Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our Favorite Italian Dinner

After I married my husband, I received a lot of recipes from my mother-in-law that were passed down to her by HER mother-in-law. One of them is a recipe for lasagna that our whole family absolutely loves. It's also an excellent dish to serve while entertaining. I recently doubled the batch, so I had two lasagnas baking at once. They fed our board-gaming group with a little to spare. I also found a quick and easy garlic bread recipe somewhere (either the Internet or Food Network) that I enjoy pairing with the lasagna. So, in case you're wondering what to make some evening for your family, here are my favorite go-to recipes:

10 lasagna noodles
1 large jar of favorite spaghetti sauce
1 lb favorite meat (I usually use ground beef, but, recently, I made it with turkey sausage without the casings, and it turned out great!)
1 egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large container small curd cottage cheese
4 cups (or one large bag) shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Cook the 10 lasagna noodles in boiling water according to the package directions. Drain, and set aside.
2. Brown the meat, drain, add it back to the pan, and pour spaghetti sauce over the meat.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, Parmesan cheese, and entire container of cottage cheese until well blended.
4. Put a little spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9X13 casserole dish to prevent lasagna from sticking. Place 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan and overlap the seams with 2 more noodles. Layer 1/2 of the spaghetti sauce/meat mixture over the noodles. Then, layer 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture over the sauce. Sprinkle 2 cups of the Mozzarella cheese over the cottage cheese mixture.
5. Repeat step 4 with 5 more noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cottage cheese. Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella cheese over the top.
6. There are two ways to cook the lasagna:
-Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. (I like the cheese on the top of my lasagna browned, so I omit the foil.)
-Or, cover with plastic wrap, leaving a vent, and place in the microwave. Cook on High for 12 minutes.
7. Lasagna may be runny. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 6-8 people.

Garlic Bread
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 loaf of crusty bread (like a baguette), split in half lengthwise

1. Combine garlic, butter, and oil in a microwave safe dish or in a small saucepan.
2. Heat in microwave for 1 minute or over med-low heat on the stove for 3 minutes.
3. Toast split bread under the broiler. Remove bread when it is toasted golden brown in color.
4. Brush bread liberally with the garlic oil. Cut into chunks and serve.

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving! Wishing you all safe travels and good eats!

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