MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
Around Christmas we generally have two big meals - one on Christmas Day with friends and one later with our kids as they are frequently not available on Christmas Eve or Day. But this year it worked out differently and we have lots of fine eating (I hope) to blog about.
For dinner number one, our friends Laurie and David (Big Daddy Dave ), invited us over Sunday for dinner with them and their lovely adopted daughter, Dawn, who was visiting from Miami. We’re going to have to take entertaining lessons from them as they always put on such a professional evening. We arrived at 4:30 for sit-down cocktails and appetizers in front of the fireplace - our guests just get to hang around the kitchen bar for drinks while we cook and we almost never have an appetizer. After a pleasant hour and half of visiting and getting to know Dawn, it was off to the dinning table for good ole yankee pot roast, cooked with onions, carrots, and celery and accompanied by roasted potatoes, rich brown gravy, and hot rolls. Everything was delicious and what a way to begin the week before Christmas.
For dinner number two, we invited our neighbors over for dinner on Monday, for a little Christmas get together, but served something that is not a traditional meal for the season – lasagna. The lasagna recipe comes from our daughter, Kathy, and it is made without cooking the noodles. We like it because we wanted to make it the day before and this is actually better as the noodles can soften and absorb some of the sauce flavors. Here is her recipe as modified by us.
No-Boil LasagnaKathy Roden
- 1-1 ½ lbs Ground beef (we used 1# of beef and ½# of Italian sausage, fried, split, and cut into 1/2 moons)
- 1 cup Onion, chopped
- 1 cup Celery, chopped
- 1 ea Green pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced (we added additional 2)
- 6 oz Tomato paste
- 28 oz Diced tomatoes
- 15 oz Tomato sauce
- ¼ tsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Oregano, dried
- 1 tsp Basil, dried (our addition)
- 1 ea Bay leaf (our addition)
- 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes (Bev had to have a little heat)
- 16 oz Cottage cheese
- 16 oz Ricotta cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 12 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 lb Uncooked lasagna noodles
Make up the day before and store in the fridge (It can be made and cooked the same day)
· In a dutch oven, brown meat, onion, celery, and green pepper – drain off fat
· Add next 8 ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes
· Meanwhile mix cottage, ricotta, and parmesan cheeses
· Remove sauce from heat – it should be somewhat runny to provide moisture for the noodles
· Pam a 9x13 baking dish (or larger depending on amount of sauce – we used a 10x10x3 which was filled to the brim). Place a thin layer of sauce in the dish then a layer of noodles, a layer of the cheese mixture, a layer of meat sauce, and a layer of mozzarella (save enough for the final topping)
· Repeat two more times ending with meat sauce
When ready to bake, set lasagna out of fridge for several hours to warm· Preheat oven to 350*
· Cover and bake for 1-2 hours depending on thickness (we baked for 2 hours)
· During last 15 minutes, remove cover and add mozzarella
· Remove from oven and let stand for 15-20 minutes to firm up.
Ready to bake.
The edges on the baked dish looked burned, but they were not - I needed a little deeper pan. This was prior to the final topping of shredded mozzarella.
The lasagna was a big hit especially with our neighbor, who had a birthday this week and had requested lasagna. His wife was not going to be able to make it for him so we sang Happy Birthday and called this his birthday dinner - sent him home with a big piece of leftovers. Bev thought the tomato flavor wasn't intense enough, perhaps do to the liquid that needed to be left in the sauce and next time, I might add some herbs to the cheese filling. Don't get me wrong, it was very good (better than about any restaurant), but we're always looking for the perfect dish. We finished the meal off with delicious chocolate cheese cake and Italian Cream cake provided by our friend Ashley.
Have a great Christmas Eve and thanks for visiting.