Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pasta and Chocolate favorite Italian comfort food meal is pasta, a little salad, some crusty Italian bread and chocolate for dessert.

That is just the meal I made recently for an informal dinner party. Aside from being an easy - albeit time consuming - dinner, it is a real crowd pleaser.

I would even call it the Ultimate Italian Comfort Meal.

I have been craving for a good, hearty Lasagna because the last few times I made it, it just didn't come out very good. It just isn't tasty enough when made and served the same day.

I think I may have finally figured out the secret to the ultimate lasagna.

36 hours.

You know how certain foods taste so much better the next day? Homemade Italian spaghetti sauce, chili, and dishes like Lasagna are among them. Something about marrying all the flavors for that extra 24 - 36 hours makes all the difference. So, this time I made my Lasagna the day before and I made my sauce 2 days before! I even par-baked the lasagna for 30 minutes the day I assembled it. Turns out it was in and out of the oven and fridge 3 times before we actually ate it. My guests were running late and I had to try and estimate when to put it in the oven and have it done for when they got there!

It only made it all the more scrumptious!

I mentioned that this meal can be time consuming. Well, making the sauce two days ahead takes some planning to make sure you have the time ( I cook my sauce for 6-8 hours) and then preparing and putting the layers together for the Lasagna takes a good part of the afternoon. This Lasagna has 8 layers consisting of 8 eggs, 3 pounds of ricotta, 2 boxes of noodles, and 2 cups of mozzarella.

Of course you don't have to make yours this thick or big (I used a lasagna pan which measures 15 x 10). The recipe below is for one box of noodles in a 9 x 13 pan and makes about 4 layers.

My only side dish was an antipasto salad.There are many versions of this Italian specialty and I usually make mine meatless if serving it with a meal. I use romaine lettuce, canned artichoke hearts, jarred roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, green and black olives, chick peas, pepperocini and italian dressing. Layered on a large platter, it is beautiful!

Wrap a loaf of Italian bread in foil and put it in the oven with your lasagna and it comes out all warm and crusty. Three course meal, done.

The dessert I made is an all time favorite that I go to when I want simple but fabulous. It is called Jimbo's Chocolate Cake and it is a rich chocolate bundt cake with some chocolate chips inside and frosting on the outside. It is the only chocolate cake I will eat, as I don't really like the stuff! I served it cold out of the fridge with chocolate chip ice cream.

Here are the recipes:

The lasagna recipe is compliments of Treasured Italian Recipes, distributed by The Rotary Club of East Rochester, 1990. My copy is quite worn from making a lot of the wonderful recipes inside.

Lasagna Deluxe
(Make a day ahead)

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup minced onion

2 quarts of your favorite spaghetti sauce

2 lb. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
2 raw eggs
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tblsp. dry

1 lb. lasagne noodles
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Brown meats and onion in a lightly greased saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste. Add sauce and let this simmer.

Mix ricotta, grated cheese, raw eggs, salt and pepper, parsley and garlic powder to taste.

Boil noodles in salted water with a little oil in it to prevent the noodles sticking together.

Layer as follows in your lasagna pan:

spread bottom of pan with sauce mixture
layer with noodles
sprinkle with romano
spread a layer of ricotta
top with slices of hard boiled egg
sprinkle with mozzarella

Continue layers beginning and ending with the noodles. Cover with a layer of sauce and sprinkle with romano.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. If it is refrigerated first (recommended to make a day ahead!), it will take longer to heat through.


- if possible make this a day ahead, parbake for 30 minutes and then refrigerate till ready to cook the day of eating.
- don't put any sauce in between the layers. This is the first time I followed this tip and the lasgana stayed perfectly layered when cut. It becomes too soupy and sloppy to cut with too much sauce.

There is nothing like ending a filling, satisfying pasta dinner with chocolate!

