What’s Cookin’ in the Country?

A couple years ago I shared my story here about a disastrous meal I made for my husband on our first month anniversary.  Ever since then, I’ve been scared to death of any pasta dish that says, “Rolls” in the recipe title – that is until this weekend!  Yep, I did it.  I ventured into the world of Lasagna rolls and ricotta cheese!  Brave soul, huh?  Maybe dumb is a better word, but the recipe turned out to be a happy find.  

As I was flipping though the current Southern Living Magazine issue, I found a lightened up version of lasagna, in the form of a roll, and was intrigued.  I love lasagna, but honestly hate how fattening it is. This light version only has 190 calories per serving, and 5 grams of fat!  That’s really good, considering that traditional recipes are just under 400 calories and 14 grams of fat! This recipe had good reviews, and came from one of my favorite recipe sources, so I took the cooking plunge and made this for our dinner yesterday…even though we were also entertaining guests!  I’m shaking my head at myself as I write that!  I’m a glutton – not for food, but for punishment.  What can I say?

The recipe is simple to prepare and was tasty.  I think next time I’ll add a little salt to the cheese mixture, but otherwise, it was good.  My guests enjoyed it, and my family all had seconds.  Score!

Serving buffet style is simple and fuss-free!

So here’s what was cooking in the country yesterday:

Tomato – Basil Lasagna Rolls
Wedge Salad
Butter Dips
Rolls-ups!  Good after all!

Tomato-Basil Lasagna Rolls
10 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion 
2 teaspoons olive oil 
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 (24-oz.) jar tomato-and-basil pasta sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (14-oz.) can baby artichoke hearts, drained and quartered – I used frozen spinach instead
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup (1 oz.) freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Toppings: fresh basil, Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta (do not rinse); arrange in a single layer on a piece of lightly greased aluminum foil or wax paper.
2. Sauté onion in hot oil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes or until caramelized. Add two-thirds of minced garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce and next 2 ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Stir together ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in artichoke hearts, next 3 ingredients, and remaining minced garlic. Spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture on 1 noodle. Roll up firmly, and place, seam side down, into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles and cheese. Spoon tomato sauce over lasagna rolls.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with desired toppings.

Instead of doing a typical tossed salad, I opted for a wedge of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and blue cheese.  It was a nice change!

Lettuce Wedges

I’m not sure how I’ve missed posting about these little bread sticks until now; they’ve been a recipe I’ve used a million times when I need a quick bread.  They are crunchy and buttery and perfect with pasta!  This isn’t a great picture, but I neglected to get a shot of the bread basket!

Butter Dips
1/4 Cup butter
1 1/4 Cup flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 400.  In square pan, melt butter in oven. Remove and set aside.
Stir dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add milk and stir until dough forms.  I found it best at this point to Set bowl aside for a few minutes while dough sets up.
Turn dough onto well-floured board.  Knead lightly about 10 times.  Cut into 1 inch strips.  Roll in melted butter and place in pan.  Bake about 20 minutes until golden and crispy.

I posted about this delicious Pumpkin Crunch Cake a few weeks ago.  If you haven’t tried it, you must!  I made it because time was limited Saturday night and I needed a dessert!  This thing whipped up literally in the same time it took for the oven to preheat!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

We were blessed to have our visiting missionaries from the Philippines with us for Sunday dinner.  Having fellowship with guests makes any meal taste even better!  Who knows?  Even those awful Lasagna Broccoli Roll-ups I made 30 some years ago might have tasted good with sweet visitors.  On second thought, they wouldn’t taste good at any time with any one!  I’ll stick with my new recipe!  Hope you’ll try it too!

What was cooking in your kitchen this weekend?  Did you have any guests?

With love from my country kitchen,

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