26 Dec 2012, 5:21pm
Of Food and Love:

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  • Of Food And Love: Christmas Lasagna

    Our Popsicle stick snowflakes hung in the window…

     This Christmas ranks in the top of my *Best Christmas Ever* list.  At the moment, I can’t think of another one that can come close.  Why?  One simple word: family.
    I believe in God.  And it’s instances like these when my faith in him grows even more.  About three days before we left to celebrate Christmas in New York with my dad, I was thinking to myself how sad it is that my family is so small.  My children haven’t any cousins nearby and my son is asking me why he doesn’t have a big family like everyone else.  I was feeling lonely and a little sad, quite frankly.  The bright light on my holiday horizon was the fact I would be seeing my little sister  for the first time in nearly a year.  I was really looking forward to that.

    The day before we arrived in New York, my dad put me on the phone with a cousin, a third cousin, of mine.  We got to chatting and decided that we wanted to meet.  Two days later, we met.  My children fell in love with their cousin Shanique and her children.

    The next day we went to see the tree at Rockafella center and the windows at Lord & Taylor.  Ahhh, small little winters wonderland.

    My two little munchkins and David

    We left there and as soon as we rounded the corner to see the tree it was like the temperature dropped and suddenly there was snow.  Beautiful.

    Then, Christmas day we opened presents, enjoyed one another’s company and relaxed.  Mid afternoon the cooking started.  See, the good thing about having my little sister around for the holidays is that she is a great cook.  She tackled an amazing vegetarian baked ziti and I did the lasagna, which, I think will become our new Christmas dinner staple.  Normally, we do ham, potatoes, green bean casserole, pigs in a blanket, potato salad and whatever else we can cook up.  This time?  No stress.  No fuss, no muss.  And, this lasagna is really, truly, TDF.  I sort of made it into my own because I can’t STAND ricotta, but you can use it if you’d like.  And to think, I used to be afraid of making lasagna.  Not any more!

    We ate, heartily, and then got the news that a storm was rolling in, which pushed our plans to leave my dad’s place the following morning up to that evening.  But not before meeting up with one last cousin.  Sharon and her husband Randy.  They rolled in around 9:30 that evening and we chatted the night away, literally.  We left my dad’s place at 11pm and rolled up into our driveway somewhere after 2am.  But the time spent with my sweet second cousin and her husband was well worth it.  She told me about her family and all the little ones running around that were my babies’ age.  Once again, my heart began to swell and I felt rich.  I discovered a treasure trove of cousins this past weekend.  There is no price to put on it either.

    Cousin Sharon, my dad and me!

     My grandfather played the night away with his great grand-babies.  He came to Christmas dinner dressed quite dapper.  A three piece suit, sailor’s cap and wing tipped shoes.
    Oh, and don’t forget the afro.

    I left Staten Island with a full heart, feeling so, so blessed and my faith in the Lord strengthened once again, because even though I didn’t speak my loneliness aloud, he heard my heart and made a way for me to come in contact with family I’d never met and opened the door for me to meet even more family.

    On the streets of New York. Photo credit: My sister, Maria

    Peace on earth.  And good will toward men.  That’s how I feel.

    Family means a lot.  Family means everything.  Finding every way I can to strengthen the bonds between mine.

    Sausage Lasagna (our Christmas lasagna) adapted from Allrecipes
    Feeds 6
    12 lasagna noodles
    2 Tb olive oil
    16oz ground sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
    1 onion diced
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 (24 oz) jar of Pasta Sauce (four cheese, vodka, garlic & herb you choose!)
    4 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta)
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan
    2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed and chopped
    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    1 teaspoon oregano

    Cook pasta. (I always salt my water)
    Cook the sausage, crumbling with wooden spoon.   Add the onion and garlic, continue sauteing until sausage is cooked through.

    Add marinara sauce to the sausage mixture and set aside.  In a bowl, blend cottage/ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and chopped spinach, set aside.

    Coat a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil and spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture on the bottom.

    Top with 3 lasagna noodles.  Spread 1/4 of the cottage/ricotta cheese mixture on the noodles and layer on 1 cup of the sauce mixture.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese over.  Repeat until all the noodles, meat and cheese mixture is gone and finish with the remaining 1/4 parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle with oregano.

    Bake in an oven at 350 for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Make sure to let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

    28 Dec 2012, 8:32am
    by Deborah kordecki



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