Dinner for Two

Every Monday as the BOY heads off to school, he asks me what I’m going to do with my day off.  Typically the answer is ‘Monday Things’ which means a workout, trip to the grocery store (or two), laundry, and in today’s case, finally organizing the pantry.  He also knows that Mondays involve some quality time in the kitchen which usually results in a homemade dinner for him.  I tend to save some of the more time consuming recipes for Monday when I have the time to shop in the morning and then prepare dinner while I catch up on trashy TV (ie today I got to watch Kim and Kris’s relationship dissolve) and fold laundry.  Tonight’s menu…lasagna and tagine.  An odd combination, I know.  While I don’t make a habit of cooking two separate dinners, I knew that the BOY really wanted a lasagna, and I have never liked lasagna.  Instead, I went with another recipe that I found in Vegetarian Times that looked good and would provide plenty of leftovers for the week.  They began very similar…oil, onions, and garlic, but went two very different directions.

IMG_1445 IMG_1444


The first time that I made lasagna, I went looking for a high quality recipe to WOW the BOY and show off my culinary talents. While living in the south, I learned that they KNOW how to do comfort food, so Southern Living was the obvious place to look for your classic lasagna recipe.



The recipe calls on simple ingredients to make a complex Italian style meal.  The only negative is that it takes a little bit of time (over an hour) between making the meat sauce and baking the lasagna.



The results are worth the wait, and if you don’t believe me, you can trust the BOY who was raving about his dinner tonight and agreed that this definitely makes the list of his favorites.



Because he is the only one who eats the lasagna, I make half the recipe and use a smaller dish.  This helps cut down the time which is a bonus.  My other option is that I randomly give out lasagna to my family and friends, but I didn’t have any plans this week, so I opted for the half recipe, which works out great.



Classic Lasagna

Southern Living, May 2006

Cook time: 2 hours, Makes 8-10 servings



  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 1 (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley


1. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain beef mixture, and return to skillet. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.

2. Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.

3. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.

4. Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.

5. Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.



I’m sure the BOY was getting a little tired of the meatless meals and was thrilled to have a tummy full of meat and cheese when he sat down to do his homework tonight.  For my dinner, I made a tagine that I had cut out from December’s Veg Times.



This recipe has fewer ingredients and is much sweeter than other tagine’s that I have made. I followed the directions, but after adding the lemon juice and dates, I let the stew simmer on low heat for ~45 minutes (while the lasagna finished up).  This made my chickpeas softer and really allowed the flavors to blend.  If you are looking to decrease the sweetness, then add fewer dates.  One online reader suggested adding kale, which I will definitely do next time.



I served my dinner over whole grain couscous with some green veggies on the side.



This recipe comes together easily in one pot, and it was much more filling than I expected it to be. Use it as your main dish or a side with pork chops.  It will make great leftovers throughout the week.



Chickpea and Date Tagine

Vegetarian Times, December 2011

Serves 8


Ingredient List

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 cup pitted dates, halved
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 10 minutes, or until starting to brown, stirring often. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon, and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and 1/4 cup water; simmer 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast couscous in small saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add 13/4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.
3. Stir dates and lemon juice into tagine, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over couscous, sprinkled with cilantro.

Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 cup stew and 1/2 cup couscous): Calories: 400, Protein: 15g, Total fat: 5g, Saturated fat: <1g, Carbs: 81g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 378mg, Fiber: 15g, Sugars: 29g

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