Cook it Your Way – Easy Breezy Lasagna Roll Ups

I love baking and I am slowly getting more into cooking over the past few years. However, nothing frustrates me more  than finding a recipe for a scrumptious dish to find out that I cannot identify half of the ingredients or buy them in my local market. In many cases, I just cannot afford the pricey goods. 

Okay, some things frustrate me more, but I do get kinda irritated.

Back in February I shared a little of my style of cooking. In a nutshell, it’s taking very common ingredients, translating it into how busy and very real people cook on a week night, and making something yummy. Very simple.

One of my go-to’s because it’s so easy to customize is Lasagna Roll Ups. You can add  any veggie, protein, or sauce and it always tastes great. I will provide the basics here and urge you to run with it on your own.

Easy Breezy Lasagna Roll Ups

Essential Ingredients:  

  • 5-6 Lasagna Noodles
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Pasta Sauce (This time I used marinara, but Vodka or White sauces are good, too!)

Optional Add ins:

  • Italian Seasonings
  • Parm Cheese
  • Protein: Sausage, Ground Turkey, Chicken, Beef
  • Veggies: Mushrooms, Spinach, Shaved Carrots, Tomatoes, Zucchini.. etc… 

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees

Boil Lasagna Noodles (about 5-6 per 1 sauce jar and 12 oz of ricotta)

If you are going to add veggies or protein, begin sauteing or baking them now. 

While the oven heats and the noodles boil, stir together ricotta cheese and choice of seasonings (I like heavy salt, pepper and Italian seasonings and a pinch of garlic powder). The trick is to taste it as you add it, as it’s a preference choice. I also like to add about a third cup of breadcrumbs and parm cheese to the  mix. Because, it’s fancy that way.

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When your veg and protein are done, chop them up or shed them to your taste. Remember that it needs to roll into the noodle, so smaller pieces (1 inch or less) are better. You may choose to stir them into the cheese or add them separately – either way, is good!

Next, drain your lasagna noodles and one-by-one lay them on a flat surface. Add your cheese mixture, protein, and veggies. Be sure to spread it flat. Then you roll the noodle like so:

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Continue until your noodles, cheese and extra add-ins are complete. As you roll them, add them to a deep dish (or, whatever you have available!). Add your sauce up top. You may wish to add cheese on top of the sauce, as well.

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Place your dish into the oven. Cook for about 45 minutes, or so. Take out and enjoy!

Your family will love it so much, they will be exhausted from cleaning up your mess (and all of the laundry, scrubbing the floors, bathroom scrubbing) they will go straight to bed and leave you to relax with a glass of your favorite beverage (that’s red wine for me).

Ha… just kidding. I have an 11 month old and 6pm – 8pm looks something like this:

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For those unsure, he is pretending to sleep only to jump up two minutes later and cry, laugh, and “bark” at the dog all in two minutes to only repeat himself.

Please note… this recipe is not meant to be perfect. That’s why there are no exact details, fancy ingredients, or fuss. This is for real people with real ingredients in their real homes.  You really can’t mess it up. You can even do all pre-oven steps ahead of time and freeze the roll-ups for cooking later. It’s that awesome. I make a version with spinach, mushrooms, chicken and alfredo sauce and other times with turkey sausage, marinara and basil. 

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Doing Less, With Less

I attended graduate school during the peak of the recent recession in 07-09. We spent many hours, especially in my business class, discussing spending cuts, resources and lay offs. It was not uncommon for us to have discussions on how to “do more with less.”

One day after a lengthy discussion, our professor declared that we were all wrong. If you cut off people or you have less resources i.e. time, you don’t try to do more with less. Instead, you do less with less. You prioritize, select your tasks on what makes the most impact, and don’t burn out your reduced staff.

This always stuck with me, and years later as I started writing this blog – I had to take a brief hiatus to do exactly that –  less, with less. 

I was running short on time and energy and was thrown a few curve balls along the way. I decided that I needed to take the time between April – July to focus on my priorities, do higher quality work on a few less things, and rebound. So, here I am renewed, and ready to increase my load (just a little!).

So, while my blog has been quiet, here is what I have been up to:

– Moving into our new home – err… unpacking

– Cleaning, painting, decorating, landscaping, furnishing our home

– Having the norovirus (awful. just awful) on the day we got the keys to our home

– Getting laid off from my job 2 weeks after getting the keys

– Watched (who am I kidding, run after) my son as he went from crawling, to creeping, to walking and running in two months

– Baby proofing

– Starting a new job at a start-up nonprofit 2 days after getting laid off

– Writing blog posts about pro-bono service while I did some of this, too!

– Giving some old furniture, like a craft table, chalkboard tray and farm table some new life

– Made a burlap wreath while my 10 month old took a nap

– Took a week to DC for a conference for my new gig

– And, recently invited our first guests over for a weekend of picnics, in-laws, Owen’s Baptism and a housewarming party

 

While the last few months have had some great highs (new home, guests, parties!) and lows (sick, getting laid off) and some time for myself (crafting); I had to take some time to say no to some volunteer gigs, traveling and social media to take care of my top priorities: family, creating a home, and work. 

I urge you to take some breaks here and there to do Less, with Less – but make the most of those items you focus on. If you are the type of person that is always going to push yourself and try to “do more” you need to take some down time, even if just a month or two every once in awhile. You may be surprised how much you can actually get done while enjoying it!