Oak Park Eats is eager to begin sharing favorite family recipes! Whether your best homemade bites are holiday worthy fare or suitable for serving on a manic Monday, we are excited to get busy in the kitchen and share recipes for your go to dishes right here. To submit a recipe shoot me an email at melissa@oakparkeats.com and look for the recipes HERE.

To kick things off we turned to our own Oak Park Eats team. Oak Park Eats’ social media maven, Jackie McGoey, credits her mother for making her favorite foods; her mom’s lasagna and lemon meringue pie rise to the top of her list of ideal dishes.

“My mom cooked most nights of the week when I was younger — a feat I appreciate so much more now being a working mom myself and knowing how hard it is to get a home cooked meal on the table almost every night after working all day. And she didn’t have Instant Pots back then to help! I mean, can you imagine how tired she must have been?! Moms are superheroes. Mine definitely is.” says Jackie McGoey

About that Lasagna…

Mc Goey’s mother, Marcella, didn’t make lasagna too often when her daughter was little, but gifted the layered treat to McGoey during her freshman and sophomore years of college. Her parents would pop in for a visit and treat their studious daughter to a trip to the grocery store. In addition to stocking the pantry, Marcella would whip up a lasagna before heading home. McGoey savored every bite and relied on the leftovers to get her through a week. 

Oak Park Eats Thinks: Marcella’s lasagna makes smart use of convenient store bought products and enhances them to bring a little homemade flair to the finished dish. Additionally McGoey’s favorite lasagna shies away from tradition by eliminating Italian ricotta cheese from the dish. The resulting dish is sturdier than a traditional lasagna and slices like a dream. We can see why it was a cozy college favorite!

And what about that lemon meringue pie? 

Holiday food memories are strong and when other families were having pumpkin or sweet potato pie for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, McGoey’s Belizean family opted to enjoy her mother’s lemon meringue pie as a light and fresh ending to a heavy holiday meal. McGoey loves this pie for its tart, citrus-y taste. Her mom would often make two or three pies, because some family member would inevitably want to take an entire one home!

Oak Park Eats thinks: The meringue on Marcella’s pie isn’t overly sweet and the simple filling has a pleasing custard like texture. This pie is best served after cooling to room temperature as meringue topped pies can get sad and soggy in the fridge.

Lets get cooking!

Jackie’s Favorite Lasagna (makes 10-12 servings)

  • ½ package of uncooked lasagna (about 9 noodles)
  • 1 ½ pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 jar (24-ounces)marinara sauce (with or without meat)
  • 1 can (14-ounces) diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves (divided)
  • ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 8-ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8-ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8-ounces pack of Italian cheese mix
  • 8-ounces grated parmesan (reserve 1/4 Cup)

Cook lasagna in boiling salted water according to package directions, drain. Place sausages in a pot of water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until “pinkness”is gone (Oak Park Eats says this should take about 15 minutes). Cool and remove meat from casings. Crumble and combine in a pot with onions, garlic, tomato paste, pasta sauce, diced tomatoes,  sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, and the red pepper flakes. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes on stove top. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix beaten eggs, parsley, remaining 1 teaspoon of basil, and all cheeses (except Parmesan) in a bowl. Spray a 13×9 inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Ladle 1/3  of the tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of the pan (Oak Park Eats tried to avoid adding the large chunks of meat in the first layer so the lasagna would lay flat when sitting on a plate). Top the sauce with three lasagna noodles and then 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat for three layers. Sprinkle Parmesan on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Top with the remaining 1/4 Cup of Parmesan and parsley. ENJOY!

Marcella’s Lemon Meringue Pie (about 8 servings)

  • 1 store-bought pie shell
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 can (15-ounces) condensed milk
  • Lemon juice (Oak Park Eats used the juice of 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make multiple pricks in pie shell before baking for 10-12 minutes, until slightly brown. Remove and allow to cool.

Make pie filling by separating egg whites from yolks. Place whites in the fridge. Combine yolks, lemon juice and condensed milk in bowl and mix until it thickens. Perform tartness taste: taste a small amount and add more lemon juice (if needed) to achieve desired tartness. Mix and then pour mixture into shell. Bake for 20 minutes, or until firm. Remove.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whip egg whites with sugar until peaks appear using an electric or stand mixer. Spread meringue on warm pie and place in oven for 2-4 minutes until meringue is slightly brown. Cool completely and ENJOY!

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