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Friday, March 4, 2011

When Lasagna Doesn't Happen

I had full intention of making lasagna yesterday.  I had even (gasp!) though ahead and thawed out the ground beef the night before.  I had cottage cheese in the refrigerator.  I had noodles in the pantry.  I was ready to roll, baby!

Except it didn't happen.  In a trifecta perfecta of events, it just didn't happen.  So go ahead and read all those ingredients over again, but insert the perfect past participle.  'Cause I still got'em.

So, after feeding the kids leftovers and trundling them off to bed, it was on to Plan B.

But first, to come up with Plan B.

Stroganoff it was. Or is.  Or continues to be.  It makes a lot of food, this recipe.

Throw the ground beef in a nice big skillet, fry pan, or other stove top worthy device.  A nice dutch oven would also work.  Chop up as much onion as you can handle and throw it in there, too.  Not too small.  You will want some nice big chunks.

Brown it up all nice and toasty.  Keep breaking up the meat as you cook it.  You want nice little, crumbly bits, no bit chunks.  At this point, be smarter than me, and remember to drain off any excess fat.  It will make for a much nicer meal in the end.

Again, here is where you get a chance to be smarter than me (not that it will take much).  After I have cracked open a box of stock, I had a terrible habit of stuffing it in the back of my fridge and leaving it there until one of two things happened.  I would either keep opening new boxes, forgetting about the original one in there and then question why my fridge had no room in it.  Or, just as likely, I would open the box several weeks later, take a deep whiff of what could no longer be called stock.  And then promptly pass out on the floor from the noxious odour.

So, I had a brain wave.  Freeze the darn stuff.  One caveat:  don't try to thaw it in the microwave.  No matter what kind of hurry, rush, or lack of time is pressing down on you, don't do it.  The foil lining in the box will produce a peculiar odour that will emanate from your nuker for several days.  Or, at least, that's what I hear.  It's not like I have first hand knowledge or anything. Cut it out of the box and pop it into a microwaveable dish.

ANYWAYS, take an equal amount of beef stock and noodles.  In this case, 2 cups of stock.

Here it is in liquid form.  Much better now.

Dump it into the meat mixture and add an equal amount of noodles.  Stir or don't stir, that is the question.  And the answer is up to you.

Fit your fixture with a tight fitting lid.  Again, preferably one that fits better than this one.  The goal here is to steam the noodles into doneness.  About 10 minutes.  If the lid doesn't fit tightly, you will need to add more liquid and time and sheesh, you are probably running behind as it is.

Add a can of these, if you are so inclined.  I recently found this mushroom medley mixture at my local Giganta-mart.  But any kind will do.  Pieces and stem will work better than whole mushrooms.  If you wanted to go all gourmet here, you should have added the mushroom in when the meat was browning.  Oh, and don't worry about draining them.  Just slop the whole thing in there.

Then, the sour cream.  Add about half as much as you added noodles or broth.  Here, a good cup's worth.  Adjust to create the right sauciness for your tastes.  Now is also a good time to add a heavy dose of black pepper.  I don't add my pepper in before this as I find it gets bitter during the browning process.

And here you have it.  An evening meal in no time flat.

And that, my friends, is what happens when lasagna doesn't happen.
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