Once Upon a Lasagna

If you’ve seen my other blog (or dug deep enough in this one) then you might have figured out that I’m a geek about many, many things. Well, one such thing is fairytales. I grew up on Disney, so it’s no shocker that I get pretty nostalgic when someone even mentions Beauty and the Beast or Pocahontas.

And then there was Once Upon a Time. The writing leaves a lot to be desired, but it has all my favorite characters and that’s just enough of a reason for me to continue to watch it. If you’re familiar with the show then you know that Granny of “Little Red Riding Hood” fame owns a diner (and that she’s, well, kind of awesome).

So in honor of the grandmother who’s a bit more spice than she is nice, I decided to make her famous lasagna–with a bit of a kick.

Granny’s Lasagna



  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 10 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp chopped yellow onions
  • 4.5 ounces lasagna pasta (about 8-10 pasta sheets), cooked


  • 23 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Garlic Oil

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsps olive oil

Cheese Layer

  • 15-17 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Sargento’s 6 Cheese Italian), divided
  • 3-4 slices of pepperjack cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg or 1-2 tsps olive oil


  1. Combine ground beef, Italian sausage, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and yellow onions in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is no longer pink and is cooked throughout. Reduce to medium heat.
  2. Combine all ingredients listed under sauce in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover with lid and cook over low heat for at least 3-5 minutes.
  3. Combine garlic and 2 tbsps of oil in a small skillet. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until garlic is aromatic. Add to sauce mixture and stir. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes
  4. Boil lasagna pasta per package instructions (or per preferred level of tenderness). Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  5. Add sauce mixture to meat mixture. Stir and reduce to a simmer (at least 5 minutes).
  6. Combine ricotta, 1 cup of 6 Cheese Italian (or cheese of choice), and one egg or olive oil in a small bowl.
  7. If desired, lightly butter a 9×13 inch glass dish (otherwise, spray with nonstick spray or line with foil). Layer bottom of the dish with lasagna pasta.
  8. Top with layer of cheese mixture and then top with meat. Add another layer of pasta. Add another layer of cheese. Layer on meat.
  9. Top with remaining cup of 6 Cheese Italian. Shred (i.e. tear) pepperjack cheese on top of 6 Italian cheese.
  10. Bake on 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until thoroughly cooked throughout. Serve with garlic bread.

Note: For an extra kick, use spicy Italian sausage and up the red pepper flakes by another tablespoon.



Now then, who wants to eat seconds?

Granny wave

Chicken Teriyaki

I’m not exactly sure where this craving for teriyaki chicken came from. I’d never made teriyaki before (truly, this was a let’s-guess-at-the-ingredients-and-go-dish) and I actually think I may have created this just so I would have an excuse to combine candied bacon with candied red onions. And you know what? I’m not ashamed of that.

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  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 4 large chicken breasts, sliced in half
  • 2-3 tbsps brown sugar
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp mirin
  • 1/4 tsp red bell pepper flakes
  • 1/2 ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 slice provolone cheese (per sandwich) *
  • Sesame seed sandwich buns

* For a kick, add pepperjack

Additional Ingredients:

  • 2 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsps chopped red onion


  1. Wash chicken and place in a glass casserole dish.  Combine with all other ingredients listed in the “marinade” section. Cover with glass top and bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear when cut.
  2. Turn stove top to medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon and brown sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add red onions and cook until bacon and onions are done.
  3. Top bottom half of sesame seed bun with chicken, cheese, onions, and bacon. Bake on 350 degrees until cheese is thoroughly melted.
  4. Serve with a crisp caesar salad.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I just can’t get enough of bell peppers lately–on pizza, in potatoes, wherever. Usually my go-to bell pepper dish is chicken or beef stir fry, but I wanted to try a little something different this week to bid my summer days adieu. These stuffed bell peppers really hit the spot. They’re warm, filling, and perfect with tortilla strips.

do love summer comfort food.

Stuffed Bell Peppers


  • 5-6 bell peppers of various colors, cut in half
  • ½ uncooked cup white rice
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 16 ounces ground beef (roughly)
  • 3 tbsps salsa
  • 8 oz can pasta sauce
  • ¾ cup black beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • Mexican cheese to taste
  • Taco seasoning


  1. Cook rice using rice maker or on stovetop, following package instructions (For stovetop rice, I usually bring  2 cups of water to a boil, add rice, stir, and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat then turn to lower heat and cook until soft, roughly 10 or so minutes).
  2. Cook ground beef in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, chopping finely, until meat is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. Drain.
  3. Pour meat into another non-stick skillet and combine with taco seasoning and roughly ¼ cup of water (if beef appears dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Reduce to a simmer and cook for roughly 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Cut bell peppers in half, de-seeding and removing the core. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and drain. Set aside.
  5. Sautee garlic in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes over medium-heat. Discard garlic but keep the oil.
  6. Add ground beef, rice, salsa, black beans, tomato sauce, and corn. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
  7. Line glass baking sheet with bell peppers. Scoop out meat/veggie/sauce mixture and stuff peppers.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees.
  9. Cover bell peppers with Mexican cheese and bake for 1-2 additional minutes or until cheese is melted.
  10. Serve with tortilla strips.

Peanut Butter Cups

I’ve been craving peanut butter lately–and I’m always in the mood for chocolate–so I thought I’d play around with my peanut butter cup recipe. I have to say that I like this combination the best so far, and I believe it’s because of the milk chocolate/dark chocolate combination.

Peanut Butter Cups


  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp(s) melted butter
  • 4 ozs of milk chocolate, crushed
  • 4 ozs of dark chocolate, crushed
  • Sea salt, optional


  1. Place butter in a small bowl and melt butter in microwave (about 15 – 20 seconds).
  2. Add powdered sugar, peanut butter, and salt to melted butter and stir until well combined.
  3. Line a baking sheet with 12-13 mini muffin wrappers (the number of wrappers you fill will vary, depending on how much chocolate you eat beforehand).
  4. Add crushed milk chocolate and crushed dark chocolate to a small saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring constantly until most of the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat immediately, and continue to stir until remaining chocolate has melted.
  5. Add a small amount of chocolate to each muffin wrapper (about 1-1  1/2 tsp of chocolate).
  6. Drop a small amount of the peanut butter mixture onto the chocolate in wrappers.
  7. Top peanut butter with another 1 – 1 1/2 tsp of chocolate.
  8. If desired, sprinkle a dash of sea salt onto peanut butter cups.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 30- 45 minutes or until chocolate has hardened.