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Lasagna & Garlic Bread

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Both these recipes come from my favorite food blog, My Kitchen Cafe, and are the best lasagna and garlic bread I’ve ever made.  We ate huge pieces of the lasagna and couldn’t stop going back for more of this amazing garlic bread until only 1/4 of the loaf remained.  5 cloves of fresh garlic cooked in butter for 7 minutes, then stirred into softened butter makes an amazing spread.  This dinner was delicious, hearty & satisfying. Serve it with a green salad and you’ve got a wonderful meal.

Mom’s Lasagna
recipe adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 to 1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (undrained)
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cloves minced garlic
2 ½ teaspoons dried basil
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 container (15 ounce) ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook ground beef and onion, drain. Stir in tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, sugar, garlic, basil, and pepper.  Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (this is actually so thick that it doesn’t exactly simmer. I just left it on low heat and stirred it once in a while). In a small bowl blend ricotta, egg, parsley, parmesan cheese and ½ teaspoon salt. Put a layer of noodles in a 9 X 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil, a layer of meat sauce, layer of ricotta mixture and a layer of the cheese then repeat all the layers twice more. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover, bake 10 minutes more. (I cooked mine 30 minutes foil on & 20 minutes without the foil, that’s why the cheese got all dry-looking.) Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

*Freezable Meal: Prepare recipe right up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of aluminum foil. Freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, increase baking time to about 40 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered. If baking from frozen, bake covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, uncover and bake 30 minutes longer.

Garlic Bread
adapted from Melanie’s Cheesy Garlic Bread

5 garlic cloves, finely minced (click here for a tutorial on working with fresh garlic)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 tsp if you’re using unsalted butter)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 18-20-inch baguette or loaf of french bread, sliced in half horizontally

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400.

In a small nonstick skillet, cook the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the butter and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is straw colored, 7-10 minutes. It is important to keep the heat low or the garlic will burn and turn bitter. The garlic should be lightly browned but not burned!

In a small bowl, place the remaining 7 tablespoons softened butter and the salt and pepper. Mix in the hot garlic mixture and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, spread the butter mixture on the cut sides of bread. Sandwich the bread back together and wrap the loaf in foil. Place the wrapped loaf on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.    Cut into angled pieces and serve hot. Please try to exert self-control and share the bounty with others at the table.

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