Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Can Swallow Again and I've Got Seven Containers of Lasagna to Prove It

So my hope that by mid-weekend my sinus pressure, headache, dizziness and sheer exhaustion would have gone away was kind of a pipe dream.  On Friday night I felt like I had a golf ball in my throat and couldn't swallow - which is kind necessary so I was in quite a bit of pain.  By Saturday night it had shrunk to a ping pong ball but when I woke up this morning Bruce suggested me taking the morning off from church.  I slept in, woke up, looked sadly at my coffee maker for the fourth morning in a row and made myself a cup of tea (it's just not the same starting off my morning with a cup of tea).  I started to feel a lot better by mid afternoon and decided to venture out to the grocery store to get food for dinner - with the intention of freezing most of it for lunch this week.

What was on the menu for tonight?  LASAGNA!!

Last year, my sister gave me a very basic recipe for lasagna (thanks, Bethany!!) and I've tried it a few times since then - enough to think that it was time for me to branch out.  I thought about how Bruce and I like to cook and added my own culinary flair to the dish (look at me, I'm growing!!).  Here's what I did.

Beef & Mushroom Lasagna

1 pound ground beef
1 small/medium white onion
1 8-oz. can mushroom pieces and stems
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 26-oz. jars traditional italian/tomato sauce
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 box lasagna noodles

Brown hamburger
Dice onions - when meat is almost cooked through, add onions
(I bought ground sirloin, which is extremely lean, on major sale at the grocery store today, so there really wasn't any grease - if you bought something not as lean, you will probably want to drain the meat before adding the onions)
Drain and rinse mushrooms, add to skillet, bring heat to low

Drain diced tomatoes, add to skillet
Add one jar of italian/tomato sauce to skillet, keep heat on low
Season to taste (I used salt & pepper, garlic, basil and a little oregano)

Meanwhile ... 

Bring a big pot of water to boil
Carefully add lasagna noodles

(I've used "no-boil" noodles in the past, but I wanted to try the original ones today - I must say, I really liked the taste and texture and think it is worth the time to use the boil ones when you have the time)
Stir carefully every few minutes (this is mostly to get the water moving so the noodles don't stick to the bottom)
Cook noodles in water for approximately 10 minutes, then carefully drain the water (leave some water in the pot so the noodles don't dry out and stick together)

Meanwhile ... (this is kind of a multitasking kind of dish)

Combine the Ricotta Cheese and 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Building the lasagna ... 

Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan (I used spray olive oil)
Layer the bottom of the pan with sauce from the second jar
Cover the sauce with one layer of noodles (use caution if you are using the boil noodles - they will be hot(!) and you need to handle them carefully so they don't break)

Add a layer of meat/mushroom sauce
Add a layer of ricotta/mozzarella cheese mix
Add another layer of noodles


Cover the top layer of noodles with remaining sauce (I actually poured some sauce into the corners of the lasagna after each full layer so that it every little crevice was full)
Top off with remaining two cups of mozzarella sauce

Bake according to directions on back of box of lasagna noodles
The box of noodles I had said to bake it covered in tin foil at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, to remove the foil and then bake for an additional ten minutes ... Because my lasagna was - um - huge I baked for 35 minutes, removed the foil and then for an additional 15 minutes

Carefully remove from the oven

I served with a baguette (as if there weren't enough carbs in the lasagna!!)

Now for some perspective ... this is how many containers it took to store the remainder of the dish ... 

Umm, yeah.  We're set for lunch this week.

Have a great week y'all.


  1. You're right, the "no boil" noodles are so not the same!

    But here's a little secret: you don't actually have to boil the regular noodles for them to taste a thousand times better than the no boil ones. My family has always made our lasagna with regular noodles without boiling them.

    All you do is layer your ingredients together using the dry noodles and either making sure you use lots of sauce or adding enough water to stretch the sauce so it covers all the noodles. We bake ours about an hour at 350, but the time will vary depending on the size and how soft you like your noodles. The sauce isn't as liquidy in the end result (so the whole thing stays together and is a little firmer) but it's really good and saves the trouble of boiling noodles.

    PS If your lasagna fit in a 9x13 pan it's not THAT huge (just huge for only two people). Really huge is using almost three pounds of noodles and cooking it in a big roasting pan :-)

  2. Oh my gosh, this looks AMAZING! Now I'm craving lasagna big time, haha!


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