Sometimes I feel like I’m not a very good Italian. I need to represent my heritage a little better, because truth be told, I don’t cook a lot of Italian food. Sure, nearly every holiday starts with our traditional Antipasto, and we have pasta a couple times a month, but platters of ziti, stuffed shells and lasagna are not always simmering from my stove-top. Nor is cook-all-day sauce. I should work on that. So many dishes, so little time.
Last Friday night, Nick and I had some one on one time, and a friend was kind enough to stay at the house to watch Madeline. In exchange, I offered to make them whatever she wanted for dinner, and lasagna was requested first. And then stuffed shells. And then my friend couldn’t decide. I said I would surprise her and ended up going with lasagna. I can’t remember the last time I made it, or even had it. Nick went through a phase a few years ago when he wanted it every time I turned around. And then he wanted nothing more to do with it.
In the grand scheme of things, lasagna has always seemed like one of those things that you don’t really need a recipe for. Layer noodles, sauce, meat, cheese, repeat. The recipe below is how I usually make our lasagna, but think of it as a guideline. Sometimes I add sausage to the meat portion of it. Sometimes I add different kinds of cheese. But the recipe remains the constant framework for how the dish comes together. I always add the spinach in with the cheese. The kids can see it (I am SO not a fan of disguising vegetables) and will eat it just fine. I get a little more green vegetables in their little bellies and it’s such a small dose of it, they don’t complain. Winner, winner, lasagna dinner.
Now to catch up on a few programming notes. If you’re looking for more recipes, do pop on over to Betty Crocker’s web site and check out my newest additions over there:
- Banana Walnut Pancakes, one of Nick’s favorites. Gosh, I do love that photo. Nothing like a little dripping maple syrup to start your day off right.
- Three-Cheese Vegetable Quiche. I lived on this for a week – best lunch ever. I wanted to make something quiche-like, but more vegetables and less egg. This was the result.
- Carmelized Shallot Sausage Con Queso. You think the picture looks good? Wait ’till you taste the queso. Melted cheese is a weakness for me, and after a few bites of this queso, I had to give the rest of it away. Pronto. The temptation was far too great.
- Double Cheese Chicken Fingers. Baked. Not fried. Love that.
And lastly, a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be a co-host for a Virtual Cooking Class sponsored by The Motherhood and Con Agra. If you missed the class, you might want to check out the transcript from it. The one hour went by crazyfast, but it was packed with all sorts of excellent ideas for desserts, sinful and otherwise.
March 22, 2011, Photo #79
Three compliments today on the maiden voyage of this new necklace I bought recently. From an online store. Owned and run by a 15-year-old. Totally feeling like an underachiever now, but still loving the necklace.
Hearty and Easy Lasagna
Recipe courtesy of Cate O’Malley
1 pound lean ground beef (I use 93% lean)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 ounces ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles (you will need 9 noodles)
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onion until it is translucent. Remove onion from pan and set aside. Cook beef in the same pan until brown. Drain. Add onion back to pan with beef, and add in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, water, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, about five minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour.
While sauce is simmering, in a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, Parmesan and egg until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350. Spread 1-1/2 cup of the tomato/beef sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish, using more or less, but enough to make sure the bottom of the dish is covered. Cover the sauce with three lasagna noodles, laying them side by side.
Cover with one cup of sauce. Top the sauce with half of the mozzarella. Add another set of noodles, sauce and then top with the ricotta mixture. Top with another three noodles and the remaining sauce. Bake for thirty minutes. Remove from oven and add remaining mozzarella and bake another 15 minutes, until bubbly.