My business, Golden Delicious Legacies, is all about helping families preserve their culinary heritage and stories. So, most of my clients' recipes are centered in the past: Grandma's crispy fried chicken, Cousin Mildred's silky chocolate pie, or Dad's family favorite barbeque sauce.
Sometimes, though, a culinary legacy is being created in "real time". And blogging and POD (print-on-demand) publishing has opened doors for home chefs to put their culinary creations out there in real time.
Stephanie O'Dea is a mother, home chef, and blogger (www.crockpot365.blogspot.com) who last year came out with a slow-cooker cookbook called Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking. (http://www.amazon.com/Make-Fast-Cook-Slow-Everyday/dp/1401310044). This book covers everything you can cook in a slow cooker, from beverages to main dishes to "fakeout take-out.
Stephanie's book has become my go-to reference point for when I know I am going to be tired at the end of the day...like today. I love putting everything together for a meal, layering it in the crockpot, and then doing nothing at 6 p.m. except dishing it up.
Our house is up for sale and we have two showings tomorrow, so today will be spent cleaning like a madwoman and helping Chicago Man with any last minute repairs and fix-its we need to take care of.
For this evening's meal I chose lasagna. I've made Stephanie's lasagna several times this year and it always turns out great, and seems so much easier to make than the traditional oven-baked kind.
So here's the recipe straight from Stephanie's book, that in my book is sure to become a classic:
1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned and drained
1 25 oz jar of pasta sauce
10 dry lasagna noodles (traditional; not the no-cook kind per Stephanie. And like Stephanie, I eat gluten-free so I use brown rice noodles. Today I did not have lasagna noodles so I am using brown rice spirals).
15 oz container ricotta cheese
2 handfuls baby spinach (optional) I like to use this!
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional) I usually omit this
8 slices mozzarella cheese (I didn't have slices today so I used grated)
2 cups shredded Italian-style cheese
1/4 cup water
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Brown the ground meat on the stovetop and drain well. Add the jar of pasta sauce to the meat. Save the jar, you'll need it later.
Spoon some of the meat and sauce mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker. Cover with a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. Smear some ricotta cheese on the noodles, and add some mushrooms, a handful of spinach, and some egg slices if using. Put a few slices of mozzarella on top, and 1/2 cup or so of the shredded cheese. Add another spoonful of the meat and sauce mixture, and repeat layers until you run out of ingredients, or the crock is full.
Put water into the empty pasta jar and shake. Pour the contents over the assembled ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Check about an hour before serving, and push down the top noodles into the liquid if they are getting too brown and crispy. The lasagna is done when the pasta has reached the desired tenderness and the cheese has melted completely and has begun to brown on the edges.