Spinach Lasagna Rolls

As I've mentioned before, I'm always on the lookout for tasty meals that are simple and quick.  This recipe was very tasty - hubby and toddler both loved it (I did too) - makes great left-overs, and while it took a bit longer to get on the table than I usually like, it's a dish you can actually assemble it the night before, and then just pop it in the oven for dinner the next night.  That's almost just as good as being quick all at once.

And if you like lasagna, I felt like this was much easier/quicker to prepare than traditional lasagna (less layers), just as tasty, and is a good foundation for customization (adding your choice of additional veggies or meats.)  And its a good way to squeeze veggies in your kids' meal without them really noticing (if that's a challenge you face in your house.)
 

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups Recipe

Serves 8               Prep Time: approx. 30 min          Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1  (16oz) package uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles ( I only used about 12 oz)
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided (separate out one cup)
  • 1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese (I used reduced fat)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (these are great to keep on hand in your freezer. I just nuked 2 cubes for 30 seconds at 50%)
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 (28oz) jars marinara sauce ( I went light on the sauce, we didn't use as much as this)
  • (Optional) 1 to 2 cooked chicken breasts shredded, or cooked Italian sausage, removed from it's casing (we just had grilled sausage on the side, because hubby always needs meat)
spinach lasagna

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Cook lasagna noodles for 5-8 minutes, or until just slightly underdone; drain and rinse. Coat with a bit of olive oil and lay noodles flat on a cookie sheet.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup), ricotta cheese, egg, garlic, parsley, basil, pepper, salt, spinach, chicken (optional) and 1 cup Parmesan cheese (and anything else you want to add.)
  3. Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan (or 2 8x8)
  4. Lay out a noodle on cookies sheet. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture on the noodle (I used a generous heaping scoop with a standard soup spoon per noodle), then add a layer of sauce (one cookie dough scoop of sauce).  [Note: I cut each noodle in half so it wasn't as long, and I think it was perfect that way.  With the full scoop of filling, the noodle wrapped around with about an inch overlap.]
  5. Roll the noodle up, and place seam side down in pan. Repeat for other noodles.
  6. Top entire casserole with remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 350 for 30 min, or until hot and bubbly. Cover if it starts to get too brown

Enjoy!

To print this recipe, or download to your Pepperplate account, click here.
 

Feed Me

I've always liked to eat. But I don't think planning and preparing our next meal ever took up as much of my daily mental energy as it does now that Little Dude is eating all the same foods we do.  Not just anything will do.  My requirements for the dishes I prepare are:

  1. It must be quick, less than 60 min from minute time I step in the kitchen to the time the first bite is taken;
  2. It must be well-rounded, contain most of the food groups, or with a side will contain them;
  3. It must be chewable by someone with minimal teeth, and easy for them to feed to themselves (mostly).

I know I am not the first mom to need these requirements be met in their dinner preparation.  Know how I know? Because casseroles exist.   Not one to make them much prior to being a mom, they are now my best friend.  Throw a bunch of ingredients together (either from cans, leftovers, or prepared in advance), stick it in the oven for a bit, and viola! Tastiness that meets all 3 of my requirements, and usually will even provide a second meal. Score!

Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for new ideas, and this is one I love.  I can't take credit for it, and I can't even share my own pictures, because it literally came out of the oven last night and was scooped up on plates.  Created by Nikki at Chef in Training, I cannot thank her enough for this Chicken Cordon Bleu pasta dish.

Photo from  Chef in Training   

Photo from Chef in Training
 

Here's the recipe, and you can get a printable version from her site here.

Ingredients

  • 10-12 oz. penne or ziti pasta (I used whole wheat macaroni noodles, still as good.)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (I'm going to try with whole milk next time)
  • 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
  • ½ tsp. onion powder, more or less to taste
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt, more or less to taste
  • 1½ cup shredded swiss cheese, separated
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into strips  (we do these on our Foreman grill)
  • ¾ cup bacon, cooked and chopped
  • ¾ cup diced ham
  • bread crumbs ( I used Panko for a little lighter topping, since this is pretty rich already.)
  • Optional: if you're trying to make this as well rounded as possible, you can add a chopped green veggie like asparagus or broccoli as well. A cup or more (to your liking), boiled or steamed soft then added as a layer.  I quickly boiled some frozen broccoli and added for Little Dude.

Instructions

  1. Things to do ahead of time for expediency (can be done the night before): cook/chop chicken, cook bacon, cook/cop optional veggie, grate the swiss cheese.
  2. Cook pasta according to its package's directions. Drain. I always add a little olive oil after I drain it and stir in around so the pasta noodles don't stick together or the pot.
  3. Heat cream cheese on stove over medium low heat until melted. Stir in heavy cream. Stir until completely combined. Add onion powder and garlic salt until it tastes how you would like it to. Stir 1 cup of cheese until smooth consistency.
  4. In a 9x13, layer noodles, chicken, bacon and ham. Pour sauce over top. Sprinkle top with ½ cup cheese and bread crumbs.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until heated through.

This recipe makes enough for at least 4 adults, especially if you have an additional side of veggie.  For us it fed me, my toddler, and my husband (who usually eats enough for 2), with enough leftovers for a second meal. Enjoy! And thank you Chef in Training!

Links

  1. Growing Tulips in a Vase - spring flowers for those of us without a flower bed.
  2. Need help deciding how to decorate? Take the Ultimate Find-Your-Style quiz.
  3. Insight on how to deal with toddler tantrums and disciple without adding to the drama.
  4. 6 Easy Top Knots - because who doesn't need quick, easy up-do ideas?
  5. Are you a tea drinker? This little steeper man was just too cute not to share.
  6. Nailed it - there's a vast difference between 'old' millennials and 'new' millennials.
  7. In pursuit of reducing waste and repurposing - 101 Things to do with Mason Jars.
  8. Baked Apple Donuts - yes, please.
  9. Some cute ideas for the surplus of Easter eggs you have left over.
     

I'm all for anything that makes life easier...

I dread dinner.  Not because I don't like to eat or cook -- on the contrary I love the former and am fine with the latter -- but because it causes me stress.  I have a husband who essentially requires any meal have a substantial amount of protein (read: meat), we like to eat healthy, and a toddler with whom I am trying to build a diverse palate and provide him with enough varied nutrients.  Those requirements must be met in a meal I can prepare and have on the table in approximately 30 minutes, 45 max, after I rush in the house after sitting in traffic and being at work all day. (Not to mention my new mission to reduce waste, which adds a whole new meal planning element into the mix.)

The stress from all those requirements is that I never have any ideas for what to make.  And when I do randomly find recipes to try, I never have them on me when grocery shopping. Yes, I need to get better at meal planning, and shopping accordingly during the week.  That's where this app/website comes in handy: 

Pepperplate keeps all your recipes at your fingertips with an app on your phone, and the home base on their website via the profile you set up.  You can manually add favorite recipes, or import them electronically through websites they've coordinated with, such as: allrecipes.com, Eating Well, Rachel Ray, Skinnytaste (my favorite), Food Network, and many more.  You can add tags to your recipes for sorting and searching (e.g. 'quick dinners') and pull them up anywhere from the app.  

And you can add a recipe to your shopping list and it will automatically add all the ingredients you are going to need. You can check off those items you already have and shop more efficiently because they organize the list by grocery store aisle/department. It also has a meal planning a calendar feature that I need to get better at using. Meal planning needs to be a habit I adopt. I'll add that to my to-do list.