Monday, August 13, 2012


 Disclaimer: This is a Chinese-American working mom making lasagna. It is in no way authentic!

School is about to start. If I'm going to keep up with my 30 day challenge, I'm going to need to start planning ahead. It was all fine when I was home all day with both kids at daycare, but now I need to start cooking more strategically. Tonight, this meant feeding my son a ham sandwich for dinner and me eating leftover Indian food. Why didn't Mr A just eat Indian food too, you ask? It was too spicy for him. In truth, it was almost too spicy for me too. Note to self: remember to specify "mild" next time.

So part of cooking strategically is making a large pot/bowl/pan if something that can be eaten for multiple meals. Lasagna is a great example. Sure, it takes a bit of prep, but it's a meal that packs in most of the food groups and it's yummy!

Another part of cooking strategically is cooking when the kids are sleeping. Both kids were sleeping by 8:30, so I headed to the kitchen. I also took some short cuts, like using canned marinara sauce, pre-sliced mushrooms, and pre-shredded cheese. Is this an award winning authentic lasagna? Nope, but it's gonna feed my family happily for many meals.

Do you know what this little red tool is?  It's a jar opener.  I've never used one before.  I vaguely remember even having this in our drawer of kitchen gadgets.  This one is from my MIL.  Hubby was trying to open this jar of crushed garlic for me.  It really worked!




12 lasagna noodles
1 lb ground beef
1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
16 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach
1 t sugar
1/4 t crushed garlic
3 zucchini, sliced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 c mozzarella, shredded
16 oz ricotta cheese


  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box.  Drain and run under cool water.
  2. While lasagna noodles boil, brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot.  Ground turkey or Italian sausage are nice alternatives for ground beef.
  3. When meat is browned, drain most of the fat, then add in mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.  Stir and cook until mushrooms have wilted a bit.
  4. Add marina sauce and bring to a boil.  Add in frozen spinach, return to a boil.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic.  Depending on the marinara sauce you use, you may need a little more or less salt and sugar. Stir in zucchini.  Cover and cook for 3 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Zucchini should still be crunchy - they will finish cooking in the oven.
  6. Line a 13x9" baking pan with aluminum foil.  (Optional, but can be helpful for easier cleanup.)  If baking today, heat oven to 425.
  7. Begin with a layer of 1/3 of the meat-veggie mixture  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of mozzarella on top.  Top with 3 lasagna noodles.
  8. Next, make ricotta layer.  To add extra flavor to this layer, sprinkle some salt on top, pepper, and garlic powder, though this is optional.
  9. Repeat meat-veggie, mozzarella, and noodle.  The top layer should end with mozzarella.  Lasagna may be frozen or refrigerated after assembly.
  10. If baking, cook for 20 minutes or until cheese in melted.  For extra browning, place lasagna under broiler for 2-3 minutes.


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