Friday, January 29, 2010

Pizza Muffin Bites


This Freezer Friday I am coming to you live from the plate of a full happy-happy-joy-joy. This is one meal my sons jump up and down for when it's time for lunch. Really. Whenever I make pizza muffin bites, I might as well dawn a gleaming crown of glory for the "dance of joy" my kids do around the Queen. It's like the good witch in Munchkin Land. La la la la la la la la la la. It's almost embarrassing to admit that I like it. I do. I like it when my kids kiss my shoes and mutter through lips of dumbstruck awe, " we're not worthy"...perhaps I'm taking it a bit far. Maybe they don't mutter anything. Come to think of it...my kids may be a little too loud to mutter. In my delusional mind, they do. They worship the quicksand I walk on. Poor dears. Their wives will either hate me, or praise me forever for raising little chefs. Is it wrong that I don't really care at this point what the future DIL's think? Probably...it's probably also very sick and wrong that I made this freezer meal from white flour. I was caught up in the bliss of the homemade perfect freezer dinner rolls with String Cheese...and we just morphed a few into this little blob of love. Mmmm. Pizza.

In case you missed Wednesday's post on dinner rolls, it may be well worth your time to at least pretend to read it. I think it has a very wonderful recipe for dinner rolls that are one hundred percent freezer perfect.
(http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/2010/01/perfect-freezer-friendly-dinner-rolls.html) Perfect Freezer Friendly Dinner Rolls

The dough can be made into 24 dinner rolls...or 24 of these little love muffins.


The secret is just mashing the dough into a lightly oiled muffin pan (after you make the 24 balls of dough). One ball of dough to a single muffin slot...in a standard muffin pan. Now I'm not saying you have to use my dough recipe to do this, I'm just saying I like the flavor the best. I wouldn't be surprised if someone saw this and decided to use the tubes of biscuit dough to make these...but I'm not going to vouch for the flavor.
Push the dough up the sides a little like this, so the sauce has a place to go.

I have been know to put 2T of cooked wheat or sometimes even...meat in the bottom of the dough cup. Depending on who I'm feeding. My darling kiddos don't know the difference yet and I'm not telling them. I've also been known to make the dough from whole wheat. They don't seem to mind that much either. Both ways they like the flavor, as long as I call it pizza.

Plain old regular spaghetti sauce. 1Tablespoon scooped right into the middle of the dough. You can use homemade or canned as long as your family likes the flavor. My kids like olives. Put a couple of tablespoons of toppings your kids like in there with the sauce. Again, make it something your family will eat. My kids also eat whole cloves of roasted garlic...but it's taken me years of careful training to ensure they will eat almost anything healthy. Nutritionist say it takes 15 exposures to a new food before kids will like it...so don't give up. Just keep giving them options. You will finally find a way they will eat it. They eat olives. Did I say that? The first time Little Man had olives on pizza we where visiting a friend's house. He was 2. He came walking into the room I was in, black teeth and mouth full of emaciated olive. All he could say was, "bugs mama..."Come to find out, it was actually not an olive, but a beetle. Eeewww! However, he to this day, adores olives. Probably because, again, he is a boy. Had I a girl...I doubt we'd ever have an olive in the house again.

Top each muffin with 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and a dash of seasoning (optional). We like sprinkling garlic powder or Italian seasoning on top of the cheese. I preheat the oven to 425 degrees. These are one of those freezer meals I pre-bake. Why? Well...they do make such a handy ready to eat lunch straight from the freezer to the broiler or microwave. It seems a shame to not bake them right away. Bake 15-20 minutes.


Two of these are the perfect little lunch addition for my kids. I may have had a few of them myself. Be sure to scrape the pizza muffins around the edges of the muffin cup with a knife after baking.

There you go.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Perfect Freezer Friendly Dinner Rolls

My crazy cousin String Cheese is finally back in town and able to mix things up with me a little more often. That being said, we had way too much kookie fun today making freezer rolls. Then again...that is the whole point. If I just baked for myself, it would get old. Baking for and with other people fills a need deep in my soul. String Cheese understands me. We share the need to cook as a deep down emotional fulfillment. Not unlike the part of my Spirit that understands on a very very small level what God might have felt when the earth was finished after being unorganized matter that got put together and made into something beautiful and useful. Playing with scattered matter probably wasn't much different on a much larger scale, than me baking. Taking those unorganized things and putting them together to create something new, yet from things very old...is cool. It's deeply spiritual. If that makes weird wise sense and you understand that...then we are indeed kindred souls and should cook together often. Really...that is where cousin String Cheese comes in. She gets it. Really. She also loves bread. So...it's a shared sickness on so many levels of good. Here is a whole new world...or something. Okay, it's a cinnamon sugar covered breakfast bun made from this freezer dough. Isn't it dainty?
Everything Dinner rolls are a hit too.

