Mexican Lasagna

I have never understood how people could not like beans. Even as a kid, when my friends would turn their nose up to chili and baked beans I would think, “More for me!” Now that I am adult, I appreciate them even more. Not only are they tasty, they are also perfect for rounding out the proteins in a meatless meal. Even Jesse, who is a meat and potatoes kind of boy, enjoys many of the dishes I make with beans. Sometimes he doesn’t even notice the meat is missing.

This lasagna was another great example of how a meatless meal can be every bit as satisfying and delicious as a meat-full meal. I’ve made this several times now and each time think that I can’t wait to make it again. And, I feel like I say this a lot, but it can also be pretty adaptable to your personal tastes. Sometimes I want it on the spicier side, so I add jalapeno rings and extra cayenne pepper. Other times I want it smokier so I add more cumin (and maybe a pinch of smoked paprika!). Either way, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it!




Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups

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

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
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

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

Classic Lasagna

Some of the things I missed the most while I was in China were cheese, bread, and dessert. I got my fill of good vegetables, meat, and seafood, but nothing quite filled the hole in my heart (or stomach, in this case) that cheese and carbs left. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that my first meals back were loaded. Driving back from the airport we even made an emergency pit stop at In-N-Out Burger. Double double mustard fried with grilled onions and a Neapolitan shake? Yes please! Next up on my must-have-soon list was an over the top cheesy pasta dish, and lasagna fit the bill perfectly.

I’ve posted a vegetable lasagna recipe already, but this craving was for the classic version. So I whipped up a classic lasagna and enjoyed every last bite of the delicious cheesy, carb loaded, meat filled goodness. Then, yesterday I read online that July 29th is National Lasagna Day. Perfect! I bumped this recipe up the line so you’ll be prepared to make your own for the special day.

Classic Lasagna
(Developed over the years by me)
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles

1 15-oz container of Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
4-5 fresh basil leaves, julienned (or 1 tsp dry basil but I really recommend finding some fresh!)
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper

1 lb Italian sausage (I used sweet, but also like spicy)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry parsley
1/4 tsp dry rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1/3-1/2 cup dry red wine

1 16-oz ball of fresh mozzarella, shredded (to equal about 2 cups)*
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

*As with many things, I think that real fresh mozzarella is key. Of course it’s really up to you, but I don’t think a block of Kraft mozzarella will cut it! You can find real balls of fresh mozzarella in the specialty cheese section of any well stocked grocery store. If you have trouble shredding it you can cut it into slices. Or do what I do it and hand it to the nearest strong man and make them do it! 🙂


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, brown and crumble the Italian sausage. When the sausage is cooked through and browned add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant. Stir to coat the sausage with the tomato paste. Season with dry basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

While the meat sauce is simmering, combine the ingredients for the ricotta filling in a medium sized bowl.

Spread 1/3 cup of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Then lay out 4 noodles, slightly overlapping. Make 3 sets of layers in the following order:

  1. Noodles
  2. 1/3 of the Ricotta filling
  3. 1/4 of the Meat sauce
  4. 1/4 of the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

After the 3rd group of layers, top off the lasagna with another layer of noodles, the last of the sauce, and the rest of the shredded cheese.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (I also gave mine 2 minutes under the broiler to make the cheese a deeper golden brown)

Serve with a green salad and garlic bread. (Yes mine is totally Texas Toast, not homemade or gourmet but Jesse loves it and it was fast!)

I Love Lasagna and Happy Mother’s Day!

This meal is in honor of Mother’s Day! Last summer my mom and I took a vacation to Disneyworld. It was the first time either of us had ever been and it was so much fun! We stayed at the Movie All-Stars resort and we were able to go to Epcot, Magical Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Truly an amazing trip and it was so great to get to hang out just my mom and I. One night we made dinner reservations for Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. We both ordered the vegetable lasagna and it was actually pretty darn good. Of course the portion sizes were huge so we wound up wishing we just would have shared (but then I wouldn’t have been able to eat ALL of the cheesy top so maybe it was better that way). Since that time I have had vegetable lasagna on my to-try list.

Part of the trouble with lasagna is that it makes a ton. It was just me eating the lasagna last night so I didn’t want to make a 9×13 pan. I initially planned on using a small Le Crueset baker that I have but after pulling it out I thought the sides weren’t tall enough. I wanted to have lots of room for cheesy goodness in my lasagna. I looked around the rest of my bakeware and finally I decided that my 9×5 bread pan was best suited for the small lasagna job. It worked out perfectly! I think as is this recipe would serve 3 people perfectly, or in my case dinner and leftovers for 2 lunches.

This lasagna was DELICIOUS! The bechamel sauce added a rich flavor that went so well with the tangy tomatoes. I used zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and spinach, but this recipe is so adaptable you could really use any of your favorite vegetables. Eggplant and bell peppers would make an excellent addition. Play around and see what combination you like best!

Bread Pan Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable filling –
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
pinch of rosemary
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Ricotta filling-
8 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/3 cup shredded italian cheese blend (or a mix of mozzarella and parmesan)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 large fresh basil leaves (cut in a Chiffonade)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Bechamel sauce- (adapted from Mario Betali)
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg

1 1/3 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
6 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the zucchini, squash, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the seasonings and can of whole tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the whole tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer while you make the bechamel sauce.

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. When the butter is melted, slowly add the flour whisking constantly. After 4 minutes, when the butter is a light golden color, slowly add the hot milk whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Cook for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and add the salt and nutmeg. (during this time I made the ricotta mixture, remembering to whisk often) Then remove from heat and set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, Italian cheese, spinach, egg, basil, salt and pepper.

Pour a small amount of bechamel sauce into the bottom of a 9×5 bread pan. Lay one whole lasagna noodle and break a piece off of another to fill the pan (about 1/3 of another noodle). Continue to layer the ingredients in the following order:

1. Noodle
2. 1/3 of the Ricotta cheese mixture
3. 1/3 of the Vegetable mixture
4. 1/3 cup Shredded cheese
5. 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce

After the 3rd group of layers, top off the lasagna with another noodle, the last of the Bechamel sauce and the last 1/3 cup of shredded cheese.

Cover the bread pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (I also gave mine 2 minutes under the broiler to make the cheese a deeper golden brown)