Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lovin' Lasagna

Lasagna is a major staple in my recipe rotation. Everyone, including our cat Weasley, loves lasagna night.  It's been know to bring M.I.A. children back from friends houses and the last piece usually has a fight over it.

This recipe is labour of love but it is worth it.  It's great as a make ahead meal for during the week or a special Sunday night dinner.  Don't be afraid & give it a try.

Lets get started, shall we.....

Lovin' Lasagna


12 Lasagna Noodles (3 noodles across the bottom & 4 layers tall)
2 cups Marble cheese (or 1 cup each Cheddar & mozzarella)
1 jar Pasta sauce
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 lbs Extra Lean Ground Beef
1 pint (15 -20) White Button Mushrooms, quartered 
1/2 tbsp Garlic Salt
2 Green Onions, chopped
1/2 tbsp Onion Salt
1 500 g tub Ricotta
1 tbsp Dried Parsley
1/4 cup Feta
1 Tomato, diced 
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted 
(or 1 large bag of fresh, cooked, drained, & chopped)
1/2 tbsp each Salt & Pepper

* you can adjust the number of noodles to fit your pan. I use a 9 x 13 and everything fits perfectly.


1. Preheat your oven to 350*.  
2.  Start heating a large pot of salted water for your noodles.
3.  In a large skillet add the garlic salt, onion salt, parsley, salt & pepper, and mushrooms to the ground beef and brown until thoroughly cooked.
4. Your pasta water should be boiling at this point.  Cook your lasagna noodles as per package instructions.
5.  In a medium sized bowl combine the ricotta and spinach, set aside.

6.  Once your pasta is done, drain most of the hot water and then add cold water.  This will stop the cooking process while keeping the noodles from sticking together.  Just remember not to leave them in the water too long.

7.  In your favourite lasagna dish, add a generous amount pasta sauce to the bottom and spread around.

8. Add a layer of noodles and pasta sauce.

9.  Divide the ground beef into two halves, and add the first half on top of the noodles.

10.  Add to the ground beef half of the tomatoes and green onions and lightly sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of the shredded marble cheese.

11.  Add another pasta & sauce layer but only add light amount of sauce.

12.  Carefully spoon the ricotta/spinach mixture onto the pasta and spread evenly.

13.  Repeat steps 8 - 10 for the third layer.

14.  Cover the ground beef with the last layer of pasta BUT before finishing off that bottle of pasta sauce lightly press down on the entire top to compress things a bit.  Then finish up that sauce and  the remaining marble cheese on the very top.  Sometimes I need to grate a little more just to have a nice thick layer with even coverage.  Then add the Feta and Parmesan.  For some color I add additional parsley to the top.

15.  Bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and just starts to brown.   If you made this ahead of time and had it in the fridge it could take up to 90 minutes to bake.

16.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.  In the mean time throw together a nice salad to have on the side.  We like a spring blend, spinach & arugula with strawberries or Caesar.

Stay sweet!
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Family
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

So........ you say you can't cook?

You know what? I don't believe you :).

I've been spending lots of time over at Pintrest lately and with reading the comments like "This looks good. I wish I could cook" or "This seems so easy, even I can't screw it up" etc,  I shake my head a little. I believe that everyone can learn to cook.  It's not a genetic trait, it's something you train yourself to do.

There's two "not so secret" secrets.

The first is to start small and simple.  Learn to fry a basic egg - all the kinds, sunny side up, over easy, and hard. Then step it up to scrambled.  After that it's only small jump to an omelet or even (gasp!) a western sandwich.  I know this analogy seems silly but if one would think of every ingredient in this way you CAN accomplish amazing feats in the kitchen.  If you have never made minute rice than I wouldn't expect you to be able to prepare, from scratch, risotto.

The second, and most important, is read......Read the recipe completely, twice and even thrice if necessary, before you even think about turning on that stove.  Make sure you have everything from the ingredients to the equipment.  There's nothing worse than getting midway through a recipe and realizing you're missing/low on something and have to run to the store at midnight - been there, done that, not fun.  With reading everything first you get to know the steps & terminology. You'll be prepared for what's coming up next and if you don't understand a word/direction you can look it up prior.

