The Joy in Creating – Recipe: Lasagna

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I love Italian food.  I often tell my husband that I always wanted to be Italian – big family, great food, big, family gatherings with great food.  But…now that I am older…I realize that I do not have to be Italian to have those things.  We do have big family gatherings with delicious food.  And, I even get to make my own sauce to go in my own lasagna that I created without having a family recipe handed down from generation to generation.

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I will admit, however, that passing down recipes from generation to generation is one of the things that motivated me to start a family and food blog.  I wanted to capture the memories, food, celebrations, and gatherings so that it could easily be chronicled for my kids and their kids.  I love the idea that my grandchildren will read these stories and recipes one day, with a smile on their face, discovering the root of certain recipes and the family gatherings and/or celebrations that went along with them.

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I have been making these lasagna for years.  Honestly, I do not even know how I created it.  I think that it was just trial and error, working to get the sauce and the cheese mixture perfect for my family.  And, that is the beauty in creating food…it can always be adjusted to what works for your family, adding a touch of this, changing a pinch of that.  And, before you know it…a delicious recipe is born.

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Lasagna

Lasagna

Depending on how much sauce you want to use or how large your pan is, you might end up with additional sauce. It freezes well, and you can use it for spaghetti later.

Ingredients

Sauce

2 pounds hamburger meat

3 gloves garlic, minced

2 28 ounce cans tomato sauce

2 6 ounce cans tomato paste

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

Cheese Mixture

8 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

Cheese

8 ounces cream cheese

6-8 cups Mozzarella or Italian cheese

Pasta

Oven ready lasagna

Instructions

    Preparing the Sauce
  1. Brown ground beef in large sauce pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic.
  3. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to season the beef.
  4. Once browned, remove from pan and drain the hamburger meat on paper-towel lined plate.
  5. Return the hamburger meat to the sauce pan.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, additional salt, pepper, sugar, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.
  7. Simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Preparing the Cheese Mixture
  9. Mix together the cottage or ricotta cheese, egg, and parsley flakes.
  10. Putting it All Together
  11. Preheat the oven to 350.
  12. Spoon a layer of the sauce mixture into a large 9x13 inch pan.
  13. Top with 3 lasagna noodles.
  14. Spread half of the cream cheese over the lasagna noodles.
  15. Spread half of the cheese mixture onto the cream cheese.
  16. Add about 1/3 of the sauce mixture.
  17. Top with 2-3 cups of Mozzarella or Italian cheese.
  18. Add another 3 lasagna noodles.
  19. Spread the other half of the cream cheese on the noodles.
  20. Spread the other half of the cheese mixture onto the cream cheese.
  21. Add about 1/3 of the sauce mixture.
  22. Top with 2-3 cups of Mozzarella or Italian cheese.
  23. Add another 3 lasagna noodles.
  24. Add the remaining meat sauce, making sure to cover all of the edges.
  25. Top with the remaining cheese.
  26. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  27. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  28. Remove from oven and serve.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/11/08/the-joy-in-creating-recipe-lasagna/

I have shared this recipe at Permanent Posies, 33 Shades of Green, From Mess Hall to Bistro, It’s a Blog Party, and At the Well..

 

The Things That Matter – Recipe: Meatball Sliders

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As I sit here with my littles playing in the other room, I cannot help but think of the things that really matter in life.  Yes, we often get caught up with the details, especially at this time of the year, planning how to make each day special and memorable.  And, believe me, I do the same thing…because it does matter.

But, in reality, what always matters the most to me are my children, my family.  I have known the fear of watching a child suffer, not knowing what the outcome would be.  And, while we are not exactly at that same place right now, there are still a lot of unknowns that cause our hearts to sink at times.

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As I was pulling up to Dell Children’s Hospital this morning, with Ethan smiling happily in the back seat, my heart automatically started racing.   In the past, when I have pulled into the same parking lot, it has not been for good reasons – surgery, a trip to the emergency room post-surgery, genetic specialists, and possible seizure evaluation. And, to make matters worse, the last time I was there, my van got broken into while we were inside.  Nope, the memories are not exactly good ones….hence the reason for the racing heart.

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But, you know what?  Today went smoothly, and Ethan was a champ.  Ethan’s swallow study went great, and it showed that he is not having any problems swallowing.  The great news is that we can rule swallowing out as a reason for his choking.  Yes, it still leaves us with unknowns, but that is okay.  Because, it is something else that we were able to check off of our list.