Finally I have found a freezer dinner roll recipe worthy of my blog. It's taken a while to find a method I liked and one that fits my family needs. So, I did use white flour this time because well...I actually prefer dinner rolls made of white flour. We don't do them very often. You can use whole wheat as well, just adjust the liquid by adding about 1/2 cup more water or milk. This recipe comes to you from America's Test Kitchen and I applaud it fully. We had great success with it and it's outcome. Very versatile dough just sweet enough for rolls that are either savory or sweet. Some we did with "everything bagel" topping, some we did with cinnamon and sugar. Yes...they all came out superb. As a bonus we also made some into pizza bites, just to see if the dough would lend itself to freezer friendly ready to bake pizza muffins. Yes...it did wonderfully there too! So haaazaaa!! We have a winner!! This recipe yields 24 rolls, and yes, can easily be doubled.
Combine:
1 1/4 cup water (no hotter than 110 degrees)
2 tsp yeast (1 packet) rapid rise
2T sugar (1T honey)
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat works too)
1 1/2 tsp salt
6T oil (original recipe called for 12T of melted butter)
1 egg
2 egg yolks
Combine everything in one large bowl or mixer. I like that. Knead 5 minutes by hand or 3 minutes in a mixer on medium setting. This is a less developed dough as far as gluten is concerned. Form into a ball and place in a bowl covered with plastic or a lid for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down dough and divide into 2 pieces. I kind of put them in a log form. this helps to keep things pretty even. You can get science-like and weigh the dough and then divide it into 24 equal portions, but on most given days, I just eyeball it. I may go to baker's heck for saying that.
Divide the two logs in half again, so you have 4 logs. Each one will get cut into 6 pieces. See...you will have to use a little math, but I think you can handle it. I really do.
Is that six pieces? Just checking.
Now, lightly (I do mean lightly) dust the counter top with a little flour...just a little. We don't want the rolls sticking too much. On the other hand, we don't want so much flour that they just roll all over the place. The point is, we want a little tacky stuff so they form correctly. Take the dough piece and pinch the sides together...

Then turn it over so the pinched side is down.

You don't want it to look loose like this...
I keep a combination of what I call "everything bagel topping". It's basically 1/4 cup sesame seed, 1/4 cup poppy seeds, 2T kosher salt, 2T dry onions, 1T dehydrated minced garlic.
You want the dough balls to look like they have a skin holding them together. Like this picture below. Place the rolls on a pan lined with parchment paper (or a freezer friendly pan for easy make and bake). If you use metal pans, you don't have to worry about the glass shattering going from the freezer to the oven. I may mention that again.

Allow to raise at room temperature, uncovered for 35-40 minutes, until the rolls are touching if originally placed 1/2 an inch apart. Cover with foil and place in the freezer. Keep frozen up to one month. Removing them from a pan once frozen and placing directly in a freezer bag will save space in your freezer...big time!


When you want fresh rolls, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pan from the freezer. Important note...don't place glass pans directly from the freezer to the oven, they will shatter. If you keep rolls frozen in freezer bags, place frozen rolls on pan and then place in the oven.
Bake 375 degrees 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Try not to eat them all in one sitting...alone.

There you go.

A couple of giveaways...20 great things from my blog alone!


First, let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of giveaways. If I see one I like I'm all over telling my readers about it. So...here's one I like. It's for an emergency radio.

http://selfrelianceadventures.blogspot.com/2010/01/emergency-radio-giveaway-from.html So if you pop over there...be sure to mention my name. I am all about being prepared for emergency situations.

On that "Giveaway" note, I will also be doing a couple of giveaways in the next few days! Success Rice contacted me about giving away a lot of free rice (10 vouchers to be exact). Success Rice contacted me afer my post on homemade rice-y-roni. Isn't that cool?!
we have upcoming heart shaped cake pans from Lucky Leaf pie filling company. There will be 10 of those as well! Just in time for Valentines day I'll post a great recipe for an amazing cake.

