Monthly Archives: March 2012

Power-Up Whole Wheat Lasagna Roll-Ups

I’m always on the search for an easy healthy lasagna recipes (like the no pasta zucchini lasagna!) but today I bring you, by popular demand, power-up whole wheat lasagna roll-ups!  This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal, hearty enough to freeze for leftovers, and just plan delicious. For a vegetarian option, simply don’t include the ground chicken.

Power-Up Whole Wheat Lasagna Roll-Ups
 

All rolled up, although a little smushed.

 
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb ground chicken (optional)
  • 1 box frozen spinach, thawed
  • 24-oz. low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 8 sheets dried whole-wheat lasagna noodles 

Instructions

  1. Sautee diced onions on medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add garlic in next.
  2. Add ground chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Add tomatoes with juice, salt, and thyme. Reduce heat to medium low, and let simmer for 20 min. Stir occasionally to break the tomatoes into pieces.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain, rinse, and cool in colander.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Squeeze all remaining moisture from thawed spinach and place in a large bowl. Add cottage cheese, egg, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese; stir until combined.
  7. Spread 1 cup of cooked tomato sauce into bottom of a 9″ x 10″ casserole dish.
  8. Place a cooked lasagna noodle in front of you, spread 1/8 of the cottage cheese mixture across the noodle, and roll it up (see photo below).
  9. Place rolled pasta, seam side down, into the casserole dish
  10. Repeat with remaining noodles, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  11. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove foil and broil for 5 minutes or until roll-ups are brown and bubbly.

Whole wheat roll-ups in various stages of undress.

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Perspective (or my recent lack thereof and why I’m sorry)

The last few weeks have been busy and I’ve a bit stressed trying to keep track of all the moving parts. Everything bubbled to the surface this past Sunday night when Chris and I got into a quibble about cleaning. I was frustrated about how the living room was covered in dust (as a result of him fixing a leak and patching the ceiling), and he was frustrated that I was getting so worked up about some dust (and seemingly unappreciative of what he had done). I recognized that we were each coming at the situation from different perspectives, but couldn’t articulate that in the moment. I completely (and wrongfully) skipped over the part about thanking him for taking the time to fix it and jumped right ahead to worrying about who was going to clean up the mess since we were having family over for dinner the following evening. Chris reacted to my overreaction, and pointedly asked, “Why are you so crazy about cleaning?!” It was a legitimate question.

My freakout about cleaning reaction wasn’t really about the dust – I was taking my stress about other things in my life out on him, including stress about a big assignment due at work the following day. I couldn’t move past it when really, it wasn’t a big deal. The world would not collapse into itself if things didn’t get cleaned up right that minute and it’s not like we were going to eat off the living room rug. We were going to eat off plates like civilized people in the dining room. But, I was being too stubborn to back down.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I failed to show my appreciation for what I had in front of me: a talented (albeit now frustrated) husband, willing to spend his free time patching the ceiling (among other home improvement projects like, building a mudroom addition which will be getting its very own entry), climbing out of bed to kill spiders for me, and hundreds of other meaningful gestures of love and kindness. (OK, maybe he kills spiders on my behalf to maintain his own sanity because he doesn’t want to hear me worry about how they might turn into mutants and take over our house or climb all over our faces while we’re sleeping, but I digress.) 

As it turns out, Chris worked his magic on Monday and the house was spotless, I got my project done on time, and dinner was perfect. I knew I needed a break though, so on Tuesday, instead of rushing around town after work to pick up the dog, book it to the gym, fit in an errand, cook dinner and more, I threw my schedule out the window and just slowed down. I ran Cooper around the yard for a bit before cleaning my car out top to bottom – a chore that I had been putting off for weeks. I had a leisurely dinner, stopped by the library to grab a few new books, visited with my parents, and then read instead of watching crappy TV shows before bed (Bravo, I love you, but we need to take a break). I was a little sad that I didn’t get to work out, but the whole evening was a good reminder that taking care of myself means much more than just working out, eating well, and checking off my to-do list.

It means taking a step back and putting thing in perspective: the challenges I’m facing aren’t difficult in the grand scheme of things – at any given moment, people are facing hardships that make my problems look like a great vacation. So, I’m going to make point to try to keep things in better perspective and to acknowledge and appreciate what I do have: a wonderful husband and fantastic family and friends (who love me despite my faults), a roof over my head, food on the table, a job to go to every day,  my health… the list goes on.

To do: show more appreciation for small gestures of love and kindness.

I stumbled upon two other things that quite literally helped to put the universe into perspective for me and reminded me just how inconsequential some dust in the living room is.

  • A Radiolab podcast called Escape! Listening to this podcast, during the second segment, I learned about the two Voyager spacecraft, which scientists believe have reached the outer limits of our solar system and are heading into seriously unknown and uncharted territory where the sun is no longer king. What’s going to happen? Nobody knows! The mystery of it all is beautiful and if physicists can figure out how to send things into outer space, I think I can problem-solve a dusty room.
  • The Scale of the Universe 2. This site allows you to explore different facets of our existence as humans from the microscopic level of a tiny atom, all the way out to the edges of the observable universe and everything in between. Be sure to zoom both in and out to get the full experience. A great way to see our world from more than one perspective!

Dust and mutant spiders aside, I hope you enjoy the links!

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Clean Breaded Chicken Cutlets

My dear friend Christina and I call one another Chicken, in only the most endearing way, because we heard the following conversation nearly a decade ago and thought it was hilarious:
Little boy: “You’re a chicken!”
Little girl: “Well, You’re a turkey!”
Little boy: “No, you’re a flamingo!”
Ever since then, we have both been known as “Chicken” (and it’s not very original given that we stole the joke from two little kids). I should also mention that our maturity levels drop drastically as soon as the other is in view… and this makes everything we do way more fun while annoying the crap out of everyone around us. More often than not we are the only two people laughing in a movie theater or being asked to stop dressing up in aprons and taking pictures of one another at Anthropologie. Just yesterday we were throwing around poultry-inspired names for a fictional business venture like Chicka Chicka Bawk Bawk and Chicken Coop. We have no ideas or business plans for either, except that the later would probably involve none other than Cooper (the dog). To make a long story short, we now have yet another joke that’s probably only funny to us.
 
So, to honor this long-standing and special friendship, I wanted to share my favorite way to cook chicken (the meat, not the person). Instead of frying the cutlets in oil, they are breaded with clean ingredients and baked. Enjoy!
 
Clean Breaded Chicken Cutlets
 
Ingredients
  • 4-5 chicken cutlets, about 1/4″ thick
  • 1 cup almond meal (sub out whole wheat flour if you are allergic to nuts!)
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • cooking spray

    Clean breaded chicken w/ veggies

 
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. One by one, coat cutlets in almond meal, egg whites, and bread crumbs.
  4. Arrange in one layer on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
  6. Sometimes I serve the chicken plain, but I also have some variations that I use to keep things interesting: I top it with hot sauce and crumbled blue cheese; incorporate it into pasta dishes in lieu of fried cutlets; put it in a whole wheat wrap with tomato, basil & mozzarella – the possibilities are endless!
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