Monday, January 24, 2011

And so it begins.

I've been meaning to start this blog for, well, forever it seems. So here I am. This "blank canvas of a page" has been boggling my mind. I've decided to just take the bull by the horns and write something, anything at all.  It is 6 degrees here today. 6!! My crazy beast children are riding around the house on their plasma car and little bee car. The Big One is still in PJs. The Little One, an odd combo of her big sisters' old black leggings, a too small onesie and an adorable little apron skirt that's two sizes too big. They both keep taking their socks off, I think just to torture me. It's FREEZING!!!! "Put your socks back on!!!" We've watched the most recent Shrek twice already. My parenting skills abound! 

I always thought my first blog post would be an awesome recipe I was trying or some fun creative project to make with your kids. But, oh well. I'll leave you with this. A picture of the Big One from yesterday afternoon, doing her best Sophia Loren and eating some kick-ass veggie lasagna from Pam Anderson's new cookbook. Perfect One-Dish Dinners. Which is awesome and brilliant and maybe life changing! The Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings is insanely delicious! And so was this lasagna.

(recipe below)

Quick, Creamy Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna
Adapated from Perfect One-Dish Dinners, by Pam Anderson
Serves 10

15 oven-ready lasagna noodles
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb. sliced mushrooms (baby bellas)
2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
12 oz. cream cheese, softened, divided
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 cups (1 lb.) grated part-skim or whole-milk mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Dissolve 1-1/2 tablespoons salt in a 9"x13" glass lasanga pan and fill with very hot tap water.  Add noodles and soak until softened, about 10 minutes.  Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender and well browned, 5-7 minutes.  Add spinach and continue to cook, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, until heated through.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  When garlic starts to sizzle, add tomatoes and enough water to make a sauce that is neither too thin nor too thick. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, partially covered, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

Mix mushroom-spinach mixture with basil, 8 oz. of the cream cheese and 1/4 cup broth.  Mix remaining 4 oz. cream cheese with remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl; set aside.

To assemble: smear 1/4 cup marinara sauce over bottom of baking dish, then assemble 4 layers as follows:

3 lasagna noodles
scant cup marinara
scant cup mushroom-spinach mixture
3/4 cup mozzarella
2 tablespoons Parmesan

Top with remaining 3 noodles, cream-cheese broth mixture, remaining 1 cup mozzarella, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Spray one side of a large sheet of heavy-duty foil with cooking spray.  Cover baking dish with foil, oiled side down, and bake until bubbly throughout, 40-45 minutes.  Leaving lasagna on same rack, turn oven to broil.  Remove foil and broil until lasagna is spotty brown, 4-5 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve.

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