Jimbo's Chocolate Cake

1 box Duncan Hines chocolate fudge cake mix (no substitute if you want the chocolatey goodness!)
4 large eggs
1 box instant (3.5 oz) chocolate pudding
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips


1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
confectioner's sugar

Mix all cake ingredients, except chocolate chips, by hand till moistened. Then mix in electric mixer for 3 minutes. Pour into greased bundt pan. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over batter and press in. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

For the frosting melt 1 cup chocolate chips with butter and water. Add confectioners sugar to thicken to pouring consistency. Drizzle over the top of the cake. Refrigerate and serve cold for best taste.

This meal totally satisfied my cravings for the ultimate Italian comfort food. I don't mind the cold as much now!

AnnMarie  xoxo

I am linking up with these great blog hops:

Be Inspired
Weekend re-treat link party
diy Sunday showcase
Bouquet of Talent Linky Party
Sweet and Savoury Sunday
Make It Pretty Monday
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
You're Gonna Love It
The Scoop
What's It Wednesday
Wednesday's Adorned from Above Link Party
Showcase Your Talent
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
Share Your Cup Thursday


  1. What a delicious meal! I do think lasagna is better the second day. You've got it all figured out. I use to make it a lot, but rarely do now that it's just hubby and I. Made it just last week though because we were craving it. We also have our youngest daughter and sil living with us for a few months. The salad is one of my favs. Not being a chocolate cake lover ( I know, crazy) I would replace it with something white. Other than that, a perfect meal. Hee-hee!

  2. Yum! Looks wonderful! I have not made homemade lasagna in years - many years. I am a huge fan of one dish meals, add a salad and thin sliced crusty bread and I am a happy camper.
    Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

  3. Yum what a great looking meal. Now I am hungry! I love Lasagna on the next day it tastes so great. Yummy all of this.

  4. Gosh I feel so hungry reading your blog with all the delicious pictures!! I grew up with Italian food so I really appreciated this particular post!! And I just loved seeing the pepperoncini in your antipasto salad!! Nobody "gets that" unless they're Italian! My siblings & I would have competitions to see who could eat the most! :) Thank you for this wonderful recipe & stroll down memory lane, AnnMarie! :)

  5. All three courses look and sound delicious, AnnMarie! I make my lasagna with ground veal, infused with red spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and a bay leaf. The aroma is out of this world! Love your salad for its colours and textures and tasty veggies! And, chocolate cake is a weakness of mine, and yours looks rich and satisfying, along with the ice cream!


  6. You live too far away - I can't enjoy the delicious fragrances that must be wafting out of your Italian kitchen! I cheat - I make my lasagna with no-boil pasta and my SIL still says it's the best he's ever tasted! (Maybe he's just being nice to Mom...)

  7. Is it a co-incidence that I have the East Rochester Rotary cookbook too? I just love it. What I love best is that you'll find several recipes for the same dish because each household had their own spin. Then you can pick out bit and pieces from each and make it your own. Your meal sounds awesome.

  8. Okay, now I'm hungry! Beautiful pix! And I agree that some foods are better the next day and the next! And I know there is a lot of love that goes into cooking from scratch!

  9. You make your own sauce! You are truly an Italian woman! The lasagna and cake look so yummy. I have a friend from the Caribbean who told me a long time ago, that people from the islands season their meat the day before our at least several hours before they cook it. This allows the seasonings to get inside the meat.

    Do you ship out meals? Lol!

  10. What a great meal it all looks so yummy. Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sundays, stop by and link up again this weekend.

  11. Hey AnnMarie!

    I totally agree that lasagna is better the next day . . . I wonder why that is. My husband and I always make that observation when we make it. Now I want lasagna :)

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I'm getting back into doing linky parties and love that you have so many listed on your blog :)

    Have a wonderful day . . . Gina


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment...I treasure each one! Do you know if you are a no reply comment blogger? I love to reply to your comments but sometimes instead of an email there is a It can easily be changed by changing the setting in your blogger profile to "show email address".