Recipes

Vegetarian Lasagna

Last night I made a vegetarian lasagna. I used frozen zucchini from the summer garden, tomato sauce canned over the summer from the garden and herbs from my indoor herb garden. I used cottage cheese, instead of ricotta. I have cottage cheese that I need to use up. I remembered that the lasagna of my childhood had cottage cheese and a google lookup proved that was the standard of the 70’s and 80’s. It turned out really good and my daughter told me she didn’t notice the difference.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups zucchini
  • 10 oz frozen spinach
  • 24 ounce jar pasta sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups full fat small curd cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the lasagna:

  • 9 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Mine is 8 x 8 because of my use of the countertop oven.

For the sauce and noodles:

  1. Defrost frozen vegetables and dry off excess water with paper towel

For the filling:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, 2 cups mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

To layer:

  1. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with 3 noodles laid lengthwise in the pan. Spread half the cheese on top and the spinach followed by 3 more noodles. Spread half the cheese on top and the zucchini followed by 3 more noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over the noodles. Put foil on pan, bake for 35 minutes. At 35 minutes, add the remaining mozzarella and bake until bubbly.

Books

Book Review – A Promised Land

When you start A Promised Land, you are making a commitment. At nearly 700 pages, once you start, you will need to keep going in order to not lose your momentum. Did I mention this book only covers Obama’s life up to the end of his first term in the White House? Part two will be coming in the next few years.

Now that I have covered the monumental challenge of getting through the book, I give it 5 stars without hesitation. While full of facts, Obama has a way of writing that keeps the reader engaged. A lot of the things that were talked about in the book were also mentioned in Michelle Obama’s book Becoming. That made it a bit easier to get through all of it because I already knew what was coming, so to speak.

It is no secret that his presidency was at odds with the Republican leadership in the House and Senate. But, I had no idea how much resistance he actually encountered. It’s remarkable that anything got done and no surprise that executive actions needed to be taken in order to get much of his agenda done. It will be interesting to read the next book and to see how bad things really were.

Full disclosure, I am an Obama fan. I think that he has a genuine kindness in him that is rare in politicians, of either political party. He is a great public speaker and speaks from the heart. So, it would be fair to say that my review might be biased.

Recipes

Valentine’s Day Cookie Recipe

Yesterday I made Valentine’s Day sugar cookies to celebrate the holiday of love, and really cute colors and hearts. They turned out delicious and the perfect treat.

Cookie Recipe

2.5cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla almond milk

flour, for rolling out dough

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat. wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F or in my case 325 degrees F because I use a countertop oven
  3. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with flour. Remove the wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator and sprinkle rolling pin with flour, and roll out dough. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on baking sheet with parchment, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

Frosting

2 tbsp butter softened

2.5 cups powdered sugar

2 tbsp vanilla almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

food coloring or sprinkles

Put all ingredients in a mixer. Add milk until it’s the consistency you want.

Spread on cookies and decorate with sprinkles

Happy Valentines Day

Books

Book Review – The Four Winds

Kristin Hannah’s writing has gotten better with each book. The Four Winds seems to be a culmination of decades of writing just to get to this point. Her research is impeccable and writing is rich.

The Four Winds is a masterpiece. One of those once every couple years books that we call the Great American Novel. This one gets to the heart of what is wrong with America. Set during the Great Depression, Elsa and her children are force to migrate to California from the dust storms of their home in Texas. Promised a better life in the land of milk and honey, they leave Texas in the hopes of being able to live the American dream.

However, when they get there, they find that the prejudices that still plague America are in full force. Blamed for all that is wrong, the Okies take jobs and bring crime and disease to California. Sound familiar? Paid slave wages to pick cotton for hours, and forced into a lifetime of debt, Elsa and her children barely survive. It is beyond heartbreaking and a true lesson in the fact that America really has not progressed from those prejudices from nearly a century ago.

I won’t lie, there is not happy ending with this one. This is not a beach read and you won’t walk away with a smile. But, historically this one is so important. And, if you want to truly understand and acknowledge the prejudices that still exist in our own country in regards to immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, I highly recommend this one. 

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Happy Valentine’s weekend! I love Valentine’s Day. I am not sure why, I think my love of hearts and the colors of the holiday have a lot to do with it. We are in the midst of a cold snap that is beginning to feel like it will never end. We haven’t seen double digit temperatures in at least a week. I am a firm believer in climate change, but when it gets this cold, I have to remind myself that extreme cold is also a sign of a warming planet.

We had a pretty frugal week. Here is the rundown of our savings.

