Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cooking More for Less: Lasagna and Mini Breakfast Casseroles

I am on a quest to make vegan dishes for very busy people - things you can put together in 15 - 30 minutes, ingredients that are inexpensive, that are delicious, and have so much food that you can eat half then and save the other half for another meal.

You know, I always think I should throw a little personal flair in here instead of going straight to the recipes, but I know you are too busy to read the anecdotes any way.

Hmm.  Maybe I should give you a few highlights like a Yahoo News real.

Woke up at 5:30. Read a bunch on Elton John's new home.  He and I have the same taste in decor. We both love white and black with splashes of bright colors, faux animal print rugs (I have a green cheetah, a zebra and a leopard print rug in my home) and happy art.  His bedroom and mine are dissimilar.  I had to research who the artist Mapplethorpe is.  If you want to see nude photography, by all means, look him up too.  I sort of knew what I was getting into when I researched the art in Elton's bedroom.  

I wrote a bit in my diary about Elton John, a few recipes I want to try, especially peanut butter cookies, but it seems to be an awful lot of wasted resources to go into a batch of cookies. That much peanut butter?That much Earth Balance butter? That much sugar? And, ended up saying, maybe not today. As the martini embalmed Mother-In-Law from Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation would say, "I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this was. *burp*." (or was it a hiccup?)

I fixed mini breakfast casseroles.  Which were so Bangarang! That Chris ate one standing up, and then two sitting down.  He kept asking me if there were eggs in them.  Of course not. We don't have any eggs Dilbert (our pet name that gets tossed back and forth along with Muffin).  Froze the remaining for a quick breakfast this week or whenever.

Lost my keys to my car.  They are still lost.

Picked up my phone from Verizon when I finally remembered around 10 am that we have two cars. Took the Wonky Jeep (it is truly the wonkiest Jeep there ever was) to the Verizon store in Massaponax.  Parked a block away from the store.  It is just too wonky to be seen in public, much less a family of three getting out of it.  When it is running it sounds a lot like a steam engine.  I can't imagine something being louder. I'm not kidding either.  I have to almost literally get on the hood and give it a good crank like the 20's or whenever they used to do that, when I try to start it.  It never starts the first turn of the key.

Got most of the store talking about their favorite character on the Ninja Turtles.  I was sort of miffed because no one cared enough to ask me who my favorite Ninja Turtle is.  Then I began to think about it and I don't know what I would have told them other than "it's complicated."  I love Mikey's free spirit and his love of food.  I love Donny for his intellect and compassion.  I love them both for their weapons because both are used for protection and fending off the advancing enemy rather than a few samurai swords which can kill you with one cut.  So Mikey and Donny are both reflections of my personality but if I was to marry one it would be Leo.  He's the pack leader and has two samarai swords and would be able to protect our mutant family.   And, yes, this is what I was thinking as I was driving the wonky jeep back down the road to Caroline County.  Then I thought, thank God they didn't ask me who my favorite Ninja Turtle is.

Made the kids a pizza from scratch. Those lucky ducks.

Checked all of my pages and wanted to go into deep meditation mode over what to make for dinner this evening but I promised myself -  No more new food until you blog, Jennifer Brooks Lane.  All three names so you know I mean business.  So here I am. Blogging like I would be writing to myself in my journal.

And the show must go on. Now my mind goes to the movie Moulin Rouge.  I love Moulin Rouge. I want to get Chris and my ring engraved "come what may" like the lovers secret song. Le sigh. It should go without saying that I love anything Baz Luhrmann has directed.  Romeo and Juliet and I am super duper excited for the Great Gatsby.  Didn't like so much the book.  Well, I can't say that honestly.  I didn't like how my husband said so condescendingly to me while I was reading it about 10 years ago, "Didn't you read that in high school?"  No.  I didn't.  I went to a public high school, smarty pants.  I had to read these things on my own with no one pressing me for a grade.   You see, sometimes in marriage, even if they bend to condescend you just have to say to yourself, Come What May, and then call them a Dilbert. Or maybe throw in a "Whatever" if you don't have any snappy repartee on hand.

