Classic Italian Lasagna

Classic Italian Lasagna.

I’ve shared before, and I’ll declare again… although I don’t have a drop of Italian heritage (that I know of) in me, I am an Italian “wannabe.”

I love cooking and eating Italian food.

Years ago – even before I was married – I worked with a young Italian woman who generously shared her Mom’s classic Italian lasagna recipe with me.

I have never made it any other way.  It is simple and classic and DELICIOUS!

I’ve adapted it to a smaller portion than the recipe originally shared with me since these days this size will last Hubby and I plenty long enough to almost grow tired of eating it for so many days in a row…. ALMOST!

When you are craving classic Italian lasagna, I hope you will give this recipe a try.  Here is how I make it.

Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart marinara tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork, turkey (or combination)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 box Barilla Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil or 1/4 cup freshly minced basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parley
  • 1 lb. fresh Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz.  Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add chopped onions and minced garlic, and saute until soft.  Add ground meat, and cook until browned.  Add marinara tomato sauce and simmer.

In medium bowl, mix Ricotta cheese, egg, salt, basil, and parsley.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In 8 or 9 inch square baking dish, spread 1/2 cup prepared meat sauce on bottom.  Layer with lasagna noodles – overlapping to cover.  Layer with half of Ricotta cheese mixture.  Top with sliced Mozzarella cheese.  Spoon more sauce over cheese to cover.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.   Repeat layering.  End with sauce topped with remaining Mozzarella and sprinkled with Parmesan.

Cover with foil.  Bake 25 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake 20 minutes longer or until browned and bubbly.  Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Mangia tutti!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Zucchini Pizza Casserole

Zucchini Pizza Casserole.

Are you enjoying the abundance of garden fresh zucchini squash in new and creative ways?

There are oodles of zoodles.  There are breads and brownies.  There are soups and sticks,  fries and fritters  and frico.  There are even planks and boats.

Well – here’s one that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  It is Hubby tested and two thumbs up approved here!

A version of this recipe was recently posted by a friend on Facebook in one of those hyperlapse videos that make everything look easy.  And in this case, it was!

This is a wonderfully delicious, cheesy, gluten-free, low-carb way to get your protein and veggies all in one wonderful casserole.

Serve it with a fresh green salad, and you will be all set.

We really, really, really loved this, and it made enough that we’ll be happily enjoying it for a few days!

Give it a try, and let me know if you like it as much as we did.

Zucchini Pizza Casserole*

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (do not peel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15oz.) jar of your favorite pizza or tomato sauce
  • 1 medium sweet red, yellow, orange, or green pepper, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with about  1 tsp salt.  Let set for 10 minutes.  Squeeze out water.

In medium bowl, combine zucchini, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.  Mix well and press into a greased 13×9″ baking dish.  Top with half of the mozzarella cheese slices.  Bake for 20 minutes.

While that is baking, brown ground beef or turkey with onion and garlic, and salt and pepper in a large saucepan.  Add pizza or tomato sauce, and stir well.

Spoon meat mixture over top of baked zucchini mixture.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup cheddar, sliced mozzarella and chopped peppers.  Sprinkle with chopped basil.  Bake for 20 more minutes until browned and bubbly.

Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Slightly adapted from Taste of Home.

I’ve Fallen Madly in Love…. with Biscotti

I’ve fallen madly in love… with Biscotti!

I’m not sure why?  But all of the sudden, I can’t get enough of it.

It all started with an “impulse” purchase (dang hungry shopping!) – where I picked up a small package of almond flavored biscotti.

I’ve never really been drawn to biscotti – thinking it rather dry and bland tasting, but oh was I wrong!

Dry?  Maybe… but in an amazingly crispy, crunchy way.

Bland?  Far from it!  So full of flavor and texture.

And when served with coffee (or red wine) 🙂 – and dunked – Wowza!

The word “biscotto” means “biscuit” or “cookie.” Biscotti are named according to their method of baking. The root words “bis” and “cotto” literally mean “twice” and “baked.” When Italians first created biscotti in the region of Tuscany many centuries ago, they were careful to bake the cookies twice, in order to form their unique shape and allow the cookies to develop their signature crisp texture.

So after purchasing the almond…… and then the orange pecan…… I decided it was time I try to bake my own biscotti.

I considered what I had on hand and chose to try a Starbucks Copycat recipe of Dried Tart Cherry and Walnut.

I’m not sure I achieved the correct shape, but I’m pretty sure I nailed the flavor!

