Meat Lasagna | Freezing Comfort Food | Baby Bump

I just realized the time is here for frozen food. But please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about hitting up the freezer aisle at the supermarket. I would rather eat a bowlful of glass. I’m referring to cooking a lovely meal at home and freezing it to enjoy at a later date.

Perhaps you already freeze homemade meals on a regular basis in order to have food on hand for those cold nights when you’re under the weather. If you do, I am remarkably impressed. Such a thing never occurred to me until recently when someone suggested newborns take up a great deal of time.  I had no idea. It was further implied that cooking one-handed with a newborn in one arm is a rigorous, if not nearly impossible, skill to master.

I am not adept at picking up new skills and, therefore, I am taking action now. I am 38 weeks pregnant and I like food a whole lot.  I do not intend to starve after the birth of my little bun. She could be here at any time and I hope to have some food on hand for our little family to feast upon as she dazzles and perplexes us.

The first thought I had in this respect was, of course, comfort food. And, what could be more appropriate than lasagna? I can think of no better option because it’s wholesome, delicious, and freezes like a dream. I have a favorite recipe from the New Basics Cookbook, which I use on all sorts of occasions to comfort sick friends and others going through difficult times. It is a handy thing to have in your repertoire.

Of course, I don’t really stick to the recipe. I have my own spin, which I’ll share with you today. I think you’ll like it a lot. I also think that it might come in handy for you. I know you all lead busy lives whether or not you have little infants begging for attention. It’s a good idea to be prepared. After all, they are predicting a harsh winter. Will Amazon Fresh be able to drive through the snow if you can’t? I wonder.

I’m not taking my chances. I’m too hungry for that.

Beef Lasagna

4 tblsp. olive oil

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 shallot or spanish onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tblsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1 carrot, finely shredded

1 28 oz. cans organic diced tomatoes

4 tblsp. chopped parsley

3 and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup chopped cooked spinach, well drained

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tblsp. dried oregano

3/4 tsp nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper, sea salt to taste

3 cups grated mozzarella cheese

8 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 tblsp. of oil in a sauce pan. Add the shallots and red pepper flakes and cook until the shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, thyme, and garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes over low heat. Season with salt.

Heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the beef, crumbling it into the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned. Drain, and set aside.

Add the beef and half of the parsley to the tomato sauce and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, remaining parsley, oregano, nutmeg, parmesan, and black pepper. Stir well.

Using a 13 x9 baking dish, pour 1 and 1/2 cups of tomato sauce across the bottom.  Arrange 4 noodles on top of the sauce. Add half the ricotta and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella over top. Repeat layer.  Top the remaining layer with just 1 cup of sauce and the remaining cup of mozzarella.  Wrap the top in foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for an additional 18 minutes at same temperature.  At the very end with just approximately 2 minutes to go, turn the boiler onto high. Bake for an additional 2 minutes in order to brown the cheese on top.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy it right away or freeze it for a special occasion….

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49 Comments

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    Beautiful photo with the steam rising! And, the New Basics is one of my favorites, actually it’s the first cookbook I ever bought for myself. Freezing some meals is such a great idea. You’ll be well-prepared in the coming weeks!

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    This lasagna looks so good and extremely comforting!

    Frozen homemade food is wonderful! So handy, healthy and delicious.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    I can tell you will be well prepared. There’s something magical about baked pasta. You’ve made me very hungry for lasagna now.

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    Mmmm…that looks so ooey gooey delicious! You look fantastic :)

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  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    Oh man, your baby is lucky to be able to be in a family with such good food :)

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    Lasagna is one of my favorite foods. We served it at my wedding. But this lasagna looks like quite possibly the most delicious thing I have ever seen. Ever.

    Ever.

    I think I might have to make it like asap because my stomach is grumbling just looking at it. wow.

    ummmmmmm delicious.

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    The lasagna looks delicious, but I must say, the “Mom” is getting very lovely as she prepares to bring home Miss Bun. You look wonderful! Motherhood is already agreeing with you.

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    You are a wise, wise woman. There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — that tastes better after a new babe than lasagne (MEAT lasagne).

    That said? Get ye a sling, throw the baby in, and you’ll be cooking up a storm from the get go. Newborns are an easy lot, once you get the hang of them. And just WAIT until you smell that fresh-off-the-truck hair.

