Friday, May 6, 2016

Where Have You Been Vegetarian Lasagna!?

I realized that Jaylen is now one month! Time flies! And how much I miss blogging and vlogging. So here I am!

Alot has happened since my months of absence. I am now a mother of 3!

Towards the end I developed the worst acid reflux which took the joy and fun out of cooking and eating. Eat the foods you actually enjoy and there is hell to pay. I felt like a fire breathing dragon. Nothing worked I developed a Tums immunity and even the off brand Maalox I began to take came up with snacks as simple as a PB&J. Meals became boring and definitely not post worthy. Dining out dwindled even further and again not post worthy. Sleep esp comfortable sleep that didn't involve being propped up a distant memory and dream in and of itself. I believe in quality over quantity so thus the leave of absence.

Anyways Jaylen's labor a scheduled induction was botched and fast. I am in the process of posting a birth story so as not to get too far off topic here. There is also a video of American Wiener birthday party to be posted and get caught up with in vlog world.

So what's it like...
Well there's things you don't remember vs things you do. Life has changed not ever to be the same. Busy before does not mean anything remotely near busy now. There's a new normal to adjust and tweak your life to. You don't have much free time anymore. If you're lucky any limited remaining free time goes to showering, sending a quick text, going to the bathroom alone or sleep. If you're really lucky your outlets and things you actually enjoy doing. It's a juggling act to strike a balance to maintain your sanity.

In the midst of the whirlwind of returning to sleepless nights with school and work days I gradually returned to the kitchen for guest star appearances. One of the first things I made in post partum after a trip to our favorite farmers market was my own spin on a Vegetarian Lasagna. I see meat free dishes appearing again and again at our table simply because of the time it saves.

Vegetarian Lasagna

1 Large eggplant
2-3 yellow squash cut down like coins
2 1/2 Cups of Italian breadcrumbs
8 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese more if needed
2 eggs
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1 1/2 tsp of Pepper
1 box of lasagna noodles
2 jars of favorite meatless pasta sauce (I used tomato basil)
Canola or vegetable oil
1 quart of ricotta cheese (whole or skim can be used ypur preference)

First, skin your eggplant and cut it into 1/4 of an inch thick discs.
Soak the discs in a large bowl of water. Add enough water to fill the entire bowl. Be sure to add at least 1/4 cup of kosher salt and 1 1/2 tsp of black pepper to the water. (I used to assume that my mother did this to marinate the eggplant. However, it's actually to cut the bitterness of the eggplant. It's funny how we learn and just do it because our grandmas, big mamas, or mothers did it. Not really ever knowing why at least not at first)

Next, prepare your egg wash in a small bowl. Add two eggs and wisk. Set aside.

Then, prepare your Italian breadcrumbs dredge in a shallow dish.

Heat a frying pan or dutch oven with oil, if using a frying pan make sure you have at least an inch of oil all around the entire circumference of the pan. Heat to at least 350 degrees or until a pinch of breadcrumbs will sizzle and pop in the pan. Dip your eggplant disc in the egg wash and then the breadcrumbs. Fry the eggplant until it's a golden brown on both sides. Set aside to cool and drain excess oil off. Use paper towels or a few unused brown paper lunch bags.

Next boil your lasagna noodles until al dente. Be sure to add oil so that the noodles do not stick. Strain well and rinse with cold water while in a strainer to stop from cooking further. Set aside to cool.

Once your noodles and eggplant are cool you can prepare to layer your lasagna.

At the bottom of your lasagna dish apply a thin layer of sauce. This is to keep your lasagna from sticking. Next align a few of your noodles across the dish or pan to completely cover. Next add a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese down the middle of each noodle. Evenly spread out. I usually do no more than a few using a spoon to smash and spread the spoonfuls. Add a few discs of eggplant evenly throughout, followed by slices of yellow squash top with more sauce and mozzarella. Repeat to the final layer.

Last layer sauce, mozzarella and then squash for garnish.

Bake for 35-40 mins until mozzarella is melted and squash is roasted.