Sunday, December 1

Best Lasagna Ever (for those who don't like a lot of sauce in lasagna)

Yep - I cooked. There's not much I can cook that doesn't come in a box or plastic wrap. That, and the fact that we don't have a lot of time to cook during the week should result in a certain level of shock around the inter webs.

I little over ten years ago I made my first lasagna. I never really liked lasagna (most lasagnas have too much sauce or ricotta). Common sense hit me. Make it yourself and control the amount of pasta sauce. Duh.

Here goes nothing...

I grabbed my ingredients:

  • Ground Beef 
  • Lasagna Noodles
  • Small container Cottage cheese (mix with one egg)/ OR ricotta
  • Cheddar cheese (1 pack finely shredded)
  • Swiss Cheese (2 packs sliced) 
  • Mozzarella cheese (3 packs shredded)
  • Spaghetti sauce 
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Now...before we start, you can layer your lasagna however you want, but this is how I do it:

Add an egg to your mixer. I do this first because it's easier to find any rogue egg shells.

Then I add in my pasta sauce. Any sauce will do. This time I chose Ragu Roasted Garlic. I only used one jar this time. Sometimes I use 1 1/2. I probably should have used 1/2 this time too. ;)  If you like a lot of sauce, obviously you should add more. You should also note that this is a perfect recipe for kids to help you with. My eight-year-old helped me with this one. See her cute little hand emptying the jar into the mixer?

I'm not sure what my problem is with cottage cheese. I used to eat it at my Grandma D's house when I was little. Then I heard it was curdled milk and that kind of freaked me out. That's the main reason I usually skip the egg and cottage cheese and just buy ricotta. But, I decided to man-up and use the egg/cottage cheese. Cady added our cottage cheese to the mixer and we started mixing things up.

Because we like to be efficient, while we were mixing our egg, sauce, and cottage cheese, we were boiling our noodles. Most noodles don't need to be boiled. I like to boil them until firm (not soft). This is completely unnecessary (in theory) because the noodles will soften when the lasagna bakes. But, one time I made lasagna without boiling the noodles and they were still crispy (I swear). Maybe because I don't use enough sauce (?). Either way, I don't like to risk not having nice soft noodles in my lasagna. So I boil them for 10 minutes.

Don't forget to put something wooden on top of your pot so it doesn't boil over.

While the noodles soften, Cady and I checked on our sauce mixture. It looked about right. I could still see the little cottage cheese curd things and it made me bug out. Next time I'll use ricotta. :)

Next we brown our meat and season it to taste. We used beef. You can use ground turkey too and it'll taste just as great.

See this tool? It's the Pampered Chef Mix 'N Chop. My Pampered Chef lady convinced me I needed it. I rolled my eyes - I never cook - why would I need such a thing? I DO need it. It's the most-used utensil in my house. It makes browning beef/turkey SO much easier. I love you Pampered Chef Lady - I'm sorry I doubted you.

Cady and I combined our sauce mixture with our beef.

The hard part is over. My helped (with freshly cleaned hands) spread our noodles to cover the bottom of our oiled lasagna pan.

Next, we covered the noodles with our meat/sauce mixture.

Look at what's next?! Swiss cheese.

Then a scattered layer of cheddar.

The next layer is my favorite. Look at all the mozzarella. It's like a fresh coat of snow. (Note: I don't get out much). Cady loved this layer too.

Depending on the size of your pan, you'll repeat this layer another time or two. My pan was huge so I only had two layers.

Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is completely melted (20-30 minutes). Easy right?

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