So...if you want to go ahead and leave a comment at the end of this post, as well as sending me a direct email with your e-mail information, you will be entered in both drawings from me. My giveaways end on Saturday of this week. Angela's end on Feb. 2nd. Good luck!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whole Wheat Spiced Muffin Mix

What was Mr. Putt Putt thinking? Look at this bottle from 1959. It was labeled "Dad's Wheat Test March 3 1959". I'm not sure what he was testing it for, but it still looked okay. I didn't open the jar though. I may be crazy, but if that wheat was put in that jar in 1959, who am I to open it. What if it just turns to dust from exposure to our air. It mystified me. Really. I'm easily entertained. We did end up making muffins from some other wheat though.
Despite myself, we didn't grind Putt Putt's treasure. However, we also found some that was in some number ten cans dated 1989. That, my friends, is some twenty-one year old wheat. I'm rocket scientific and can do simple math like that. Be impressed. I've been told that wheat is one of those grains that can be stored for a very long time and still be edible. My goodness, I've heard of some wheat that was found in an Egyptian tomb and sprouted to grow grain several hundred years later. Don't quote me on that. It may be one of those urban legends made up to appease us crazy house wives. On that note, I've been a bit of a wheat nut for a long time. So I thought to myself, "Self...let's grind this up and see if it's still good". So we did. The aluminum can was old looking but not rusted, The wheat inside smelled fine and didn't have any mold growing on it. Carefully inspected I didn't see any reason why we couldn't try it out. Ace's parent's had stored it with an oxygen eating "packet" in there so it was vacuum tight. Ask me why we have wheat laying around that is this old. Why? Yeah, I don't know. I was feeling adventurous though. An interesting note is that wheat can in fact go rancid if stored improperly. So, the fact that the wheat smelled fine to me and hadn't a hint of "musty" funky smell to it, was amazing. Especially amazing in the desert of Arizona for wheat to not be rancid.

My kids don't have school on Fridays so that is our science day. My six year old son Face ran the 1989 wheat through the hand mill. It took him about an hour to grind five pounds by hand and he wanted to do it. Sweet! Child labor laws don't apply when they don't get paid, right? At any rate, it made some nice fine flour. If you don't have a grain mill, you can buy wheat pastry flour for the mix. I'm not judging you for not grinding your own wheat. We do because we're crazy.
Face was so excited to make his flour into something. I let him. If he was the little red hen, I'd be the...what? What animal would I be? The duck? Squawking...Goosing people. Don't answer that question.
Homemade whole wheat baking mix
9 cups whole wheat flour (fresh ground is best...for muffins use soft wheat)
1 cup organic shortening or butter (keep mix in fridge if you use butter)
1/3 cup baking powder
1T plus 1 tsp salt
2 cup nonfat dry milk powder (or soy milk powder)
Combine all ingredients in a Kitchen Aid type blender with paddle attachment until fat is well combined (or follow directions for homemade cake mix from last Monday).

Spiced nut muffin Mix
In medium bowl combine:
3 cups homemade whole wheat baking mix
1/3 cup sugar or granulated fructose
2/3 cup chopped almonds or walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove


In separate bowl whisk:
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup water or milk
1 tsp vanilla
Combine dry ingredients and pour whisked wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan lined with cupcake papers or greased well. Bake 425 degrees 14-17 minutes until just firm. Yields 12 muffins.

You can fold in 1 cup of fruit into the batter like peeled chopped apple, pitted cherries, blueberries or cranberries.
  • Add 1T orange or lemon zest to the mix for orange or lemon muffins.
  • Add 1 cup shredded carrot to the mix for carrot muffins.
  • Add 1 mashed banana to the wet ingredients for banana muffins.
  • Add 1/2 cup mashed pumpkin to the wet ingredients for pumpkin muffins.


