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Alberta Mamas

Affordable, Garfield-Approved Rolled Lasagna Recipe (Bonus: Hidden Veggies!)

Lasagna roll ups in the pan

Do you have a Garfield in your life? Someone who can’t resist a heaping plate of lasagna? I do! I’m married to a man who behaves just like the famous cartoon feline when it comes to this classic Italian dish.

But as much as my husband loves traditional lasagna, there’s one variation that has managed to make it to day three in our house: rolled lasagna.

The beauty of rolled lasagna is that it’s made up of individual portions, meaning you can control exactly how much you make and serve. This not only helps to prevent overeating, but also ensures that there will be leftovers for the next day (or two!). And lasagna is always better on day two.

Quick Tips for Lasagna Roll Ups

Before jumping into the recipe, here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • Noodles: Try to avoid the no-boil noodles (I won’t judge if they’re already in your pantry and you pull them out – I just can’t promise this will turn out!). Boil them in water with a bit of salt (for flavour), according to package directions to al-dente.
  • Sauce: Pick your favourite tomato sauce. If it already has some meat or added veg, bonus!
  • Cheese: I hate ricotta, so I don’t cook with it. Sometimes I’ll sub in goat cheese if I find a sale, but usually stick to basic mozzarella and Parmesan. The more cheese you use the more expensive the dish becomes, so I try to balance flavour and cost.
  • Veggies: Chop them small, or through them through a food processor to really shred them. The smaller they are, the fewer protests from little beings I hear.
  • Serving: The beauty of rolls is portions are already set for you! My 6 and 9 year olds eat a roll each, and most adults will be satisfied with two. Garfield goes for 3 – this still left us with over half the dish for leftovers! The rolls can be cut with a fork, but if you like to preserve the layers a knife is a good idea.
  • Storage: You can prep this ahead of time and store it uncooked in the fridge with tinfoil on top for up to two days, or freeze it and cook it within three months (I love disposable pans or glass pans with a lid). Thaw frozen lasagna in the fridge overnight before cooking and bake according to recipe instructions. It’s also possible to cook it now, package into meal sized portions and freeze those for future lunches.
  • Reheating: A minute in the microwave is perfect for 1-2 lasagna roll ups from the fridge. If you slice up food for your kids it’s much easier to do while cold, so take care of that first!
    • If you prefer to use the oven, cover it with tinfoil, and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
  • Make more and make ahead: I’ll triple up on this recipe and make three pans at once. One for dinner tonight, and two to go in the freezer. It’s a slightly longer day in the kitchen, but covers me for at least six meals. I can spend a bit of extra time cooking in one shot for that kind of freedom! It’s a rich meal, so we usually only have lasagna once a month.
Lasagna roll up in the pan

How to Make Rolled Lasagna (the wordy version)

