Plan a Meal, Save a Buck

26 09 2011

Happy Monday 321delish readers. I (Chloe) hope that you all were able to have a little bit of fun this past weekend. I spent my weekend up in New Hampshire at one of my best friend’s wedding’s, where I was the maid of honor. It was  beautiful wedding and such a fun celebration. A big congratulations to Katie and Sam 🙂

When Chris and I got back to D.C. yesterday evening, the last thing that we wanted to do was think about making dinner. Putting together a grocery list and heading to the store sounded even less enjoyable. We easily could have thrown in the towel, called the local pizza place and ordered in the for the night. We also could have postponed grocery shopping until today, which we knew would ultimately not fit into our schedules and get put on Tuesday’s to do list. But in the same way that a hard workout, no matter how much it is dreaded, always feels better after, we knew that if we just sucked it up, went to the store and made a homemade dinner, we would feel much better. So we did.

When we actually sat down and thought about our schedules this week, we were extra glad that we had decided to make dinner at home and get groceries for the week. Turns out we have a pretty busy week ahead of us, so quick dinners are going to be a must. I decided that I would make a huge lasagna last night so that we had dinner last night as well as leftovers, one night for Chris and one night for me.

It wasn’t the prettiest meat lasagna that I have ever made but paired with some fresh steamed broccoli, it was an easy, delicious and relatively healthy dinner. And I know, that if we had decided to just swing by the pizza store and pick up some quick take out, it is likely that both of us would have opted for take out on the nights when we were flying solo and super busy this week. Deciding to take a step back and put together a list also allowed me to get the ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies that we made last night. Homemade cookie dough is always worth a trip to the grocery store.

So, with a well stocked fridge and some leftover lasagna waiting in the fridge, we are off to another busy week. Have a great day and I will see you on Wednesday!

Question of the Day: Are you a meal planner or do you tend to wing it and head to the grocery store on your way home from work?





Olive Studded Greek Lasagna

26 08 2011

Do you like lasagna? I do, but when you’re making meals for one, it doesn’t really make sense to make a whole pan of it.

But, I knew my boyfriend would be in town this week, so it was a perfect excuse to make some. And, if I made it at the beginning of the week, it meant that we’d have meals for the remainder of the week, and we could spend our time together doing things other than cooking…like watching lots and lots of Dexter, my new favorite show.

On one of his other visits, we made a vegetarian lasagna,

but I wanted to put a little twist on it this time. I was thinking something Greek inspired, since I had some fresh eggplant from my CSA box and I made some of Mama Pea’s Mediterranean Lentil Meatballs from her new cookbook. By the way, Mama Pea’s cookbook is AMAZING! I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but she has some absolutely outstanding recipes in it, the lentil meatballs being one! I would HIGHLY recommend getting the book, or at least checking out her blog!

I built upon the “Mediterranean” theme by swapping feta cheese for the mozzarella and parmesan, and I threw in some chopped kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes. This lasagna turned out even better than the original! If you’ve got a craving for some lasagna, make this instead of your traditional Italian lasagna! you will not be disappointed!

Olive Studded Greek Lasagna

Ingredients:

2 small-medium eggplants
1 bag of spinach
3-4 (or more) of Mama Pea’s Mediterranean Lentil Meatballs
1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup roughly chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 jar of tomato sauce (I used half homemade sauce and half canned)
1/2 lb uncooked lasagna noodles (1 box)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup feta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

How to:

Slice the eggplant into 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick slices. Lay out on paper towels, sprinkle salt on top, and allow them to dehydrate for 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and cook the pasta noodles, following the instructions on the box.

After the eggplant has been out for about 30 minutes, pat the slices dry, and cook. You can drizzle olive oil on them and bake it in the oven at 400º for about 15 minutes, or lay them on the grill for a few minutes each side. (I did a combination of both to save time.)

