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.)

View this post on Instagram

Definitely firmed up after sitting more. #lasagna

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

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

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

 

Cleanliness and awesomeness at Market District in Robinson


Giant Eagle Market District Restaurant on UrbanspoonI’ve written about the Market District restaurant before (& specifically about the allergen signage), and have even posted a review & photos on Urbanspoon.  I probably will again.

I feel the need to write once more to applaud their cleanliness & friendliness at the BBQ station (OK, the Smoke & Fire Rotisserie).  Bethany & I were there for dinner & grocery shopping last night on a trip to get a bunch of stuff and take advantage of the dastardly cult-like fuelperks!®/foodperks!™ programs.  (Don’t tell anyone, but Tuesday night is a great night to go shopping there.)

PRETTY PLEASE! (with a cherry on top) USE MAIN ENTRANCE ←with a cart― NOT THE ROTATING DOOR
sign for the special sort of Yinzer…

I noticed a few things.  First, I noticed a sign above the soups that said that seafood soups would be available in the seafood section.  I wish I had snapped a photo.  It may not have anything to do with allergies & potential cross-contamination, but I like it.  Keep the deadly seabugs in their own little corner.

Next and more importantly, I noticed the employee that handled my order.  She told me that she’d be with me as soon as possible while she handled the order for the people in front of me.  I had no problem waiting, but the acknowledgement of my presence was a great start.  You can’t imagine how many people behind a food counter will just ignore you, and how such a simple thing as a hello makes all the difference.

The big surprise came after I ordered my turkey sandwich with St. Loius style sauce & grilled vegetables (which are so incredibly awesome).  I watched my new favorite employee take the carving knife carving, wash it in the sink, then come back to spray/wash/wipe the cutting board, then proceed to carve the delicious turkey for my simple yet tasty sandwich.

(You mean, there are steps beyond wiping a knife with a dirty rag?  Yes, I’m talking to you, Subway.)

Such simple steps, such a comfort for someone with food allergies.  I know I go to the Rotisserie station because it’s deathfish free, but hopefully this is an insight to Market District‘s overall food prep/handling policies.  If not put in place by training, I applaud this team member’s personal dedication to cleanliness!  I wonder if they’ve looked at FAAN’s guide to welcoming guests with food allergies?  I was already a fan of the place because of other chefs there that I had talked to regarding food allergies, and this just put it over the top.

I hope to write to Market District to express my awe & thanks.  If only they would do a few more simple things, they would indeed be the most awesome grocery store ever:

Turner's Tea-Bird
Turner’s Tea-Bird

I told you that Kuhn’s was disgusting.


I’ve written before (although indirectly) about the foul assemblage of half-rotting food that is Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Road.  You may recall my description of Kunh’s as relayed to Giant Eagle while requesting that they carry some La Choy Teriyaki Sauce.  If not, here it is again..

I actually make special trips to the Shop ‘N Save by WAL★MART in Heidelberg or I actually set foot in Kunh’s Market on Banksville Road to get the La Choy Teriyaki Sauce. Have you BEEN to the Kunh’s on Banksville Road? I’ve gotten moldy peppers from that place, as well as ‘turned’ sour cream, …and melted ice cream. I don’t want to go in there. But, I do. Why? To get the La Choy Teriyaki sauce, my friends. It’s THAT GOOD.

I know I’ve told countless others.  I know my mother-in-law looks at me in disbelief because apparently the Kuhn’s on McKnight Road is just awesome.

But, I finally have some validation…

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVmyF8xjtSQ

See?  You can read the full story on KDKA’s website.  Yes, I get that the point of the article is the union trying to organize there… but they wouldn’t be trying to organize if conditions were good.  If I had to guess, I’d say that store owners keep the coolers and freezers on lower settings to save a buck or two… but at what cost?  I really haven’t ever heard anyone say anything nice about the place.  We’ll buy canned or boxed stuff there occasionally in a pinch, but we’re always looking closely at the expiration dates.  As far as the meat & produce & even the dairy products…  I’ll go out of my way to another store, or just go without.


Edited – Discussion was happening in other forums, decided to re-post some of that here…

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=276026441617

Eric Carroll
Nice: http://bit.ly/9MqDcy I KNEW they weren’t keeping stuff cold enough at Kuhn’s. That place is filthy too.
January 28 at 7:20pm via Selective Tweets

Dave Warren
I almost never buy anything remotely perishable there.
January 28 at 7:40pm ·

Nunzio Martin
Dude that place smells I never go there
January 28 at 8:00pm ·

Dave Warren
I will go out of my way to find a Giant Eagle just to avoid Kuhn’s.
January 28 at 8:06pm ·

Andrew Welsh
walmart* is cheaper
January 28 at 8:20pm ·

Dave Warren
Wal*Mart is cheaper, when they have the items that I require. They usually do not.
January 28 at 8:22pm ·

Andrew Welsh
dave i have to correct you, it is no longer “wal*mart” it is now “walmart*” the corporate logo moved the star to the end.

yeah luckily for me walmart* carries all that i need, and is always cheaper. but that’s just me.

