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Friday, August 27, 2010

No Boil Lasagna

I LOVE lasagna.  I think I've made it pretty clear how much I love Italian cooking in general but lasagnas are at the top of the list.  The only problem is that with such a busy schedule, who really has time for all that prep work??  I recently made a no boil lasagna with regular noodles and it turned out awesome according to my husband.  I decided to try it again using a recipe of my own.  Okay...let's be honest...there was no recipe but here's what went into it:

1/2 med zucchini - shredded
1 med carrot - shredded
1 red pepper - diced
1 yellow onion - diced
5 crimini mushrooms - chopped
3 cloves garlic - minced

Saute above ingredients till tender.  Add garlic towards the end to maintain that true garlic flavor.  Season with a pinch of kosher salt.

15 oz. ricotta
2 eggs
1/4 c. parmesan
1 c. mozzarella - shredded
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
Fresh cracked pepper

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl and set aside

12 Uncooked lasagna noodles
1 28 oz jar Classico Marinara Sauce
1 small jar Alfredo sauce (I used Classico as well)

Now you're ready to assemble!
Spray lasagna dish with nonstick sprayer and spread 1/2 c.  marinara on bottom.  Layer 4 noodles along bottom. Top with ricotta mixture, veggies and 1/2 c. of alfredo sauce.  Layer 4 noodles and spread 1/2 c. marinara sauce on top.  Then continue ricotta, veggies and alfredo again.  Place last of the noodles on top.  Spread last of ricotta mixture and veggies and pour remaining marinara sauce on top.  Slowly pour 1/4 c water on top of it all.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in preheated 350 oven for an hour.  Uncover and sprinkle 1 c. Italian cheese mixture and 2 tbsp fresh basil.  Continue baking an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

**I would water down the initial 1/2 c on bottom for noodles.  Mine turned out a little too al dente and dry.  I would add an extra 1/4 c water along bottom.**

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vegetarian Meatloaf

   I've been a veg-head for nearly 15 years and I have always missed my mother's meatloaf.  About two years ago, I was introduced to another kind of meatloaf made from ground turkey and tons of sauteed veggies.  As I watch my sister-in-law prepare this dish I thought how easy this could be transformed into a delicious and healthy veggie meatloaf.  After a quite a few trials, I realized that I could get the best of both worlds by combining these recipes.
   I of course started out by making a veggie version and the turkey version for my carnivorous partner.  I would always have him taste test mine to determine comparability.  Well after tweaking mine little by little and watching him devour the portion I had intended for my consumption, I determined that the veggie version wins this contest. Even my son has loved it since we started him on solids and little does he know how many veggies he's eating!! And though I'm kind of a stickler for normal, everyday meatloaf, I'm sure the possibilities are endless here.  Apples, sage and stuffing mix?  Red peppers, water chestnuts and terriyaki sauce?  Black beans, corn and chipotle peppers?  These are all sounding so yummy...perhaps I should venture out!
  The veggies I use are by no means the only options as most of the time I am simply trying to use up what I have in my fridge...but here it is:

Vegetarian 'Meatloaf'

1 package Morning Star Farms crumbles
1/2 onion - diced
2 carrots - peeled and diced
2 stalks celery - diced
1 small zuchinni - diced
4 crimini mushrooms - chopped
1/2 package frozen spinach - squeeze dried
2 eggs
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp thyme
2-3 tbsp parsley
1 bay leaf crumbled
3 garlic cloves pressed
1/4 c. 'chicken' stock *or veggie*
1/3 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. bread crumbs *or to your likeness..this really helps the consistency and the varying degrees of dryness.  the more bread crumbs you use...the dryer and firmer your meatloaf will be*
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325  (I convection baked mine though just add baking time if you prefer regular baking method)

1. In medium saute pan, heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Add onions, carrots and celery and season with salt.  Saute for 5 mins or until onion are just tender.  Add mushrooms, zuchini and spinach.  Cover and saute for 3-5 mins until mushrooms have reduced and are soft.   
2. In the meantime, place crumbles in microwave safe bowl and defrost for 3 mins.  Some chunks might still be mildly frozen.
3.  Combine eggs, milk, chicken stock,  cheese and spices.  Add veggies and crumbles and mix thoroughly.  Slowly add bread crumbs till your desired consistency is reached.  I like mine to be able to hold it's shape after being molded.  If it falls apart in the bowl it's going to fall apart on your plate as well.  **My mother always told me the key to her meatloaf is to spank the hell out of it.  It had the best consistency of any meatloaf I've ever tried.  not mushy...not too dense...just perfect.  I use this same method on my own meatloaf and it seems to work pretty well.  Not to mention, this is a great way to relieve any built up stress.** 
4.  Spray 8x8 baking dish with nonstick coating.  Pour in bowl of meatload and press firmly into pan.  Bake covered for 30 mins.  Uncover and resume baking for an additional 30 mins.  The top should be firm to the touch with a little crispness to it.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Ideally meatloaves should be tipped over and come out of their pan...I haven't had such luck but if you have a secret tip up your sleeve be sure to let me know!

