Around The Table, Monday Mayhem, Vanessa

Monday Mayhem Remembering The Good Times

When I was a young girl, my step mom taught me the way to a man’s heart.  It has proved to be true over and over in my life.  She said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  I remember my dad’s coworkers calling from time to time requesting my mom cook up her specialty: lasagna.

As a young girl I would watch as she prepped the ingredients for each layer of the lasagna and then built her masterpiece.  It was really a fascinating experience for me.  Lasagna was a meal saved for celebrations in our home.  The first lasagna I cooked was for a surprise party for my dad’s birthday.  I was sooo proud of myself!

I’m not sure, but I think my mom must have helped me with that lasagna because it turned out quite perfect.  My next attempt at lasagna happened when I hosted dinner on the night of my junior prom.  I built that lasagna all by myself and watched in dismay as it turned into soup in my oven.  I had not drained the noodles well enough.

Over the years, I’ve discovered lasagna noodles which don’t have to be boiled prior to entering the oven.  Those have been my saving grace because honestly cooking the noodles is the most challenging part of baking the lasagna.  One time I boiled my noodles and left them in the drainer too long.  They completely stuck together and I ended up having to make some version of lasagna hamburger helper in a pot instead of my layered masterpiece.  Although it tasted fine, it just wasn’t the same.

Several times I have overcooked my lasagna.  In fact I’ve done this so often that I’ve actually grown found of the crunchy corners on the top of my dish.  I’m not sure when I started placing sauce on the bottom of the pan before placing my first layer of noodles, but the result has been a crunchy bottom as well.  Although I’m rather found of the crunchy parts, most of my family prefers when I keep better track of time.

My very favorite lasagna creation was a veggie lasagna I made once.  Sadly I’ve never been able to recreate that lasagna, although I’ve tried.  I’m not great about following recipes.  I imagine that recipes are meant for inspiration rather than instruction.  I’m notorious for researching several recipes and picking what I think are the best parts from each recipe.  I’m also notorious for not measuring things.  Sometimes my cooking adventures work out.  Sometimes they don’t.

Remember when I said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?  Well, I first met my husband because we were working next door to one another.  I was a retail manager and he was a bartender.  Shortly after we began dating, I decided I needed to give him a gift.  So I went to the store and bought every flavor of muffin packets I could find and the ingredients for a lasagna.  I made the lasagna and an entire basket of muffins and delivered them to his job!  He and his coworkers were so happy!

He has often reminded me of that time when I cooked him all those muffins.  I don’t think he was too impressed with my lasagna, but his coworkers were.  Honestly, I make lasagna because it is a comfort food for me.  I associate lasagna with happiness and laughter.  I can still hear my dad’s coworkers complimenting my mom.  I can see her smile, and every time I take a bite of lasagna, it’s like reliving the best moments of my childhood.

I’m guessing most of our readers here at sharehispeace are prepping turkeys, hams, stuffing, and the such for their thanksgiving feast this Thursday.  My husband isn’t a turkey fan, and I’m not a huge ham fan.  We haven’t decided for certain what we’ll be having on Thursday, but I know between Thanksgiving and Christmas, one of those meals will be lasagna.  Chances are that I’ll make some adjustments in the moment but here is a basic recipe that is pretty close to what that lasagna will look like.

Easy Lasagna

1 package of oven ready lasagna noodles

1 lb of ground beef

1 package of shredded cheese (usually I use a blend with mozzarella, approximately 2 cups)

1 container of cottage cheese

1 large jar of spaghetti sauce

1 egg

 

Preheat oven to 350 or 375

Start by browning your beef in a pan.  I usually add salt, pepper, oregano, and basil to my beef.  Sometimes I add onions and garlic to the beef.  Sometimes I even add veggies like carrots or mushrooms minced into my beef.  Mincing is important here to preserve the desired texture of the lasagna when adding veggies.  (tip: use a food processor or cutting tool of some sort)  Drain your beef and set it to the side.  Add spaghetti sauce to your meat mixture.

In a separate container beat your egg.  Add cottage cheese and shredded cheese, mixing well.  Reserve about half a cup of the shredded cheese for the top of the lasagna.  Sometimes I will also add in parmesan cheese to this mixture.

Now you have the essential layers of your lasagna.  Start with the noodles first.  Next lay down your meat mixture and spread evenly over the noodles.  Add a layer of cheese mixture, followed by a second layer of noodles.  You’ll repeat the layer process until you’ve used all your ingredients.  I usually like to have a top layer of sauce only on my noodles followed by shredded cheese only. 

Cover your lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the noodles are soft when a knife is inserted into the pan. 

Note: You may have leftover lasagna noodles.  These are excellent for young, picky eaters who may not be ready to enjoy the mixture of ingredients offered in lasagna.  Just boil them according to the package instructions and serve them with butter, spaghetti sauce, or ketchup.

The most important part of serving lasagna is the garlic bread!  You absolutely cannot serve lasagna without garlic bread!  Our home is divided on whether or not that garlic bread should be cheesy, so I usually make some with cheese and some without.  I take the lazy way most of the time and use the Texas Toast found in the freezer section of the grocery store.  Honestly lasagna and garlic bread are a complete meal, but if you want a veggie, consider adding steamed broccoli or a salad.  Of course no celebration is complete without dessert.  Personally I think brownies are the best choice for after lasagna dessert!

I have another recipe I’d like to share with you this Friday.  It’s not quite as edible as lasagna, but I think you’ll enjoy it just the same!  Whatever you’re eating this Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll take a few moments to just sit together at the table with your loved ones and soak up their presence!  I pray you’ll soak in His presence as well and enjoy the reminder of all your many blessings that this day brings.  Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

Share His Peace
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