05/22/2013

Cheesy Spinach Whole Wheat Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my most favorite comfort foods. I remember as a child, always looking forward to my mom’s homemade lasagna that would come out of the oven bubbling hot and oozing with melted cheese on top. She kept her recipe pretty simple using basic marinara sauce, browned ground beef, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. I have made it clear in the past that to me, one of the best things about food is its ability to transport you back in time with each and every bite; and my mom’s lasagna is absolutely no exception to that rule.

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Another thing I love about lasagna is that it can be made hundreds of different ways just by mixing up the cheeses, sauces, veggies, and noodles used. Over the weekend, I decided to make my own lasagna version by doing what I do best – cleaning out the fridge! I am being serious when I say that some of my best recipes come from having no plan and just ‘winging it.’ Exhibit A:

Cheesy Spinach Whole Wheat Lasagna

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Ingredients

Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles, (Cooked According to Package Directions)

½ tablespoon olive oil

½ medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound Lean Ground Beef (I used 93% Lean)

1 jar Marinara Sauce

1 can Italian Style Diced Tomatoes

2 teaspoons oregano

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 cup shredded mozzarella (split into two ½ cups)

1 cup shredded cheddar (split into two ½ cups)

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

16 oz. low-fat cottage cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and onions. Sauté for 3 minutes and add garlic, cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until fully browned. Pour in marinara sauce, tomatoes, oregano and spinach then bring to a boil; reducing heat to low. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add ½ cup mozzarella, ½ cup cheddar, parmesan, and cottage cheese. Mix until combined with a whisk, fork or hand mixer. Set aside.

In a large casserole dish, spoon a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of lasagna noodles, spoon and spread half of the cheese mixture on top of noodles, then top cheese with another layer of lasagna noodles. Then, spoon a thin layer of meat sauce over the noodles and repeat above steps; noodle, the rest of the cheese, noodle, the rest of the meat sauce, and then sprinkle with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and ½ cup cheddar. Place lasagna in oven and bake 40-45 minutes until sauce is bubbling hot and cheese is completely melted and heated through. Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting.

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Talk to Me!

  • When you create recipes, do you have a plan or do you prefer to just ‘wing it?’
  • Are you a lasagna fan? What are your favorite ingredients to include in your recipe?
  • Do you have a favorite restaurant you order lasagna, or do you prefer homemade?
05/20/2013

Wedding Fun

Last week literally moved lightning fast. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding Friday, and add in a packing session Wednesday night, (I stayed at my parents’ house Thursday night to be closer to the wedding festivities), a late evening rehearsal + rehearsal dinner Thursday, along with the typical cooking, cleaning and other household chores Monday and Tuesday, and I barely know where last week went. No complaints are to be found here though, I had a wonderful and relaxing weekend to make up for all the hustle and bustle that’s been present in life lately.  Sometimes all you need is a day of no plans to feel rejuvenated and have a fresh perspective on the days to come.

Here are a few pictures from the wedding I was in Friday:

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What did you do this weekend??

On another note, I finally finished reading Gone Girl after a few weeks of struggling through at times. I am still trying to decide how I feel about it. I was pretty bored with the first half of the book and then I couldn’t seem to put it down as the plot thickened. However, the turn of events in the middle of the book (regarding Amy) really through me off and I still don’t think I fully understand where the author was going with her character. I also was not happy at all with the ending. I literally read the final sentence, and then turned the page to look for more answers only to realize the book was over. There was no conclusion for me; no “aha!” moment that I crave at the end of a story. I know a lot of people absolutely loved this book, and I really wanted to as well, but I don’t really think I would recommend it to anyone as a good read, (the horror)! After just finishing The Hunger Games series right before this book, there was just no contest as to which story I liked better.

If you have read Gone Girl, what did you think about it? Did you like the characters, the plot and the ending? If you caught a part of the story that I am missing or didn’t understand, please let me know so that I can finally feel like the book had a conclusion!

I am in shock just thinking about next weekend already being time to celebrate Memorial Day.

Who has big plans for the upcoming holiday weekend?

