This was a bit of a whirlwind weekend. We threw a party for Nina’s birthday, and we did it home style (big Shout out to Oriental Trading, for making the entertainment so easy—we did a carnival theme, and it worked out very well).
With all the party planning, hosting, and cleaning up to do, I didn’t do much cooking around the house. Still, we had to eat, and not being the sort to want to eat out right now, that meant doing the meal home style, too.
Knowing that I needed to conserve my energy for the party, I looked in the freezer for something. On Friday, I mentioned Bon Appetit’s tips for family dinner, and one of their recommendations was to learn to use the freezer. They are so right. If you stock it well, there will never be a day when you go hungry, or worse even, have to order from a take-out menu.
I was lucky to find a lasagna that Santa Maria had made a few weeks ago when she was out visiting her folks. Lasagna is a good dish for families because you can make a bunch at once, eat some that night, and then freeze the rest for another night when you are too tired to cook.
Lasagna is easy. I’m sure if you poke around the web, you can find specific directions, but I’m too tired to write out a proper recipe. Shout out to Oriental Trading, again, for making the party as easy as it was. (If you’re getting the sense that I’m punch-drunk right now, you’re not far off the mark—having kids and throwing a party is a bit like going twelve rounds with George Foreman).
So to make a lasagna, first find your spouse and ask him or her if he or she has one up his or her sleeve (or freezer), and if he or she does not, then do the following:
Boil up some pasta, and cook it to just this side of being done.
Sauté up some mushrooms, long strips of zucchini, and/or any other vegetable of your choice.
Make a pot of tomato sauce or open a couple of jars of your favorite commercial marinara.
Brown up some ground beef with a bit of garlic, or not.
Get a bunch of ricotta assemble thusly:
Bottom layer = sauce
Next layer = pasta
Next layer = cheese
Next layer = veggies/beef/or nothing
Next layer = sauce
Repeat until you’ve reached the top of your pan.
Cover with a layer of sliced mozzarella and some more sauce.
Bake at 350 for forty-five or so minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
If you are making extra for freezing, use a foil pan and do all of the above (including cooking it). Let it cool, then cover with foil, and put in the freezer. When it is time to cook it, put it back in the oven, covered, for about one hour or so (depending on the size of your pan; a large pan may take longer), until it is heated through.