Come on in! Let's talk FOOD!

"Bacon grease makes pretty much anything taste better!" is the local philosophy and I grew up on good, down home country cookin'! Although I've ventured into a healthier way of eating (some of the time) I still enjoy many of the favorites of my childhood. I also have a passion for Italian food and I'm slowly but surely learning the pleasures of cooking with fresh herbs. Here I'll share with you a broad spectrum of recipes...some healthier than others, but all of them guaranteed DELICIOUS! : )

*I have imported posts from my other blog. These posts may involve topics other than food, but they do include recipes or food related information at some point in the post. Future posts to this blog will be more strictly food-related but I did want to include these recipes here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

White Lasagna with (or without) Chicken

I cannot tell you what a hit this was at my house. I was very bored with the same ol', same ol' and decided to dig through some cookbooks for something new. Trying new things around here isn't always the safest way to go. I have picky eaters in this house. It is a rare occasion when I find something that every single person in this family really enjoys. But this was loved by...

Every. Single. Person.

Yeah, baby!

So here it is. Not in its original form, I might add. You know by now that I always have to change it up to accommodate what's in the fridge/pantry or to give it even a slight chance of being eaten by my family.

White Lasagna with Chicken (or without, if you prefer) (<--click to print)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 small/medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
A few leaves of fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup cubed white meat chicken, full cooked

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a 13"x 9" baking dish. In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine and saute garlic and onion until tender. Stir in about half of the broth and then add flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir until no lumps remain (I use a whisk) and then add remaining broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minutes. Stir in two cups mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, oregano and pepper. Turn off heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, remaining mozzarella and 1 teaspoon salt. In baking dish, spread about 1/4 of the cheese sauce mixture. Top with three lasagna noodles. Top with half of the ricotta mixture, half of the spinach leaves and 1/2 the chicken. Cover with 1/4 of the cheese sauce and then top with three more lasagna noodles. Repeat layers of ricotta, spinach, chicken and sauce. Top with last three noodles and remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Tips and Tricks

~The original recipe called for twice as much chicken and also called for frozen spinach, thawed and well drained. Well, while I am a huge fan of the occasional meatless meal, my husband is not so I thought cutting the amount in half would be a great compromise. I also thought it would be a great way to stretch a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. ; ) This took only one, which I boiled and cubed myself. I guess you could used canned chicken if you want. As for the spinach, what can I say. I prefer fresh over frozen anytime and I very much preferred the texture of the fresh spinach over the typically slimy frozen.~

~Oven-ready lasagna noodles are the best thing since sliced bread. At least for this recipe they are. I had never used them before and I must say, I fell just a little in love.
But just a little.
I'm not sure I would want to use them every time I make lasagna because for me, there was a slightly noticeable difference in their texture.
Still, with this creamy sauce, they were very good.
If you don't have them, the original recipe called for cooked and well drained lasagna.~

~No kidding about the let it stand for 15 minutes before cutting rule. Seriously.
It needs that time to 'set'. Don't skip this step or you'll be disappointed in the gooey mess that runs all over the place.~

~I served this along with slices of buttered Italian bread that I had toasted lightly under the broiler and a fresh garden salad, in which I had also used some of the yummy baby spinach leaves. A perfectly wonderful meal.
And leftovers? This stuff reheats like a dream, even the second day!~