Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Dinners - Numbers One & Two (Lasagna)


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 Lasagna
Kathy 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.

We served it with a Caesar salad and homemade garlic bread.  Here's mine - I forgot to add the parsley before cutting and didn't realize I had it all over the side until I downloaded the photos.  This may be our first lasagna to stand tall and not ooze out over the plate on into the serving dish. 

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.


  1. That is truly the judge of good lasagna, when it stands tall. Nicely done. That may be traditional Christmas dinner fare in Italy. So your never off the mark just geographically disoriented. Merry Christmas and as always I will be back!!

  2. Larry, your holiday table is very lovely. You've really got a great weekend planned.

    I've eaten the no-bake noodles in lasagna once at a friends house and thought they were a great idea. Thanks for the recipe. I'll give it a try. Not having to cook the noodles would certainly come in handy.

    Meakin and I wish you and Bev a very merry Christmas filled with wonderful food, family and friends. Happy holidays to you and your family.

  3. Perfect! And just in time for my lasagna dinner today. I've always just thrown things together and this time wanted to follow an exact recipe. I'm going to try adding a little Italian Seasoning and am going to slow simmer the sauce about an hour and a half. I did this last summer with Spaghetti and Meatballs and liked the intensified flavor. Also look forward to trying the no cook noodles. Pain in the butt assembling cooked ones. Keep your fingers crossed that my slices of lasagne stand tall! Merry Christmas Larry, Bev and family.

  4. What a great Christmas dinner table and the food sounds delicious! I love lasagna! Snow on the ground here and more on the way today. I would be happy to send more your way! Have a wonderful Merry Christmas with your family and friends! And be good, Larry since Santa comes tonight!

  5. Just stopping by to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. We just got home from 4 days at the beach in Ocean Isle, NC. WONDERFUL!!!! Now--we are preparing for company....

    Merry Christmas, Larry..

  6. I am traveling for the holidays this year and finally getting some screen time in before the festivities start. This looks delicious, Larry! I wish I'd thought of lasagna when we were putting the menus together. Will bookmark this for another day.

    Hope you and your family have a beautiful Christmas!

  7. Thanks for the great read today (and every day!).

    I copme from a Sicilian family and our traditional Christmas dinner is a big pot of pasta that one of my uncles cooks, with meatballs, sausage and chunks of tender beef-so I think lasagna is a great idea!

  8. Lasagna will be fine for my birthday dinner :)

    Merry Christmas!

  9. I love to make lasagna. We usually have it for Christmas Eve. We use a recipe that my Mom made up when she was in college -similar to this recipe. It is fantastic!

  10. I was going to say that I hope you and Bev had a Merry Christmas but from the sounds of it, you did!


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