This is likely the easiest and least sophisticated meal that I make. Actually, many of my meals are unsophisticated, but that’s not what I’m going for. Like many parents out there, my main concern is to provide nutritious, tasty food with a variety of flavours without spending twelve hours prepping. And most evening we're either coming or going from one arena or another.
There was a time when it was en vogue to have a number of meals ideas on rotation and this one received regular play in our family. My grandmother made it too, so it’s been a family favourite for four generations. During the daily drive to and from school I consulted with my son and niece about what to cook next for Around The Table—because teens know a thing or two about eating—and when I mentioned this idea they both responded with, “I LOVE that!” Based on this scientific survey…that’s what you’re all getting. The beauty of a meal comprised of mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach and sunny side up eggs is that nothing is simpler, it hits on major food groups and nutritional needs, and best of all, it’s quick to prepare.
Peel, cut, and boil the potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain the water and set aside ¾ cup of the water.
Mash the potatoes and pour the saved water back in. Add the butter, milk, and 1 teaspoon of garlic. Stirring until blended. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the frozen spinach. Season with ½ teaspoon of garlic, salt, and pepper once the spinach is cooked.
In a separate pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fry the eggs, sunny side up while making sure the yolk stays soft. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve one scoop of potatoes and top it with spinach and one or two eggs.
Makes enough for 4 with mashed potatoes left over for lunches.
While we’re living through the winter that just won’t quit, a comfort meal is called for. This is one the kids ask for and that I've even served in containers so that we can eat on the go.
Want your family eating more spinach? Try a super cheesy spinach lasagna.
When I was growing up we had a vegetable garden of ambitious proportions. Let’s just say my parents grossly overestimated the amount of asparagus, green beans, and zucchini a family of five could eat. It took years to get over the fear of pulling weeds. The upside was that my mother baked a lot of zucchini bread to keep up with a crop that could have supplied a small town grocer.
Years ago my sister-in-law shared her mother’s banana muffins recipe and with a few tweaks here and there I’ve made it my own. The idea to add zucchini to the bananas and substitute yogurt for sour cream was born out of my hope that I could make muffins a healthy treat. And isn’t that how all our favourite recipes come about? A bit of family lore, sharing between friends and family, and new ideas.
Grease and flour 2 muffin pans. Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mash the bananas and set aside.
This is the important part to make sure your kids don't know about the zucchini: Peel it before you grate it. Set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, blend softened butter, sugar, and eggs until smooth. Stir in the yogurt, bananas, and zucchini with the butter mixture. Pour the mixture into the flour combo and stir to blend.
Fill muffin pans ¾ full and bake for 22-25 minutes. Let sit to cool or eat them right away. They’re delicious either way.
Makes 24 muffins.
These freeze well and are a perfect snack for school, but be prepared for a few to disappear as soon as they’re out of the oven.
This is not your Nonna’s lasagna mainly because I didn’t grow up with a Nonna. I had a Mamie and an Oma and they didn't make lasagna. Since my children are Canadian—and what’s more Canadian than incorporating foods from different countries and making them our own—I’ve learned to make it my way. That means using cheese and lots of it.
If your family is anything like mine, spinach isn’t always a favourite. Here it only gets 50% approval, from my son and me. To get the other two to eat it I have to be wily and underhanded. Am I advocating hiding vegetables in a dish? You bet. The beauty of spinach is that once it’s cooked the texture is soft and it blends well with the rest of the meat filling.
I use a 13.5” x 9” casserole dish. While that is large, it allows me to make one dish that serves a family of four two complete dinners. Anything to save some time. If you have a smaller appetite—or you're not feeding a teen—the recipe can easily be cut in half.
Chop onion, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over low-medium heat and cook to soften.
Add ground beef and lightly brown the meat.
Stir in the chopped basil, minced garlic, Provençal herbs, salt, and pepper.
Once the meat and other ingredients are thoroughly cooked and blended, add the frozen spinach and let simmer.
Add pasta sauce and gently blend the meat mixture. I used a tomato basil sauce. Continue simmering.
While the meat is simmering grate your three cheeses. Set aside ½ the cheddar.
In a mixing bowl combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella and ½ the grated cheddar.
Season with pepper.
Combine the remaining cheddar with the parmesan in a separate bowl and set aside. This is for the lasagna topping
Remove meat and spinach mixture from stove.
Spread 2-3 tablespoons of pasta sauce directly into the bottom of the casserole dish to prevent pasta from sticking.
Add one layer of pasta and spoon ½ the meat mixture topped by ½ the cottage cheese mixture.
Follow with a second layer of pasta and repeat with the remaining meat and cottage cheese.
Top the lasagna with a final layer of pasta.
Spread 2-3 tablespoons of pasta sauce onto the noodles to prevent them from drying during baking.
Top with the cheddar-parmesan combo.
Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 35 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
Remove and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Let’s not fool ourselves; lasagna—even one packed with nutrients-rich spinach—is comfort food so I serve it with a light salad made with red leaf lettuce, onions, sliced cucumber, and seasoned with a light vinaigrette.
For more sneaky ways to get your family eating veggies and drinking—yes, drinking—red cabbage, check out this juicing recipe. And if you really want to get your cheese on, you’re going to love this take on a traditional, French tartiflette.