Vanessa Lachey with her family.

"For a natural-born party planner like me, this is the season of small get-togethers and big celebrations.” — Vanessa Lachey

Getty Images / iStockPhoto; Courtesy: Justin Coit (2)

In her new book, Life from Scratch, NCIS: Hawai’i star Vanessa Lachey delivers delectable eats for every season.

Vanessa Lachey, in her own words:

Winter is magical. But let’s be real here–it can also be crazy stressful. It’s cold; the kids are on break from school; you have to figure out what gifts to give your in-laws and bosses and what you’re going to do for the kids’ teachers. It’s no wonder we start counting down the days until spring break while it’s still freezing outside.

Despite the stress, winter is also a season of warmth and reflection. It’s pine-scented candles and chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. It’s twinkling lights and cozy pajamas. It’s binge-watching your favorite holiday movies and spending quality time with the people you love. It’s eating warm chicken tetrazzini (one of my winter favorites and, coincidentally, the meal I ate before each of my kids’ births) and enjoying a cozy cocktail.

I continue a few of the traditions that began during my childhood, but most of our winter traditions were started by Nick [Lachey] and me as a way to remember what matters most in life: connection, closeness, and comfort food—not necessarily in that order! For a natural-born party planner like me, this is a season of small get-togethers and big celebrations. Even if you would rather spend cozy nights at home with the family, I hope this inspires you and helps make your season more magical and memorable in ways large and small.

Lachey's book, Life from Scratch, is available here: lifefromscratchbook.com

NCIS: Hawai'i airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

Lachey Lasagna

Close up image of a lasagna

Excerpted from Life from Scratch by Vanessa Lachey. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2021.

Getty Images / iStockPhoto; Courtesy: Justin Coit (2)

Lachey Lasagna
During any season, this recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, but it’s an especially good way to warm up after a cold winter day. Bonus: You can save the leftover sauce to make another dish later.


INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 lb. Lean ground turkey (I use the 1-pound Jennie-O packs) 1⁄2cup chopped or minced white onion
2 Garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 28-oz. Can crushed tomatoes
1 12-oz. Can tomato paste
1 15-oz. Can tomato sauce
1⁄2 Cup water
2 tbsp. Granulated sugar
1 1⁄2 tsp. Dried basil
1⁄2 tsp. Fennel seeds
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. Salt, plus more as needed
1⁄2 tsp. Ground black pepper
4 tbsp. Chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
12 Lasagna noodles (more or fewer to taste)
1 15-oz. Tub ricotta cheese
1 Egg
3⁄4 lb. Pre-sliced low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
3⁄4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese, divided


MAKING IT FROM SCRATCH

In a large, dry Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up into a crumble as you go. When it’s almost brown, add the ground turkey. When the meat is fully cooked, add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. Add the water and mix well. Next, add the sugar, basil, fennel, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Simmer, covered, for 90 minutes (or more). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Then drain the noodles and rinse under cold water. At this point, I lay them out on a cookie sheet so I can easily grab them as I’m assembling. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with the egg. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1⁄2 cups of the meat sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Place half the noodles on top of the sauce in an overlapping layer. (I use six of them in this step.) Spread with half the ricotta cheese mixture. Then top with half the mozzarella cheese slices in an even layer (cut the slices to fit if you have to). Next, add another 1 1⁄2 cups of the meat sauce, then sprinkle with 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan. Repeat the layers, starting with the noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then the mozzarella. Top with 1 1⁄2 cups sauce and the remaining 1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese. If you have sauce left over, save it for another use. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Life from Scratch book cover picturing Vanessa Lachey seated on a wooden swing

Excerpted from Life from Scratch by Vanessa Lachey. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2021.

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NCIS: Hawai'i airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

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