Hubby, who would normally not choose biscotti…. well – let’s just say he definitely liked them.  We won’t talk about how many he ate when he found them cooling, but suffice it to say, they were a hit!

Here’s the recipe I tried, and I cannot wait to try more flavors.

This could be a very dangerous love affair!

Cherry Walnut Biscotti

Ingredients:

1 stick  butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter in electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating for about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Add baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and mix.  Add flour just until blended.

Mix in walnuts, cherries and  orange zest by hand.

Turn the batter out onto a floured work surface and divide in half.  Shape each half into a log 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Transfer to baking sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Place baking sheet on wire rack and let logs cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2 inch wide slices, and carefully place the slices back onto the baking sheet.  Bake for another 10 minutes. Let the biscotti cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Pappardelle with Beef Ragu

beef-ragu-with-pappardelle-1

We had our first snow of the season here in Mars yesterday.

Not only did it snow, but it snowed ALL day!

After a 73 degree F day on Friday, it was quite a shock, but also such a glorious treat for a lazy Sunday to build a fire in the morning and burn it all day long while cooking and watching football and reading and resting.

After a very busy and exciting week, it was nice.  It was also the first day I didn’t see my new granddaughter since she was born, so I am thankful for text messages and IM pictures and so proud of her Mom and Dad for the amazing job they are doing.  They are naturals, and my heart is so very full.

beef-ragu-with-pappardelle-3

My belly is full too….. after making and feasting on this amazing recipe I tweaked a bit from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

What a perfect dish to cook for hours on a cold day teasing our noses with the amazing aroma and warming the house with the oven on for hours.  Jamie Oliver does his in a pressure cooker.  You could also do this in the crockpot.  But we were home all day, and I was perfectly content to have the oven on.

beef-ragu-with-pappardelle-2

I swear I am a “wannabe” Italian!  I adore Italian food.  In Italian cuisine, ragu is a meat-based sauce that is commonly served with pasta.  Pappardelle are large, broad, flat pasta noodles that originate from the Tuscany region and are similar to wide fettuccine. The name derives from the verb “pappare,” which means to gobble up.

Isn’t Papparedelle so much more fun to say than wide noodles?  And doesn’t it sound so much more delicious?!

beef-ragu-with-pappardelle-4

Hubby said I could definitely make this for company!  It is so full of flavor!  I could just lick the sauce from a spoon!  And then…… when you top it with a tiny bit of finely grated orange zest and rosemary…. the flavors just BURST with freshness too.  The balance between tender slow cooking with deep, layered flavors and fresh, bright citrus – even though just a tiny bit – is simply amazing!

Here is the recipe as I slightly tweaked from Jamie Oliver’s recipe shared in The New York Times.  Hope you will give it a try.

Pappardelle with Beef Ragu

Ingredients:beef-ragu-with-pappardelle-2

  • 2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 Tbsp finely chopped leaves for garnish
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 3-4 celery stalks, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet red and yellow peppers (optional)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in dutch oven on stove top over medium-high heat.  Add beef cubes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 mins.  Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and sweet peppers. Continue cooking until vegetables are softened, about 5 more mins.

Add wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by approximately half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes.  Secure lid and place in oven for 3 1/2 hours.

Cook pappardelle in boiling salted water for 6-7 minutes until al dente.   Drain and rinse in cold water.  Return pasta to pot.  Add butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.   Mix gently, cover with lid, and let butter melt.

Remove beef ragu from oven.  Discard herb stems and coarsely shred beef with two forks.

To serve, place pappardelle in shallow bowl, top with beef ragu, sprinkle with orange zest, finely minced rosemary and some more freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

A Taste of Italy in the ‘Burgh

murante-girls

What a fun evening we had with friends this weekend when we had the privilege of enjoying a private dining experience at Merante’s special upstairs kitchen where “Mamma” Maria and her long-time assistant, Linda, made us feel like family around the Sunday supper table!

  • murante-marie-and-linda

What a unique experience this was!  Merante’s is a quaint Italian gift shop in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where beautiful gifts from pasta bowls and fine ceramics (and even the game of Italy-Opoly) are sold and cooking classes and Italian-themed events are hosted.

My sweet, long-time (Italian!) friend, Mary, found this little gem and invited a group of friends (several months in advance, which is necessary due to its popularity) to bring a few bottles of wine and dine Italiano style (complete with clear plastic covered dining table cloth!).

murante-kitchen-table

Are you ready to see all the amazing food?!
A special thanks to Mary and Jill for sharing their iPhone photos with me to feature here.

