Yes, I know. You do not need to say a word. I have been MIA for some time...I think it has been over a month since my last post. I still love you all but my life sometimes gets in the way of posting. I have been on vacation, doing some cooking, sewing a bit and just generally enjoying the final days of summer.
I promise, over the next few days, I will get you all caught up on what I have been up to but today I want to share some of the recipes I used for my in-laws' 30th anniversary dinner a couple of weeks ago.
It was a very casual and fun dinner. We were all at the beach so it had to be easy, had to feed about 25 people and most of all, it had to be made in advance so I could pack it up for the almost 4 hour drive. I decided Italian (lasagna and salad specifically) was the way to go. It would feed a crowd and who doesn't love it?
PinkPetunias' Restaurant Style Salad Recipe
I created this recipe after searching high and low for a salad dressing from a local restaurant. Apparently, they used to sell the dressing but stopped. The recipe is a well guarded secret but here is my attempt and it comes pretty close in flavor and texture. I absolutely love this salad dressing. It is not the healthiest but it is yummy for sure. You could easily make this salad and throw on some grilled shrimp or chicken.
1 cup vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 large can/bottle of parmesan cheese, shaker style
2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 heads of iceberg lettuce, chopped
8 hard boiled eggs, very finely diced
1 box of restaurant or ceasar style croutons
- Mix vinegar, oil, oregano, sugar, garlic, mayonnaise and cheese together and set aside.
- Just before you are ready to serve, mix lettuce, eggs, croutons and half the dressing. Add more dressing as needed since all heads of lettuce are different sizes. I normally end up using 3/4 to all of the dressing.
PinkPetunias' Lasagna for a Crowd Recipe
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
24 ounces tomato sauce, can, jar, homemade - your call
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
24 lasagna noodles
32 ounces ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
24 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups parmesan cheese, shaker style
- Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.
- Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce (I used Ragu Traditional because I had a ton on hand from a great sale).
- Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and parsley.
- Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.
- Combine ricotta cheese with eggs, parsley, salt, nutmeg and parmesan cheese and mix well.
- If you plan to bake right after assembling, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spread approximately 1-2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of two 9x13 inch baking dishes.
- Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce in both pans. Spread each pan with one quarter of the ricotta cheese mixture.
- Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Spoon 2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella.
- Repeat layers one more time, and top with remaining mozzarella. If desired, sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top.
- Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese. (If making in advance, freeze or refrigerate at this point).
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 30 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving. (If you made this in advance, let the lasagna thaw in the refridgerator. After thawing or if you had it in the refridgerator, place on counter for 2 hours otherwise you will need to adjust your cooking times. I let mine sit on the counter for 30 minutes and it took an additional hour in the oven to get hot and bubbly in the center.)
If you have any questions, please let me know. I will be happy to answer them.