Vegetable Lasagna

Spring seems to be coming now.  It snowed a bit yesterday (spitted? spat?)  but it is in the 50s today and looking at the forecast for the next couple of weeks it seems to be staying in the 50s, 60s and, yes, 70s.  YES!

To celebrate Spring and to continue with eating veggie meals several days a week AND because The Bearded One wanted lasagna, I fixed a vegetable lasagna for dinner tonight.

Yesterday, my sister commented online that she had a subscription to America’s Test Kitchen which reminded me that I have one also so I looked at their recipe for Vegetable Lasagna as a basis for making my own.  Last night I fixed their meatloaf which was very good…almost as good as my Mom’s.   But, I digress.

I do not post recipes on this site unless we really like them and want to have them in the future no matter where we travel.  I can access my recipes through the blog wherever we are so this is for me…but if you want to use it…enjoy!

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Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce.  Your choice, preferably garlicky and spicy or add some crushed red pepper flakes to the mix.
  • No-Cook Cream Sauce
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Vegetable Filling
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced or eggplant in 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 cup minced pitted kalamata olives
  • 6 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

      1.  FOR THE CREAM SAUCE: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.

      2.  FOR THE FILLING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. If using eggplant:  Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Line surface of large plate with double layer of coffee filters and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Spread eggplant in even layer over filters. Wipe out and reserve now-empty bowl. Microwave eggplant, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, about 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure that eggplant cooks evenly. Let cool slightly. Return eggplant to bowl and toss with zucchini and squash.

If using mushrooms, saute them in olive oil with a bit of salt until most of the moisture is gone.  Add half of the following steps garlic/olive oil/thyme mixture.  Saute briefly.  Transfer to medium bowl.

  1. 4. Combine 1/2 tablespoon oil, garlic, and thyme in small bowl. Heat 1 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add eggplant mixture (if not using eggplant, this will just be zucchini), 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of skillet; add half of garlic mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir to combine garlic mixture with vegetables and transfer to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant mixture, 2 tablespoons oil, and remaining garlic mixture.  Add to mushroom mixture in medium bowl if you were using mushrooms instead of eggplant.  (Am I confusing you?  Bottom line:  you will either have mushrooms and zucchini at this point or eggplant and zucchini.  Got it?)

    5. Return skillet to medium-high heat, add remaining teaspoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until moisture is gone. Transfer spinach to paper towel–lined plate and drain 2 minutes. Stir into zucchini mixture.

    6. TO ASSEMBLE: Spray 8×8-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in bottom of baking dish; shingle 2 noodles on top of sauce. Spread half of vegetable mixture over noodles, followed by half of olives, half of cream sauce, and 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Repeat layering with 2 noodles, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, remaining vegetables, remaining olives, remaining cream sauce, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Place remaining 2 noodles on top layer of cheese. Spread remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Lightly spray large sheet of aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray and cover lasagna. Bake until -bubbling, about 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 25 minutes. Cut into pieces, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

 Yum.

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I have Colored Pencil Art Class on Wednesday mornings.  This winter the class has had the lowest enrollment in the past few years.  On top of that, the weather has been challenging (don’t you know it?) so attendance is spotty.  Today, there were only four of us.  At least that means a lot of individual attention.

I continue to work on my cat portraits.  The instructor has never worked on this surface so he seems as interested in seeing how I am doing as I am in his feedback.  The good news is that he spends lots of time helping others and just chats with me about my project.  No direct help anymore.

Here is the progress.

Veegee before

Veegee before

Veegee after

Veegee after

 

Allie before

Allie before

Allie after

Allie after

Progress.  Slow progress.

Posted in art, colored pencil, colored pencil art | 3 Comments

Kitchen Reno

A great kitchen reno!  No, not my kitchen.  I am still happy with my kitchen.  But, I have to show off the taste and talents of my son-in-law and daughter.

Last Spring, they bought a foreclosed home a block from our house.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that they currently live 700 miles from us.  Does not make for handy times spent working on the house.

They spent a short week in August working on the house and returned for another week in February.  In that time they gutted the old kitchen and installed a new one.  Just take a gander at the difference!

Before:

North end of the kitchen.  Before.

North end of the kitchen. Before.

North end of kitchen.  After.

North end of kitchen. After.

South end of kitchen,  Before.  Major gut at this end with drywall and insulation replaced.

