Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Freezer Cooking #1 - Delicious Make Ahead Lasagna

With my son Matthew on his way home for Easter, I've decided that one of his gifts this year will be a freezer full of home cooked food to take home. This because every time I talk to him and ask what he's having for dinner he says one of three things:

Subway
Sushi
Canned tuna on crackers

I know!

But because I have a long history with freezer cooking on account of many years of having to be frugal, I am re-visiting the blessings found in not having much (and yes, there have been many) in order to share some wonderful recipes.

Over the next few weeks I'll share some of my time tested tried and true freezer recipes that you can make for your family - or your adult children. Starting with lasagna. People, I make good lasagna. (there, I said it)



The following is the first in my series of Freezer cooking blogs, updated for 2012.

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There's nothing quite so handy as having really good homemade food in the freezer to pop into the oven after a long day at work or school.



I often do a cooking day every few weekends to stock up and am planning such a foray this weekend. This time around I'll be making lasagna, tex mex chicken, chicken fried rice, Italian meatballs, and quiche. I'll intersperse the frozen meals over the following two weeks with meals made in the crockpot and will share the whole lot with everyone as I go.

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."

- Teneva Jordan


I don't know what it is about me that causes Mother Bear mode to kick in - but it gives me great happiness to create a feeling of warmth and security in the people I love. Part of that comes from growing up without having much money. Because times were very often tough growing up, knowing I've stocked our freezers and pantry gives me a sense of safety and accomplishment. Like I've done something important.

People who don't cook or have loads of money may not understand this, but I know there are people reading who will get what I'm saying. I write these blogs for you. And for myself. To support my fervent belief that a life of abundance need not cost a fortune and that cooking with love will always result in a finished product that soothes the appetite and the soul.

So now, onto the lasagna!

For the step by step video, please click PLAY. 


 

The Kitchen Witch's Amazingly Good Make Ahead Lasagna
For printable recipe click HERE

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 
Serves: 8-16 

Ingredients
  • 16 no boil lasagna noodles DO NOT COOK
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 540 ml can Aylmer's or Aylmer's Accents (flavour of your choice) diced tomatoes
  • 1 156 ml (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 large 390 ml (26 oz) jar of your favourite prepared spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, well drained
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 500 gram package Kraft Four Cheese Italiano cheese blend
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
  1. Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.
  2. Pour cooked mixture into a bowl and add tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, herbs, seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir everything up. There's no need to simmer the sauce because the flavours will all just meld together.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese with egg, spinach, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Spoon a little sauce in bottom of a standard size lasagna pan evenly. Layer 4 uncooked noodles, 1/3 of the cottage cheese, followed by 1/3 of the meat sauce, 1/3 the shredded four cheese blend and the parmesan cheese. Repeat with 4 more uncooked noodles until all ingredients are used, ending with sauce and cheeses. You will be using 8 noodles per lasagna.
  5. Cover with tin foil and freeze.
  6. When ready to bake, thaw completely. I pull out my lasagna in the morning before work.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes 2 lasagnas.
Frozen food can be a good thing if it comes from your own hands and is made with love.
So join me over the next few weeks for a little bit of freezer cooking.

It's a great way to create everyday magic!



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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32 comments:

  1. Too often I check out other's blogs and get really good ideas and/or recipes and never leave a comment. I get frustrated when others do the same to me ... that is if they even look at my blog. The fact is people seldom leave comments and that leaves us bloggers wondering if anyone cares. But I copied your lasagna recipe ... which looks absolutely wonderful / delicious ... and I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post it.

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  2. Delicious!!! Thank you for posting this. I'm going to check out your other recipes now :)

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  3. Hi Lyndsay...

    I just read the sweet note that you left over at my place and wanted to come by to say thank you! Sooo glad I did...I love lasagna! Your recipe looks and sounds absolutely scrumptious! Thank you for sharing it with us today! Your son is going to really enjoy all of his goodies...what a good mama you are! Ohhh...and I DO understand about the feeling of having a full freezer and stocked shelves!

    Warmest spring wishes,
    Chari

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Chari - you were certainly an inspiration to me today! Warm wishes right back to you!

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  4. Okay you've convinced em to freeze more stuff (And to take down your recipe)!

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha Christina! I promise, it's a good one :-)

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  5. Hello Lyndsay, that lovely site!
    I loved your recipes and how put each of them, congratulations! Therefore, I will become a follower!
    Kisses. (Brazil)

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  6. I see I am not the only one who switches out the ricotta for cottage cheese. Our recipes look very similar. I love cooking for my grown children also.

