Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lunch Impossible

It's not like I've been otherwise occupied playing FarmVille. OK, so I have. As you know I decided when I first experimented with virtual farming that it's a ridiculous thing to be addicted to, but I suppose there are worse addictions.

Oh, and I've been busy too. Today was our typical crazy Tuesday with Bright Futures and homeschool co-op. And I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen. That's right, the kitchen. I've said before it's not like the kitchen and I are strangers or anything. But we're not exactly soulmates either. That's why as soon as my mouse hit the send button on an email to the Bright Futures director in which I volunteered to make a meal for 20 people, I wished it was the Olden Days and I could reach into the mailbox, retrieve my letter, and burn it. It didn't help that my Personal Chef would be away this week. At least if he's here I know I have a go-to consultant if I Flop something or if I Freak Out in an unreasonable sort of way about anything culinary.

But I was on my own. And I selected a recipe I have made enough times to know it works and is good. My personal chef has even given it his taste of approval, so I know it's good. This recipe of mine is actually courtesy of The Pampered Chef, and I will share it at the end of this post. It is called Pasta Roll-Ups, but I call it Fake Lasagna. It's pretty easy to make. Of course, I've never made 4 pans of it at one time.

First you make some spaghetti sauce. Or if you're cooking for 20, you take some frozen leftover spaghetti sauce out of the freezer and then add more to that.

Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of each pan.

Then you make two thousand three hundred and two lasagna noodles. And you make the ricotta cheese. Then spend hours rolling a tablespoon full of the ricotta cheese glob up in each lasagna noodle.

Place each rolled up, stuffed noodle in the one-layer-of-sauce-covered pan.

Spoon more sauce over the roll-ups. Then sprinkle cheese over top. (I had given up taking pictures by this point, plus my hands were covered in Pasta Sticky.)

My menu also included French bread, which I made which I bought at Kroger, and a salad, which I grew and harvested from my virtual FarmVille garden came in a big, giant bag from Sam's.

And for dessert--this is where the kitchen and I actually do have a love affair--I made Can't Leave Alone Bars (which may be its actual name, but is more likely the given name my friend from whom I got the recipe dubbed it). Very easy. So delicious. Recipe to follow the Fake Lasagna recipe.

So after I made all this stuff yesterday, I wrestled with both our interior kitchen fridge and our exterior garage fridge and finally fit it all in. Then I carted it downtown ATL in laundry baskets. Because I'm classy like that.

All of the kids were extremely grateful that I had brought lunch, but I wondered why they were not mid-breakfast like they usually are when I walk in the door. That's when the director asked, "Did you bring the muffins for breakfast?"

Suddenly I had a vague recollection of mentioning something crazy and off-the-wall like me not only bringing in lunch but also breakfast.

The kids learned a valuable lesson: One can survive without breakfast. And I learned that while I'm near-perfect in all other aspects of life, I really cannot always expect to live up to ALL of my overcommitments.

Pasta Roll-Ups (a.k.a. Fake Lasagna)
from The Pampered Chef's Stoneware Inspirations but made my way

12 uncooked lasagna noodles
spaghetti sauce
1/3 c. grated fresh Parmesan cheese (or mozzarella or a mixture of both)
2 T. snipped fresh parsley
1 container (15 oz. ) ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1/3 t. salt
1/8 t. ground black pepper
dash nutmeg (oops - never noticed this ingredient)
additional cheese & parsley (for topping and garnish)

1. Cook the noodles.
2. Spread layer of sauce in bottom of pan.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients (except for the topping and garnish, of course).
4. Place 1 T. of the mixture from #3 in each lasagna noodle.
5. Roll up noodle.
6. Place each rolled up noodle in pan.
7. Top with topping (duh!) and garnish.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
9. Uncover and bake for additional 15 minutes or so.

Can't Leave Alone Bars (or something like that)

1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz.) white cake mix (although yellow worked just fine too!)
2 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 c. (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter or margarine, cubed (may I suggest butter?)

In a bowl, combine the dry cake mix, eggs, and oil. With floured hands, press two-thirds of the mixture into a greased 13x9 pan. Set remaining cake mixture aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the milk, chocolate chips, and butter. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 45 seconds. Stir. Microwave additional time periods, stirring after each time, until chocolate and butter are melted and all blends together. Stir until smooth. Pour over crust.

Drop teaspoonfuls of remaining cake mixture over top.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting.


Arby said...

Shoot, it all looks good to me. What time are you serving? PYC: my blood pressure was normal. Go figure.

dclouser said...

You should start a cooking blog! Looks great. I'll have to try your recipes!

5thsister said...

Now I'm starving. I never think to make lasagna. I'm definitely going to make these. Thanks for the recipes!

Linda said...

Fun post. Pasta is always the way to go for big groups!

CrossView said...

ROFL! That's all I got to say to that!

Teacher Mommy said...

You are EVIL, EVIL I tell you, for including the recipe for that dessert.

The pasta looks simple enough (in small quantities) to actually attempt, though, so thank you for that.

Let's call it even.

tsinclair said...

And I almost believed that you were not that good in the kitchen. Now I know better...it looks great. One look at that and I would have forgotten about breakfast. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think you should have said, "Muffins? Heck no! We're having dessert for breakfast!!" and then pretended that was your plan all along.... ;o)

@nnie said...

How do you do it all? Online farming, homeschooling mama, creative cook, blogger of family and food, plus Many many other hats?! You really do amaze me!

LoriM said...

Both recipes look great!