By Rebecca Meyer
I grew up in an Italian family where my mom did most of the cooking. She was an exceptional chef who introduced me to the art of cooking from the heart. Would I consider myself someone capable of whipping up a tasty masterpiece in little to no time? You better believe it. After all, my food has never sent anyone to the emergency room with a nasty gallbladder attack, which says a lot.
One very important thing that I have learned over the years with cooking is that frozen food can be hazardous to your health. Let me elaborate. A crazy thing happened one night a year ago that changed my mind forever on never freezing anything in a container. After making spaghetti sauce and having some left over, I took a large plastic bowl and poured the sauce into it, placed it in the freezer on the lowest shelf and closed the door.
Fast forward one week. Apparently, someone in my family decided to rearrange everything on the main shelf in the freezer, with their eyes closed no doubt, and my beautiful spaghetti sauce was the victim — hanging by a thread on the top shelf. Of course, I would be the lucky person to open the door next. After all, it was lasagna night, and I was thrilled that my sauce was already made, my glass of Moscato wine was full and I had an easy but delicious meal ahead of me. I opened the freezer door to retrieve the sauce while I was holding my wine glass and suddenly stood still, unable to move. I was watching in disbelief as a large container proceeded to fall out of the freezer, in slow motion I might add, dropping to the ground directly onto my right, bare foot. Amazingly, I still held my glass of wine and never spilled a drop of it!
Long story short, I went to a doctor who took an x-ray and found out that my foot was broken. He asked me how I broke it and I told him spaghetti sauce fell on it. I don’t think he believed me. I had to wear a cast boot for 10 weeks. The silver lining with this was that my husband started cooking more. I think he felt sorry for me and told me that I might want to think up another story on how I broke my foot since he was convinced no one would believe the truth. That night, while I endured an evening of pain, my husband finished cooking and kudos to him for doing a spectacular job. This is a must-have recipe, but for you over-eager planners, just don’t freeze the sauce ahead of time. ◆
Recipe – Lasagna
Lasagna noodles (non-boil)
2 jars of spaghetti sauce (your choice)
1 clove of garlic
1 cup of mushrooms
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon of parsley
1 tablespoon of dried basil (preferably a handful of fresh basil)
5 links of mild Italian sausage
32 oz. of grated mozzarella cheese
½ container of grated Parmesan cheese
1 large container of Ricotta cheese
Cook the Italian sausage in a pan making sure to remove the casing. Break the sausage apart into pieces to go into the sauce.
In a different sauce pan, sauté mushrooms with a tablespoon of olive oil. Chop garlic clove and add to the mushrooms. Once these are sautéed, add the spaghetti sauce and simmer on low for 1 hour. When the Italian sausage is cooked, drain it and put it into the sauce. Take a clean pan and cook the ground meat, draining it when finished. Add it to the spaghetti sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
Coat a 9×11 baking dish with a teaspoon of olive oil. Follow the directions on the lasagna box and layer the noodles, sauce and meat mixture along with plenty of the three cheeses. You will have at least 3-4 layers. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 45 minutes, depending on your oven. When finished, take it out and let it settle for 5-10 minutes on the stove and then enjoy!