Creative Cooking: Cook Without Recipes – Lasagna

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I am a self taught cook mostly. I learned some basics from my mother and some more from my in laws when they were alive. The rest I taught myself. I’ve gotten better and better over the years, mostly from practicing, reading cookbooks and cooking how-to’s, watching videos online and the food network.

Even when I look up a recipe in a book or online, I NEVER follow it exactly. I make substitutions, just estimate ingredients and do whatever sounds right. I love to cook without recipes.

Don’t Be Afraid To Cook Without Recipes

Too many people are scared to be creative with their cooking. Learn some basic techniques and what foods tend to go together and start there. The rest is trial and error. I’m going to start sharing some ideas of how to cook creatively, starting with… Lasagna.



  • Lasagna Noodles (Pre Cooked is easier, but whatever works)
  • Protein (I used ground beef, but any other ground meat or small chunks of meat works fine, try a mixture or use some beans, vegan ‘meat’ for a vegetarian variety)
  • Veggies (use what you like. I used onions and yellow pepper, other great choices are other peppers, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, garlic…)
  • Tomato Sauce (Use canned or homemade, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce works too.)
  • Cheese (take your pick of one or a few: mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, or anything else really.)

So where are the measurements you ask? This isn’t a recipe, it’s a guide! I ended up making too many noodles so I put the rest in the fridge to eat with a sauce later (cut up.)  Here are some suggestions:

I made a lasagna with 6 large pieces which fed two adults and two children with a few pieces left over for the next day. I used approx. 1lb ground beef, 1 medium onion, 1/2 pepper (so kids wouldn’t complain as much), 9 or so noodles, 1 can of spaghetti sauce, 900mg marble cheddar cheese (we love cheese) and 1lb Ricotta cheese (ended up being too much, 1/2 lb would have been fine.)

Step One: Cook Veggies

Chop Them how you want, fry in your choice of oil


Step Two: Noodles

Boil if not already cooked, if they are, still soak in hot water to make cooking time less – use a big pot so they don’t stick together. Salt the water for more flavor.


Step Three: Protein

Cook your meat/beans the way you want. Add in whatever spices/seasonings you like (Suggestions: Seasoned Salt, Ms. Dash, Club House Seasonings of Your Choice, Garlic Powder…) Don’t forget to drain the meat.


Step Four: Layers

Shred the cheese and mix meat and veggies. Layer in a dish. I would suggest a little sauce on the bottom and then noodles (that’s so noodles don’t burn to bottom). Layer cheese, meat, noodles and sauce. You want sauce to basically cover noodles and meat mixtures especially. Here’s what I did starting at the bottom:

Little Sauce – Noodles – Little Cheese – Meat Mixture – Sauce – Noodles – Sauce – Cheddar Cheese – Noodles – Sauce – Ricotta Cheese – Cheddar Cheese – Sauce – Noodles – Sauce – Cheddar Cheese (I like a lot of layers, most were small.)



That’s the Ricotta cheese above if you are wondering.

Step Five: Bake It

Cover it with aluminum foil and bake at 425-450 F till sauce is heated through and cheese is melted. 45 minutes-1 hour.


Step Six: Eat It!

Let it cool a bit so it will stay in square shape when you serve (or if you are like me, scoop it out and eat it anyways,  blobs still taste amazing!

So.. do you ever cook without recipe? Have you made Lasagna with or without a recipe?

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