Took about 15 minutes to put this together for dinner.
Going on. Best foot forward. ;)

Spinach Lasagna
1 box lasagna noodles, can be whole wheat, gluten free, just whatever you have
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 block of extra firm tofu, cut into 8 pieces and pressed on paper towels to absorb water
2 Tbsp. Vegenaise
1 tsp. Bangarang
2 (26 oz. or thereabouts) jars of pasta sauce, marinara
Lasagna was so good. I had two servings.
3 or 4 handfuls of fresh spinach

Heat oven to 350 if you are making it as soon as it is foiled.  Otherwise just pop it into the fridge for later.

In a skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent, or about 5 minutes.  Lug out your food processor or hand masher thingy.  Mash or process the tofu until smooth.  Add sauteed veggies and process some more.  Add Bangarang and Vegenaise and process.  This is your filling.

Pop open the top of both jars.  Spoon out a half a cup of sauce into a big casserole dish.  Top with 4 lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 of the tofu filling on the dry noodles. Spread a cup of pasta sauce over. Lay 1/3 of the fresh spinach over the sauce. Spread a cup of pasta sauce over the spinach.  Lay four noodles on top. Do the whole process again. Then again. Then as the last dry lasagna noodle is layed. Pour over 1 to 2 cups of pasta sauce.  Cover the casserole top with foil so it is nice and secure.

Pop the covered lasagna casserole dish into the piping hot oven.  Bake for an hour and 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve nice and warm.  You will probably have half left over for tomorrow or to freeze.  If you are going to freeze it, cut it into portions. Cover with wax paper and the foil and put in the freezer for a few hours to set.  Package in bags or airtight containers and label.

Mini Breakfast Casseroles as soon as they came out of the oven.
I did half Buffalo with the Hot Sauce and half without. 
Mini Breakfast Casseroles
1 block of firm tofu, sliced in 8 pieces, and pressed between towels to absorb the excess water, then mashed
1 lb. of potatoes, peeled, big cubed and boiled
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Vegenaise
1 tsp. Bangarang
1/2 tsp. turmeric, it makes the tofu yellow, like eggs
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp. Frank's Hot Sauce (optional)

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Or, if you aren't going to cook them right now, just hold off on turning on the oven.

In a big stock pot, fill with hot water about halfway up and add 1/2 tsp. salt.  Set that to high on your stovetop and get it to a boil.  Add the cubed potatoes.  Boil about 10 minutes or until you can pierce them all the way through with a fork. Drain the potatoes into a colander. Let rest for a few minutes.

While they potatoes are boiling in the pot, grab your skillet and heat the EB butter or oil to medium heat, and saute the garlic and onion till translucent about 5 minutes or so.  Turn off burner.

With your well pressed tofu, place it in a big bowl and mash it with a hand masher thingy or a fork, just so it is nice and crumbly, you can even use your hands and break it up. Add the vegenaise, turmeric and bangarang. Mix it up.  Should be nice and yellow.  Toss in the sauteed veggies and stir it up.

Throw in your boiled potatoes into the bowl of tofu mash, get that hand masher thingy out and mash em up for a minute. Really just to break them up into smaller clumps of potato. Stir in parsley and Hot Sauce.

When it is all good and well incorporated, grab your muffin pan.  Line with baking cups.  Dig your hand into the tofu mash and form a small snowball (you should be able to cup both hands around the ball with no mash poking out the sides all wonky-like).  Place a snowball of tofu mash into each muffin cup.  Should make 12 small snowballs. Press them gently into the muffin cups with the heal of your hand so they look like they fit perfectly.

You can do two things at this point.  Pop the whole muffin tray into the freezer so you can take them out for breakfast and heat them up in the oven or microwave. Oven 375* for 30 minutes or thereabouts. Microwave, I don't know. I don't have one, but start at three minutes and add a minute more if they aren't piping hot.


Pop them into the oven for 10 minutes.  I broiled them for two minutes after to get a little crisp on top. Serve warm.


Now, I can meditate on dinner or thereabouts. ;)

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