I do the majority of my cooking on Sundays, but since it is football season (the most wonderful time of the year!) Sundays can get a little busy because of game schedules. We live in Baltimore, but I love the Steelers (obviously) and Cleve is a Browns fan (duh). Last year we became members of the Worldwide Browns Backers club–which is a fantastic club. The members are rowdy and fun and so committed to their team Also, I have never seen a group of people so excited for a first down.
So every Sunday there is a lot of: who plays when? Can we watch that on TV at home? Do we have to go to a bar? Do we want to watch with the Backers? So this particular weekend I chose #73 because I could make it on Saturday and then bake it on Sunday when we got home from the bar.
Let’s begin, shall we? I didn’t do any sort of tracking time-line wise since I was making this ahead of time, blah blah blah. Anyhoo…
I began with the sauce. I was unaware that spaghetti sauce could come from a packet, but lo and behold #73 explicitly said “follow directions on package for meat sauce using ground beef and tomato product of your choice.” Tomato product of your choice. Ew. Is that like cheese product?
So I did the chunky Marinara version and added that to some ground beef that I browned. Easy.
So now to the noodles. #73 said to use 1/2 of a 16 oz package in a 13×9 baking dish. I looked at that size dish but that didn’t seem like enough to me. And when was I going to use lasagna noodles again? So, in two batches, I made the entire box. And I used the giant roasting pan that I have. I don’t know how big it is, but it’s bigger than a 13×9. So I am aware that dried pasta expanded when you cooked it, but I didn’t realize how much.
I was only 1 and a half layers in when I realized that I wasn’t going to have enough sauce for this monstrosity. So I pulled a kitchen MacGyver and made do with what I had in the house. My solution was to add a can of tomato paste, a 1/2 cup of water, and a smorgasbord of dried Italian-type seasonings into the remaining sauce. It was an Oregano bomb. But it mixed nicely with the packet-and-tomato-product-of-my-choice sauce.
So I was doing the layer of noodle, layer of cheese, layer of sauce thing. But you can see that I have mad spatial relation issues. Why did I think that I should put that many noodles in that orientation in that big a pan?
Once assembled, the lasagna weighed at least 3 and a half pounds: 1 pound pasta, 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ricotta (yeah, I doubled it–I doubled everything else!), and about 1/2 pound Mozzarella cheese. This frickin’ thing was big enough feed all 17,000 Jolie-Pitt kids. Although I doubt that Angelina would allow them to eat noodles made from refined wheat and tomato sauce made from a packet. Or who knows, Brad Pitt is from the Midwest. They may eat Frito Pie every other night.. Star and People haven’t told me anything about their eating habits. An aside: has anyone else noticed that Shiloh and the twins look EXACTLY like Jon Voight? Once you see it you won’t be able to un-see it.
So back to Sunday. The Browns made a valiant effort against the Miami Dolphins, but, alas, they were not victorious. Cleveland took the loss a little hard and was so distraught that he dropped to the floor and fell asleep.
Seriously. Right in the middle of the room. Like the cat. I don’t know how he is able to do this. And this was even before dinner. This was not a beer nap or lasagna-induced food coma. Color me confused.
So back to dinner. I let the refrigerated lasagna sit on the counter to warm up slightly before I put it in the oven to bake. This is how it turned out:
This was pretty good. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done and was nice to come home to after a day of vigorous cheering and beer drinking. And the bonus about having all that extra pasta hanging about the sides? Crispy deliciousness! Which is totally the best part of baked pasta.
Alongside the lasagna I put in some refrigerator crescent rolls that I brushed with my herb’ed butter from #23 Barbecued Chuck Roast. While all of that was going on I made a salad (more on that below).
For dessert I served the oranges, apples and pears that I got from my Arganica Food Club crate (I re-upped for another 3 months!), and some pecans, raisins, and dried apricots (from my cupboard) mixed with the almonds that I had leftover from #108 Baked Stuffed Shrimp.
#73 suggests Italian candies like Torrone, Jordan Almonds, or mints. So I went to the Safeway knowing that they wouldn’t have Torrone in stock, but I thought that they’d have Jordan almonds. But no. Andes candies? No! What’s a girl to do?To quote Kramer, Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint, it’s quite delicious. It’s very refreshing!
But since I mentioned the crate, I want to include a photo because it was pretty. I must note that for the salad I made a Caesar Salad (my Caesar, which is very close to an Italian salad bowl with anchovies and egg. Right?) with the red leaf lettuce that was included in my Arganica crate. Of course, romaine is the preferred lettuce, but my organic red leaf worked out just fine. My crate was awesome.
This lasagna heated up really well. The leftovers were yummy. I froze about a fourth of it, but I had to throw away the rest. I hate wasting food, I really do. But I didn’t know what to do with the rest of that thing.
Also, some of my family and friends may have been distressed by the photo of me in Browns regalia. To make up for it and prove my loyalty, I present these photos, which were from my own personal Black & Gold week, the 5 workdays leading up to last year’s Super Bowl (they are not the most flattering of photos, but they serve their purpose):
Gosh, I just can’t help myself. I must do a jaunty pose when in front of a camera. Amiright?
In summation: I love my Steelers. And this was a pretty good lasagne.