Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dinner party Tuesday

Today was a busy day! After I left you last, I was in the middle of making tonight's dinner. The two law partners at my husband's law firm and their wives came over for dinner tonight, and it was their first time seeing our new place! Mike and I love, love, love our condo and we are psyched to have more space to entertain with!

For dinner, I made an old family classic - vegetarian lasagna. This lasagna recipe is by far one of my favorite recipes for many reasons!! Both of my parents are outstanding cooks, and I think it was particularly nice that my dad cooked a lot while I was growing up, which is something that a lot of people are not accustomed to having. So I always grew up thinking that it was normal for men to cook, and weird for them not to! One of my dad's best recipes was this vegetarian lasagna dish, which uses kidney beans instead of meat. Even before I was a vegetarian, this was always one of my favorite meals. In addition, this is also the very first meal that I made for my now-husband - over five years ago - when we first started dating! I didn't even have a kitchen back then since I was living in a sorority house, so I "borrowed" a friend's kitchen (thanks, Aaaron I!) and made him the lasagna along with brownies and a pack of Heineken! So, that was a long winded explanation, but basically I will always love this recipe for all of the above reasons :)

I never measure anything when I make this lasagna so it always comes out a bit different, but here is the jist of it - it's super easy!!:

* Saute a couple chopped onions in a pan on high heat until caramelized. I don't add any oil at this step since it's flavor will get lost amongst all of the cheese, etc.

* Let them sit until carmelized, don't flip too much. Then, throw in some wine (I used red) and let this cook down for a few minutes. From here on, you can throw in any combination of pasta sauce, canned whole tomatoes, or your own homemade sauce. The key ingredient is a few cans of kidney beans, which goes into this mixture. Don't forget to rinse them off first, as the canned beans are preserved in salt and chemicals, which you don't want to eat! Season with oregano/basil/salt/pepper/garlic to taste.

* In a large bowl, add one or two containers of low-fat cottage cheese, a cup or two of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses (however much you have on hand), a couple of eggs, and some oregano/basil/salt/pepper.

* Pour a bit of the tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of a large 13"x9" pan, and then make one layer of lasagna noodles (I love the no-bake kind, but these are always made with regular white flour - has anyone been able to find the whole wheat no-bake lasagna noodles?)

* Add a layer of the cheese mixture, then a layer of the sauce mixture, making sure that the noodles are covered on the outer edges or else they will dry out. Add another layer of noodles, and continue until you have used up all of the layers. Be sure to end with a layer of noodles and a layer of the sauce on top of this.

* Last, top the lasagna with some more mozz and parm cheeses, and some more herbs, if you like. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour covered in foil; then, remove foil and cook for another 5 minutes so the cheese on top can melt. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes - otherwise when you cut into it it will fall apart and you will lose all of the delicious flavors! :)

I also made a salad on the side, using two different kinds of Romaine lettuce. I threw in some black olives, artichoke hearts, tomato, grated parmesan, and some bigger pieces of shaved parmesan. I usually love shaved parm on top of a dish - it makes it look so elegant - but I do find that it gets a bit lost in a salad where everything tends to meld together anyway. I made a vinaigrette from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

For dessert, I stuck the plate of cookies from last night into the microwave for one minute (I had them in the fridge so the chocolate wouldn't melt), and they were nothing short of devine!! I'm truly in love with the cookies, and I'm a bit worried about how many times I have thought of them throughout the course of the day. (Is this a problem?!? I'm beginning to think it may be....)

Overall, I think the dinner was a success! The toughest part about having dinner parties in the past was doing dishes at the end of the night. Until a few months ago, Mike and I never had a dishwasher!!! It is absolute hell trying to do the dishes for 4-8 people by hand - the dishes and glasses alone take forever - but once you throw the pots and pans into the mix, it gets really bad. So, we are so thrilled to finally have the luxury of owning our own dishwasher!! Also, reason #63 why I love this lasagna dish is that clean up is so easy. You dirty up a couple pots and bowls during the process of making it, but I washed those earlier in the day, so that there is just the one pan to clean at the end of the night. I also love the fact that I can make the dish earlier in the day, and then can stick it in the oven right before the company arrives.

As much as I love the lasagna recipe to pieces, I am always looking for some more great ideas for dinner parties. However, I definitely need a recipe that can be cooked ahead of time (or at least, preassembled ahead of time) so that I am not having to juggle cooking and chatting at the same time. What are your favorite go-to dishes when you entertain??


  1. Lasagna and cookies were incredible!

  2. Cute dinner table! That lasagna looks great...I might just have to give it a try! Doubt the bf will miss the meat ;)

  3. This recipe would have been helpful last night! Thanks for letting me know that it's up here. The lasagna I made came out really well. I think I'll just make the sauce ahead of time next time because that's what really took so long! It was good though!