Progressive Dinner and Chicken – Spinach Lasagna
A month or so ago, our American Heritage Girls troop hosted progressive dinner. Theme for the dinner was ‘Tour the World’. Can you hear me squeal? My most favorite theme for anything pretty much 🙂 This theme fitted very well in our ‘World Heritage’ AHG Badge.
I feel like I am learning a lot through AHG with my daughter. For example, take this dinner. Until that time, I had never been a part of or hosted a ‘progressive’ dinner. When I first heard of it, house hopping every 30 – 40 minutes sounded too much of hassle but those who had participated in this earlier, went ga-ga about what a wonderful experience it was. So we signed up. To those of you who are new to the concept of ‘progressive’ dinner, this is how it goes.
- Dinner ‘progresses’ course by course through individual houses.May I suggest to carpool when you are house hopping ?We did.
- Couple of our AHG family signed up to do each course. Starting from Appetizer, Side, Main, and Dessert.You can even further refine the course to categories if you like.
- You can go ‘theme less’ but I think having ‘theme’ makes it fun. In our case, each course represented different country.
- You can go all out and have music and decor representing the country you are hosting or just focus on food. Since it was the part of AHG badge, we made small effort in picking up music, decor, and maps to give the girls some cultural background for their badge requirements.
- We took the ideas from the color of the flag for our plates and napkins.Made ‘Welcome’ signs for the countries we hosted.Few easy and simple touches,not time consuming.
- My friend,Jenny who was responsible for ‘Germany’ dressed up in traditional german costume and had many items on display from their German,Italian trip and slideshow playing from their trip.Since she teaches German at local high School,she was phenomenally great in talking all things German culture.So did my friend Chelsea,who has Spanish heritage.Not only she prepared mouth watering patata,she richly explained the culture.We were fortunate to have some people who were originally ingrained in the culture.
- My overachiever friend, Amy, put together a ‘passport’ for each girl. As the girls ‘toured’ the countries, host explained little bit about the culture of the country. They filled up the details in their passport. Got ‘stamped’ for the visit.Our girls tasted ‘tortilla de patatas’ from Spain in their appetizer course. ‘Spätzle’ and ‘Wienerschnitzel’ from Germany as side, Lasagna as main from Italy, Honey cake and Baklava from Greece for dessert.
I was responsible for main course. Though Indian would have been very easy choice for me, I went with Italy. Who doesn’t love pasta, right? So I picked ‘Lasagna’ .
What makes my lasagna different then traditional? I use chicken instead of traditional beef. I also added spinach. If you think your family will not touch the food with green sighting, you can leave the spinach out or add less. I doubled the recipe for the progressive dinner but I didn’t double the spinach. I was concerned some of the girls may not like it and I wanted them to eat 🙂 .However I was pleasantly surprised how quickly it was finished with some second servings. Though personally, I am not a lasagna fan, my family loves it and so did my friends. So this is how I make lasagna at my house. My seasoning may vary depending on what I grab from my spice drawer but more or less this is what I stick with.
Lasagna Noodles(9-10 pieces)
1 lb. Ground Chicken
10 Oz frozen spinach – thawed
Pinch of Thyme (Italian seasoning if you have in hand)
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
5 oz. tub shaved parmesan cheese
For Marinara sauce
1 (28 Oz San Marzano tomatoes)
1 (15 Oz Italian stewed tomato)
3 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic
1 dry chili pepper (optional)
Chopped basil and parsley
Salt to taste
Olive Oil(about 2-3 Tbl spoon)
Water(as per desired marinara consistency)
OR Store bought Marinara sauce
Whenever I make this, I have three stove burners going at the same time.
- Burner #1 – Boil Lasagna noodles, as per the package direction in a pot.
- Burner #2 – Heat skillet. Add oil. Add ground chicken. Once it is lightly brown, add thawed spinach. Season it with thyme/salt/pepper or your choice of seasoning (Italian, Herbs de Provence etc.)
- Burner #3 – In a pot, add oil. Season it with chopped garlic and 1 dry chili pepper. This is very essential for me when I am making marinara sauce. Can anything be better than the aroma of garlic in the kitchen? Add tomoatoes.Season it with salt and pepper. Add water to desired consistency of the sauce. Cook for 20 minutes. If the texture of tomatoes is chunkier, then puree it through the blender for smooth texture. Add chopped parsley/basil in the end. You can totally use store bought. I just like mine better 🙂
- As things are cooking, meanwhile in a bowl, add ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Mix it well.
- In a 9 by 13 glass baking dish. Ladle the sauce at the bottom. Add a layer of lasagna noodle. Spread the ricotta mixture. Add chicken-spinach mixture on top. Ladle of tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Add lasagna noodle for second layer. Repeat above. Meat is all used up by the second layer. So for the third and last layer, add lasagna noodle. Spread the ricotta mixture; ladle the last of tomato sauce. Top it with mozzarella.
- Bake at 375 until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve with the side of some Italian bread.