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38 || Lasagna – Medicine for the Soul

In the middle of dealing with my mom’s hospitalization for a stroke, I made lasagna for the family – my small way of bringing some comfort to the ones I loved during this situation. But apparently, my lasagna sprouted legs and walked out of the refrigerator and through the front door of my parents’ home? That seemed the only explanation since it had simply disappeared.

Exhausted, stressed out, and looking for something to quiet my growling tummy, I was left holding the door of the fridge open looking for a non-existent pan full of deliciousness. After several horrible days sitting, standing, and pacing in my mom’s hospital room, I had been looking forward to and even imagining how wonderful that sausage lasagna would taste – a sort of medicine for my anxious heart. With the lasagna gone, I just knew that my day was about to get worse – or so I thought.

As I stood looking with confusion as well as frustration at the empty space where I had personally placed the lasagna, my daughter Gabrielle returned home from my niece’s house after staying with her family during the day. She wanted to know what I was searching for. Instead of answering her question, I asked my own, “Do you have any idea what happened to that full pan of lasagna that I put in here last night?” She began laughing. Oh no, I knew by the look on her face that this was going to be quite a little story.

Between her giggles, Gabrielle launched into the tale of my missing lasagna. “Mom, it’s like this…Chris, Addi, and I got ready to eat lunch. There wasn’t really anything we wanted from their kitchen so we remembered the lasagna you made last night. We decided to walk over to Granny’s and Papa’s to get it. After we grabbed the lasagna, we took it back to Davanna’s.”

Tears of laughter started rolling down her cheeks as she described how Chris had uncovered the lasagna, cut her and Addi small pieces, and then proceeded to cut him a larger portion of the tasty dish. Gabrielle said she thought nothing of it because guys always ate more. But after she and Addi finished their serving of lasagna, Chris was still eating. Not only was he forking the food into his mouth at impressive rates of speed, but she said that he kept exclaiming, “Man, this is the best lasagna ever. This is so good. We have to get the recipe.” Gabrielle told me that she couldn’t help herself. She simply sat there and stared with her mouth hanging open amazed by the amount of food that she saw Chris scarfing down. She continued, “He ate…ate…and ate until the entire pan of lasagna disappeared.” And by the end of her story, I was laughing, too.

After days of sadness, fear, and stress, the release of all that pent-up emotion through laughter felt like a soothing balm settling over my wounded soul. In fact the Bible speaks of “a joyful heart” being a great medicine (Proverbs 17:22). God knew that I needed more than physical sustenance that night. What I received was a sweet aroma and tasting of God’s underserved favor upon my weary soul. With the caper of the missing lasagna and the giggles of my sweet daughter, God fed my heart with sweet manna from heaven. Laughter is the best medicine for the soul. Oh how I love my God.

Below is my Lasagna recipe, I hope it brings you as much joy as it did to me:

Ingredients:

Lasagna noodles
1 pound mild or hot Italian ground sausage
Your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
Parsley (option – garnishment)

Filling:

1 egg, beaten
1 container ricotta cheese (15 ounce of smaller curd)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real cheese from dairy section)
3 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (pull out 1 cup for topping at end)
½ to 1 cup Cheddar Cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil lasagna noodles, drain in sink with colander while running cold water over noodles. Place wax paper on counter top. Once noodles cool down, place on wax paper side by side. Cook sausage and drain off fat. Stir in sauce and Italian seasoning. Simmer on low. I use a larger bottle of spaghetti sauce to ensure I have enough lasagna for two – three layers.

Combine and mix the beaten egg, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses. I buy extra Mozzarella to add a little on top with the cheddar cheese.

Spread a thin layer of meat sauce over the bottom of a rectangular baking dish. Next, layer noodles. Then spread egg/cheese mixture on top of noodle layer. Repeat layers (Meat sauce/noodles/egg&cheese). I usually do only two layers ending with an extra layer of meat sauce on top. I then sprinkle quite a bit of mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top of the top last layer of meat sauce. To clarify, I begin and end with a layer of meat sauce. I sprinkle with parsley to add a little color. Place in pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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