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To follow the recipe or to not, that is the question
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3-meat and 3-cheese lasagna

  • 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound pepperoni slices, cut into quarters
  • 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 lasagna noodles

Brown the sausage, ground beef, onions and garlic in a large pot. Drain grease from mixture.

Add pepperoni slices, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. Stir gently to combine. Add sugar, basil, parsley, salt, seasoning and pepper into the mixture.

Cover the pot, lower heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, soak lasagna noodles in warm water in a large lasagna pan in hot water for 15 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese and egg and mix together with a spoon.

Remove the noodles (and water) from the lasagna pan and begin layering ingredients.

Spread 2 cups of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Lay 6 noodles on top of sauce. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over top of noodles then half of mozzarella cheese and then half of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat these layers and cover with foil.

Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.

Recently, I was having dinner at a local restaurant with some girlfriends when one said, “I wish I didn’t ever have to cook again; I would eat out for every meal if I could.”

Knowing her like I do, I believe she was dead serious. She is definitely one who would adhere to that old saying, “I wouldn’t have gotten the kitchen except it came with the house.”

Several of my other friends nodded in agreement, and I wondered if I am the only one who enjoys cooking. I enjoy the fragrances, textures and flavors of foods along with the satisfaction of putting a home-cooked meal on the table too much to ever give up cooking.

In the cooking world, I believe there are two schools of thought: those who are recipe followers and those who use a recipe as a guide or inspiration incapable of making a dish exactly as written. I’ll call these two types: recipe-rule followers and recipe rebels.

To qualify, I think this principle applies to savory dishes. But most cooks will follow a baking recipe to a “T.” They know if they don’t, they are setting themselves up for a fail.

In life, I tend to be a rule follower, so it’s no surprise on which side of the aisle I fall. I am in awe of those who just seem to randomly throw ingredients into a pot and “voila!” flavor perfection.

I’ve mentioned before that Julia Child is one of my favorite people, and I continue to be inspired by her thoughts on cooking.’

She once said, “You learn to cook so that you don’t have to be a slave to recipes.”

No surprise she is a recipe rebel.

So which side of the recipe fence do you fall? Rule follower or rebel?

Over the years, lasagna has been the one thing I don’t think I’ve ever made the same way twice. Here is my most recent version. Maybe I’m more of a rebel than I thought.

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