I may have forgotten to bring my camera…
my iPhone may have been down to 3% battery…
and I may have been a bit too tipsy on red wine and sweet red sauce to take clear photos, but they were awesome to share!

We arrived at 6 pm and climbed the stairs to the “apartment” above the shop.  We were escorted to the parlor where wine glasses and cork screws awaited our unloading of a “few” bottles of BYOB wine.

merante-wine

An amazing array of appetizers was served…
Seriously enough for a meal, and we could have been done!

There were stuffed mushrooms…

murante-stuffed-mushrooms

and stuffed tomatoes (MY FAVE!).

murante-stuffed-tomatoes

There was succulent shrimp…

murante-shrimp

and there were spicy meatballs.

murante-meatballs

There was a cheesy quiche…

murante-quiche

And the most divine version of Caprese with sweet roasted red peppers and plump mozzarella.

But this was only a teaser of what was to come!

murante-caprese

After a few cheers and intros, we moved into the kitchen where we began with the most amazing bowl of Stracciatella – an Italian soup that is made from a simple but flavorful chicken stock kept at a delicate simmer until  a creamy mixture of eggs, Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley are whisked in to form the “little threads” that take the place of pastina.  Grandma’s polish version was called “Egg Drop” soup.

murante-soup

This may have been my favorite course, if it weren’t for the next, which was the pasta course!  Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is Maria’s handmade ricotta gnocchi gently turned with her creamy, dreamy red sauce and topped with tiny bits of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  THIS was absolutely my favorite course!

murante-gnocci

As if we weren’t absolutely full-bellied by now, the main course was served next.  Mary chose the juicy, tender roast tenderloin of pork, which was surrounded by a ring of seasoned roasted root veggies.  My favorite was the fresh beets!

murante-pork-roast-and-roasted-vegetables

And because you get to also pick a vegetable (since cauliflower, beets, butternut squash and green beans are not enough!), we also had rosemary roasted potatoes.

murante-potatoes

In true Italian style, the salad was served next (last before dessert), which is completely opposite of how most American restaurants serve salad first.  And this salad….  OMG…. if I weren’t so full, this may have won for my favorite course!  We had the most amazing Apple, Pecan, and Gorgonzola Romaine Salad with tart dried cranberries drizzled with tangy balsamic vinaigrette – a perfect combination of sweet, salty and crunchy…Yum!

murante-salad

It was then time for dessert.

First, Maria placed an overflowing tray of Italian cookies in the center of the table.

murante-cookies

And, as if that wasn’t enough, a beautiful parfait of chocolate hazelnut gelato, shipped fresh from Italy, was served to each of us with a cup of freshly pressed and sweetened Espresso.

murante-hazelnut-and-chocolate-italian-gelato

I still can’t believe we ate all that food…

I can’t believe how sweet Maria and Linda were…

I can’t believe how reasonable the whole experience was!

And all of the leftovers were packed up in “to go” containers for us to continue to enjoy!

I couldn’t even bring myself to each a cookie that evening, but oh how glorious did the chocolate dipped biscotti taste the next morning with my coffee!

The only thing better than the amazing food was the wonderful fellowship of friends!  If you live in, or are ever planning to travel to the Pittsburgh area, what a treat it is to enjoy this special dining experience at Merante’s!

One day, I will actually get to visit Italy…

Until then, I will visit Maria at Merante’s and experience a little taste of Italy in the “Burgh!”

Cheers and Ciaos,
Jodi

 

 

 

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New Lighter Chicken Parmesan

new-lighter-chicken-parmesan

Our little garden is just bursting with tomatoes this time of year, and the little cherry tomatoes are so juicy and sweet and delicious and plentiful that I wanted to use them creatively in a recipe instead of the usual simple throwing of them into our dinner salad.

I also have a really healthy crop of fresh basil.

new-lighter-chicken-parmesan-5

Anyone that’s been around thecreativelifeinbetween.com for more than a minute likely knows I LOVE chicken for dinner and am always looking for new, creative ways to prepare it.

So last night, I decided to try a newer, lightened-up version of the classic chicken parmesan recipe that is typically dipped in milk and egg wash, rolled in bread crumbs and fried in oil before topping it with cheese and baking it.

For this recipe, I marinaded the chicken in buttermilk – a great tip for making baked (or fried) chicken moist and tender – and then simply topped it with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of rolling it in bread crumbs.

