Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lasagna From a Jar...

Well, the sauce is, anyway.  And my family loves this one - so what the heck, I will share this one any day since it's so awesome.

This recipe will make enough for a 9"x13" pan, and there may be enough ingredients to put a couple layers in a small 8"x8" pan, too.  It varies at my house, depending on whether or not my kids are sneaking noodles behind my back.  I've never figured out what exactly the appeal is in regard to plain lasagna noodles, but everyone fights over a leftover noodle if there is one.

2 - 32oz. jars Ragu Garden Style spaghetti sauce (I like the chunky sauce, it adds some nice veggie texture to the lasagna)

2 lbs. hamburger, browned (I usually chop this with my spatula as I'm browning, so the chunks of meat are fairly small - the sauce spreads more evenly this way)

1 box of lasagna noodles, cooked till al dente (should still be firm, not mushy!)

1 lb. shredded cheddar

1 lb. shredded mozzarella

1/4 - 1/3 cup grated parmesan

16 oz. Ricotta cheese for layering, if you like it

Mix spaghetti sauce with browned hamburger and heat through until hot.
spoon a small amount into the bottom of the pan so the first layer of noodles don't stick, then lay the first 4 noodles lengthwise in the bottom of the pan.  Spoon an even layer of sauce over the noodles, then sprinkle about 1/2 cup each of the cheddar and mozzarella (and some ricotta if you want) over the sauce.  Add the next layer of noodles, then repeat the steps until you run out of room or ingredients.  On the last layer of noodles, spoon sauce and remaining cheddar & mozzarella.  Top with parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and return to oven for 15 minutes longer.  If you are going to heat up a loaf of french bread, now's the time to put that in the oven, too. 

When you remove the lasagna from the oven, it should stand for about 10 minutes or so before cutting.  That's a great time to pull together a quick mixed green salad and pour drinks.

If there's enough ingredients left over for a small pan, that can easily go into the freezer for a heat & eat meal later on when you don't have the time to cook.  This recipe can be divided in half for a smaller pan, or just make the entire thing and put some in the freezer for a rainy day.  The leftovers are almost better the next day on this one - your coworkers will be jealous when they see what you've got for lunch!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On Chocolate, or "The Chocolate Swizzle Stick that Broke the Mama Camel's Back"

What on earth has become of DOVE® Promises? The wrappers, which used to be printed with sweet little sayings like, 

"Go to your happy place"
"Smile, people will wonder what you're up to"

are now quoting random people that must've emailed the Mars Candy Company. Now the messages on the inside of the wrapper spew crap such as

"follow your heart, it's never wrong," or

"if you fall down seven times, get up eight."

Sorry, Dearie - I've followed my own heart several times. Most of the time it's wrong. And that last one doesn't even make sense. I fall down seven times, I get up seven times. These people can't do simple math and we are quoting them across America. What's even worse is that I've heard that they have been or soon will be putting Martha Stewart's tips inside the wrappers. What the...?!? No, I'm not cutting your little marshmallows into bunny shapes for your cocoa. Talk about a waste of time and marshmallows

I don't want to be told that I must inspire others to do their best so that they will do their best. I'm a mom. I have three teenagers. I know this already. Most of my life is already dedicated to being a living example for my children. Frankly, I'm getting really tired of being the dependable, responsible one.

What I need is a break. I need to take my "me" time every so often. Even if it is just a quick 5 minutes of silence where I go to my happy place with my two little squares of melt-in-your-mouth bliss. After I'm left with nothing but the urge to brush the sugar off my teeth and a bit of regret when I realize I probably just negated that 15-minute power walk after my lunch break, I don't want to have even more thoughts zooming through my brain that focus on how I can do yet more for everyone else around me. Call me selfish, but that doesn't exactly make my 5-minute chocolate break into "me" time.

What I really could use is a wrapper that opens up into a coupon for maid service, Martha, you are more than welcome to step in at this point and organize my home. Oh, by the way, don't forget - you will have to talk my husband into moving the over-sized sectional away from the wall because it hasn't been vaccuumed back there for about six months. I know that if I can't move that sucker, there's no way you will. Good luck with that. And after I've fallen down seven times from exhaustion after working fulltime, going to school part-time and still managing to do the grocery shopping, bill-paying, checkbook balancing and the occasional meal-cooking, I could really use a $50 coupon for a spa day to pick me back up again. Now that's what they should print on the inside of those DOVE® wrappers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Our Relationships With Food

As you may know, in case you've read any of my other blogs, I've gone back to school.  This semester's focus in my writing class is on a topic that might interest readers of this blog:  FOOD.

Yes, this topic does seem rather broad, so what we're really looking at are people's realtionships with food.  I will admit I've learned a lot from the documentaries we've had to watch as research.  Some of it makes me want to turn our entire .28 acre lot into an organic garden, especially after learning more about the ways big agribusinesses have been chemically and genetically modifying our food.  If you want to learn more, just pick up or rent a copy of the documentaries The Future of Food, The World According to Monsanto, or Super Size Me.  You might not want to eat before watching these films.  There are plenty more films on this, which I may reference as I get a chance to watch them.

On that note, I've got some space near a south-facing window that I think I going to use to get my garden seedlings started.  It's warming up here in Minnesota - it's even over 40 degrees F. here today (yay!) and I'm really itching to get my garden started after seeing all the horrible things that are happening to our food supply.