We put 3 cups of mix in separate bags and ended up with 4 bags of mix. That is enough for 4 dozen muffins. Give or take. More if you add fruit. How did they taste you ask? Thank you for asking. They where awesome. I'm really picky about rancid wheat taste...and there wasn't even the slightest hint of that this wheat was so old. Creepy isn't it. Creepy still is the fact that I may live an extra twenty one years if I eat this whole grain junk all the time. Yikes. That is creepy. Goose. Goose.
There you go.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oatmeal...Soup

Ask almost anyone if they have had oatmeal for breakfast and they will say yes. I honestly doubt very many have had to eat them for dinner. Unless of course I just live a very sheltered life. I've always associated oats with breakfast. Oatmeal. That however is exactly what we made last night for dinner. It's a hearty, earthy, comforting soup that uses oats as the main ingredient. At first when I saw this recipe I thought it a bit intriguing. Now I've embraced it, adapted it. I've added herbs and vegetables and made it my own. The original recipe was from from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, but now I've changed it enough I don't even think Marion Cunningham would know it was hers. We had whole grain and vegetables for dinner and not one complaint from my kids!

Oatmeal Soup
3 T butter or olive oil
1 onion, minced fine (about 3/4 cup)
1 carrot, minced
1 stock celery, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 1/2 cup uncooked rolled old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp Chef Tess all purpose seasoning
1/2 tsp dry tarragon
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Combine the butter, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and oats in a one gallon pot. Cook until oats are toasted and vegetables sweat, about 5 minutes. Add stock, seasoning, parsley and spinach. Simmer 5-7 minutes until oats are tender.
Serves four generous portions. The oats take on a nice nutty flavor and texture. I love it.
There you go.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Southern Style Ribs

I have to apologize up front to all the vegetarians out there. My husband Ace thinks eating meat ribs is probably the highest form of barbarian revelry known to the culinary world. Sucking on the bone carcass of a poor creature just grosses him out. So, is it any wonder that the only time I ever make ribs is when he leaves on a business trip? I cooked half and put the second half in the freezer for later...like tonight. Evil and wrong as my husband thinks it is, I happen to like tender pieces of juice laden carne falling off the rib bone. There's something cave woman about it. It makes me want to wear leather and spike heels. It's hot.
When you happen to freezer cooked meat, it gets more tender and delicious. Why is that? It's a process called drip loss. Now in my case we chill things before we freeze them so we don't get a lot of liquid dripping off the once frozen product. Drip loss is the term used for leakage of moisture during the defrosting process. Water expands as it turns to ice, causing the food fibers to splinter and break. This is what causes limp or soggy textures after defrosting frozen vegetables. If food is chilled before freezing ice crystals that form will be smaller causing less damage to fibers of food and less drip loss. The result is better texture and flavor, especially in cooked meats. It actually acts as a tenderizing process. Isn't that amazing?
So, how do you cook a good rib? I start with a good season rub. Probably my personal favorites are D-dog's apple or peach rub, but his maple comes in a close third. Love them all.
My Southern Style Ribs
6 lbs baby back pork ribs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard (prepared like French's)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot sauce
1T BBQ rub or your choice or Chef Tess All Purpose seasoning
Cut the ribs into serving size pieces. Place ribs in a roasting pan and season generously with BBQ rub or seasoning. Bake in 325 degree oven 1 1/2 hour until cooked through.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until thickened and reduced to a syrup. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Take the ribs out of the oven. Brush the sauce over the ribs. Reduce oven heat to 300. bake uncovered, basting occasionally. Bake 1 hour longer until ribs are tender. Remove from oven.
OR alternate cooking method:
Skip oven baking all together and place ribs and reduced sauce in a crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours
Yields 6-8 servings. Serve some for dinner tonight with baked beans sweet potatoes and Cole slaw. We made sweet potato french fries. It was awesome.
For a freezer dinner, allow meat to cool until you can handle it. Place 4 servings in a gallon size freezer bag, labeled. Lay flat and cool in the fridge. When very cold, place in freezer. Freeze flat for optimum freezer space.
To heat:
Place on oven rack out of bag. Bake 375 degrees 35-40 minutes until heated through.
Microwave: 2-3 ribs 4-5 minutes from frozen.

There you go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Yellow Homemade Cake Mix









This is my cake mix.


