Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Photo cubes

Wanted to share this quick idea in case you may be scrambling for some last minutes gifts and funds are low.  These plain photo cubes can be purchased at most craft stores such as Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's.  They are usually around $1 each.  Purchase a few and let your kids decorate them using paint, markers, crayons, whatever you have on hand.  Slip a photo of your kids in and give them to someone special in their lives.  We made ours for grandma (hope she doesn't see this before we give them to her tonight haha).
My 4 yr old colored the one on the left, I had him write his name on the bottom too since he is old enough.  The older 2 girls colored the one on the right.  I meant to print out a more updated photo of the 4 of them to use in one but forgot so these will have to do.  The kids had fun decorating them and they really feel like THEY made grandma a gift.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reindeer Cookies

This is a simple and fun thing you can let older kids help you make.  My kids enjoy these and  I make them every year.  I have been making them since my oldest was a baby.  You can use store bought Oreo's or if you are feeling particularly adventurous you can try making your own homemade Oreo's to use.

What You Will Need-
1 pkg Oreo's (or your own)
1 bag min pretzel's
1 bag M&Ms
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can use any type of solid chocolate you can melt)
Wax paper
Metal tongs

Step 1: Melt the Chocolate-
This can be done in several ways.  I prefer to melt mine in a pan over LOW heat, stirring constantly.  I like this because I can control it more.  If you have a double boiler you can use that.  I have heard many people like to melt in the microwave because its faster and they don't have to stand there stirring.  I don't like this because mine always seems to burn and I think it changes the taste of the chocolate.  Plus I am not a big microwave person period.  I use ours for popcorn and thats about it.

Step 2: Dip Oreo's for the "Heads"-
Once chocolate is melted dip Oreo's 1 at a time into the chocolate using metal tongs.  Coat both sides evenly and then place on wax paper to cool.

Step 3: Add eyes, nose and antlers-
I usually dip 3-4 Oreo's and then do the eyes/nose/antlers.  Dip 3-4 more and do eyes/nose/antlers again.  You need to add the eye, nose s and antlers while the chocolate is still soft and warm or they will not stick.
After you have about 3-4 dipped take 2 M&Ms in whatever color you want (green, brown or blue) and add near the top of the cookie to make 2 "eyes".  Using a red M&M add below the eyes to make a "nose".
Take 2 pretzel's and gently smush them into the top of the Oreo's.  Be careful not to break them.  I like to dip a spoon into the chocolate and drizzle a little extra chocolate on top to secure them.

Allow cookies to cool at least 10 minutes before removing from wax paper.  I like to just put them in the fridge overnight.
I let Teddy help with the ones pictured above.  He helped add the eyes,  nose and antlers.  I even let him hold the spoon to drizzle chocolate onto the antlers to secure them.  Can you tell which ones he made?   I like to make mine with brown eyes, he insisted they needed green.  We did some with blue too.  This picture is from last year so he was 3 at the time.  This is a fun Christmas activity to let little hands help with.


P.S. In our house Santa enjoys these on Christmas Eve along with frosted sugar and gingerbread cookies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lazy Day Slow Cooker ideas-Tons of recipes from 2 easy steps.

So, its the Holiday Season, are you as busy as we are here at 3 Moms?  I know we have not been posting much and we apologize for that.  I don't know about the other 2 moms but in my house things have been crazy with Christmas parties, preschool Christmas programs, visiting Santa, and even a yucky 2 week long ickiness that swept through the family.  Things are slowing down as Christmas approaches so hopefully the posts will pick back up.

With all the craziness that I am sure we all are experiencing right now I thought I would share some easy ideas that I have been taking advantage of the past few weeks.  I seriously make some sort of version of the following at least 4-5 days a week.  These are so easy and so versatile, I am sure you can come up with some ways I haven't thought of to use these.  If you do please share here or on our FB wall.

What You Will Need:
a crock pot
some sort of cut of chicken or pork.  Any cut of either will work
1 jar of salsa OR 1 bottle of BBQ sauce.