Kuhns is great for running to the store quick since it’s 3 minutes from my house.
January 29 at 1:11pm ·

Eric Carroll
Didn’t it used to be a ★?

Wonder how much time and money they wasted coming to that decision?
Sun at 12:40pm ·

Eric Carroll
Ah: http://walmartstores.com/AboutUs/8412.aspx
Sun at 12:41pm ·

Eric Carroll
And… http://wp.me/pwqzc-5b
Sun at 12:45pm ·

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=274668168996

Eric Carroll
Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Rd.
Favorited on http://www.youtube.com
I keep telling people that this place is filthy. No one believed me. Ha ha. I know they don’t keep the coolers cold enough… ever. I have brought home melted ice cream. From KDKA, full news story & video here: http://kdka.com/local/Banksv…
January 29 at 12:20am via YouTube ·

T.J. Freeman
BWahahahaha fuckin bird! …. alright well if thats a violation then you need to close the foodcourt starbucks and everything else dealing with open food in robinson mall cos i’ve seen many o bird flyin around that bitch. All that aside … that Kuhn’s is about the only place around there to get food unless you wanna travel to bridgeville or parkway center or south hills…. fuck the union … if yer worried about it then just dont buy produce or deli foods there.
January 29 at 12:28am ·

Cody Starr
man i don’t care how dirty kuhn’s is ……i would eat those deli pizzas they make with dust bunnies for toppings….they are the bomb
January 29 at 5:01am ·

Jeffrey Guerriero
eric, my aunts family owns those stores, I used to shop there when we lived in Dormont.
January 29 at 12:51pm ·

Bethany Pastorius Carroll
Kuhns on Mcknight Road is wonderful however this one on Dormont is a shithole. We will only buy canned goods or boxed stuff and that’s only if its an emergency. We have bought sour cream- molded. A green pepper- mold in the inside. Ice cream- melted by the time we got home. We will go completely out of our way than go there. Disgusting place.
Sun at 12:17am ·

Eric Carroll
Yeah, they put the “ew” in Kuhn’s down here on Banksville. http://wp.me/pwqzc-5b – There are two Giant Eagles very close by too… one in Parkway Center and one on Cochran Road.
Sun at 12:37pm ·

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=296660212120

Eric Carroll
I’ve had a lot of people weigh-in on Kuhn’s on various forums. I urge you all to reiterate or expand here: http://bit.ly/cb9WJX Thanks!
Yesterday at 3:56pm via Selective Tweets ·

Andrew Welsh
i still fail to see the big deal, the health department said these “aren’t earth shattering and were corrected quickly”
Yesterday at 6:42pm ·

Michael Perdue
I’ve always remembered Ferris’ in M-ville to be particularly bad.
Yesterday at 7:15pm ·

Eric Carroll
Andy… The big deal is that I was right about them not keeping stuff at the right temperature. I like to be right. Ha ha ha.

Mike – you’re right… both old Ferris weren’t quite right.
4 hours ago ·

Eric Carroll
See: http://wp.me/pwqzc-5b
4 hours ago ·

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=282997407055

Eric Carroll
“KDKA-TV’s Paul Martino did an independent review of Allegheny County’s inspection of seven Kuhn’s stores last year. There were some violations, including salad stored at unsafe temperatures, contamination from raw meat, and more temperature problems.”

I told you that Kuhn’s was disgusting. « World (and Lunar) Domination
aixelsyd13.wordpress.com
I’ve written before (although indirectly) about the foul assemblage of half-rotting food that is Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Road. You may recall my description of Kunh’s as relayed …
Sun at 12:43pm ·

Adam Rahuba
Foodland, Shop & Save, Kroger, IGA, Sparkle, Kuhns are all dirty. Can’t stand em.
Sun at 2:12pm ·

From: http://www.pittsburghbeat.com/mb/viewtopic.php?topic=17308&forum=21

AiXeLsyD13
I got a lot of comments on this on facebook… both in my status, and when I “favorited” the YouTube video… None when I posted the link to the blog though.
Post Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:22 am

