Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Best Lasagna + Why I Cried {Twice!} the First Time I Cooked for Daniel

The first meal I ever made for Daniel was lasagna. We had only been dating for a couple of weeks so I definitely had some pre-cooking jitters. I wanted it to be perfect. I planned an impressive menu: lasagna, garlic cheddar biscuits, Caesar salad, and a {frozen-you'll need to know that later} chocolate peanut butter dessert. When we first started dating, he came over every Monday night and we had dinner and watched The Bachelor together {don't tell him I told you that}. It was Jason and Melissa's Molly's season.

I knew I wouldn't have time to assemble and bake the lasagna all on Monday night, so being the prepared person that I try to be, I assembled it on Sunday and just kept it in the fridge until I was ready to bake on Monday. So...Monday came, I got home from work, and I put the lasagna in the oven right away since it had to bake for an hour and a half or something ridiculous like that.

An hour and a half later, the cheese was melted, the lasagna was hot and bubbly, the biscuits were done, the salad was tossed, the dessert was in the freezer. I was ready! I was going to pull off this dinner without a hitch!

Finally, we were sitting at the table ready to eat and I took my first bite, anxiously awaiting the deliciousness of this lasagna that I had made several times before. My taste buds were assaulted by COLD lasagna. Yes, cold. Now, how something that has been hanging out in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes can be cold in the middle, I'll never know. I know it had been in the refrigerator, but really? An hour and a half at 350 won't heat it up?

Well, I was mortified and asked Daniel if his was cold. He waffled around a bit telling me that it wasn't cold, but wasn't hot either {assuring me at the same time that he loved it}. I snatched his plate right out from in front of him and marched it over to the microwave in an attempt to get it to the appropriate piping hot temperature {I was crying, too. Yep.}. I got it to a hot temperature all right. When I returned his plate to him, it was so hot that he burned his mouth. Fail!

We got past the cold, then extremely hot lasagna and made it to dessert. As I mentioned, it was a frozen dessert. Of course, I wanted to get perfect slices of the dessert on the plate so all the yummy layers were displayed. And here's where the second round of tears came in. I couldn't even get my knife through the dessert! I'm not sure why I didn't just let it soften for a few minutes so it was easier to cut, but no. I distinctly remember standing at the counter fighting with the knife trying to get it to go through. All the while, Daniel is sitting at the table probably wondering how many other shades of crazy I had. Bless him, though. He saw past it. And I can happily say that I've chilled out since then. :)

Anyway, I'm sharing a recipe today not for that lasagna {I've never made it since}, but for our new favorite lasagna. If it were my own recipe, I would not be so bold as to declare it "the best," but this is Pioneer Woman's recipe. She can say something is the best, and I believe her.

Around Valentine's Day, we watched the episode of Pioneer Woman where she made this lasagna. We did homemade gifts for Valentine's Day this past year and my gift to Daniel was to make any meal he wanted - drinks, appetizer, entree, sides, dessert, everything. When we saw Pioneer Woman making this lasagna, his decision was made. I mean, what says love like layers of meat, cheese, and pasta?! Now, it's the only lasagna recipe I'll use. After all, I made it through this lasagna dinner without crying.

Hope you love it as much as we do!

The Best Lasagna
Makes 12 servings
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1-1/2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
2 T. dried parsley
2 T. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
3 cups cottage cheese (If you hate cottage cheese, don't worry! You can't tell it's cottage cheese!)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Kraft canister)
2 T. dried parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. sliced mozzarella cheese
1 package lasagna noodles

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 T. olive oil to pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, ground pork, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat off. Add whole tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons basil, and salt. Break up the whole tomatoes a bit. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps. Stir occasionally and break up the tomatoes more each time. 
  3. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Be careful not to over boil. Lay out on a piece of foil or wax paper to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together until well combined. Set aside.

To assemble:
  1. Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese. Spoon half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.
  2. Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.
  3. Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.
Recipe slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

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1 comment:

  1. Looks yummy!! I came *thisclose* to making lasagna last night when you guys came over!! lol I'll know for next time though! :) I pinned this recipe so I can't wait to try it!