*Variations...You could try subbing a mixture of brown rice and lentils for the burger crumbles.  Though I have not tried it, I'm sure all the right flavors would still be there.  The original ground turkey recipe calls for 1 c. cooked lentils but I always seem to run out of time and stove top space.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffins

Good Morning!
  It has been so long since my last blog I felt it necessary to post this recipe.  I think I'll do some back entries too though I do not have photos to go along with them.
  Every morning that I work at the Brew Pub, I do my best to bring in baked goods.  They like to eat them but secretly I'm looking for reviews of my baking skills.  So far no one seems to be complaining!  While I normally try to do healthy recipes, this one is definitely bending some rules.  In the future, I might sub out some of the white sugar for maple syrup, agave or honey.  I would also try to sneak in some shredded zuchinni. This time around, I just wanted something delicious and simple but of course I had to throw in a little twist.  In half of the muffins I filled the center with a peanut butter and honey concoction.  If I had cream cheese, I would have blended the PB and honey together with the cream cheese.  I think this might have set these over the top but we shall wait till delivery to find out if I hit another home run!



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar *I reduced to 1/2 c.*
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted *Replaced totally with 1/3 c canola oil*
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. 
 *I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg into the dry batter before I added the banana mixture.  To the mixture I added a splash of vanilla extract...what is a muffin without a little vanilla??


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pizza Pasta Bake

   MMM....the smells of fresh basil and garlic are filling my house this morning!  I love Italian cooking and after the spicy soup, I thought something a little more mellow would be in order for tonight's dinner.  I had a few ingredients that needed using up so you'll see a few additions.  The outline for this recipe comes from as I absolutely adore this website. 
  I believe that Italian dishes lend themselves to healthy add ins that will still leave the family clueless.  If they like pepperoni pizza and they like pasta...they should love this dish.  And they'll never know that you snuck some veggies in there.  You can do this by simply grating whatever greens you might want to throw in or if you some puree around, you could throw that in too.  Some suggestions would be pureed carrots, zucchini, butternut squash or spinach.  Remember though...add in a little at a time so as to not throw off the taste.
   I made this vegetarian by using Morning Star Farms ground beef and Yves pepperoni slices.  Simple as that!


  • 8 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 4 ounces sliced pepperoni sausage
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 of 1 med zucchini - grated
  • 1/2 c. grated carrots
  • fresh basil and fresh oregano
  • Ricotta
  • 1 egg



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef with onion, carrots and zuchinni until beef is brown. Drain. Sprinkle chopped basil and allow heat to wilt.  Combine beef mixture with spaghetti sauce and cooked pasta and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.  
  4. In a small bowl mix together egg and 3/4 15 oz Ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper and finely chopped oregano.  Spread over pasta mixture.  Layer pepperoni and top with mozzarella.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden. 

**Variations -  Shredded asiago on top of ricotta layer.  Use Italian blend of cheese in place of mozzarella. I also added about 1/4 c. parmesan to sauce and pasta mixture before pouring into pan.  We like it cheesy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


   Not quite sure how many people will actually follow me and thus I am led to my introduction.  I am doing this blog more for my personal use rather than for others enjoyment.  I am a 25 year old working mom that absolutely LOVES to cook healthy, satisfying meals for my family and I try to plan these meals out way in advance.  This blog will mostly be about my adventures in the kitchen with a little toddler running around who loves to 'help' mommy!  I wanted to be able to keep a journal, so to speak, with pictures and recipes that I've tweaked to make my own throughout the years and hopefully I'll get some helpful input from other moms out there.  I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting ideas on what to make for dinner and things to do with my son. 
                                                       a little slice of family

      Back to the cooking...I have been a vegetarian for the past 15 years and my husband is an open-minded carnivore.  Our son, Ethan, is a picky eater who decides that meat is better to chew and then spit back out.  He'll get there.  I try to come up with recipes and adapt ones from cookbooks, online and magazines to suit our families unique tastebuds.   

With that being said...dinner tonight shall be....Vegetarian Tortilla Soup!
   This recipe calls for a stir fry mix of onions and peppers.  Well living in Victor, ID provides a slightly limited selection on what frozen mixes are available.  So instead I am going to be using fresh onions and peppers to make up for it. Any alterations to a recipe will be in italics.
  I'm 15 minutes into this recipe and already the house is filled with the most delicious aroma.  Can't wait to try this one.  I'm thinking I might add some Morning Star Farms Chik'n Strips on top as well.  We'll see....


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (1 pound) package frozen pepper and onion stir fry mix (1 onion and 1 red pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin (2 1/2 tbs cumin and 1/2 tbs chile powder)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (3 cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers)
  • 3 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained (subbed 2 cans)
  • 4 (14 ounce) cans vegetable broth (vegetable base boullion)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 12 ounces tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the pepper and onion stir fry mix, garlic, and cumin, and cook 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mix in the tomatoes and chile peppers. Pour in the broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Mix corn into the soup, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Serve in bowls over equal amounts of tortilla chips. Top with cheese and avocado.         
So I've sampled the goods on this one and wowzers!  It's a spicy one.  Perhaps with all the fixings it would bet toned down a bit but next time I'll tone it down to only one can of peppers.