Friday, March 4, 2011

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Freezer Lasagna

I wanted to share with you my Frozen Lasagna Recipe. I make at least 4 lasagnas everytime I make this recipe. That way I always have one on hand when we want to spontaneously ask someone over for dinner or when I need a meal to take to a friend who just had a baby or when Rob needs to share some kindness to a coworker who is going thru surgery, death of a loved one, etc. And for mother-in-love's birthday, I usually give her 2 (made in bread loaf pans since it is only 2 of them at their house) to stick in her freezer for those days she does not feel like cooking.

I always get asked for this recipe so I thought I'd share. Not only is it yummy, it saves major time and stress in the kitchen.

So this is what you do one afternoon when you have 2 hours:

1. Make your normal spaghetti sauce. Mine consists of browning some ground beef and sausage and microwaving a frozen box of spinach and cutting it into little tiny pieces so the kids think it is spices, not spinach. And throwing all that into a big pot with multiple jars of spaghetti sauce.

2. Make cheese mixture. I use a 32 oz tub of ricotta and mix it with a tub of shaved Parmesan cheese. And I throw some oregano in there too and stir really well. A 32 oz tub of ricotta makes enough mixture for 4 lasagnas. (the 8 by 8 square size).

3. Get out lots of shredded mozzarella cheese.

4. Get out a box of lasagna noodles. No need to cook these. And you do not even need the no cook noodles; the regular kind works just fine.

5. You will also need non-stick aluminum foil and casserole dishes like this:

as well as gallon size freezer Ziploc bags and then some disposable pans if you want to make some lasagnas to give away.

6. So first you line your casserole dishes with non-stick aluminum foil. Make sure you use the non-stick foil (you will see why later) and make sure you have lots of foil sticking out on the sides.

7. Then you layer your lasagna. Your first put a layer of spaghetti sauce like below. Make sure your layers are thin because you have a lot of layers to go!

Then you put a layer of lasagna noodles. Again, do not cook these.

Then a layer of your cheese mixture.

Then a layer of mozzarella cheese. This is what the lasagna looks like at this point:


Then another layer of spaghetti sauce.

Then another layer of noodles.

Then another layer of spaghetti sauce. This is your 3rd layer of spaghetti sauce. If you see you are running out, just add another jar of spaghetti sauce to your mixture. The sauce will be a little thinner but that is ok; your first two layers were thick.

Then finish off with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Here are the completed lasagnas:


8. Stick casserole dishes in freezer uncovered to flash freeze. .which means you are sticking them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. You want to do this so you can pop the lasagna out of the casserole dish and transfer it to a freezer bag. Here they are being flash frozen:

9. Once the lasagnas are frozen solid, you lift them out of the casserole dish. Lift the lasagna by lifting up on the foil sticking out on the sides. Here is J doing that for me. See, now you can put your casserole dish away for later use; it will not be in the freezer when you need it. . and also it will not take up valuable freezer space.

And you could so do this with other casseroles you make!! You could have all these nice blocks of casseroles lining your freezer!

10. Wrap your lasagna well with non-stick aluminum foil and stick it in a freezer Ziploc bag.

When you are ready to cook, unwrap the lasagna completely (take off all aluminum foil; this is why you use the non-stick kind) and stick the frozen lasagna block in a casserole dish to cook. Cook the frozen lasagna covered (I just put a piece of foil on top) for about an hour to hour and 1/2 at 350. And then the last 15 minutes of so, take cover off so cheese melts.

The lasagna does cook faster if you allow it to defrost first. If the lasagna is thawed, it will take about 35-40 minutes to cook at 350. Lasagna is done when sauce is bubbling up around cheese. Again, I cover it for the first part so cheese does not turn brown and sides get hard and then uncover for the last 15 minutes or so to melt cheese.

Let me know if you try it out or if you have any questions. And please share with me if you have a great freezer recipe.

And sidenote: this is the kind of things we talk about in my Meal Planning & Freezer Cooking Class.  Click here for class details.

I am sharing this post over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday Linky Party.

3 comments:

  1. We are an hour into cooking a lasagna that's freshly made, and the noodles are still not cooked. I made one for dinner, and one for our freezer, but now I'm getting worried that using uncooked noodles is just going to take forever. Any tips? Should I just stick with it and maybe my oven stinks or should we just buy oven ready noodles?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Whitney- I sent you an email almost immediately after you commented here. But now I think you never got it. . .Here is what I said:

      agh. . is it almost done now??? I cook this lasagna all the time. . I give it to my mother-in-law for her bday every year. . .it usually takes about 40 minutes in my oven. . .and I always use the regular noodles. . .let me know what happens?? ugh??? I feel for you because I just tried a chicken and rice recipe off a blog on Friday night and it said to cook an hour. . and it took my 2 hours to get the rice soft (I had to take the chicken out so that it would not dry out). I was so frustrated. So ugh. . let me know. . .

      So tell me. . .did the lasagna ever get done???

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  2. Hi there! I never got an email, but I did want to tell you how it went. The first one, the one I messaged about, finally got done/edible around the hour and half mark. It was gummy and the noodles just tasted funky. The hubs ate it, but the little one and I didn't. This past week I pulled the one I froze out for my sister and her kids and it turned out amazing! I think the process of thawing added the extra moisture it needed. The first I didn't freeze before I stuck it in, which now thinking about it, was probably the issue. I just made it and put it in the oven. From now on, I'll make them, flash freeze, and go from there lol

    I wanted to thank you for responding, and now that I know (sorta) where things went wrong, I'm looking forward to making more and giving them to friends and family. Thank you!

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