What I Ate… Friday? And Some Honesty

by Cait

I’m sure everyone knows about What I Ate Wednesday, which was created by Jenn at Peas & Crayons. (If you haven’t, you might be living under a rock… or just be crazy-busy.) I’ve been meaning to link up a post about what Robert and I ate, but I always forget on Wednesdays. Or we usually eat something boring like frozen pizza. There was one Wednesday where I actually took iPhone pictures of the spinach, goat cheese, roasted garlic and sunflower seed salad we were having, but later I forgot to write a post about it. Because I’m awesome like that.

It could also have something to do with the fact that I felt really weird posting even one little cooking-related trick way back in August, not long after I started blogging. Since then I’ve gotten ballsy stopped worrying about pigeon-holing this as a strictly-decor blog. So what if sometimes I post random rants, sometimes I post about former homeowners busting out concrete, and sometimes I throw in a recipe? If I have learned one thing in 187 posts and eleven months of blogging it’s that I have a tight-knit group of readers who support me no matter what. Whether it’s a comment sharing my excitement about our house, a Facebook comment, a “like”, or even a super-sweet email. Y’all always make me smile, laugh and remember to be thankful for the little things in life. Some of y’all are even willing to go to the mat for me, which is incredibly flattering.

And you know what? That’s enough for me. Longtime readers might recall that once or twice I’ve considered the idea of sponsors or ads (especially after the upheaval with Robert’s job). Recently I am firmly in the Write For Fun camp. So what if I don’t get 27,000 Facebook fans, sponsors, features on Apartment Therapy, guest posts, book deals or magazine articles like the big dogs? (Yes, that was an intentional use of “dogs” not “blogs”, as in “if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch”.)

Ok, enough sap, back to the point. If you’ve been following me on Pinterest you might have noticed that I’ve been pinning a lot of recipes. Some of them seem sort of daunting (even if they say they’re easy, healthy and super-delicious) because honestly? After working all day I really don’t feel like cooking. And my work hours are just going to get crazier this summer. While that will be good for my wallet (and eventually for the blog, mo’ money means mo’ projects, yo), it may not be so good for my waist-line if Robert and I don’t get in the habit of cooking some of those easy, healthy and super-delicious recipes.

cropped image from here, found via Pinterest

A tong lime ago in a coreign fountry (spoonerism anyone? no? ok then). Back when the internet was just a wee-babe, there was a show called Zoom on PBS, with a segment called Cafe Zoom. One afternoon they featured this recipe. (And it must have been one of those before-its-time kind of things, because now that poor recipe is rated “Not My Idea of Dinner” by 99.8% of viewers. So sad.) Flash forward to today, and adaptations of this recipe are spreading over The Interwebz like wildfire. (Just don’t ask me how I know how quickly wildfires spreads, my lungs are still bitter.)

The version I pinned was from The Girl Who Ate Everything, who adapted hers from Skinny Taste, but I had give credit to Zoom, since that’s where I found the first version I made  back in the day. You know, back when I was lived at home, got made fun of for wearing Target jeans and rode my bike around the neighborhood with my sister singing camp songs. Times have changed, now lasagna rolls & Target jeans are cool (but American Eagle jeans fit my thighs better), I live two blocks over, and I ride my bike around the neighborhood talking about decor & racking up curb appeal ideas.

These Spinach Lasagna Rolls are even better than the Lasagna Roll Ups of my childhood. That might be because I have discovered that vegetables won’t actually kill me, explored what spices are, and also that recipes don’t always have to be followed exactly as they are written. (I credit my mom and grandma with all of those things, and I kick myself for not eating more of my grandparents’ straight-out-of-the-garden okra, cucumbers, beans, etc.)

Long story long, this is what I used to make my version of the Spinach Lasagna Rolls:

9-10 lasagna noodles
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 container fat-free ricotta cheese (I think our container was 16oz?)
medium handful Caesar blend cheese, grated (what we had on hand from BJ’s, parmesan is fine too)
at least 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (we like a lot of garlic)
tablespoon of butter
a couple shakes of McCormick’s Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning (I let Robert do the seasoning, I don’t add enough)
a couple shakes of pepper
1 jar Bertolli Tomato and Basil sauce (the second time we only used 3/4 of the jar)
handful Publix six cheese Italian blend, shredded (or mozzarella)

The differences are mainly that you’re “supposed” to mix the filling while everything is cold and that other versions use egg, frozen spinach and different cheeses. I didn’t do any of that because 1) I didn’t remember using egg in my Zoom version 10+ years ago, and 2) we had recently made Spinach Enchiladas with basically the same filling and no eggs. I’m a rebel.

