Monthly Meal Plan 2: Lasagna Roll-Ups

Let me start by saying, these were soooo yummy!!! I will definitely be making these again!!

Now, I’ll be honest though, they were very tedious to prep. So save them for the days you have some time on your hands to really enjoy the cooking process.

I got my inspiration for this dish from these lasagna roll-ups
I saw on Pinterest, but I wanted meat and red sauce so the following recipe and process is my own creation.

I wanted layers of flavor, so rather than combining everything in one pan, I broke it up into separate steps. And, oh what a difference it made!!! I did, however, use the same pan for each step to save myself the headache of a kitchen full of pots and pans to clean.

The presentation of these lasagna roll-ups is beautiful, but the flavor is really where it’s at!! If you want to save yourself a little bit of time, when you’re ready to assemble (step 8 below), you can simply layer everything like a traditional lasagna. If you really want to get crazy, cook a different type of pasta such as farfalle (Bowtie), penne, or even linguini, and mix everything in a large bowl.

So here we go.
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Ingredients:
-1 box lasagna noodles
-Ground turkey
-Romano cheese (I always have a block on hand because I’m Sicilian, and that’s just what we do. Not having Romano cheese in my house is like not having water)
-8 oz Mozzarella cheese
-large bundle of fresh spinach
-28oz can crushed tomatoes
-8-10 white Cap mushrooms (sliced)
-1/2 yellow onion (chopped small)
-1 clove garlic (minced)
-2-4 oz wine
-olive oil
Small Pinch thyme (a little thyme goes a long way)
-1 1/2 teas garlic powder (separated)
-1 1/2 teas onion powder (separated)
-1/4 teas oregano
-Kosher salt

Step 1:
Cook lasagna noodles in salted boiling water “until they’re done” as my husband likes to say. Approximately 10-12 minutes. Lay out on flat surface and drizzle with olive oil so they don’t stick.

Step 2:
Sautéed spinach in 1-2 tbs olive oil, add pinch of kosher salt, remove from heat and set aside.

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Step 3:
Add more olive oil to pan. Sauté the onion until softened, add a pinch of kosher salt, add garlic, and white cap mushrooms. Remove from pan and set aside.
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Step 4:
Deglaze pan with your choice of wine. I used a buttery, oaky Chardonnay, but a red wine would work great too; just do not use anything sweet! Use that bottle in the fridge that’s been open a few days and is better to cook with than drink. The yummy flavor mixed with the wine is called the fond. Set aside because you’ll be using it in a minute. (Make sure nothing is left in the pan that can burn.)

Step 5:
Add 1-2 tbs olive oil to pan. Add meat, 1 teas garlic powder, 1 teas onion powder, heavy pinch of kosher salt, oregano, and thyme. Mix together and let brown. Add fond and finish cooking meat.
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Step 6:
Deglaze pan again.

Step 7:
Add can of tomatoes and fond to pan. Season with remaining garlic powder and onion powder.
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Step 8:
Assemble ingredients on noodles as follows: sauce, spinach, mushrooms, meat, cheese.

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Step 9:
Delicately roll20140803-215414.jpg
Step 10:
Place in oiled baking dish and top with sauce and more cheese. 20140803-220411.jpg

Step 11:
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Step 12:
Top with freshly grated Romano cheese and serve.

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Enjoy!

Tomorrow is shopping day. Here is this weeks menu:
1. Feta Burgers
2. Chicken and veggies
3. Baked Potato soup in bread bowls
4. Avocado Pasta Salad
5. Stromboli

Stay tuned for recipes, prices and grocery list.

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Mostly-Healthy Monthly Meal Planning on a Budget: Meal 1

Working one day a week in the salon and the other seven six at home being Mommy, I have decided to tackle a new project called “Mostly-Healthy Monthly Meal Planning on a Budget”.

What, you ask, has possessed me to plan meals a month in advance with grocery lists included?

No one else has! That’s why. At least not that I can find. Sure, there are plenty of “how to’s” on budget-making. There are recipes like crazy, of which I am definitely taking advantage! I, however, decided it was time someone did the research on prices and recipes, and made it accessible online. So, if you find this helpful, please share with your friends and family. Some of my favorite reads and most helpful information usually comes from an article someone has sent me directly, knowing I’d be interested.

So, here we go. I have compiled my favorite list for the month all in one place.

Side note: I will give you links to the original recipes I have found, but the creative side of me will probably always find a way to tweak them here and there.

Side Note 2: I like to cook and take pictures of what I make, but I’m a mom and a hairstylist, not a chef or photographer, so the pictures will be taken from my iPhone and will look cooked at home not from a fancy restaurant.

This is the beginning of the month so those of you reading now will be going on this journey with me as I try these recipes out for the first time. At the end of the month we will have a solid list of mostly-healthy meals, their recipes, and all the prices for really affordable meals.