South end of kitchen, Before. Major gut at this end with drywall and insulation replaced after structure was treated and sealed..

South end of kitchen.  After.

South end of kitchen. After.

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East wall of kitchen. Sink area. After.

Nice, huh?  Good taste and great workmanship!  Lots of memories in making it happen.

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New Art Project

It has been awhile since I have posted a colored pencil project as a work in progress.

I had enrolled in a workshop by Gemma Gylling in the fall that I was not able to attend at the last moment but a friend attended in my stead.  She was kind enough to bring back the materials from the workshop from which I could learn some of the techniques.  (Gemma is an extraordinary talent in portraying animals in her portraiture.)  I decided to take her lessons step by step and try to apply it to my own animal portraits.

Luckily, I have two cats who were easy subjects for my camera to take reference photos.  So, here we are.  The cats, as works in progress…

Allie1 edit

Aliie

VG1 edit

VeeGee

 

I have barely started on the portraits but have to move back and forth between the two so no one gets their nose out of joint.  I am doing the paintings on suede matboard, a new surface for me.  Lots to learn.

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Spring? Cleaning at least…

The birds are chirping when I am outside.  They seem to think that Spring is coming.  As I showed you the other day, a few plants are poking an exploratory tip above the ground in the gardens.  I took that as a sign that I should begin planting seedlings.  I planted broccoli and cabbage a couple of weeks ago in seed trays.  Yesterday, I planted pepper plants but have the trays on heating pads to trick the seeds into thinking we are closer to warm than we are.

The sun is slanting through the windows more seriously now.  Even though I wash windows fairly frequently, it shows that the grime of woodstove and gas heat has built up and needs to be washed away.  Spring cleaning needs to begin.  I have decided to take this on as my “bit of a time” project.  A few minutes each day to do a detailed project that is not part of my usual cleaning schedule.

Today, I started detailed cleaning the tile floor and grout in my bathroom.  I tried a recipe a friend had posted on Facebook for cleaning grout in tiled floors.  I was enthused but somewhat skeptical.

I mixed the potion.  I sprayed it on a portion of tile.  I waited for ten minutes (wait, I got distracted by life and remembered to go back 20 or 30 minutes later).  I scubbed the grout with a toothbrush and rinsed.  I waited for the floor to dry.

tile

Can you see the difference?  Is the clean grout at the top or bottom?

Yep, at the top.  And my grout is not grimy.  It was only installed a few years ago and it is routinely washed.  Still, the recipe made a difference in quick time.  Granted, I do not routinely scrub my grout with a toothbrush and that may be part of the equation but still.  I will use this recipe again.

Spring Cleaning Recipe for Grout

3 1/2 cup water

1/4 cup baking soda

generous 5 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp vinegar

Mix together and put in spray bottle.  Spray on the floor and let it sit for a minute or two or twenty.  Scrub.

 

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Looking Up

After weeks of frigid cold and inches of snow, the weather has warmed for a few days.  The snow has melted except for the heaps at the corners.  And a bit of green has appearedIMG_1202.

Like sprouts of emerging daffodils.

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And rhubarb.  And the cat has emerged from hibernation.

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Goodbye and Good Riddance

January is gone.  Thank goodness!

While January was not as bad here as in much of the country (who chooses to live in Northern Minnesota anyway?), it was much worse than the winter months down South that I had planned.  Days and days of below zero temperatures, inches and inches of snow…not my thing.

So, goodbye January!  Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out!

january

I am sure energy bills will be much higher than usual.  During the winter, we burn the woodstove as the major source of heat in the house.  We leave the furnaces set at 50 degrees and supplement a bit with a gas space heater in the living room set at the lowest setting.  But, a number of days this month, we had to turn up the furnaces to take the chill out of the air the first thing in the morning.  After double digit nights below zero, the house was in the mid 50’s when we awoke in the morning.  We are way too old for that!  So, the furnaces ran for the first few hours of each day. Still, we burned a pickup truck load of firewood each week for those frigid weeks.  Bleh.

But, it is February 1st.  There is hope that the worst is behind us.  Today, for the first time in weeks, temperatures are in the 40s.  Snow is melting.  Sidewalks and streets are clearing.  The furnaces are off and I did not even need to light the woodstove the moment I woke up this morning.

Come on, Spring!

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