Elaina and I Cooking her Favorite Meal Together

Elaina’s favorite meal is lasagna. She loves it so much in fact, that she has consumed an entire large size microwave lasagna in a single sitting on multiple occasions. But since I am lukewarm on the dish and it seems a little difficult to make, I have never cooked it in my life. One of Elaina’s homework assignments this month was to cook a meal with her parents. She chose lasagna, which put me in quite the quandary: Cook a meal with her that I have been putting off since I was able to pick up a wooden spoon or try to convince her to do something easier (with the possibility of disappointing her)? Spoiler alert: It was a pretty easy choice.

Why could you have not picked something easy like waffles or quesadillas?

This absolutely made her week, as she has not stopped talking about it since she chose the dish. “Dad, is tonight the night we’re making lasagna?!?” became a common question throughout the week. Given the length and relative complexity of the recipe though, it was definitely going to be a weekend meal. She understood, but that did not stop the excitement (or the questions).

The ingredients… the only thing not pictured is “love.”

We went to the commissary after running our errands for the weekend and picked up all the ingredients (for some reason we did not have any nutmeg in our pantry, which really just illustrates how long it has been since I have baked a pumpkin pie). To give her more buy-in for the assignment, I let her choose which brand of lasagne noodles to purchase.

Now mince it without shredding a tear

Just to show how excited she was to make the dish, as soon as I got all the groceries put away, she pulled up her stool and started peeling the yellow onion. That is dedication right there. When she was done, she handed it to me to cut, laughing at me the entire time for getting watery eyes and the sniffles.

“Less pictures and more sautéing!”

After pouring the olive oil in the pan, she proceeded to add the onion and the garlic.

Just keeping stirring, just keep stirring.

She sautéed them for a few minutes before adding the tomato paste and puree.

Is she trying to tell me that it is my turn to stir?

She added some oregano and was forced to keep stirring. By now she was getting a little bored.

Who knew fresh Basil could be such a fickle addition?

She then added the basil, and with a little more stirring, we set it to simmer while we worked on cooking the sausage and the noodles. By then, Elaina was getting really bored and asked if she could go play. A little unfortunate, but I was very happy that she stuck with it for that long.

This was not as difficult as initially expected, but still far too much effort for a meal that is rivalled by the frozen food aisle

I finished out the lasagna by myself (I tried to get Elaina to help me “put it together,” but to no avail), layering it with the sauce, noodles, sausage, and cheeses. I wrapped it in aluminum foil and put it in the oven.

The finished product… definitely not winning any James Beard Foundation Awards

While the end result was nothing special to look at, that did not matter one bit to me; all I cared about is how the lasagna connoisseur thought of it. And Elaina absolutely loved it. I gave her a double portion and she simply destroyed it. The only thing she said should be changed was leaving out the onions next time. If that is the only criticism, I will certainly take it.

Success! (Actual Elaina quote: “This is the best lasagna ever made!”)

Even though Elaina did not see the recipe through to the end, it was a fun experience. We both got to cook something new together and we will always have that. And we have enough lasagna to last another week, so there is always that too.

And Gabriella happily ate all of her dinner as well, so double-win!

Thanks for checking in on us.


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