Monday, April 21, 2014

Grandma Shirley's Lasagna

Growing up, birthdays were the one day a year my brother or I could choose our menu. Some years we got to pick a restaurant, other years my mom would cook us dinner. We always loved that WE got to decide the menu for the evening, including dessert. I remember ice cream cakes were always a favorite, and my brother loved popcorn shrimp and would always pick the local fried seafood restaurant where he would eat an adult sized portion. I'd fill up on the warm hash browns before our meal even arrived, and because it was a celebration meal that was allowed! 

I want to carry on this tradition, and so this year I surprised Josh with a traditional lasagna. I used my Grandma Shirley's famous lasagna recipe, which is now in our McLean family cookbook that came out last Christmas. The key is making the sauce the night before and letting it sit overnight for the flavors to meld. It's simple and delicious. 

I thought about her so much while I was grocery shopping and cooking, and realized that making her recipes is a way to keep her memories alive with me. She would have loved that I made my husband a real home cooked meal on his birthday, she was always an advocate for slow food and making a fuss over birthdays. 

This was also the first night we had a small dinner party on our new trestle table. I've been talking ad nauseam about wanting a BIG farm table that could seat ten, and so the arrival of this table was a big deal for me and I'm obsessed with it! 

Grandma Shirley's Lasagna
1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 can drained mushrooms
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons oregano
Lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Cottage cheese mixed with minced chives
Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle on top)

Brown hamburger with onion, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Drain excess grease. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons oregano and refrigerate overnight.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions and drain.

In a 9x13 pan, make two layers of lasagna as follows: 
1 - layer of cooked lasagna noodles on the bottom
2 - sauce
3 - cottage cheese 
4 - mozzarella cheese

Repeat. Top with Parmesan cheese and cover with foil (to prevent sticking, spray foil with cooking spray)

Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 20 to 30 minutes.Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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