Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just Call Me Rachael Ray: Part 2

So, as I finished up making my meals to freeze today, I thought of a few more tips in case you need them.  Mind you, I am not an expert on this (This is probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve have a meal-prep-a-thon.) but these are some things I have learned while doing this. (The first three are repeats from yesterday’s post.)

1.  If you are making a “casserole” type dish that is going to require some cooking, make a double batch. It’s really not that much more work, and you’ll be happy you did.

2. Have plenty of freezer bags, 9 x13 pans, and a Sharpie on hand.

3.  I find picking one day to make the meals is easiest for me.  That way I am only making a complete mess of my kitchen once. (I hate doing dishes.)

4. If you are making meals that require you to brown hamburger meat, brown it all at once and then separate it out to make your individual dishes.

5. You will need plenty of plastic wrap and foil for the “casserole” dishes. (The first three times I did this I run out.  You’d think I’d learn.)

6.  Clean out your freezer and make room for the meals you are going to create before you get started.

7. If you are using pans that don’t have lids, you can use pieces of cardboard to put between the dishes so you can stack them in your freezer. (Look I took a picture for you!)


And now for another recipe.  Before I go on, I feel I must tell you that I am one of those g als that doesn’t really measure while I cook, especially if I am making something I have made hundreds of times.  That being said, I tried to really pay attention as I made my lasagnas today so I could give you the recipe, but if you like yours saucier or meatier or whatever, feel free to tweak this to your liking. (I know you feel better now that you have my permission to change the recipe.) This recipe came from a friend of mine’s mom. I couldn’t believe her DELICIOUS dish was so simple.  It tastes like you slaved over it. But homemade lasagna really is this easy. I promise. You trust me, right?

Lasagna (This makes 2 lasagnas.)

2-3 lbs hamburger meat (depends on how meaty you like it)
2 boxes oven ready lasagna noodles (Key here! This is part of what makes this recipe so simple, no boiling the noodles.)
2 large containers cottage cheese (I hate cottage cheese by the way, but in this it tastes wonderful.) 
2 blocks cream cheese
3 jars 1 lb 10 oz jars Ragu, (I use the traditional, but whatever you like would work.)
Salt and pepper
Whatever Italian-y type spices you like. I use oregano, garlic, & basil.
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Set the cream cheese out to soften. Brown your hamburger however you normally do.  I put chopped onion and grated garlic cloves in mine.  Drain it off and put it in a big bowl.  Add the Ragu, salt, pepper, and spices.

Put both blocks of cream cheese and both tubs of cottage cheese in a mixing bowl. Using a mixer (a hand one works too) blend the cheeses together until semi-smooth.

Now it’s time to start layering. Get two 9 x 13 pans and lay them side-by-side. Put just enough of the meat sauce at the bottom of each pan to make a very thin layer. (This is to keep the noodles from sticking.) Put a layer of noodles over the sauce.  Put a layer of cheese on top of the noodles. (Don’t worry about spreading it out perfectly.  It will spread out when you cook it.)

Place a layer of the meat sauce over the cheese.
Repeat the layers. Noodles, cheese, sauce.  Top with a layer of noodles and finish off with mozzarella cheese. 

Cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze.

Thawing and cooking directions:  Take the lasagna out of the freezer the night before and place in refrigerator.  When ready to cook, take off plastic wrap and re-cover with foil. Place in oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. (I let the cold pan heat up with the oven.) Bake covered for about an hour*.  Uncover and bake 15-20 more minutes until cheese is browned.

*Check the lasagna to see that it is heated through.  If not bake covered until it is.

Enjoy and happy eating!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for sharing! Going to try to do this on a weekend soon!