Yesterday, I came back to work from a mini vacation.
Mini vacation means four straight days of staying at home because of:
*My leave of absence on Friday because of a lack of baby sitter.
*The usual no work days ,Saturday and Sunday and
*Holiday Labor day, Monday.
Its funny how days connected themselves to give me this four straight days off. For a working mom, that means a lot, doesn't it?
And sure did I love it. Absolutely. It was four solid days of staying home with my little one and spending time with her without the rush and the "running about" atmosphere of days when I have to go to work. I unhurriedly fed her breakfast. I let her eat yogurt by herself because I had time to clean the mess afterwards, anyways. We spent time laying in bed , watching her favorite shows as I glanced at her from time to time, watching her smiling face.
This is the first time I actually confirmed that she really did understand it when I say
" Throw this in the garbage, baby".
She nodded her head when she agreed to do something.
She responded accordingly when I said " Put this back".
Ha! When did these all first happen?
My dear daughter. She grows up a lot when Mommy is not around.
When she was younger, I got away with baking and cooking by putting her in her high chair and she watched me as I whisk eggs and roll dough.
These days, she would sit carelessly where I stood on the kitchen floor , and she would pull out her favorite kitchen drawer where all the baking pans are. She would make all these clanking noise and she stands up from time to time and demands that she wants to see what I am mixing.
Such is the case when I was making this lasagna. She stayed in the kitchen from the time I was peeling the zucchini until I baked them.
She did lots of things on the sides too: She shook all the canned soda, she attempted to clean the floor by carrying the mop that is twice as big as her. She reached for everything that is peeking on the edge of the counter. So I was "No, not that". and " Oh that's dirty", all the while.
Cooking this lasagna have taken me so long because of the cuddling and kissing, breastfeeding and dancing in between. Then she took my hand with watery eyes and a big yawn. Time to sleep.
But the entire performance was worth it.. This Zucchini Lasagna tasted divine. You can indulge in something as healthy as this dish. You wont feel overly stuffed and bloated because its a vegetable,in a lasagna form.
I had if for a light lunch, snack and even breakfast. So you guys try this okay. I promise it wont take you three hours like I did. Unless you have a toddler too!
Later that afternoon, I had to smile when I tucked her in bed. My daughter, she wont leave me alone.
And I would not have it any other way.
2 large zucchinis
3 egg whites
bread crumbs ( for coating the zucchinis)
For the sauce:
2 cups Ragu pasta sauce( I used the original flavor)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cottage cheese
4 pcs hotdogs, chopped in small rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cube of beef broth ( I used knorr)
1/4 cup 35% MF whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking oil
1.Preheat oven to 400 F. Put the egg whites in a bowl and the bread crumbs in a wide plate. Peel and wash the zucchini. Chop them into 1/4 inch thick round slices.
2.Dip the zucchini slices in the egg whites, dip and cover them in bread crumbs and place in a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil that is lightly greased with cooking spray. I used 2 baking sheet for all the zucchinis.
3. Once all done. Bake the zucchinis for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.
4.Make the sauce:
*While the zucchinis are baking, saute garlic until fragrant for about 2 minutes with constant stirring. Add in the hotdogs and cook for 3 minutes.
*Add in the Ragu sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes , stirring the mixture frequently. Add in the beef cube and the whipping cream.
*Add in the sugar and let sauce simmer for 5 minutes. Add half cup of cheddar cheese add cook until cheese has melted.
* Remove from heat
*Spread a layer of sauce in a baking dish. Place the baked zucchinis on top of the sauce. Sprinkle some of the remaining cheese and pour another layer of sauce over the zucchinis.
*Arrange another layer of zucchini on top and sprinkle cheddar cheese, drizzle again with sauce. Set aside a generous amount of cheese for the topmost layer.Sprinkle the cottage cheese on top along with the cheddar cheese. Serve hot
6. Optional: Since I will be feeding the lasagna to my toddler, I want the zucchinis to be tender instead of crispy , so I baked the whole thing at 350 F for 15 minutes.