Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Awesome Lasagna

Finding new and interesting meals to feed my family that we all actually enjoy is always a challenge. Finding new and interesting meals that are also easy to have ready for our crazy Tuesday schedule is nearly impossible. My kids are both somewhat picky, as I think most kids are. Connor will eat a lot of things as long as he can cover them with ketchup, but won't touch fish and usually complains about anything with too much tomato sauce (a ketchup fiend, go figure). Janelle will most likely become a vegetarian someday, since she loves most veggies, but must be forced to eat the meat on her plate. Chris would say that I am picky, too, and I really can't deny it. He claims that he is extremely easy to please. I would counter that he is fairly easy to feed, meaning he will eat almost anything, but not always easy to impress.

We have our old faithfuls, as every family has. Stir-fry is a biggie for us, because both of my kids love it and so do Chris and I. I try to do the traditional meat-and-potatoes meal once a week, and spaghetti or some other form of pasta meal usually makes it onto the weekly list. Rice with meatball or wings is an easy crock pot meal that often makes an appearance on our dinner table. Tuesday nights (remember the Tuesday treadmill?) I usually resort to breadmaker pizza, or something I've dug out of the freezer. The last two weeks I've been determined to break that mold and come up with something different and unpredictable for Tuesdays. It has to be something that I can get onto the table quickly, and preferably something that I can transport easily to Chris to eat at Connor's basketball practice. Crock pot beef stew was a roaring success last week (except with Janelle the vegetarian, who begged for a peanut butter sandwich instead), and this week I made it my own challenge to come up with something else to surprise my family with. Something all four of us would love.

I used to make lasagna fairly often. I use a recipe that evolved from my mother's recipe, with a little tweaking here and there. Chris calls it my "awesome lasagna", because once early in our marriage I announced to our dinner guest that "my lasagna is awesome". I was actually refering to my mother's lasagna, since at that point I really hadn't claimed any of my cooking as my own yet. Everything I made was someone else's recipe, someone talented and experienced in the area of cooking, which I clearly was not. I have to say, that lasagna was pretty amazing, though. And now it's even better. But until yesterday, I don't think I had made it in years. I even had to play around with the recipe when I couldn't find a 19 oz can of tomatoes at the grocery story. Oh, well, 28 oz — more is always better, right? This is one meal that I'm not afraid to experiment with. I was convinced that no matter what I did, it would come out "awesome".

I had serious doubts as to whether on not my kids would accept this very foreign food to our dinner table. I'm pretty sure the last time I tried to serve it to them they both turned up their noses. This time I was determined to prove to them that "my lasagna is awesome". I was prepared for the whining, and had my "You only have to eat 5 bites and if you still hate it..." practiced and ready. When I first put it in the oven before I took Janelle to piano lessons, Connor made a quiet, skeptical comment: "You're making lasagna for supper?" When I came home from taking Janelle to her lesson, I walked into my glorious smelling house and said "Oh, that lasagna smells SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD!" Connor kind of hesitated before replying, "Yeah, Mom, it really does." Woohoo! I started to get my hopes up! When we arrived home after Janelle's piano lesson, the smell had changed a bit. I could tell that I had left it cooking too long. When I opened the oven door my heart sank. The cheese was brown, and the edges were nearly black. But I sucked back my disappointment and declared "Oh, you lucky kids are going to have the most delicious dinner!"

Connor actually smiled and made yummy noises when I set his plate on the table. He dug in with gusto. I guess he didn't care that it was slightly overdone. Janelle, on the other hand, said "Mommy, why did you make something I don't like for dinner?" I replied, "But how do you know you don't like it, Honey?" "Well, it sure doesn't look like something I like." It took some encouragement, but after the first frowny bite, she ate it pretty happily. When I sent her back to the table to finish her dinner (which I basically have to do every night, since my little scatterbrain inevitably finds something else she just has to do or check on in the middle of dinner), she ran back to the table and said "But Mommy, my plate is empty!" Hallelujah! Success!

When Chris came home from basketball practice I asked how he liked the lasagna and he gave me a half-hearted "Good". "Good?", I shot back at him. "Whattayamean, good?" "Well, that's no way to eat lasagna. Lukewarm, out of plastic, standing up in a gym." Okay, I had to give him that. Then I watched him pull the dish of lasagna out of the fridge and heat up two more pieces. I secretly smiled as he devoured them. I think I found another new Tuesday dinner.

Today I haven't thought about what we'll have for supper. But I know what I'm having for lunch. My lasagna is awesome!


  1. Yeah Leanne! so glad you have found things to love about cooking and baking. Still remember the newcomer to home ec back in grade nine, the three of us had fun though.
    I usually cook everything on Sunday nights for the weeks dinners - nothing radical, just food to sustain me through the week and my constantly running schedule. Still love to cook and bake when I have the time - Christmas baking day is the day before meet the girls weekend :)

  2. I love Lasagna but no one else in the house really does so I hardly ever make it plus I don't want the wheat. Randy did like Lynda Doige's though when he had it at some potluck or other. I love my crock pot for Tuesdays. We had chicken legs with carrots and potatoes. Sort of like a stew but I kept all the veggies big. I also put bread in the machine. It was nice to come home to.

    I'm just about to go write. I went and helped Jennifer tidy up her house a bit before she left for Bolivia. She' driving to Halifax now.

  3. Andrew swears he decided to marry me the first time I cooked him lasagne.

  4. Do you put cottage cheese in your lasagna? I used to until my Italian husband insisted I used ricotta. One of the best modifications I've ever made to my mother's lasagna recipe!