Simple Skillet Lasagna

Okay, Lasagna. I have mixed feeling about you. I grew up with lasagna that contained cottage cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. It was good but as an adult, I never made it or ordered it at a restaurant. Then I discovered ricotta cheese and everything changed!

I love making “roll up” lasagna because it is fun to make and it’s different. That is the same with this Chrissy Teigen’s Simple Skillet Broken Lasagna recipe from her book Cravings: Hungry for More (why haven’t you bought it yet??)

I love this cookbook because it is more Mom user-friendly. Honestly, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen cooking a fancy meal for kids who would rather eat Mac and Cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches all day every day? This book offers more time efficient recipes, so now I only have to be in the kitchen for hours washing baby bottles or when I want to go all out for guests.

The fun part about this Broken Lasagna recipe was breaking the noodles up. I let the girls do it and I am still finding pieces in the kitchen, but their laughter was worth it.

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First, you make the sauce. It does need to simmer for about an hour so I recommend making it ahead of time or just use it when it heats up because you are starving like I did.

It calls for both ground beef and sausage which I just love! It makes the flavoring not as bland when you just use one or the other. I discovered this with meatloaf. Meatloaf with just ground beef is blah, but add spicy Italian sausage and viola! it’s delicious.

The cheese mixture is parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella. I have to admit that I used a cup less of mozzarella that was called for and it still came out cheezy.

Overall this recipe is easy, even the simmering for an hour, and tasty. The girls loved it and it saved well. I served it the next day at a family function and everyone loved it. So next time you are craving lasagna try this recipe, no more cottage cheese!

Make it and enjoy!

Sauce Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork 

1 finely diced onion

9 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded basil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

kosher salt and pepper to taste

Lasagna Ingredients:

2 cups ricotta cheese

3 cups shredded mozzarella

3/4 cup finely grated pamigiano-reggiano cheese

1/2 cup basil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6 oz no-boil lasagna noodles, broken into pieces. 

Make the Sauce! Heat oil over high heat in a dutch oven or a large heavy bottom skillet. Add beef and pork. Cook unit no longer pink breaking up the meat into tiny pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Keep some fat in skillet and cook onion until tender, about 7 mins. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add tomato paste and cook stirring for 2 minutes. Return meat to skillet along with the tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 mins.

Mix the cheese! In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, parm, basil, salt, and pepper.

Build the lasagna! Spoon 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a large (12 in and 2 in deep) ovenproof skillet. Add a layer of noodles, then sauce, then dollops of cheese mixture. repeat layers until skillet is full. Add a final layer of sauce and then dollops of cheese at the very top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Put a baking sheet under the skillet to prevent bubbly drips on the bottom of your oven.

Baby weight chronicles!

Eight weeks ago I was blessed with a precious gift. A sweet baby girl. She was a ‘surprise’ pregnancy and definitely a wrench thrown in my life plan. She was born at a difficult time in my life; my dad (the reason I moved to California a year ago to help take care of) passed away exactly two weeks before she made her debut. Being nine months pregnant while putting your dad on hospice then watching him slowly die is something I would not wish on ANYONE! It was awful. Like, completely indescribable, god AWFUL. I share this not for sympathy or excuses but because it is a huge motivating factor for me and my weight loss plan/next adventure.

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I don’t want to lose the 12 pounds of baby weight because I hate my body or feel post-baby body shamed. In fact, this is the first time after I’ve given birth that I wasn’t 20 plus pounds over my starting weight!

My motivation comes from the fact that I want to get healthy; with my mind and my body. I’m trying not to focus too much on what the scale says and instead focus on how my body feels. I want to feel strong, tough, and pretty much like a badass. Emotionally and physically.

Grief weighs me down daily. It’s scary. Days before my dad died I asked him, “what on earth am I going to do without you?!” His response was, “Live.” I have carried that in my heart every single day since he has been gone. It’s hard. I try. Countless people say that exercise has saved them during difficult times. So as I sat in my Post-Partum haze I thought to myself, get up, get moving, get healthy, and get fit. Yoga and meditation have always helped with my anxiety so this fitness goal just seemed like a perfect idea.

 

This is where my next adventure comes into play with my already in progress learning-how-to-cooking feat. I have learned in the short time of being in my 30’s (insert Hubby’s laugh) that what you put into your body and soul is so important! It can’t be all tequila and McDonald’s! (I know, I was shocked too). So I will be making and eating healthy meals (any suggestions are greatly appreciated) for the majority of my meals. I’m sorry but I can’t completely cut out Del Taco and Chrissy Teigen’s recipes. It’s a lot of cheese and carbs but life’s too short to NOT enjoy that deliciousness occasionally. Have you tried her new cookbook yet??? OMG GET IT NOW!!! Cravings: Hungry for More is out now so do yourself and everyone you cook for a favor and go order this book. Chrissy can never steer you wrong, I swear!