Cake mixes. Who uses them? I think from the main stream baking point of view here in the USA it is pretty clear that most "middle of the road" every day cooks use cake mix. I know very few bakers who make them from scratch anymore. Which is too bad because we really have come far from how good cakes used to taste. I honestly love fresh from the oven scratch cake. Don't get me wrong, even I have used a mix in a pinch, but the flavor is always so boxed. I've always regretted it. I know there are a lot of folks who don't even know what scratch cake tastes like. So, when I decided to try a few cake mix recipes of my own that had the final product turn out nice but not taste boxed, it became really crucial to have people test the recipe who also liked scratch cakes. Finally after several disasters and a few good days...I came up with this recipe. Good tender crumb that holds together well enough to decorate with good flavor and no hint of a boxed cake taste. Another thing I wanted to do was make the mix reasonable accessible to those who had never used cake or speciality flour in their kitchen. Coming as a big shock to professional bakers, I measure with cups and spoons here on the blog because, lets face it, this blog isn't necessarily for the benefit of the seasoned bakers (though many learn a lot here) but for the students I know and love who have no idea where to start sometimes. So, please be patient with me for trying to take it to the masses. It just seems like a lost art that shouldn't be lost. If you happen to be one of those beginner bakers, please read my blog entry for "overnight started bread" for directions on how to measure flour and liquid. There is a method.

Do you know what else I wanted? I wanted to be able to use the same 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1 1/3 cup water it takes to make most cake mixes. Is that crazy?!

Finally what I came up with looked like this. Mr. Putt Putt says it tastes just like his mother's cake in 1955. So there. Take that. She was an amazing cook.
I really like it with a little flavored oil added to the mix but you don't have to add those if you don't have them. Almond or champagne being my favorite oil based flavors by far though orange brandy is divine. This can be made into a lemon cake by adding the zest of two lemons to the mix or orange. Using chopped maraschino cherries to make a cherry cake also works wonderfully. I'm still working on my fool proof chocolate cake mix.

Okay, here's the recipe. I use all purpose flour since most people don't have cake flour laying around. Again, I'm trying to make this as accessible to regular beginning bakers as possible and recognize that a few of you don't even know that there is a difference between different flours. If you use cake flour, use 5 cups and omit the cornstarch. It is only necessary with all purpose flour to lower the protein content and make it more conducive to tender cake production. However that being said, the cornstarch adds a little more moisture retention to the mix and I love it for that.

My Chef Tess Cake mix dry ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cup sugar
2T baking powder
1T salt
1 cup shortening (or butter )
1T double strength vanilla
Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt through a flour sifter at least once to remove extra lumps. Combine shortening (or butter) with dry ingredients and vanilla in a Kitchen Aid type mixer with paddle attachment. Mix until well combined. If you don't have a mixer, it also works to cut the shortening into the flour as you would for pie crust and then run the mix through a hand held flour sifter (did you see the picture?) to make the mixture more smooth. The metal flour sifters are available to purchase at most grocery stores and baking sections of Wal-mart or Target.

Yields 9 cups cake mix. If you use butter, please keep your mix in the fridge!

4 1/2 cups mix equal to one boxed cake mix:

Combine with 3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water
200 strokes by hand or 3 minutes medium speed.

Bake time 350 degrees:
Pan size: 2 8 inch 33-35 minutes
2 9 inch 28-31 minutes
13 by 9 inch 32-35 minutes
bundt 38-43 minutes
24 cupcakes 18-21 minutes
High altitude: stir 1/4 cup all purpose flour into mix. Mix as directed.

More cake mixes to follow as experimentation continues.

There you go. Smooooches!! I have several bakers on my friend's list from Face Book who are testing this recipe but I would love other feedback as well. Please feel free to email me with your results and any questions you may have.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homemade Frozen Lasagna

Cussing Granny gave me the flu. What a turd. I have to say that the only good thing about being sick is that I have a legitimate reason to use freezer meals. Well, I guess "Tuesday" is a good enough reason, but being sick is even better. I remember having an unexpected visit to the emergency room and 3 days later coming home and crying like a big goof-ball. Not for any other reason than the fact that my freezer was full of dinners I had made and I knew my family would be able to eat well while I was down and out recovering from surgery. It was such an amazing feeling. So today let's start with one of my basics, but I think it has great results. Lasagna.
This recipe makes 16 servings, so feel free to make 2 casseroles or 4, depending on the size of your family. When I use a 8inch by 8 inch pan for our family of four, we end up with layers, like this...