Step 1: Cook meat-
Take whatever cut of meat you are using and add it into the crock pot.
Add in either 1 jar of salsa OR 1 bottle BBQ sauce depending on what you are wanting to make.
Move around a bit so that sauce is covering all sides of the meat.
Cook on low 5-7 hrs. (depending on cut-bone in and larger cuts take longer)

Step 2-Decide what dish you would like to "feature" the meat in-
This is the fun part, there are so many delicious ways to serve this up, the combinations are almost endless.  I am going to list a few of our families favorites.  Use your imagination and I am sure you can come up with many more than I have listed here.

Pork Tenderloin + BBQ Sauce-  With this I can make pulled pork sandwiches on homemade buns (click here for recipe).  Or I just shred up the pork and serve with homemade rolls (same dough recipe as buns) and mashed potatoes (made with golden Yukon potatoes YUM!).  Use the BBQ sauce as a "gravy" over the pork meat and potatoes, SO GOOD!
You can also serve over a bed of rice (any rice you like, we like Jasmine rice), I like to mix in some steamed broccoli to this.

B/S Chicken Breasts (or bone-in chicken breasts) + Salsa-  If using bone-in breasts shred meat off of bone before serving.
With this I can shred the meat up to use in a whole gamut of Mexican dishes including chicken soft tacos, chicken burritos, chicken hard shell tacos, chicken tostadas, Tanya's Potato Tacos, quesadillias, chicken enchiladas, etc etc. You can make it as easy or as hard as you want.  Mix it up with flour and corn tortillas and serve with all of your families favorite toppings.  We like more salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, avocados and black beans.

Pork Chops + BBQ Sauce- Easy way to make BBQ pork chops w/o all the work, serve with you favorite sides.

B/S Chicken breasts + BBQ Sauce-  Again you can use bone in chicken breasts too, just shred meat off the bone before serving.
Like the pork tenderloin above you can serve the chicken as is with mashed potatoes and rolls, you can shred to make pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches or you can serve over rice with broccoli.
Another thing you can do is make some pizza dough (this dough recipe makes great pizza crust too).  Make sure to scoop out some sauce to use as the pizza "sauce", top with cheese and any other topping you might like.  Makes an excellent BBQ chicken pizza.

Bone-in Chicken legs, thighs, or wings + BBQ Sauce- An easy meal to make BBQ chicken, serve with your favorite sides.  If you like dark meat you can also do any of the above things for the chicken breast and BBQ sauce.

Pork tenderloin + Salsa- You can make any of the same dishes under the chicken breast and salsa.

If you can come up with some more things to make we would love to hear your ideas.  We will credit you if we add them to the list.
As always, we love for you to share pictures on our FB wall if you make any of our recipes.

I am going to start experimenting with things to make using a jar of spaghetti sauce and various meats.  I will let you know what I come up with.

Here are some pics of a few things I have made using these ideas:

Shredded Chicken and salsa inside of a jalapeno cheddar wrap-
brush with oil and bake in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes to make crisp.

Chicken and salsa paired with Tanya's mashed potato tacos

Shredded chicken and salsa made into chicken tostadas

I thought I had more pics than this, they may have been lost last month when our computer crashed.  I know I had a picture of the BBQ pork tenderloin.  That's what I am making for dinner tonight in fact so I will take a pic and upload it after dinner.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thumbprint Cookies

Baking Christmas Cookies with my mom was a tradition we did together every Christmas that I can ever remember.  It is definitely one of the traditions I miss the most since we are about 1300 miles apart.  So now I bake my mom's cookies every year for my little family to eat.  It's not the same, but its the closest I get and it brings back many fond memories.

Thumbprint Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (or two sticks) of butter, softened
2 eggs separated
1/8 tsp of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of finely chopped pecans
jar of fruit preserves (I used raspberry, but you could use strawberry or apricot or any kind you like)

Heat over to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, butter, egg yolks, salt, and vanilla.  Beat at a low speed, scrape sides of bowl, mix for another 2-3 minutes.

Shape into 1-inch balls.

Beat eggs whites in a bowl until foamy.

Dip each ball into egg whites and then roll in finely chopped pecans.

