Helen’s Lasagna

Was there such a thing as a “foodie” back in the 50’s?  If there was, I was definitely one of them at a young age because this dish really got my attention. 

I vividly remember going to visit some family friends, Helen and Charles, on Catawba Island, by Lake Erie years ago when I was young.  Swimming and boating on Lake Erie was great but what I really loved was the lasagna that Helen made.  Mom did not cook this type of food when I was growing up and it was love at first bite for me.  She had to get this recipe!

Even though this lasagna recipe is a little time consuming; believe me, it is well worth the effort.  It has thick layers, is super cheesy with a great tomato sauce and lots of spicy meat ~ Italian sausage, pork sausage and ground beef. 

The result of Helen’s recipe is amazing and the best lasagna ever!  I love Italian food and so does Bill.  I forgive him now of years ago driving all around Europe ~ only to end up at the border of Italy several times ~ and never actually visiting the country.  That’s really another story…

Thanks to Helen for the recipe and to Mom for getting it!  It is the best!

Helen’s Lasagna


1 pound Italian sausage
1 pound pork sausage
1 pound ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound can (2 cups) stewed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste, 1-1/3 cup

8 ounces lasagna noodles, about 7
3 cups small curd cottage cheese, cream style
2 beaten eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced thin


Brown meat slowly, spoon off excess fat.
Add next 7 ingredients.
Simmer uncovered until sauce is thick, 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Cook noodles in boiling water until tender.
Drain, rinse in cold water.
Meanwhile, combine cottage cheese with eggs, seasonings and Parmesan.

Place half of cooked noodles in a 13 x 9 x 2” pan, baking dish.
Spread half of cottage cheese mixture over noodles.
Arrange half of mozzarella over all.
Spread half of meat sauce on top of mozzarella.
Repeat layers.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Let stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares.
Filling will set slightly.
Serves 8-12

Without a doubt, one of my favorite recipes!  It’s delicious!

Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway! 

Chicken Breasts Dijon

I like to try different ingredients with chicken as it’s so versatile and I’m a huge fan of Dijon mustard so this recipe is a winner for me. 

This is a simple recipe that ends up being a savory gratifying dish.  The Dijon mustard, chives and lemon juice add a piquant flavor to the chicken cooked with the mushrooms.  A tablespoon of capers adds a bold taste. 

Serve with a crunchy salad and cheese grits for a fast mouthwatering weeknight meal.  Chicken breast Dijon has the best taste ever!

Chicken Breasts Dijon


4 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon capers


Heat 1 tablespoon each, oil and butter in a large skillet.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Cook chicken breasts until browned and no longer pink, about 20 minutes, depending upon size.
Remove to a warm platter and set aside.
Add remaining butter and olive oil.
Sauté mushrooms on medium-high heat until tender.
Add chives, lime juice, parsley and mustard, whisking well.
Stir in broth and combine.
Return chicken breasts to skillet, add capers and heat thoroughly.
Remove to serving platter, spooning sauce over top.


Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway! 

Murphy’s Law and Chicken Noodle Soup

As per my last post, you may know we are proud grandparents now.  Matthew was born Thursday, Feb. 10th and went home from the hospital on Saturday.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, Bill contracted the flu on Sunday, Feb 13th and passed it on to me Wednesday.

That took care of our week ~ no visiting precious baby Matthew and little cooking.  He had his first doctor’s appointment and passed with flying colors with a gain of 5 ounces.  Bill and I are cured so that means we will be making up for lost time this week in seeing “our sweet little guy.”

Thanks so much to all of you for your kind comments on my last post about Matthew.  I truly appreciate them and I see that many of you are grandparents also.  I’m so happy to join you in that!

Kind of off the subject but, since Feb. 2nd, we’ve gone from a blizzard and 21-inches of snow to negative 9 degrees, to 60 degrees to a thunderstorm yesterday.  The saying in Chicago is “if you don’t like the weather, wait a day”.  Can your area top this weather fluctuation?

Like I said, having the flu means there was little cooking here this last week and we all know what a cure-all chicken noodle soup can be for that condition.  This is an easy recipe for it and I hope it renders you all flu-free!

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2 celery ribs, sliced
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups chicken, cut into bite sized chunks
2 cups wide egg noodles
Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat oil in a large sauce pan until hot.
Add onion, carrots and celery.   Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add noodles and cook according to package directions.
Season with salt and pepper.
4 servings

Grandma was right; a bowl of chicken noodle soup is good medicine!

Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Our Great Valentine Gift ~ 4 Days Early and Appalachian Stack Pie!

I am thrilled to say that I have been a Grandma and Bill a Grandpa since 4:25 a.m. Thursday, February 10th!  This is our first grandchild and we are looking forward to many years of loving and spoiling him. 

Our younger son Matt, and his wife, Kathy, are the proud parents of Matthew, who weighed in at 6 pounds, 6 ounces and is 19 inches long.  He’s tiny, adorable and perfect. 