What's not to love. Plus when I make the smaller casseroles, there isn't a ton of leftovers for the next day or two that provoke the "hey let's not have lasagna for six weeks" comment. You know the one? This recipe I have tweaked quite a few times to find just what I liked, nice tender pasta that is still a little firm with just a great amount of sauce and meat (or veggies) to hold the layers apart and still keep it's shape. I hope you enjoy it.
Sauce:
2T olive oil
2medium onion, chopped
2 stocks celery, sliced thin
2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 lb lean turkey Italian Sausage (out of casing...or vegetarian substitute like TVP or crumbles)
4 quarts (16 cups) tomato puree (I use home canned organic tomatoes, but store stuff is okay)
1T fennel seed,1T dry rosemary, 1T dry oregano
1 1/2 T crushed red pepper
Directions: put the oil in a large dutch oven on the stove. Saute the vegetables and the meat until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
Add tomato puree. I used 4 quarts of my home canned tomatoes, but you can totally use the store cans. It take 4-28 0z cans of tomato puree, or if you like a chunky sauce, use two 28 oz can of tomato puree and 2-28 oz cans of diced tomatoes.


Simmer on low for 30 minutes. While the sauce cooks, I gather the rest of the ingredients.

Sauce may seem a little thin, but keep in mind that I don't cook my noodles first, so there needs to be a little extra liquid for the noodles to cook properly.

Cheese filling:
2lbs ricotta cheese (low fat is okay, but has less flavor when baked so add more spices--vegan? I have used medium tofu in place of ricotta with pretty awesome results)
2 cups Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil, or 2T dry basil
2 eggs
salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon each)
Combine well:
Noodles:
24 oven ready lasagna noodles (dry)
2 lbs mozzarella cheese, part skim is okay
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Decide the size casserole you will make:
8 inch by 8 inch yields 4 casseroles
9 by 13 inch yields 2 casseroles
16 by 11 inch yields 1 casserole
Be sure to use NON aluminum pans, as they will have a reaction to the tomato products. Just as a general rule, tomato products should not be stored in aluminum.
To assemble:
8 inch use 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 3 dry noodles, 1/3 cup cheese filling per noodle.
9 by 13 use 1 cup sauce, 4 dry noodles and 1/2 cup cheese filling per noodle.
16 by 11 use: 2 cups sauce, 8 dry noodles, and 3/4 cup cheese filling per noodle.
Spread the tomato sauce on the bottom of your pan, avoiding large chunks of meat, lay noodles down across the bottom of the pan on top of the tomato sauce.
Spread the cheese filling over the noodle...I use my hands.

Top the cheese layer with some tomato sauce
8 inch pan: 3/4 cup tomato sauce
9 inch: 1 cup tomato sauce
11 inch: 2 cups tomato sauce Then top with cheese, about 1/2 cup for the 8 inch size, 1 cup for the 9 inch size and 2 cups for the 11 inch size.
Top with the same number of dry noodles as you used for your first layer and repeat the cheese, then tomato sauce, then cheese.
For the third layer, top with noodles and then the remaining sauce. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You know, I say three layers, but really it just depends on how big the pan is. I always end up with more layers on the smaller pans than the large ones. Especially if I use a loaf pan instead of an 8 by 8 inch casserole. So...you know. 5 layers or so for the small pans.
Cover with plastic wrap and then foil, as we don't want any tomato to come in contact with foil.
Label clearly with cooking directions:
Defrost in fridge 24 hours, or microwave defrost. This is the best way to cook frozen lasagna. By far. I've tried straight from the freezer to the oven and I don't like how uneven it cooks, even with the store purchased lasagna. I'm weird that way. I'm okay with that.
To Serve:Adjust oven rack to middle of the oven. Remove foil, remove plastic. Spray side of foil that comes in contact with cheese with a non-stick coating of your choice. Replace foil tightly sealing edges. Place on oven rack ( Usually put it on a sheet pan on the oven rack).
Bake times 400 degrees:
8 inch: 25-30 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until hot throughout and the cheese is browned in spots. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
9 inch by 11: 30-40 minutes, remove foil and bake additional 25-30 minutes until hot throughout and the cheese is browned in spots. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
11 by 16 inch: 40-45 minutes, remove foil and bake additional 30-35 minutes until hot throughout and cheese is browned in spots. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
One more thing. If you measure the inside of your crock pot and can find a plastic container that fits it and goes about 4 inches up the sides, you can put all these layers of cheese, sauce and noodles in the container and freeze it. When you want lasagna, you simply invert the container under hot running water until the lasagna cube comes out. Place it in your crock pot on low 6-8 hours OR on high 4-5 hours.
There you go. Make frozen lasagna.