Thursday, September 4, 2008

Italian Lasagna

Lasagna was something my mom could always pull together last minute. It is such a great meal, especially for a dinner party because it has everything you need in a meal. Add a garden salad and a loaf of garlic bread and voila, complete homemade meal. I’ve used my mom’s recipe for six years now and have since adjusted it a little – there is just no fun in keeping things the same at my house. I like to change and then change again. Her recipe is solid though, here is what she uses.

1 lb ground turkey
1 lb block mozzarella
1 pint small curd cottage cheese
2 tablespoons of Italian blend seasoning
Lasagna noodles
Parmesan cheese sprinkles (from the can)
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce

My mother’s lasagna recipe: Boil lasagna noodles until al dente. Brown turkey with two tablespoons of Italian seasoning. Add can of tomato paste and tomato sauce. Heat through. Layer three noodles on bottom of pan, top with a 1/3 of meat and tomato mixture, sprinkle with blobs of cottage cheese, cut chunks of mozzarella and place in checkerboard fashion across pan, sprinkle with parmesan. Repeat 2 more times. Bake 350 for 30-45 minutes.

This is an easy, basic recipe for homemade lasagna that I swear will impress. My mom has been making it this way for years, I’ve been doing it this way for six years. Delish! And here is a picture of my mom and Jim.

And I like this picture of my mom and dad, so I'm including it here.

Since I’ve been scouring the internet for cooking tips and recipes, I came across a lasagna recipe from Pioneer Woman. I’m a huge fan of hers and wanted to give it a shot. In all reality, Jim couldn’t taste a difference, but I felt the small upgrades that PW made were great additions to my basic recipe.

What prompted me to make this lasagna tonight was the fact I had a large portion of homemade tomato sauce left over from spaghetti and meatball night. This was half the battle! All I had to do was add my leftover tomato sauce to some ground and seasoned turkey. Using PW recipe as a template, here is what I did.

I liked PW addition of breakfast sausage to the lasagna, but I just purchased one pound of ground turkey. I browned the turkey and added all my seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, Italian blend seasoning, salt and pepper.

Then I dumped my homemade tomato sauce in.

Get a large pot of water to boil. Jim taught me to start with cold water, he said for some scientific reason it will boil faster. In my head I would always fill my pot with hot water, thinking I was helping it get hotter faster. He also told me to add a healthy pinch of salt. So this is what I do. I fill my pot with cold water, add salt and put it on the burner. Before long, the water is boiling, I add my lasagna noodles, always one more than I need just to be safe. So for lasagna I add 10 noodles. Then get your assembly line ready. Here are the rest of the ingredients.

Shredded Parmesan, Roman and Asiago cheese from Kraft in a handy dandy shaker. HEB brand cottage cheese. You can tell I’m from Texas, everything has the Spanish print these days. And “fancy” mozzarella cheese. (Egg is not pictured.)

I start by mixing a cup of the cottage cheese with an egg, then add a dash of Italian seasoning to it.

Next add about a tablespoon of meat mixture to bottom of pan to help the noodles not stick. Add three noodles, and its okay if they overlap. Add about a third of your meat mixture.

Then spoon some of the cottage cheese around your pan, add the mozzarella and sprinkle with your shaker cheese.

Repeat two more times and this is what you end up with. This is not a recipe for perfectionist. It needs to be sloppy, it taste best when thrown together. Remember that.

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Let rest just 5 minutes, then serve.

Jim wanted me to take this picture of the Italian lasagna with his RL flag.

It was really good, and didn’t cost a whole lot considering the pasta sauce was almost complete. Even if I didn’t have the sauce to use up, this is a really economical way to feed a big family or a dinner party. YUM!

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