Homemade ricotta

I saw this recipe on The Crunchy Chicken last week, and I knew that this was something I had to try.  Sunday was family dinner, and we hosted and I had planned on serving lasagna.  What could be better than homemade lasagna with homemade ricotta?  Well, other than winning the lottery.  And Take 5 bars.

1 gallon of whole milk (I used raw milk)
1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar (original recipe called for 1/4 cup, but I needed a full 1/2 cup)

In a big pot (I used my dutch oven of course!), slowly heat the milk until it reaches 180 degrees.  Stir often!  Heating it very slowly took me about 30 minutes.

Once it reaches 180 degrees, add the vinegar and stir gently to incorporate.  Do not over stir.  The mixture will get really really thick as you stir.  Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
If my photography skills were better, you could see the curds forming at the top
After 10 minutes, use a slotted spoon, remove the curds and put in a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl.  Let sit for 20-45 minutes depending on how dry you want the ricotta to be.
This paired well with lasagna!

Whole wheat lasagna noodles
Meat if desired
1 egg
Spinach or kale, chopped
Homemade sauce
If you want to add meat, brown it in a dutch oven, and then add to the sauce.

In a large pan, spread a little sauce on the bottom.  Place uncooked lasagna noodles over the sauce.  Trust me on this, you don't need to cook them before.  My friend Elaina told me about this tip and it's changed my life!

In a small bowl, crack and beat 1 egg.  Add the ricotta and chopped spinach and/or kale.  Mix.  Spread half of the ricotta on top of the noodles.  The ricotta spreads so easily on the noodles because they're hard.  LOVE this!

Sprinkle mozzarella on top of the ricotta.  Then start all over again, with sauce, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

When I make lasagna, I always make 1 or more to freeze.  It's just as easy to make 2 or 3 as it is to make 1.  I don't freeze them before cooking.  I try to defrost it before cooking, but that doesn't always happen.  In any case, cook it until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

The only thing better than yummy lasagna, is my adorable nephew.  I want to squeeze his cheeks.  Not in the way that Jack does, but in a sweet and snuggly way.
I've shared this over at Good Cheap Eats, Real Food Wednesdays, and It's a Keeper Thursday.