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    Looks delicious!

  • December 8, 2010 - | Permalink

    I spent a lot of my nesting time cooking! My freezer was FILLED. I was pretty shocked at how much time I had to cook in the first few months of Cooper’s life, though. They sleep a lot in the first few months, so take advantage of that! It wasn’t until after 3 months that I had a harder time and was thankful of all the food that I had stored away!

    I stockpiled these freezer burritos. I also make a huge batch for my friends/family with newborns. They totally help in a pinch!

    http://www.shutterbean.com/make-your-own-freezer-burritos/

    You are sooo close, girl! SOOOO CLOSE!! xoxo

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    love love the baby bump! you look so good robin! and great that you’re freezing foods. i made lots of soups too which helped because i was too tired to cook. and hopefully friends and family will come with food too. almost there! breeeathe….

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    My that looks inviting! I love the fresh scent of thyme huh. Agree to what you’ve said, we should make the most of our time preparing and storing stuffs that could be handy when times comes specially food. It really pays off. Thanks for sharing this recipe and enjoy the season!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    The lasagna looks delicious!!
    Have a safe delivery!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    I’ve actually been thinking about lasagna lately. I’m in the mood for comfort foods.

    You look lovely. It is amazing that at any point you will get to meet your little one! Hope you are feeling well and getting to relax a lot right now.

    Best,
    Julia

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    Keep the freezer recipes coming! I plan on going into a cooking frenzy near the end.

    For those of us who aren’t so used to the freeze and save method, what are the re-heating instructions?

    • redmenace
      December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

      Hi Urban Nest,
      That’s a great question! My pregnancy brain totally forgot to include that information. In order to reheat this, you can microwave it for probably about 4 minutes. I actually use the sensor setting. It cooks more slowly and evenly that way- although it takes a tad longer. If you could to put it in the oven, I’d do about a 350 heat for an hour. Keep checking on that bad boy though. Good luck! Your bun is coming soon too, right?! xo Robin

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    Whoa, that looks soooo good, Robin! I could eat that piece of lasagna for breakfast right now;) Plus, the list of ingredients sounds so rich and wholesome at the same time.
    Hope your bun arrives soon, so that you all can get settled in with each other. Yeah, I have a feeling you guys are going to have a very nice Christmas…

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    Always a good idea for new mums to stockpile food. Good food, like meaty, cheesy, spinach-y lasagna! Look at you with the Italian trade secrets — carrots in the tomato sauce and nutmeg in with the greens! Rock on, mom and baby.

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    This is such a good reminder! I need to get some meals in the freezer….

    You look amazing; I’m so excited for you! Take care

    xo e

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    I wonder why it has never occurred to me to make food specifically so I could freeze some for later??? Great tip. Keep it up and you’ll have PLENTY of queued up goodies for when you’re short on time!

    38 weeks?! Wow – getting so close!!!

    [K]

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    Good thinking. I need to do this!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    I can’t wait until bump makes her debut as a baby! You must be so excited!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    I love the baby bump!! Good luck with everything!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    all the best! And the photo of the lasagna is AMAZING!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    Hooray for the latest baby bump photo! 38 weeks and you’re almost there. Go baby, go! :)

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    I love this! Everytime I make lasagna I make an extra for the freezer!

  • December 9, 2010 - | Permalink

    My boyfriend would be in heaven if I made this :). Even without the little bundle of joy on the way, I’ve thought about making extras for packing lunch or those nights after exhausting days but…I haven’t gotten around to it yet. One day soon 8p.

  • December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    Mmmmm, looks delicious! Yum :)

  • December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    That looks way too delicious for a Friday morning before work. I need to get in the habit of freezing things and then actually using them. It would make my life so much easier. I also feel like I don’t use nutmeg enough. Actually, my father-in-law made bragiole once and he added a touch of cinnamon that went incredibly with the meat and tomato sauce.

  • December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    You made amazing lasagna. I have to laugh at the “I’d rather eat glass comment.” I could not agree more!!! Here’s to you, the baby and healthy eating!

  • December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    Ok that picture with the steam coming from the lasagna is awesome! I am a huge lasagna friends but i tend to eat it before i can even freeze it. BTW you look great.

