The kitchen for me has always been a place of therapeutic healing. I remember when I was a little girl I would often drag a chair from the dining table, and push it into the kitchen to create meals. The first dish I ever learned how to make on my own was the box Kraft macaroni and cheese (with vegetables - that was my mothers compromise for letting me create processed foods). My young age or lack of height never deterred my mother from giving me household chores. Besides keeping my room and bathroom clean, it was my job to vacuum, wash the dishes, and my favorite - helping out with meal prep.
As a result of experimenting in the kitchen, I have learned several things in quite humorous ways. Such as: it is difficult to put too much baking powder - but careful with baking soda! Also, don’t underestimate the power of - or the lack of - a ¼ tsp of salt -. It makes a difference. Using olive oil when a recipe calls for “oil”? Not the best idea. That being said, I think following a recipe cup for cup, tsp for tsp, is seriously overrated. My homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies never come out the same way twice because I don’t have a recipe that I follow. I just bake.
When learning to create something new, I familiarize myself with the formula by following the recipe as closely as possible: then once mastered, I play around and loosen things up. I’ve made cookies without a binding ingredient (such as butter or applesauce), cake without a rising agent (such as baking powder), and lasagna without first baking the noodles (such as today's recipe!). All have resulted in eye opening experiences, and are now dishes that I make on the regular.
What I love most about baking and cooking is that you get what you put into it. Sure, sometimes you will set a smoke alarm off, get a burn or two, and every once in a while something so heinous will be created that even your pet will refuse to approach it. But when a perfectly moist fudge-like brownie is baked after 11 attempts, 2 dozen eggs, and a boyfriend who is now 4lbs heavier because of it, you rejoice. And anything that makes you rejoice is worth your efforts.
I’m excited to bring you a new feature on the blog: In the Kitchen. I’ll share with you both recipes that I have created, and ones that I have tried and tweaked to my liking. I hope I can inspire you to take to the kitchen and make a few mistakes and masterpieces of your own!
Whole Wheat Vegetable Lasagna:
Lasagna can easily become a heavy dish: but with nutty whole wheat pasta and fresh summer vegetables, I've got a recipe that won't leave you feeling weighed down!
You will need:
9x9 baking dish
9 sheets of whole wheat lasagna noodles (purchased mine at Whole Foods, Bionatuae brand)
1 medium zucchini squash, sliced
2-3 cups fresh spinach, washed/dried
1 jar of sauce of your choice (I used Safeway Select roasted artichoke - so good!)
Mozzarella cheese - as much or as little as you'd like!
Preheat oven to 375 F
place uncooked lasagna sheets across the bottom of the baking dish, slightly overlapping
take zucchini slices and evenly space them apart. Start with the larger slices first, and work the smaller ones up through the layers
rip the spinach into large pieces, removing the stems, layer.
Layer sauce, then cheese evenly.
Repeat, topping off the last layer with the lasagna sheets, sauce and cheese.
Gently add 1/4 cup water to the baking dish, along the sides.
Cover with foil, bake for 40-50 minutes!
So what do you think? Will you try this recipe?