Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Veggie Lasagna

If you have been following my blog, you are well aware of my love for a great meatless meal!!  This is one I discovered this summer that I thought worthy of sharing.   Plus, it makes great use of many garden vegetables that usually produce more than a home grower needs!


1 Yellow onion, diced
1 Green bell pepper, diced
1 Container of sliced white mushrooms
1 Package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or equivalent amount of fresh spinach)
2 Green Zucchini, washed and sliced (I used one 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash)
2 Cloves of garlic, pressed
1 Can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 Bag (8 oz.) of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Container (15-16 oz.) of ricotta cheese
1 Box of lasagna noodles, cooked to package directions
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
Basil (dried or fresh)
Oregano (dried or fresh)


Use a large skillet and set the stove to medium high.  Drizzle in olive oil and add pressed garlic.  Cook for two minutes.  Add in onion, and bell pepper and saute for a few minutes.  Then add in zucchini and mushrooms, sauteing everything together for a few more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the vegetables until al dente.  To prevent the veggies from turning into mush, don't over cook them.  Soon they're going to sit in the sauce and then be baked.  Add the can of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Mix in basil and oregano to taste.  Once everything is combined, turn the sauce to a low heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Use a deep casserole dish lined with cooking spray.  Cover the bottom of the pan with cooked lasagna noodles.  Add a layer of spinach on top.

Add a layer of veggie sauce over the top of the spinach.

Sprinkle the sauce with mozzarella cheese (reserving some for top) and then a thin layer of noodles over the top of the mozzarella.

Use the spatula to spread the entire container of ricotta over the noodles.

Top the ricotta with more sauce (reserve some sauce for the top).  Add one final layer of noodles, top with remaining mozzarella cheese. 

Bake until cheese is melted (about 20 minutes - longer if you made the lasagna ahead of time to bake later).


Friday, September 23, 2011

Preserving Fresh Herbs

I love fresh herbs!  But, I have always been frustrated with the fact that I have to buy a "bunch" when I only need a little.  With the exception of basil, I have never used enough fresh herbs to justify growing my own.  So I was very excited when someone taught me this trick!  It's not an answer to every use I have for fresh herbs but it has worked for almost all of my needs so far. 

How to freeze fresh herbs for later use:

Cut the herb of your choice to your liking (I chop mine).  I used cilantro in this example because I find it hard to grow and I always have to buy way more than I need per use. 

Place the herbs in an ice cube tray. 

Add water to the tray to surround the herbs.  Then place them in the freezer until frozen.

Once they have frozen you can remove the "herb cubes" from the tray.  Each cube should give you about 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs.

Store the "herb cubes" in a labeled freezer safe bag for future use.  Just unthaw and drain or toss into a hot dish (like soup) and you'll have the taste you love while not wasting money to buy a new "bunch" of herbs every time you need just a little. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting Personal: Introduction

This website is not to the surgeon I used

Until now, most of my blog posts have been about places to visit, craft/gift ideas, or recipes.  Today I am going to get a little personal!

Not long after I had my second child we purchased a trampoline.  I was very excited about this because I always loved them when I was younger and dreamed of having one.  Now, my kids would have one and I was looking forward to using it myself.  While visiting a friend of mine (who has a trampoline) I told her about our new purchase.  She proceeded to share something with me that I had never heard of.  She warned me that after having children she had difficulty enjoying her trampoline.  She shared with me an intimate detail - that every time she would jump on her trampoline she would uncontrollably "pee her pants".  My initial thought was "gross" and why wouldn't she be able to control herself from peeing?!  Not many days later I discovered that I had the same problem!

After opening up to a few of my close friends (who also had kids though natural childbirth), I realized that it's a very common health issue.  It's an occurrence that happens when jumping, sneezing, laughing, coughing, gaging, or sometimes while doing nothing at all.  Thankfully, I have never had a noticeable instance of this happen in public but it's still very embarrassing and frustrating.  

One day, while watching a local news program geared toward women, I saw an interview with a specialist who helps women in these situations.  I found out that it is called "female urinary incontinence" and that there is a fix for it!!!  From that day on I have been on a mission to research my options and save my money to pay for it.  I'm not sure of the cost but I know that the "fix" could be anything from a medication to an out patient surgery.  Either way, I know my insurance won't cover the expense.

This week I made my first call to the specialists office.  I opted to not attend an information session since I'm already sold on the idea and feel comfortable with my knowledge of the process.  So, here is the plan so far.  I scheduled 3 appointments.  The first appointment is to meet with the specialist/surgeon.  Next, I go in for a round of tests and x-rays.  A week after that (when the test results are ready) I meet with the specialist again.  He could recommend a variety of things from medications to surgery.  What ever it is, I'm excited to get past this issue in my life :)

I plan to keep you posted on this intimate journey by blogging through my experience.  I'm only doing so because I have a feeling that some of my readers may be interested in the process and the cost involved.  Because of that, I am willing to take the chance that some of you may think of me as the "the lady that pees her pants" - LOL!  That's okay since hopefully that will be a thing of my past!

Incase you are interested in learning more about female urinary incontinence here is a link to the specialist I am using.  It also includes the video clip from the news program I mentioned.  http://www.shmg.org/ContinenceCenter

Monday, September 19, 2011

Veggie Taco-Salad Wraps

I'm always looking for good vegetarian options that will work great for make ahead lunches and here is one that I felt worthy of sharing!  I have made them one day prior and packed them for lunches on the go.  I love it!


1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 flour tortillas (10 inches in diameter)
1 large tomato, seeded & diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 large green-leaf lettuce leaves


With a fork, mash together beans, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Spread 2 tablespoons bean mixture on each tortilla halfway between the center and bottom edge.  Top with 1 - 2 tablespoons each diced tomato and cheese; cover with lettuce leaf.

Fold sides of tortilla; roll from bottom to form a cylinder.  Roll in waxed paper and fold ends over; tape to secure.  Cut wraps in half diagonally.