I’ve said it before, and many of you know this well, but there really is no substitute for the real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Powdered cheese in a green plastic container will not do.   Other cheeses called “Parmesan” will not do.  The real deal –  Parmigiano-Reggiano is worth the spend (even if you have to skimp somewhere else – like that Starbucks latte or the pricey bottle of red wine).  Nothing can compare to the sharp, complex, fruity/nutty, strong savory flavor and slightly gritty texture of Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste, so if you think you do not like “Parmesan” cheese, because you ate the powdered stuff from the green plastic container as a kid, please give the real “parmesan” a try!  You won’t regret it.

new-lighter-chicken-parmesan-4

I then roasted it along with lots of sweet, juicy marinated tomatoes with tons of fresh garlic and basil and healthy extra virgin olive oil.

new-lighter-chicken-parmesan-3

We ate ours over whole grain thin spaghetti and a tossed fresh green salad.  It was divine!

Don’t expect it to taste like the familiar fried version soaked in sauce (which is quite yummy in moderation!), but allow yourself to enjoy the fresh, lighter flavors of this wonderful winner, winner of a chicken dinner!  (You knew I had to say it – right?!)

new-lighter-chicken-parmesan-2

Here is my recipe, which is adapted from one I found on Epicurious.  Hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how you like it.

New Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:new-lighter-chicken-parmesan

  • 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts and thighs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can easily make by adding 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk)
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions:

Wash and prepare chicken.  If chicken breasts are thick, cut them in half horizontally so they will cook faster and more evenly.  Marinade chicken in buttermilk for a minimum of 2 hours or up to overnight in an airtight container or large Ziploc bag.

Whisk together olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt.  Pour over tomatoes and stir.  Let marinade a couple hours if time allows.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Remove chicken from buttermilk marinade and place on a baking stone or dish with sides that will fit all pieces evenly without overlapping.  Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pat to press into chicken.  Spoon marinated tomatoes in between chicken pieces pouring remaining oil marinade over top.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until chicken is cooked, cheese begins to brown, and tomatoes begin to bubble and brown.  Add a slice of Mozzarella cheese on top of each piece of chicken, and return to oven for approximately 5 minutes until the Mozzarella is browned and bubbly.

Serve over whole wheat or regular pasta or by itself with a fresh green salad.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Best Ever Meatballs

best ever meatball

Who doesn’t love a great meatball?!  Perfect little rounded balls of meat and cheese and bread and seasonings can be simmered in a rich tomato or marinara sauce served over a heaping plate of pasta.

They can be served on a soft Italian roll  smothered in melted mozzarella or provolone cheese.

They can be made into great party appetizers when simmered in a sauce of grape jelly or cranberries and chili sauce and eaten from tasseled toothpicks.

They can even be simmered in a cream and beef Swedish Meatball broth served over buttery egg noodles or eaten just as is from a fork for a tiny delectable delight.

best ever meatballs with spaghetti

Sometimes I just crave a nice plateful of spaghetti and meatballs.  When I do, this is my go-to best-ever perfect meatball recipe.  I’ve been known to substitute veal for the turkey or simply divide the recipe’s meats half and half with beef and pork.  It just depends on what I have on hand.

This week’s had turkey, beef, and sausage simmered in a spicy Puttanesca Sauce filled with chunky tomatoes, black and kalamata olives, capers, onions and garlic.  (Trader Joes’s makes a great base sauce that I “doctor up.”)  I served it atop whole wheat thin spaghetti, and we sprinkled with fresh, salty shaved Parmesan cheese.

If you are looking for the best-ever, perfect meatball recipe (that is baked, not fried) – look no further.  Here it is!

Mangia! Mangia!

Best Ever Meatballs

  • Servings: approximately 4 dozen
  • Print

Ingredients:best ever meatball

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground Italian pork sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups tap water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine ground turkey, ground beef and sausage in a large bowl.  Add minced garlic, eggs, salt, pepper, cheese, and parsley.  Combine thoroughly.   Add bread crumbs and water, and combine well using your hands.

Shape into meatballs.  You can make whatever size you like, but I make mine about 1 inch in diameter.

Line meatballs in a single layer on a baking stone (I love to use my Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pan) or any other shallow baking pan with sides.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes until browned and cooked through.

If you are making with sauce for spaghetti and meatballs, add fully cooked meatballs to sauce and simmer for several hours.

Leftovers make great meatball hoagies when served on fresh Italian rolls and topped with mozzarella or provolone cheese.

