Friday, August 20, 2010

Lasagna Crystal's Way

Guess who's baaaaack!  Well, technically I've been back for a week, but it has been one whirlwind of a week.  Between trying to get settled back into our house and catching up at work it's been just sliiiightly crazy.  I have yet had a chance to do more than upload and glance at the honeymoon pics.  I promise to share a few of those, plus wedding pics, when I get the chance.  In the meantime, I'm going to share with you a recipe that I fully intended to share before the whole wedding/honeymoon situation occurred. 

Recently, I prepared this recipe for a friend of mine who's husband was in a freak accident.  This was my friendly casserole that I delivered to her door when she didn't have enough time to cook because he was in the hospital.  Luckily, he came home the morning after I made my delivery, woo hoo!  At the same time I made a 1/2 recipe for David and'll see both casserole dishes being prepared in the pics below.  I LOVE making this dish and it always procures happy tummies.  My friend, Kelly, and her husband both ended up devouring this lasagna within a couple days.  He even ate it cold from what I hear!  Anyway, if you're looking for a pasta dish that's a crowd pleaser...look no further!

Lasagna Crystal's Way

1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
1 jar (26-32 oz.) jarred spaghetti sauce (I always use Prego)
1 can (14.5-16 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese OR cottage cheese (I've done both and they're both tasty)
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
6-8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, UNCOOKED
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
ground red pepper
1/2 cup sliced or shredded carrots
1 red bell pepper, chopped

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook ground beef in preheated large frying pan over medium heat 4-6 minutes or until no longer pink.  Break up ground beef pieces until they are the size of small peas.  Pour off drippings.  Add spaghetti sauce and tomatoes with liquid to pan, stirring to combine; set aside.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta/cottage cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese and basil. 

Spread 2 cups of beef sauce mixture over bottom of 11 3/4 x 7 1/2 inch baking dish. Arrange 3-4 lasagna noodles in single layer, pressing into beef mixture.

Spoon ricotta/cottage cheese mixture on top of noodles.


Layer carrots and peppers on top of cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and top with two cups of beef sauce mixture. Arrange remaining noodles in single layer, pressing lightly into beef sauce mixture.

Top with remaining meat mixture; spreading evenly to cover noodles.  *It is important your noodles be submerged so they cook fully.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until noodles are fork tender.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top; tent lightly with aluminum foil.  Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.


P.S. This is usually even better the second day because all the flavors have melded and combined to create a wonderful flavor combination.

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