Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Betrayal tastes Italian

Andrew and I have been together for a long time. At the beginning of our relationship, we went out for Italian food a few times, and when Andrew asked me what kind of food I like, I told him that I don't really like Italian food.

Now, before I have the Italian contingent of my readership get up in arms, I don't like going out for *most* Italian food. I can make my own pasta and sauce at home, easily and inexpensively. What I do like to go out for are things like gnocchi, which are fiddly and deeeeeeelicious.

Andrew took my statement to mean that I absolutely, positively, never-ever-EVER would EVER want to go to an Italian restaurant. EV-VER.

While we were in Long Beach for TNNA, we went to a PHENOMENAL Italian restaurant, La Parolaccia, and I had the most incredible saffron gnocchi. Here, have a bite:

saffron gnocchi
Mmmmm, tasty!
Of course, I've never had anything like this at home, but I thought I should revisit all of the Italian restaurants in my area, just in case. For science.

This train of thought led to the idea of buying pre-prepared gnocchi and making the sauce myself, and other tasty (and simple to make) dishes, including lasagna.

With that thought in mind, I called Andrew from the hotel, and said, "Hey, what would you think of me making some lasagna?"

"Lasagna! I would LOVE it! It's my favorite food ever!" Andrew exclaimed, and then went on for TEN minutes about his love of lasagna, which he never breathed a word of previously.

The information was staggering. It was like I found out that I married a Cylon. Who loves lasagna.

"I... I don't even KNOW you!" I sputtered in a silly way, but still feeling a little upset that he never told me. What kind of monster am I?

"You said you hated Italian food. I didn't think it was a dealbreaker. I have Stouffer's lasagna when you go out of town," he told me.

"Stouffer's?! Why don't you just stick a knife in my HEART?" I said, owning my melodrama.

He paused for a moment, and I said, "Ok. So, I'll check the Joy of Cooking for a recipe for lasagna."

"All right! I'm looking forward to it," Andrew said.

So, fast forward to this last week. I checked my trusty copy of Joy of Cooking, and I made the Tomato sauce with meatballs recipe (variation 2). I did the whole thing, shaped the meatballs, the whole megillah:

Homemade meatballs! Eat your heart out. Or until you're full.

Those meatballs are nasty little things. They taste delicious, but the oil pops and spatters, and while they were well-behaved for the photograph, they were NOT well-behaved in the pan. At a certain point, I screamed a few choice words at them, and then decided that browned, season ground beef would be just fine in my sauce, and that the Kitchen Police would not come and get me.

I prepped the lasagna for Sunday Game Night (a new tradition in our house, inspired by Meghan from the Stitch It! Podcast), and realized that a lot of the ingredients were the same as for meatloaf.

To show that I really and truly am earning my grown-up merit badge, I did the prep and got the meatloaf muffins (Emy corrected my referring to them as "meatloaf cupcakes") baked while LukeWarm was already working, the way he does. Barely any extra prep, and zero extra dirty dishes.

Whaddya think?

Meatloaf muffins
One cupcake, one serving. Tidy!
Oh, and for those of you who were wondering? The lasagna turned out awesome; I saw some leaving the house this morning in Andrew's Star Trek lunchbox. Ignore me, I'll be busy high-fiving myself over here.


  1. Meatloaf muffins are so very awesome. Now you make me want to make my own batch o' mini-meatloaves.

  2. you are awesome and please share where I can find the awesome recipe for meatload cuppycakes.

  3. Andrew's a keeper and so is the good woman he married.

  4. Meatloaf muffins?!? Be still my beating heart.

  5. OMG! Meatloaf Muffins! That is SO brilliant! I may just have to suggest this to the husbeast when it's his turn to cook. That would be *great* for carting leftovers to work...already portioned!

  6. you can brown meatballs in the oven. bake them (I use a pyrex 9x13 pan) for 20 minutes or so, turning once. works just as well and much less messy.

  7. You can get a splatter screen that sits on top of the pan and eliminates getting spit on with hot grease. :)

    Also, my BFF likes to "frost" her meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potatoes, and sprinkled w/ shredded cheese. Her kids love them, so I figure big kids do too. I don't know that they'd be that great leftover w/ the mashed potatoes (i hate reheated leftover mashed potatoes, but that migt just be me), but you could always just frost the fresh ones. :D

    and btw, for frozen lasagna, Stouffer's is the bomb. ;)

  8. This is my favorite lasagna recipe. I love love love it!
    Turns out great every time! (How could something with that much meat and cheese NOT be great?)

  9. I'm a big proponent of baking meatballs, too. Much less work & just as tasty. I love lasagne but hated making it until I recently discovered no-boil noodles. Amazing!

  10. Or you could just brown the meat and drain the fat, if any, and add to the tomato sauce and use as a layer.
    Another really fun thing that the Barefoot Contessa does is to soak the lasagna noodles in very hot water (not boiling) enough to soften them, and then use them in the casserole, since they'll be cooked in the oven about an hour in the sauce anyway. And there's always that no-cook lasagna noodles, too. In case you hadn't noticed, I've made a few batches, LOL:)!

  11. I've seen the 'no-cook' lasagna noodles, but I still use the regular ones. They work just the same without boiling first!

  12. When my mother plans to have her pasta sauce simmer on the stove all day, she drops her meatballs in raw and lets them cooks that way. They come out softer than in the frying pan or oven but the flavor of the sauce gets into the meatballs and vice versa. Yummy!

  13. Check out this other blog post about how meatloaf cupcakes are a new trend - topped with mashed potatoes!


  14. Starbuck to Sam:
    If I find out you're a cylon, I'll put a lasagne in you myself.

    Or at least that's how I remember it. Now.


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