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I really like cheese. REEEAAALLLY like cheese. In my early post-college years my body developed a major dairy aversion and I suddenly found myself unable to eat cheese without majorly regretting it soon after. It was a sad, sad time. Oddly, when I became pregnant with Owen the lactose sensitivity disappeared. Yay, hormones! Suddenly I was back in the cheese in a big way and I haven’t looked back since.

I’m usually really good about keeping a weekly meal plan, but occasionally I find myself staring at a white board with last week’s menu and no idea what to make that night. Enter the Skillet Lasagna. Quick, easy, yummy….cheesy.

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This dish couldn’t be quicker or more versatile. Below is the recipe for the basic cheese skillet lasagna, but you can customize it in so many ways.

Skillet Lasagna
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

– 6-8 no-bake lasagna noodles, broken to fit the skillet
– 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (or homemade!)
– 1/2 -3/4 cup ricotta cheese
– 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– 1 tbs garlic powder
– 1 tbs dried oregano
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste

*Optional ingredients: cooked ground beef, sausage, chicken, etc. and any vegetables you like. Great way to use up leftovers!

Directions:

– Preheat oven to 350*

– In small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and all the spices. Adjust to your taste.

– Spread a small amount of tomato sauce in a deep skillet. (If your skillet has a plastic or rubber handle, wrap it in foil to avoid heat damage.)

– Place your first layer of noodles, breaking into pieces to cover the bottom as best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

– Add another layer of sauce, followed by ricotta mixture, (then optional ingredients, if any), then mozzarella.

– Repeat layering process until you have reached the top of the skillet, ending with the mozzarella.

– Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until brown and bubbly.

 

That’s it! Serve with a side salad and you have a tasty dinner that took no time at all and cooked in one dish. Boom. I should note that I tend to go heavy on the spices, so feel free to start with less and adjust to your taste. I wouldn’t say this is a substitute for a true deep-dish lasagna, but it certainly works in a pinch.

Enjoy!

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Yesterday I spent the day in Massachusetts at my friend’s bridal shower. It was lovely to leave the mommy world for an afternoon and spend some time with some girlfriends and some mimosas. I was gone seven hours — the longest I’ve been apart from Ryan to date — and as much as I love my boys, I’ll admit that I didn’t miss them all that much. Mama needed a break. And enjoyed eating two (TWO!) cupcakes without having to share.

Practically everyone at the shower was wearing either blue, stripes, or a combination of the two, so I fit right in wearing a navy and white striped maxi dress which I bought a few days before at — well let’s just go ahead and get it out in the open. I bought the dress at Wet Seal. The store is across from the bookstore I was buying the shower gift in and I figured I would pop across the way and see if they had any cute inexpensive jewelry. They didn’t, but they did have the dress all cute and cheap at $16, and so I bought it. Thirty years old shopping at Wet Seal. Ahem.

Anyway, while I was at the party, the bride’s sister came up to me (Hi, Ronnie!) and was all, would you update your blog already? She told me she checks daily to see if I’ve written, and since I’ve gone so long in between posts lately, I basically figured no one was reading anyway. It was nice to hear at least one person was, so it kicked my butt into gear.

I’ve just had a touch of the Blog-itis lately. Life is happening — and quickly — and I just haven’t been able to put it down in words. Ryan is nine months going on, oh, who knows. The kid just wants to be big. He’s all over the house. Mostly backwards crawling and some sort of unofficial frontwards army crawl. It’s not what I would call traditionally crawling, but it does the job. When he’s not doing that, he wants to stand, stand, stand, and has started to cruise the furniture ever so slowly. Yesterday he took my cheeseburger right off my plate and ate it. It’s probably second-time-around parenting, because I never would have let Owen do that, but I barely even blinked. Instead, I broke some up into tiny pieces and let him have at it.

Owen is almost three and he’s busy, and loud, and smart, and sassy, and infuriating, and fresh, and amazing, and awesome. Looking at pictures from even just six months ago makes my heart ache a little because he has changed so quickly. He thought I looked “sooooo beautiful” in my Wet Seal dress, though, so that’s pretty cool.

Me? I’ve been getting into photography lately and have really enjoyed photographing my friends’ children along with my own. It’s become a fun hobby for me and one that gives me an outlet beyond the daily stuff.

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Ryan and my dad

The other day I uttered the words, why is the baby under the ottoman covered in poop?

That’s life, y’all.

Dear Ryan,

Hello there, my little due date baby. Today you have been out exactly as long as you were in. How we’ve already reached this mark is beyond me.

You are a joy, Ry Ry. From your sunny demeanor to your silly mohawk (which has earned you the nickname “Mohawka”), you completely brighten our lives. Watching you grow has been really fun. I naively thought that the second child would be so much like the first, that each time you do something uniquely you, I am surprised by it.

You continue to be a great sleeper, which is — wow. I mean, thank you for that. Your two naps are usually 1.5-2 hours long and if you go to bed at six that’s a late night. You wake usually just once at night to nurse and then sleep at least till seven. In the morning, I bring you to bed and after you nurse, you are all about your Dada. Owen will have joined us by then, and watching the two of you climb all over your daddy is the highlight of my day.

Your first word came right before you turned eight months old. It was Mama, and I’m not sure there’s a better sound than your child first speaking your name. Your tiny voice reminds me a lot of how Owen’s used to sound, so it’s a treat on multiple levels for me to hear it. It’s adorable, but you quickly learned that you can yell it from your crib, and so you do, at 3 a.m. “Mamamamamamama. Mama! MAMA!!!” Soon after, you followed with O-wa (Owen), yay, hiii, and most recently, Dada. I’m pretty sure you’re working on dog as well. You also clap your hands all day long and wave to people when you see them, and have recently started to give real hugs. Those are pretty awesome, kiddo.

You are going to be my daredevil, I just know it. You are seconds away from officially crawling, but you’ve been on your hands and knees for a while now and maneuver around the house pretty well. The other day I left you on the living room rug and moments later found you under the end table a few feet away. I was pretty sure it was going to be Owen’s waffle that finally inspired you to move your knees, but in the end I wouldn’t be surprised if you crawled first to the dog.

You refuse to sit still any longer, and will try and swan dive out of our arms to explore. We had to lower your crib mattress as you are now pulling up to your knees. You should have seen your face when I first discovered you like that — so full of pride and cheekiness.

You have solid food about three times a day now. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, spinach, pears, peas, apple sauce and yogurt are some of your favorites. You don’t really enjoy bananas. Your pincher grasp is great and you eat puffs, diced fruit and shredded cheese like a pro, and pretty much have the sign for “more” down pat. You’ve pretty much mastered the cup, too, and do that funny frat boy chug with your water. You have yet to cut a tooth, though!

Owen remains your very best friend and I can see how hard you try to imitate him. Your whole face lights up when he enters a room and you shake and squirm until you can reach him. If he leaves, you crane your head and yell “O-WA!” until he comes back. You have baby toys, but would much rather play with his trucks or blocks. You already steal toys from each other and have started to wrestle. It’s quite the glimpse into our future.

According to our home scale, you are just over 20 pounds. I had to weigh you twice because your brother was 19 pounds at four months and I have a hard time believing you aren’t bigger. I guess we will find out for sure at your well visit next week, even though I can see you are certainly not the chunker he was.

You are a love, Ryan. From your little laugh to your great big smile, I couldn’t have asked for a better second baby. I can’t believe my next letter will be wishing you a happy first birthday!

I love you through and through, Chickie.

Love,

Mama

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