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Anatomy of A Craving ~ Italian Edition

Yes, I'm aware that I am overdue on the BEEEG, HUGE, Valentines' Day cook-a-thon. However....there are circumstances that are way beyond my control. OK, what I mean is that I had a really, REALLY awful day & night yesterday. I wanted comfort, and that comfort meant that only one...specific...thing would do...lasagna. Now, having scoured the Pixie-Pantry, and refrigerator o' chillness...I discovered something important. I had NO ricotta cheese, and NO mozzarella. Oh, and did I mention that I am without means to make it to a grocery store right now? Um, yeah....it was not looking good for my little wounded-bird self at the moment. Then, I realized that what I did have was more important....

From left to right...Parmesan cheese, pepper jack cheese, fat-free cottage cheese, parsley and Italian seasoning, leftover home-made spaghetti sauce, no-boil lasagna noodles, salt and pepper. Not shown: egg, olive oil, red pepper flake and the clove of garlic that was hiding behind the Parmesan in this photo....

So, I wondered, could the fat-free cottage cheese successfully replace the ricotta? Would I ever spoon into rich, creamy lasagna today? Will it heal my freakin' SOUL? Only one way to find out....something I like to call a "childbirth experience" ~ the only way out of it......is through it. So let us begin...

Take about 1/2 of that (16 oz.) container of cottage cheese, and place it into a bowl...

Shred in a quarter cup each of the pepper jack and Parmesan cheese. Add a Tablespoon each of Italian seasoning and parsley (fresh or dried), a pressed clove of garlic, a few red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Beat an egg, and mix into the cheese mixture...

Take a nice, square pan, spray it with non-stick spray, and put a couple spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce on the bottom.

Now, begin your layers - I love that these noodles do not require boiling ahead of time!

As you can see ~ it only takes three to cover a small square casserole, in this case. Unfortunately (or luckily, hee-hee) Dear Husband does not like cheese.....at all. So, this huka huka creamy love is just for yours truly. So there! Now, a layer of the cheese mixture...

At this point I was thinking - "wow, I bet that cottage cheese is really going to work - AND it's fat-free!". Anyhoo, I digress....another layer of the noodles...

Another layer - utilizing the home-made meat sauce....I feel so thrifty! Note: vegetarians may use a plain tomato-based sauce loaded with onion, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini...the possibilities are wonderful for this!

Now, a final layer of noodles and the cheese mixture...

And the rest of the leftover spaghetti sauce...

Now, top with a few Tablespoons each of the pepper jack, Parmesan, a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cover, and bake in a 350 oven for about 50 minutes, or until bubbling, and making your house smell amazing....then uncover for the last ten minutes, to crisp up the top...remove from the oven, and using restraints/a shower/locks on the door...let it set up for a GOOD ten to fifteen minutes....this is what keeps it from falling apart when you cut into it....here's mine as I am finding something else to do, other than to dive, face first, into it....

My results?

There are......no......words. I may not have achieved World Peace, or solved any current issue of the day.....but my soul was, in fact soothed....my problems and issues put out of mind, and my taste buds completely overwhelmed with the creamy, soft texture, and spot-on flavor of this lasagna. The moral of today's story is; never underestimate when cravings and creativity collide! I will be freezing the rest in Pixie-sized portions for future put-on-a-movie-and-cry-for-no-reason days.

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for the Valentines Day feast o' fun! And do me a flavor (pun intended)....when you see that person, you know, slightly older, kind of moving slow, struggling with a door, or a basket of groceries, or just barely able to keep from crying instead of smiling at you....stop and offer a hand. That person may be in chronic pain, or trying to quit a bad habit, or suffering in ways that we are unaware of. You may be refused.....but in your heart you know you lent a hand, or made someones day.

Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

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