Place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make a depression in each ball with your thumb or the back of a spoon.  Bake 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and fill center of each cookies with fruit preserves.

Continue baking for 6-10 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove and cool before biting into these yummy cookies, because the fruit preserves WILL burn the roof of your mouth.. I do it every year ;o)

- Jess xoxo


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Saturday, December 11, 2010

24 Symbols of Christmas in Clay

If you celebrate a more Secular (non-religious) aspect of Christmas this may not be for you.-not trying to offend anyone, all of the 3 Mom's have different beliefs.

If you are looking for more ways to invite or keep Christ in the Christmas traditions you give to your children then this is probably for you.

The gift as it appeared on our doorstep

A very good family friend sent this for the kids to play with.  I love the idea so much that I wanted to share it.  Its like an Advent calendar for you to count down the days by playing with clay and making a different symbol each day.  I know its already December 11 but you could start today and do the remainder of the symbols until Christmas.  Or you can just bookmark this and keep it in mind for next year.

My kids are in love with it, only my 4 yr old is really old enough to make the symbols but he and my 2 yr old are happily playing with the clay now.  My 18 month old seems to think its just a snack haha.

What You Will Need:
Red clay (playdough-I have included a recipe below or you can purchase some from the store)
Air tight container
Red ribbon or bow to top the container
Printed out instructions.

Here are the instructions to include:
On the top of the box print out the following sweet poem to explain what to do each day you can just copy and paste from here):

Christmas comes but once a year.
It comes and goes with gifts and cheer.
What can we give that you have not?
We give you something that can't be bought.

In this box you'll find red clay.
You make a Christmas symbol at the rise of each new day.
Make this symbol and lay it down inside.
Close the lid with red ribbon tied
For 24 days you'll do the same.
Until the day baby Jesus came.

Remember that the symbol you make
Are special reminders that no one can take.
Of that first Christmas night that shone so bright.
May you always strive to have His light.

Then include attached to the container somewhere-my friend rolled it up and tied on as a scroll-the instructions for what to make each day, which are:

24 Symbols of Christmas
1. Heart- The great love Jesus has for each one of us.
2. Snowflake- We are all unique and precious in God's eyes
3. Wreath- The symbol of the never ending eternal nature of love.
4. Gift Bow- Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill.
5. Stocking- A symbol of the need to fill our souls with good.
6. Fir Tree- The needles point Heavenward
7. Star- A Heavenly sign of the prophecy long ago
8. Candle- Reflecting on thanks for the star of Bethlehem
9. Shepard- Lay careful watch over their flock by night.  Jesus is the good Shepard who knows His sheep and loves each one.
10. Sheep- The sheep loved their Shepard and knew His voice.
11. Bells- Ring out to guide all sheep back to His fold.
12. Cane- The Shepard's crook used to bring lambs back into the fold.
13. Angel- A Heavenly messenger bringing glad tidings.
14. Music- The angels Heavenly music over all the weary world.
15. Wise Men- Saw the star above.  May we be wise and watch for signs of His 2nd coming.
16. Camel- The wise men come from afar.  May the world around come to Christ
17. Gift- The gifts the wise men brought.  Jesus, the most important gift of all, eternal life to all mankind Jesus gave.
18. Red ornament-Symbolizing the Savior's sacrifice for us all.
19. The Inn- May we make room in our hearts to let Him in.
20. Stable- His humble shelter
21. Cattle- He was born among the weak and lowly
22. Manger- His humble bed
23. Hay- Where Jesus lay asleep
24. Spirit of Christmas- To give of one's self is more precious than gold.

My 4 yr old trying to make a bell-love the goofy face he made!

I plan to store the container and printed instructions with all the rest of my Christmas decorations so that we can do this every year.  The kids had a lot of fun this morning playing with the clay and enjoyed the instructions I read to them.

You can just buy red playdough from the store or you can make your own.  Not sure how good homemade will hold up in the future for all 24 days but I am pretty sure the clay that was given to us is homemade.  Here is the recipe I use when I make playdough for the kids myself, there are many variations of this to be found online.  Just add red food coloring to make it red.

