Sticky Dish

Can you believe that I’ve never made lasagna from scratch? I’ve wanted to. Many times. But then I look at all the steps of a recipe and feel overwhelmed about how involved lasagna is to make and end up getting something frozen.

I was recently challenged to make a recipe that was the MESSIEST, stickiest, gooiest thing I could by Finish. What is the messiest recipe I could make? Lasagna. Even though it was an involved recipe to take on, I knew it would put their new cleaning product to the test.

Sunday afternoon, Michael and I made this recipe:

What was the challenge? To make a messy recipe for dinner and then let the dishes sit overnight. No rinsing, no cleaning, just let it sit overnight. The OCD habits in me made this a challenge for sure. I am the type to clean up dishes immediately, but I followed the rules.

This recipe boasts that it’s the “best lasagna recipe in the world.” It also takes several hours to make. To skip a step, I bought lasagna noodles that did not need cooking. They worked out really well and saved some time boiling water and cooking the noodles. Despite that, the whole process was still really long.

We used organic ground beef from Costco and I got Johnsonville sweet Italian sausage. The best part of the recipe was the meat sauce. Even if we don’t have time in the future to make this lasagna again, I will most definitely use their sauce base to make homemade spaghetti sauce. It was delicious!

The sauce smelled heavenly! It was tomato sauce, cooked ground beef, onions, garlic and spices. It smelled so great. It was kind of torture waiting for it to be ready.

We used almost every bowl, pot or dish in the kitchen, it seemed. Goodness! And it was very very messy.

While we waited for it to simmer, Michael and I sat at the kitchen table and played Gin and Gin Rummy. It’s been years since I’ve played but it came back to me really fast. It was fun just playing cards, smelling dinner cooking, and listening to the pouring rain outside. Finally it was time to put the lasagna together. We halved the recipe to make 6 servings instead of 12. I used a smaller dish as a result. I layered the ricotta mixtures, pre-cooked noodles and sauce. I had three layers (with 6 noodles total).

We impatiently waited for the lasagna to cook and then it was finally time for dinner. While I didn’t take a picture of my dish because it was a big mess, here is the finished product:

So was it the “best lasagna in the world”? Pretty darn close! It was so flavorful but could use a little more garlic. It was also a real mess. It looked like slop on the plate, so next time we make this recipe we’ll bake it at a higher temperature. And maybe add more egg to make it stick together? Not sure how to do that yet.

I let all our plates and dishes sit in the dishwasher overnight, no rinsing. The baking dish sat in the sink overnight too.

The next morning, the sauce and cheese was dried on the pan and the plates. I put in the Finish Quantum soap and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t have to scrub it after the dishwasher ran. And I didn’t! It was perfectly clean, no spots were missed and I didn’t have to scrub anything. I was really happy about that. The challenge was fun to do.

Crystal clear! Not even a spot. I even let a bowl with guacamole remnants sit overnight in the dishwasher from another meal and it was clean, too.

Finish claims that the new formula is so powerful, there’s no pre-rinsing needed. If you want to give it a try yourself, go to their Facebook page to get some free samples! Or take the challenge yourselves, then share their experiences with the hashtag #FinishRevolution.

QUESTION: What’s the messiest recipe you’ve ever made? Do you have a favorite lasagna recipe?


Cookbook Review and West African Cashew Soup

I was contacted about reviewing a cookbook called “The Real Food Diet Cookbook” by Dr. Josh Axe.

I said yes immediately because it is something I can get behind: Real Food. You can read his bio here.

Saturday night I created this recipe:

West African Cashew Soup

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 cup cooked, diced chicken breast

2/3 cup onion, diced

1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups free-range chicken broth

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 can stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup cashew butter


1. Heat sesame oil in large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent.

2. Add all seasonings and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add chicken, broth, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes and cashew butter. Stir until well combined.

