30 July 2011

Cookin' Up Somethin' New

So, I obviously haven't posted much this summer.  At all.  Ugh.  This is the one time of year when I actually have time to do lots of cooking and write ups and I have not taken advantage of it.  That makes me sad.

The truth of the matter is that I just haven't felt much like cooking.  What have I done a lot of?  Napping.  And snacking.  And then napping some more.  And avoiding strong smells.  Basically, I haven't been very productive when it comes to things around the house this summer.

So what have I been doing?  Surviving my first trimester. 

Turns out this Cookin' Up a baby thing is hard work!  So glad these first 3 months have passed and so looking forward to that 2nd trimester burst of energy that should show up any day now...

01 July 2011

Foil Dinners... Italian Style

Any former Girl Scouts out there who fondly remember the requisite foil dinners you would make on every troop camp out?  I loved those things.  Such a nice combo of chicken, potatoes, green beans, carrots and spicy seasoning (Lantana was my favorite!)... Mmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.  In fact, both my sister and I loved them so much my mom used to let us make them at home and cook them in the oven or on the grill.  I guess she gave in because they were not fussy, quite healthy, cleanup was a breeze and everyone could make their meal to suit their own taste. 

Turns out you can make lasagna foil dinners!  I had no clue you could make lasagna on the grill until I read the most recent issue of Food Network magazine.  The method works so well with my summertime aversion to oven usage.  The process is really simple and easily customizable since you're making individual serving packets and not an entire pan, which is great for a families where everyone wants something different! 

Lasagna Foil Dinners
(adapted from Food Network Magazine July/August 2011; serves 4)

12 no-boil (oven-ready) lasagna noodles
10 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 large tomatoes (2 sliced and 1 chopped) or 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 c pesto
5 oz baby spinach
1 c Italian sausage, browned
1/3 c ricotta cheese
1/3 c fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, basil and/or mint)

1) Preheat grill to medium. Combine mozzarella, grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, 1/2 t salt and all but 1/4 t of the garlic in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Season the sliced tomatoes with salt.

Lasagna Foil Dinners assembly line

2) Lay out 4 double-layer sheets of non-stick foil (or just PAM you're regular foil).  Drizzle each with a little bit of olive oil, top it with a noodle and sprinkle a generous T of water on the noodle. 

First layers

 3) Divide half of the pesto, tomatoes, spinach and Italian sausage among the 4 noodles. 

My packet - all veggies, no sausage

4) Repeat steps 3 and 4 to make another layer of noodle, water, pesto, tomato, spinach and sausage.  Then finish each stack with a noodle, another T of water and a drizzle of olive oil. 

The Hubs' - diced tomatoes and Italian Sausage

5) Bring the foil together and tightly crimp to create 4 flat packets. 

6) Grill the packets with the lid closed, until they are tender.  It takes about 10 - 12 minutes per side.  Let them rest 5 minutes.

7) Meanwhile, combine the chopped tomatoes with the T of olive oil, 1/4 t garlic and chopped herbs in a small bowl. 

8) To serve: Open the packets and cut each "lasagna" in half and top with one fourth of the ricotta cheese and the tomato and herb mixture.

Add a simple green salad or some grilled green veggies to these little lasagna packets and you've got yourself one heck of a tasty meal.