cookin' with auntie dee
Volume 22/Issue 4/2004

Donnie Jay  



by Donnie Jay

Heaven help me, Mardi Gras Madness has arrived, and as usual, I am facing house guests galore, and am totally unprepared. Naturally they will be out partying all hours of the day and night, coming and going as only visitors do. Somehow they never seem to be at home all at one time together, to sit and have a meal. Now I know that the prevailing attitude is to say to hell with them, let them fend for themselves. But girls, really, remember our heritage of Southern hospitality.

Besides one or more of them is more likely than not to drag home a hot little number, pass out and leave it up to you to entertain him. And as you may or may not be aware, the way to a man’s best parts is through his stomach.

What I do to save wear and tear on myself is to keep plenty of sandwich makings on hand along with homemade salads. One-dish meals like lasagna and such, made ahead, can easily be heated in the microwave to accommodate a dinner at any time of the night or early morning.

I also put away all china and anything that has to be washed and set out heavy-duty paper and plastic supplies to eat with. Lord knows you don’t want to have to stop your entertaining to wash dishes, now do you?

Make these recipes ahead and you’ll enjoy your Mardi Gras with your guests.

2 pounds cooked lasagna noodles
Meat Sauce

1 pound Italian Sausage
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green peppers, diced
1 cup red wine
2 28 ounce cans stewed tomatoes
2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon basil

Remove Italian Sausage from casing and cook along with the ground beef, drain off excess grease. Sauté vegetables in olive oil for 10 minutes or until opaque. Add red wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients including the meat and simmer for twenty minutes

Ricotta Mixture
2 15 ounce tubs of Ricotta Cheese
6 eggs
1 cup diced pepperoni
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Blend all ingredients til smooth

To Assemble the Lasagna
Use either two 9" x 13" baking pans or 1 large chafing dish insert.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of pasta placing the noodles side by side. Spread 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the noodles. Spread 1/2 of the Ricotta mixture over the sauce. Add another layer of pasta. Repeat. Cover the last layer of pasta with the remaining sauce. Top with plenty of grated Mozzarella cheese if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow lasagna to stand at least 10 minutes before serving. To keep on hand for the wandering guests, cut into squares and wrap each individual portion in microwave safe plastic ware for reheating. Makes sixteen servings.

Another handy dish to have on hand and rather simple to prepare is Quiche. Quiche wedges can be reheated easily or can just be eaten right out of the refrigerator. Make several of these and keep tightly wrapped til ready to use.

8 thick bacon slices diced
1 medium onion peeled and diced
1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
2 large eggs
1 cup light cream
1 8" unbaked pie shell
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook bacon til crisp. Transfer to pastry shell leaving juices in pan. Sauté onion in the juices over medium heat until golden brown. place in the pastry shell, top with the cheese. Mix eggs, cream, salt and pepper together with a whisk. Blend well and pour into the shell. Bake 30 minutes until golden and set.

3/4 pound fresh young spinach, cleaned and stemmed
3 tablespoons butter
6 ounces sliced mushroom
1 clove garlic peeled and crushed
1/4 pound grated cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup light cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Put 1/2 the butter and the spinach in a non-stick sauté pan. Stir-fry over high heat til wilted, set aside to cool. Add remaining butter to the pan with the mushrooms and garlic. Stir-fry three to five minutes or until moisture has evaporated. Add to spinach and let cool. Mix eggs, cream, salt, pepper and lemon juice together in a large bowl, add cheese, and vegetable mixture. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake for 25-30 minutes til golden brown and set.

Mardi Gras is early this year and you can bet your booty that there will be some chilly days and nights. A nice pot of home made chili or soup will be more than welcome now. Make it ahead like everything else, and it can be heated in individual bowls. Here is a hearty soup that can certainly serve as a meal with plenty of crusty French bread.

1 pound carrots peeled and sliced
1 large onion coarsely chopped
2 ribs of celery diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 pound smoked sausage cut into
1/4 inch thick slices
1 bay leave
5 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
3 russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen cut green beans
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans rinsed and drained.

Bring the first six ingredients and four cans of the chicken broth to a boil in a stockpot. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Add all the other ingredients. Simmer another 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove and discard bay leave.

1 pound cooked fusille
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (4 ounce) jar chopped pimento drained
1 (2 ounce) can sliced black olives
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced mozzarella cheese

Whisk together vinegar and the next five ingredients in a large bowl. Add olive oil in a thin steady stream whisking til well blended. Add pasta and remaining ingredients, tossing well to coat. Store tightly covered. Serve as a side with sandwiches.

Darlings take the work out of feeding your guests this season and you’ll have enjoyed having them with you a lot more.

You can e-mail me at

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