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I love when you’re cooking and all the wonderful aromas fill your house and give you a sense of home. I have a comforting feeling all the time when I’m cooking…cooking to me is relaxing and yet creative. I love cooking comfort food, but I especially enjoy cooking Italian foods. There is something about pasta and bread and garlic that gives you a full and satisfying feeling!! So over the weekend I tried out some new recipes, Minestrone Soup and Chicken & Spinach Lasagna. They were amazing!!! Handsome loved the Chicken & Spinach Lasagna….I was completely surprised…but how can you not love pasta, cheese, chicken and spinach?!?!? However, he did not care for the Minestrone Soup…he’s more of a chili guy! I served garlic toast with the lasagna and crusty bread with the soup. So get to cooking and feel your home with the aromas you love! I hope you enjoy!!!
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/3 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of mini penne pasta (you can use any mini pasta)
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Stir in the green beans, dried oregano and basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook 5 more minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 20 minutes.
Boil mini pasta in separate pan according to cooking instructions on box, drain and set aside.
Stir in the kidney beans and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with the parmesan.
12 whole Lasagna Noodles (oven-ready)
1 stick of butter
1 whole Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Chicken Broth
1-½ cup Milk
4 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided, plus additional 1/4 cup for topping (optional)
1 teaspoon Dried Basil
1 teaspoon of dried Oregano
½ teaspoons Ground Pepper
15 oz. container of Ricotta Cheese
2 cups cooked, shredded Chicken
1 10 oz. package Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in flour and salt; simmer until bubbly.
Mix in the broth and milk, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with basil, oregano and ground black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
Spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture on the bottom of the 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer with 4 of the noodles (they may overlap), then all of the ricotta and the chicken. Arrange 4 more of the noodles over the chicken and layer with 1/4 of the sauce mixture, the spinach, and the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Arrange remaining noodles over cheese and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with additional 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional).
Wrap the Lasagna tightly with double layer of foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.
Let stand for 10 minutes in the sealed foil before cutting and serving.
That’s right… I just turned 30 this month. To be exact I turned 30 on Valentine’s Day…yes, you read that correctly… I am a Valentine’s Day baby! I know what you’re thinking…poor Handsome. He does an amazing job every year with my birthday and Valentine’s Day, by making sure were celebrate each occasion. However, I am one of those people who like to celebrate my birthday ALL month long!!! Haha!
However, this year was different, this year was great! I am not one of those people who are really concerned about my age, but turning 30 did make me do some reflection on my life. It’s funny when you’re younger and you think you have everything all figured out with all of your plans…married after college…..have 2 children by the age of 27……. Well, myself, I did not have those exact plans, but I did have plans and certain goals that I wanted to achieve by the time of I was 30! I started thinking back about how certain events have taken place to lead me where I am today and I realized that everything happens for a reason……
This milestone in my life has reminded me of many things I am grateful for. I am extremely grateful for Handsome. I never thought I would meet someone so wonderful and amazing and I thank God for him everyday!
I am also so grateful for my wonderful friends and family! I am so thankful to have wonderful friends to go places and do things with. Handsome and I have the greatest friends.
I am also grateful to have spent my birthday festivities with such wonderful people…. Life is Good!
So I am all about conserving energy and time! Therefore I like to find ways to cook things together using either just the oven or just the grill. This dinner was inspired by a very cold night….BRRRRR… I don’t know about you, but I am OVER Winter and this cold weather!!! With it being so cold, of course I decided to go with the oven…this way it will warm up the house too! Just FYI I am very cold natured!!! So I have a tendency of standing in front of the oven while cooking to feel the warmth of the oven… I know, crazy… right?….but seriously I stay COLD!!
So I had already decided that I wanted to fix some roasted salmon, and I usually like to have roasted asparagus with salmon. Then I just needed to figure out what to serve with the salmon and asparagus, and I remembered I have this wonderful, easy, and simple recipe for roasted red potatoes. You see a theme here…YES…..everything is to be roasted.
Here’s the plan… I needed to sit down and figure out what the oven temperature was for each recipe and the cooking time.
Salmon 400° - 20-22 minutes
Asparagus 425° - 12-15 minutes
Potatoes 450° – 30 minutes
In order for me to conserve energy and time I decided to go with the middle temperature 425° for all of the recipes. This way all of the recipes would be cooked in the oven at the same temperature with adjusted times. Now I had to adjust my cooking time. Obviously if the Salmon was going to be cooked at a higher temperature then I would need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. I had to make some adjustments for the potatoes as well.
This is what I came up with….
Salmon 425° - 18-20 minutes
Asparagus 425° - 12-15 minutes
Potatoes 425° – 35-40 minutes
In order for me to keep things straight… so that I wasn’t putting the asparagus in at the wrong time, I went ahead and prepped everything so that when it was time to go in the oven, it was ready. I started out by prepping the potatoes first and once I got those ready and into the oven (I placed the potatoes on the top rack at this time, however they would have to be moved to the bottom rack to make room for the salmon and asparagus), I sat a time for 15 minutes, which would be the time for me to toss the potatoes and place the salmon in the oven. I then started on the asparagus. Once the asparagus was ready, I set it aside and began working on my salmon. After the timer went off and I placed the salmon in the oven, I then sat another timer for 10 minutes, which would be the time to toss the potatoes again and then place the asparagus in the oven. Once everything was in the oven I sat one last timer for 15 minutes. At this time I went and cut some french baguette and placed it on a baking sheet.
At the sound of the final timer, I removed the asparagus and potatoes from the oven and put the bread in and then placed the oven on low broil. I prefer to have some little crisp to the edges of my salmon… if you do not like the crisp, and then remove the salmon at this time. Now this process literally takes a few minutes so keep a close eye on the salmon and bread…..and when I say close eye, I mean don’t go flip through the TV or get on the phone…because it will burn QUICK!
VIOLA!!! Everything was ready at the same time and still warm! This process took about an hour from start to finish, with cutting and preparing the recipes to the removal of the salmon and baguette from the oven.
By the way, this is great way to prepare a large amount of food in the same cooking time and this also keeps the clean-up to a minimum. I hope you enjoy the recipes and the extra free time they bring! J
1 ½ to 2 pounds skinless salmon fillet
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Sliced lemon pieces
Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat oven to 425°
Spray baking sheet with cooking spray; place salmon on baking sheet.
Drizzle salmon with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.
Place a slice of lemon on the top of each piece of salmon.
Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until the salmon is flaky. (I prefer my salmon a little crisp on the edges, if you prefer it less crisp then cook for only 12-15 minutes)
2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ lemon, juiced
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425°
In a large bowl combine olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice.
Toss the potatoes with mixture coating each potato.
Place potatoes on a lined or pre-sprayed baking sheet.
Roast in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes.