recipe: meat and vegetable lasagna

Meat and Vegetable Lasagna – Created September 4, 2009

I asked my b-chan if he would like to have something different for Friday dinner, (I’ve been trying to save money by eating in and I like having control over what goes into my meals) and he suggested lasagna. I’ve watched my mom make lasagna countless times and I love the result, but I had never attempted to make on myself, so I took this as a sort of personal cooking challenge. I wanted to not just make my first lasagna, I wanted it to be a recipe of my own devising.

Based on the different lasagnas I have tried in the past, I picked my favorite ingredients and a few of my own choosing—flavors that I felt would go well together and enhance the simplicity of the usual layers. I also wanted it to be “lighter” than the ones I’ve tried in the past. Obviously, a dish that comes in layers will never be light, but I tried to balance it a bit. I also wanted to make it smaller than the giant 9” x 13” casserole that my mom usually makes, so I used an 8” x 8” dish so that it could be divided into 9 modest portions (enough for seconds for four people). I reduced some of the fat content by using lean ground beef and fat free Ricotta cheese (ground turkey or chicken can be substituted for lighter options, but I was serving a meat-loving crowd).

I wrote the steps down as I prepared the meal, but the measurements are approximations as I usually combine ingredients based on visual measurements (meaning I just toss things in according to my own taste). I’m not as brave with baking—I don’t want to end up with gigantic cookies or flat cake—but I feel more experimental with meals.

Continue reading for the recipe and images.

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lots of doughy goodness

I’m fairly broke at the moment, so I decided to treat my mom and gran to a home-cooked dinner rather than take them out to eat. I’m in for a long day of cooking, having started with dessert early this morning and some fresh breakfast treats for tomorrow.

Dinner is still a few hours away, so I’m taking a break 🙂 .

I started the day by making Mostaciolli, an Italian chocolate spice cookie that I found on Delish. The picture reminded me of the German spice cookies that my mom’s cousin sends us every Christmas, so I thought it’d be a treat to make these. The cookies wer easy to make, but the steps involved are very specific. It’s one of those recipes that you really have to read beforehand if you’re going to mix things properly. The dough also gets very thick and dense, so it can be a bit difficult if you don’t have a powerful mixer (and I do not have a powerful mixer, which is why I now owe my mom a new one 😳 ). The cookies smell lovely, though I replaced cloves with nutmeg as my mom does not like the taste of cloves, and they look wonderfully chocolatey–like bonbons.

Fresh out of the oven


covered with chocolate glaze


I also decided to take a risk and try my hand at making english muffins based on a recipe that I found on Annie’s Eats. Annie’s recipes tend to be very easy to follow and always turn out great, so I took a chance and finally got to use that Whole Wheat flour that I bought by mistake during the last baking extravaganza (re: Christmas baked gift giving week).

Again, the steps are the most involved part of this recipe… unless you don’t have that mixer… I ended up hand kneading these, but they still managed to turn out  as they should.

Browning on the skillet


Piping fresh 🙂


baking experiments

I decided to make holiday treats for friends and family, so I started searching for recipes that would a) be interesting and different, b) meet the dietary restrictions of certain individuals.

I found the answer to part b (a treat that would be low cal, low sugar/carb, and low fat) in these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (Macadamia) Cookies. I bought all organic ingredients, replaced the refined with raw sugar, and substituted the walnuts that the recipe calls for with macadamias. They’re a bit crisp, I suspect this is because of the low fat factor, but they are very flavorful.

My other inspiration came from Annie’s Eats. Though not low anything, these eggnog cupcakes are certainly different and full of holiday cheer (re: eggnog and rum).

The eggnog buttercream frosting was a bit too sweet for my taste, but anyone with a sweet tooth would love it. I would like to try these with a coating of powdered sugar instead, they have a very nice spongy texture with a delicate flavor that would be great as a sort of tea cake.

cooking for 1

I’ve been experimenting with food recently, mostly in an effort to find ways to spice up bland chicken meals. Tonight I tried my own take on a Mexican Chicken Salad and it was very tasty… though I completely forgot to top it off with sour cream 😦 for shame.

I’m not good at writing up recipes, since I don’t measure anything, but here’s my Mexi-Chicki salad “recipe” for one.

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced.

about 1/2 cup of black beans (seasoned).

about 2 tbsp chunky salsa.

Season the chicken with chili powder, black pepper, cumin and lime juice to taste.

Add a few pieces of sliced onions and red bell pepper.

Heat this up with some olive oil.

Make a nice bed of greens, layer on the salsa and the beans (and light sour cream. ack! I can’t believe I forgot this). Add on the chicken and voila!

I also made myself a nice little quesadilla to go along with it by melting some reduced fat, shredded Mexican cheese in a fajita tortilla.

Overall, it was quick and easy and the flavors blended well. I found that the red bell pepper added an extra something to the flavor combination. If I had some tomatoes, I would have added those as well.