What 's A Kid To Do After School?

An after school snack and homework always come first. TV? Sometimes, but we have created theme days for each weekday after school. Mya Mondays for when her very young cousin visits for an hour or so and Alex helps babysit. Make It, Bake It, and Take It Tuesday when we help Alex prepare a food item to take home and share with her family. Grandpa Wednesday is a special outing with just the two of us finding a restaurant with a great dessert. Grandma takes over with Crafty Thursday as she and Alex work on a craft project. And since the weekend starts after school on Friday, Relaxing Friday tends to find cartoons or playing outside as the goal.

Scheduling regular events like this sets a pattern that everyone, including Alex, looks forward to and enjoys.


Favorite Lasagne

Lasagna is everyone’s Italian favorite, including Alex.  An authentic Italian recipe will start with homemade noodles and sauce, but our Americanized lasagna recipe uses store bought ingredients and still tastes great.

Our ingredients are:

 2 – 3 pounds of ground meat (one of the following or a mix that you prefer – ground beef or chuck, Italian sausage,  a mild breakfast sausage, or ground chicken)
1 package of Barilla no boil lasagna noodles
½ pound of cottage cheese
2 – 3 packages of shredded mozzarella or mozzarella / provolone mix
1 small package shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

2 – jars of your favorite pasta sauce (Wal Mart carries a sweet spaghetti sauce from Rinaldi that is both tasty and inexpensive)
1 – medium onion
1 – 9 X 13 baking dish

·       ·  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
·       ·  Chop the onion into small pieces
·       ·  Place the ground meat into a medium high pre-heated and lightly oiled skillet.  Add the chopped onion shortly before the meat is completely cooked.  When cooked just beyond pink, drain the grease (a little grease left behind is fine, it mixes well with the sauce).
After dumping the cheese into
 a large bowl, blending the 
cheeses by hand only adds to the fun.

·         Add one jar of sauce to the skillet with the meat, stir together and break up any large chunks of meat.  Lower the temperature to a simmer.  The meat sauce needs to have a slightly liquid consistency to cook the noodles and to be a juicy lasagna.  After simmering a few minutes will probably need to add  ½ to ¾ of the second jar of sauce.  If it is still too thick, add a little water but not enough to change the flavor of the sauce.  Reserve at least ¼ of the jar of sauce for later use in the recipe.
·         While the meat is browning, mix all of the cheeses, including the cottage cheese, in a large bowl.
·         Add ¼ jar of sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and spread it around so it covers most of the bottom surface.  It took me a long time to learn this trick, but it’s so much easier to scoop the lasagna out if you do this.
·         Add a layer of dry noodles to the bottom of the dish.  Add a layer of meat sauce and spread it around to cover the noodles.  Add a layer of cheese.  Add a second layer of noodles, meat sauce and cheese. Finish with a third layer of noodles and meat sauce.  Reserve a third layer of cheese for later.
·         Cover the baking disk with aluminum foil and place in the middle of the oven for 40 - 45 minutes.
·         Remove the dish from the oven.  Remove the aluminum foil and top the lasagna with the remaining cheese.  Place back into to the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted or browned to you preference.
·         Remove from the oven and let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes.

·         Serve it.  Eat it.  Yummy

After preparing food  packets for Alex and I to deliver to my
 sons' families, there's not much left for Grandma and Grandpa..

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