  1. My car battery is giving me a lot of trouble, which is no surprise given the cold. I almost bought a new battery, but the sales guy at Auto Zone suggested a battery charger first for $100 less. He told me that if it doesn’t work, I can get a refund. Well, it worked.
  2. I made a huge batch of lavender soap. It smells wonderful.
  3. I also made beeswax and soy candles, using essential oils for fragrance.
  4. Last Sunday I made a roasting chicken and with it I made chicken stroganoff, chicken soup (that provided 3 meals) and chicken broth.
  5. I spent today cleaning out closets and getting rid of stuff we don’t need. I cannot believe how much crap we accumulate. We need to be better about throwing stuff out that we no longer need.

What did you do this week to save money?

Books

Book Review – The Truth About Melody Browne

Can we all just agree that Lisa Jewell is the best author out there right now? I know that she has been well known in the UK for quite sometime now and in the last couple years has picked up popularity in the US. She is a gem and every single one of her books tells a story I care about.

The Truth About Melody Browne tells the story of a woman who remembers her long forgotten childhood after being hypnotized as a 33 year old mother. It turns out that what she thought was a sad and lonely childhood was actually filled with people who loved her very much. I absolutely loved this story and was so sad for it to end.

Please put this one on your TBR list, definitely 5 stars.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a week! I dropped my youngest off at college last weekend. No matter how many times I do that, it never gets easier. I miss her so much when she is gone. I don’t like to let her see me sad when I leave, so I have a tendency to save those tears until I am safely in the car.

We had a wonderful time together though. We went to the city her school is in a day early. We stayed in a hotel (a first in a year). I found it to be safe, as no one was really around and we just went from our car to our room. We were able to visit my parents for dinner for the first time in a year. We spent the day shopping, having lunch, talking and laughing. It was such a nice way to spend our weekend together.

I certainly did not save a lot of money because of this, but pennies were saved elsewhere:

  1. We are going through the freezer vegetables from our summer garden and the canned goods. I made a delicious zucchini bread using apple butter I made with local apples.
  2. We had some milk way passed it’s peak. Eric used it in two loaves of bread and a batch of yogurt.
  3. We managed to shave $90 off of our energy bill this month. I think it probably has something to do with the fact that our dryer belt broke and we are still waiting for the part. All laundry is being air dried right now.
  4. I remembered to take my daughter off our auto insurance, which in turn takes her off our umbrella policy, saving us about $200. Remembering to review insurance is always an easy to save money.
  5. Utilized several rewards dollars again this week from Walgreens, Kohl’s and our local food co-op.

I am so excited that I write this as we enter the month of February. Proper spring weather is still several weeks, if not a couple months away. But, I look forward to being able to be outside again, so my son can start coming home again. During COVID, he hasn’t been home. Since we live in a cold climate, we are required to be indoors most of the time. Making it tough to have the family dinners we are so used to having together.

What did you do this week to save money?

Books

Book Review – The Pull of the Stars

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue might be the most appropriate book for 2020-21. Set in Dublin, during, wait for it, the Spanish flu. A book that mirrors the life we are living now. More than once the characters were told”wear your mask” or “stay home”. The same rules apply today.

This book focuses on three women working in the maternity ward of a hospital in Dublin Ireland. The patients are both in labor and have the flu. In three short days, those working in the ward lose patients and save patients. No happy ending to be found here. But so good and so relevant to the world we are living in.

My favorite part though, was the prescription of whiskey for all the women. Honestly, if I would have been given a shot while in labor, it might have been easier to get through. I highly suggest putting this one on your TBR list.

Books

Book Review – Untamed

One of the first books that I read in 2021 was Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This book felt like the perfect to companion to the resolutions we should be making. Being true to ourselves, investing in our marriages and family, doing what we love for a living and accepting our flaws. It is a must read for any woman who has questioned their decisions, faith, marriage, sexuality, family, career and all other things pertaining to life.

This book has a quote in it that has stuck with me since I read it. “Maybe Eve was never meant to be our warning. Maybe she was meant to be our model. Own your wanting.” Is that not the perfect quote for every single woman who questions their own needs and wants?

Glennon Doyle is a flawed woman who came into her own in her 40’s. A decade when we women believe that those in their 20’s and 30’s have so much more to offer. What a wonderful surprise to start the new year.

Family Life

Sunday Coziness

It snowed A LOT in my neck of the woods in the last 24 hours. During days like this, I stay home. I hate driving in snow and ice and I really hate being cold. We started the day with a big breakfast. I thought my husband earned it after snow blowing the driveway. I also baked a lovely loaf of zucchini bread and made a batch of tortellini soup for dinner.

The most important part of my day though was that I watched the movie Dig on Netflix. Watch it. For some reason, movies that take place in 1930’s England on old British estates are just better than everything else out there. Make sure to add watching Dig on to your To Do list.