4. Continue cooking until heated through.

When I was flipping through the cookbook this was the first recipe that jumped out at me. I have no idea why because honestly the Cashew Butter would have deterred me. I don’t cook with peanut butter much (unless in baking). But this recipe spoke to me and I wanted to do it. I am so glad I did, too! It was probably one of the best things I’ve made in a long time.

Michael wasn’t feeling well so he wasn’t going to eat any of the soup (which was a shame because it was amazing). He did try a spoonful to taste it and said it was fantastic. Anyway, back to the kitchen..I set up some mood music for my cooking adventure.

I got out all the ingredients and then realized I didn’t have stewed tomatoes–just diced. I wasn’t sure if that was considered the same, so back to the grocery store I went (for a 79 cent item). The sesame oil was surprisingly expensive, too, which I wasn’t expecting. I lucked out and found curry powder on sale (50% off) because that was also pricey. We had leftover rotisserie chicken from Friday night’s dinner so that’s what I used in the recipe instead of the plain chicken breast.

The sesame oil smelled wonderful in the hot pot. It reminded me of Chinese food. I added the diced onion to the pot.

There is nothing better than the aroma of onion and spices sauteeing in a pan.

The recipe didn’t call for zucchini but I wanted to add a vegetable to the soup so I improvised. I also learned from past errors when cooking and made sure everything was chopped, minced, prepped, and measured out BEFORE I started cooking! Progress!

The cashew butter was creamier and more liquidy than peanut butter and was so much easier to measure. I’ve never tried cashew butter but it was a pretty tasty alternative to peanut butter. (I can see me trying the cashew butter with apples in my near future.)

I minced the garlic and added it to the onions. As I moved it all around the pot to coat evenly with Sesame Oil, I added the spices. Curry Powder:

Salt, Pepper and the zucchini:

I mixed it all around. I should have added the zucchini at the same time as the onion but it was still mostly cooked by the time the soup was done. Live and learn. I added red pepper flakes:

It smelled so amazing by this point. I was feeling really confident about the recipe. Next up, added the chicken:

The recipe could have used a little bit more chicken.

I added the chicken broth and tomato paste, plus the can of stewed tomatoes (don’t drain the liquid).

I was a bit worried at this point…the confidence I had for the recipe was faltering. It was too liquidy! I had hoped it would be a creamier soup. I decided to just let it be and not alter the recipe in any way. I added the cashew butter and mixed it all together.

Once the cashew butter started to melt it thickened up the soup very nicely. I added a little more salt and pepper and a dash of more curry powder and continued to taste it to see if it needed anything more.

I poured myself a glass of red zinfandel wine while it cooked. I toasted a piece of Dave’s Killer bread to go with dinner.

Finally the soup was ready.

It’s probably the most delicious meal I’ve ever made.

I can’t get over how tasty the soup is! It’s creamy and spicy and the rotisserie chicken went really well as a substitute for the chicken breast. I’m also glad I added the zucchini. Having the vegetable in the soup made it heartier.

This is the first recipe I’ve tried from the cookbook. So far the cookbook is a success based on the West African Cashew Soup alone!

A few things I DON’T like about the cookbook:

  • The calories aren’t listed
  • None of the recipes have servings sizes…I had to guess about the soup…my guess is 8 servings??
  • It looks like a few of the recipes call for very strange ingredients that might be difficult to find (and expensive)

The GOOD things about the cookbook:

  • Recipes with fewer ingredients
  • Beautiful color photos of every recipe
  • Brief, to the point directions on how to make the recipe (huge with me!)
  • The soup was amazing!!!

I’m looking forward to trying the other recipes. I’ve already picked out 5 that I MUST try as soon as possible.

Dinner was so amazing. I spent the rest of the evening feeling VERY proud of myself for making such a successful dish. I know it’s tecehnically just “following a recipe” and “anyone can do it” but I can’t tell you how many kitchen distasters I’ve experienced. “Just following a recipe” doesn’t mean it will be a success!

This was a major success. I hope some of my readers try this recipe!

QUESTION: Have you ever made anything similar to this? What else can I add to this soup?