 cup cream of chicken soup in with the step with the cheese and it made the rice so much creamier!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chipotle Cheeseburgers

This month for my Allrecipes Allstars assignment we are working with Goya.  I have used Goya many times and have been very pleased with their products.  Even though I got a lovely box of free products....I would still sing their praises.  One of my first recipes I did was Chipotle Cheeseburgers.  It was very tasty.
Of course since this was dinner and there was no daylight my picture looks nothing like their beautiful picture on AR.  They added a big onion slice, tomato and lettuce.  We kept it simple because we wanted to really taste the burger to see if it was flavored enough.  Even without making the chipotle mayo (an extra task for you to do to make this burger) it stood out on it's own.  I sliced my burger in half and tried it both ways.  So I you want extra steps with high flavor/heat....go for it.  But without the special mayo it was still awesome.

Chipotle Cheeseburger
from GOYA on

1/4 cup Goya Mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper from a can of Goya
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, finely
1/4 cup sauce from a can of Goya
Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce
3 tablespoons Goya Minced Garlic,
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh
Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning, to
2 pounds ground beef (80% lean)
1 teaspoon Goya Vegetable Oil
6 slices Cheddar cheese
6 hamburger buns
6 (1/4 inch thick) slices red onions
6 (1/2 inch thick) slices tomatoes
6 lettuce leaves
1. In medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. chipotle sauce, 1 tsp. garlic, cilantro and adobo; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. In large bowl, gently mix together beef, chopped chipotle, 3 tbsp. chipotle sauce, remaining garlic and adobo until combined. Divide meat into 6 portions; form into 1 inch-thick patties. (Take care not to over-handle meat or else it will toughen).
3. Prepare grill to medium-high heat, grease with oil (or heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat). Cook burgers, flipping once, until charred and cooked to desired doneness (about 12 minutes total for medium rare). Add cheese to patties about 5 minutes before taking them off grill.
4. To assemble, divide patties evenly among bottom buns; top with onion slice, tomato slice, lettuce and top bun spread with reserved chipotle mayonnaise.