Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

i returned to work full time three weeks ago, and have been doing quick cooking… i sure missed my slow cooker and the freedom it offered (translate: toddler whining and hanging on my leg the entire time i am trying to put dinner together quickly OR toddler scrambling up stairs halfway while i am trying to cut raw chicken… OR, you get the idea). This morning i decided i needed to get back to my easy breezy slow cooking, but it also had to have the most minimal prep because i needed to get out of the house before 7:30am / the trick is to use really tasty pasta sauce (i opted for puttenesca sauce because of the olives and capers, yum). The best part was coming home and just devoting play time to Asa, and then everyone sitting down to dinner happily. phew!

(note: my slow cooker is only 3.5 quarts, you should double the recipe if yours is 5-6 quarts)

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Ingredients:

1 16 oz-containers ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
10 oz chopped spinach (make sure it’s dry)
1 jars (24 oz) pasta sauce
6-8 large lasagna noodles, uncooked (i used no boil)

Method:

1. In medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and spinach.

2. In slow cooker, spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce. Layer 2 lasagna noodles, broken to fit, then 1/2 cup pasta sauce and 1/2 of the spinach/cheese mixture; repeat. Top with remaining 2 lasagna noodles and 1 cup pasta sauce.

3. Cook covered on LOW 5 to 6 hours (time depends on how hot your slow cooker gets)

4. Sprinkle with remaining (or more!) mozzarella cheese. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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I served this with a side of italian sausages… because we are really bad vegetarians.

M-Day

My little ones planted a new garden for me

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms. May you enjoy your little one(s) and a little fun too.

I am so glad that I’m able to spend the day with my family. I was scheduled to fly out to Denver yesterday for the ASES Conference – completely forgot it was Mother’s day when I booked the ticket. Luckily I booked with Frontier (for the first time) and was able to change my plane ticket with very little change in cost. 

Dan Dan Mien 1 recipe (sesame paste noodles)

My dad’s recipe for one of my favorite dishes

Dan Dan Mien 1 recipe (sesame paste noodles)
Print
Recipe type: Noodles, Chinese
Author: Juintow Lin
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 1
My dad’s recipe for one of my favorite dishes
Ingredients
  • Red hot oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Green onion and garlic: one, chopped
  • Sesame paste: 2 tablespoons, mixed well in 10cc of hot soup or water
  • Soy sauce: 2 tablespoons (reduce if the hot oil contain salt)
  • Red vinegar: 1 tablespoon
  • Chopped peanuts: 2 tablespoons
Instructions
  1. Boil the water to cook noodles for 3-7 minutes.
  2. Put the above ingredients in a big bowl except chopped peanuts.
  3. Add cooked noodles to the bowl.
  4. Add chopped peanuts on top.

 

Dan Dan Mien 2 recipe (sesame paste noodles)

Another version of one of my favorite all time noodle dishes – this one is more colorful due to the addition of vegetables.

Dan Dan Mien two recipe (sesame paste noodles)
Print
Recipe type: Chinese, Noodles
Author: Juintow Lin
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. half to one bottle of sesame paste, add warm water, stir
  2. pounds of dry noodles, boil to cooked, rinsed by cold water if serve cold, add 2-3 table spoons of oil, mixed
  3. add a few table spoons of soy sauce, 1 table spoon of vinegar, crushed garlic, chopped green onions, black or white pepper, 1 teaspoon of sugar, mixed into a bowl
  4. microwave bean sprouts (don’t over cook to remain crunchy)
  5. dice and slice pickles into the size of bean sprouts
  6. cook scramble eggs and sliced into the size of bean sprouts
  7. table spoon of crushed peanuts
  8. lay item 2 on plate, add items 4, 5, and 6 on top
  9. finally, add item 3 first, then items 1 and 7
  10. mix before eating

 

Peking Duck

My dad’s recipe for Peking Duck. We have this for Thanksgiving every year at the Lin Family, much juicier than turkey!

Peking Duck
Print
Recipe type: Chinese, Holidays, Entree
Author: Juintow Lin
Prep time: 48 hours
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 49 hours
Serves: 8
This makes two Peking Ducks.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix 1 cup of vinegar and 3-4 table spoons of honey in a container
  2. Lay duck into the mix (one at a time) and make sure all skin touches the mix
  3. Hang ducks in a windy and cool place not warmer than 75 deg F for 2 days
  4. Place both ducks (legs and breasts up) in a oven and bake for 70 minutes at 400 deg F, turn over at 45 minutes
  5. Stick a chopstick on legs and make sure the juice is clear (not pink)
  6. For sauce, mix one bottle of Hoisin paste with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, add some water and white pepper and boil
  7. For pancakes, mix 4 cups of flour with 2 cups of warm water (1/2 boiled 1/2 room temp), kneel well into a dough
  8. Divide dough into about 40 balls, dip one ball into oil and combine with another; spread the pair into a thin layer; repeat for the other 19 (pairs)
  9. Heat a pan (no oil) with medium heat, put pairs into the pan and bake until seeing bobbles in between, separate the pair
  10. Slice two bundles of green onions into thin shreds
  11. Slice duck skin and meat
  12. Take a pancake, add sauce and shred green onions, add duck skin and meat, wrap before eating

 

Flickr vs. Smugmug

I was a long time flickr user, and still have a pro account there. But about a year ago, I switched to Smugmug because I got tired of the flickr’s graphic layout. Smugmug is not free, but so much easier on the eyes. I have the power account, which is $60/year but they have a 30 day trial in case you are on the fence. There is a lot I miss about flickr, like the community, but in this case, better design won out.

Best photo management software is Lightroom

I finally settled on a photo-management software. Now I shoot in RAW, upload my pictures to my computer and edit using Lightroom. What I like about it is that:

  • the software is not that expensive
  • it’s easy to use
  • can upload to flickr, facebook, smugmug, pretty easily and sync between them.
There are some downsides. It won’t handle videos, and the connection to facebook is not great.  I shoot with a Canon T2i. It takes great pictures with little need for post processing, but all pictures look a bit better with a little work. Also Picasa does a standout job on tagging faces. I hope the newer version of Lightroom will deal with videos and tagging… I have yet to try v.4. I bought the software three months before the update.
Here is the basic workflow
  1. Put memory card into computer
  2. Import photos to Lightroom
  3. Lightroom downloads them to my hard drive and files them in an orderly way
  4. I look through the images, and use the very handy shortcuts to reject, pick, rank, the images
  5. Select all rejected and delete them
  6. Tag all photos as needed
  7. Adjust photos that need adjusting, usually I crop, adjust brightness, contrast, blacks, and change some to black/white
  8. Sync them to my online facebook and smugmug accounts
  9. Delete the images from my computer.

Occasionally, I bring the pictures into Photoshop in order to fix blemishes, such as milk mustaches, etc.