Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crockpot Italian Surprise

     I am not sure.  Perhaps I am imagining this but I think that the cows are staying closer to our backyard in the late evening and in the early morning.  I think they like the attention that we give them.  I have begun to notice that they are right by the back fence every evening just before we go to bed and then I see them right back at the fence line when I come downstairs early each morning.  I think they like us.  I guess we should give them all names.  I have begun to keep my "good" camera upstairs for the impromptu cow photo shoots.  Maybe I will put together a coffee table book...Les Vaches des Maison de Neuf Souches d'Arbres (the cows of the house of the nine tree stumps).

    I am working on "moving resolution" number three and as a result, I can barely move.  Yes, I have started working out again.  During breakfast on Monday morning, I was reading an article in the New York Times and a certain fitness program was mentioned.  Later that day, I checked it out on the Internet and it turns out that the group has free full length workouts on YouTube.  So now the office has been turned into a workout studio.  I am sure that the neighbors are loving it as this room is right on the street.  They must get a kick out of me doing my jumping jacks, ski squats, etc.  But I am least for this week.  But when will the pain end?

     Dear Daughter is also in pain...first week of swim practice.  This new team is very big on total body conditioning and swim drills.  Dear Husband and I have been present for the first two practices and we are amazed at the difference in style from her old team to this team.  We are quietly optimistic for a good season for her.  Dear Daughter just wants the pain to go away, too.  "When will this end?", she asks each morning.

     So, we are getting used to the schedule of a new school year, a new swim team (and my work outs).  It is Wednesday and already we are exhausted.   But tonight, we are lucky....NO PRACTICE.  Here is how it has gone thus far this week...Mom and Dad wake up at 6:30.  Dad is out the door at 7:00.  Mom wakes Daughter up at 7:10.  Mom and Daughter walk to the bus stop at 7:45.  Let me digress appears, much to our surprise...but we are the only Shapians in the neighborhood...and we are in a pretty big neighborhood.  So, each morning, a big tour bus marked with the number "5" arrives at the bus stop which is 0.2 miles from our house.  A Belgian woman gets out of the bus and welcomes "Caterina" as she calls her...escorts her onto the bus where yet another women checks her bus pass and escorts her to her seat.  Then the bus promptly departs for the next stop.  How is that for keeping unemployment in check?

     On Monday and Tuesday nights, Dear Daughter has swim practice from 7:00 pm until 8:30 pm.  This means that once she gets home at 4:25, she has to immediately start homework.  Since eating together as a family is important, Dear Husband makes it a point to arrive home early that evening so that we can sit down to a family dinner no later than 5:30.  We leave for swimming at 6:30 and arrive back home around 8:50.  Dear Daughter showers and we all settle down to watching 30-45 minutes of television before heading off to bed.  It is a bit crazy.  Luckily, there is no practice on Wednesday and for the rest of the week, practice is from 4:00 - 5:30.  I am sure than within a week or so, we will all be acclimated.  Dear Daughter seems to be happy with the new school and the new team - and that is what counts, right.

     Monday and Tuesday night dinners have to be filling but not too filling as we do not want Dear Daughter uncomfortable at the pool.  These dinners also have to conform to our low-carb diets that we try to adhere to for two days a week.  Monday night was salad, which was very good but I was starving by 9pm.  On Tuesday, I made a crockpot dish and we all loved it...but it was a bit strange...strange in a good way.

   It is called a low-carb lasagna but I hate to call anything lasagna that isn't really lasagna - so I want to change the name to Crockpot Italian Surprise.  I found it on the website, Your Lighter Side, and the site is definitely geared to healthy recipes.  I was a bit skeptical at first with this recipe but in the end, we all loved it and we will definitely throw it into our dinner routine.  It is so low calorie that you can have two servings and the net carb content is 4g!

Crockpot Italian Surprise (aka Crockpot Lasagna)

Adapted from Your Lighter Side

1 lb hamburger
1 jar pizza sauce
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 bag of spinach
1 container (16oz) cottage cheese
3 cups of Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Brown hamburger in a skillet and drain the fat.
Wipe the inside of your crockpot with a bit of oil.
Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce in the bottom of the crockpot.
Spread 1/2 of the hamburger over the sauce.
Take the remaining hamburger and mix it into the remaining pizza sauce along with the garlic powder.
Layer half the zucchini over the hamburger.
Follow by layering half the spinach over the zucchini.
Top with 1/2 of the cottage cheese, spreading evenly.
Sprinkly with 1 cup of the Mozzarella.
Repeat...hamburger/pizza sauce mixture, zucchini, spinach, and remaining cottage cheese.  Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella cheese over the top and then the Parmesan.

Cook on low for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Notes:  Mine had a lot of "juice" in the bottom of the crockpot.  We didn't seem to mind this but if you want a more lasagna-like consistency, then squeeze the water out of the zucchini.



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