What are your plans for the weekend?
We're looking forward to
relaxing. I'm seeing in our future .. a fun Sunday brunch date .. along with a few games of Scrabble at the coffee shop (ps: The Chef is a complete whiz when it comes to word games!)
In between, we'll be scouring our cookbooks .. in search of ideas for meals .. to bring to a family with a brand new baby. A fellow instructor and his wife brought home their second child (a girl) .. this past week .. and we're excited to be part of the sign-up list
It seems like yesterday that I was in their season of life .. when each of my two kids was just home from the hospital. I can't help but smile when I think back on what incredibly sweet times those were
Cuddling (non-stop!) .. Millions of pictures of them sleeping curled up on their tummies .. Waking up how early(?) .. Swapping drool-y kisses .. Trying to figure out a good work-life balance .. Discovering that the world keeps moving .. even in the middle of the night
During those times .. our neighbors left meals on our front porch .. lots and lots of meals .. and they truly were lifesaving.
When thinking of what to bring .. there are so many great ideas to choose from .. spaghetti and meatballs .. macaroni and cheese .. casseroles. Winter soups and stews that simmer on the stove .. a few of my favorites? Chili .. tom kha kai .. Brunswick .. and spicy freekeh (on second thought .. spicy probably isn't the best if a Mom is nursing)
Quiche .. quiche would be another good idea
For something different .. Fresh fruits and veggies are always great. As are all the fixings for a big salad .. with a simple vinaigrette .. and homemade bread. In the same vein are tacos and their fixings. (Be sure to make enough for left-overs .. and bag each of the ingredients .. so there are no containers to pick up or for them to keep track of)
Oh .. and cookies .. no meal is ever complete without a small(ish) cookie or two
I remember as a new Mom .. I was especially thankful for the dishes that lent themselves to freezing. Extra servings could be stashed away .. for easy dinners in the following months.
In fact .. a number of meals that showed up at our doorstep were already freezer-friendly .. broken up iintosmaller single-serving portions. It was the perfect idea for our small family .. we could grab the amount we needed .. instead of baking an entire casserole and eating leftovers all week (not that there's anything wrong with left-overs!)
Each week our group of 9-week Challengers is sent a 10-15 healthy recipes .. ideas for how to be more creative in the kitchen. I couldn't help but smile as I read this one .. a spin on a similar dish an elderly neighbor brought during my new-baby times
Lasagna was her specialty .. she'd been perfecting it for the better part of sixty years Though in these kinds of situations .. when a large pan lasagna just wouldn't be right .. she'd make roll-ups instead.
Delivered on Tuesdays .. as she headed off to meet her girlfriends for their weekly lunch date. She looked so pretty with her hair neatly rolled .. wearing red lipstick and a dress .. a bag filled with lasagna roll-ups tucked under her arm.
Always perfectly packaged in freezer tins .. covered in foil and carefully labeled with baking instructions .. and always delicious
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/4 lb lean ground beef ** the original recipe calls for ground turkey
- 1 28- oz can diced tomatoes in juice
- 8 oz tomato paste
- 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil chopped fine
- 1 15- oz container ricotta cheese
- 1 10- oz box frozen chopped spinach thawed, and squeezed to remove the excess moisture
- 1 XL egg
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
- Noodles & Topping
- 8-10 sheets dried whole-wheat lasagna noodles ** choose a gluten-free option if that's your preference
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Boil lasagna noodles until al dente.
- Drain, rinse, and lay flat on a sheet of parchment paper
- In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil for a 3-5 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to turn translucent.
- Add the ground beef, and cook until nicely browned.
- Drain any excess fat, and add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sea salt, pepper, parsley, and basil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the ricotta, spinach, egg, mozzarella, sea salt, pepper, parsley, and basil. Stir until well combined
- To assemble, spoon a cup or so of sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. (or smaller disposable foil loaf pans if you'd like to freeze them)
- Spread 2-3 Tbsp filling onto each noodle and roll them up.
- Lay them in the pan, seam side down.
- Top the rolls with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over the top.
- If baking immediately, bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- If baking from a frozen, bake, covered in foil, at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until lasagna rolls are done