(aka...Greek Lasagna)

Pastitsio is a delicious Greek version of lasagna. When I first saw the original recipe from Ina Garten (original can be found on food network), I was a little skeptical of all the cinnamon it called for. That being said, I knew I had to give it a try. OMG...what a delicious dish and the cinnamon is everything! Hearty, creamy and so satisfying.

It's also a great way to feed a crowd and can easily be made ahead and popped in the oven before serving.


For the Tomato Meat Sauce:

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
2 pounds lean ground beef 
1/2 cup dry red wine 
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large cloves)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 
Pinch of Cayenne pepper 
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree 
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Bechamel:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total

3/4 pound small shells

For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon.

Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.


Old Fashioned Goulash

Who doesn't like a warm bowl of Old Fashioned Goulash? 
I'm really not looking for an answer to that, but really...what's not to like?

This fast and easy one-pot wonder of noodles nestled in a 
thick & meaty tomato sauce with little bits of tender onion is just a 
big bowl of awesomeness. If you had a mind to, adding some red 
or green bell pepper would be a great addition.

 I like mine straight up, but my family enjoys topping 
theirs with a handful of extra sharp cheddar cheese. 

Add a nice chunk of warm crusty bread, and you have a 
delicious meal your family will ask for again and again.

Other pasta dishes you may enjoy:

Linked with Weedend Potluck

Serves 8

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
3 cups beef broth
28 oz crushed tomatoes
15 oz stewed tomatoes
15 oz petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (if desired)
Seasoning salt (to taste)
3 cups elbow macaroni
Grated cheddar cheese for serving (if desired)

In a dutch oven or large skillet, brown beef with a pinch of salt and pepper until brown. Spoon off grease, if necessary. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, or until onion starts to soften. Stir in garlic and bay leaves, cook a couple minutes more.

Add broth, cans of tomatoes, Italian seasoning, oregano, Worcestershire, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add seasoning salt if needed. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20-25 minutes.

Add macaroni, stir well and replace lid. Simmer 7-9 minutes or until pasta is al dente.

Remove bay leaves and serve with grated cheese. 


Goat Cheese & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

My husband and I have made the decision to start eating more meatless meals. 
We are not cutting meat completely out, just back. Way back.

That being said, I have to tell you, we have not missed it. Not even a little bit. 

I think it has a lot to do with meals like this Goat Cheese & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta. 
We just add a salad with lots of fresh vegetables in it along side a bowl of sliced cucumbers 
marinated in a little dressed up vinegar, and we are good to go.

The entire meal takes just minutes to throw together and let me tell you, it was so good.
Not too heavy and perfectly creamy from the delicious goat cheese (no cream needed). The Parmesan added a little punch of saltiness and the hit from the sun-dried tomatoes...oh my goodness. Everything came together perfectly. Lets not forget the fresh basil. I mean...fresh basil, right?

I would venture to say, if a person wasn't partial to goat cheese, cream cheese would work in a pinch.

Fast and easy to prepare, a few simple ingredients, and huge flavor.

It was a hit.

Linked with

Goat Cheese & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

8 oz spaghetti, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid
2 tbsp of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes with herb, rough chop
4 oz of goat cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

Cook spaghetti in salted water according to package instructions. Save 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain spaghetti.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper and saute until the onion softens. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the reserved water. Stir in crumbled goat cheese and the 1/4 cup Parmesan. Stir until melted. Add spaghetti stirring to combine and add more water if needed/desired. I ended up adding apprx. 3/4 cup of the water. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with more grated Parmesan and basil, if desired.



This is one of my most favorite things in the world.

It takes just minutes to throw together and I can't get enough of it. Especially when I 
have fresh basil I can walk outside and cut.

Roast up a little garlic in olive oil, throw it in a bowl with sliced tomatoes, 
balsamic vinegar, basil and a little salt and pepper. Done!

(Can a person eat too many tomatoes? Asking for a friend.)

Play around with it. If you like lots of basil...add it. Don't like a lot of balsamic...start with a teaspoon or two and add more if needed. What ever works for you.

Aside from a spoon right out of the bowl, I like to eat it on a tasty slice of toasted bread.

Doesn't get much easier than that.

Linked with Weekend Potluck.


1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
7 whole basil leaves (chiffonade)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a small pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, stirring often. Pour oil and garlic into a bowl and let cool a couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning.  You can use it right away but I like to let it sit out for 30-40 minutes or store in the fridge until ready to use. I would bring it back close to room temperature before eating.

Toast up your favorite bread, load it with your tomatoes and serve.


Slow Cooker Beer Braised Baja Chicken Tacos

Looks like just a simple chicken taco, right?

It's not. Far from it. 
You won't believe the flavor of this somewhat plain looking plate of food.

This taco is crazy good. 

The chicken is slow cooked in beer with garlic, red onion, chipotle peppers, a touch of honey with some wonderful spices. It turns out with  huge flavor all on its own. 

But then comes the Baja sauce.

OH MY GOSH. This sauce...I actually stood at the counter with a spoon, dipping it in the sauce and eating it with a little left over cabbage. This was after supper. I'll be making it a lot. It would be good on so many things. Fish, burgers, taco salad, etc.

You could dress this up with some crumbled mexican cheese, jalapenos, whatever you like. I kept it really simple with a little shredded cabbage, squeeze of fresh lime and a touch of avocado. And lots of sauce. Definitely lots of sauce!

Linked with Weekend Potluck.

Slow Cooker Beer Braised Baja Chicken Tacos

Two large chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1 red onion
2 chipotle peppers in Adobo, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 12oz bottle of Corona

Baja Sauce

1 jalapeno, rough chop (seeded for less heat if desired)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (may use all cilantro if desired)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp honey
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Place chopped onion into slow cooker. Add chicken breasts on top. Whisk together remaining ingredients except beer and pour over chicken. Add the beer to the cooker, cover, and cook on low apprx. 4 hours or until chicken is tender with a temp. of 165 degrees F. Remove chicken from cooker and shred with two forks. Add back into cooking liquid. Serve with tongs or slotted spoon to let excess moisture run off.

To make the Baja sauce: Add jalapeno, garlic, cilantro and parsley to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to make a rough chop. Scrape down sides and add remaining ingredients. Process to combine. Taste for seasoning adding more salt and pepper if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: For the chipotle peppers...I process up a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and store it covered in my fridge. It lasts months and comes in very handy.

Slightly adapted from No Spoon Necessary.