The big cheese

Let me start with telling you how nervous I was about making my first lasagna. All I knew was how to heat up Stouffers. Possibly the most intimidating part was just HOW MANY groceries I needed. Here's the lineup.

Then less than 10 minutes in, I was already crying. I mean -- it was caused by this huge onion, but still, it counts. Cooking old classics like lasagna are a little more intimidating to me I guess because I have all these memories associated with older, better cooks in my family cooking the same dish. I wanted to live up to it!

After the onions came the garlic, and after sizzling with the olive oil in the pan for a bit -- trust me; my kitchen smelled heavenly. Still nervous though, I carefully watched the pot, hoping to see the "browing" happening soon.

Sweet sausage and ground meat, suddenly I felt like it was my aunt's kitchen. Meat in the pot, classic music playing on my iPod and me getting more comfortable -- waving around a wooded spoon. I began to have a grand time.

By the time the meat was brown, my dad had entered the kitchen, saying, "Mmmm, what's for lunch?" I quickly shooed him out of my domain.

I put more spices than it called for. I love the smell, I love the taste, I love the look of this stage of the meat. The whole kitchen was thick with the smell of basil and ground beef. Yummm...

Tomato paste. Looks gross, makes the sauce delicious. It's like life -- sometimes the best things for you are the odd choices. Tomato paste is the best kind of ingredient. It's not flashy, it sits there in its tiny can, too thick and tasty.

As my aunt always says, you can never have too much sauce.

This part was probably the most fun. Any frustration I had about homework, any anxiety I had about college, was quickly squished away through this therapeutic cooking process.

Thank you tiny delicious stress-relievers. You made my sauce delicious, my walls streaked red and my mind calmer.

The sauce is almost done; it's combining nicely, and the smell was -- to die for. The kitchen now was losing light, but I pressed on.

The cheese layer material is harder than it appears. The spices need to be just right, and the thickness is temperamental.

Adding the greens to the cheese! Ricotta and fresh parsley? How classic-er could you get?

Here I took a break. The cheese layer was ready, the meat was ready -- but I forgot you had to boil the noodles. Ugg!

Here's the material after firming up a little bit in the fridge, ready to be spread.

Oil. Meat. Noodle. Cheese. Meat. Noodle. Cheese. Meat. Noodle. Meat. Mozzarella cheese.

Ready to pop in the oven. Too bad my oven was broken. At this point I packaged my HEAVY lasagna up and put it in the car, drove it to my church and cooked it there.

I can't describe the pride I felt after completing this recipe. It wasn't just that I made dinner, but that I made a classic. I rocked an apron. I made the sauce. I made the cheese. And when I took the dish out of the oven, I smiled bigger than I had all weekend.

Ready to serve. Enjoy :)

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Mozzarella, Ricotta, Parmesan (oh my!): my first try at a difficult Italian dish.  Attempting a classic — lasagna!

 By Maria Kalaitzandonakes

4 Responses to The big cheese

  1. kalaitzandonakes February 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm


  2. A. Carolyn February 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    OMG- you didn’t use Bob Evans sausage ? I forgbe you,thos time.
    Awesome job from start to finish!

  3. Maria Kalaitzandonakes February 13, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    :) I’ll send you some next time! THANKS!

  4. Bill Murphy February 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Why a piece was not sent to your wonderwful Uncle in Pittsburgh defies all logic. Next time remember, a small container, some dry ice, postage and “bam” I have a delicious meal. Nice job cooking and play by play description.


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