Lasagna and Life Lessons from 9×13 Pans

Lasagna and Life Lessons from 9X13 Pans
Do you notice anything interesting about these pans that are supposed to be the same?

Welcome What cook doesn’t love a 9×13 pan? They are so versatile, accomplishing a variety of cooking tasks from casseroles and lasagnas to cold salads and desserts to basic cakes and bars. I made an interesting discovery recently when I pulled out all of my 9×13 pans for a recipe. Read on for more, and a recipe for Lasagna Blanca with Italian Sausage.

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Food For Thought  I don’t even remember the recipe I was making, but a few weeks ago, I pulled out all of my 9×13 pans, which is quite the stack, because I wanted to see which one would be the right pan for the job.  My husband was very confused by this activity I was undertaking.  If they are all 9×13 pans, wouldn’t they all work equally well?  Well, no, because even though they are all labeled the same, they are in fact quite different!  My 9×13’s are actually all different sizes.  I know this, because they nest inside each other, so they are graduated variances of 9 inches by 13 inches.  Also, they have very different depths, which means they have different volumes.  A deep dish cobbler is going to require me using a different pan than if I’m making a simple cookie bar recipe.  Additionally, these pans that are the “same” are made out of different materials.  I have a couple of glass pans, a couple of stoneware pans, a couple that I think are ceramic or porcelain, and then there’s a very old metal pan.  Being made of different materials they will bake very differently, which requires oven temperature or time adjustments, along with selecting the right pan for the right recipe.  So, yes, they are all pans in a mostly rectangular shape, used for baking, and are approximately the same size.  They are all called the same thing…9×13 pans…but they are still unique and different.  So what does this have to do with real faith and real life?  It’s symbolic…in so many ways!

In so many instances, I might see the “same” thing, but I can appreciate the “differences.”  First, I think about my years teaching in public schools.  Everyone wants to label the kids the same.  They are all kindergarteners.  They are all elementary kids.  They are all middle schoolers.  Yet, within each school environment, whether it be an entire district, building or a classroom, they can all be labeled as students, but they are very different individuals.  They are made up of unique personalities and some are better suited for certain tasks and learning styles than others, even though they are the “same size” or age or whatever.  Later in my career, it became a struggle to teach according to the curriculum and expectations of the state and district, and still treat my students as individuals.  I recognized their differences, not because I wanted to single kids out, but because I wanted to teach them best according to their unique needs as early learners, kind of like choosing the right 9×13 for the job.  Another example in my life has to do with my size.  I love to hike, and run when my feet let me.  I also enjoy yoga and other forms of exercise.  So you would think articles labeled “active wear” would suit my needs fine.  Not so fast…I can shop in the stores or departments for active lifestyles, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find clothes for my body type.  I’m like the bigger 9×13 pan on the bottom of the stack…because of my size, I’m an after thought, or maybe even avoided.  It’s just too much to accommodate that pan on the bottom of the stack or for companies to invest in making active clothing for larger body types.  Although, I will say this problem has improved a lot in recent years, especially with some companies.

When I think about my 9×13 pans, I know they can all achieve the basic same end goal.  I just happen to know that some of the pans are better suited for some tasks than others.  The pans are different sizes and colors but they’re still ALL PANS. Umm, sounds like a lesson in social acceptance here.  I am not trying to make any political statements in this post, at all, just pondering life.  And yes, some individuals might be offended by my comparison of people to pans, but it’s not that much of a stretch.  We are ALL PEOPLE, even though we are different sizes, colors, and have different backgrounds.  Some of us are better suited to some tasks than others, but we all have the potential to accomplish the job at hand.  The bottom line is THINGS or PEOPLE may all be labeled one thing, but when you look closely, whether subtle or obvious, everything and everyone has differences.  And just like my pans in the cabinet, just because we are all a little different, doesn’t mean we can not be useful, valued, loved, or treasured.

Today’s Scriptures  I always have, do, and will believe that God created humankind with differences intentionally.  I could theorize here why God would create so much diversity in the world and what I think His grand plan may entail, but I am not a theologian or prophet, and I’m not putting my blog on any political train wreck.  I’m just a lady who tries to study and learn the most she can about how to live my life as God has instructed, and share my thoughts on this journey.  When studying recently, I found these verses that address differences, and hope they help or inspire others.

Acts 10:34-35  “Then Peter began to speak, ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Romans 15:7  “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

1 Corinthians 1:10  “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of your Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Colossians 3:11-12  “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Lasagna Blanca
No tomatoes in this lasagna dish…but lots of cheese, Italian seasonings, and Italian sausage.

Today’s Recipe  Well, we can’t talk about 9×13 pans and not use one in today’s recipe!  Today we are making Lasagna Blanca with Italian Sausage.  Lasagna used to be my very favorite food.  I say used to be, because if you were here for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches, you know about my tomato allergy.  So many things, for me, are just not the same when you take away the tomato sauce…pizza, spaghetti, barbecue sauce, and lasagna, to name a few.  The tomato allergy does force me into some creativity in the kitchen, though, to fix foods my family and I love, while avoiding tomato products.  So here we have a “white lasagna” that is tomato free, but also not made with alfredo sauce.  I will tell you this is not as saucy as most lasagnas, but if you love cheese and Italian seasonings, it will still fulfill your lasagna cravings.  Please note, I did not add additional salt to this recipe because the sausage and cheeses are all salty foods.  Grab a fork and dig in!

Lasagna Blanca with Italian Sausage

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 24-oz carton cottage cheese
  • 4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder, oregano, basil, and black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray.  Cook lasagna according to package directions, drain, and lay out on foil or wax paper.  In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat; add Italian sausage and crumble with wooden spoon or spatula.  When Italian sausage is only slightly pink, add green onions and mushrooms, stirring in the pan to absorb oil and flavors.  When sausage and vegetables are cooked through, drain any grease and set aside.  In large bowl, beat cream cheese, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, and seasonings.  To assemble lasagna, place 4 cooked noodles on bottom of pan and top with 2 cups of meat and vegetable mixture, followed by 2 cups of cheese mixture.  Place 4 more noodles on top of this and repeat meat and cheese layers.  For final layer, place last 4 noodles and any of the remaining cheese mixture.  Top the lasagna with 3 cups shredded mozzarella, distributing so that the entire dish is covered.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is golden bubbly.  Allow to stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  A simple green salad is a nice side dish for this meal.

Everybody needs some 9×13 pans!  Come to think of it, I could probably use another one, or two!  (These links were verified on 8/17/17 at 1:00 pm CDT)