 

Cooking healthy meals have gotten a lot easier for me. The family H.A.T.E.S when I use sweet potatoes over regular potatoes and the Hubs doesn’t understand why recipes can’t just have a regular fried egg on it! I have been using Clean Eating Made Simple cookbook as a staple for meals this past month. Easy recipes, whole foods, and can use for every meal- even snacks. img_0858img_0878-1

I have also restarted my yoga journey. I am so behind on my practice and out of shape. But that is nothing on how hard the  6 week Bikini Body program I started has been! Oh my god, my core is so freakin’ weak! Well, was weak because I am getting stronger every day. I am currently on my second week of the program. I haven’t seen any physical improvements yet, but my head is clearer, I am happier, I have more energy, and I don’t collapse after every set anymore! And to me, that is a BIG DEAL!

I don’t know where this will take me, but like everything that I hope for, I hope it takes me somewhere exciting. I am scared to post things like this because the fear of failure is real and scary. To do it publically is even worse!  However, in the end, this is for me. My grieving process. My recovering. My journey.

So here we go!

7 weeks post-partum and starting of 6 week Bikini Body program.

 

 

ALSO!! Here is a yoga sequence that I have been using since I figured out how incredibly weak my core is! ENJOY.

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Diets and Desserts

Who else learned the that the difference between desserts and deserts is that dessert has a double S because you will always want 2 desserts?!?!

This week (6 weeks postpartum) I started a lower calorie meal plan and workout routine. Day 2 and I’m starving. Not really, but going from a few months of eating as many desserts as I want, to cutting them out has my sweet tooth in panic mode.

So this post is about some desserts I made over the summer. Go ahead and start drooling!

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This a cookies and cream poke cake that I got from the cookbook from Tasty. Seriously, do yourself a favor and go buy it! The recipes are so much fun and are really YUMMY. There is a wide variety of food options too.

These Firework Blondies and fruit tray were from our Jacklin 4th of July party. I was feeling very crafty that day. 🙂 The Blondies were so good I think I ate half the plate. Here is the Recipe from Crazy for Crust.

Lastly, here is the Hatchimal birthday cake I made for Lucy’s 9th Birthday! I really wish I was better at decorating cakes so I could open up a bakery. I follow so many different cake decorating Instagram sites because I just love watching the videos! It’s mesmerizing. Oh well, it is fun to do and even better to eat it!

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Okay guys, that’s all I got for now. Back to your regular broadcast-dieting day!

Clean Eating with Spinach

Did you know that Florentine means served on a bed of spinach? I didn’t! Although in my defense I didn’t start eating spinach until a few years ago. In my quest to lose the baby weight, I’ve been on on the hunt for low calorie but filling dinners.

I found this cookbook on Amazon and it has some great recipes with whole-food ingredients.

I made Chicken Florentine for dinner and it totally won over the entire family! The best part is all the health benefits spinach has to offer. It is rich in protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. The recipe also calls for fresh basil which I love! It smells so good.

It even won over my hubs and child who dislike tomatoes.

At 336 calories and 43.2 grams of protein, it’s definitely worth a try!!

Happy eating!

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil

4 four oz boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 tbls fresh basil, chopped

1 tbls fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

2 cups packed baby spinach

4 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides. (About six minutes).

2) Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

3) Add spinach and recover. Cook for 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

4) Top with Parmesan and serve

 

Serves 4.

Welcome Baby Lydia!!

So I have been MIA for a while now. I have barely cooked or baked anything decent in over 9 months! BUT my family did welcome a new addition to the family in July. Our sweet Miss Lydia has joined the family.

It has been a crazy summer break but I am looking forward to getting back to a schedule, getting back in shape, and cooking! This time around I will be focusing on cooking healthy and clean eating. Well, I will try to do that anyway. I hear Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook is coming out next month and if it is anything like Cravings, it will make this resolution very difficult. But here’s hoping!

 

 

The Poached Egg Chronicles

I have been trying to poach an egg since I watched Julie and Julia in 2010. It was hard and I was unsuccessful. I make a wonderful fried egg so I decided to give up the practice but it always nagged me in the back of my head.

