Reblog: The Holidays on the East Coast: Friends!
Flying back to NYC for the holidays means I have to see lots of people in a limited amount of time. Knowing how to balance my time between seeing family and friends can get tricky. So this year, I took a new approach. I invited a few close friends to my parents house for a dinner party! The menu included:
1. spinach salad with honey coated walnuts, strawberries, pears, and dried cranberries with a simple oil, mustard and balsamic vinaigrette dressing:
2. A traditional Polish mushroom soup made by my mother:
2. A beef and sausage lasagna that I made which was paired with a delicious red wine brought by Ryan:
3. Dessert brought by Daphra and Stefanie:
Mom’s apple cake (left), Daphra’s zucchini bread (top center), Stefanie’s cinnamon cookies
The conversation was lively, and I couldn’t be happier to catch up with Daphra, Stefanie and Ryan. Iga and my parents joined us for the meal and made my friends feel at home. It also made me happy to see Ryan get along so well with two of my closest friends and grateful that they have been so helpful in Ryan’s transition to NYC from the West Coast. I look forward to our next adventure…
Marta, Stefanie, Ryan and Daphra post dinner
When a friend of mine in San Francisco sent me this link and mentioned how delicious this lasagna is, I shrug my shoulders and thought, “That’s great. But I am not a huge fan of lasagna.”It is always served at big dinner parties, and I find myself going for it each time. I find the cheese and sauce so irresistibly delicious looking. When I try it, immediately I regret my decision. Often times they are boring- lots of pasta with little flavor in the sauce and not enough cheese. Even when mom made lasagna when Iga and I were younger, I was not much of a fan. However, I promised to give this one a try and did when I visited my parents this past summer in NY. The lasagna turned out AMAZING and even my father who only eats meat and potatoes complemented the lasagna. My favorite part about this dish is that it holds off on the pasta and is overfilling with meat sauce. The best part in my opinion is the amount of cheese that goes into this dish. It is definitely not for those looking to lose a few pounds, but if you are going to treat yourself, why not go all out? So..when Ryan, Daphra and Stefanie came over for dinner, I decided to make this lasagna again.
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 pound of ground beef
1/2 cup of chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 (28 ounce) (784 g) can of crushed tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) (230 g) cans of tomato sauce
2 (6 ounce) (168 g) cans of tomato paste
1/2 (120 mL) cup of water
2 tablespoons (30 mL) white sugar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) fresh Basil leaves chopped
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground pepper
23 ounces (644 g) of ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
12 lasagna noodles (I like the whole wheat ones: Healthy Choice)
Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
1. Meat: I HIGHLY recommend you purchase fresh sausage that you have to cook yourself. It is a bit more expensive but it has much more flavor and is healthier.
2. This recipe is labor intensive. Give yourself plenty of time to make it. I recommend at least 4 hours. It is even better if you let it sit for a bit before serving.
STEP ONE: Boiling the sausage (if you decide to buy an already cooked sausage, skip this step)
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Turn the heat off and place the sausage in the pot for 5-8min. Let it cool and cut it into small pieces.
STEP TWO: Cooking the meat
Cook the ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic in a pot until for 6 to 9 minutes until the meat starts to brown.
STEP THREE: Adding the sauces and spices
Add in the crushed tomatoes, cans of tomato sauce, cans of tomato paste and water and stir. Then add the sugar, basil, parsley, salt, italian seasoning and pepper. Let it simmer on low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes while covered.
It is important to let it simmer for at least an hour so that all the spices and flavors can do their job! I would not try skimping out on the time here.
STEP FOUR: Preparing the lasagna noodles
While the sauce is simmering, you can prepare the lasagna noodles by placing them in hot tap water for about 15 minutes (keeping them longer is okay). I want to keep them covered in some water or the noodles will harden.
STEP FIVE: Preparing the filling
Mix the ricotta cheese, egg and parsley
STEP SIX: Building the lasagna
Once the sauce is ready, you can build your lasagna in a 9 x 13 inch pan.
A) spread 2 cups of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan
B) lay 6 noodles across the layer of sauce
C) spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture onto sauce
D) sprinkle mozzarella cheese (be generous if you like cheese) and Parmesan cheese
E) repeat A-D
F) add the rest of the sauce
G) and finally the rest of the cheese
H) cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F
I) remove foil and bake uncovered for another 25 minutes
this was hands down the best lasagna ive ever tasted. yes it did contribute to the chubby bunny belly but so worth it.