"I love ironing. I'd forgotten. Haven't done it for years," we commented to Tuck this morning. "I do too," he replied. "It's very satisfying." Now that those unwanted pounds are going the way of all flesh, we've turned a fresh eye to the wardrobe of closeted garments that have been hanging in suspended animation during the Lard Years. Above, a many-colored cotton Ralph Lauren outsourced to India, air-drying in the shade of the Silver Maple, a bumped-up version of the madras plaids that were all the rage in our salad days.
All that is old is new again when you're riding the Cold Turkey Wave. Those old clothes we haven't been able to squeeze into for too many years (see photo above) are waiting in the wings to make their reappearance on the stage. Then there are the recipes of a lifetime standing in line for their auditions to get a coveted part in the Cold Turkey Cookbook. It's Better than Lasagna was a featured recipe in our sis's Newcomers Club Cookbook for 1978. She inscribed our copy of the yarn-bound tome with her usual warmth and wit:
To the most dedicated eater I know -- Bon Appetit!
You can take It's Better than Lasagna anywhere. We used to make it for the groaning board of our legendary Christmas parties but as of yesterday hadn't made it for years, perhaps decades. Last night it was what was for supper, and today we're having it cold for lunch, rechristened It's Better than Leftover Pizza (above photo) and looking for all the world like something irresistible from the dessert trolley.
Toothsome and calorifically reasonable as long as you eat just one slice per meal, It's Better than Lasagna -- with a bit of tweaking -- easily won a starring role in the CT Cookbook. It was our sis herself who said "Tweaking to one's taste is the secret to secret recipes" the other night as we were reminiscing about "A Bride's Secret Recipe Starter-Kit," a compilation of family recipes she had given her about-to-be-daughter-in-law as a shower gift a couple of years back. We halved the amounts of hamburger, tomato sauce, noodles, cream cheese and sour cream, used cc and sc lite instead of regular -- 'don't know whether they even had lite versions back in '78 -- and substituted parmesan for the cheddar (more about that below) called for in the original recipe. And, of course, we used five instead of one clove garlic:
It's Better than Lasagna
1/2 lb lean hamburger = 297 calories
1 medium coarsely chopped onion = 46 calories
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce = 180 calories
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper = 16 calories
1/2 cup sour cream lite = 120 calories
1/2 cup cream cheese lite = 240 calories
5 cloves roasted garlic = 20 calories
(How to roast garlic. We skipped the pan and wrapped the garlic in foil, but 30-35 minutes at 400° does the trick, and we adore the pictures at this link)
3 cups noodles (dry) = 440 calories
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan = 216 calories
(See discussion below re parmesan vs. soft cheeses)
PAM cooking spray = 0 calories
TOTAL = 1,575 calories for 8 servings = 198 calories per serving
Spray frying pan with PAM and brown hamburger over high heat, coarsely chopping and stirring with spatula. Lower heat, add chopped onion and cook 3 minutes more. Add tomato sauce and freshly ground pepper and simmer on low 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash roasted garlic and mix with sour cream and cream cheese.
Cook noodles al dente, drain and toss with sour-cream-and-cream-cheese mix. Assemble IBTL in layers in a 9" round or 8" square baking pan (We used our exquisite white fluted ceramic quiche dish, seen here with nesting Sweet Potato aux Peeps):
Spread half noodle-sour-cream-and-cream-cheese mixture into baking pan and spread half hamburger mix on top. Repeat the two layers with remaining ingredients. Top with grated parmesan and bake in preheated 350° oven 20-25 minutes.
Comparing calories in that Danish ham and Havarti half sandwich we had the other day (285), this little stick-to-the-ribs number (198 calories) has 87 fewer than the sandwich. Which segues nicely to the cheese issues referenced above. Let's listen in to yesterday's imail session for the finer points of hard cheese vs. soft cheese:
We: I would like to know more about cheddar vs parmesan in IBTL. For research purposes.
She: Cheddar is oozier. The harder the cheese, the less it oozes. Mozzarella is the typical lasagna cheese but lacks the punch of cheddar. That's why I like this recipe. It changes the typical way of making lasagna.
We: I had always made it with a combo of parmesan and mozzarella but didn't happen to have any mozarella on hand.
She: "I can't understand WHY my lasagna didn't turn out just like yours."
For the record, here's how the cheeses one might use in IBTL weigh in:
1/2 cup shredded parmesan = 216 calories
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (whole milk) = 228 calories
1/2 cup shredded cheddar = 228 calories
Not that big a deal. Next time, to achieve the proper balance of flavor and ooziness -- and in solidarity with the Danes! -- we'll use a combo of one part parmesan to two parts Havarti. Meanwhile, it's true what they always say. Not unlike revenge, IBTL is even better served cold the next day.
Update: Lean Cuisine's Lasagna -- a fave of Goomp's -- has (ahem) 260 calories to our 198. We'll be traveling down east tomorrow and -- do we dare? -- may try our own IBTL on him for a taste test.
Update II: Pajamas Media links: "It’s better than lasagna, that’s what."