Saturday, December 19, 2009

Meat & Mushroom Lasagna

We are headed out of town so I'm cleaning out the fridge rather than plotting for the future. David was busy in Santa's workshop, so I only had one arm to cook with...the other being busy holding/feeding/patting/rescuing our toddlesome toddler. Dinner tonight was tasty & quick -- lasagna and salad.

For the lasagna, I used some organic whole wheat noodles, 8 oz mozzerella, some parmesan, some frozen Italian meat sauce w/spinach, and a can of cream of mushroom soup. The soup was an experimental new addition -- I keep seeing it advertised in various magazines as a recipe suggestion, and since I built up a bit of a stockpile of soup due to all the sales, I figured I'd give it a try. This was a good thing, because one of my usual lasagna additions -- ricotta cheese -- was a no-go....furry and green :(. If I'd realized this before I got into the thick of lasagna construction, I would have sauteed up some onions and mushrooms or something. As it was, I would have been pretty short on volume without the soup added in there. The salad was straight from a bag, a freebie w/Q from Dominick's. I don't generally count up the price of a meal, but this one surely came in cheap, with leftovers that look like lunch for tomorrow. I've been following these steps for making lasagna lately:

0. Put down a few spoons of sauce to prevent sticking.
1. Boil 4 noodles at a time for 4 minutes, add to pan in a single layer. Put in 4 more noodles to boil while you add a layer of sauce & cheese.
2. Continue step 1 for 3 or so layers. Your last layer should be sauce then cheese.
3. Bake for 40 minutes.

The nice thing about this method is that the time it takes to boil the noodles is just enough to get a layer laid down and some cheese grated, and you don't end up
with a messy pile of stuck together noodles because you cook so few at a time.

IRL prep time: 1 person, 15 minutes.
IRL cooking time: 40 minutes, unattended in the oven.
**IRL = in real life, as in, how long it took an actual person to go from the ingredients she had on hand to something cooking. So many recipes claim to be quick and easy, and then call for 15 different ingredients to be already peeled, chopped, blanched, etc. IRL means, I came through the door and dove in. Most of the time, the whole family is cooking, so I'll make a note of the number of people. Sometimes this makes a huge difference in prep time, other times it lets one person prep while another cooks, etc.

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