The apartment smells divine.
For the first time in well over a month, there’s two loaves of homemade three grain bread in the oven. Even better, for the first time since late September, I’m going to have a piece of homemade bread with butter. Actually, I’m going to have a whole lot of bread with butter.
Let me explain.
When you’re a head and neck cancer patient fresh out of surgery and recovering, there isn’t a whole lot you can eat or drink. And when you’ve got a wad of surgical gauze under your tongue and it’s sutured to the inside of your lower lip, you’re usually more interested in hitting your pain pump than wondering what you’re going to have for lunch. And since you’re on a liquid diet, there isn’t a whole lot you can have, either.
But once you’ve mastered ice chips and little paper cups of water, you graduate to something called a “full liquid diet”. The main difference between the two is that on a liquid diet you can see through the liquids, but on a full liquid diet you can’t. It also covers a whole bunch of food that turns into a liquid at room temperature, which sounds a lot like an experiment I did in Chem 123.
Unfortunately that also includes the “sherbet” that melted (separated? fractionated?) into three distinct layers of who-knows-what (goo, maybe?), each one more questionable than the next. No way I was going to eat or drink or slurp that down.
After a couple of weeks of ingesting gallons of instant breakfast (which I really l like), Jell-O (meh), miso (yeah, baby) and chocolate peanut butter ice cream (thank you, Haagen-Daz) I was finally given the “all-clear” to eat soft foods. I was so happy I did a jig out the door.
I still can’t eat everything I’d like to (oh, Cheez-Its, how I miss you), but there’s definitely more to life than scrambled eggs.
I found this recipe in my “Crockpot Vegetarian Recipes” cookbook (in a typical littleredyarn move, I bought the cookbook before the slow cooker) and it’s everything you might want in a cheese lasagne. It’s cheesy, saucy and surprise, really, really easy to make. It’s also the kind of pasta dish everyone likes, so remember this one for the holidays and Sunday football afternoons.
Cheese and Spinach Lasagna
- 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 egg
- 1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) pasta sauce
- ½ cup of water
- 6 uncooked lasagna noodles
- Coat inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray (I forgot to do this and it got a little dark on the bottom). Combine ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and egg in a large bowl; mix well.
- Mix pasta sauce and water in a medium bowl. Spoon 1 cup of sauce mixture into slow cooker Layer 2 noodles over sauce, breaking to fit. Spoon ½ cup sauce mixture over noodles; top with half of ricotta mixture. Add 2 more noodles and remaining ricotta mixture. Top with remaining 2 noodles and remaining pasta sauce.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed and noodles are tender. Turn off heat. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup of Parmesan; let stand, covered, 5 minutes or until cheeses are melted.
This will serve 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side to something else. Enjoy!