Lasagna

I like to make lasagna on a weekend so it’s available for a weeknight dinner.  (It’s easier to manage if it has had a chance to set in the refrigerator.)  We have discovered that if you cook it, chill it and then cut into squares, you can freeze the squares on a sheet pan with space between them.  You can then freeze the pieces in freezer bags without them sticking together.  These are a few of our favorite lasagnas:

Classic lasagna

  • 1 package lasagna noodles cooked per package instructions and drained
  • 4 cups tomato sauce (I used a mix of Graul’s homemade marinara and their bolognese)
  • 1 large container ricotta cheese mixed with 1 beaten egg
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan.  Top with a layer of noodles, more sauce, ricotta and mozzarella.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, more sauce, remaining ricotta and mozzarella.  Top with one more layer of noodles, remaining sauce and Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover lasagna.  Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake a remaining 10.

Eggplant lasagna

  • 3 large eggplant, skin removed from one side and then sliced about 1/4 ” thick
  • olive oil
  • 16 oz shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb sweet italian turkey or chicken sausage (removed from casing)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425.  Spread eggplant on baking sheets and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Let sit for about 30 minutes and then wipe with a paper towel.  (The salt will sweat some of the liquid out of the eggplant.)  Brush eggplant with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes until golden brown.

While eggplant is cooking, heat about 2 TB of olive oil in a heavy saucepan.  Sauce onion until translucent (about 3 – 5 minutes).  Add garlic and cook stirring for about 30 seconds.  Add red pepper flakes and sausage.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring often until sausage is cooked through.  Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine ricotta with 1 oz of the Parmesan cheese, the egg and basil.

Assemble lasagna in a 9 x 13 pan.  Start with a thin layer of sauce, then eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella, sauce.  Add another layer of eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella sauce.  Then a layer of eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil (spray with Pam first) and bake at 375 for 15 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered.

Mushroom Lasagna

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster but use whatever you like), cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb Fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute shallot until soft.  Add mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cook an additional minute.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.   Add dried porcini mushrooms and boil 5 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, reserving stock.  Rinse mushrooms and add to mushrooms in skillet with reserved stock.

Add milk and half and half to mushroom mixture and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and spread with 1 layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with half of the mushroom mixture and half of the cheeses.  Add another layer of lasagna noodles and remaining mushrooms and cheese.  Top with lasagna noodles.  (I dotted the top with butter and additional Parmesan cheese but next time I would brush with melted butter and/or olive oil to keep from getting too crisp.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then 15 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.

Seafood Lasagna

  • 1 package lasagna noodles, cook according to package directions and drain
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (store bought or homemade)
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, steamed and peeled and cut in half
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce (store bought or homemade – I made mine by melting butter and cooking with half and half and Parmesan cheese)
  • 2 lbs crab meat
In a lasagna pan layer ingredients as follows – 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 5 overlapping lasagna noodles, 1 cup tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, shrimp, 6 oz mozzarella cheese, 5 overlapping lasagna noodles, 1 cup Alfredo sauce, crabmeat, 5 overlapping lasagna noodles, remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
This is best if you cook it the night before and let it set in the refrigerator overnight.  Reheat desired portions and freeze remaining pieces.
NOTE: You could reduce the calories tremendously by eliminating the Alfredo sauce layer – it is very rich (but it really goes well with the crabmeat!)  🙂  You could reduce the cost by substituting fish or scallops for the crabmeat.  Or you could just do shrimp and tomato sauce and cheese and skip the Alfredo and crabmeat.  Experiment based on what you like.

Freezer friendly

I have to go out of town for a few days.  Nobody in my house is very excited about this.  The bright side for them is that they won’t starve in my absence.  In fact, my husband has a choice of some different things that are in the freezer.  Here are a few of our favorite freezer friendly, make ahead meals. that let you take a night off or make sure that your household never goes hungry.  Other ideas on blog that you can search for include any lasagna (chicken pesto, seafood, etc.), most chilis and soups and most stuffed chicken breasts.  Stay warm!

Chicken Chipotle chili

  • 3 TB canola oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small cubes
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained of about 1/2 of liquid
  • 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans black beans

Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan and brown chicken cubes (about 5 minutes.)  Remove chicken and drain on paper towels.  Pour off fat leaving about 1 tablespoon in pan.  Add onions and brown about 4 – 5 minutes.  Return chicken to pan.

Stir together flour, chili powder, cumin and salt and sprinkle over onions and chicken.  Stir and cook about 1 minute.  Add stock, tomatoes and chipotles and simmer covered about 30 minutes.  Add black beans and cook another 10 minutes.

Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips.

Saucy Sirloin

  • Tenderloin tips or cubed beef, about 1/2 pound
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can whole mushrooms, drained
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 can consomme

Combine flour and dry mustard and toss beef cubes until coated.  Over medium heat, swirl in olive oil and butter and brown beef until just done.  Add garlic and scallions and stir for 30 seconds.  Add mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce and cook stirring for 2 -3 minutes.  Add wine and scrape brown bits from pan, stirring into sauce.  Add consomme and simmer until ready to serve over rice.

Cream of Maryland crab soup

  • 6 T butter
  • 3 large onions chopped
  • 3 T chopped garlic
  • 48 oz frozen corn
  • 2 28 oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 T dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay (or more for zing)!
  • 3/4 teaspoon crumbled bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 1/2 cups bottled clam juice (6 bottles)
  • 2 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 2 lbs fresh crab meat

Melt 6 T butter.  Add onion and garlic – sauté 8 minutes.  Add 32 oz corn and sauté 5 minutes more.  Add tomatoes and all spices listed above.  Stir 2 minutes.  Purée remaining  corn and 3 cups clam juice in blender and add to pot.  Add remaining clam juice and cream.  Simmer 20 minutes until corn is tender.  Last, add crab meat.