Mom and baby, and Dad also, are doing great and I know Matt and Kathy will be wonderful loving parents.  The world is already a better place now that Matthew has arrived!

He is the absolute best Valentine’s Day gift ever!  And speaking of Valentine’s Day, I have a great recipe for a Valentine’s Day treat!

Maybe you’ve heard of or even enjoyed Appalachian stack cake.  It’s usually filled with dried apples and lots of spices.  With wedding cakes being so expensive, the legend goes that stack cake was a community-baked wedding cake.  The dough for the cake was rolled into 9-inch very thin layers and baked in cast-iron skillets.  Each family attending an Appalachian wedding baked one of the 6-12 cake layers and carried it to the wedding.  The bride’s family was in charge of cooking the apple filling and assembling all the layers into the finished cake.  It is a practical wedding cake that supposedly took 3 hours or more to make.

A modernized version of it was in the Chicago Tribune the other day.  It’s made with pie crust dough, resulting in 3-inch miniature Appalachian stack pies, instead of stack cakes.  Practical, delicious and easier to make!

The filling takes about 30-60 minutes to cook, so it could be made the night before you want to serve the dessert.  The rest is easy as it uses one roll-and-bake pie crust from the refrigerated section of the market.  Cut a dozen 3-inch pastry circles; it’s enough for 4 sweet pie stacks that look pretty also!  Serve them immediately after stacking them or the crisp pastry rounds will get soggy and your stack will topple.

Appalachian Spiced Apple Stack Pie

Pie circles:

1 roll-and-bake ready-made pie crust
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon


1 package (6-ounces) dried apples
2½ cups water
1 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch each: sea salt and ground nutmeg
½ cup cream, whipped, optional


For pie circles: 
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out crust and cut into 12 three-inch circles.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
Prick each circle several times with a fork.
Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle a little on each pastry circle.
Bake until golden, about 5 minutes.
Remove sheet to cooling rack.

For apple filling:
Place dried apples in microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of the water and ½ cup of the apple juice concentrate.
Cover bowl and microwave 10 minutes.
Pour apple mixture into a saucepan, cook over medium heat, gradually adding remaining 1½ cups of the water and ½ cup of the apple juice concentrate as liquids reduce.
Cook until apples are soft and the liquid has reduced, about 40 minutes.
Add the spices and salt; cook stirring often, until liquid has reduced to a small amount of syrup, 10 minutes.
Remove spiced apples from heat.

Place a round of pastry on each of 4 plates.
Spoon some of the apple filling onto each round.
Top each with another round of pastry.
Spoon on more apple filling.
Top with third pastry round.
Spoon a small dollop of whipped cream on top.

These little pies are perfect ~ however you stack ‘em!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

Welcome to the world and our family, darling baby Matthew!

Here’s Johnny ~ Marzetti, that is…

Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!  It’s cold outside!!!  It’s 0 degrees with -13 degree wind chill as I write this with forecaster’s predicting -10 degrees for tonight.  Single digit days and negative nights ~ that’s the Midwest for you…   

These are the days to warm up from the inside out and Johnny Marzetti is a perfect dish for doing just that.  Mom cooked this great dish in the winter when I was growing and it was one of my favorite meals. It was originally a dish of few ingredients; mainly elbow macaroni with tomato sauce, ground beef and cheese.  Now, it’s like gossip with the changes cooks make. 

I was born in Columbus, Ohio so I am proud that Ohio lays claim to Johnny Marzetti.  The dish originated in Columbus in the 1940’s by the owner of Marzetti’s restaurant and was named after his brother Johnny.  It spread to other parts of the United States as variations of the recipe were published in magazines and cookbooks during the mid-20th century.

The Johnny Marzetti concoction I make now includes diced tomatoes, sliced green olives, chopped green peppers and sliced mushrooms with a massive amount of cheese.  It’s warming and comforting on these cold winter nights!  

Johnny Marzetti


¾ pound elbow macaroni
1½ pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon pepper, salt optional
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can Hunts diced roasted garlic tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup salad olives
1 (8-ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 cup Velveeta cheese, sliced into chunks

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (for topping)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain well and set aside.
Place ground meat in a large skillet and break it up with a spatula.
Add onions, pepper and garlic powder, combining well.
Sauté until meat is cooked through and onions are tender.
Remove from skillet and drain well.
In a large bowl to accommodate all the ingredients, mix the meat with all of the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the cheddar cheese. 
Grease a large baking dish. *
Place mixture in baking dish.
Spread shredded cheddar cheese over top.
Cover with foil.
Bake for about 40 minutes until heated through.
Remove foil and continue baking for about 5 minutes until cheese melts and it starts to brown a little around the edges.

* I use my 3-quart Le Creuset Au Gratin baking dish so as to have a larger surface to spread the cheddar cheese on top. 

