Lasagna Rolls

lazrolls2This is one of my absolute go-to recipes, I can’t believe I’ve never posted about it. It’s in our regular rotation, and a perfect winter comfort meal. I love that it’s made in easy single-dish servings, making it easy to pack and go. Plus, have you ever tried to reheat lasagna and did it too quickly or on too high of heat? The outside it’s crazy hot, and the inside…ice cold. How to you reheat something that burnt your mouth, then cooled it in the same go? Ya, I have no idea either- that’s why I like these, they make me look less…stupid.

No one makes better lasagna than my Mom. I don’t know what she does that’s different, I’ve never even tried to learn, but it’s- just – different. I can only think of one reasonable excuse for my lack of attempt… and that’s because I’m not trying to feed an army of people, and I don’t want to have leftovers for an entire week, of the same meal. To avoid overkill on one of my memories of her recipe,  I’ll be proactive and just keep letting her make it when I come home 🙂

We use cottage cheese in my family instead of ricotta, but feel free to swap out whatever you prefer. I think store-bought ricotta is absolutely disgusting, so if you’re feeling adventurous… try my Homemade Ricotta. I really like putting left-over ricotta in my oatmeal. Is that legal? It’s a cheese technically, but somehow it just works. A dash of cinnamon won’t hurt your feelings either. Promise.

Just a heads up, the first time you make these, you’re going to burn your fingers on the noodles, and make an absolute mess of your noodle space. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out 🙂 Here are some tips for the above mentioned.

**When cooking the noodles, take them out about 2-3 minutes before they’re cooking time. You want them a little firmer, this helps the noodles not break apart, and avoids overcooking them in the oven.
Strain the noodles, then use tongs to lay them on a large cutting board, or where ever your placing them…or “you’ll burn your fingers”.
**Anti-mess tips- sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Roll firm, but not too tight, and don’t over-fill, or you’ll have all kinds of stuff fall out. Also known as lasagna splooge.

**Cottage Cheese Haters- Have someone in your family that doesn’t like cottage cheese? No problem, put the egg/cottage cheese mixture in a food processor. Hides the texture and traditional taste. Also, it gives it a similar ricotta fluffy texture.lazrolls1


–Also a great recipe to cut in half!

Lasagna Rolls

8 Lasagna Noodles
1 Large can/jar of sauce (I used Hunt’s brand because the large can’s are just too hard to beat, and they’re under a dollar)
1/2-3/4 lb of hamburger or sausage, browned
1 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 Egg
4 handfuls of shredded mozzarella, this is about 2 cups
1/4 tsp of s&p
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground or flaked oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley

1. Start to brown your hamburger or sausage in a saute pan.
2. While meat is cooking, boil the noodles in a large, wide, sauce pan. Cut their cook time short by 2-3 minutes. You want them al-dente if not 1 minute less.
3. Drain the pasta after its done cooking, I lay them out on a large cutting board. If you don’t have one try parchment paper, so that it saves you the mess, and the noodles don’t stick.
4. Prepare a 9 x 13 dish (I used glass) and spread about 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom.
5. While the noodles cool a bit, mix your cottage cheese mix either with a fork or in the food processor. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg, mozzarella, s/p, red pepper, paprika, basil, oregano, and parsley.
6. Two tablespoons or so of each in order, sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Leave an inch at the end of each noodle for rolling up.
7. Place noodles seam side down, cover with remainder of the sauce, and two more handfuls of cheese.
8. Bake at 350 covered for 30-35 minutes.

Tortellini Bake

tortellinibakeThe real reason this dinner came about is because I’ve been dying to use my herbs I planted this year. Rosemary, Chives, Hot and Spicy Oregano, Sweet Basil and cilantro. They’re so pretty:) There is just something about walking out onto the deck and trimming exactly what I need from my own plants for dinner that makes me happy, I just thought you should know.

A recent that has made its way into our house is Ronzoni’s mini cheese tortellinis. We usually use these with our imitation of Gristanti’s (local to Nebraska) Tomato Basil with Tortellinis, but it doesn’t take the whole bag. A serving size is one cup, but that is way more than enough for one person, really a half a cup is perfect coming in at 70 calories per portion (15 carbs), so these little devils aren’t even bad for ya. Indulge….with proper portions of course.

As you know I’m not a big casserole person, so this is the perfect way for me to get close to making one… without totally making one. Not to mention, a quick fridge to dinner meal in about 30 minutes. With so much going on lately, we have been progressively eating later and later. It seems like we don’t even think about dinner anymore until about 8pm, and when we do, hunger hits us like a freight train. As much as I love cooking and baking, the last thing I want after working all day, a cardio workout, a weight lifting session, then working on wedding stuff is to make a formal dinner.

Although I still strive for homemade and fresh meals, they have been much simpler recently, which has been a mental adjustment on my part! I hate too many repeat meals within a couple of weeks time span, but shredded chicken tacos on corn tortillas in some flavor seem to hit our plates a lot anymore! My creative juices will reappear I’m sure after the wedding bells have rung, and we have nothing to plan or schedule 🙂

So with that, here is this meal, simple, hearty, but still good for you without tipping your calorie and carb limit for the day!

Tortellini Bake

2 cups of Ronzoni’s 3 cheese mini tortellinis (half the package)

1 can of Hunt’s Zesty and Spicy Pasta Sauce **

1/2 lb hamburger browned

1/2 onion diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 tomato chopped

1 tbsp crushed red pepper

1/4 cup white wine

s/p to taste

1/2 cup shredded cheese

Fresh Mozzarella: enough to add some dollops on the top ( if you don’t have this, just add another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese)

Fresh Oregano and Basil and Rosemary: I just pull some from my garden, use to your taste! I used one sprig of Rosemary, about a 3 inches sprig of oregano, and 3 large basil leave.                         *If you don’t have access to fresh, dried amounts: 1/4 tsp of Oregano with the onions, and 1/4 tsp of basil just to garnish

1. Over medium low heat, add olive oil, a few shakes of s/p, diced onions, tomatoes, and 1 clove of smashed garlic. Let this cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add wine, and let cook down, about 5 minutes.

3. Place the onion/wine mixture in a bowl to the side, in the same pan brown your hamburger, then drain of fat.

4. Once you’ve drained the fat, add the hamburger back to pan as well as the onion mixture. Add your crushed red pepper, herbs, half the can of sauce, and 4 tbsp of water, let this simmer on low until the tortellinis are finished.

5. In another pan, bring your water to a boil, cook the tortellinis for 9 minutes on a low boil. Preheat oven to 450.

6. Pour the remaining pasta sauce in the bottom of an oven safe dish. Then add your cooked and drained tortellinis. Top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese, then pour the hamburger sauce mixture over the top, then dollop your fresh mozzarella.