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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, and Cooking, #58

Updated on February 2, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

One Century Ago

One hundred years ago, in the Forest of Compiegne, France there was a railroad car owned by Marshal Ferdinand Foch. At that place, an armistice was signed to temporarily cease the hostilities of The Great War. The armistice went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. November 11th, 1918 at 11 a.m. is the original recognition of the end of "The Great War".

The Great War. The war to end all wars.

It was known as that until the war we would name World War II.

Since then, there are been almost countless conflicts on almost every continent (Antarctica is still conflict-free). However, today we are not counting the number of wars, but reflect on the number of men and women who have sacrificed family, life, and limb to preserve freedom and safety for us all.

My husband served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam war. I have great nephews who serve now in the National Guard and in the Amy special ops. I admire them. I thank them. And, I love them.

Let's Talk About the Mailbox

Thank you for allowing me to share my feelings about this holiday. However, I know that you are actually here to talk about food, cooking, baking, and everything "kitchen." Let's take a look at what came into the mailbox this past week.

How to Find a Good Can Opener

I don't eat a lot of canned foods, mainly because a lot of food doesn't come in cans here, but I'd like your advice on a can opener. This past week I was opening a can and still had a connection in two places. I resorted to using a knife to wedge it open enough to extract the contents.

I have two can openers that I just hate. I never can figure out if it is the old type that cuts inside the rim or cuts below the rim on the outside. Also, some of the can's rims seem too short to get the can opener to bite into.

Is this the first sign of senility or have can manufactures been scrimping to save money?

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Why do can openers skip? And why, oh why, do they skip twice, those flinty little bits of the lid holding onto the rim are equidistant, waving at one another, and preventing you from opening the can unless you apply brute force?

I don't know. I even asked my Mr. Carb Diva (aka Mr. Science) and all he could offer was a mere shrug of the shoulders and a slightly comforting "I understand your pain" eye roll.

Mary, I could probably write an entire article about can openers. With my arthritis, this is a big issue in my house and an ongoing challenge. Above there are two photos. I'm going to make a wild guess that the first one is similar to the beast you were wrestling with a few weeks ago. The second one is my constant companion in the kitchen. It was a gift from my younger daughter and has never let me down. I lovingly refer to it as my little slug. (Somehow the shape makes me think of a garden slug, not escargot). It is battery operated, starts and stops with the push of a button, and removes the top of the can, eliminating those dangerous sharp edges.

Look online; there are many manufacturers who produce a similar looking product. I don't know if the one that I have is superior to the others. I think what is most important is the design concept. I hope this helps.

Simple, Easy Lasagna Recipe

I need the simplest recipe for lasagna you can find....simple enough for me to not ruin it.

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5-ingredient lasagnaravioli lasagna
5-ingredient lasagna
5-ingredient lasagna | Source
ravioli lasagna
ravioli lasagna | Source

Oh Billybuc, you can do this. I have complete confidence in you, and I have two choices for you. The first recipe is from the blog SincerelyJean. Her recipe uses only five (yes, just 5!) ingredients. Essentially, if you can boil water and cook ground beef, you can do this.

The second recipe is so ridiculously easy and innovative, I'm having a big "why didn't I think of that" moment. What is ravioli other than layers of pasta and ricotta cheese? And that, my friend, is exactly what lasagna is as well. The creators of Taste of Home magazine presented the idea on their website. I have edited the instructions to make them more understandable.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 package (25 ounces) frozen sausage or cheese ravioli
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  1. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
  2. In a greased 2-1/2-quart baking dish (a 9-inch square baking dish is about this size), layer a third of the spaghetti sauce, half of the ravioli (yes, you can use it frozen), half of the cooked ground beef, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Note: the photo of this dish has a rather "rustic" look. Personally, I would take a few more minutes to carefully line up the ravioli on top of the sauce in one even layer.
  3. Ladle in 1/2 of the remaining sauce, the remainder of the ravioli, the remainder of the cooked ground beef and another 1/2 cup of the cheese.
  4. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 400° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.


I wish that I could share with you the origin of this recipe. It has been in my recipe card file for decades. I know that I tweaked it a bit from the original but no longer remember the source or what I (specifically) did to alter it. I can tell you that russet potatoes are not an option. They really are mandatory to make this recipe "work." Red or white (waxy) potatoes and/or Yukon gold potatoes are too firm. They hold their shape which, in this soup, is not a good thing. The beauty of russet (Idaho) potatoes is that they fall apart, creating a thickener for the base of the soup and serving to create a creamy base for the beefy chunks.

Use whatever type of noodles you wish. And, if you prefer a thicker soup (as the Carb Diva family does), you can amp up the amount of noodles to 1 cup.


  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 pounds of beef for stew, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ pound russet potatoes, pared and grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (Sweet Hungarian or smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¾ pound russet potatoes, pared and diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup noodles (or more—see above), cooked according to package directions


  1. Heat olive oil in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat; add about 1/3 of the beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove from pan and repeat with remaining beef. It is important to not crowd the pan. If the pieces of beef are too close together they will not brown properly—instead, they will simply steam. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
  2. To the same pan stir in the onions and cook until onions begin to brown. Return browned beef chunks to the pan. Stir in remaining ingredients except for diced potatoes and noodles. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and cover. Simmer 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Note that the grated potatoes will fall apart--they are intended to thicken the soup.
  3. Stir in diced potatoes and noodles and continue to cook until potatoes and noodles are cooked through.

Still on Vacation

Miss Kitty is still enjoying her vacation on the beach. This photo is from the western coast of Italy, in the town of Vernaza in the Cinque Terra. I've been there and wish that I could join her now.

But, I would miss hearing from all of you. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. You can also write to me at, or contact me via by blog or Facebook (my contact information is on my profile page).

Have a great week! See you next Monday.

© 2018 Linda Lum


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