Recipe: Matching Dinner Rolls

Buy extra Manchego cheese when you make your lasagna and prepare these delicious rolls as a go-along. Pair a salad with your lasagna & rolls and you have a delicious meal. These rolls are especially easy; adapted from a recipe I've used for over 20 years, they require only one rise before baking. Although the recipe calls for only 1 cup of cheese, feel free to add as much cheese as you like. As the rolls bake the cheese melts into the roll and onto the baking sheet forming lovely bits of crispy cheese that I like to break off the roll and munch on. Delicious!

Manchego Cheese Knots

2 cups of buttermilk
1 ½ tblsp active dry yeast
2-tblsp honey
2 scant tsp salt
2 tblsp butter
¼ tsp baking soda
3 ½ cups unbleached white flour
½-cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup Spanish Manchego cheese – grated
Melted butter
Heat the buttermilk to lukewarm, pour 1/3 cup into a bowl and sprinkle yeast into milk. Let stand to proof.
Melt the butter and honey in the remaining buttermilk. Add salt and baking soda to liquid and combine with proofed yeast.
Add flour 1 cup at a time, thoroughly mixing in each time.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 2-3 minutes, dough should be soft, yet smooth and resilient.
Roll dough out to a 1” thickness and brush with melted butter, spread grated cheese evenly over dough and roll up as if you are making a jellyroll.
Slice roll into approx 20 equal pieces. Take each piece and roll into the shape of a cigar. Tie a loose knot in dough and set on baking sheet prepared with parchment paper. Brush each roll with additional melted butter, cover loosely with waxed paper and a light towel, Let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Bake in a pre-heated 400 F oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown. These are best eaten fresh and warm.

Recipe: Birthday Lasagna

For my husband's birthday we had his favorite dish. He always begs me to make lasagna, even when it is not a special occasion. The part about baking the lasagna with plastic wrap freaks out most people, it even scared me the first time I did it. I had the assurance of a seasoned Italian cook that nothing bad would happen. Now, I have been baking lasagna like this for 20 years and it always comes out perfect!
This is a large recipe, perfect for a large family dinner or special occasion; but there is no need to wait for a family dinner, bake, cool and cut into portions and freeze. It freezes beautifully for up to 3 months and tastes even better when re-heated.


½ cup diced sweet onion
2- 28 oz cans stewed tomatoes- Muir Glen Fire Roasted is best
1 tblsp minced garlic
½ lb Cremini or Portobello mushrooms – sliced
1 lb ground beef (or lamb)
½ lb lean ground pork or mild sausage
3 tblsp tomato paste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper- optional
2 tblsp honey
Olive oil

Over medium- high heat, sauté onion in 1 tblsp olive oil and 2 tblsp of butter until clear, add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes. Add ground beef (or lamb), pork and minced garlic. Cook until meat is done. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, spices and honey. Let simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
Taste and add salt & pepper to your liking. Turn heat to the lowest setting and let simmer while you prepare noodles & cheese. Note; you may increase beef (or lamb) to 1 ½ lbs and omit pork.

1 lb Manchego cheese- shredded
½ lb fresh mozzarella-sliced
1 cup low fat ricotta

Boil 1 pkg of high quality lasagna noodles for only half the cooking time recommended on pkg.
They should be very al dente, or only half cooked. Drain and set aside briefly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large lasagna/casserole (15 x 9) with olive oil. Assemble a layer of lasagna noodles in bottom of casserole. Ladle approx 1/3 of your sauce onto noodles, spreading evenly.
Spoon ricotta cheese over sauce, layer with noodles and press gently to even out. Ladle half of your remaining sauce on the noodles and sprinkle ½ of the shredded Manchego cheese on that layer. Assemble your last layer of noodles and sauce, sprinkle remaining Manchego cheese, and lay the sliced fresh mozzarella on top of all. Press down slightly to even out.
Cover pan with plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Wrap foil tightly to cover all plastic wrap. I know it doesn’t seem logical to bake with plastic wrap, but I learned this trick from a true Italian cook and it works! Bake for 45 minutes. When you remove the lasagna from the oven, remove foil/plastic right away, you will see the plastic wrap is intact and sticking to the foil. If you like a browned top, broil for 2 minutes to bubble and brown the cheese.
Let lasagna sit for 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 10-12 people.
The leftovers warmed up are even tastier than the day it is made. You can also make this a few hours ahead and refrigerate until baking. If you do that, increase baking time to at least 1 hour.

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Cincinnati, OH, United States
A dedicated foodie, with a passion for the best food. Favorite food crushes include; Cheese, Wine, Breads, Seafood, anything made with eggs, ...there's actually no point in a list, there isn't much out there I don't have a crush on. Transplanted from the Northeast at age 18, a whole new frontier of food was opened up to me. I have fished for Salmon, hunted for mushrooms, cracked open fresh oysters from the sea and devoured them on the spot. Figs, pears, peaches, so many indigenous jewels! I dedicate this BLOG to the endless variety this region provides. My hope is to live here for a very long time & continue to discover and experience it's unique bounty! Alas, my life has now taken me to Cincinnati, OH where the food culture is like none I have ever experienced.


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