Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups

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Would you believe that this is the first time I have turned on my lap top in over a week? I know I can’t! I’m one of those people that is a compulsive email, facebook, and general internet checker. Even if I don’t have time to respond to or interact with what I read, I still constantly check. I guess smart phones and laptops will do that to you.

Last Thursday I hopped on a plane to head home for the holidays; while I was on the plane I watched 5 episodes of Modern Family and watched my battery go from 100% to 2%. Once I landed it was go, go, go right from the start. I never even had time to recharge the battery, literally and figuratively. Unfortunately that means this poor little blog of mine was seriously neglected!

While I haven’t had time to make anything new this week, I do have a few aces in my back pocket, including these Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups. I wouldn’t exactly call this a fast weeknight dinner, but it can certainly be made easier by using store-bought sauce and pesto. Homemade is nice (and often better) but it’s all about doing what you can with the time you have.

Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups

Ingredients
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
Salt
Pepper
1 cup shredded chicken
1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pesto sauce
6 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 cup of your favorite chunky marinara sauce, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add flour and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Stream in milk, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper and cook until thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the white sauce to the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

In a medium size mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, ricotta, pesto 1/4 cup of mozzarella, salt and pepper, until combined. Spread ~1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over each lasagna noodle. Roll up the noodles and place seam side down in the 8×8 pan. Top the lasagna rolls with the rest of the white sauce, a spoonful of red sauce and the rest of the mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Serve on a bed of red sauce with Parmesan cheese for garnish.

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Sargento

Margherita Time

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This time last year Jesse and I were taking the first giant step of this newest journey in our life. We left the Thursday before Memorial Day and made our way across the United States to San Diego. I’m pretty used to long drives but this was in a class of it’s own. Still it was amazing. It was great having a chance to spend 3 days with just the 2 of us. Plus let’s be honest, this is a pretty cool country and we went from lush farm lands in the midwest, to wide open spaces in Texas, to dry flat dessert in Arizona, then green beautiful mountains in Arizona, then the most amazing mountains that looked like giant mounds of over-sized pebbles, and finally we landed in San Diego where the palms trees are plentiful and the air smells of the ocean. Just awesome.

Looking back a year later I don’t think I could have guessed how many incredible changes and wonderful experiences we would have in just one year of our lives. Of course with the good came some bad. The worst of it being that we have been separated for more than half of the last year. That part sucks, no way around it. But we’ve made the best of it and in 3 weeks we’ll be together again! Here is to hoping that this next year is even better (and has us together more than we are apart!)

What’s all that have to do with Margherita pizza? Uh, nothing. I just had some things to get off my chest before sharing the recipe. This pizza tasted great and would be perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. You can double the dough recipe, divided it into 4 and freeze 3 parts individually so you always have homemade pizza dough on hand. You’ll never need a processed, sodium laden frozen pizza again!

Margherita Pizza

1 ball pizza dough (recipe below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup diced (or sliced) tomato
3-4 fresh basil leaves, julienne

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees, with rack in the lowest position in oven.

Roll out pizza dough until ~1/4 inch thick and ~10 inches across and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.

Spread the mozzarella cheese over the pizza dough and sprinkle the tomatoes and basil on top.

Remove hot pizza stone from oven and carefully transfer the pizza (parchment paper and all) to the stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it the whole time so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Easy Weeknight Pizza Dough
(Adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising (instant) yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a measuring cup, add the sugar to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Add the yeast and let rest while you prepare the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour and salt. Pulse a few times to blend the flour and salt.

Turn the food processor on and stream in the water/yeast mixture. Turn the food processor off and stream in the olive oil. Then pulse in 4 second increments until a ball of dough is formed. It should be slightly sticky but not wet. If it is too dry add water a tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet add flour a tablespoon at a time.

At this point you can do one of two things. One, let the dough rest for 15 minutes while you gather your toppings, then roll out. Two, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until almost doubled in size. Then divide the dough in half and roll out. I typically let it rise, but the great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have too. I’m just used to letting it rise (for other recipes) and I like my dough to be a bit fluffier. I also feel like I have more dough to work with if I let it rise for longer (able to get 2 balls of dough).