Mom’s Homemade Lasagna
I love trying new things but I really enjoy making my good ‘ole favorites. One classic I will always come back to is lasagna. Oh lasagna how I love thee, let me count the bites! It’s not just the savory red sauce or the decadent melted cheese but I also love it for sentimental reasons.
My mom has made lasagna for our family as long as I can remember. This has always been my favorite lasagna recipe.
When mom made lasagna and her homemade rolls, we all knew it was going to be a good night. After the table was set and the majority of the bickering was done for the day, we all sat down to eat a plate of mom’s homemade lasagna. No arguing, no pushing, no yelling just amazing food and that blessed sound of a family eating in peace and quiet. Mostly. 😉
At times mom made it just for our family and other times she made it when we had company. Sharing this lasagna with our friends was more than just to calm our hunger pains. There were times that we had friends over to visit and to give my parents a chance for regular grown up conversation. We shared this with friends going through life changing experiences, both happy and sad.
Lasagna Means Comfort
Without fail there was always mayhem at our house right before company came over. She would be assembling her lasagna and making me wash the dishes. While she was overseeing the evening’s preperations, she “encouraged” my siblings to clean their rooms and got them changed into clean clothes with freshly-done hair. She would go over her list of manners, do’s and don’t for the night while she laid out her crocheted tablecloth. That really means that we all got threatened by our Hawaiian mother within an inch of our lives if we misbehaved, acted like complete animals or stained the tablecloth! By that time my dad was home from work and joined in the fiasco festivities! 😀 With four messy kids running around (including me) my mom didn’t have much patience left by the time our company had arrived but once our friends arrived, it was time for us all to enjoy. Big smiles and warm greetings were exchanged by all the grown ups and the running, playing and yelling began with the kiddos. Before long we had all forgotten the stressful build-up to the evening and it was time to eat. But after dinner and dessert the quiet-ish playing and the deep conversations began. The adults would delve into deeper talks of serious grown up topics. Sometimes there were tears, and that would often lead to my brother dashing into my room announcing that so-and-so is crying with mom! And we would all peek around the corner to witness my mom and dad consoling our company with whatever the case may be. Wordlessly we would turn to our friends and sometimes they would confide in us, while other days would be the perfect time to forget the hard stuff and just have fun. Sometimes there were tears and hugs amongst us younger folk and other times we weren’t sure how to react. My brother would often act silly to make us all laugh and it usually worked. Within minutes the pain was forgotten, at least for now, and we all tried to give our friends a break from reality. Lasagna is the symbol of being there for each other.
That lasagna wasn’t just a way to feed guests to us, it was a gesture of comfort and support but most of all it was love.
It used to be standard practice to bring meals to friends going through a rough time. Eating is a basic need and food is a required cost but most of all preparing (or picking up) food takes time. Bringing over a homemade meal for someone needing a little encouragement was a huge gesture of love and support.
This is by far the best recipe for lasagna ever and I urge you to try it the next time you want to make the best “comfort” meal.
1 box of lasagna noodles
3 24oz. jars of your favorite pre-made pasta sauce (I use Newman’s Own Tomato & Basil)
¼ tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. basil
1/4 c. ketchup
1 bay leaf
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
shredded cheddar cheese
16 oz. cottage cheese
Boil noodles until al dente, set aside. Cook ground beef and pork on medium-high heat lightly seasoning with salt and pepper until fully cooked. Drain, set aside. Pour pasta sauce into a large pot. Add meat, spices and ketchup on medium-low heat stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 13” by 9” pan spoon about ½ cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan then begin assembling your lasagna! Noodles, sauce, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese. Repeat twice. For the third layer, eliminate the cottage cheese and top with shredded cheddar. If your baking dish is as shallow as mine, it will be full. You may want to put a pan or foil under your lasagna while it bakes for 30 minutes or until lasagna is bubbling.