"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all"
- Harriet Van Horne

If cooking relieves stress, then eating the food and eating it amongst friends is like the cherry on top of a chocolate sundae... it makes the whole experience even sweeter! Yesterday, we had the second session of the Cooking Playdate, this time with 2 newcomers: my cousin Sandri and her friend, Ranie :)
We made several things together, starting from Ranie's Fresh Orange Fizzy Drink, which was highly enjoyed by everyone, especially Amal and Jiri (who is obsessed by oranges hehehe). Since we're trying to make healthy, nutritious yummy food that can be enjoyed by kids, I thought that Healthy Chicken Nuggets would be a good idea to try out -- I'll post the recipe in another post.
What I'd like to post today is Dinda's delicious Spinach Lasagna because everyone loved it. You'll see the recipe at the bottom of this post :)
As for dessert, I showed everyone to make the really simple Apple Crumble that I've already posted in this blog. See here for the recipe. All in all, another fun day cooking and talking about life & kids. I was amazed to see that Jiri could finally walk since the last time I saw him, he was still learning :)
Our challenge for the next Cooking Playdate: recipes that don't require using the oven! Wait for it and in the meantime, enjoy trying the Spinach Lasagna and the Apple Crumble...

Lasagna noodles - for medium sized pyrex, about 6-8 sheets
Spinach - 2 bags (the organic veggie bags, if possible)
Garlic - about 3 small cloves
Onion - 1 medium, chopped finely
Tomato, diced - about 3 medium
Tomato paste - 1 can
Basil - to taste
Oregano - to taste
Brown Sugar - to taste
Mushroom, Eggplant, Paprika (optional)
Bechamel Sauce : melt 1 part butter and whisk in 1 part flour, cook until golden brown, whisk in milk until cream consistency
Ricotta - 1 tub of Yummy brand
Mozzarella - 1/2 block, grated
Parmesan - a handful, grated or shaved

1. Boiling lasagna and keeping them from sticking together is tricky! Do the lasagna filling first, before you boil the noodles. Even then, what I do is keep them in water up until the moment I put them in the baking dish.
2. To make filling : boil spinach until just slightly wilted, drain* and set aside -- sautee garlic and chopped onion with olive oil until fragrant and onions are clear, add chopped tomato, tomato paste and water until forming a sauce.
*) Save the spinach water to boil lasagna, although you probably will need to add more water.
3. Season tomato sauce with pinch of salt, brown sugar, basil, oregano. Set aside about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce for lasagna topping.
4. Add spinach into the rest of tomato sauce and cook for about 5 whole minutes, then set aside.
5. If using other veggies, sautee and set aside, don't immerse in tomato sauce. You will use the other veggies in the layers.
6. Start boiling the lasagna, remove from heat after 5 minutes, don't drain, keep in water.
*) Pre-heat the oven to max
7. Smear the pyrex/glass dish with butter.
8. Put some ice or iced water in the lasagna water so it is cool enough to handle.
9. Pull out two sheets of lasagna and place on bottom layer of dish. Spread spinach 1/2 spinach mixture on noodles. Spread 1/2 tub ricotta on spinach.
10. Place two more sheets of lasagna on ricotta and repeat one more layer.
11. Place two more sheets of lasagna on ricotta and spread bechamel on the noodles.
12. Use the 1/2 cup tomato sauce you set aside and pour on top of the bechamel.
13. Sprinkle mozarella and parmesan for the final topping.
14. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then switch to top heat for 2-3 minutes while watching closely so cheese topping does not burn.
15. Let the lasagna sit/cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.