Becoming a parent is one of… well, hey, let’s go ahead and say THE most intense, amazing and overwhelming experience of a lifetime. I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately for some advice on how to transition into this new phase, so I thought I’d put together a list of some of the best tips and advice I’ve heard and learned in my five-time dad experience! We’ll cover my first tip in today’s post.
Unless your experience is crazy different from everyone else’s, you’ll have a good nine months at least to prepare, so use it well! Throw a potluck party (or a few!) and have everyone bring a freeze-able meal. This way you can stock up on ready-made meals with half the work – and this will really come in handy for those first few months with a new baby. Not having to worry about cooking will save you a ton of stress – and all that time you would’ve spent cooking meals you can now spend with the little one! Here’s a great ready-to-freeze meal idea to get you started – it’s healthy, gourmet and awesome comfort food to boot!
Spinach Mushroom Lasagna
For the ragu:
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
For the lasagna:
- 3 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 pounds part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces asiago cheese, shredded
- 2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 12 ounces dried lasagna noodles
Ragu: Soak the porcini mushrooms in 1 cup hot water until soft, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Chop; reserve the liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the portobello and shiitake mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, 5 more minutes.
Add the porcini mushrooms; cook 2 minutes. Add the reserved porcini liquid, bring to a boil and cook until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, 2 cups water and the bay leaves; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the parsley and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, stirring a few times, until thick, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
Lasagna filling: Mix the parmesan, mozzarella and asiago; set 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture aside. Combine the remaining cheese mixture in a large bowl with the ricotta, eggs, spinach, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water; shake off the excess water.
Spread 1 cup of the ragu in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then half of the spinach mixture and 2 cups ragu. Repeat with another layer of noodles, spinach mixture and ragu. Top with the remaining noodles and ragu and sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 25 more minutes. Let rest before serving.
For all you new, or about to be new, parents – share your questions and experiences below!