Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lotsa Lotsa Lasagna

All my children and husband love my lasagna. It's been a staple and/or treat for 31 years around the Stowers household. I got the recipe on a trip to Atlanta to see my brother Rusty's family in the summer of 1980.Ross and Sara were infants. Clay was one year old. I believe it was the fourth of July as I remember my sister-in-law, Stacy, and brother-in-law, Sid, running the the Peachtree Road Race. Yes, Stacy was just a few, maybe 6, weeks postpartum and I thought she was crazy and we would find her inner parts on the road somewhere, but being the medical novice that I was, I was wrong. She and Sid finished the race very well.

If you've ever been around the Ross clan around feeding time, you know that's like the feeding of the 5000. We do love to eat. Stacy served many great things that weekend. Having a personal aversion to running I spent a lot of time copying her recipes. I remember specifically her Greek Braid Bread, Praline Cheesecake, All-American Coffee Cake and Baked Lasagna. The prior two recipes were used by me only a couple of times over the years. (My husband was not a particular fan of whole wheat bread nor pecans.) However, the latter became staples in our household.

Whenever I asked my son, Ross, what he would like for dinner he would answer with two specific requests; pot roast or LASAGNA (imagine it said really fast and loud). Of course, those two things, his favorites, take quite a bit of time to prepare properly, so I would usually have to ask for something else.

Ross and his family are coming for a visit before heading back to Italy and I thought I would prepare a few things for the freezer to minimize some of my kitchen time while they are here. One being said lasagna. So, after going to the hairdresser on Wednesday of this week, I stopped in at my local HEB, my favorite grocery store, to purchase the needed ingredients. I love HEB and their store brand products are really equal to any name brand in most cases; especially if used as an ingredient in a baked item. So, amongst all the other needed products, I picked up 3 24-oz cartons of HEB Small Curd Cottage Cheese to use in the 3 lasagnas I was preparing. My plan was to make them Thursday, including a small one for Mark and my dinner, and freeze the remainder.

Thursday came and after lunch I worked about 3 hours preparing the recipe. It looked good if not perfect. Into the freezer they went. After working so, I popped the small dish in the oven, and I retired to my den to watch a little local news, something I rarely do. (I don't like the news, but that's another post.) Imagine my horror and shock when sweet Dominique Sachse announced a recall of HEB cottage cheese and sour cream. It was a purely preventative step HEB was taking, but you were to return any product to HEB for a full refund. WHAT?????

I immediately called customer service at HEB headquarters. It was after 5, so they were closed for the day. If it has been a germ or bug, or something, I would have dismissed it, being they were baked, but what if it was someone's FINGER or something? I called my local store. The manager, Mike, was very nice about it, but said he could not recommend me salvaging the lasagnas and that he would let me come to the store, reshop all the ingredients, including the ones I had used from my pantry. Wow. That was great, but still, the time and the precious LASAGNA!!!! It hurt to throw it in the garbage. I know there are people who go through garbage daily to have something to eat. Oh, my. My inner humanitarian HATED that. But throw it away, I did.

I spent my Friday afternoon as a repeat of Thursday and now there are 3 beautiful lasagnas in the freezer waiting the arrival of my family.

I also followed the advice of several, including Stacy, when I wrote a nice, but firm letter to HEB requesting compensation for my time, the electricity, gas and other resources used to remake the dishes. We'll see what they do about that.

Since the beginning of the debacle involving the tainted cottage cheese, I've had several requests for this recipe.. I've tweaked it a little over the years, but it's basically the same.

brown 1 1/2 pounds of good quality ground beef (I do this in the microwave in 6 minutes using my Pampered Chef Batter Bowl with lid. Contact Sara Foster for more info on that. I also use the PC Mix & Chop to get a perfect texture in the beef.)d

drain fat


1 clove garlic minced (I use a little more)

1 1/2 Tablespoons parsley

1 Tablespoon basil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1-lb can of diced tomatoes

2 6-oz tomato paste

Mix well and let simmer for at least 30 minutes

Cottage Cheese Mixture

3 cups of cream style small curd cottage cheese

2 Tablespoons parsley flakes

2 beaten eggs

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Stir well

Prepare a 13X9 baking dish with pam or similar product

I use the no-boil or oven ready lasagna noodles. They work great.



1/2 cottage cheese mixture

cover this completely with slices of mozzarella cheese (It will take 3/4 to one pound for entire recipe)

1/2 of the meat mixture

Repeat: pasta, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and meat

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before cutting.

I like this because the cheese doesn't burn or get tough on top. If I'm going to all this trouble (and for me, make the considerable mess), I always at least double or triple the recipe and put the extras in the freezer. It works great. If you allow it to thaw, you bake it the same way. If it's still frozen, reduce the heat to 350, cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until the middle is hot.

Enjoy. I know we'll savor every bite of ours!