  1. Boil the lasagna noodles. Lasagna noodles are large and prone to sticking together, so use your big soup pot for this.
    • Bring water to a boil.
    • Add about a tablespoon of salt before adding a dozen noodles.
    • Cook to al dente where they are flexible and roll-able but still firm. They will soften up more in the oven and absorb liquid from your sauce, so you don’t want them overcooked.
    • Drain and rinse with cold water. This stops the cooking process, removes excess starch, and makes them ready to handle right away. We don’t need burned fingers! Don’t skimp on the cold water, more is better. If your noodles are sticking, chances are you didn’t cool them down enough, or quickly enough.
  2. Meanwhile, make your sauce. Every fall I fill my freezer with a basic tomato with meat sauce made from my garden tomatoes, and often have some jars of meatless sauce in the cupboard (they’re great for travel!). Using that as a starting point, I prep the following extras:
    • Prep: Shred 2-3 carrots, 2-3 stalks celery, and an onion (a food processor is perfect for this!). Chop 4 cups spinach into 1/4inch ribbons.
    • In a large frying pan, cook carrot, celery and onion over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until softened.
    • If you want more garlic (aka you’re kids aren’t vampires who hate it), mince two or more cloves into the pan and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds to a minute).
    • Add 1-2 pounds of ground beef, depending how meaty you want your lasagna and if the sauce you’re using already has meat in it. Cook until all the pink is gone.
    • If your sauce doesn’t have mushrooms in it, and they won’t cause a riot in your home, add a drained can of sliced mushrooms now. (Going fancy with fresh mushrooms? Add those before the garlic and cook down a bit before adding the meat.)
    • If you’re working from a jarred sauce or canned tomatoes (I love the ones with Italian spices already added – yay lazy cooking!) add them now and let everything simmer together for at least ten minutes. Add spices to taste (oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, etc).
    • Take off the heat.
    • Add chopped spinach and stir.
    • Add pre-made tomato sauce. This will reduce the temperature to make it easier to handle.
  3. All about cheese: You can do this before starting everything else, or mix it up while the meat is cooking. Or put an ambitious child to work. I like that last option best.
    • Chop 3 cups spinach into small 1/4 inch square-ish pieces (just make it small but not a paste, okay?).
    • In a medium bowl beat one egg.
    • Add chopped spinach, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and either
      • another cup shredded mozzarella and 1 cup shredded cheddar,
      • a package ricotta (about 2 cups), or
      • a package goat cheese plus enough shredded mozzarella to make 2 cups.
    • Stir until well combined.
  4. Assemble your rolls of lasgana. This is a pretty easy process, but can be a bit messy.
    • Before starting on the rolls, spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. This is kind of like greasing the pan, but so much tastier! Get the sides, too if you can. Go for the runnier parts of your sauce for this. That makes the rest of your sauce thicker, and won’t leave the meat outside your rolls.
    • Lay three noodles out flat on a cutting board, a baking sheet, or right on the counter if you’re into that kind of clean up. Don’t put them in the pan yet, or you’re just going to make a mess of the sauce you just spread. And your fingers.
    • Divide your cheese mixture into quarters. Spread one quarter evenly over the three noodles.
    • Top generously with sauce.
    • Roll up tightly and place in the pan, seam down.
    • Repeat for the remaining nine noodles.
  5. Finishing the lasagna off with a topping of sauce (be extra generous around the edges and in the corners to help keep those spots soft – unless you you like crusty bits!), and a cup and a half of mozzarella.
  6. To bake any lasagna I like to edge the dish with tinfoil and then rest a sheet on top of that. This prevents the edges from overcooking.
    • In a pre-heated over, bake the lasagna for 45 minutes at 375F.
    • Remove the top sheet of foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is just starting to brown up.
  7. Serving the lasagna roll ups is easiest if you’ve let it rest for at least 15 minutes. You’re also less likely to burn your tongue! I like to use a knife to help separate the rolls, but they can come the pan with just a fork or spatula, and then you get the Instagram-worthy stretchy cheese.
Lasagna roll ups in the pan

Affordable, Garfield-Approved Rolled Lasagna Recipe

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 6 generous (but not Garfield-sized) servings


    Lasagna Noodles:
  • 12 dry lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Meat sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms (or 2 cups fresh)
  • 1-2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • Cheese mixture:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup Parmessan
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1 package ricotta cheese (about 2 cups) OR 1 cup shredded mozzarella and 1 cup shredded cheddar OR 1 package goat cheese plus enough shredded cheese to make 2 cups


  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Lasagna noodles:
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles, oil, and salt and cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Rinse noodles under cold water then sprinkle with olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
  4. Sauce:
  5. Shred veggies in food processor while heating up a large frying pan.
  6. Cook carrot, celery, and onion until softened (approx. 3-5 minutes).
  7. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  8. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
  9. Add mushrooms and remove from heat.
  10. Add spinach and stir.
  11. Add prepared sauce.
  12. Cheese mixture:
  13. Combine beaten egg, cheese, and diced spinach in a medium bowl. Divide into quarters.
  14. Assemble rolled lasagna:
  15. Cover the bottom of casserole pan with a thin layer of sauce.
  16. Lay 3 noodles out flat on a cutting board. Evenly spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture between the three noodles (about 1/4 cup each). Top with sauce (~3-4 tablespoons). Roll up tightly and place in pan, seam down.
  17. Repeat for remaining 9 noodles.
  18. Spread remaining sauce over rolls. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella.
  19. Bake:
  20. Cover the pan with tinfoil and bake for 45 minutes.
  21. Uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until the cheese begins to brown.
  22. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram @albertamamas or share it on Pinterest.

Ramadan 101

By Mona Ismaeil

The time has come when you may find yourself in those awkward situations where you offer your colleague something to eat or drink and they say they are fasting! Ramadan is near! It doesn’t have to be awkward! Here is what you need to know about Ramadan and your workplace:

What is Ramadan?

The Holy month of Ramadan is a very spiritual month for Muslims around the world. For 30 days, Muslims will refrain from food, drink, smoking and spousal relations from sunrise to sun set. Between these hours, Muslims fast. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.  

There are a number of reasons Muslim fast during Ramadan. The first is that it shows devotion to Allah (God). Secondly, during periods of fasting there is a heightened spirituality and closeness to God. The time of the year includes more prayers, reading of the Holy Qur’an and gathering in remembrance of God.  Next, Muslims practice self-control and finally there is a recognition of the many blessings we are granted.

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims are required to give a percentage of their wealth to those in need in an act of charity.

Read more

Rediscovering Myself (how I got out of an 8 year mom-life rut)

The day I received the phone call to come and sub at my children’s school it dawned on me I hadn’t been in a classroom for 8.5 years! I had gone in to do Islamophobia sessions and worked with my own children but hadn’t done a whole school day since before my eldest was born. 

