After Christmas was over, I tried not to make too much new stuff since we had so many leftovers... But finally, it was time to cook again, it was cold outside, and we needed something big, warm and comforting. Lasagna to the rescue!
I tried using the no-boil noodles for the first time, and I have to say I'm not all that impressed. I really love the wavey-edged lasagna noodles that are so thick and kinda chewy after they're boiled, and will be honest here - I have a hard time making sure every one of them gets into the lasagna. I usually justify my snacking on them by sticking with the broken pieces.
Using the no-boil noodles isn't nearly as fun or tasty, PLUS I felt they were a bit thin, and had more of the texture of undercooked thin bread dough after the lasagna was done. Oh well - I have one other brand to try in the pantry (the square, no ruffles type), and we'll see how they fair sometime soon.
Aside from not loving the noodles (don't get me wrong - they were alright), this lasagna came together in a SNAP - but that's because I cheated. I followed the recipe on the noodle box, and after cooking up some ground beef, I just dumped in a jar of fire-roasted tomatoes spaghetti sauce - no slaving over a hot stove making sauce from scratch this time! The sauce mixture also called for a cup of water (for the noodles to absorb during baking) - I subbed in about 1/2 a cup of red wine to make it extra good.
In a separate bowl ricotta cheese was combined with egg, shredded mozz, parmesian, salt, pepper and I got totally crazy and added in some nutmeg and dried basil. 'Cause I'm a crazy fool!
Then it's just a matter of layering it all together. Super simple and only a bit messy (meaning, yes, I was covered in ricotta and sauce). I DO wish I'd added in some cottage cheese - I like how that makes a smoother cheese layer, and will have to do that next time.
Then I tried something new... Many of us have it, but whoever uses the timed-bake settings on their oven!?!? I had made the lasagna earlier in the day, and wanted to run out for some quick errands. Brett would be home for dinner hours later, and I figured I didn't want to be stuck home while the lasagna baked for an hour...so I stuck the lasagna in the oven, all wrapped in foil - it was still cold from all the cheeses, sauce, etc - and set the oven to start baking in an hour and a half, to only go for an hour, and crossed my fingers that the house didn't burn down.
By the time I got home from running errands, the lasagna had a half hour left, and WOW did the place smell good! It's almost like when you get home and have had the crockpot going. Talk about nice! Once the lasagna was done, I let it just chill out, and we re-heated it in the oven when it was dinner time (I've heard lasagna's one of those things that benefits from some baking and then re-heating later...helps the flavors marry?). Anyhow - GOOD STUFF!