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    Replies
    1. This is why I love to blog! Next time I make my lasagna I'm switching out for ricotta!

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  7. Make Ahead is my middle name. Well, actually, it's Ann, but you know what I mean. Then you really won me over with the no boil noodles. I am trying this for sure.

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    Replies
    1. Oh good Pattie :-) You will really like this!

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    2. Thank you so much for the lasagna recipe. I'll make it for my Garden Friends Bible study group when we have our next luncheon. I'm so proud for you that you are in the cook-off. As you compete, I pray that the Lord pours His favor over you! Thanked for stopping by for a visit. Come by any time. Cherry Kay

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  8. Would have read "thanks". Cherry Kay

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  9. Big Thanks from caracas!!! You have a GREAT page!!! Love it. And love the videos!!!!

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  10. Please clarify how many lasagna noodles to use - the ingredient lists first one package, then later 12 noodles. The video seems to indicate three layers of four noodles per pan. So it looks like I should use 24 noodles total, 12 per pan. Is this correct?

    Many thanks! Love your site!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and thank you for the clarification - yes, 12 noodles in total :-) Enjoy!!

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  11. Lasagna, to me, is more of a concept than an exact science. It can be vegetarian, packed with veggies, heavy on meat or otherwise.

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  12. Hi Lyndsay-
    I am so excited to make your lasagna tonight. What size pan did you use so that you can make the two lasagnas. Also we should use the 12 noodles between both pans, 6 per pan? I am so excited to make one dinner and have two in the end! As a working mom, I am stocking up the freezer.
    Thank you,

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  13. Hi Lyndsay-
    I love the recipe and I can't wait to make it. What size pan do you use to make the two servings? Also, if we only use 12 noodles as stated above, we will use 6 per pan I assume. I can't wait to make this for my family tonight. I'm so happy I will have two dinners when I'm finished.
    Thank you,
    Lucy

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  14. Hi Lucy,

    You will be using standard size lasagna pans. I like to use aluminum as they are easy to freeze - you can purchase them at any grocery store. Each lasagna will use 8 no bake lasagna noodles. You will need 16 in total :-)

    I know you'll love this recipe! Happy cooking and thank you for commenting.

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  15. please disregard my comment - I was working from the recipe I had printed in the past. I see the recipe posted now is different and is clearly two layers of four noodles per. Many thanks for this recipe!

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  16. I have a quick question. After the lasagna is frozen, does it have to thaw before cooking or does it still cook at 350 for one hour?

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  17. Hi there :-). yes, defrost the lasagna on your counter. I do mine overnight and then bake as per the instructions. Enjoy!

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  18. I'm definitely going to try this recipe with the cottage cheese. Much less expensive than ricotta. Lasagna's one of my favorites because you can hide so many veggies in there. Although now that my kids are older I don't have to hide them any longer ;)

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  19. Thank you for helping me know that I could freeze the lasagna I made today. I made homemade sauce and had the ingredients to make the lasagna.

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  20. How long does the 2nd lasagna keep in the freezer? I will be making 4 smaller pastas as a lot would go to waste if I made two large ones.

    Thank you!
    Sarah

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah, the second lasagna will keep for three months. Package it well in a Ziplock freezer bag and let it thaw on the counter before baking. You will be super happy with this recipe.

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  21. Can you clarify something on the noodles for me? What do you mean by No Bake? Are these normal noodles that you would normally boil, but do not boil in this case? Or are you using the Barilla kind that you don't have to boil, but just bake instead. I'm confused since it says no bake, but you have to bake them later. :)

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  22. Andi, what a great question! I have to change that on the recipe - it should read "No Boil" lasagna noodles. You can purchase that variety. They go into the lasagna dry. Thank you :-)

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  23. I made this Lasagna last week for a friend who helped me with some home reno's. I made her quite a few small containers of it and thankfully some for myself.. They just phoned me and I would agree it is simply the best Lasaga I have ever had! and that is what they phoned to tell me as well! Quite by fluke I found this as I was looking for a recipie that I could use those No Boil Noodles.. I had never used them before... I am glad I did!! I have since forwarded this recipe to them! :) thank you Lisa

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  24. Hi Lyndsay. I love this post and will have to make your lasagna. I admire the photo of your well-organized freezer. I hope you don't mind if I post a picture of it on my OAMCC meetup page to show the ladies what an experienced freezer cooks freezer looks like on the inside. I will link back to this page of course. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

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