1 cup flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

1. Combine salt and flour in large mixing bowl
2. If using food coloring, add to water.
3. Add water slowly to dry ingredients, mixing with hands.  Add a little at a time.  Mix until dough is smooth and elastic but no longer sticky (may have to add more flour), give to kids to play with.

My 18 month old seems to think it makes
a better snack than toy.

I have only ever used this playdough for a day or two and not sure how well it holds up long term.  I have seen "recipes" for playdough that require some things to be boiled on the stove, this may make a longer lasting dough, I am not sure.  I like to keep things simple so I use the one above.  If you had to you could make new dough every few days I guess (if you did not want to buy the store bought stuff that is).

These make really cute gifts to give as well.  Ours was a gift and my kids love it!

As always, we love to see your pictures so if you make this take some pics of your kiddies making their daily shapes and upload them to our wall, we would love to see.

I have no artistic skills when it comes to molding clay
so this is my attempt at "bells" for day 11
I just made an impression of an ornament
from our tree.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Purrfect Play Giveaway Winner!

Is Sharon!!!

Could you please email us at  ?

Thanks to all who entered an stayed tuned for a giveaway next week of a little something for a special little girl in your life!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Countdown Chains

If you have a child then you have heard at least once "How many more days until Christmas?" and more than likely you hear this at least once PER DAY from Thanksgiving (maybe even Halloween) until it is finally Christmas Day.  To try and help ease these annoying questions we would like to suggest making a Countdown Chain.  The purpose of a countdown chain is to well, to count down. 
The beauty of it is you can make it at any point.  You can make it with 24 links and start on Dec 1 or you can make 1 with just 4 links and start Dec 20, there is no right or wrong time to start.
We also have discovered that there are many different ways of making a chain and we would like to share a few with you.

I have since discovered there are all kinds of fun things to do like chocolate kisses on cutouts of Christmas trees, cotton balls glued on 1 a day to fill in Santas beard, etc.  Kinda makes my chain seem lame in retrospect but o-well, its our tradition haha.  Next year we may try the chocolate one too.

What You Will Need:
2 pieces each of red and green construction paper + 1 more in either color for the display.
1 pair of scissors
1 glue stick
1 marker

Step 1: Prep Materials for Chain-
Take 2 pieces each of red and green construction paper (or whatever colors you would like to use).  Cut them into equalish strips.  I just stack all 4 together and cut in 8 strips.  Don't worry about how "nice" the strips look, I can't cut a straight line to save my life!

Step 2: Assemble Chain-
Once strips have been cut you can let your child glue them together.  You may show them how to do a few links first.  Take 1 strip and put a small amount of glue on 1 end, then firmly press the other end on to create a circle. 
Take a strip in the opposite color, thread it through the first.  Apply glue to 1 end and firmly pres together with the other end.  Repeat over and over, alternating colors until you have as many links as you need.  We made our chain yesterday, November 30, so we had 25 links all together.  You want 1 link for each night through Christmas Eve.  The last link should be pulled off on Christmas Eve before bedtime so that they know the next day is Christmas.
Once you have your chain completed take the extra piece of construction paper and write (or let your child write) something along the lines of "Days Until Christmas" or "Christmas Countdown" maybe even "The -Insert Your  Family Name Here-Christmas Countdown" whatever you want to call it.

This is a very simple, fun and easy Christmas project you can do with your child.  Based on your child's age you may have to help some with cutting or writing but if they are old enough you may be able to sit them down at the table and let them do it all.  We have been making these since our oldest was 2, originally all he could do was watch and maybe help apply the glue.  Now, at 4,  he can glue and assemble the chain, next yr he will be able to do it all himself.
To make it more fun you can also let your child(ren) color and decorate the paper before cutting into strips.  I thought about letting my oldest 2 use glue sticks to "color" on the paper and then apply glitter so the strips were sparkly.  Then I decided I didn't want glitter all over my house haha, maybe next year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cheesy Garlic Pinwheels