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And, to top it all off, we met a wonderful speech therapist who truly did go above and beyond her call of duty for that moment.  She spent an extra 15-20 minutes with us, doing a brief evaluation of Ethan.  She was impressed with his receptive verbal skills, and she had fun getting Ethan to do little activities for her.  She was charmed by his smile…just as we all are.  She recommended some additional things that got our wheels turning.  We definitely do not have all…or probably even half…of the answers yet. But, we have another place to look.  And, for that, we are thankful.

Yes, I went through a moment of brief frustration that we had not been given some of this information sooner.  But, then I decided that I simply had to see the unicorns and rainbows in it all.  That speech therapist was placed in our path today for a reason.  She spent the extra time with us for a reason.  And, I choose to believe that the reasons are some form of divine intervention, where these people, these events, are put into our path to help us know which directions to take.  Because, even though the journey is sometimes rocky with a lot of twists and turns, we have always found the signs that point us in the right direction.

There are so many things that matter, and that list of things is different for each person, for each family.  For me, today, the things that really matter are health, happiness, and family.  But, there are things that go along with that – food, celebrations, holidays, and memories.  They all go together to create the big, happy family picture.

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I made these meatball sliders this weekend, and they were a hit.  I wanted to have something ready when we got home from our soccer game so that we could sit down as a family and watch the football game.  I loved that my backdoor was a revolving door of children, nieces, and parents.  I have always wanted our house to be a home, a place where everyone feels welcome, because, to me, that is one of the things that really matters.

Meatball Sliders

Ingredients

3 pounds hamburger meat

2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon sugar

Slider rolls

Pepperoncini peppers

Parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions

  1. Mix together the hamburger meat, cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Form into 2-inch balls.
  2. Heat large frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs, one at a time.
  3. Fry for about 6-8 minutes, and then turn to fry on the other side for 6-8 minutes.
  4. Drain grease and reduce heat to low.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning.
  6. Pour the sauce mixture over the meatballs, and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Place 1 meatball inside of a slider roll, and top with pepperoncini peppers and Parmesan cheese.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/10/18/recipe-meatball-sliders/

Enjoy!

I have shared this recipe at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage and  The King’s Court.

Monday, Monday – Recipe: Spaghetti with Special Meatballs

While Friday is one of my favorite days of the week, Monday is one of my least favorite days.  Sean goes back to work, the boys go back to school, and Summer and I are happy that we are home together but sad that three-fifths of what makes us whole is gone.

We had a great weekend, though, and I am glad that I had those fun memories to look back on today and smile.  I flipped through that scrapbook in my brain quite a few times today, thinking of certain smiles, sounds of laughter, and moments that made me very joyful.

One of the things that helps me perk up on Monday is the thought of it being Pasta Day in our home.  Some days I know exactly what I want to make, and other days, like today, allow me to get my creative cooking juices flowing as I look in the freezer, the refrigerator, and the pantry to decide what to put together.  Once I did that, I started planning for dinner tonight, knowing that we would be complete as a family again….and already looking forward to Friday.

Of course, when I do things like that to try to speed up time, I realize that it also accelerates all of the moments that I do truly enjoy throughout the week.  So, while I will probably not like Mondays anytime soon, I am trying to appreciate that even Monday holds some beauty in it, even if it is something as simple as Pasta Day.

Spaghetti with Special Meatballs

Spaghetti with Special Meatballs

I kept the sauce, meatballs, and pasta separate because everyone likes their spaghetti a bit differently. So, I made a little spaghetti bar and allowed everyone to add what they wanted to their spaghetti.

Ingredients

Sauce

Olive oil

3 gloves of garlic, minced

2 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

Salt

Pepper

Italian seasoning

Onion powder

Sugar

Meatballs

1 pound of ground beef

1 egg

2 ounces of soft goat cheese

Salt

Pepper

Italian seasoning

Extras

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1/2 onion, diced

Sausage link, diced (about 1 cup)

Spaghetti pasta

Instructions

    Sauce
  1. Add olive oil and garlic to medium sauce pan, and saute over medium heat.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and seasonings - I use about 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  3. Simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat.
  4. Meatballs
  5. While the sauce is simmering, mix up the meatballs.
  6. Mix the ground beef, egg, goat cheese, and seasonings.
  7. Form the meat into balls, about the 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
  8. Heat a frying pan over medium heat.
  9. Add the meatballs and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  10. Extras
  11. Add the onion and bell pepper, and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  12. Then, add the sausage.
  13. Cook everything together for another 5-6 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  14. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with hot water.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/09/12/monday-monday-recipe-spaghetti-with-special-meatballs/

This pasta magically turned Monday into unicorns and rainbows, after all.