Meatballs and Lasagna.


First, the recipe.  Then, the story.  ‘Cause the other way around is a thing that everyone hates now.

Lasagna & Meatballs

Lasagna & Meatballs

I don’t measure much.  I had stuff from Aldi, Shop ‘n Save, & Giant  Eagle by the time I was done.  The kids helped.  They have been into helping to cook lately.  We like meatballs on the side, not meat sauce in the lasagna.  Get out of here with your sausage or pork or pepperoni too, this is BEEF territory.

We eventually decided on…

Ingredients:

  • A box of no-bake lasagna noodles from Aldi.
  • A 2½ lb. package of ground beef from Aldi.
  • Fresh spinach from Shop ‘n Save.
  • Fresh parsley from Giant Eagle (could’t order it from Aldi or Shop ‘n Save via Instacart.)
  • A tiny tub of Ricotta from Aldi.  (Instacart size fail.)
  • A giant tub of Ricotta from Giant Eagle.
  • 2 Aldi zucchini.
  • A 2-cup bag of “Italian Blend” cheese from Aldi.
  • A 1½ cup bag of shredded parmesan & romano cheese from Giant Eagle.
  • A 1½ cup bag of shredded mozarella cheese from Gaint Eagle.
  • 2 eggs
  • “Shake cheese” – Used both Parmesan & a Parmesan Romano blend.
  • A bag of “Italian Seasoning” croutons from Aldi.
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing.
  • 3 jars of the cheap Aldi marinara sauce.  (It is way better than the supposedly more delicious and expensive ones.)
  • Condensed Tomato Soup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Various spices no, I didn’t measure:
    • “Italian Seasoning” {Whatever that is.)
    • Dried spice-rack Parsely
    • Garlic Powder
    • Onion Powder
    • White Pepper
    • Coarse Ground Black Pepper
    • Sea Salt
    • Whatever Aldi “Seasoned Salt” that looks like the Lawry’s Seasoned Salt bottle or McCormick Season All is.

🌡️ Cook temp:  400° F

⏱ Prep time:  This isn’t Food Network, All Recipes, or Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg.  How do I know?  I had a 6 year old and a 4 year old helping.  So, it was slow.

⏲ Cook time: 20 to 25 min. for the meatballs.  (Cook to a temperature, not a time.  The USDA says ground beef needs to be 160° F so you don’t die or something.  Get a food thermometer.)  45 min. covered in foil for the lasagna, 15 min. uncovered.

Method:

  1. Get out all your pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, and stuff before you cook.  If you have children helping, get paper towels.  Get the ingredients out.  Wash your hands.  Wash the eggs.  We used 2 large mixing bowls, and an inordinate amount of oddly shaped glass baking dishes.
  2. Chop the parsley & spinach like a madman (or mad woman, or mad person of a non-specific gender).  Have the kids help.  They love sharp knives.  It’s important that they respect them and that you watch closely.  Very closely.  We sometimes use one of those still sharp plastic lettuce knives for stuff like this.  I didn’t measure.  We used about the whole bunch of parsley & a handful and a half of spinach.
  3. Slice up that zucchini as thinly as possible.  I don’t have a mandolin, so I did that instead of the kids.  Actually, I would still do that if we had a mandolin.
  4. We divided the parsley & spinach about equally into the 2 mixing bowls.  I talked about that thing where you add the same flavors across different dishes to tie them together, but I have no idea what the word for that is.
  5. In the meatball bowl, we tossed in the ground beef & the croutons.  We smashed the croutons first.  Oh, that was fun.  It probably got out of hand, but the bag didn’t pop.
  6. We also poured in some Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing in the meatballs.  Amount?  Yes.  Until it looked good.  This is one thing I won’t bend on.  It is far more superior that any other Italian dressing.
  7. The we dropped in some Italian Blend shredded cheese & some shake cheese.  Measuring is for the timid.  Eyeball it.  Use the force, let it guide you.
  8. Mix it with your hands, roll into balls, and pop in into a glass baking dish, or 3 odd little ones.  We spaced them out.  I mean, you could use a baking sheet, and I used to prefer them in the electric skillet, but this is so easy.  We put all of the above spices in there too.  And sprinkled a bit on the outside once formed.
  9. We washed out hands again, and I set that in the oven & set the timer for 23 minutes because I couldn’t decide between 20 or 25.
  10. We poured the marinara & tomato soup in a pot, added some brown sugar (just a bit), shake cheese, parsley & italian seasnonings, & garlic.
  11. The kids stirred that.  And stirred that.  And stirred that.
  12. We put the ricotta in the 2nd mixing bowl already containing spinach & parsley.
  13. Add eggs, the rest of the “Italian Blend” cheese bag, some shake cheese, and some minced garlic… and whatever spices you want.  I told the kids here about depth of flavor in using the dried parsley vs. the fresh parsley and minced garlic vs the garlic powder… but I don’t know if they were paying attention.  They had just cracked eggs and we were about to mess with a giant gooey bowl of cheese.
  14. Go easy on that white pepper if you have it.  It goes a loooong way.
  15. Spread the sauce on the bottom of your biggest glass baking dish.
  16. We layed out the no-boil noodles.  It was my first time using them.  I think it went pretty well.  They fit 4 across and 1 at the end in our pan.
  17. On top of the noodles we did half of the ricotta mixture, the Parmesan/Romano shredded cheese, the zucchini, sauce, more noodles, the rest of the ricotta mixture, the shredded Mozzarella cheese, sauce, noodles, more sauce, and a mix of the Parmesan/Romano & Mozzarella cheeses.
  18. We like cheese.  The kids tasted the different shred varieties as we layered.  Ian liked the Parmesan/Romano & Molly liked the Mozzarella.
  19. I covered that in foil & put it in the oven for 45 minutes.  Then I uncovered it & let it go for 15 minutes.
  20. The extra sauce goes on the meatballs.

