Monday, January 26, 2015

Katie: Fish Flop and Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

       Yesterday Husband and I actually had a chance to cook some of the meals we've been wanting to try. First up was an oven baked red snapper. I will say right now that this falls under the 'flop' category, but I decided to include it anyways for two reasons.

1) I think it was a good cooking method, and we plan on trying it again with a different fish that we like, like maybe a trout. We just don't like red snapper and didn't know this ahead of time. 

      2) Sometimes with Pintrest and Facebook, it starts to feel like we only post the things that turn out well, the good stuff we like to brag about. I think its important to admit once in a while that not everything we try turns out gold, that we are just as human as the next person, to stand in solidarity in our mistakes, figure out what went wrong and use that to make it better the next time.  
Yes its on a pizza pan. Its the only pan-like thing we had.

The Cooking Method:

        When Husband and I were in Publix doing some grocery shopping, this lovely red snapper caught our eye and begged us to take it home. Since we had been wanting to incorporate more fish into our diet, we gladly complied. As the kind old man behind the fish counter prepared him for us, he offered to add the lemon slices. He then recommended that we use the following steps:
1) Take one orange and cut it into slices, and lay that on the bottom of the pan.
2) Cut up an onion into large slices and arrange that likewise with the orange.
3)  Lay the fish on his lovely bed and season. We sprinkled salt, pepper, thyme, and dill over ours. 
4)Sprinkle olive oil over all.
5) Place in the oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees, and let cook for 30-45 minutes. (I always forget to turn the oven on till the food is prepped, hence why 'preheat' is at the end of the list... we're going for honesty here). 

The actual seasonings tasted wonderful in the fish, which is why we want to try to method again. Plus its super easy and only as expensive as the fish you buy. Our problem is that snapper is not our fish. It is way too oily and 'fishy' tasting. If there are people out there who like 'fishy' fish than this might be for you. We did not like the base fish taste, and it didn't sit well on our stomachs, so no more snapper for us. Though in all fairness, we did let the fish sit in the fridge a couple days before we cooked it, so that may be partially to blame. In any case, if anyone out there tries this fish or this cooking method, good luck to you, and let me know how it goes!    
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

        I will start by saying I make an amazing traditional lasagna. My mom April makes the best lasagna in this world, and I was trained by Italian chefs during my university studies in Europe in the ways of the homemade meat sauce and pasta dishes.
       Unfortunately, Husband hates traditional lasagna. So when I stumbled across this recipe I figured I would give it a try in the hopes it could be a nice alternative.
        I used This Recipe as the basis for my dish. I of course made a few of my own modifications. For the puree, my mother-in-law had given me a butternut squash she couldn't eat, so I pealed that, chopped it up and boiled it. When the pieces were soft, I drained the water, added some half and half (because that was again all we had in the fridge), and some salt, a dash of pepper, and some cinnamon to replace the nutmeg we didn't have. I then blended it all together with my hand mixer (that we went out and bought because we're civilized like that, even though we don't have a proper baking sheet or lasagna pan).  

       For the spinach I bought a bag of the organic stuff from Publix, and wilted it down in a pan. for the cheese I shredded a block of Mozzarella from Aldi and added half of that to the spinach. I also threw in the rest of a tub of real Parmesan I still had in the fridge. The recipe calls for a lot more cheese, which I would recommend for cheese lovers. I was trying to find a happy balance between my cheese love and Husband's cheese hate. I think I managed.

       I pre-cooked the noodles as the recipe called for, but left mine a little al dente since I was worried about over-cooking. I then layered everything mostly as the recipe called for, except for an extra layer at the top with the puree and some bacon that Husband had cooked earlier. I know the recipe says 'vegetarian', but Husband and I are carnivores, so we couldn't resist throwing some meat in there somewhere. I baked it for 20 minutes with foil on and about 15 without, at 375, and it turned out really well! It even has the shape and consistency of lasagna, which surprised and impressed me.  

     I really love how this dish ended up tasting. Definitely one of my favorites. Husband said it was pretty good, and after some intense evaluating of the dish, we decided to try it with un-wilted spinach next time, and with layered rotini noodles instead of lasagna noodles. We will probably throw some ground beef or some other meat thing in there too next time. It sounds a little strange, but marriage is all about finding things that work for both of us!

        Feel free to try this recipe anyway you like, and let me know how it turns out for you! 

         I also thought I would leave this recipe here for Bacon, Spaghetti Squash, and Parmesan Fritters  which I have been dying to try, but I can't get my hands on a spaghetti squash to save my life! If anyone else tries it first, let me know how it works out, I think it could be truly decadent! 

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