Mushroom Lasagna

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster but use whatever you like), cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb Fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute shallot until soft.  Add mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cook an additional minute.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.   Add dried porcini mushrooms and boil 5 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, reserving stock.  Rinse mushrooms and add to mushrooms in skillet with reserved stock.

Add milk and half and half to mushroom mixture and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and spread with 1 layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with half of the mushroom mixture and half of the cheeses.  Add another layer of lasagna noodles and remaining mushrooms and cheese.  Top with lasagna noodles.  (I dotted the top with butter and additional Parmesan cheese but next time I would brush with melted butter and/or olive oil to keep from getting too crisp.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then 15 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.

Chicken and Eggplant Casserole

I got this recipe from my cousin’s wife many years ago.  It was served when my cousin’s daughter was baptized and I immediately begged for the recipe.  It is not low calorie but it is delicious.  It is one of those things where the prep time to cook all of the eggplant and chicken is significant but it is all done ahead of time so it is great for a buffet.  Once again, everybody loved it and the leftovers freeze well.  I made a double batch of this and the shell recipe above is doubled.  We had leftover of both but we were into the second casserole dish of each.

  • 1 eggplan, skinned and sliced thin
  • 1 lb chicken scallopini or cutlets
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup flour (you may need more)
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese grated
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 qt prepared tomato sauce (I used Graul’s fresh spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce mixed together)
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3 Italian meatballs crushed (I bought at Trinacria)

Salt sliced eggplant and stack between layers of paper towels with a weight on top (I use a heavy cookbook).  Leave for 2 – 5 hours and then pat dry.  Dip eggplant in beaten egg and then flour.  Heat olive oil and fry eggplant until golden brown (remove to drain on paper towels as you go.)  Repeat process with chicken.

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Cover with eggplant.  Sprinkle with Romano cheese and then cover with slices of mozzarella.  Top with crushed meatballs, more sauce and a layer of chicken.  Add more sauce, then eggplant Romano and mozzarella.  Bake 30 minutes at 375.

Thankful for my freezer

Today was a long day.  Due to the rain, my commute home took 2 hours.  I was so grateful that we were having mushroom lasagna from the freezer.  I made this quite some time ago – it freezes very well.  If you have time over the holiday weekend, a batch of this will save you some night!

Mushroom Lasagna

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster but use whatever you like), cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb Fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute shallot until soft.  Add mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cook an additional minute.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.   Add dried porcini mushrooms and boil 5 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, reserving stock.  Rinse mushrooms and add to mushrooms in skillet with reserved stock.

Add milk and half and half to mushroom mixture and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and spread with 1 layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with half of the mushroom mixture and half of the cheeses.  Add another layer of lasagna noodles and remaining mushrooms and cheese.  Top with lasagna noodles.  (I dotted the top with butter and additional Parmesan cheese but next time I would brush with melted butter and/or olive oil to keep from getting too crisp.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then 15 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.

From the freezer

Last night was one of those nights where I had to be somewhere from 6 – 7:15 and my husband had to be somewhere from 7:30 to 9:00.  That calls for something from the freezer that we can each eat on our own schedule.  I pulled out mushroom lasagna without great enthusiasm.  When I ate it I realized that I had forgotten how good it was – the Fontina cheese makes it.  I made a Caesar salad to go with it and loved my dinner.  Make this lasagna this weekend and put the leftovers in your freezer – just the thing for a cold winter night when everyone is going different directions.

Mushroom Lasagna

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster but use whatever you like), cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb Fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute shallot until soft.  Add mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cook an additional minute.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.   Add dried porcini mushrooms and boil 5 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, reserving stock.  Rinse mushrooms and add to mushrooms in skillet with reserved stock.

Add milk and half and half to mushroom mixture and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and spread with 1 layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with half of the mushroom mixture and half of the cheeses.  Add another layer of lasagna noodles and remaining mushrooms and cheese.  Top with lasagna noodles.  (I dotted the top with butter and additional Parmesan cheese but next time I would brush with melted butter and/or olive oil to keep from getting too crisp.)

Mushroom lasagna with Caesar salad

Mushroom lasagna with Caesar salad

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then 15 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.

Mushroom Lasagna

I love variations on lasagna (my favorite is probably the seafood lasagna that I’ve made with shrimp and crab.)  It is a great thing to make on a weekend – I find that it is actually easier to cut if you make it, let it rest and then refrigerate it overnight.  I found a recipe for mushroom lasagna that intrigued me.  I varied it a bit from the original recipe.  Here is what I did:

Mushroom Lasagna

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster but use whatever you like), cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb Fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute shallot until soft.  Add mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cook an additional minute.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.   Add dried porcini mushrooms and boil 5 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, reserving stock.  Rinse mushrooms and add to mushrooms in skillet with reserved stock.

Add milk and half and half to mushroom mixture and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and spread with 1 layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with half of the mushroom mixture and half of the cheeses.  Add another layer of lasagna noodles and remaining mushrooms and cheese.  Top with lasagna noodles.  (I dotted the top with butter and additional Parmesan cheese but next time I would brush with melted butter and/or olive oil to keep from getting too crisp.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then 15 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.