Thursday, June 21, 2012

Level Up

Cue the gamer music. This has been a week of unlocked achievements, level ups and bonus points.

To begin with, I made lasagna this week. (I always start with food don't I?) There are no pictures of the cheesy masterpiece, but let me tell you, that glorious brick of cheese and noodles - which always haunted my culinary imagination as something unattainable or too difficult to make...has been conquered! (see what I mean about music cues!).

I have a love/hate relationship with lasagna. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had lasagna and actually liked it...none. Not once. Lasagna is something that I will eat at family dinners if it is made, but you will nevereverever catch me ordering it. Either the noodles have been cooked for too long, the tomato sauce is too runny/watery, the cheese is bland, there is too much meat, or (if a vegetarian option) stuffed with veggies I don't like. Believe me, I know this makes me sound like a picky eater, but I am really not! I just think that lasagna-making is an art and a difficult one at that. So, WHAT, you might ask, would make me want to make a lasagna?? The fear is paralyzing and lasagna just! Well, we were having people over and I thought "why not?!"

WARNING: You come to my house for dinner, you will eat something experimental or made for the first time. You are a guinea pig. A much loved one, but a guinea pig nonetheless.

My recipe for success? By slightly altering the lasagna recipe in this book (which I am using to death!) I made a lasagna that I loved. I scrapped the nutmeg and instead added some extra pepper, dill and fresh basil, I added minced garlic to the cheese mixture, and spinach between the layers. I also cooked my noodles al dente which I think helped too. Also, this was a dish I prepped before and was able to pop in the oven as soon as I got home. Grant's wonderful contribution to this dinner was a fantastic roasted asparagus dish with toasted sesame seeds. So great! I will ask him what he did and post the recipe later!

Easy, Peasy, NO-Fear Lasagna

1 lb. lasagna noodles
2 tsp kosher salt (1 for the boiling water, and 1 for the cheese mixture)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup minced garlic..or to taste if you are a weirdo and don't like garlic that much...weirdo.
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pepper (I used cracked pepper)
1/2 tsp dill
1 cup fresh basil
1 large bag of baby spinach
1 large jar of killer tomato sauce (I used Earth Elements Farm Foods Marinara Sauce. It is Oklahoma made and has some fantastic flavors like shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and fresh herbs).
1 lb mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan


  1. Heat oven to 375*.
  2. Bring lasagna to a boil in a pan on the stove (add salt). Do not over boil, just cook until barely soft and "chewy". After it is cooked drain and set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate, large mixing bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, other half of the salt, pepper, garlic, dill and basil. Stir to combine.
  4. Spoon a bit of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.
  5. Layer the pan with noodles.
  6. Spoon on cheese mixture.
  7. Sprinkle spinach leaves.
  8. Slice the mozzarella and lay it in 1" chunks around the pan.
  9. Repeat layering until all ingredients are gone. I got about 3 layers out of this method.
  10. Sprinkle the top generously with grated parmesan cheese.
  12. Cover with foil tent and back for 40 minutes.
  13. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cheese is slightly brown.
Enjoy! FYI - Lasagna lasts up to 4-5 months in the freezer.
PS - The lasagna was a hit. ::squee::

Also, I got some very exciting news this week! I have a Teaching Assistantship lined up for next semester! I am so excited! I have a stipend and a tuition waiver! I feel like I have some room to breathe now! I will be helping with an art appreciation class for undergraduates called Understanding Art. I am going to have to pull out my old copies of this and this! Maybe these students will actually read these books, unlike me when I was an undergrad. Oh, Karma...I guess I should have known that I would have to crack them open at some point!

Anyway, I was so excited when I got the news, that I called Grant at work and we 'OMG'd' together for a few minutes before he had to get back to being a serious professional. I was walking on air! When I got home that night, Grant surprised me with a succulent! I have always wanted one but never thought we could grow one in the house. But, out on the balcony in the half shade, I think it will be quite happy!

I feel so ready for the next level...and so does Bosco..although her game of choice is Skyrim...and always if Grant is playing. ::loves!::

No comments:

Post a Comment