While the eggplant is cooking, make the cheese mixture, stirring together the eggs and about 3/4 cup feta cheese. Set aside.

When the eggplant is done cooking and the noodles are all boiled, you can assemble your lasagna.

In a lasagna pan, pour a few table spoons of sauce. Then put one layer of noodles. Next, pour on a layer of the cheese mixture, spinach, eggplant, olives, sun dried tomatoes, crumbled meatballs, and then more sauce. Add a layer of noodles and repeat the layers of filling.

Top the lasagna with the remaining sauce, cheese mixture, and 1/4 cup of feta cheese.

Turn down the oven to 350°. Cover the lasagna in foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, and let it sit for 10 minutes before eating.

ENJOY!

Question of the day: What’s your favorite Greek/Mediterranean meal?





Eating Italian on Cinco de Mayo

5 05 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo Friends! We probably should be here sharing a special Taco recipe or delicious Margarita recipe to celebrate, but we aren’t that good at planning 🙂 So, on 321delish today, Italian it is! If you do want a great Mango Guac recipe though, head over to How Sweet Eats! Jessica’s recipes are AMAZING.  I (Chloe) was not feeling well last night so asked Steph to fill in for me today. She had a great recipe post ready to go!

Steph’s Hearty Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna!

Lasagna’s not something I typically make for myself, mostly because you end up with leftovers for a week… And, if I was left on my own to eat it, lasagna would start oozing from my ears. It’s a much better meal to make when someone’s there to help you eat it 🙂 So, I had a special visitor a few weeks ago, and his request was for a really good vegetable lasagna that we could make/eat together.

I spent some time looking at a few recipes: I checked out Tastespotting and my Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, and a few of my favorite blogs. I finally decided that we’d make our own version, drawing from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe and the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. Of course it would be “really good” when we’re making it up as we go along!

Here’s the step by step:

First, start boiling water for your lasagna noodles. I had a BIG pot of water on the stove and it took FOREVER to boil! Mental note: use this pot next time:

While the water’s boiling, prep your veggies:

Mushrooms

Broccoli

I forgot to get a picture of the onions, but that’s probably because I wanted to chop as quickly as possible, since I wasn’t wearing eye protection.

In a pan, sauté the onions in a little olive oil. When they’ve softened and started to brown a little, add the mushrooms.

When the mushrooms are cooked through, add two cans of diced tomatoes. I always buy Muir Glen’s fire roasted diced tomatoes.

Stir until heated through, and then add the broccoli. Turn up the heat on the stove a little, so that the sauce begins to bubble. This will cook off some of the water, and cook the broccoli. Season with salt, pepper, and if you’d like, some Italian seasoning. We used basil, parsley, and oregano.

Now, at this point, hopefully your water is boiling, and you can cook the noodles as directed on the box. When ours were done, we dipped the noodles in an ice bath, just so they’d hold their shape and not get sticky when we layered them.

While the noodles are cooking, prep your cheeses. Make sure you have mozzarella (you can buy pre-shredded, or not. We decided to buy a log of it and slice it), shredded or finely grated parmesan, and a ricotta mixture. In the ricotta mixture, we combined the following:

1 15 ounce carton of ricotta cheese

1 cup of cottage cheese

2 beaten eggs

a handful of parmesan cheese (real technical, I know)

Italian seasoning (to taste)

salt + pepper

Now, begin the layering. Start with a layer of sauce:

Then a layer of noodles and the layer of the ricotta mixture:

Then layer on some baby spinach, and then some mozzarella slices:

Repeat.

We were able to get three layers of pasta on there. After the last layer of pasta, top with sauce, spinach, mozzarella, and some shredded parmesan. Bake in a 350º oven for 35 minutes.

Let it stand for 10 minutes when it comes out of the oven, before cutting into this deliciousness:

Now you can dig in!

Question of the day: Are you a veggie lasagna kind of person, or a meat lasagna kind of person?

Question 2 of the day: How are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo!?