I say, “mostly” because let’s be honest, it’s a month worth of food, and I can only do so much quinoa and salad. I need a good burger, some pasta or homemade pizza every now-and-again.

My first meal is a Enchilada Quinoa Bake.

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Since starting the Dave Ramsey Plan two years ago, every month we have a certain amount allocated in our “Grocery” envelope. This worked really well for us…and then I got pregnant.

Either my brain cells are being sucked through the umbilical chord, I’m eating more, my toddler is eating more, or well, let’s be honest all-of-the-above.

I do my weekly grocery trip on Mondays, and by Saturday we’re scrapping for options. I pride myself in being a decently organized or at least “planned” individual, so this dilemma is getting a little a lot on my nerves. Even when I buy more food we end up just eating more during the week. This month I’m putting an end to this ridiculousness!!!

I’m so grateful Baby Girl likes healthy food, unlike my munchkin who made me eat beef and cheese my whole pregnancy, so I get to actually plan healthy meals.

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I may feel like an Oompa Loompa, but we don’t all need to look like one.

Since the beginning of the month fell at the end of this week, and I already did my shopping with last month’s budget on Monday, I started off simple, inexpensive, healthy, and made some adjustments to this Quinoa Bake Recipe I found on Pinterest.

It will also serve as leftovers, since the boys need dinner when I’m gone at work.

Rest assured, we will be living in the reality of “leftovers” nights. Like I said, this is true “Meal Planning on a Budget“.

Because I’m being really strict on this budget thing, this meal, I omitted the chicken because I haven’t done my monthly Costco-stock-up on proteins yet.

So here’s what I did to whip up this yummy meal:

Quinoa Enchilada Bake and Avocado Cilantro Lime Spinach Salad

I Cooked quinoa and pinto beans during nap time. You can use canned beans, but we had just bought a huge bag of pinto beans, so I substituted these for the black beans in the original recipe.
*quinoa and bean instructions at bottom

Ingredients:
-2 cups uncooked Quinoa (4 cups cooked)
-2 cups uncooked pinto beans (use 4 cups cooked or canned)
-Small can mild Green chilis (I can’t do too spicy of food, so by all means, go for the gusto. If you like spicy get the large spicy can!)
-2 10 oz cans Enchilada sauce
– 1 cup grated Jack cheese
– 1 Avocado
– Cilantro to taste
-Olive oil
-Salt
– 1 teaspoon Chili powder
-1 teaspoon Cumin

-In large skillet add cooked quinoa, beans, green chili peppers, enchilada sauce, chili powder, and cumin.
-stir occasionally over medium heat 10-15 minutes

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-top with grated jack cheese
– put in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
-turn broil on and turn cheese golden brown (Don’t walk away from broiler, it only takes a couple minutes and you don’t want burnt cheese!! That’s gross!)

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– remove from oven
-plate it up
– top with avocado and chopped cilantro
-serve with your favorite side. Mine was this salad. Next time I might add buy some tortilla chips cause we like different textures in our meals.

Avocado Cilantro Lime Spinach Salad

-bunch of baby spinach
-8-10 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
-1/2 avocado
-fresh feta cheese (as much as you’d like)

-Enjoy!!

In case you missed it the first time:

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*Cooking the Quinoa:
2 cups uncooked Quinoa
3 cups beef broth
1 cup water

-Heat olive oil in sauce pot, add quinoa and stir over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.
-add liquid and stir
-when it starts to get small bubbles, turn down heat to low and cover
-after 20 minutes remove from heat

Cooking up some yummy Beans:
3 cups dry pinto beans
1/2 yellow onion
8-10 cups water
1-2 tsp salt

-rinse beans
-sauté onion until soft
-add beans and enough water to cover completely
-bring water to simmer, turn down heat to medium low and cover
-check every 20-30 minutes and add more water as necessary (beans should always be covered but not drowning)
-cook until they’re soft (all beans vary in cooking time which is why canned are so much easier, but you can’t beat the flavor if you’ve got the time!)

Next, I’m making Lasagna Roll-Ups, but I’m adding meat.

Stay-tuned for the updated recipe and pictures of my experiment.

BBQ Chicken Sandwhich

I’ll make this short and sweet, for all of you drooling over the picture already.

Don’t be deceived by the chicken and cabbage that this is healthy…it’s not…but it sure is delicious!!

I’ve made these sandwiches a few times and i’ve tweaked the recipe a little each time; this was my favorite.

I come from a huge Sicilian family. We cook expecting company, going back for not just seconds, but thirds (otherwise Nana thinks either you didn’t like it or you’re on a diet and need “meat on your bones”), and leftovers.