The inspiration for these came from a dish my BFF Sheena made that involved cream cheese and chicken in rolls and traditional cinnamon rolls.  A sort of garlic and cheese version of cinnamon rolls.  I was planning pasta for dinner 1 night and really wanted some cheesy garlic bread. We were low on bread though so I racked my brain trying to figure out a creative way I could use my go to roll dough recipe to make garlic bread.  Just one more thing to add to the ever growing list of ways I can use 1 simple recipe.  You can also use the dough recipe I have or you can use your own bread dough recipe for these.

my circle(ish) shape
told you it was bad haha
What You Will Need:
All ingredients for the dough recipe-see link above
Garlic Powder
Garlic Salt
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Step 1: Prep Dough-
you definitely want to add more
cheese than this, otherwise they
are just garlic pinwheels
Make the dough according to the directions.  Allow for all mixing and first raising of the dough.

Step 2: Assemble Pinwheels-
Once dough is done in the mixer (or has been kneaded and raised 1 time if mixing by hand) dump dough out onto lightly floured counter.  Lightly knead dough so that it is not sticky.
Roll out into a large circle(ish) shape.  I am not the best at making circles, min are usually just oblong or more squarish in shape.  Its ok, they do not have to be perfect.
As you notice, I did not put any measurements above, this is all about taste so you can use as little or as much of each as you like.  I will add guesstimates here as to how much I use but I do not measure anything.
Melt about 1/2-1stick of butter in microwave.
Once melted stir in approximately 1 Tblsp garlic powder and 1 teasp garlic salt.
Brush about 1/2-3//4 of the butter mixture all over the top of the dough -reserve a small amount to brush on top after pinwheels are cut out.
Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top of dough.
I actually added less than this the first time I made them but decided they needed more butter and cheese so I added more the next time.  I have a tendency to not add enough seasoning and topping for fear o adding too much when I try new things haha.
Roll up dough starting and 1 end and rolling in until you have a log shape. 
Cut 1-1.5 inch pieces off of "log" and place on a baking sheet-I cut them thicker the first time, about 2" but they were a tad too thick.
Cover and allow to raise 2nd time, about 20 minutes.
rolling into "log"
cutting pinwheels out

Step 3: Bake Pinwheels-
Once pinwheels have risen 2nd time, brush tops with remainder of garlic butter.  Sprinkle with more cheese if desired (I only do more parmesan cheese on top)
Bake according to your doughs directions for baking as rolls.  If using the dough recipe I linked bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes.
Serve with your favorite pasta dish. 
Careful, these go fast!

They would go great with 1 of the lasagna recips from our 3 Takes on Lasagna post.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Fan Friday 12/03/2010

Today's Fan Friday is a craft submitted by Theresa Laity.  Theresa is a proud military wife and mommy to 1 adorable 3 yr old named Lindsey.

Here is her fun Christmas Craft idea:

Hand and Foot Print Reindeer

What you will need:
brown paint
red paint
red small pom pom
paint brush
paper plate to put paint on
baby wipes
construction paper
1. Put brown & red paint onto plate
2. Paint foot brown and place foot onto construction paper.
3. Wipe foot clean w/ baby wipe
4. Paint both hands red and place them above brown foot.
5. Wipe both hands with baby wipe.
6. Glue 2 eyes on top of brown foot.
7. Glue red pom pom on bottom of brown foot.
8. At the bottom of paper I add the child's name, year and age.
We do this every year and every year we see how big the feet and hands get. Its an easy project and cheap to do. Lots of fun. A bit messy but as long as you have baby wipes handy you are set
I must say as soon as I saw this idea I fell in love with it and I have already used it myself with my 4 kiddos. 
I did not have the pom poms or squiggly eyes so I cut noses out of red construction paper and colored eyes in using a black fine tip Sharpie.
Ii also used brown for the foot face and a pearlized gold paint for the antlers, you can use whatever colors you want/have for the antlers I imagine.  Just make sure its non-toxic paint and that you wipe off right away, before it dries.
I plan on lining the 4 pictures up (similar to the photo below) and taking a photo of them.  Uploading the photo onto the computer, use Paint to write "Merry Christmas from The Reed Family" on it.  Then upload this to a photo website like Winkflash and print out.  Winkflash usually has 6 cent pictures and free or 99 cent shipping on all orders.  For new customers they often have 50 free prints + 99 cent shipping.  This will make a cheap but cute and personal Christmas Card to hand out to all of our friends/family.
You could also buy inexpensive frames and frame these to give as gifts to special people in your child's life, such as grandparents.  I am going to frame the 4 originals and hang them up each yr at Christmas. 
I also made one on a small paper plate with our 6 month old.  I punched a hole in the top, threaded some ribbon through, tied in a knot and hung it on the tree as an ornament.  Use your imagination and see what you can do with this craft.
If you make one of these with your child(ren) take pics and upload them on our wall please.  We love it when you share with us!

