Famous Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna was the first real meal that I learned to make at around fourteen years old. As a tradition, I make lasagna every year for Christmas Eve dinner, but I also may make it if we are entertaining or as a support meal for others. It’s one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, which is great because it usually yields plenty of leftovers.

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I now make several versions of this recipe. It is really easy to tweak to your tastes. Use whatever ground meat you choose (this particular version used both ground beef and ground pork). Vegetarians can leave out the meat and add whatever vegetables they like. Sauces are also interchangeable: tomato, alfredo, etc. I once even made a version using a pumpkin sauce!

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There are two things that I do to make this process a bit easier. 1) I use “no boil” lasagna noodles which allows me to skip that step of boiling the pasta first. 2) I use frozen spinach. Why? Because frozen spinach is “pre-shrunk” so you know how much that you are actually getting.

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This recipe calls for three types of cheeses, because…well… is there really such a thing as too much cheese? I mentioned that I used both ground beef and pork. I usually settle on one type of meat but happened to have some ground pork in the freezer leftover from when I made 3-meat meatballs (using beef, pork, and veal). So I thought “Why not?”.

As for sauce, well my mom’s homemade pasta sauce is my favourite, but for the sake of time I used the next best thing (which isn’t really close to my mom’s sauce but it will do), Classico Spicy Red Pepper.

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Once all the ingredients have been mixed and grouped together. The process of building the lasagna is quite simple. Because I am using “no boil” noodles, I start with a layer of sauce, then noodles, cheese, and sauce again, repeat one more time, top with sauce and cheese.

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Once the lasagna is built, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven preheated at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove foil, bake for another 10-15 minutes.

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Ingredients

“No boil” Lasagna Noodles

2 Jars Pasta Sauce

1 lb Ground Beef

1/2 lb Ground Pork (optional)

2 Cups Ricotta Cheese

3 Cups Mozzarella Cheese

1 Cup Parmesan Cheese

1 Egg

Salt and Pepper to Taste

2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

300 G Frozen Spinach

Instructions

1). Cook beef and pork in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add sauce and put heat on low and cover.

2) In a medium microwave safe bowl, add spinach and 2 tbsp of water. Microwave for 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3) In a large bowl, mix ricotta and egg with a fork until well blended. Add 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add spinach and mix until well blended.

4) In a greased 9 x 13 pan, add a thin layer of sauce so that it completely covers the bottom of the pan. Add one layer of lasagna noodles, make sure they are not overlapping (some piece may need to be broken to make fit). Spread one layer of cheese mixture, then add a layer of sauce. Repeat once.

5) Add a layer of sauce on the top, and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.


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Easy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

We are knee deep into cold weather now here in Ottawa, and that means comforting ourselves with lots of warm food and drinks. What is more comforting than a nice, hot bowl of chicken soup. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer a hearty stew or a cream to a brothy soup. When it comes to eating, i enjoy texture as much as flavour. So I decided to recreate one of my favourite dishes into a creamy and hearty soup.

This recipe came about out of laziness, or rather exhaustion. After a long morning, and realizing that I had forgotten to take meat out of the freezer the night before, I had to get creative. I had some cooked chicken thighs in the freezer, broth, potatoes, and a package of frozen mixed veggies. I decided to throw it all together into the Crock Pot (God bless the inventor of the slow cooker!). Like I said, I’m not a huge fan of broth soups. Think. Think. Think. I got it!!

I had planned on making chicken pot pie at some point, and I had some frozen pie crusts in the freezer. I think this might work! (If you are wondering how I come up with most of my concoctions…this is it.). It did work, and it was a hit! I recently made it again on the stove top, just as easily.

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Here’s what you need to make this recipe yourself:

Ingredients:

6-8 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

2 Boxes Chicken Broth

2 Cups Frozen Mixed Veggies

3 White Potatoes, Peeled and Cut

1 TBSP Dried Rosemary

2 TBSP Italian Seasoning

3 TBSP Cornstarch

1 Frozen Pie Crust, Broken in Pieces

Instructions:

  1. In a slow cooker, add all ingredients except cornstarch and crust.

  2. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker.

  3. When there is about 30-45 minutes left on the timer, remove chicken and shred with fork, then add back in. Remove 1/4 cup of broth into a cup, and add cornstarch to cup, mixing well. Add to the soup. Add frozen pie crust pieces. Stir.

  4. Stir again before serving. Enjoy!

How To Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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Oh, Coffee! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! Coffee and I have a special relationship. It has been there for me following sleepless nights caring for newborn babies. It has been there during those early morning hours that seem to come to soon. It has walked with me through book stores as I enjoy the few moments of solace. It has listened to deep and meaningful conversations with dear friends that I see far too little.

