Regardless of where you travel, you will likely be able to find a good Italian restaurant that serves traditional meals. When we were in Tuscany we ate many different meals and, unlike other cuisines, the food was pretty much the same as what we find everywhere. When we were in Rome, we actually ate lasagna at a couple of different restaurants and they were both delicious. We have our own family recipe for lasagna that we have enjoyed for years. It is very versatile and can be done as a vegetarian dish or with other meats like ground pork. We make our own spaghetti sauce, but using a favorite store bought brand is certainly perfectly fine. We always make a large batch and then enjoy the leftovers later or even freeze it to pull out on a cold day. It is definitely a meal that gets even better over time.
1 box Lasagna Noodles – Either oven ready or cooked to the package directions
1 lb Ground Beef
1 tsp Dried Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Powder
7 cups Spaghetti Sauce – homemade or store-bought
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
3 cups Mozzarella Cheese – shredded
2/3 cup Parmesan Cheese – shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat the spaghetti sauce in a large sauce pan, add the ground beef, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the meat is fully seasoned. Spoon just enough of the meat sauce to cover the bottom of a large casserole dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. Put a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce, being sure to overlap the noodles slightly. Cover the noodles with more meat sauce. Using half of the ricotta cheese, place spoonful’s across the meat sauce. The cheese will spread out as the lasagna cooks. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. For the final layer, add noodles, a lighter coating of meat sauce, and the remaining 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
When the temperatures start to fall and the leaves start to change, there are certain meals that we always have during this time of the year. Most of them are comfort foods that are hearty and satisfying as well as very tasty. It is also a time of year when we tend to eat spicy meals that heat you up from the inside. Here are some of our favorite dishes that we tend to eat during the autumn season.
Traditional Chili – Cooking up a bowl of homemade chili is definitely one of the first meals that we make for ourselves at this time of year. It is definitely one of those foods that is even better the following day after it has had time to sit. It can be spiced up by adding some fresh jalapenos or cooled off by adding a little sour cream.
Spicy Southwest Mac and Cheese – We love a good mac and cheese and this was a recipe that we created not that long ago. It is definitely something that can be done as a meal, but could also be done as a side-dish as well. It can easily be changed up by simply using different varieties of sausage or completely leaving out the meat.
Pumpkin-Sage Shrimp – Pumpkin is definitely a flavor that is synonymous with autumn and this simple recipe is filled with flavor. It is also a meal that is a little lighter than many of the other dishes that we enjoy at this time of year.
Stuffed Shells – This Italian dinner is very similar to lasagna, but it is easier to scale down since it is just the two of us. One of the things that makes this meal so delicious is all of the melted cheese and pairing it with a slice or two of garlic bread only adds to the overall enjoyment.
Breakfast for Dinner – Eggs, fried potatoes, a spicy chili sauce, and cheese. What else do you need? We look forward to this meal every year and will have it more than once as the days get shorter and the temperatures get even colder.
Our Version of Chili Mac – This is a recipe that has been in our family for a couple of generations. It is a little bit of a unique meal, but is certainly one of our favorites.
There are definitely other meals that we enjoy during autumn, but these are a few that we have shared previously. We are definitely looking forward to enjoying these meals in the coming months ahead.
Alamosa is a small town in southern Colorado that has a lot of historic charm. We enjoyed spending a weekend there while we visited the Great Sand Dunes. As is typical of the region, there are plenty of Mexican restaurants, but there are plenty of other choices as well. It was very hot during our visit, so having a cold beer that was locally brewed was also a must. In addition to the restaurants, there was a local fair going on and we enjoyed walking through it and visiting the various tents.
We went to a casual Italian restaurant that is actually in an old movie theater that has been redecorated to become a quaint bistro. We had read before going that they offered half portions on their pasta, providing the opportunity to share two different options. Considering the size of the half portions, a full portion would have definitely been too much for the two of us. We had homemade lasagna as well as a very spicy Caribbean with shrimp. Both were very delicious and we took the leftovers from the Bistro Rialto back home with us.
We stopped at the San Luis Valley Brewing Company a couple of times and enjoyed their Alamosa Amber as well as their Valle Caliente, which is a lager soaked on Hatch Chile. The lager had a little heat to it, but overall the taste was very smooth. We did, of course, visit a very popular Mexican restaurant that actually served an all-day buffet. We don’t eat enough to take advantage of an all-you-can-eat buffet, so we ordered a pork burrito, but the food on the buffet was fresh and very popular. It was our last meal before leaving Alamosa and in some ways we wish we would have found Calvillo’s sooner.
One thing that we enjoy about visiting smaller towns are the locally owned restaurants that use fresh food grown in the area. There are always a few chain restaurants, but we avoid those whenever possible. Having the opportunity to taste locally brewed beer that represents the tastes of the area is a definite benefit and almost expected in Colorado these days.