Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whole Wheat, Three-Cheese Lasagna

I was bored today, and it was really dreary outside, so I decided to throw together a lasagna. It was easy because I could assemble it, then refrigerate it until we were about an hour away from being ready for dinner (great for guests because of this, too).
If you want, you can use this recipe (I've done it before and it's fabulous), but for mine...

You'll need:
1 1/2 packages whole wheat lasagna noodles (uncooked)
15 oz 1/2 fat ricotta
2 eggs
1 bunch of parsley
Italian seasoning/oregano
1 bag of mozzarella
1 package chicken or turkey sausage
1 medium onion (chopped)
chopped garlic
1 jar tomato sauce

I started by putting into the food processor: ricotta cheese, parsley, basil (about 4-5 leaves), oregano, italian seasoning, and 2 eggs.

My family recipe calls to make your own sauce, but I just wasn't up for it today, so I bought some in a jar.

I sauteed the chopped onion in some olive oil until it was translucent, then added the chicken sausage, garlic, and some more Italian seasoning.

Next, I added the jar of tomato sauce, and a little bit of water to stretch it a little further. I let that simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors soak in.

Next, I started layering. I put enough sauce on the bottom to cover the pan, then placed (UNCOOKED) lasagna noodles across in a layer...I know what you're thinking, just trust me, it works.
Then I put the ricotta mixture, added a little goat cheese and mozzarella, and continued with the sauce.

Rinse and repeat.
I topped it off with a little more goat cheese, and some basil leaves. Then I put it into the oven at 425, covered with foil for 45 minutes.
I uncovered it and baked another 15 minutes (until the top was bubbling).
Let it sit for around 10-15 minutes, and it's a great meal with TONS of leftovers!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday Salads

I've been asked to bring an appetizer and some dessert to our Thanksgiving festivities this year, and in going to the grocery, I've begun buying all of the different types of squash that are on sale.
This week I made two different salads, both with fall flavors, and will likely repeat one to bring for the holidays.

For the first salad, I used:
Raw Spinach
1 Sliced Honeycrisp Apple
Feta Cheese
Dressing made from lemon juice and olive oil

Since I made this one for lunch, I added some rotisserie chicken to it, but all of the flavors felt like fall. The celery added some extra crunch, and the spinach was just the right bold flavor to add. Adding some arugula and subtracting the chicken could make this an impressive, colorful side for the holidays.

My next salad stemmed from buying a Acorn Squash and trying to be inventive with it.
For this salad I used:
1 Acorn Squash (peeled)
Brown Sugar
Agave Nectar
Sage Leaves
Canned Beets (use the fresh kind if you have the time)

Since I was making this one as a meal, I added some roasted tofu.

I peeled and sliced the acorn squash, then put it on a baking sheet. I drizzled some Agave nectar, and a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the top of the squash. Next, I added the fresh sage leaves and stuck it in the oven at 350 for around 35-40 minutes, until it had softened. (I also put my tofu in with it since I didn't want to dirty another pan).

Once finished, I chopped the squash into cubes, and put it on top of a bed of lettuce with my tofu, beets, feta, craisins, and some snap pea crisps for a little crunch.
If I choose to recreate this one, I'll roast the beets with the squash, and omit the tofu and snap pea crisps, as well as the feta. It turned into a few too many ingredients, but isn't it all trial and error??

Happy cooking, I hope you all enjoy this time with your families!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Chicken Sausage

I stumbled upon a recipe on Real Simple's website for Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage that looked really easy with only a few ingredients. But, of course, I didn't have what they wanted, so I substituted what was in my fridge and pantry.
You'll need:
1 package orecchiette pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe (stems cut off)
1 packaged 1/2 fat ricotta cheese
Italian seasoning and any spices or herbs you like
1 package chicken or turkey sausage

I started by boiling the pasta to al dente, and set it aside in the strainer, saving 1-2 cups of the pasta water.

Next, I put the broccoli rabe, ricotta cheese, and spices into the food processor with the leftover cup of pasta water.
I removed the casing from the chicken sausage, sliced it, and cooked it in my non-stick skillet until it was warmed throughout (I bought the pre-cooked kind).
Next, I put the pasta back into the pot, added the ricotta/broccoli rabe mixture, and mixed in the chicken sausage.
Mike had to add some Cayenne pepper, I think red pepper flakes would have also done the trick. I added a little more of the pasta water to lessen the thickness of the sauce, but this was an overall great dish. The leftovers for lunch the next day were even better!
*You could always add some frozen peas, or extra kale to it to increase the vegetables, just save a little more pasta water and add a few more spices to keep the sauce thin enough for the pasta to absorb.

Dry-Fried Tofu and Vegetables

I received an email from Women's Health with a few healthy fall recipes and found this one for Dry-Fried Tofu with Pumpkin Curry. Well, I didn't have any pumpkin, nor did I have some of the other vegetables it called for, so I improvised.
For my version, you'll need:
1 package extra firm tofu
canola oil
1/2 red onion (chopped)
1 jalapeno (seeded and chopped)
1 package frozen butternut squash (substituted for pumpkin)
frozen edamame (as much as you like)
1 c light coconut milk
1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp red curry paste
2 tsp Splenda brown sugar
4 tsp fish sauce

I started out by steaming a big bunch of kale.

While that was boiling, I put a little bit of cooking spray in my non-stick skillet and let that heat up. I dried the tofu (just put it on a paper towel for a few minutes), chopped it up, and salt and peppered both sides. Then I added it to the pan and let it cook for a few minutes per side.

Once the kale had boiled down, I added the butternut squash and edamame and let that steam a little longer (feel free to add whatever vegetables you have on hand).

Next, I sauteed the onion, jalapeno, garlic, and red curry paste with some more canola oil.

Finally, I just added everything to my wok, and added the coconut milk, fish sauce, and chicken broth. I let that simmer until it thickened (about 5 minutes) and served over brown rice. It turned out to be very flavorful, and extra healthy. This was definitely a recipe I'd choose to do again, since so many of the ingredients can be substituted.
I topped it with some slivered almonds for extra crunch, and the red Sriracha sauce for a little extra spice!