"My favorite weekend ever."
......And I am standing by it. Saying that the last three days were epic would actually be an understatement. Richard and I were visited by my cousins Katrina and Stephanie all the way from Canada (you know, the undeniably most epic country ever!). I had not seen them in 8 years, but one of the best things about family is that the second you give each other a jumping up and down while squealing full body hug.... you are instantly best friends as if not one day has past since the last time you were together**
**Please note that one of the last times we were together I was 12 years old and we were so misbehaved that I was STILL grounded even when we got home from our family vacation to Canada. My cuzzys and I have always had a knack for getting ourselves into some pretty awesome trouble when we are together.
We definitely went at about 1,000 miles per hour from the second they got into town on Saturday morning.... guzzling champagne (8 mimosas at brunch is acceptable, right?) indulging in fabulous meals, pulling all nighters (who needs sleep when you have 8 years to catch up on) and starting dance parties like it was our job (which as much as I wish it was, it is not). My husband deserves a medal. Seriously. But judging by the fact he's currently drooling on the couch, it looks he's happy to settle for a nap. His third of the day. Apparently he needs one per decade he's been alive. Or one per Bacsalmasi he had to spend the weekend with...
So, since my brain is still drying out and re-forming from the weekend, and words escape me, a photo recap is obviously necessary.
These are my cousins. They are the best (minus Jessica... we missed you!)
this is what three girls look like watching the sun come up.
the absolute most fun.
Ok, just looking at the photos makes me a bit exhausted. Oy. Anyways, if you can't tell (surprise, surprise) I am functioning on a few (thousand) less brain cells than I had last Friday, so I am going to keep this short and sweet. My body was in need of some serious nutrition today and this delicious vegetarian recipe did just the trick! Packed with veggies, super simple to make, and really.... if I didn't tell you it was PASTA FREE, you wouldn't even notice. It's also the perfect way to use up the three pounds of zucchini you bought to grill for dinner (but because you got distracted with dancing and hugging dinner didn't happen). Did I mention my husband deserves a medal?
Ok, let's get to the food....
For the sauce
Use your favorite store bought sauce (I LOVE Rao's.) Or use my recipe found here.
For the filling
1 pound small-curd cottage cheese
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the vegetables
3 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, patted dry with paper towels, and coarsely chopped
1 pound shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)
Ok, there are quite a few steps, so don't get intimidated... it's much easier than the number of word's I am about to type.....
Make your sauce. Or set the jar nicely on your counter and feel accomplished in your own way. Both work great.
Combine the ingredients for the filling. The cottage cheese, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Prep your veggies. I recommend grilling the zucchini to avoid it getting soggy, but if you prefer to broil it in an oven, that will work too. Either way, rub each slice with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over high heat (or broil) until well cooked. I like the zucchini to be a bit crispy.
Next, in a sauté pan over medium/high heat, sauté the mushrooms and artichokes until browned.
Ok. All of your components are ready.... so start layering! On the bottom of a baking dish, spread some tomato sauce and 1/2 of the mushrooms and artichokes. Then layer with the grilled zucchini. Next, spoon 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the zucchini. Then more artichokes, sauce, zucchini.... you get it. Layer all of your ingredients until they are gone. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and throw that sucker in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until sauce is bubbly and the melted mozzarella is golden brown. Let the lasagna sit at room temp for at least 15 minutes so that it can set before serving or else it will be a runny mess.