Serves 10-12
Ingredients for Chicken:
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/4 Cup Montreal’s Steak Seasoning
1 bottle Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Spicy Brown Mustard

Ingredients for Coleslaw:Top Secret KFC Coleslaw Recipe

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels

2. Apply generous amount of seasoning to both sides

3. Put in Crockpot and add all other ingredients

4. Set Crockpot on low or 8-hour setting (go make Coleslaw; it needs time to sit and soak up flavor before serving!!)

5. After 2 hours check if its cooked through; if it is, put checked on cutting board and shred with 2 forks

6. Add back to Crockpot for 2 hours or until ready to serve

7.Toast bread:Ten minutes before serving, put rolls in a 375 degree oven to toast. I used fresh baked Artisan bread from Costco. I’ve made this before and used a French loaf and also cheese rolls. The Artisan bread has been my favorite!

8. Put a healthy serving of coleslaw on bread, scoop chicken on top, grab a few napkins, Enjoy!!

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Until my munchkin’s next nap time: breathe and enjoy the flavor of yummy food! Smile while your cooking; it changes the way it tastes, I promise! Go for a walk. This time of year is filled with really good hearty foods and amazing desserts, but there’s also beautiful fall leaves and cool, crisp mornings. Walk a little more so you don’t feel so guilty about all of the deliciousness.

Tis the Season if Blessings and Baking

Along with being so incredibly blessed and thankful for God’s continuous grace in my life, this time of year also reminds me how much I love to bake!

I was given the heavenly gift of tasting a Cronut for the first time a few weeks ago and have been obsessively talking about it since. When my MIL asked me to bake something for Thanksgiving breakfast, I couldn’t resist!

I made the dough pretty quickly, but the rising and “turning” process required some precious TLC. The reward, however, after deep frying those precious, little, round circles of pleasure, and rolling them in sugar and cinnamon… and drizzling them with cream cheese frosting…was pure delight to say the least! It was Deliciousness! As my “Pin” board is appropriately called. YUM! YUM!

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<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/food52/diy-make-your-own-cronuts?sub=2374252_1313128&s=mobile#1313128&quot;

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Pinterest Recipe

I made up my own frosting. Super easy!
Ingredients:
1.4 oz cream cheese
2.1/2 cup buttermilk (or substitute regular milk and 1 tablespoon butter)
3.1 teaspoon vanilla
4.1-2 cups powdered sugar: (taste as you go)

1. Beat first 3 ingredients on high for 2 minutes: or get a really good arm work out and bust out the good ol’ fashion whisk like I did.
2. Whisk in powdered sugar gradually to taste
3.Try to only eat a spoonful and save the rest for whatever dessert you’ve made it for

I don’t intend on turning this into a cooking blog, but lately this is what my Mommy life is all about. I’ve utilized every nap time for the past few weeks getting ready for my munchkin’s FIRST birthday party next weekend. I cannot believe he turns ONE already! It’s so cliche, but time flies!

Needless to say, I’ve been a bit absent from the writing world, and spending every “free” moment being the best Pinterest mom I can be. I’m addicted, and will have plenty of photos to prove my obsession in the next few weeks.

That being said, I’m trying new recipes as well as creating my own. Today’s creation was a dessert for Women’s Bible Study. I’m calling these Apple Cinnamon Roll-ups, and I have to pass them on! It is so easy and is a must for all you Moms on the go.

Ingredients:
Crescent roll dough (I used Pillsbury; make sure you keep it cold or it becomes really sticky and hard to work with.)
3 Apples (just choose your favorite)
3 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Raw Sugar (I like the texture)
Cinnamon– to taste (I used a few tablespoons)
2-3 tablespoons butter (cold)

Oven preheated to 350:
1. Peel and Cut apples into small squares

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2. Mix Brown Sugar, Raw Sugar, and Cinnamon in medium size bowl and pinch in butter (there will be a few clumps)
3. Add Apples and mix with hands until apples are coated

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4.Unroll dough on baking sheet

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5. Drop about a teaspoon of apple mixture at large end of each triangle

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6. Roll dough over, pinching dough on sides if necessary to keep apples wrapped snug inside: ( Don’t worry about how pretty the look. Once they bake, they puff up and look much better.

7. Bake 12-15 minutes: until fluffy and golden brown

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8. Drizzle that delicious cream cheese frosting that I used for the Cronuts and you’re set

9. Dig in and admire your mean baking skills and this gooey, flakey, yumminess!

Until my munchkin’s next nap time, happy baking! Smile! Do something you enjoy! You have control over what you make of life. This time of year is not only a great reminder to be appreciative of all of God’s blessings, but also realizing what your gifts are and making a point of sharing those gifts with others. My gifts to you today are my love of baking and those amazing melt-in-your-mouth yummies, but just wait…I made killer BBQ chicken sandwiches for dinner..keep your eyes out for my upcoming post!