Friday, December 27, 2019

Christmas Dinner With Our Friends – Our Version Of Italian

Our original plan for Christmas dinner was to do as little as possible but then we decided to invite a few folks over who might otherwise be eating alone and when all the invitations were issued, we had 12 diners.  However, doing as little as possible was still a priority but the definition of “little” changed somewhat.

After discussing potential menus for a crowd, we settled on no-boil lasagna which is made the day before without cooking the noodles thereby making Christmas day pretty easy.  This recipe came from our daughter Kathy and we have made it successfully several times but for this group, we made 1½ recipes as shown below (just use 2/3 of everything for the normal recipe).

No-Boil Lasagna

  • 3 lbs Ground beef
  • 2 lbs Italian sausage
  • 3 cup Onion, chopped (6 medium)
  • 3 cup Celery, chopped (7 stalks)
  • 3 ea Green pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced (we added additional 2)
  • 18 oz Tomato paste
  • 84 oz Diced tomatoes
  • 45 oz Tomato sauce
  • ¾ tsp Black pepper
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar (omit)
  • 3 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 3 tsp Basil, dried (our addition)
  • 3 ea Bay leaf (our addition)
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes (Bev had to have a little heat)
  • 48 oz Cottage cheese
  • 48 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 32 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 lb Uncooked lasagna noodles
1. Make up the day before and store in the fridge.
2. In a dutch oven, brown beef and sausage, remove from pan and drain off fat
3. Add onions, celery and peppers and cook until softened then add back meat
4. Add next 8 ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes

5. Meanwhile mix cottage, ricotta, and parmesan cheeses.

6. Remove sauce from heat – it should be somewhat runny to provide moisture for the noodles.
7. Pam an 11x15 baking dish and 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). I forgot the mozzarella on the first layer.  I ran the noodles in alternating directions for each layer beginning with crosswise.

8. Repeat two more times ending with noodles and meat sauce.

9. Set lasagna out of fridge for several hours to warm and preheat oven to 350*
10.Cover and bake for around 2 hours or to an internal temp of 155-160F then uncover, add mozzarella, and bake for 15 more minutes.
11. Remove from oven and let stand for 15-20 minutes to firm up. Garnish with chopped parsley.

We began the event with a sparkling wine Christmas toast and appetizers (next post).

After the appetizers, we started the meal with Bev’s hot rolls and Christmas Salad, provided by our neighbor Pat and served buffet style.

The salad which was greens, fruit, and nuts with a poppy seed dressing was excellent and I got her recipe.

Christmas Salad from Pat Lafon

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. chopped onion
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
Mix well. May be made in advance and refrigerated.

2 bags romaine lettuce
4 oz, shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup cashews
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 apple, cubed
1 pear cubed

Can use more fruit and nuts to taste.
Dress just before serving.

Then we moved on to the lasagna with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and more hot bread – also served buffet style.

Everyone seemed to love the lasagna and once again it was a hit for a crowd.  We ate less than half of it and it must have weighed 20 lbs.  We sent everyone home with a doggie bag and still froze three meals worth.

Tune in next time for the appetizers and drinks.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


12/25/19 event date


  1. this looks fabulous and such a pretty home and place settings as well Happy New Year to all!

  2. what a wonderful meal and pretty easy prep I have done a similar on my self as well

  3. Larry, Thanks to you and Bev we had a great Christmas Dinner. That lasagna was huge...and we took a big chunk home for another meal too! Loved the salad and those rolls of course...I 'only' ate 3.5 of them. A good time was had by all! Thanks from Big Daddy Dave and Laurie

  4. Beautiful dinner! And I love a good poppyseed dressing. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I love Bev's sweater and that table cloth is gorgeous. Happy New Year you, Bev, Pat and the pups.

  5. It looks like a fun and delicious Christmas meal. The lasagna looks amazing!


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