1. Preheat the oven to 350,  melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add garlic, and cook until fragrant but not brown (usually when Robert walks into the kitchen as says “that smells amazing!”)
2. Add chopped spinach and cook 1-2 minutes or until evenly “wilted” (I’m sure there is a better term for that), stirring frequently.
3. Turn heat to low, add ricotta, Caesar blend/parmesan and seasonings. (If Robert is still in the kitchen I let him season, because I don’t add enough for his liking. Sometimes he throws in other seasonings.) Stir until cheese is melted and everything is evenly mixed.
4. Remove from heat. (The second time we made this I figured out that it works best to put it on our “keep warm” burner and then cook the noodles, because I cooked the noodles first the first time and they dried out.)
5. Evenly coat the bottom of a baking pan with tomato sauce. (They say to use a 9×13, but that was always too big for mine, so I started using a 9×9 brownie pan.) Spread ricotta mixture evenly on noodles, roll, and place seam-down in pan.
6. Sprinkle with six cheese blend and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

As you can see, I don’t really cook with exact measurements. (I love my “pinch” and “dash” measuring spoons from my mother-in-law, but sometimes I don’t even use those!) Also, I prefer fresh, organic spinach over frozen, mostly because we buy it in a huge container for about $4 from BJ’s Wholesale (which is right next to our Lowe’s.) I mentioned that the filling is really similar to one for enchiladas, and I’m sure it would be great for stuffed shells, too.

Aside from the fact that these are delicious, I think the best part is that the first time we made this it only cost us about $5, because we had everything except the ricotta and pasta on hand. And it fed us lunch and dinner for two days.

What are some of your favorite recipes? Is there anything you used to make as a kid that you’ve adapted?

14 Comments to “What I Ate… Friday? And Some Honesty”

  1. my mommy makes them like this!!! ahhh soooooo soooo good! and comforting… and best leftovers ever! <3 if you'd like totally link this up next WIAW girl =) and if you ever want to partipate you are always welcome! I was super worried about the whole pigeon-hole-ing thing too forever… and I just recently said eff it! if I want to talk about my new house and adventures then gosh darn it! i'm going to! our blogs. we do what we want! (said in a cartman-like impression. yup yup)

    love ya!

    and hooray pinterest! ooh – and check out my new recipe if you get a chance – 15 min and easy! i think you and jane would approve? maybe? =)

    • I might link it :)

      Bahahaha! Yes, “we do what we want” needs to be a blogging motto along with “don’t read it if you don’t like it”.

  2. Good for you writing for fun! I’ve seen a few people wonder about their blogs like that (myself included) and I think you really do just have to write what you want to write. It’d be neat to have eleventy bajillion readers, but having people you can really interact with is so cool. Even though my blog is small, I feel like I “know” people better because of it.

    And those lasagna rolls… yum! Looks like they’re vegetarian too so I might actually be able to make them sometime. :)

    • I agree! It would be neat to be super-popular, but I like interacting with the people who comment, and having time to read their blogs.

      Yup! I left the “optional” chicken out. We’re not vegetarians by any means (Robert is practically a meat-itatian), but sometimes (ok, maybe a lot of the time) I prefer to get my protein from other sources.

  3. Mmmmmm…that looks fantastic & EASY!!! I struggle with the whole crazy work schedule=not wanting to cook thing too. I’m finding that crock pot recipes are a life saver b/c you throw it together before work and dinner is waiting for you afterwards.

    • It is fantastic and easy! I think the whole thing took maybe 15-20 minutes after the chopping. (I’m kind if a slow chopper, and I sometimes refuse to use the food processor. I think I find chopping by hand kind of relaxing.) And it makes great leftover, too. It’s a win-win-win!

      I’m pretty sure that one day I’ll start with crock pot recipes and never look back. I think pretty much everything we’ve ever had from a crock pot was delicious!

  4. I’m glad you’re keeping it real with your blog :) It should never be forced into a corner!

  5. I still eat the foods I ate as kid. My toddler niece and nephew love me. :P This recipe looks really good though…I like spinach if you hide it in cheese and sauce.

    I can totally relate to your post on blogging. The hard thing about working full-time and writing a “home diy” blog is that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do projects and blog about them. And you can only physically do so much around your house. That’s why my blog has turned into more a “life” blog lately. If no one reads it…whatever. I know my momma and best friend will. It has been a struggle to accept this but I think I’m finally there!

    Happy week-end! :)

    • Oh yeah, I still eat a lot of the things I ate as a kid, too. Not quite as often as I used to, I’m trying to branch out a little.

      Exactly! Working full-time then coming home to work on the house & blog while still having time for friends and family? It’s a lot! So what if we stray from house-relayed things sometimes? It’s taken me a while to accept it, too.

      Happy weekend!

  6. Yea for cooking at home and finding recipes on Pinterest! Honestly, I think you’ll begin to enjoy the creativity of cooking. After a long day, I don’t think of making dinner as a task (well, accept on Fridays!) Instead, I love knowing that I can accomplish something from start-to-finish with a positive (ie, delicious) result. I don’t always get that kind of affirmation from work.

    • Thanks Leslie! I certainly know what you mean about not always getting that kind of affirmation from work. I do enjoy cooking, I just don’t always think of it as the best way to unwind after a stressful day. I’m beginning to warm to the idea what cooking is something I can control. And the idea that food sometimes brings people together in ways that nothing else can.

  7. OH GOOD GOD!!! This food sounds amazing!!!!!!!!! I’m printing the recipe!

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