Learning As I Chop

Lasagna: An American Dinner

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on May 28, 2011

Growing up, we were not a casserole family.  The following dishes never graced our table – tuna casserole, baked mac n cheese and lasagna. For that reason, lasagna has always eluded me. I thought it would be something so hard to make; something that would take a lot of work, skill and finesse. Yet lately I’ve been really wanting some. Maybe it’s the pasta? the cheese? the meat? Whatever the reason, I needed some lasagna and I needed it now. So what did I do? I made some myself with a little help from the J of C.

The recipe called for two types of sauces – homemade bolognese and white sauce – some cheese and pasta.  Since this was my first lasagna, I decided to go with my basic meat sauce and skip the recipe. I was already taking enough chances and didn’t need to risk it with an additional new plan. The white sauce was another story. Here’s what I thought I needed for the white sauce:

Except then I re-read the recipe and realized I just needed milk, butter, flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Oops, no Worcestershire sauce or lemon juice needed. The sauce was super easy to make. I think the J of C called it a roux. However I didn’t make enough and went round two with a second batch. Good thing it’s super easy.

In the meantime, I cooked the pasta, which I was super nervous to make. The noodles seemed so delicate and easily breakable. Yet they proved to be quite resilient. In order to prep the pasta, you boil it, cool it in an ice-water bath and then blot dry.

Then comes the assembly line in the following order: meat sauce, lasagna noodles, white sauce, grated cheese, noodles, meat, white sauce, cheese and repeat. The top noodle should have some white sauce and cheese. Fun, easy to put together and quite relaxing.  Once complete, loosely cover with aluminum foil and tuck into the oven at 350 for 40 minutes.

I served the lasagna with a nice salad and was quite pleased. H described the meal as the following, “the best lasagna I’ve ever had.” It was such a great feeling and we each had seconds and thirds. Looks like this dish will be gracing our family dinner table. I definitely recommend it for yours. Enjoy!


Returning to DIY

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on May 23, 2011

I’ve fallen into the trap that many NYers know well. $2 for an iced coffee here, $2 for an egg sandwich there. Lots of money being spent on lots of things that you can make yourself, but for which you are willing to fork over extra funding to buy convenience. The other day, however, as I was purchasing an applesauce-based muffin, I thought “this is stupid. I can make these myself, choose my ingredients and save some dough.” And so on Sunday I did.

I used this recipe as a base and changed around a few things in order to create this one:

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

a handful of fresh blueberries

a bit of orange zest 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a muffin pan, or use paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in applesauce, milk, and oil. Stir until moistened. Fold in dried blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

It took me about 10 minutes to put this together and it was super easy.  Was also fun to play around with my preferences. Have a sweet tooth? Add some sugar. Hate bluberries? (Though, really, who hates blueberries?) Use cranberries. Vegan? Just swap the dairy for almond or rice-based milk. It’s up to you.

This morning I wrapped my muffin and tucked it into my purse. As I bought my iced coffee (hey, old habits die hard), I smiled as I looked at the muffins in the case and knew that I had an even better one from home. A perfect way to start my week. Enjoy!

Gone Fishing

Posted in Uncategorized by R @ Learning As I Chop on May 18, 2011


Hi LAIC readers! Sorry for the disappearing act. Need to take a few days off and will be back with an exciting new post on Monday, May 23rd. In the meantime, enjoy!