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As I have gotten older, I have become more particular with how I like my coffee prepared. I know that I can always get the best cup at home made EXACTLY the way I like it. How do I make the perfect cup of coffee? I’m glad you asked.

Whole Beans

To enjoy a fresh tasting cup of coffee, I always start with whole beans. Right now, I am enjoying Grizzly Claw by Kicking Horse. It’s a nice, rich dark roast that isn’t too overwhelming. Did you know that you can get a subscription through Amazon? It is far less expensive than purchasing it at the grocery store. I have a bag sent to me every month. There are few things worse than running out of coffee, don’t you agree?

Spices

Who doesn’t love flavour? So this may be the “secret sauce” to a really tasty cup of coffee. I like to add cinnamon and nutmeg to the coffee grounds before I brew. It really enriches the flavour of the coffee.

Heavy Whipping Cream

This discovery happened completely by accident. One morning, I had run out of milk, but I did have some heavy cream left over from a recipe. I thought, “Why not?”. It has been the best thing ever! It gives my coffee such a smooth, creamy texture. I can’t go back.

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Maple Syrup

I mean the real stuff. This may seem a little strange. In fact, I didn’t even like maple syrup until I moved to Canada. In an effort to cut out refined sugar, maple syrup has become my “go to” sweetener. I can easily drink my coffee without sweetener, but when I want to “treat” myself, I add 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup to my coffee, and it is delicious!

Ninja Coffee Bar

Last year, I begged to replace our Keurig with a new coffee maker. One that was a little more friendly to the environment and to our bank account. Those little cups are expensive! I did my research and decided to purchase the Ninja Coffee Bar . I have NO REGRETS! I love this little appliance. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and it has multiple serving sizes. My only tip if you are also looking at the Ninja. Get the stainless steel carafe. It will keep your coffee hot for hours.


That’s it! These are my secrets to a “good-to-the-last-drop” cup of Joe. Try some of these tips and tell me what you think!


What I Read In 2018

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I love books! I love just the smell of books; and I could spend hours just perusing through various books, walking away with a sense of joy just from being there. I usually enjoy a good fictional novel, however this year’s reads and book purchases have been all non-fiction. I am open to a good fictional book recommendation so please comment your favourites below.

Here is a list of some of the books I am exploring this year:

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Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

I am obsessed with cookbooks! I don’t really know what it is about them (likely the colorful pictures of delicious food). I may be equally obsessed with Joanna Gaines…but who isn’t? Magnolia Table is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also filled with delicious comfort food recipes.


Home Body by Joanna Gaines

Did I mention that I am a huge fan of Joanna Gaines? When I found out that she had written an interior design book, I had to have it! This is a great “How To” book on how to incorporate design elements into every room of your house, filled with visual examples great for us amateur designers.

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

Awaken is a 90 day daily devotional that encourages you to start each day spending time with God. I really enjoyed this devotional by Priscilla Shirer.

The following books on my list I have not yet read, but I am excited to see what they are all about, especially as I think about heading into the new year.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

This book has been generating so much buzz. I just have to find out what all the fuss is about! I do love the premise “Stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be.”


The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy & Kathy Keller

After reading a few quotes from this book, I’m excited to dig into it. Have you read this book? What did you think?


It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst

Another book with lots of buzz. This year has been a particularly challenging year, so I look forward to reading a book that offers encouragement and perspective.

What’s on your reading list? Do you have any recommendations for me? Please comment below!

Slow Cooker Chicken Shawarma

Who doesn’t love shawarma? If you have never tried it, you are missing out! This Lebanese dish is so full of flavor, fresh, delicious, and if paired the right way, incredibly healthy too! I’m going to share with you an amazingly simple recipe that you are going to want to make a regular occurrence at dinner time.

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As a business owner and busy mom of three, I consider my slow cooker to be a life saver. I love being able to dump a bunch of ingredients into a pot, turn it on, and have a delicious dinner without too much effort. Any tools that help me save time are a hit with me!

Just a note, I highly recommend using chicken thighs over chicken breasts in a slow cooker. They are more forgiving and less likely to dry out. This recipe can work with chicken breasts, but you will have to keep a close eye on it to avoid over-cooking. Okay, let’s get started!

Ingredients:

2 lbs Chicken Thighs (boneless, skinless)

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt

6 cloves Garlic (minced)

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Instructions:

  1. Place chicken thighs in slow cooker. In a small bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken and mix until evenly coated. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

  2. When chicken is fully cooked, transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork.

  3. Serve with toppings of your choice (spinach, tomato, hummus, tabouleh, feta, olives, pickles..just to name a few).

 
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Enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments! Of course, pass it on!