It has come to my attention that there are actually people who read this and some of you are actually trying to do the whole monthly-calendar meal planning thing--see bottom of blog! I say props to you! It seems like a huge pain in the um, rump, at first but in the long-run it makes life much, much, much easier. I could give you the whole history of how that came to be for me, but I'll spare you.
In that same vein, it has come to my attention that some of you are looking for easy, quick, healthy meals and don't have all hours of the day to create some elaborate, labor-intensive crazy meals!! REALLY?! I'm only kidding. I used to be a working girl too. SO...I'm going to try and post everything we prepare for dinner here. Even if it's not fancy/pretty. Because, believe it or not, sometimes we do have easy, simple dinners. I just never posted b/c they didn't seem blog-worthy. Now I stand corrected.
Last night we had these Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups. I don't recall where the recipe came from but they're one of Senor's favorite things. At the end I'll give you a few short-cut options as well as $$ saving options. They're pretty straight-forward. I made a dozen, we ate 3 and froze 8 more for later.
1. Step 1 Brown your Italian sausage (1 pack) or 1 lb ground beef; also put on a large boiler of water with a little EVOO+ salt (for your noodles)
2. While that's cooking, beat cottage cheese until it's like softened cream cheese...(still kind of lumpy); add egg and beat on high for 3 min.
3. Throw beaters in the wash. Stir in seasonings (I used maybe 1-2 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano and 2-3 tsp parsley, 1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper??); then finely chop 1/2 onion, 2-3 cups fresh spinach; drain/blot with paper towel (the onions) REALLY WELL!
4. Now your sausage should be done, 12-14 noodles cookin per package instructions (usually 7-8 min in boiling water); when they're done, drain, rinse in cold water, rinse again and let them sit in cold water. Drain sausage/beef and blot it really, really well for extra grease out. Toss onions, spinach, 1.5 c Italian cheese mix, and HALF the beef into the cottage cheese mix. Stir well. It should be kind of like mashed potato consistency.
5. Now get out your loaf pan(s) (I use disposable foil pans -3pk)...spoon 2-3 big tablespoons of tomato sauce in the bottom, spread evenly. Then on a cutting board, lay out 3-4 noodles, blot them dry.
6. If you want to cook some, go ahead and preheat the oven now to 375F. Spoon 2-3 teaspoonfuls of the cheese mix onto each noodle, smear out evenly (keep it towards the middle of the noodle cuz it will squish out as you roll)...then roll it up, placing it in the prepared pans, seam side down.
7. You can usually fit 4 in a loaf pan if you squish them a little. Now, when done, top with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining Italian cheese. If you want to eat them...cook at 375F for 20-30 min til bubbling and cheese has melted. Otherwise, wrap in plastic wrap, then foil, label and freeze til you're ready to cook them!
OK...now for short-cuts if you want to save time:
1. Use Ricotta cheese instead of making the cottage cheese mix. All you have to do then is mix in your spinach, onion, meat and Italian cheese. No beating, no egg, no seasoning (unless you want to)
2. You could use frozen, chopped onion (thawed, drained) and frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
3. You could also layer the noodles and ingredients in the loaf pan instead of rolling each one, making more of a lasagna type thing; OR use the big pasta shells and make stuffed shells.
For $$ saving tips: (not much to add here)
the biggest thing is ricotta cheese is expensive so that's why I do the whole cottage cheese deal.
You can use chicken, beef or sausage...whatever's on sale
I usually use canned mushrooms (drained and chopped), some feta cheese mixed in and some grated parmesan mixed in as well. Senor likes extra (fresh) mozarella mixed in...you could probably do zucchini, etc. You choose.
For serving size I usually eat one roll-up, senor eats 2. Then there's one leftover for lunch the next day...