Ooh.  I snuck the story in on you didn’t I?  Wow.  Would you like to speak to the manager?  You might like my other blogs about meatballs or meatloaf or wedding soup… or any of my food stuff.  The kids went absolutely primate-poop over the meatballs.  The no-boil noodles were fine.  I liked that they were al dente.  There was enough liquid that I didn’t add any like the box suggested.  Be a rebel!  (OK, I asked for opinions on FB for that first on my page & in an Aldi recipe group.)

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Definitely firmed up after sitting more. #lasagna

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Oh yeah, completely unrelated, I made these this morning too:

Found the recipe here via Google: https://tasty.co/recipe/potato-flower-breakfast-cups

 

Patience is a virtue. Totino’s pushes the boundaries of scientific research thanks to me.


arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate

“arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate”

Oh man.  Does anyone remember my W(aL)D email shenanigans from a decade ago?

One such adventure was writing to Totino’s to ask if they had recommendations for microwaving more than 6 at a time.  They wrote back.  I asked them if I needed to arrange the rolls like wagon wheel spokes or like wagons on the Oregon Trail circling for protection.  I even got some 35¢ coupons that I considered as a research grant.

Have you noticed pizza roll cooking instructions lately?

I won! Information for the people! Research to benefit the masses!

Really though.  This brings up a new series of questions.

When did just arranging in “a single layer become” acceptable?  Who does Totino’s think they are discarding the time-honored tradition of microwaving things in a circle?  Did we learn nothing from our ancestors at Stonehenge?  Did they consult the Softstix team over at SuperPretzel, or just roll forward (pun still intended) with wild abandon?  How do you summon the flavor spirits without the ceremonial circle?

Has the Fibonacci spiral ever been tested as a cooking pattern?  Can Ci3 make me a plate specifically for microwaving pizza rolls and little cheese-filled pretzels with the Fibonacci spiral on it?

Totino's Pizza Roll Microwave Instructions

White Trash ’Taters


I have heard them called many things.  Funeral potatoes, cheesy potatoes, picnic potatoes.  I like our name best.  No idea where the recipe came from originally.  I have been coming here to look for recipes and I noticed I hadn’t posted it here.  I posted it on a blog I never really kept up with.

I made these for Christmas in lieu of spending all the time it takes to make my decadent cheesy scalloped potatoes.

White Trash ’Taters Recipe

  • 2 lb. bag of Ore Ida frozen hash browns (cubes)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 stick oleo/butter
  • 3 tbsp. Onion (optional)
  • 1 bag sour cream & onion potato chips.

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Grease 9” x 13” pan.

Mix all ingredients except potatoes in large bowl. Put frozen potatoes into pan, break clumps if necessary. Stir in cheese mixture, mix well.

Crush sour cream & onion potato chips and sprinkle over top of pan.

Cover with aluminum foil, bake for 1 hour at 350°, remove foil & bake for 10-15 min. longer.