You can also use as cocktail meatballs by simmering in a sauce made from 1 32-oz jar of grape jelly or 2 cans of Jellied Cranberry Sauce and 2 12-oz jars of Chili Sauce.

No matter what sauce you like (or don’t) with your meatballs, this recipe will provide you with the best-ever perfect meatball.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Healthy and Oh So Yummy Italian Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash 1

I know I often post yummy cookie and dessert recipes (and do I ever have an amazing Cinnamon Chip Brown Sugar Cookie recipe I will be posting later this week that I think has become my ALL TIME FAVORITE cookie ever!  Get READY cinnamon lovers!)…

But I had to share this amazingly delicious, totally healthy, guilt-free recipe for SQUASH (of all things squash!) that has even won over hubby and son despite it’s “healthiness!”  Yahoo!

spaghetti squash 2

It is spaghetti squash – Italian style, and it barely has any calories despite it’s full-flavor and filling-ness.  You can eat oodles of this and not feel a bit guilty!

spaghetti squash

You can serve it as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish with a protein.

We had it as a side with dry-rubbed pork tenderloin on the grill and a fresh salad for Sunday dinner.

Here’s the recipe as I make it.  Hope you will try, and let me know what you think.  I would love to hear how you make it too!

Italian Spaghetti Squash

  • Servings: approximately 6
  • Print

Ingredients:spaghetti squash

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp dried Italian Seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions:

  • Pierce whole squash 3-4 times with a fork, and microwave for approximately 12 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly until manageable to work with.
  • Cut squash in half and remove seeds.
  • Scrape squash with fork forming strands of “spaghetti,” and set aside.
  • In a large skillet saute chopped onion in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until “sweated” out – 2-3 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add spaghetti squash and saute all together.
  • Add diced tomatoes and seasonings and saute all together.
  • Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!  It sure is great when you can find a recipe that is healthy, hearty, and full-flavored too!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Zesty Italian Roast Beef Sammies

italian roast beef sandwich

Ooooo Laaaa Laaaa – I’ve got another delish sandwich to share.

I’ve been hearing about this roast beef that goes in the crock pot with a jar of pickled banana peppers (even from one of the guys I work with), so I was anxious to give it a try.

Pair this tender, shredded zesty Italian roast beef with a nice thick slab of mozzarella and a generous shmear of basil mayo on a toasted potato roll – and O. M. G!  It had me at “Zesty!”

The recipes I found consisted of mainly three simple ingredients:  roast beef, a package of Italian dressing mix, and a jar of banana peppers.

So I threw a 3 lb hunk of chuck roast in the crockpot (and – B T W – since when did chuck roast cost almost as much as filet mignon!?!??! – I guess the grocery industry realized what a tender, delicious roast this is if cooked properly.  It used to be considered “scrap!”)

I dumped a 12 oz. jar of mild banana peppers on top.

And then – this is when I realized I did not have an envelope of Italian Dressing Seasoning Mix…..

But no problem – isn’t that what cooking is about – improvising, experimenting, making it your own?!…  (not to mention the virtues of Googling!)

So I made my own Italian Dressing Mix with guidance from AllRecipes.com:

1 Tbsp Garlic Salt
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 tbsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
1/4 tsp Celery Salt
2 Tbsp Salt

italian roast beef in crock pot

I  sprinkled about 6 oz. of this mix on top of the roast beef, and then added 1/4 cup of dried minced onions and about 1/4 cup of leftover sautéed fresh banana peppers from my garden that I had prepared for some grilled pizzas a few nights ago.  So either way will work – the homemade one or the package of Good Seasons or some other Italian Dressing Mix.

I turned the crockpot on high for about 4-5 hours, and then went and watched the Steelers game (thankfully we squeaked out a victory against the Cleveland Browns – oh yep we did Bub! 🙂 ), had a G&T, chatted with Marty and “Oh Rob,” and then enjoyed a delish dinner of a Zesty Roast Beef Sandwiches, Fresh Corn on the Cob, and a Spinach & Arugula Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts – and guess what kind of dressing???  Homemade Italian Dressing made by using 2 Tbsp. of my new seasoning mixed with 1/4 cup vinegar, 2/3 cup oil, and 2 Tbsp. water.

A great Sunday dinner – with a couple great guys.

And BTW – if you didn’t want to have sandwiches (or didn’t have buns or bread!), I’m betting this roast beef would be great served with creamy mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles too.

italian roast beef sandwich

Cheers & Hugs,

Jodi