I will be attending my baby cousin’s first birthday party next Saturday so that will not only be fun to watch him eat his birthday cake, but it will also be great to see all my family.

 

Talk to Me!

  • Answer any of the above questions in bold!
05/15/2013

Down the Drain

Blogging has provided plenty of wonderful opportunities in my life. To name a few: it has introduced me to some amazing blogger friends and awesome readers, allowed me to open up and be myself through my words and storytelling, offered a fresh way for me to be creative, and it has also given me the opportunity to grow as a person, as well as a writer.

I not only adore writing Happy Wife Healthy Life, but I also love reading other blogs too. I enjoy learning about new and exciting information from those writers through their own personal stories, experiences and advice. It is always helpful to see how other people approach similar situations that I may someday find myself in, or may have already gone through at an earlier time. I believe it is imperative to learn from other people and to grow as a person by sharing our own stories with others through words, whether those are shared written or verbal.

As much as I enjoy reading about more serious topics, I also like to be entertained with lighthearted posts. I especially adore finding new recipes and am always trying to learn from others so that I can grow as a cook and baker in the kitchen. To me, nothing is more fun that trying a new ingredient I just read about for the first time. So many of my now kitchen staples were once considered strangers, but I can thank the blog world for opening my eyes to new creations and flavors.

I have made, used and enjoyed everything from quinoa to spaghetti squash, to ground flax and chia seeds, thanks to reading about these alternative ingredients on a blog at one point or another. However, the one ingredient that I had still never used before in my own kitchen was one that is probably much more well-known than even oat bran or almond milk, and that my friends is tofu.

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Actually, the only time I have ever had tofu is at Fusian where I always order the roasted tofu as the protein in my handmade sushi roll. It is my absolute favorite thing to order there, but the thought of buying and making recipes using tofu in my own kitchen has always made me incredibly nervous.  Something about that white blob  lying in a container filled with water; looking pretty unappetizing nonetheless, has never been appealing to me in the least bit.

Has anyone else ever experienced this tofu fear as well, or just me?!

Anyways, last Sunday at the grocery I decided to bite the bullet and buy my first package of tofu. Ever. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was cost efficient, especially important in case I ended up loathing my purchase and throwing away the entire package. Priorities people!

I brought home the tofu and placed it in my refrigerator, where it proceeded to stare at me for the next two days. Finally, I couldn’t take the suspense any longer and decided to open up the package and try the ‘Peaches and Cream’ recipe from the Tone it Up plan. I can’t give the exact recipe since it is a part of their membership, but it is basically just peaches, (I used light canned), tofu, and almond milk. I also added a splash of vanilla extract for a little extra flavor. I threw everything in the blender, turned it on high and blended until everything was smooth and creamy. I poured out the tofu concoction into a glass, took a deep breath and proceeded to have a sip…

So how was it you may ask?

I wish I could tell you I loved it; I wish I could say that I couldn’t wait to have tofu again; I simply wish I had a better result to share, but instead I want to be honest with you: I thought it tasted terrible.

The texture, the smell, the taste…I just couldn’t do it. I drank about one quarter of the smoothie and had to pour the rest down the drain. I wanted to like it, but unfortunately that was not the case. Sorry tofu, but I don’t think you will be making another appearance in my grocery cart anytime soon.

(FYI – As much as my husband encourages me and my cooking trials, let’s just say that he didn’t lose any sleep over knowing that my tofu experiment was not a success. I think deep down he was fearful I would love it and tofu would begin making a regular appearance in our weekly meal plans. My meat and potatoes loving husband enjoys quinoa, will eat butternut squash from time-to-time, and will even (reluctantly?) allow pumpkin to be added to his turkey chili, but tofu for dinner may have just been crossing the line)!

Talk to Me!

  • Have you ever tried tofu before? Are you a fan? If so, what is your favorite way to enjoy it? Feel free to leave any recipe links if you think it will change my tofu experience!!
  • What are some ingredients that you have tried thanks to recommendations and recipes shared by other bloggers? Which ones did you love and now regularly use, or which ones are never gracing your kitchen table again?!