Substitutions/Variations: I don’t use onions in mine… but I have bought the potatoes “southwest style” with green peppers. Also, if you don’t like cream of chicken… cream of mushroom or celery or potato or just about anything will do. I usually double the sour cream called for above, and use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of butter or oleo. Also… in place of the chips I have seen corn flakes or Ritz crackers. Once you get it down, you can adapt it any way you like.

Do you make this?  Do you change it up?  I have used shredded gouda in addition to the sharp cheddar and it is awesome.  I usually end up doubling this for some reason.  I want to try BBQ chips on top one of these days.

Ham N’ Bean Soup.


I was really hungry for ham n’ bean soup after the Christmas ham.  Usually I make a Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup with ham leftovers, but this time I wanted something different.  Plus, I made a sweet glaze for this ham which may not have played well with that soup.  I have made ham n’ bean soup before with the dried beans that I had to soak overnight, but I remember my last batch being way too salty.

This one turned out a lot better.  I used canned beans.  While we generally do most of out shopping at Aldi (& via Instacart), there are some things that Aldi doesn’t sell so I made the trip to Giant Eagle to get all the beans.  I think it turned out well.  This is more of a method than a recipe.  Here’s what I posted on Instagram (edited for terrible typing and a clear blatant lack of proofreading/editing);

AiXeLsyD13's Ham n' Bean Soup

Ham n’ Bean Soup | @AiXeLsyD13

Finally made the ham n’ bean soup.

Started with some carrots cut up, half of a Spanish onion minced, and 3 each red & yellow mini sweet bell peppers chopped very fine, sautéed them in a bit of butter, added spices

Next I added a @yuenglingbeer traditional lager, some vegetable broth, and some water & a bit of ham bullion/paste stuff.from a jar.

Then I added some leftover gravy from the Christmas ham which included ham drippings and my glaze that dropped down (beer, yellow mustard, Herlocher’s, honey, brown sugar, garlic, water, & corn starch). Then I cubed up some leftover ham from Christmas, popped it in the mix, then added some canned great northern beans, pinto beans, cannelloni beans, red beans, white kidney beans, and canned diced new potatoes.

Finally I added some bisquick mix to make some dumplings after the beans cooked a bit.

I have to say it hit the spot. @bcarroll_13 liked it, and Molly did eat a bit, Ian said he liked it but didn’t eat any. Molly REALLY liked the dumplings.

I bought peas to add, but wasn’t feeling then in this mix so I kept them out.

I may try the “bags of gold” cheese-filled dumplings soup that grandma used to make next.

I forgot to mention that one can of great northern beans I mashed before putting it in because I like a thick soup.  The dumplings were my mom’s idea, which is funny if you know her & that she hates biscuits & dumplings.  I also used a few drops of liquid smoke for the first time ever at the advice of a good friend!  I also sometimes like to cook with Straub American Amber instead of Yuengling Traditional Lager.  I thought about adding garbanzo beans, but I didn’t.  I bet they would have gone well in here too.

Do you make your ham n’ bean soup?  This is something I probably make slightly different every time.  Share your secrets, tips, & tricks in the comments!

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Finally made the ham n' bean soup. Started with some carrots, half of a Spanish onion minced, and 3 each red & yellow mini sweet bell peppers chopped very fine, sautéed them in a bit of butter, added spices Next I added a @yuenglingbeer traditional lager, some vegetable broth, and some water & a bit of ham bullion/paste stuff.from a jar. Then I added some leftover gravy from the Chriatmas ham which included ham drippings and my glaze that dropped down (beer, yellow mustard, Herlocher's, honey, brown sugar, garlic, & corn starch). Then I cubed up some leftover ham from Christmas, popped it in the mix, then added some canned great northern beans, pinto beans, cannelloni beans, red beans, white kidney beans, and canned diced new potatoes. Finally I added some bisquick mix to make some dumplings after the beans cooked a bit. I have to say it hit the spot. @bcarroll_13 liked it, and Molly did eat a bit, Ian said he liked it but didn't eat any. Molly REALLY liked the dumplings. I bought peas to add, but wasn't feeling then in this mix so I kept them out. I may try the "bags of gold" cheese-filled dumplings soup that grandma used to make next.

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

Can you get the quarter to the cart & avoid the aisle of shame? (My Aldi maze.) 🛒


I know most online Aldi groups call it the Aisle of Shame. Can you get through the maze without going there?

There are some crazy Aldi fans in Facebook groups out there. There are some people who like mazes out there. Is there much of an overlap?

