Cooking with the Woo Kids: Easy Whole Wheat Turkey Lasagna

We were at basketball game yesterday evening. Shelbi was running up and down the court frantically. Jumping for the ball, rebounding like a pro, blocking shots. She was so on it.

Bella (7) was in the hallway playing with her friend Rachel (8).

Phoebe was crying at the top of her lungs because she wanted to eat a 10 day old bag of Cracker Jacks that had melted together to form on giant piece of stale caramelized popcorn.

Soledad, was running around acting like a 4 year old nut.

I got up from the stands, and walked Phoebe and Soledad out to the corridor, so their screaming wouldn’t bother the lady that was sitting next to me, who pointedly gave me a look from a place where fires burn hot, ALL THE TIME.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!!!!” The four year old hollers. ” I wanna go play with Rachel tooooo. Please, please please.”

“No. And stop asking!”

“Moooommmmmy pleaseeeeeee. I wanna play with Rachel toooooo.” Tears streaming out of her big chocolate eyes.

“Soledad, you don’t even know Rachel. She’s Bella’s friend. Plus, your behavior has been less than stellar. I can’t trust you to go down there and NOT act like a monkey. So the answer is NO!”

She looks perplexed. Not knowing what to say.

“Listen mommy.” she ponders, “What if I promise to be a big girl.” I roll my eyes. “No really Mommy, what if I PROMISE. Then, if you have to call me over here, just once, I’ll come. And I’ll never go back, and I won’t even complain.”

She seems like she’s serious. So I take her up on this deal.

“Okay, you’re on. But if you slip up, just once. You’re coming back here and you’ll be in BIG, BIG, BIG trouble.”

“Okay,” she says. And just like that, my monkey-fied nut straightens her back, regains perfect posture, pulls her shorts down, smooths out her shirt and hair, and whispers to herself a few words of encouragement.

Okay now. Wipe your eyes, she says as she does just that. Stand up straight and be a big girl. We don’t want them to see that I’ve been crying. Then she struts off, down the corridor to meet her sister and her friend Rachel. And she plays like a big girl. And I never once have to tell her to calm down.

I think she just grew up in that moment. Right in front of my eyes. And I love it and hate it all at the same time.

– – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It’s summer. And I’m so very excited.

Excited about all the fun things that we can do together, if just they’ll behave.
And I’m a little nervous too. Because, I know, they are growing up so fast. And even though I complain all the time, I don’t want them to. I love them just as they are, big balls of emotions, and peanuts, and giggles and fits.

They are my girls, and honestly, they all act just like me.

So, in honor of summer, I’m instituing the Nicki Woo Weekly Culinary School. Wherein atleast once every 7 days the Woo children will learn to cook something of their choosing. And do it, pretty much by themselves, as I cower in the corner.

This way, while I’m trying to teach them how to be model citizens before they grow up and leave me, atleast they can help out with the cooking.

First Up. . . . . . .

Easy Whole Wheat Turkey Lasagna
*Two jars of pasta sauce seems like a lot, I know. But it cooks down some, and you’ll probably have a little extra left over, just in case you like extra sauce. We just want to make sure that we have enough sauce to cook our noodles and make a Lasagna that is sooooooo good, the children will want to cook again and again.  And AGAIN.

1 lb lean ground turkey ( We used Jenny-O Italian Seasoned Lean Ground Turkey)
5 cups of your fave Spaghetti Sauce (which is a little shy of 2 – 26 oz. jars)
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated ( or you can just substitute more mozzarella)
2 eggs
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 tsp Salt 
1/4 tsp Pepper
About 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked (roughly 1/2 pound of noodles)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large skillet, brown meat.

3. Add spaghetti sauce and water. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is reduced and begins to thicken.

4. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 the mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, basil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Tattoos. One of the perils of summer.

5. In the bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish, ladle 1/3 of the sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish. Next, arrange 4 UNCOOKED lasagna noodles over the sauce.

6. Spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture over the noodles.
7. Repeat by adding another 1/3 of the sauce, then 4 noodles, and the other half of the ricotta cheese.

8. End by placing the last 4 noodles on top of the ricotta mixture, and pouring the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the cheese begins to turn golden brown and the edges are slightly crisp.
9. Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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