  • December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    Love that dress! You are so smart to do this. I did not and regretted all not having anything healthy to eat those first few months besides what kind souls brought me. I will bring you food!

    • redmenace
      December 13, 2010 - | Permalink

      Dana, You’re sweet. I might just take you up on that! xoxo

  • Beverly
    December 11, 2010 - | Permalink

    I love the photo of the lasagna being lifted out of the dish. THAT is food I want to eat!

  • December 11, 2010 - | Permalink

    This is a great idea! I love the way knowing that you have some good homemade food tucked away in the freezer makes one feel :) This lasagna looks like the epitome of the type of home-cooked meal you want to come home to!

  • Beth
    December 12, 2010 - | Permalink

    Not even sure where to begin!!!

    I found your site browsing through Tastespotting and couldn’t drag myself away!!

    Your pics are amazing and (thanks for the link) the shots of Shawn and Dyan’s wedding were a joy to view.

    I recently purchased a Food Saver, so am interested in freezable stuff! :) I have bumped this lasagna recipe to the top.

    I’m single and 56, so our reasons for wanting this “instant” meal may be different but I suspect we’ll both enjoy them much the same.

    Wonderful blog.

    • redmenace
      December 13, 2010 - | Permalink

      Beth, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. So glad to have you here! Enjoy freezing up some wonderful food and I’ll be sure to pass on the photo compliments to my talented husband :)

  • December 13, 2010 - | Permalink

    i’m drooling over that lasagna, looks delicious and the baby bump is so fantastically cute! and yes! stock up on food! you don’t want to take care of a newborn in an empty stomach!

  • December 13, 2010 - | Permalink

    look how cute you are?! I hope this brief window of seattle sun brings you joy today!

  • December 13, 2010 - | Permalink

    I have been told the same thing by many friends and this weekend I packed the freezer full of home made meals.

  • December 14, 2010 - | Permalink

    Hi Robin, Thanks for your sweet comment yesterday. We actually tried out the butterscotch pudding this weekend and we all enjoyed it very much.

    Been thinking about you from time to time…I know things can happen any day for you. Must be exciting. I am almost to that point myself.

    Be well!

  • December 14, 2010 - | Permalink

    This is a very, very good idea! My husband and I bought a used freezer off Craigslist just for this reason and I spent the last two weeks of my pregnancy cooking up a storm. Lasagna was one of the dishes I made. There are going to be many days where you don’t feel like cooking and this will be a lifesaver!

  • December 21, 2010 - | Permalink

    Indeed cooking with an infant to take care of will really take a lot of time. I also slept most of the time on the day when I had my first born and I stayed fully awake at night to nurse him. Having frozen dinners ready to be warmed in the microwave was very comforting as I always become hungry after nursing. This lasagna sure looks mouth watering.

  • January 4, 2011 - | Permalink

    The image of you with the poster in the background is gorgeous. Makes me wish I was pregnant again!

    I’ve always wanted to try my hand at freezing meals. When you freeze the lasagna, how do you wrap it? Can you freeze it prior to baking it or must it be cooked first?

    • redmenace
      January 4, 2011 - | Permalink

      Hi Amnah,
      You can most definitely freeze the lasagna before it’s cooked. That’s a great idea. I didn’t do that because I was attempting to have smaller individual portions on hand post birth. Thanks for the compliment too. I have to say, however, I really love having my baby on the outside now!
      xo
      Robin

  • July 3, 2011 - | Permalink

    Lately I have saved more lasagne recipes than i care to admit, but that last photo has TOTALLY sealed the deal for me, this one is the one that is going to get made for certain. Ive never seen a lasagne look so so tempting. Goodness. Will let you know how it turns out! :)

  • Toi
    December 15, 2011 - | Permalink

    You have Parmesan cheese listed in ingredients list, however I don’t see it in recipe directions. Is the parmesan simply to sprinkle on lasagne after it’s cooked? I plan to make this this weekend. I’m so excited!

    • redmenace
      December 15, 2011 - | Permalink

      Toi,
      Oh goodness. Thank you for noticing. I was a bit crazy when I drafted that post. I assure you, however, the recipe is still one of my favorites! The parmesan goes into the ricotta mixture. I amended the recipe on the site. Thank you and happy eating! xo Robin

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