Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lasagna - Lazagnuh.

lasagna. or la.zawn.ya.


I think that it is really important to say 'lasagna' however you want to. And even more importantly, cook it however you want to. Lasagna is a very, very easy dish. It is a bit time consuming - prepping the sauce, veggies, noodles, cheeses - but once that is done (which is easy) - you can put it in the oven and never fuss* with it again.

*You kind of do - taking it out of the oven and eating it, unless you have a butler or something that does that stuff for you.

Funny story about lazagnuh (I do enjoy saying it this way). When I was about 9 or 10, my mom was introduced to lasagna. I am not sure how, why or by who, but she found herself an easy recipe where she could make up about 1/2 million at a time and put them in our freezer. And then we had lasagna all the time. Seriously, at least once or twice a week. Now I am not complaining, but to this day, I still remember that we ate it a lot. Now in Jules' defense, she had 3 children (I was one of them and probably her favourite) who were very involved in skating and hockey. And a husband who worked a lot and was also involved in hockey. Hey - why wasn't he involved in figure skating.... hm? Anyways - there was a lot of dinners at different times, lots of driving here, there and everywhere, so this must have been an easy dish that she could have made up to keep in the freezer for when a dinner was needed. In her case, 1-2 times a week.

I find that I tend to make lazagnuh when I have a lot of people over for a casual dinner. I can make them in advance, and then just put them in the oven and not have to touch them until they are ready. I enjoy that type of a dinner when there are a lot of guests over, it actually gives you an opportunity to visit.

Gail, my MIL, really liked my lasagna recipe. She always told me that I must have 'eye-talian' in me, because I could cook it so well. I don't have any Italian in me, but when I went to college my first year, I dated a boy named Fabian who was 100% Italian. Yes, his name was Fabian. And we went on one date to a movie and then to dinner. And he sat beside me in the booth at dinner instead of across from me. And when I was 18, that was horrifying for me. So, I didn't answer the phone again when he would call, but did accept a stuff Gund cat from him. In my defense, I was 18. Oh Fabian, if you didn't sit beside me in the booth and smell as though you bathed in garlic, I may have went on a second date with you.

Alright, so this Lasagna recipe is from a cookbook that I 'borrowed' from my mom. It's a Pillsbury recipe book from 1984. I tend to never make the same lasagna twice. I recently made lasagna when we came back from Ontario. I wanted to give one to Uncle David for taking care of our house, our pups and Ogre and one to our neighbour who also helped out with the house and Ogre. When we were in Ontario we had my SIL, Joanne's, lasagna which was deelish, and I had a craving for it, so I knew that I had to make it.

One-Step Lasagna (this recipe is enough to make 2 9x9 lasagnas - you can make 3 by using 2 containers of cottage cheese or ricotta and 2 eggs - and then you can be like Jules and freeze them)

2 lb ground meat - I usually use ground chicken or pork. And sometimes I use fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 large can of Hunt's tomato sauce - I usually get the original and like to add my own spices
3 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes - drained
Vegetables for sauce - peppers, mushrooms
Fresh basil - 8-10 leaves
Dried oregano - 2 tbsp
1 tsp of sugar
1 large container of cottage cheese, or 1 large container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
5-6 cups of fresh spinach
1 box of lasagna noodles - I really like to use the whole wheat ones - uncooked
3 cups of mozzarella - shredded
1 cup parmesan - grated

Pre-heat oven to 350.

First - make the sauce.
Saute the onion in a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt over medium heat for about 8 minutes. For the last minute, add the minced garlic - don't let it burn.
In a large pot, add the sauce, the drained tomatoes and simmer over low to medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Then add the peppers and mushrooms, dried oregano and the sugar. In the same pan that the onions were in, add the ground meat and saute until it is lightly browned. Add the meat to the tomato sauce and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Second - prepare the cheese filling.
In a mixing bowl combine the cottage cheese (or ricotta) with the egg. Season with kosher salt and pepper. And add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

Third - start to assemble.
In your 9x9 pan, add one layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. I usually carefully break the top off to fit. If you want, you can use a 9x11 pan so that the noodles fit nicely. Then add a layer of the
the sauce. Then 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Then 1/4 of the fresh spinach (don't forget we are making 2 lasagnas with this. Then 1/4 of the mozzarella. I then like to add all of the layers again. For the last section, I add the noodles, then the sauce and then the mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan. Are you confused? I hope not. It's super easy.

Fourth - prepping for cooking.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil. I like to put mine on a baking sheet just in case the sauce bubbles. Place in the 350 oven for 40 minutes. Go and grab a beverage, put your feet up and watch an episode of Jersey Shore or Dog the Bounty Hunter, or come over and help me with my wedding invitations.

Fifth - getting ready to almost take it out of the oven.
Remove the tin foil, take a look to see if the noodles are al dente and if they are, turn the broiler on, and broil for 2 minutes. The cheese will golden and bubble and you will want to marry it when it comes out of the oven.

Sixth - Enjoy a nutritious and delicious meal.

Chris rated this a 5+.

I am not sure why Pillsbury named this recipe 'One Step Lasagna'. Uh, it takes far more than one step. I'm like 'Pillsbury - 1984 called and they want their recipe back'. Anyways it really is easy and so worth the effort.

I know that Gail would have loved having lasagna with us the other night. She would have enjoyed every bite. And Chris' dad would have loved it too, but would have especially loved the bread and butter that was served with it.

I didn't mention the other night, but Chris' mom was an AMAZING quilter. She made the most beautiful, intricate quilts. She won awards for them. I always remember her sitting in her recliner, patiently pinning and sewing countless pieces of material together to make the most amazing masterpieces.

We were so fortunate to have brought one of her smaller quilts home with us. I knew where we were going to hang it right away. It's in our 'tiny' hallway, above a very old bench that I inherited from my grandpa (my mom's dad). I think that it looks like it has always been there. It brightens up the area so much, and I can't help but think of Gail in her recliner, with Chris' dad on one side and her cat Shamus on the other side of her.


Alright - get to bed you have to get up early. Oh wait, that's just me. I don't really have to get up early, but I have this curse of not being able to sleep past 7 on the weekends. It's probably a curse for not answering Fabian's phone calls. Whatevah!!




Anonymous said...

Very funny Cheryl, I only made about 8 of them at a time, and yes we were busy, and yes they came in handy, but you will be glad to know I don't make it anymore. Besides Dad, was not fond of them

Beth said...

Cherzy, you are funny and lovable.

Jenny said...

Looks like an awesome recipe. Good idea to make a few at a time. I'm going to do this for sure!
That quilt is so beautiful. Love the little bench...hehe you're mil had good taste in names....I smiled knowing there's a cat named Shamus...going to tell my Shay that!lol

Anonymous said...

Try layering one more stack of lasagna or as Bellino's calls it, lazawn-yuh for the small town bingo potluck.