Aunt Karen’s Lasagna

Growing up, my family would share a Sunday dinner after church with my dad’s sister, Aunt Karen, and her husband, my Uncle Jerry. Over the years, this family (including my cousins Rachel and Ben) has taken up a place in my heart that is hard to describe. The relationships I share with these four people mean a lot to me, and when I think about Sundays growing up, their faces immediately come to mind.

I’m thankful to have an aunt who is really more like a sister and best friend and aunt and motherly figure all rolled into one. She is one of the most cherished women in my life, and every time I make this lasagna, my mind drifts to all of the special memories we share together. I’m sure you have women like my Aunt Karen in your life, too. Women who are fiercely loyal and protective of their people, who are reliable and unafraid to tell you the truth even when it’s going to break your heart to bits, who stand with you unflinchingly through all that life brings.

Today, I want to share with you a recipe that my Aunt Karen passed down to me years ago. She is a fantastic cook known for hosting dinners for lots of people, and I still squeal with delight when she serves up food (and maybe a glass of wine or two) for me on her sun porch. I have adapted this recipe a bit, but it still rings true to the lasagna my Aunt Karen made for years of Sunday dinners. Enjoy!

Aunt Karen’s Lasagna (adapted)


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 24-oz. jars of marinara (I use Prego’s Fresh Mushroom Italian sauce)
  • 1 9-oz. package Barilla Oven-Ready Lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown the beef, seasoning with oregano, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Once browned, add the marinara sauce, stir to combine, and turn off the heat.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar. Set aside.
  4. Spread 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan. Lay three sheets of Barilla noodles in one later, making sure not to overlaw. Cover with 1 cup of marinara (just enough to cover all sheets of noodles). Then, dollop about 1/2 cup of cheese mixture on top of each noodle. Lay another three sheets of Barilla noodles on top and press down.
  5. Repeat step four until you’ve used all of the Barilla noodles, sauce, and cheese mixture. Make sure the last layer is pasta sauce to cover the noodles. This will ensure that everything bakes evenly. If time permits, allow lasagna to refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before baking.
  6. Finally, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of your beautifully constructed lasagna, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until mozzarella cheese is bubbly.
  7. Serve with garlic bread, salad, and lots of parmesan cheese. :)

This recipe serves a crowd, so feel free to refrigerate leftovers for up to five days or bring them by my house if you can’t find room in your fridge!

Here’s to strong women like my Aunt Karen. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

Published by

Ellie Talley

Ellie is a writer and teacher. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children.

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