Turkey Spinach Lasagna

As many of you know, the Godfather and I are moving (again). We’re still going to be in Santa Barbara County, but we’re moving a smidge further north to cut the Godfather’s commute a bit. We’re T-9 days to the move and this past week I decided we probably should start using some of the perishable foods we have stored in the freezer so there’s less to move.

Freezing food is totally new to me. In trying to avoid using processed foods, we normally kept a nearly empty freezer with the exception of ice, some meat, and maybe a baggie of frozen chopped vegetables for making fried rice. Now, I store

fresh veggies that I’ve chopped, fresh soup, my bag of stuff for making stock… who knew the freezer could make eating whole foods easier!? It’s sorcery I tell you.

Homemade Tomato SauceBack in January, I made up a huge batch of fresh tomato sauce. We enjoyed it with some homemade pasta and then I froze the rest in “pasta or something small” sized containers and “lasagna” sized containers and I’ve basically had lasagna on the brain since then, but no motivation to make it until this week when inspiration and motivation worked in beautiful harmony (and I remembered to actually buy lasagna noodles… minor detail).

Not really feeling the idea of using ground beef and wanting to incorporate more vegetables, I decided to try using ground turkey and spinach instead to add a bit more iron and cut down on the fat content because I will not use fat free “cheese”. Ick.

Turkey Spinach Lasagna

Turkey Spinach Lasagna

  • 1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 6-8 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, dividedTurkey Spinach Lasagna
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups tomato sauce, homemade or store bought, divided
  • salt, pepper, oregano to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Heat one tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan, add half the garlic and the onion, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the other tbsp of olive oil to the pan, add the other half of the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds then add the ground turkey and cook through, adding sauce (reserving a cup) about halfway through the cooking process. Add seasoning (be liberal!). Remove from heat.
  4. Take a 9″x13″ pan, spray with nonstick spray or mist with olive oil and put about a cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a single layer of lasagna noodles on top, then a third of the spinach mixture, a cup of cheese, some strategically placed dollops of ricotta, and one third of your turkey sauce mixture. Repeat two more times. With the third and final layer, I change the order slightly so the cheese is on top. Who doesn’t love cheesy lasagna?
  5. Cover the pan with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or so until the cheese on top browns a bit.
  6. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
You'll notice a difference in lighting because I assembled the lasagna in the morning and left it in the fridge for the Godfather to bake that night so dinner was ready when I got home. Yum!

You’ll notice a difference in lighting because I assembled the lasagna in the morning and left it in the fridge for the Godfather to bake that night so dinner was ready when I got home. Yum!

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

Ropa vieja is one of the Godfather’s favorite “comfort foods”. When his mother or grandmother would make extra on a day he was home, he would occasionally bring it back to the dorms celebrating that we had a few meals where we weren’t relying on good old Chartwell’s (the cafeteria management company), dining out, or whatever we could concoct in a microwave. We would eat it with leftover rice (if he brought that too), with salad, or on bread as a sandwich. It’s really quite a versatile main dish and the leftovers just get better as the flavors have time to blend. Crock Pot Cuban Shredded Beef Ingredients

Growing up in South Florida, we assumed the blend of cuisines familiar to us were also familiar and easily found in the rest of the country. We were wrong (sheltered!). When we moved out of the area, we realized we (meaning me) would have to make some foods we used to enjoy with family or at a local restaurant. Cuban food was something I wasn’t really exposed to very much until college, so I had a lot to learn to replicate childhood recipes for my sweetheart. Thankfully, my mother-in-law tried to provide me with instructions and let me watch her in the kitchen. She makes her ropa vieja on the stove top or in the pressure cooker. I wanted to be able to make this on weekdays though and I haven’t figured out my pressure cooker 100% – we’re acquaintances rather than friends – so I decided to improvise and use my crock pot… successfully!

Crock Pot Ropa Vieja Veggie PhotoThis is now the only way I’ve made ropa vieja for years because it’s SO EASY. I prep everything the evening before or in the morning, turn the crock pot on low and come back to a house that smells FANTASTIC and dinner is pretty much ready to go.


Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)


  • 2 1/2 – 3 lb flank steak
  • 1 bottle sofrito (we find the Goya brand at the commissary)
  • 1 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 onion, diced (I had less on hand so added a second bell pepper instead)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, wait about 30 seconds, then add the onion and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes until onion is slightly translucent and the pepper is softened.
  2. Slide the contents of the saute pan into your slow cooker and set the meat on top.
  3. Open the jar of sofrito, pour over the meat, ensuring it’s well coated and then cover and store in the refrigerator overnight before cooking or cook immediately.
  4. To cook, set your crockpot on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 until the meat is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork. Serve with rice and salad, salad only, or put on baguette bread for sandwiches. Serves 6 – our family of two gets about 3 meals from a 2 1/2 lb flank steak.
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja served with rice and salad || Goodie Godmother

Ropa Vieja served with rice and salad

Overnight Chocolate Oatmeal

Healthy steel cut oats in the slow cooker... with chocolate!  Recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

The photos in this recipe were updated 6/18/2015 as part of the #ThrowbackThursday photography project. Pictures were shot in natural light using a Canon 40D with either a 50mm/1.8 lens or a 100mm macro. Original photo was taken on a phone… scroll down to the bottom of the post see the totally embarrassing original photo. 