It is no secret that I am utterly obsessed with Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook! Seriously buy it now! She has a recipe called Crab Cakes Benedict that I have been wanting to try so I decided to try a poached egg again AND finally give into to trying Sriracha. Can you believe that in this day and age I have never tried Sriracha?! I have avoided recipes that use it or I have simply just omitted it.

After much tension and a tsp of baking soda in simmering water I successfully poached an egg. It was fantastic! The girls loved it (although to be fair they love eggs in all shapes and forms) and The Hubs enjoyed it as well!

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I went to the store and bought some real crab meat (for $8.25 a pound!), my first bottle of Sriracha, and breadcrumbs. The recipe is simple thanks to my new found skill of poaching eggs.

 

The end result was a perfectly spiced crab cake topped with a delicouly runny egg.

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I did decide to omit the baby arugula and the avocado since The Hubs was already skeptical and nothing scares him more than greens!

The girls loved the eggs and only one liked the crab cakes (she is also the one that requests “crab legs and crab arms” for her special birthday dinner. She’s six).

Now I am off to conquer another Sriracha recipe since I now have a bottle!

 

Bread. My Carb Weakness!

Every now and then I convince myself that I need to go on a low carb diet. I usually do pretty well until it gets to lunch time and I’m faced with the loaf of bread. The delicious loaf of bread that’s taunting me from the top of the fridge. Usually, I give in.

A few weekends back I was making biscuits and gravy for breakfast and I asked The Hubby to go get me a small carton of buttermilk since I only needed about 2 tablespoons. Instead, he came back with a half gallon. Instead of just letting it go bad in the fridge until I threw it out I decided to find some recipes that contained buttermilk since I don’t know any off the top of my head. Don’t try and tell me buttermilk pancakes because I NEVER make my kids pancakes. GASP! I know, I just don’t do it. Fear not their dad will make them any time they ask.

I found this Quick Buttermilk Bread  recipe from www.thekitchn.com It is simple, easy, and oh so tasty.

The recipe allows for a variety of different fruit or herbs to be added. I have only made the standard bread and topped with a little butter and served it with dinner. I have now made it on four occasions and the entire loaf has been gone in one sitting (and not just by me).

You’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter

-Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a standard 9×5 loaf pan.

-Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Melt the butter. Whisk it in a separate bowl with the buttermilk and the egg.

-Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Gently stir and fold the ingredients until all the flour has been incorporated until a wet batter is formed. Do not over mix.

-Pour the batter into the loaf pan and pat it into the corners. Bake for 45-50 minutes. When finished, the loaf should be domed and golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and slicing.

Serve immediately or later, either way, it will be tasty!

Enjoy!!!

Irish Beef Stew

Kiss me I’m Irish! Well, about a quarter Irish or so.8T65Egz7c A month ago my dad decided he wanted everyone to come over and bring a homemade soup. Either a favorite recipe or to try a new recipe. I decided to try a new one. I found this Irish Beef Stew recipe and it seemed perfect.

Normally, I’m not a stew fan (in fact, I wasn’t even a soup fan until I moved to Colorado and froze my butt off)  but I know my dad is so I gave it a go. I found this recipe and it seemed easy and flavorful. The highlight was that it was advertised as a great recipe to make ahead and freeze for later use. Perfect!

All the ingredients were pretty basic for a stew. I got lucky with the beef because my local Stater Bros was having an awesome sale.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2.5 lb beef chuck ,brisket or any other slow cooking beef (no bone)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 onions , chopped (brown, white or yellow)
  • 6 oz  bacon , speck or pancetta, diced
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 14.9oz can Guinness Beer
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock/broth 
  • 3 carrots , peeled and cut 
  • 2 large celery stalks, cut
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme

I love when recipes give you different options! I decided to use bacon which turned out to be everyone’s favorite part of the dish. It was what made it stand out. I bought beef chuck and replaced the Guinness with a water/Worcestershire sauce mixture (my dad wasn’t too keen on the beer since he doesn’t drink).

Let me tell you, the house smelled amazing all day! Since I was going to freeze it for a later date it was incredibly hard not to sneak a bowl.

  1. Cut the beef into 2″ chunks. Pat dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well all over. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
  3. Remove pot from heat to cool slightly and lower heat to medium. If the pot is looking dry, add oil.
  4. Return pot to heat, add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.
  5. Cook until bacon is browned then add flour. Stir flour into the mixture.
  6. Add Guinness. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves well) then add remaining ingredients and return beef to the pot (including any juices).
  7. Add enough water so the beef & veggies are almost fully covered.
  8. Cover, bring to simmer then lower heat so it is bubbling gently. Cook for 2 hours – the beef should be pretty tender by now. Remove lid then simmer for a further 30 – 45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  9. Skim fat off the surface.
  10. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes!!

