I couldn’t think of a cooking conundrum all day. I know I should have tons of how do I do this? What is that? How can I change that? But for some reason nothing was coming up. Then the ultimate cooking conundrum… what should I make for dinner? This is especially hard when you didn’t plan out your week meals and you have meat thawing but nothing that you are really craving.
I looked through my cookbooks and came up short for something to make with ground beef. Wasn’t really feeling hamburgers, didn’t want spaghetti, and I didn’t have ingredients nor the weather for chili or soup. Then, we saw a commercial for lasagna and the ideas started flowing.
The key to cooking with a bunch of random ingredients is to take a traditional recipe and change it around, and to use what you have on hand. For instance, with ground beef you can make burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, tacos, burritos all with a few simple ingredients… ground beef, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and spices. Even if you only have ground beef, you can use your spices and bread/tortillas to make all of these. Another tip is if you don’t have one ingredient, say for my lasagna I didn’t have the noodles, you could instead use any other noodles you have on hand and layer it the same way. The best tip is to look at all your ingredients and decide what is a recipe that comes closest to implementing those ingredients, and then make a change.
So now lasagna, luckily I had these ingredients on hand, I mostly just added this all together.
Lasagna noodles or some other noodles
Cheese any kind
(I used mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and parmesan cheese)
salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Start water and salt to boil in a pot. (the salt will help the pasta flavor come out and will help the water boil). When it begins to boil place the pasta in for 8-10min.
2. While that is boiling start to heat up the ground beef, salt and pepper. If you want you can add whatever other spices you want… basil, oregano, cayenne for heat.
3. When those are done this is the easiest part. You want to layer the ingredients in a pan as follows:
Veggies and meat
Repeat, you want to end on cheese
4. Place in the oven for 15-20 or until the cheese on top is melty and browning.
Tips and tricks:
1. So for this you could use any vegetables on hand onions, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, try anything. For the cheese if you only have one kind use it, if you only have parmesan load it up! Noodles, you can really use any noodles for this cook them and then layer them the same way or mix it all together.
2. You could also try a white lasagna if you have ricotta cheese. Look for a recipe and try it.
3. Ground beef: you can try this with chicken instead, or you can skip it. Vegetarian lasagna is just as good.
4. You can serve this with a nice healthy salad and some wine!
I hope this was helpful. I know I used to be, and still am sometimes, one of those people who looks in the fridge and sees nothing. Just remember, you don’t need all of the ingredients in a recipe to make it great. Try some new things and leave out some. You never know, your version might be so much better than the original.
If you have any questions, or you want to play a game, you can post the ingredients in your fridge and I will tell you the best recipe I can think of!