9/16/15 ChefElla's Cheesy Meatball Lasagna


School is here and so are the busy nights.  We all want to eat a good dinner, but it just seems like there isn’t always time for that.  Some nights we pick what we want to eat over what we should eat, and other nights we pick what is quick vs. what is good for us.  This week I wanted to make something that tastes good, has good foods in it, and will last in the refrigerator or freezer when we are in a hurry and need a good dinner right away.  My cheesy meatball lasagna can be made any night, kept in the fridge or freezer, and it tastes just as good reheated as it did the night you made it.  While you can buy spaghetti sauce for this recipe instead of making it, my sauce has no added sugar, oil, or chemicals and if very easy to make.  You can also make my sauce ahead of time freeze it and use it whenever you have lasagna, pizza, calzones, or spaghetti at your house.

1.     Wash your hands.

2.     For this recipe you will need measuring cups and spoons, a wooden spoon, a knife, a cutting board, a sauce pan with a lid, a blender or food processor, a small bowl, and a 9 X 13 baking dish.

If you are not allowed to use the stove, oven, or a knife by yourself you can ask an adult to help.

ChefElla’s Cheesy Meatball Lasagna (6-8 Servings)

Meatball Lasagna

6-8 ea.   Lasagna Noodles, No Bake (about 6 oz.)

                 -You can use regular cook noodles if you wish, just cook following manufacturer’s directions.

1 lb.         Turkey Meatballs, Cut in Half

1 lb.         Mozzarella, Shredded

8 oz.        Ricotta Cheese

8 oz.        Mozzarella Cheese, Fresh, Sliced Thin

¼ Cup      Parmesan Cheese

1 ea.         Egg

ChefElla’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

1 Can       Peeled Tomatoes (28 oz.),

                 -I prefer the Pomodoro variety of canned tomatoes if you can find them, but any kind will do.

1 Cup       Onion, Rough Chopped (about ½ medium onion)

1 ½ Cup    White Mushrooms, Rough Chopped (about 4-5 mushrooms)

½ Cup       Spinach, Frozen

6 oz.          Roasted Red Pepper

1 tsp          Tomato Paste

1 Tbl          Sundried Tomatoes (If you do not have any you can leave them out)

½ tsp         Granulated or Dried Garlic

1 tsp          Oregano, Dried

1 tsp          Basil, Dried

1 tsp          Salt, Kosher or Sea

A.      Put all of the ingredients for the sauce in the food processor.  Turn the processor on low for about 30 seconds to begin blending the ingredients.

B.     Turn the processor onto high and blend for another 2-3 minutes or until all the ingredients are blended well.

C.     Turn the stove onto medium heat, add the sauce to the sauce pan, and simmer covered for 20 minutes stirring occasionally so that the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

3.     Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Spray your baking dish liberally with pan spray.

4.     In a small bowl mix the ricotta cheese with the parmesan and one egg.  Mix well.

5.     Add a small amount of spaghetti sauce to the bottom of the pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with half of your noodles.

6.     Spread a little more sauce on top of the noodles and sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella cheese over the noodles.  Take ½ of your meatballs and place on top of the mozzarella.

7.     Spoon ricotta mixture all over the lasagna and pour one cup of spaghetti sauce over the layer.

8.     Cover the layer with the other half of your noodles.  Cover the noodles with your fresh mozzarella slices.  Spread remaining meatballs evenly over the fresh mozzarella.  Spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the meatballs and chees.  Top the lasagna with the other half of the shredded mozzarella.

9.     Spray a piece of aluminum liberally with pan spray and cover the lasagna spray side down.

10.  Bake for 50 minutes.  After 50 minutes remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

11.  Remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

If you do not eat meat substitute your favorite vegetables like eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini or broccoli rabe.  Serve your lasagna with salad or roasted vegetables, or put it in the refrigerator or freezer and reheat on your busy night.



Ella’s Helpers

ChefElla’s helpers can help out by:

Measuring the ingredients.

Add the ingredients to the food processor.

Building the lasagna.

Mixing the ricotta cheese.

And for ChefElla’s older helpers you can cut the meatballs and mozzarella.

5/23/14 ChefElla's Ratatouille with Italian Sausage

It is hard to mention ratatouille without thinking of the cute little rat from the movie with the same name.  The truth is, there really is a dish called ratatouille.  It is a French stew of vegetables, sometimes served with pasta and meat.  For my dish we will use the traditional zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and a few other vegetables that are not so traditional but taste good.  Sometimes we think that just because a dish has a fancy name it is hard to make.  Ratatouille sounds hard to make but it is not.  The hardest part  of the dish is the amount of vegetables you will have to cut up, but in the end it is worth it.  So impress your friends and tell them you know how to make Ratatouille.

For this recipe you will need to use a knife and the stove.  If you are not allowed to use a knife and stove by yourself you can have a grown up help.

1. Wash your hands.

2. For this recipe you will need measuring spoons, a knife, a rubber spatula or wooden spoon,

    sauté pan,  medium stock pot with lid, a strainer, a sauce pan, a cutting board and  2 medium

    mixing bowl.

ChefElla's Ratatouille with Italian Sausage

(This recipe will make 10-12 servings)


16 oz         Italian Turkey Sausage, ground

                  -You can use any kind of italian sausage you want, but I like turkey sausage.  It has

                  less calories and fat.  If you cannot find ground turkey sausage, just buy the links.

                  Cut through the outer casing of the sausage links and remove.  You will be left with

                  the ground meat.

16 oz.        Orecchiette Pasta, Dried

                  -Orecchiette is Italian for little ear.

1 ea.          Red Onion, Medium Diced, (1 Medium Sized Onion)

1 ea.          Zucchini, Medium Diced (1 Medium Sized Zucchini)

1 ea.          Yellow Squash, Medium Diced (1 Medium Sized Yellow Squash)

1 ea.          Eggplant, Medium Diced (1 Small Eggplant)

1 ea.          Red Bell Pepper, Medium Diced (1 Large Pepper)

1 ea.          Portobello Mushroom Cap, Medium Diced (1 Large Cap)

                 -Remove stem before cutting and discard.

4 ea.          Roma Tomatoes, Medium Diced

1 tsp          Garlic, Minced, Fresh

1 Tbl         Tomato Paste

4 oz.          Red Wine, Any Flavor

1 tsp          Kosher Salt

1 tsp          Black Pepper

1/4 tsp       Oregano or Marjoram, Dried

2 Tbl.        Olive Oil

8 ea.          Basil Leaves, Fresh, Chopped

                 -Layer the leaves of basil one on top of the other.  Cut into thin strips and then chop.

3. Pre-heat sauté pan.  Cook ground sausage.  Make sure to mix and break the meat into little pieces while it cooks.  Put ground sausage in your strainer to remove the excess fat when it is thoroughly cooked.

4. Cut up onions, peppers and garlic and set aside in a bowl.

5. Dice up remaining vegetables and mix together in a bowl.

6. Pre-heat stock pot on high.  Add olive oil.  Add peppers, onion and garlic.  Turn pot to medium high heat.  Cook 3 minutes stirring occasionally.

7. Add remaining vegetables, spices, wine and half of the chopped basil.

8. Simmer on medium to low heat for 15 minutes covered.

9. Cook pasta following the directions on the box and drain

10.  When ratatouille is done mix in cooked sausage and cooked pasta.

11.  Garnish with basil.

This is a great recipe to make for all of your friends and family.


- ChefElla