Sunday, December 2, 2007


I've been making quite a bit of lasagna lately. I like making lasagna. I find the assembly somewhat tedious, but I enjoy it. I like seeing the progress as the layers are put together. I think my homemade recipe book has about 6 or 7 lasagna recipes I want to try some day, and I swear, I'll make them all one day. I made the following recipe for the previously-mentioned dinner with the in-laws and it was a big hit. I know I might be biased because I made it, but I do think it's the best lasagna I've had outside of Italy.

Photo from

The Lady and Sons Lasagna
Recipe by Paula Deen
*Serves 8-10*
Prep Time - 25 min Cook Time - 2 hrs, 20 min

For the sauce:
2 cups canned, diced tomatoes, with juice (I use petite diced tomatoes)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves
1 lb ground beef

For the Lasagna:
6 to 8 long strips lasagna noodles (I think I used about 10)
12 oz cottage cheese, mixed with 1 beaten egg and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

For the sauce:
Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onions, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. If sauce is too watery, thicken it up by mixing 1 TBSP of cornstarch with 1/4 cup water.

Brown ground beef in a saucepan. Cook until no pink remains and drain off any excess fat. Add ground beef to the stockpot. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Par cook noodles. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the lasagna:
Place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place a very thin layer of sauce at the bottom of the pan. Layer as follows:

1/2 noodles
1/2 cottage cheese mixture
1/2 Gruyere cheese
1/2 Swiss cheese
1/2 cheddar cheese
1/2 cream cheese - pinch off small pieces and dot over the other cheeses
1/2 meat sauce

Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the sauce.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with mozzarella and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Below is the lasagna recipe I grew up with. I don't like it as well as the lasagna recipe above, but it is significantly simpler and is even easy to throw together on a week night. Today, I made one to give away to a friend that's going through a rough time.

Short Cut Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1 (32 oz) jar spaghetti sauce (I don't like to use homemade for this)
1/2 jar water
1/2 onion, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (12 oz) container cottage cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
12 oz lasagna noodles, uncooked
Parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef with onions, garlic, salt, & pepper. Mix with spaghetti sauce & water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Layer as follows:

1/3 meat sauce
1/2 lasagna noodles
1/2 cottage cheese
1/2 Mozzarella cheese
1/3 meat sauce
remaining lasagna noodles
remaning cottage cheese
remaining Mozzarella cheese
remaining meat sauce

Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake covered for 1 hour.

Thanksgiving pies

I made the pies for this year's Thanksgiving dinner for (apparently) 35 people (see post called "Talking Turkey" below). The in-laws usually get pies from Baker's Square, not that there's anything wrong with that. I decided homemade pie would be better. Seeing as I strongly dislike anything pumpkin, I made one apple pie and one pumpkin.

Photograph from -
I took pictures on my camera, but the memory card won't let me retrieve them

Pumpkin Pie (from Libby's pumpkin can)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz) can evaporated milk
1 pie crust (I used the refridgerated roll-out kind for convenience)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center
comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Dutch Apple Pie
recipe from my mom

Bottom Crust
1 stick melted butter
1 TBSP sugar
1 cup flour

4-5 sliced apples (sour-ish ones are usually better)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Top Crust
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix bottom crust together with a fork an press into pie plate.

Mix apples and cinnamon/sugar; put in pie tin with the crust. When filled, it should look sort of like a dome.

Mix brown sugar, flour, & butter to crumbly mass (do this with your hands). Top the apples with this mixture.

What happened to my cheesecake?

We had the in-laws over for dinner and I decided to make cheesecake for dessert. Nothing fancy, just a plain 3-step cheesecake in a pre-made graham cracker crust. I've made dozens of them in the past, and they always turn out great. For some reason, something went terribly wrong this time. This is what happened:

So, I made a new one at last minute. Exact same recipe, exact same ingredients. The results were much better this time:

I still have no idea why this cheesecake turned out great while the other one mysteriously flopped. If anyone can tell from these pictures, please let me know.

Cheesecake (from Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cookbook)

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 pre-made graham cracker crust.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended.

Pour into crust.

Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.