Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crafty Dinners

Now that JGW is working full time and taking 3 classes this semester, I'm responsible for  making dinners.  The only other time I've had to do this was while unemployed 2 1/2 years ago and I have 2 things to say:
1.  I was SO spoiled having my dinner cooked for me everynight!
2.  I find it really challenging to come up with 5 dinners each week - it's only week 2, and this week was the first week where I had to do all 5 nights...patethic I know, but I'm trying.

2 nights ago I decided to start posting pictures of what I made that night on FB to see if I would get any responses from my friends regarding the yummy foods I made this week.  Most of them don't look as yummy as they are, but they've all turned out great!  After last night's picture upload, I had some postive responses just off the picture so I wanted to share my recipe - mostly because I started with a recipe I found online, and then modified it as I went:

Here's what I did:

Inside-out Lasagna
HollyLouise, September 14, 2011

8 oz. dry pasta
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 (14.5) oz. can mushrooms
Salt and pepper
2 (14.5) cans tomatoes with Italian Herbs (I used Hunts diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano) – can sweeten with sugar if needed…I used 2 packets of Splenda per can
1 frozen package of whole spinach leaves, thawed and fully drained
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 (15 oz.) container of skim milk ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese

1.      Cook pasta until its al dente, drain.
2.      Sauté onion, garlic power, and salt in olive oil over medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent.  Add mushrooms, additional salt (if needed), and pepper - continue to cook (at medium high) until mushrooms are heated through.  Stir in crushed red pepper flakes if using, I used ~1/8 tsp.
3.      Add spinach, one can of tomatoes, ¾ of container of ricotta and Parmesan to taste (about ¼ cup).  Keep over medium high heat until ricotta starts to melt and all ingredients are fully combined.
4.      Add drained pasta to large pot or bowl, top with spinach mixture, and 2nd can of tomatoes - stir until fully combined.
5.      If desired, add spoonfuls or remaining ricotta to top of each bowl.

YIELD: 4 servings

I will admit that I didn't actually use the 2nd can of tomatoes last night.  The original recipe doesn't call for it, so I didn't buy more than one at Giant.  I ended up putting in half when I was cooking everything and then added the 2nd half when I mixed it all at the end.  The Hunt's diced tomoatoes were just so yummy and fresh tasting that I wanted to keep some of that flavor.  I think that becaue I opted to add ricotta to the mixture (because I LOVE ricotta and wanted more in the dish - I mean it's cheese, who doesn't LOVE cheese?!?!), it was a little dry.  The 2nd can will totally solve this issue next time!

It also made enough for both of us to have a generous dinner last night, and each have a filling lunch today!  I'm sad now that it's gone, so I'll just have to make it again.  Like I said doesn't look amazing, but it's Y-U-M-M-Y!!!

My final thought is how great this is as a gluten free option.  For those of you who don't know, JGW found out he is allergic to wheat/gluten about 15 months ago.  This has proven to be a very challenging change to our eating habits.  I still eat gluten, mostly in my lunches (cause I can), but what is cooked for dinner and what restuants we go to if we go out to eat all focuses on GF options.  Bread is the one things they just don't do well in GF.  Tapioca rolls are okay he says, but they're dry - actual BREAD bread just doesn't happen anymore.  Even pasta proved challenging at first.  There are a LOT of options in the Gluten Free aisle of the grocery store, but many that advertise cooking to al dente and not being gummy are, in a word, disguting!  We're had a lot of trail and even more error in the past 12 months to find good pasta options!  The answer is Ancient Harvest Quinoa pastas!!  They have the biggest selection of pasta shape and cook up the closest to al dente w/o becoming gummy, gooey mush.  Lasagna noodles are a big pain in the @ss with or without gluten so this dish to me is truly the best of both worlds!

Make it for your family, let me know what you think!

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