I'm going to make a third point here.  Leave yourself lots of time for the prep.  I know a lot of recipes give you some sort of time frame that it should take you to have the prep done in.  BUT that's from experienced people use to banging out that particular recipe with those particular techniques .  Take your time and don't forget; things made with love always tastes better.

I hope this help & stay sweet!


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Friday, August 9, 2013

Where have you been all summer?

So where has Food & Life been all summer?  I wish I could say on fabulous vacations to exotic places but sadly no.  I've been renovating daughter A's room.  She has the basement bedroom and was tired of not being able to paint or personalize it any any way, shape, or form because it was paneled and not drywalled when built.  So hubster and I have been tearing out, rewiring, installing, muding, sanding, shopping for what seems like an eternity.  Every spare moment when we're not working has been dedicated to this reno.  But things are progressing nicely and we're the final stages now.  We're hoping to have her completely moved back in this weekend.  Here's a few pictures of where our progress is now.

Stay sweet!

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lunch box fixes

My girls aren't really picky eaters, they'll try about anything but packing their lunches has always been a bit of a struggle.  They don't like sandwiches.  Sure they'll have the odd grilled cheese but offer them up a ham & cheese, roast beef, turkey, etc sandwich they politely decline ( OK, I'm kidding on the politely thing, well at least for me anyway.  I'll get the look saying "Are you f-ing kidding me Mom").

What's a mom to do?

The hubster and I stumbled on to Bruscetta bagels at the grocery store in the bakery department one day and thought we'd give them a try.  Well the girls gobbled them up like they were going out of style.  Costing about $1.50 each, it was really adding up on the ole budget.  I thought to myself 'These are so basic.  I should be making them myself.'.

On my next shopping adventure I was determined to gather everything I needed to make these little suckers myself.  The bagels,cheese, butter, & tomato of course were easy peasy to find.  Buuuuuut the seasoning caused me some concern.  Off to the spice aisle I head to track down something suitable.  I thought with the popularity of regular bruscetta and there has to some sort of spice blend available, my local Independent (Loblaws) has never let me down before.  There's always a first time & this was mine - nothing specifically labeled for bruscetta :( .

So there I stand with fevered determination to find the perfect blend.  I must have been standing there reading every label for ten minutes when I picked up the Holy Grail of spices.......President's Choice Blue Menu Sun-Dried Tomato & Herb seasoning blend.  I carefully read the label and thought " Yup, sounds about right" When in all honesty I had no clue - I'd never made it before.  But in my cart it went and I've never looked back.

So, without further ado.  Here's how make these taste morsels.

Bruscetta Bagels

What you'll need:

1 bag of bagels 
1 Large Tomato, a meaty variety like beefeater works best
1/4 cup Butter (or margarine), at room temperature
2 cups Marble Cheese
1/2 tbsp Blue Menu Sun Dried Tomato & Herb seasoning.

The assembly:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350*. 
2. Combine the seasoning blend and butter.  I just use a fork and smash it together.  Set aside.
3. Shred and slice all the other ingredients as required.  Just a tip most packaged bagels come pre-sliced at least partially through.
4. Lightly butter each half of the bagels with the seasoned butter.  
5. Place a slice of tomato on each and put on your baking sheet.
6. Add generous amounts of your shredded cheese on top of the tomato.
7. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until cheese melts.
8. This part might scare some but trust me it's necessary. Crank up your oven to broil (500*) without opening the oven door.  Turn on your oven light and keep a close eye inside - this isn't the best time for a pee break - you're going to have to hold it..  You only need to keep this temp for up to 5 minutes - you're looking for the cheese to brown up a bit.  Once it does remove right away.
9. Place on a cooling rack promptly or else the grease & butter will absorb into the bagel and make it soggy.
10. Once completely cooled, place in a storage container, and refrigerate.  These are great cold but you you pop them in to the microwave for 20 seconds for a warmer treat.

I hope this helps you if you or yours get tired of the same old sandwich.

Enjoy & stay sweet!


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