Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Best Lasagna

Oh, am I a fan of make ahead meals! Nearly once a week, I dig into my freezer and pull out a mostly-made meal. I LOVE it. Rather than doing a marathon cooking day to stock the freezer, I usually try to make double portions of a meal at least once per week. Then, if I use a make-ahead meal once per week, I'm still restocking it as I use them. It's a great habit to be in.

Over the past year, Campfire Pasta has been on our menu nearly every week. It's super easy to make a large batch of it and freeze in quart-size freezer bags. Recently when boneless, skinless chicken went on sale for $0.99/pound, I ended up making a couple of batches of Southwestern Grilled Chicken. It makes a wonderful and quick meal that is excellent for entertaining.

Just the other night, we enjoyed some Lasagna that I made ahead a couple of weeks ago. Rather than make an entire 9 x 13 pan for our small family (2 adults, 2 kids), I made two 8 x 8 pans and froze one for later use. The half portion is just right for us to have dinner and leftovers for the adults the next day. And the lasagna is oh so good! When my sister told me it was called "The Best Lasagna" I was a bit skeptical. But, when I saw the recipe, I realized that it basically allows you to customize it to your tastes and make it "The Best" to you. Here is how I make it:

Lasagna
Makes two 8 x 8 pans OR one 9 x 13 pan

1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups Homemade Pasta Sauce (or 26-28 ounces store-bought)
salt and pepper
1 cup chicken broth (I use Better than Bouillon with water)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups mozzarello
8 Barilla no-boil Lasagna noodles
2 cups cooked zucchini (about 2 or 3 small), halved, sliced and well-drained
1 cup freshly grated parmesan

  1. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan or two 8 x 8 pans.
  2. In a large skillet, thoroughly cook the ground beef and stir frequently to break up the meat. When cooked, drain off grease. Add the garlic and the herbs and cook a bit more. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and add the cream cheese. Whisk the mixture until smooth, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. If you are using two 8 x 8 pans, divide the ingredients equally between the two pans when you assemble the lasagna. To assemble in a 9 x 13 pan: spoon half of the meat sauce into the pan as evenly as possible. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella over the meat sauce. Place 4 lasagna noodles over sauce, slightly overlapping the noodles. Toss the cooked and drained zucchini over the noodles. Pour the cream cheese sauce evenly over the vegetables and top with another cup of mozzarella. Place the remaining 4 noodles over the mozzarella, overlapping the noodles slightly. Spoon the rest of the meat sauce over the noodles, top with 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup parmesan.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees until brown and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10-15 minutes (very important)!
  6. If you make it ahead to cook the same day, refrigerate until use and increase the cook time about 10 minutes. If freezing, wrap tightly, label and freeze. Defrost prior to cooking.

3 comments:

FishMama said...

I'm not always right, just usually. ;)

Janel said...

This does sound good! Plus, I just had to stop in when I saw that our names are exactly the same :) That certainly doesn't happen very often.

sprtngrl46 said...

I'm with you on the Better 'n Boullion, it's all I use! Made your yogurt pancakes tonight, and posted a pic on Instagram. I was going to tag you, but couldn't find you. Are you on Instagram? Thanks for your recipes!