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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Countdown from the Dock and La Paz - Hasta la Vista!!

This should have been prepared before now - no such luck. We are still scurrying to leave today with the biggest tide of the year.

But here you go - this will be dinner tonight:

Underway and cooking - I really don't enjoy it.
I prefer being on deck - not below - when we are bumping and heeling or worse... loudly motoring. 
But peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just don't cut it as "supper" either. 
To us, yummy food makes all the difference in the world when we make a crossing! 
And one of our favorites is lasagna.

We love lasagna. Actually, we adore lasagna! It is our family's favorite comfort food. But baking in the oven on a boat is killer in the tropics because of the heat and fuel is too precious to waste on a 1 hour bake time recipe. So, I began making a skillet lasagna recipe that is super-yummy-good and takes only 20 minutes to cook on the stove top - thereby conserving energy and producing minimal heat in the cabin.
Cottage cheese pureed in lieu of Ricotta

With this recipe I sometimes omit the zucchini and sometimes I do more of a layered lasagna: noodles, cheese mix, beef mix, spaghetti sauce, moz cheese - repeat. 

Here's the basic below and you can tweak however because it's pretty forgiving.

Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef (you can do half beef and half ground pork, too)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 cup zucchini, diced
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded or grated
1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 (26 oz.) jar pasta sauce (I like mushroom!)
6 no boil lasagna noodles, broken in thirds

In a large skillet, brown the meat, onion, salt and Italian seasoning over medium-high heat until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Drain grease.
(This mixture can be done ahead of time and frozen, which makes it even simpler!)

Add zucchini to skillet. Pour in 2 cups of the pasta sauce. Reduce heat to low and cover.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl blend together the ricotta, water, Parmesan, and 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Set aside. (Sometimes I chop up fresh basil and add to this mixture! And, you can even freeze this mixture and use later - it's a little watery, but usually the water cooks out.)

Uncover skillet and arrange broken lasagna noodles over top of meat mixture. Try not to overlap, but no need to be a perfectionist! Remember that the noodles will expand some as they cook. Gently spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange rest of pasta noodles on top of cheese. Ladle remaining pasta sauce over top of noodles. Sprinkle the last of the mozzarella on top.

Increase heat slightly. Carefully pour in water at the edges of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Remove skillet from heat and let cool for 5 minutes, uncovered. Spoon out or cut into squares and serve.

( If it's too dry, heat up a side of canned or boxed spaghetti sauce and ladle over top after serving on plates.)

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