Christmas Eve Dinner Menu: Guests’ Choice

Our annual Christmas Eve dinner has always been guests’ choice. And has become tradition, Spinach Lasagna is the requested main course.

We are really looking forward to getting together this year, especially with the newest addition.  We are still deciding between a movie or a board game, but I have both on hand, so we don’t have to decide until after dinner.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Collard Greens with Bacon
  3. Garlic Cheese Bread
  4. Ice Cream Sundae Bar

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I make this the day before and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring the center up to temperature.

 

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan Continue reading

Christmas Eve: Groundhog Day

Because 2020 and we are all feeling a bit worn out this year is not creative at all. When I asked my friends what they wanted for our very small gathering this year, Spinach Lasagna was the winner. Just like last year.

Further discussions found that they had never seen Groundhog Day...so that’s this year’s movie choice and it all seems so very appropriate.

From 2019:

One of my favorite nights of the year. Friends come over for Christmas Eve dinner and then we watch a movie. Tonight: Strictly Ballroom, a quirky Australian treat by Baz Luhrman.

This year I had a request to make Spinach Lasagna again, I haven’t made it for a few years. I really like it because I can prep it ahead and the night of the party I’m not stuck in the kitchen.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Green Beans Tossed w/Butter & Lemon Pepper
  3. Garlic Cheese Bread
  4. Ice Cream Sundae Bar

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I made it on Sunday and refrigerated. It will need additional cooking time to bring the center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan Continue reading

Christmas Eve Dinner: Spinach Lasagna, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Lemon-Butter Green Beans

One of my favorite nights of the year. Friends come over for Christmas Eve dinner and then we watch a movie. Tonight: Strictly Ballroom, a quirky Australian treat by Baz Luhrman.

This year I had a request to make Spinach Lasagna again, I haven’t made it for a few years. I really like it because I can prep it ahead and the night of the party I’m not stuck in the kitchen.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Green Beans Tossed w/Butter & Lemon Pepper
  3. Garlic Cheese Bread
  4. Ice Cream Sundae Bar

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I made it on Sunday and refrigerated. It will need additional cooking time to bring the center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan Continue reading

Spinach Lasagna: UPDATED

Lasagna snap3
UPDATE: JeffreyW took my original photo and played with it to tone down the gold and bring up the reds and it looks much better.  I ran it through Snapseed again to give it some flair and I think it’s better. You can compare it with the original below:
Lasagna snap2

If you click on any photo and then click on its title, you’ll get full size.

This was our Christmas eve main course. There was also garlic-cheese bread, a beautiful tossed salad and for dessert, a sundae bar with all kinds of toppings.

There were three of us playing with the camera, but no matter what, the pictures wanted to be golden.  Even with a white sheet for balance. So I finally went with it before the lasagna got cold.

It was good. The original recipe is here. I made the sauce on Friday. So on Monday all I had to do was put the lasagna together. I used Tinkyada rice noodles to keep it gluten free. I didn’t boil them first, so I cooked the lasagna at full temp for 45 minutes, then turned the oven down to 200 degrees and let it coast until the guests arrived (about 90 minutes). The noodles were perfect. Pulled it out and let it set while I toasted the garlic bread. Total prep time was about 30 minutes, including salad, bread and putting the lasagna together.

That’s what I call a stress-free dinner party.

Thursday Night Recipe Exchange: Spinach Recipes

Recipe Exchange cross-posted at Balloon-Juice.

I thought last week went really well.  Thanks for playing along. This week we delve into spinach recipes.  I used to hate spinach.  This is probably because I am a child of the 70’s and the only spinach I ever saw was canned or frozen, with the consistency of slime.  As an adult I discovered fresh, baby spinach and I never looked back.  One of my favorite spinach recipes is Spinach Lasagna.  

JeffreyW's stuffed manicotti with spinach

I also make a pretty good Tomato-Spinach Soup, here’s nice recipe for Chicken and Spinach Wraps, and JeffreyW has a lovely Stuffed Manicotti that uses spinach.  So now it’s your turn.  What are some of your favorite uses for spinach? Hit the comments and share.

To get us started:

Spinach Lasagna

This is one of my most requested recipes.  Every time I make it, someone wants the recipe.  Since the prep time is long, I usually only break it out for special occasions.  It freezes well, so you can make a double batch and freeze two 8×8 pans of  uncooked lasagna for two more meals.  Thaw the night  before (in the refrigerator) and cook until heated through, about 45 minutes to an hour.  This recipe is great vegetarian, or you can add ground beef and sausage if desired.

 This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 3 tsp basil, crushed
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering*
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz fresh baby spinach, washed and dried and chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

*if you’d like to make your own noodles, here is the recipe I use:

Lasagna Noodles

When I do make the pasta, I make three, pan-sized noodles, rolled very, very thin. I place them uncooked in the dish, so they absorbed much of the sauce.  I usually make a bit extra sauce to serve on the side with the lasagna.

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, add flour.  Make a well in the center and add egg yolks, eggs and salt.  Mix well with a fork.  Mix in water, 1 tbsp at a time until dough forms a ball.  Turn out onto a well floured board or pastry sheet.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.  Divide dough into 3 equal parts.  Roll one ball out as thin as possible (I use a marble rolling pin, you can also use a pasta machine).  Make sure to cover remaining balls with a damp towel until ready to use.  Cut to fit pan. Repeat with remaining dough until you have 3 pan sized noodles.  DO NOT COOK  homemade noodles before putting lasagna together.  Follow directions above for putting lasagna together.

Next Week:  Favorite Super Bowl Food