This Lasagna with Love is perfect for a Sunday supper because you can’t rush the love you put into making this amazingly delicious and addictive dish that’s been my favorite since I was a kid.
Can you believe that summer is almost over and kids will be going back to school soon? Where did the time fly?? Seriously. It’s seems like it was just yesterday that it was Memorial Day. You know, the official start of summer? How did that become of the start of summer? Because all the kids are out of school? Because it’s finally warm enough the whole day to go to the pool? I’m curious. If you have the answer, I’m dying to know.
And now, we’re in the “back to school” season where parents and kids alike think of all the preparations that need to be made to go back to school. The lunch boxes, the paper, the pencils, the pens, the rulers, the calculators, the books. I see those lists just sitting in the front of the store and am elated that I don’t have to deal with that nonsense. Granted, I will more than likely stick one of the donation bags in my cart so that some kid whose parents struggle to make ends meet (and sometimes don’t) can send their kid off with all they need for a good education and hopefully a great life!
My parents always made sure I had everything I needed for a good education; including teachers. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing teachers because I know it’s a thankless job for the most part, however, there are some teachers that are not up to par. Take my kindergarten teacher for instance. Yes. I’m going way back for this one. I received a not so great grade on coloring work that I completed one day. Yup. I was graded on my coloring. And, since I used orange to color my people, I didn’t get a check mark.
My parents were furious. I’m sure you would be, too! I mean, who’s to tell an impressionable little kid that all people should be yellow or pink or even tan? My dad and mom informed the teacher that she was NOT under any circumstances to tell me what color to use in my coloring book. If I wanted people to be blue, they didn’t want to see anything but a checkmark on the coloring and how dare she try to dictate what color we were to use for people in the kindergarten.
Fast forward a few years to high school. Yup, there wasn’t an issue with any of my teachers until I took geography in high school. While the class started out okay, it turned south around the time of Black History month. For the whole month of February, we had one assignment and it would take up a considerable portion of my grade. There were 25 or 30 questions about famous black historians. Again, don’t get me wrong, I know the importance of these people and the sacrifices they made for this great country of ours, but that’s more for history, right? Not geography?
In order to complete thi assignemtn, Mom and I spent several nights in the library trying to find the answers to these questions. I mean, they weren’t your typical Jeopardy questions. They were somewhat obscure in nature and not in your standard research books. Again, my parents were livid and expressed concern that this isn’t appropriate material for a geography class. What sealed the deal was the mock UN that we were to participate in class. I get it; lots of countries trying to work things out, but that doesn’t really teach us about the country does it?
Where is all of this leading? In the long run, sometimes it’s more than just pens, notebooks, and papers that kids need to do well in school. Sometimes, the parents need to step in, really listen to their kids, and let the school and or teacher know when they’re just doing a disservice to their child and not really teaching them. Just like my parents did for me and my sister. They weren’t on the PTA or boosters at school, but they were involved. Through our Sunday suppers and just talking to us kids they might find out something just didn’t seem quite right and we needed their support without knowing we needed it. Sometimes, shocking to believe, the teacher and the school can be wrong, but if no one stands up for the students, they’ll never know.
I know, it’s easy to say because I have no children, but I have a niece and I know part of what my sister went through to make sure my niece received the best education. I know how many times my sister had to email, call, or even meet with the teachers and principle to ensure my niece received a great education. And if my sister wasn’t involved I’m sure my niece wouldn’t be the strong woman she is today. Just like our parents made sure me and my sister were strong, educated, women.
And what did we have for our Sunday suppers you ask? If I had my choice, it was always lasagna. ALWAYS lasagna. I mean, who doesn’t love all those noodles, cheese, sauce, and meat in one delicious package?? I asked for it at every birthday or special meal. EVERY meal! If we went out to an Italian restaurant, I usually ordered it (or alfredo). It’s probably one of the first recipes I made when I was learning to cook. I know I have as often as I can. It’s hands down one of my favorite foods to eat!
