Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another Sunday In the Kitchen

I had three, count 'em, THREE kitchen projects today...

First up, I'd been meaning to make my own little snack mix for a while and today I finally dumped everything into a bowl and did it. This is one package of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 big jar of Planters unsalted roasted peanuts and 1 big box of SunMaid raisins. I didn't add any seasoning or anything, just stirred it all up in a bowl. (I added more raisins after this pic so it was a little better balanced.)

This stuff was like CRACK! I made the mistake of mixing it up while I was cooking my lunch (see below), but didn't have time to divvy it into little snack bags so I left the bowl sitting on the counter all afternoon. And that meant every time I went into the kitchen I grabbed a handful. Delicious! I now have 22 little Ziploc snack bags to take into work over the next 3 weeks. I don't think my nutritionist (who I'm seeing again tomorrow) will like the chocolate chips... but, I do!

For lunch, I made what has become a go-to easy recipe for me over the last few months - the spicy tomato soup from HungryGirl that I first made on a cold day in January. It's so easy, now that I've gotten used to cooking my soups rather than using a can opener. Start by rough-chopping 5 plum tomatoes and cooking them down over low heat with about 1 onion diced and garlic (today I used 4 cloves - kapow!). Then transfer it all to the mini-chop and puree. Then put it back in the pan with 1 cup of low-sodium V8 juice and 1 tbsp of hot sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a while. I serve it with some low-fat garlic mini bagel chips, which get all soft and puffy in the soup. Yum.

Then, today's big project... I made lasagna for the very first time. My Dad had given me the suggestion last week with his ideas for how to make a good veggie version. I did a little scoping of recipes on line this week, but for the first time ever I actually went to the grocery store without a specific recipe as reference. So, that meant I had NO IDEA what quantity of things to buy -- and I bought way too much. So there may be a 2nd lasagna in my future later this week!

This was also the first time I tried cooking a new dish without having a recipe as instructions, so I called Dad several times during the process. The basic process was: put one layer of sauce (I used Classico tomato basil) down in a lasagna/roasting pan coated with non-stick cooking spray. Then one layer of no-boil lasagna noodles (the moisture of the dish is enough that you don't have to boil them first). Then I did a layer of sliced yellow squash and sauce and another layer of noodles. I've never used ricotta before and I as surprised at how SOLID it was, so Dad had me mix the ricotta (fat free) with my baby spinach leaves as a next layer, covered with sauce again. I had plans to do another layer of zucchini and mushrooms, but the pan was more shallow than I thought. (Hence the need for a 2nd pan later this week, methinks. I've got lots of ricotta left, too.) So I did the final layer of noodles and sauce and covered it with a package of fat free shredded mozzarella and some dried oregano and basil.

Here it is after 60 minutes at 350 degrees. It smelled great! The only things that I need to fix is that the top layer of mozzarella was pretty dry and crusty, and the outside edges of the noodles were also still dry. When I asked Dad about that he said "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you to cover with with foil for the first 30 minutes, that'll keep the moisture in to cook those noodles and keep the top layer soft." There you have it.

This was very tasty -- and I'll be eating it all this week for lunches. I feel a real sense of accomplishment here, cuz lasagna has always seemed kind of daunting... but it turned out to be really easy to make!

1 comment:

ScottE. said...

lasagna is pretty easy, especially with the no boil noodles.

Good job.