Thank you Theresa for your submission to Fan Friday, you will receive 1 entry in our December contest, The winner will be picked Dec 27th.
If you would like to submit a recipe or craft idea for upcoming Fan Friday please email us at  Include step by step instructions on how to make your submission, at least 1 photo and a tiny bit about you for us to include.

3 Takes: Lasagna

Here at 3 Moms we have decided to put a new spin on "old" recipes.  We are going to take well known dishes that most people know how to make and put our own personal touch to them.  We will show you how we make these dishes in our home because we know most people make things differently.

The first dish we chose was Lasagna.  We will show you 3 different ways to make this 1 dish and we welcome your ideas as well.

If you have a dish you would like to challenge us to do "3 Takes" on feel free to submit it to us.  You can post it on our Facebook wall or e-mail us at

Christy's Take:
Ravioli and Spinach Lasagna

Ravioli & Spinach Lasagna

I usually make the basic lasagna that everyone makes with sauce, noodles, meat and cheese but recently I tried this ravioli/lasagna hybrid and we all love it so much that this is the only way I make lasagna now.

What you will need:
2 bags frozen (or refrigerated) ravioli's, thawed out.  I get 1 bag of cheese and 1 bag of meat.
1 bag frozen spinach
1 lbs hamburger cooked and drained
1 jar spaghetti sauce
 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less depending on taste)

Step 1: Prep Spinach and Cook Meat-
You will want to thaw out the spinach and rinse in a colander. 

Then scoop it all up into a clean, dry kitchen towel (a sturdy paper towel may work but most likely will break apart).
Make sure the spinach is nested into the center of the towel, wrap around and squeeze ALL the water out..  You have no idea how much water is in there.  I use twisting, wringing motions to get it all out.  Don't panic if it turns your towel slightly green, this will wash out.

Spinach after al water has been
squeezed out.

Cook hamburger meat and drain grease-Hamburger can be optional, my hubby is a total meat eater so I include this but you could easily leave it out if you wanted/needed.

1st layer of lasagna
Step 2: Assemble Lasagna-
In a 9x13 pan spoon a couple of tablespoons of sauce in the bottom-I like to add a drizzle of olive oil as well but that is optional.  The favorite (and usually only unless its sold out) type of sauce we use in our house is Ragu Sweet Italian Sausage & Cheese.-gives a very unique sweet and tangy taste to this dish.  Any sauce will work but if you can and want, give this flavor a shot.  When I cannot find this kind I use Ragu Sweet Sundried Tomato & Basil
Spread sauce (and oil) around the bottom of the pan with the spoon to evenly coat.  You do not need a lot, just enough so that the ravioli's do not stick.
Layer ravioli's 4 across in rows.  I like to alternate mine 1 row cheese, 1 row meat.  You can also just use all cheese or all meat ravioli's if you want.
Once there is a solid layer of ravioli's all the way across the pan take 1/2 of the spinach and sprinkle on top.

Lasagna all done and ready to devour

To this add 1/2 of the shredded cheese.
In a separate mixing bowl combine hamburger and 1/2 of the sauce and mix together.
Spread ALL of the hamburger/sauce mixture on top of the 1st layer of the lasagna.
Repeat with the ravioli's, remainder of spinach, sauce and then the rest of the cheese.

Step 3: Bake Lasagna-
Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly on top.
Top with shredded Parmesan if desired.

This goes great paired with cheesy garlic pinwheels (recipe coming soon) or Tanya's garlic bread and a side salad.

