Saturday, April 9, 2011

Behold, My Lasagna!

The Holy Grail of the dairy and soy free diet: Lasagna. It is for me,anyway. I have had this little craving for weeks now and every time I thought "there's no way I'll be able to duplicate a decent Lasagna without real dairy"  not to mention almost all cheese substitutes have either casein (milk protein) or soy in them. The challenge here was to find a combo of something that would take the place of the ricotta/parmesan combo that makes lasagna what it is. I thought about it for around a week, and then I just jumped in. I was pleased with the flavor and texture before it went in the oven, but sometimes you need an outside opinion. I made The Hero taste and critique the lasagna before I told him what was masquerading as "cheese". He was nervous, but he plays along well, and was impressed with the substitution. We both agreed that it wasn't quite like our traditional recipe and we missed the stretchy and chewy texture brought by real mozzarella, but that if we were served this at someone else's home we wouldn't think it was a dairy-free recipe. So here's what I dreamed up:

Liar Liar Lasagna
(get it? because there's no cheese!)

This recipe makes a 9 x 13 Lasagna with three layers of noodles. You can easily change the recipe to suit your needs!

Tomato Meat Sauce
  • 1 lb. ground turkey, beef, or sausage, whichever you prefer
  • aprox. 1 T. minced Garlic, either fresh or from a jar
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 28 oz. can tomato chunks, do not drain
  • 28 oz. can tomato puree or sauce
  • Fresh Herbs! Several sprigs each of:: Parsley, Oregano, Basil
  • 2-3 cups Chicken broth or stock, or water in a pinch.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional veggies: Onions, olives, mushrooms, grated carrots, spinach, bell peppers, etc.
    In a large sauce pot brown up your ground meat, If your meat is lean, add the garlic. If you need to drain the meat, drain and then add the garlic. If you're incorporating any of the optional veggies, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and the veggies now. Get the veggies softened up a little, lower the heat to medium and then stir in the tomato paste until it is well incorporated, you want to do the paste first, it spreads through the sauce easier that way. Then add the tomato pieces and puree, chop up the herbs and stir in. Add the broth now, bring the sauce to bubbling, cover and reduce heat to low.

   Simmer for an hour or two. While your sauce is simmering you can prep the rest of your lasagna. The longer you can simmer, the more the flavors will blend. Stir it occasionally. Once you're happy with the flavors, you can uncover the sauce and let it reduce until it is the thickness you prefer. You won't need ALL the sauce you made from this recipe, so once the lasagna is assembled, put the rest of the sauce in a ziplock bag and freeze. Thaw and serve over penne or spaghetti for a fast dinner.

Faux Ricotta Filling
   Break down the cauliflower and steam it well, more than you would to serve as a side, it will need to mash down fairly small, I left it boiling for about 10 minutes and then turned the flame off and left the lid on while I worked on all the other ingredients. In a medium-large microwave safe bowl, mix the water and grits so there are no lumps and cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, until they're ready. Add the Daiya shreds, stir them in well, and then incorporate the MimicCreme. Chop up the parsley fine, and be generous with it. I used about a 1/4 cup, since it's fresh. Add parsley and garlic. Make sure your cauliflower has no extra water on it, pour it in with the rest and use a potato masher to break it down and blend it well with the other ingredients. The heat off the cauliflower will help melt down the daiya shreds and make the mixture start to become one texture. Once the cauliflower is well incorporated, add one egg and salt and pepper to finish up the filling. Leave it to sit in the refrigerator until you're assembling the lasagna.

Boil the lasagna noodles in salted water with a splash of olive oil, cook them until they are very al dente, they will cook more in the oven. Use a 9 x 13 pan, I like a glass pyrex dish for lasagna. Pour just a bit of olive oil in the pan and spread it around to help with easier clean-up. Layer the dish like this:
  1. Olive oil
  2. Tomato and meat sauce
  3. Noodles (4 longways, one trimmed to fit the gap)
  4. Faux ricotta filling
  5. Tomato and meat sauce
  6. Noodles (this time, make the short noodle at the opposite end)
  7. Faux ricotta filling
  8. Tomato and meat sauce
  9. Noodles (use the two trimmed ends instead of a short noodle)
  10. Sauce (need to cover all the noodles so they don't dry in the oven)
  11. Optional: sprinkle extra Daiya shreds on top, but don't overdo it!
Bake uncovered in the oven at 350° F for 45 minutes or until bubbly all over. Let it set for about 15 minutes before cutting into it for serving, it will allow the lasagna to set up. Enjoy with a salad! (and a good wine, especially if anyone in your family may or may not be teething)

Friday, April 8, 2011


The Hero and I are both big music fans. Some of our musical tastes are the same, some are different, but no getting around it, music is a big part of our lives! When we found out we were expecting DB we started looking into all kinds of baby products, and music was one of them! We were hoping to find something that was simple, repetitive, and engaging enough to keep DB entertained and stimulated, but not so repetitive and simple that The Hero and I wanted to stab our ears with sharp objects when those songs are repeated over and over. We were thrilled to find out about Rockabye Baby! music, it was the perfect solution.

They do lullaby covers of popular songs from artists spanning from Kanye West to Nine Inch Nails, AC/DC to Weezer. The songs really do grab DB's attention and keep him entertained, so much so that turning a song on will snap him out of a fussing fit and the minute the song ends he cries until the next one starts. They've been a lifesaver in the car, when DB is crying in the back seat and instead of craning my arm backwards to try and soothe him, I can just flip to one of the albums we have for him and he's soothed while I can keep both hands safely in the front of the vehicle!

Now this isn't the only music DB likes, he's a bit of a Bob Marley fan, and he likes a little Plain White Tee's, Jack Johnson, The Beatles, IZ, and of course, The Hero's guitar playing, but I can now also say that he loves Tool, NIN, Nirvana, and Radiohead, broken down into simpler melodies and missing all those fantastic lyrics. This helps me insure DB will get his musical tastes off on the right foot, makes the music enjoyable and appropriate for him and it stays interesting and sane for me. I think this is a win win situation!

Check out Rockabye Baby! on their website where you can browse all their cover albums and listen to samples of all the songs they offer, or plug them into Pandora and have a listen while finding other artists your little one may enjoy! Happy listening!