Back at the end of January, I let you know about a bartering-based relationship
I had formed with one of the other mums at daycare. I would be trading my diy ‘services’ for her love of cooking. In addition to the meals she would be cooking for us, I offered up the opportunity for her to share this content on the blog. She agreed and with the below post, is now an official guest contributor to The ELM Life! Welcome Amy!
My name is Amy, and I have always loved food. My mother is fantastic in the kitchen. Never working from a recipe, but more of a pinch-of-this pinch-of-that cook (she also refuses to use maps), her meals always seem to come together perfectly. I am a first-generation Canadian, with only a handful of family members in this country. Growing up, our house was full of friends and neighbours for holiday and casual dinners. Many times those who joined us were going through difficult times, or simply were unable to be with their families. Joining us was a win-win, really. Giving us pseudo extended family, and giving them a sense of belonging.
These experiences have had a significant impact on who I am today, and my relationship with food. For me, it isn’t just about what’s for dinner. It’s a way to show others that I care. Also, being raised in a largely forested area with a huge veggie garden in the backyard every spring/summer, I have become a conscientious adult who looks for local, sustainable options to put on my family’s table.
With a busy work schedule and preschooler to take care of, my meals of late are kid-friendly but also interesting enough for adults, and will withstand a day or two in the fridge as make-ahead meals, or up to several weeks in the freezer.
Lindsay and I have daughters that attend day care together. Through our chats during pick-up, and play dates with the girls, we realized we had complimentary skills. Lindsay with her passion for home decor and DIY, and me with my passion in the kitchen. Could we tap into these areas for the benefit of both our families? Of course!
So while Lindsay works towards adding style and function to my daughter’s room and craft area, I am trading for my time in the kitchen.
I began with a simple, fresh vegetarian lasagna.
- 1 pkg oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 1 jar (720 mL) passatta (Italian strained tomatoes)
- 1 ball mozzarella, shredded
- 1 cup water
- 1 medium container (475 g) ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp roasted garlic (or 1-2 cloves fresh minced, or 1-2 tsp dried)
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
- 1/2 bunch spinach, washed, patted dry (or in a lettuce spinner), and thinly sliced
I try to keep roasted garlic on hand. It brings something to dishes that dried or fresh garlic don’t offer. I roast full heads of garlic – simply slice the top off, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, wrap in foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
For cheese filling, mix ricotta with spices, adding eggs one at a time. Add sliced spinach and mix thoroughly.
To assemble lasagna, mix 1/4 cup passatta and 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a casserole dish. Place three lasagna noodles on top of passatta/water mixture (note: the noodles will expand when fully cooked, so give them some room to breathe!)
Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella cheese, followed by another three noodles. On top of this second layer of noodles, add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Spread the mixture evenly with a spatula, and add a little passatta.
Repeat! Noodles, shredded cheese, noodles, ricotta mixture, noddles. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of water over the top of the last noddle layer, followed by the remaining passatta, and finally the remaining shredded cheese.
Cook uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
If freezing, cool completely, place into freezer-friendly containers in the desired portion sizes, and freeze.
Hope you guys liked this post! Be sure to show Amy some love 🙂