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The only thing I wish we had done differently was serving it with mashed potatoes, I just ran out of time that day. Even reheated it was delicious and a big hit. My dad loved it and had it for dinner again the next day. The only people who weren’t fans were the kids but I’m sure the mashed potatoes would have changed that. I can’t blame them too much since I didn’t like any soup either until a few years ago!

Okay, now go try it! It’s perfect for a chilly fall day.

 

Camping + Dutch Oven = Amazing!

Sometimes a girl just needs to unplug from the world and go camping! Last weekend, that is exactly what this girl did. We headed up to Lake Isabella in the Sequoias. It was peacefully quiet, relaxing, and such a nice break from everyday life.

IMG_1352 We went fishing (we only caught a couple of crabs) and explored the lake and Kern river. We got to hang out with our dogs, who are currently staying at my brothers’ (Did I mention we moved back to California in a quick last minute decision? No? Well we did but that’s for another post). And eat smores, which is why the girls like camping so much. It was beautiful up there and such a fun family adventure.

*As a side note if anyone goes up there, stay at a camping spot on the river in Kernville. The river was a blast with people rafting and going in tubes down the river.

I’ve been wanting a dutch oven forever but have yet to purchase one. The majority of my childhood was camping and eating dutch oven dinners or desserts. Camping just needs it the same way it needs scones and Hot Cha Cha (Taco Salad). I decided for this camping trip I was going to borrow my dads’ dutch oven and test it out. My dad loves it and couldn’t contain his excitement while we were digging through all his old recipes.

Most of his recipes are printed from a typewriter and look like they could fall apart if you stare at them for too long, so I decided to find one online for my first try.

I found this lasagna recipe online and it certainly did the job. I honestly was a little nervous because it was so plain; just straight ingredients and no extra seasoning. A lot cheese, meat, and spaghetti sauce. That’s it. I thought for sure I’d hear the dreaded word, bland.  However, when it was all combined and baking in that dutch oven the flavor was anything but BLAND!!! I don’t know what the magic of a dutch oven is but it’s something and it’s amazing.

If you notice on the first picture I didn’t get my order completely correct omitting the sauce until I already added the final layer of cheese. This was such a shame because Layla and I worked so hard on getting the cheese even and to look pretty for the final picture.

You do not need to be camping to use a dutch oven. In fact, tomorrow we are going to make a chicken and rice recipe in the backyard. Just make sure the coals don’t burn the grass or start any fires. (As my dad reminded me over and over)

Lastly, on our camping trip, we, of course, made bacon for one breakfast and I decided to do something I saw on Pintrest . You put the bacon on skewers and roast them over the fire. It was pretty cool and the girls had a good time making them. Sorry to say I didn’t try any of the bacon (I know right, how do you not eat the bacon) but the girls and Hubs thought they tasted great.

With life being as crazy as it has been these past two months, this was exactly what I needed. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, go camping, it does wonders to your soul.

Summer Fun!

Since it has been summertime, we have hardly cooked at all. It has been so hot and humid here in Colorado that we basically have been surviving off popsicles.

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We went on an overnight camping trip and made Chrissy Teigen’s chili, why do I always make chili why we are camping? (the answer is; growing up we always had hot cha cha AKA a Frito pie bar so I just have to make it every single time we go camping) Of course, we had to make s’mores because a camping trip isn’t complete without them!

 

These past couple weeks, I have only made a handful of dinners but I have been sticking with Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings,  We made her meatloaf, – which is the BEST meatloaf you could eat- with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. I also made prosciutto wrapped chicken. If you haven’t tried Cravings recipe for prosciutto wrapped chicken, DO IT! It is so good, just do not, under any circumstance, tell your kids -or husband- it has goat cheese in it.

As a fun activity with the girls, we made homemade jam. It was seriously so easy and tasty that I may never buy jam again.

To make it all you need is:

-1 cup sliced strawberries

-3 Tbsp cold water

-2 tsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp sugar

Layla put the strawberries in a saucepan and mashed them with a fork. Lucy, using a small bowl, mixed the cold water and cornstarch, I added the sugar after. We combined them into the saucepan and heated until it started to boil, turned down the heat and cooked for 5 minutes. We had to stir constantly, which for the girls was the hardest part. We put the jam in a fancy bowl and let it chill.

The result was delicious. Lucy had hers with cream cheese, while Layla and I had it with peanut butter.

Try it!