Mike_Hype
I have to disagree with you entirely on this one. I love that Kuhn’s and I stop there almost every Sunday night on my way home from hockey to pick up produce alone. Their apples are awesome, their bananas are always the exact amount of ripe to take home and store for the week. I have not yet found a Giant Eagle that even comes close to the quality of produce that I get from Kuhn’s. I was just there last night as a matter of fact. Rotten apples from Kuhn’s: 0, from Giant Eagle: 5. What’s worse than finding a rotten apple? Finding half a rotten apple.
Post Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:44 pm

Dave NT
The Giant Eagle Market District pwns n00bs.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:04 am

Mike_Hype
Sitting here eating one of the best apples that I have ever eaten, it happens to be from Kuhn’s.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:55 pm

AiXeLsyD13
While finding half a rotten apple is indeed disgusting, I try too look at stuff before I bite into it… although I’m admittedly overly paranoid about food in general.

I’d have to say, I’m fairly confident that if we set up an independent study of the produce at several grocery stores surrounding the Dormont/Banksville area… Giant Eagle would come out on top.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:28 pm

AiXeLsyD13
I need to figure out how to get paid for random useless shit.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:37 pm

Beer Chips, Yuengling Lager Sauce, & La Choy Teriyaki Sauce.


Don’t worry, it’s not a recipe.

This is for my wife. Why? Because usually, she hears this rant every time I have to make a trip to the grocery store. Perhaps, in writing it here (and to Giant Eagle), I’ll refrain from telling her my feelings for the 4,397th time.

Submitted today, via contact submission form on the Giant Eagle website:

Hello,

I’d like to request that you carry the following products…

Beer Chips, Yuengling Barbecue Sauce, & La Choy Teriyaki Sauce.

More specifically, I’d like to see them at the Giant Eagle on Cochran Road in Greentree/Mt. Lebanon/Scott Township or whatever the neighborhood is over there.

I drive right by this location on my way home from work, & do the majority of my shopping there.

I first discovered Beer Chips on an end-cap in the Robinson Giant Eagle, and the only other place I’ve seen them is at the Aldi up there… but that place is never reliable as far as expecting a brand name to be there.

Previously, the Cochran Road location did carry Beer Chips in the chip aisle, but I haven’t seen them for weeks. Will they ever return to your tightly packed shelves?

Cochran Road also carried Yuengling Lager Sauce for a short while, but had more of the “hot wing” sauce than the normal stuff, and they hid it on the bottom shelf inches above the floor. How is anyone supposed to find/try the stuff if you do that? I can tell you, it’s excellent, and shouldn’t be relegated to sitting at shoelace level.

Why is the sauce not available at this location any more? If the answer is “it didn’t sell well”, please see my previous references to placement relative to eye level/awareness.

Lastly… we come to the great mystery which is La Choy Teriyaki sauce. I literally go out of my way to get this stuff. As stated previously, I do most of my shopping at the Giant Eagle on Cochran Road. I also find myself occasionally in the Giant Eagle locations in Parkway Center, Bridgeville, or Robinson… or even out in Murrysville, Monroeville, or Squirrel Hill. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that you have a chain-wide ban of La Choy Teriyaki going on. I can never find it it any of your stores. This puzzles me… because you do indeed carry La Choy products… the Soy Sauce and one other sauce which escapes me now… but I NEVER see the Teriyaki sauce in a Giant Eagle.

You may remember that I have written about this before… but I’ve never received an answer… No “we’ll consider carrying that”, no “we’ll get that in our next order to La Choy”, not even a “we don’t carry it because…”

What’s the deal? I feel that if you taste it side by side with the Kikkoman brand, or the Ken’s Steak House Teriyaki Marinade, you’ll have no choice but to agree that it’s clearly the superior product.

Even if not… you sell both Coke & Pepsi, right? Why exclude the La Choy Teriyaki from your fine selection of groceries?

I actually make special trips to the Shop ‘N Save by WAL★MART in Heidelberg or I actually set foot in Kunh’s Market on Banksville Road to get the La Choy Teriyaki Sauce. Have you BEEN to the Kunh’s on Banksville Road? I’ve gotten moldy peppers from that place, as well as ‘turned’ sour cream, …and melted ice cream. I don’t want to go in there. But, I do. Why? To get the La Choy Teriyaki sauce, my friends. It’s THAT GOOD.

I’d love to be able to do all of my grocery shopping with you, and to rack up fuelperks, foodperks, and whatever other kind of perks you come up with in the future.

I look forward to your thoughts on these matters, have a good weekend!

Inquisitively,
-Eric

Yeah.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, check out…