Tanya's take:
"Mexican Style" Lasagna.

My mother HATES pasta, she gets sick when she has eaten it (I think it's in her head because she eats plain spaghetti with butter just fine). On the other hand my brother and I LOVE It!!  We always wondered what lasagna would taste like, because we would watch the Garfield cartoons and that is what his weakness was.
One day at a spaghetti factory I had a delicious piece of lasagna and feel in love!  I wanted to recreate it but this was before the Internet was so common and also I did not have any cookbooks so I decided to use ingredients I thought would taste good together, I knew it was meat cheese and pasta so away I went.

You will need..

about 1 to 2 lbs of ground beef
1 large can of tomato sauce (the biggest one) or 4-5 regular cans
fresh or canned  sliced mushrooms ( fresh is even better)
shredded jack cheese
shredded Cotija cheese (like the one from the cheesy potatoes post)
garlic powder
extra virgin olive oil
cooked lasagna

In a pot pour a bit of olive oil and throw in the ground beef, add oregano, garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper  (whatever amount you'd like just don't be skimpy with it) cook the meat fully. After it is cooked I like to drain the fat by throwing the meat in a large colander and throwing it back in the pot, add tomato sauce and mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes add a little more oregano and more garlic.

Next Step layer your lasagna!
place cooked lasagna on bottom of pan, add meat sauce, cotija cheese and jack cheese and repeat! cover pan with foil so top lasagna doesn't burn or you can finish with  cheese on top of the lasagna as well.
pop in the oven at 375 degrees until cheese is melted serve with garlic bread!

Enjoy <3
*Please excuse pictures blogger keeps turning them sideways when uploading.

Jess' take:
Italian Style Lasagna.

Lasagna is probably my husbands favorite food.  I always make a gigantic pan even though only two of us eat it in our house, because it freezes perfectly and after a long day at work, its nice to pop some homemade frozen lasagna in the over and not have spent over an hour putting it together and waiting for it to bake.

2 Boxes of Lasagna Noodles
1.5 lbs of ground beef
1lb of ground sausage (I used Italian Style this time, but I normally use hot because my husband likes it hot)
2 jars of sauce (I like homemade, but I didn't have any..)
1 bag of shredded mozzerella cheese
1 bag of shredded Italian mix cheese (or 2 bags of mozzarella)
1 large container of ricotta cheese
1 egg (it can be left out but your lasagna will probably not hold together as nicely.)

garlic powder
dried oregano
dried basil

Preheat your over to 400 degrees.

Step 1:  Start to brown your sausage in a pan with a little butter or olive oil.  It takes some muscle breaking it apart then add your ground beef.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and basil.  Cook it none is pink.  Drain and set aside.

Step 2 :  Heat your sauce in a pan.  This is my trick to not having to cook the noodles.  As long as the sauce is hot when you put it all together in the pan.. no boil necessary, cause those noodles cooked are a pain to work with.  Mix your ricotta cheese in a dish with 1 egg and salt and pepper.  The egg with help bind it all together.  Mix your two bags of cheese together in another bowl.

Step 3: In a large and deep 13x9 casserole dish begin your layers with a small layer of the hot red sauce on the bottom then fit your noodles in.  I break them if i have to to fit along the bottom.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Next top with more sauce, then a layer of the browned meats, then shredded cheese, and then some dollops of the ricotta cheese mixture over the top.

Step 4: Begin your layers again, noodles, spaghetti sauce, meat mixture, shredded cheese, ricotta cheese.  Keep layering until you get close to the top, making sure you end on cheese layer.

Step 5: Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and place in the preheated over for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, lift the corner of the foil and see if everything is getting bubbly and melty. 

If so, remove the foil and let it cook for another 15 minutes.  I usually pop the broiler on for an additional couple minutes just to get it as brown and bubbly as I can.

Step 6:  Remove from the oven and let the lasagna rest for at least 10 minutes before you cut it, so it doesn't lose it shape on your plate.  My husband never waits for that part...

Remember to freeze the leftovers for an quick weeknight dinner!

- Jess xoxo

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