Thursday, July 16, 2009

Modified Zucchini Lasagna

A few weeks ago Chris and I decided that we were going to try to cut our meat consumption down a bit and at the same time decrease our carbs again and increase grains and vegetables. So, on a quest to find some new recipes that fit this new goal, I put a request out on a local message board that I frequent for some veggie heavy recipes. This was one suggestion and luckily I had just picked up some large zucchinis from the local farmers market and I had all the required ingredients on hand too, so I gave it a shot. (including the cottage cheese in place of the Italian standard ricotta - I know..... I later received a phone call threatening excommunication from the family because of this... more on this later.) I also had decided since we were going for a non-meat meal, that I would omit the ground beef.

After looking at a few similar recipes using zucchini in a lasagna-like casserole, I decided to start prepping my meal but along the way a FEW wires were crossed. The outcome was fantastic though and that's why I'm sharing my modifications. AND, It's your lucky day because I'll be doing it "P-Dub" style!

Cara's Modified Zucchini Lasagna

First and foremost, the cast of characters:

Garlic from our garden(three cloves chopped), one medium yellow onion(chopped), 2-3 ripe tomatoes (rough chop), olive oil, 2 - 3 large zucchini (sliced into 1/4 disks, 2 - 6oz cans of tomato paste, garlic powder (a few dashes), dried Thyme (1/2 teaspoon), dried oregano (1 teaspoon), dried basil(1 teaspoon) *** (fresh would be a nice complement to the dish too). OOH and what's that in the back there, yes, those are oven ready lasagna noodles (you'll need 6)! Something the original recipe lacked. See, this is where my wires got crossed and I somehow thought that there were supposed to be noodles in this recipe, I mean it was lasagna right? And, what's lasagna without noodles..... what I failed to notice was that the ZUCCHINI was to be sliced into large, wide, noodle-like planks and should have been used in place of noodles... OOPS!)

*** Another modification, I doubled the herb measurements from what the original recipe called for because in a few of the comments under the recipe others stated that it was a bit light on the seasonings... doubling seemed reasonable. I have no complaints about the amounts I used.

Moving along.....

I chopped my zucchini and sauteed that with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until mostly cooked through.

Once the zucchini has cooked down a bit, toss in the onions, garlic and herbs/seasonings.

Allow the onions to become a little translucent and then toss in the tomatoes and tomato paste, bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. It will look like this when it's done. YUM!

While the above is simmering, you'll need to pull these friends out of the fridge:

You'll need 1 1/2 cups Cottage Cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella and 2 eggs which are conveniently missing from the photo... (see?! I told you it was true P-Dub style...)

In a small bowl beat eggs, add cottage cheese and 1/2 the mozzarella.

NOTE: About the Cottage Cheese... The original recipe called for this ingredient in place of ricotta. I had recently read a few other recipes that discussed substituting cottage cheese for ricotta too so I was curious... I also happened to have that on hand and didn't have ricotta... so in an effort to NOT have to run to the store for ONE item, I gave it a shot. I'll admit, it felt wrong during prep, it sorta looked the part but it just wasn't quite right looking either... I pushed through, assembled the lasagna, baked it, ate it and LIKED it this way too. *gasp* My first taste, I missed the creamy texture of ricotta. My second taste, I looked beyond it and savored the yummy that was in my mouth and put the lack of ricotta out of mind... Will I do it again? Mmm, Maybe... if i don't have ricotta on hand. However, if I've planned correctly, I hope to try this with ricotta the next time. I would think it would only add to the flavor. My mom can now rest easy knowing that I'm not a cottage cheese convert I'm sure....

Ok, moving onto assembly.

Spray a 9x11 baking dish with cooking spray, spread a little less than 1/2 of the zucchini mixture into the bottom. Next, layer 1/2 of the egg/cheese mixture, then three lasagna noodles. Spoon most but not all of the zucchini mixture (you'll want to leave a little bit for the top), then the rest of the egg/cheese mixture, three more noodles, the rest of the zucchini mixture and top with mozzarella. Cover, bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is lightly golden. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Finally, enjoy with your family!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What I've Been Working On

I've been sewing!

