Just when I think life should be slowing down it does the opposite. September was full of activities and family events. Those events included birthdays and an anniversary. The best part of all of the celebrations is, of course, the food. Including mom’s Homemade Lasagna.
In case you don’t know this already I do not eat red meat. Don’t think that I never have. However I have discovered over time that red meat does not like my body very much. Therefore, I avoid it.
However, over the weeks leading up to my birthday I was having some very strong cravings for some of my favorite foods from younger day; biscuits with sausage gravy and my mom’s homemade lasagna.
For close to 10 years beginning at 18 my mom and dad made me homemade lasagna every year for my birthday. It was always delicious and made with so much love. Oh, and they always made my favorite Cherry Cheesecake. It is the very best cheesecake ever. If you don’t believe me try it for yourself:
A few weeks before my birthday I mentioned to mom that I had been hungry for her homemade lasagna. She gave me a puzzled look. I told her that I was quite aware that the amount of red meat in the lasagna would make me feel ill physically, but I was serious about wanting it.
Mom and I didn’t talk much about it after that. With all of the other activities surrounding my birthday week my actual birthday came and went. No lasagna, but I did get a Cherry Cheesecake from her.
On Saturday, the day after my birthday, as we were having our weekend coffee mom asked what was on the menu for the day. I laughed and said that I had written “Lasagna, if Mom loves me enough to make it; otherwise leftovers” on the menu. She laughed. Then she told me that she had purchased all of the ingredients to make homemade lasagna.
Then my mother revealed to me that, although it was her recipe – given to her from a friend, she had never made it by herself. Dad had always made it with her. She just didn’t think, for a couple of reasons, that she could make it by herself.
I spent several hours with my mom making lasagna. First we put together the sauce, which simmers for the better part of a day. Then I put together the cheese filling and cooked the noodles. Together we layered it. Daughters 3 and 4 popped in a few times to see what was going on. A brother and a nephew stopped by for a bit to talk with mom and hung out in the kitchen while we were layering the lasagna.
Then, I took the lasagna home to bake. While it baked I made a loaf of Italian bread and put together a salad.
I texted mom and let her know what time dinner would be done. It was delicious! It was (almost) every bit as delicious as I remembered. Knowing how much time it takes I realized more than ever that the special ingredient my parents added to their lasagna was love.
What a wonderful gift for my mom to give me – not just the mile long list of ingredients, but the time with her putting it together, and stories she shared of times she and dad had made it together. I also got to share mom’s homemade lasagna with my family.
This was definitely one of the best birthdays. The busyness of the month now over, I can bask in the memories of September and start planning for the holiday season. I’m ready to share more morsels with my family, make new memories, remember past times, and share it all with you!
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 5 15- ounce cans tomato sauce
- 2 15- ounce cans tomato puree
- 1 15- ounce can tomato paste
- Italian seasonings to taste (see below as a reference)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons black pepper
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoons basil
- ½ teaspoon parsley
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ pounds lasagna noodles
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese (cubed)
- 3 15- ounce tubs ricotta cheese
- 1 16- ounce tub cottage cheese
- 12 ounces shredded mozzarella
- 3 eggs
- Combine tomato sauce, puree, and paste in a large sauce pan, Dutch oven, or stock pot. Add seasonings and sugar. Cook over low heat all day.
- Brown ground beef and Italian sausage and drain. Add meat to sauce. Continue cooking.
- Mix ricotta, cottage cheese and eggs thoroughly. Cover and chill.
- Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and rinse. Lay noodles out onto waxed paper.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Cover the bottom of your lasagna pan with sauce. Lay one layer of noodles over the sauce. Top noodles with a layer of cheese mixture, cubed mozzarella, and shredded mozzarella.
- Repeat 3 times. Add a layer of sauce over shredded mozzarella.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving to cool slightly and firm up.
This makes 2- 9X13 cake pans of lasagna, or in a note my father wrote on the recipe a 17 1/4 X 11 3/8 X 2 1/4 inch pan.