You will feel the love when eating this savory dish!

Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Caramel Chocolate Trifle and the Game

The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, making Bill very happy!  He has always been a die-hard Packer fan even though he was raised here in northern Illinois.  

Bill asked me yesterday if I knew what the “G” stands for in the Packer logo.  I bet you are like me and assumed Green Bay.  It makes perfect sense, right?  Wrong!  The funny video below is New York Giant Tiki Barber quizzing the Green Bay Packer players.   I don’t feel so bad now that I know most of them don’t even know what it stands for.  They definitely know more about football and lived up to the "G" last night!  Here’s what the “G” stands for:

Our "hostess with the mostest" of the Super Bowl party we attended asked me to bring a dessert.  I knew Carla really meant a CHOCOLATE dessert.  From above, this trifle looks like chopped bits of candy but, a look at the side view shows all of its delicious layers!

This trifle is stacked with devil’s food cake chunks, chocolate pudding, a whipped topping and caramel ice cream topping with plenty of English toffee bits scattered on top.  It’s multiple layers of color, textures and flavors.  One of the great things about it is that you can make it ahead of time to allow it to soak up the flavors. 

Believe me ~ there will not be a crumb left when you serve this sinfully rich trifle!

Caramel Chocolate Trifle


1 package (9-ounces) devil’s food cake mix (I used Jiffy)
2 packages (3.9-ounces each instant chocolate pudding mix (I used devil’s food)
1 carton (12-ounces) Cool Whip or other frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 jar (12¼-ounces) caramel ice cream topping 
1 package (8-ounces) English toffee bits


Prepare and bake cake according to package directions for an 8-inch square baking pan.
Cool on a wire rack.
Prepare pudding according to package directions.
Cut cake into 1½-inch cubes.
Place half of the cubes in a 3-quart trifle bowl or large glass serving bowl.
Lightly press cake down to fill in gaps.
Top with half of the cool whip, pudding, caramel topping and toffee bits.
Repeat layers.
Cover and refrigerate until serving time.  I refrigerate it overnight.
16 servings


Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway!


SNOWTHUNDER ~ amazing ~ snowing with zero visibility while thunder boomed and lightening lit the sky!  Not to mention the howling wind all Tuesday into yesterday noon.  And then to see mountains of snow from the drifting!

Our driveway finally got plowed out from 5-6 foot snow drifts last night at 7:00 p.m.  They do a great job of clearing the roads here but this storm was just a bit too much.  The roads here and in the surrounding counties were closed and some still are this morning.   

Northbound Lake Shore Drive in Chicago was a nightmare.  Hundreds of motorists were stranded for 12 hours after several accidents on the beautiful stretch of highway right in the city.  Many cars were almost buried and snowmobiles arrived to rescue stranded people.  It was a bad day to be on Lake Shore Drive or anywhere around here for that matter.  

Lake Shore Drive

There is a lot to discuss with this blizzard and is one we won’t be forgetting soon.  It was the third-largest snowfall in Chicago history and I hope when the next one hits Bill and I will be somewhere warm and sunny! 

It looks peaceful, calm and sunny out there this morning but now the bitter cold has returned --- it is 4 degrees below with the wind chill being 8 below and sunny as I write this but at least it’s not snowing!

This incredible weather demanded incredibly delicious barbecued ribs for our dinner.  The simple pleasure of eating ribs that fall right off the bone starts with a zesty blend of seasonings, barbecue sauce and a jar of honey mustard.  Then it is all simmered in a slow cooker.  It makes a fall off the bone pork dinner that is hard to beat.

This Better Homes and Gardens recipe is good just as is but I think it would be good also if you like a spicier version, to add red pepper flakes and some Cajun seasoning, maybe cider vinegar also.  So the ribs can be mild or very spicy depending upon your taste.  

Honey-Mustard Barbecue Pork Ribs


3½ pounds boneless pork country-style ribs
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
1 (8-ounce) jar honey mustard
2 teaspoons zesty grill seasoning blend


Place ribs in a 4-quart slow cooker.
Arrange onion over ribs.
In a small bowl, combine barbecue sauce, mustard and seasoning blend.
Pour over ribs.
Stir to coat.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours on on high-heat setting for 4-5 hours.
Transfer ribs to a serving platter.
Strain sauce and skim off fat.
Drizzle some of the sauce over the ribs and pass remaining sauce. 


Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway!

The Winner Is...

Thanks to all of you who entered the great CSN Giveaway for a $20 gift certificate!  I used random.org and...


Visit her blog and see how good she cooks and bakes.  She is a great writer on top of all that!

Monet, please contact me at mzpst@att.net to receive your CSN gift certificate.

You know,

nobody can ever

cook as good as

your Mama.

~ Paula Deen

You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook
You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook


Jules-Alexandre Grun

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!



Total Pageviews