I just realized that I have only shared one sweet recipe on this blog! It’s only been in existence a short time, but the oversight seems almost inexcusable given how much I joke that I’m up to my elbows in sugar all the time. No matter though… we can fix this! And we can justify that this is really not even bad for you (because it isn’t) and it makes the house smell heavenly, like waking up in a chocolate shop.


Weeknight Matzo Ball Soup

After a few beautiful “California winter” days, the weather just turned rainy and gray and cold and ick. Even with a vacation coming up and the intoxicating smells of challah bread coming from the kitchen, I couldn’t get over the funk I was in and I really wanted some comfort food. Had those days?

Comfort food for me isn’t always about calorie-laden foods, but about smells and experiences that evoke happy memories. When the Godfather and I were students at the photo 1University of Miami (GO CANES!), there was a restaurant building about a mile away from campus that rotated through restaurants every few months. Most were unmemorable and wouldn’t survive even if they had been in a more accessible building, but there was one – The Diner – that holds a special place in our college experience. They had a few good dishes, but our favorite was the matzo ball soup. When we needed a light meal and an escape from campus later in the evening after all the delis closed, we would go and enjoy a bowl in one of their tall modern booths. Like all restaurants in that location, it closed after about 10 months and the late-night matzo soup runs ended.

After we moved away, we realized matzo ball soup wasn’t very easy to come by and so we started buying the box mixes, but it just wasn’t the same. Too salty and bland. I started my matzo soup journey by doctoring the box mixes, using less of the broth packet and adding a few vegetables. You know that kitchen voice that chimes in every once in a while and asks you “What ARE you DOING!?! You can MAKE this!”???

photo 2

It didn’t say a word to me for at least a year.

Then one day, it spoke and I went to Google. I found a few recipes for making matzo balls from scratch and read everyone’s opinion on what should and shouldn’t go into the broth, what makes a “real” matzo ball soup vs. one doctored by the culinary community or “those that don’t know better” into some unrecognizable concoction in a bowl masquerading as comfort food. So much passion over soup. I get it.

When the time is available and I have the ingredients on hand, I do enjoy making matzo ball soup entirely from scratch, but this is not that post. This post is about those days when you want something and you want it right. now.

We try not to keep many convenience foods in the pantry, but you’ll often find a box of matzo ball mix… not the soup mix!… tucked away in the back of our pantry for just such a day. A day when a bowl of comforting soup and a thick slice of homemade bread are all you need to warm your soul and make the weather blahs go away.

Weekday Matzo Ball Soup


  • 1 packet of matzo ball mix + eggs and oil as called for on the package
  • 1 ½ tbsp dry parsley (or 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley)
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (less if you insist)
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped (or in this case, 2-3 stalks of green onion)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt as needed

photo 2 (2)


1. Prep the matzo ball mix according to the package. Add the parsley to give the matzo balls some additional flavor. Place in the refrigerator to firm up before rolling into balls.

photo 3


2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in your soup pan and add the garlic and onions

. Sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant, then add the rest of

3. While the broth is coming to a boil, pull out the matzo meal mix and form the matzo balls. Drop balls one by one into the boiling soup. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes.
the vegetables and cook another 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

4. Adjust seasonings as desired and serve warm, preferably with fresh bread. The Godmother’s Test Kitchen was experimenting with a garlic chive challah (pictured). 

Weekday Matzo Ball Soup with Goodie Godmother Challah bread

Weekday Matzo Ball Soup with Goodie Godmother Challah bread

Savory Stuffed Bundt Cake

This post updated Sept 2015 as part of the #ThrowbackThursday photography project where I add delicious new photos to already tasty recipes. 

A savory stuffed bundt cake always makes a gorgeous brunch presentation. No one has to know how easy it is to make. Get the recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

This past year, I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely group of similarly culinary-minded ladies (and gentlemen), through a Facebook group. From time to time, the members of the group get together to share food, recipes and a few good laughs. I attended one of these events recently, but instead of just bringing a Goodie Godmother dish (no recipe sharing there!), I decided to try my hand at modifying a pinterest recipe I found not too long ago for a savory stuffed bundt cake so that I could share the recipe! (more…)

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