So much so that I was nicknamed Garfield. I had stuffed Pookie and a stuffed Garfield. I watched the cartoon and all the specials every time they were on television. I even read the comic strip in the newspaper. I always agreed with Garfield that everything can be made better with lasagna. Who’s with me on that one?
No? Just me? Moving on…
I’ve tried and made a few lasagnas in my time. I have a Lazy Lasagna recipe that you can assemble pretty quickly. It uses a bunch of conveniences like jar sauce and pre-shredded cheese. I’ve made summer veggie lasagna from Cooking Light that was okay. It needs work, so I might get back to that at some point. It just didn’t have that OMG amazing factor that I look for in a lasagna. I’ve made healthier versions of my favorite meal. This version is some wheat healthier in the way I made it. I’ve lowered the fat content with the turkey sausage and lean beef. I made mine with fat free cheeses and handmade sauce. So, it’s healthier.
I’ve tried a Tex-Mex lasagna. I’ve tried lasagna rolls. If it has lasagna in the name, I’ve probably considered or made the recipe. Chocolate lasagna? I’m thinking about that one… I need to get the pasta attachment for my mixer and learn to make my own pasta so I can make some chocolate lasagna noodles. Then the hubs will truly think I’m off my rocker. But think about it! Chocolate noodles, fudge sauce, marscapone or pastry cream in the center with some brownies as the meat? Doesn’t that just sound interesting? I know it would have been a recipe I would have tried when I was a kid. And if you added some peanut butter it would be a favorite for me because I was all about the peanut butter. OH! I’ve got it. You’ll just have to stay tuned on this one to see what I do.
Anyway, this week we are celebrating all our kids fave recipes. Ellen from Family Around the Table is generously hosting this week’s event. There should be just enough time to make all of these delicious recipes before the kiddos have to go back to school. Hopefully they’re not early starters! When I was growing it, it was always the day after Labor Day. I think they’re trying to change that now, but we’ll see how that goes. Fairfax can be quite a stubborn county when it wants to be and sticks with tradition.
What was your favorite meal growing up? What was your “special meal” fave? Did your family nickname you?
- 56 ounces canned tomatoes
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Tuscan seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 pound Italian turkey sausage
- 1/4 pound lean ground beef
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Drain the canned tomatoes, reserving the juice for later, and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil coated in cooking spray. Sprinkle the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of Tuscan seasoning and the garlic powder. Bake at 400 until they are a deep red, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Combine the juice from the canned tomatoes with the tomato paste using a whisk. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and the roasted tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer at least 1 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Once the sauce is finishing, use a hand blender to coarsely chop the whole tomatoes. A few, strategically places, pulses should do the trick. Return the pan to the stove and keep warm until.
- Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and 1 teaspoon or oregano to the pan. Once the pan is heated crumble the ground beef into the pan. Slit the sausage casings with a knife and crumble to the pan to brown with the ground beef. Once the meat is browned, stir it into the sauce and continue to simmer until ready to assemble the lasagna.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt before adding the lasagna noodles. Stirring frequently, cook the noodles until just al dente. You don’t want them to be completely cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool them off.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and oregano with the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and lightly beaten egg. Stir until combined before adding 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
- Lightly spray your casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread 2/3 cup of the sauce mixture into the bottom of your casserole dish. Arrange three noodles in the bottom of your dish. Place half of the meat mixture on top of the noodles, top with about 1/2 Cup of cheese, and another three noodles. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the noodles and top with three noodles. Top with all but 1 cup of the meat mixture and another 1/2 cup of cheese before arranging the last three noodles on top. Spread the remaining sauce on top, cover, and bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.
- Remove the cover, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Now, this is the hardest part of the recipe. Allow the lasagna to rest 20 to 25 minutes before slicing and serving. Not only will this keep you from burning your mouth, but you will get better slices out of the pan easier.
- Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread.
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