I am a love bug.
Daniel cringes at the amount of affection I’d like to pour over him. He gets soggy quickly.
[Yet again] I blame my mother.
She loved me too much.
Kissed me on the lips and nose one too many times.
Told me the sun rose and set on my beeehind. (Ma, it does, doesn’t it?)
And now, I do the same with the ones I love.
In fact, just two days ago I was out for drinks and appetizers with my dearest friends and their 9 month old baby girl, and a very unfortunate series of events ensued:
- I saw the line between giggling and cooing with a cute baby and pressing your lips to their chubby cheeks, nose, ears, legs, toes, and every-other-soft-and-pudgy-flesh-toned-limb.
- I crossed said line.
- I did not look back.
- *Somewhere between nibbling her cankles and telling her parents that “I bet she has the cutest bum bum in the world” they lost their appetite and I continued inhaling their infant’s silky curls.
*Based on a true story.
So you’ll have to understand that when Daniel’s sister, Rachel, comes to visit us in Seattle for the week, as she is now, I retain the rights to sweet talk her and tell her she’s wonderful and beautiful and that I love her. At least seven(ty-two) times a day. And Daniel, shy guy that he is, must refrain from leaving me.
Rachel should expect that in the forthcoming five days, I will:
- Ask her if she’s hungry no less than 4 times (per hour).
- Ask her if she’s parched and if she needs a beverage no more than 8 times (per day).
- Tell Daniel to be nicer to his ‘sissy’ no less than 3 times (before he indeed leaves me).
- Fluff her pillows no less than twice.
- Ask her if she wants to paint nails no less than two times.
- Try to be quiet as a [human-sized] mouse in the wee hours of the morning when I need (NEED, I say!) breakfast and several (dozen) cups of coffee.
- Goad her into trying no less than five of my favorite Seattle eateries. (Rachel, pack an extra stomach).
- *Force feed her lasagna.
*Say a Hail Mary for my someday children, will you?
Note of possible relevance: Rachel is two years Daniel and my senior.
*I set no age limit on swaddling.
*Say one more Hail Mary for my someday children.
This is the gooey-est, creamiest, and most classic version of lasagna I can muster. It’s all in the sauce. Repeat: lasagna is divine in, and only in, it’s perfectly spiced sauce. Because the recipe is fairly standard. There’s little nuance in a pasta, cheese, and marinara casserole of this caliber. What sets the excellent apart from the good is a sweet, thick, and olive oiled sauce with heady notes of garlic and caramelized onion.
Listen, I get it. You think Bertolli, Prego, maybe even Classico, make a fairly fantastic jar. You’re thinking it’s not worth the trouble to make a pot from crushed tomatoes, dried herbs, sweet onion, and a head of garlic. Why go to the trouble?
Hear me: it’s worth it. Once you make this sauce, the one created by the man I love most in the world, my stepdad, PJ, you won’t be able to love any jarred red quite as much. It will change your life. It’s sweeter than most, and as odd as this may sound, it is part of who I am. I’ve eaten it all my life and if I were to say my favorite meal of all time, I’d say *peanut butter and fluff, and then…a meal that includes this rich red tomato sauce.
*Don’t question me.
Gooey Three Cheese Lasagna
4 cups of this homemade marinara sauce
12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles
16 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese
4 cups mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 13×9” oven-safe baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
Spread 1 cup marinara sauce evenly across the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay 3 sheets lasagna noodles, side by side, slightly overlapping. Do not worry if the noodles do not extend to the edges; they will expand as they cook. Top the noodles with 1/3 of the ricotta-parmesan mixture, followed by 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Spread 1 cup marinara sauce over the mozzarella. Lay another 3 sheets of lasagna noodles, followed by another third of the ricotta, then another 1/3 of the mozzarella. Spread another cup of marinara sauce, then the noodles, the remaining, ricotta, and another cup of mozzarella. Finish by laying the final 3 sheets of noodles, followed by the last cup of sauce and the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and beginning to brown. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.