I had a request from a family member for a large bag to use for her frequent trips to the beach. She lives in Florida and often has a need for a beach bag. I did a LOT of fabric searching, I tried to share options with her while shopping but nothing really truly inspired me.... I wanted it to be a thick canvas type fabric with a lot of body and I was looking for a bold print. I finally found this and used a yellow duck cloth that matches the yellow flowers for the inside lining. I used the pattern for the Everything Tote from the book Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.

I loved creating this bag, the size is great, and the structure is fantastic too. The pocket has two compartments, one is perfect for a cell phone, the other is larger for a few small incidentals.

The main compartments is HUGE.... i put two large beach towels in this one to photograph it and still had a TON of room.

I loved this bag so much that i had planned on making another exactly like it for me. But, the fabric was sold out by the time i got back for more. I DID purchase another print for me and hope to sew another one soon. I did make a small modification. The bag is intended to be sewn in a lighter fabric, one with a bit more give. The gathers are supposed to be created in the same way ruffles are created but the fabric was way too stiff for this. I decided to do two small pleats instead on each side instead and I think I prefer this look over the ruffle/gathers.

In addition to the bag, I also made two skirts last week. I used two different patterns.

1st - Angry Chicken's 5 minute skirt, pattern found here.
2nd - Easy Breezy Skirt, found in the book Sewing Green by Betz White.

This is the "5 minute" skirt, it took way longer than 5 minutes... in fact I had to put it down for a day because i was so annoyed with it. Once I learned where my errors were, it all worked out and I will be tweaking this pattern for more skirts. Problem One, the waist was HUGE... I had to decrease it by about 8 inches... (I'm not sure that's really a problem really LOL). Problem two, was the trapezoid shape that resulted in pointy sides that hung down further than the front and back hem... remedied by adding a curve to the hem in the front and back... it creates an optical illusion... Both issues taught me a lot about skirt construction. Thus, I'm not in the least bit upset because I learned something AND the skirt is wearable in the end. Another thing I learned is that finding FOE (fold over elastic) is not something that you can do at Joann's... i improvised and used a 3/4 in thick piece of black elastic, it "worked" but is not ideal. I plan on purchasing some online before i make my next skirt with this pattern.

This is skirt number two and is commonly known as "the pillowcase" skirt. However there is NO WAY my ass would fit into a pillowcase... so I followed the directions in her book for using other fabric. In short, this skirt is a long straight tube and the width is based on the widest part of your hips. It's got an elastic waist and a nice substantial hem. This fabric was purchased in Ithaca NY, while on vacation, it was $4.73 and was a remnant in the discount rack. Add in the elastic for the waist and rick rack for the hem detail and I made this skirt for less than $10! Same goes for the skirt above, however I think that was was even less, MAYBE $6 bucks!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation 2.0

This post is WAY overdue.... in fact really any post from me is way overdue... what can I say, we've been playing a LOT and enjoying the summer. That leaves me with little time to properly blog...

The last week in June, we packed up the kids and the car again and drove north this time to the finger lakes region of NY. Cayuga Lake to be specific. We've been traveling there since before the dawn of time (or at least that's what it seems like). We planned to spend a week with my family. We had some nice weather early in the week, then things got quite soggy... we did manage to get in a decent amount of swimming and water fun during the mornings and early afternoons... then almost every day after dinner things turned gray and either rained or threatened to.

We did have a LOT of fun though, here are some photos to prove it:

In this photo, you are seeing silly towel hats and fart noise instruction.

In this photo, this is what you would call a Toddler Burrito with a side of Silly Sunglasses.

Lots of family fun.

And even a photo shoot with a "supermodel" for a centerfold. Courtesy of my brother, Jesse.

More photos can be found here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

just like that

And just like that, I think Andy might be done with his morning nap.... for the past month or so it's been something that depending on our schedule, I would put him down or we would continue to play or go on a playdate or hit the beach or whatever.... today, I asked him, "Andy, are you ready for a nap?" he said, "no." and ran away. he's happily playing and not really showing any signs of needing to sleep.... I'm sure there will still be the random occasion when he will need to rest in the morning... but I'm pretty sure those will end up being rare and exstinct very soon too.

I have about 3 planned blogs in my head... lake vacation wrap up, gardening (jumping on the bandwagon here), and a new recipe. hopefully, my photos will be rescued from never never land soon so that those posts can be written...