I hadn’t planned to be a stay-at-home mom for that period of time. It just happened that way. I’m sure people wonder what kept me at home for so long. I was just so attached to my kids. I didn’t feel comfortable sending her to daycare. There is nothing wrong with daycare but I just couldn’t do it.

When I felt I was just about ready to get back to work and she was in school full time, we had our second. So I started that whole process all over again. 

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Instant Pot Turkey Buffalo Mac n Cheese – The Perfect Dish For Your Next Potluck Dinner

It’s hard to pick the perfect potluck dish. You want something easy to prep, a dish that will feed a crowd, and something that’s easy to transport.

Don’t worry Mamas, we’ve got you! We’ve partnered with Alberta Turkey and have created the perfect pot luck dish: Turkey Buffalo Mac n Cheese. And the best part? EVERYTHING was made in an Instant Pot because we know you have zero time this time of year. By using the Instant Pot we’ve also cut out on all the dishes you have to do. This is literally a one pot meal!

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Telling My Kids We Don’t Celebrate Christmas (my Muslim perspective on major religious holidays)

I don’t celebrate Christmas, I never have. I grew up in beautiful Jasper National Park. Although now it is a lovely diverse community, when I was growing up in the 90’s it wasn’t so diverse. There were not even a handful of Muslim families and basically 2 Arab families. Finding a sense of community based on my faith and heritage was impossible.

Luckily for me, although predominantly Caucasian, the community of Jasper National Park is made up of some of the most amazing, supportive and accepting people I have ever met. We weren’t the only minorities, but for me it sure seemed so!

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Tips for Being a Great Ally to Your Muslim Co-workers/Friends During Ramadan

The beauty of our great province of Alberta is most evident in the diversity and uniqueness of Albertans. Albertans come from all corners of the Earth. They come from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

At sundown on March 22, over 115,000 Muslim Albertans will begin observing the Holy Month of Ramadan. This is a month of heightened spirituality which includes prayer, reading Qur’an, fasting, and giving charity. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. This means Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, intimacy, and worldly desires during those hours. Also, Muslims are expected to control their tempers and behaviors.

If you want to be a good Ally, Ramadan is a great time to start. As you can imagine, fasting such long hours can take a toll on your co-workers. Although they will do their best to maintain their work, their energy, and their friendly personality they may need a little support from you.

How can you support your Muslim Coworkers? Here are some pointers to help you out.

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Did You Know: You Can Hike To a Cold War Bunker in Alberta!

Cold War Bunker Hike in Canmore Alberta

Hiking with kids is always… interesting. I find that if I can entice mine with an end goal to hike to they do MUCH better. Usually we try to find a hike with water (lakes, rivers, waterfalls, etc) to get to, but this time we wanted something different so we tried the Cold War Bunker Hike just East of Canmore.

When you tell the kids there is an old, abandoned cave to explore at the end of the hike they move FAST!

The cave was built during the Cold War to house important documents for the Canadian Government in case of disaster. Construction for this project started in 1969 but ended before it was completed due to moisture in the cave. Damp environments and sensitive documents don’t mix well, I guess!

The caves go further back than we expected so we highly recommend bringing a couple of flashlights to explore. We used our cell phone lights but having flashlights would have been better.

This trail is easy to do and can be done in all seasons. It is a 4km hike with slight elevation at the end but I would say it is a relatively easy hike for most families. You can see more details about the hike and check the latest trail reports on AllTrails.

To get to the trailhead:

  • Park in the Heart Creek Trail parking lot.
  • There are two parking areas once you turn off the highway. Park in the West one.
  • At the far West side of the parking lot you’ll see a sign about bears. You found the trail!

Growing a baby (and a Festival) in a pandemic

In June 2020, I found myself pregnant with my second child. I rolled my eyes at becoming a part of the now famous “Covid-baby club.” It’s a popular club for a reason and I was now a happy member.

We had just recently and successfully hosted our 8th annual SkirtsAfire Festival in March, about a week before the lockdowns began. I remember enjoying the spring and the start of summer, feeling optimistic that in a month or two, things would return to normal and we would all get back to our festival city as planned. Then slowly but surely, things started getting postponed, then canceled, and our case numbers took a sharp turn for the worse.

Through it all, as I grew this baby mostly isolated to my home, we planned for SkirtsAfire 2021: a return to indoor in-person performances in a safe way.
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5 Winter Activities to Get Kids Outside

It’s winter in Alberta, which means peak season for staying indoors watching movies, reading books, and cooking delicious recipes. But getting outside is still important, even in the middle of winter. After all, who doesn’t feel better after some fresh air and sunshine? This roundup of five winter activities for kids will give you some inspiration to get your family outside!

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