  1. Print this.
  2. Solve it.
  3. Snap a photo.
  4. Post it on social media.
  5. Tag me. (@AiXeLsyD13)

It’s really that simple. You can even skip the printing and solve it on your phone or tablet usong a note app or photo editor if so inclined.

Ham n’ Bean n’ Tater Stew


This is one of my favorites.  My grandma made it a lot when I was growing up.  I have my own variation.

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup on a Spoon

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup

 

Mine includes beer. Grandma made it every once in a while with cabbage. I suppose you could add carrots and/or onions. Maybe garbanzi beans too?  Becky the awesome cook at camp makes it with noodle-style dumplings (I did try it that way once too), and some people make it wholly and horribly incorrectly with a creamy soup base.  I have no idea why you would do that to this meal.

I don’t know what to call this.  We always just called it “ham, beans, and potatoes” which is somewhat cumbersome… and could be about 4,000,000,000 other soups.  In fact, I don’t even know if this is a soup or a stew.  Both?  Neither?  What is the difference, anyway?

A lot of the time this would be made with leftover ham from Christmas, Easter, or whenever.  When the hankering strikes now, I go to ham steaks with the little bone in.  I don’t have a strict recipe, it’s more of a method.

This time, I put some Ham broth base (which can be a pain in the rear to find in the store sometimes) made slightly weaker than the directions, one cube each of chicken & beef bullion, a bottle of Yuengling Traditional Lager (I have used Straub American Amber for this too), and water in the pot and started it to boil on high.  (Perhaps obviously if I had a leftover ham, I would start by boiling the bone and make the broth from that, add bullion if/as needed.)  I also popped in some minched garlic, onion powder, and season-all, salt, and black pepper.

Then I cubed up 2 ham steaks, added them to the mix,.

Then I washed n’ cut up a not quite a 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes, and added that to the mix.  (I have used Yukon Gold before and they’re delicious, but they seem to break down to starch easier.)

Then, I cheated and popped open 2 bags of microwave/steam ready fresh green beans, rinsed, then snapped/chopped, and added them to the mix.  When i came to a boil, I popped it down to 8 on the burner dial, and let it boil for 20 minutes.

Then, I let it simmer on 2 for another 20 minutes, then I put it on low until dinner time.

Ham n' Bean n; Tater Stew

Ham n’ Bean n; Tater Stew

We served it with fresh baked buttered bread form the local grocery store.  The kids seemed to actually eat dinner this evening too, and they’re rather picky lately.  Sometimes I make it the night before, this is the kind of stuff that’s always better the next day.  I’m not sure if it’s Irish, German, American, or all of the above.

Do you make something like this?  Post your variation(s) in the comments below.

 

 

How do you make your meatloaf?


I posted the text below in two different Aldi fan boards on Facebook. I thought I’d also share here.  Text slightly altered, spelling mistakes corrected.  I feel like I make meatloaf different every time. How do you do yours?

 

🛒🍴🥩

 

Full disclosure, most of this was not from Aldi, but it all could have been. It all was cooked in the oven at 400°.

Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots

The meatloaf went in first, for an hour and a half. The potatoes went right on the rack at the one hour and 15 minute mark, and the brussels sprouts and carrots went in at the hour mark. Maybe 55 min.? I did crank it to 425° at that point but in hindshight didn’t need to. I flipped the potatoes when the veggies went in, and at the 15 min. mark I put sauce on top of the meatloaves and stirred the sprouts n’ carrots.

The potatoes were just washed, poked, rubbed in EVOO & spices.

The sprouts & carrots where just cut up, drizzled with EVOO, salt, pepper, & bacon crumbles.

The meatloaf was 3 lbs. of 85/15, an egg, french fried onions, club crackers, spices, ketchup, A-1 (the Aldi stuff works too, I have used it in the past), a squeeze of spicy brown mustard, minced garlic, spices (I just grab stuff off the rack & go), shredded cheese, and bacon crumbles.

I broke it into two loaves, cooked in a glass dish on top of two slices of bread each. It absorbs the grease & prevents burning on the bottom.

The sauce/glaze was mostly ketchup, some A-1, a dash of mustard, plus some cheese and bacon crumbles.

Probably not a meal for the health-conscious.😁

I think I do meatloaf slightly different every time. I have used marinara and Parmesan, put hard boiled eggs whole in the middle, wrapped in a bacon weave, added mushrooms & onions, used ranch or french onion soup packets, chunks of bread, added milk, & more.

I know it’s one both kids will eat unless I get too crazy.

How do you do your meatloaf?