Zucchini Lasagna

If you are a regular reader of my blog I’m sure you have noticed by now that I love zucchini. It’s so healthy, versatile, and it’s relatively inexpensive. This recipe is fantastic because it’s a healthy, veggie packed, low carb lasagna option. Oh, and did I mention it’s delicious? Because it is. It’s so good!

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Since having gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy I’m more aware of my carb intake and always looking for ways I can swap ingredients in recipes for low or lower carb options. The zucchini in this recipe replace regular lasagna noodles so well that I don’t even miss my regular lasagna recipe. It’s also nice to get more veggies in my meal and be able to save my carbs for a yummy, crusty, crunchy piece of bread to sop up the extra sauce. Yum!

Also, don’t be fooled…I know I usually post quick and easy, 30-minutes or less dinner recipes, but this meal is kind of time intensive. It isn’t difficult! It just takes a while to make. Save this for a night when you have plenty of time and are in the mood to cook.

What You Need:
1 lb mild or medium Italian sausage
about 2 teaspoons (3ish cloves) of minced garlic
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
3 to 4 medium zucchini, sliced longways (about 1/8″ thick)
salt and pepper to taste
15 oz part skim ricotta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

The How To:
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
1. If the sausage has casing, remove it and begin to cook over medium high heat until the sausage is cooked through and there is no pink left. *Note* If you want to keep this recipe strictly vegetarian you can replace the sausage with diced portabella mushrooms, but be sure to drain the excess liquid so the lasagna doesn’t become watery.
2. Once the sausage is cooked through, drain the excess fat until there is only about a tablespoon left. If you would like to remove the sausage from the pan you can, but I like less clean up, so I left the sausage in the pan for the next step.
3. Saute the garlic until lightly browned and then add the onions. Stir all together and cook until the onions are somewhat translucent.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add the sausage back to the pan if you removed it, and then add the diced tomatoes as well as the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. If you purchased tomatoes and tomato sauce already with Italian seasoning, you can leave out the extra seasoning according to your preferred taste. Allow the sauce to simmer over medium low heat while you prepare the zucchini.
Zucchini Lasagna Sauce

5. Slice the zucchini longways so that they are about 1/8″ thick. Your life will be one thousand times more simple if you have a mendolin slicer, but I did not, so I cut my zucchini in half and used my wavy slicer (does that have an actual name?). The goal is to make the slices thick enough that they don’t just disintegrate into mush, but thin enough that they will cook all the way through and act like noodles. It can be tricky, I know. Don’t worry. You’re doing great!
Sliced Zucchini

6. Lightly salt the zucchini slices as you go. This will not only season the zucchini but will also help the excess water come out. I put my slices on a bed of paper towels and then soaked up the excess water by gently pressing the slices.
7. Brown the zucchini in a pan. If you cook the slices before putting them in the lasagna, most of the excess water will be cooked off beforehand. This makes a much more delicious (and significantly less soupy) dinner. Trust me. I know it seems like a time consuming step, but it really does make it worth it. You can also add pepper at this point, if you prefer.
8. Once your zucchini slices have all been cooked off, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and egg together in a bowl until well blended. Ta-da! You are ready to layer!
9. Start with a layer of sauce at the bottom of your baking dish or disposable pan (hello easy clean up!). Follow with zucchini slices, then a thin layer of the ricotta mixture, and then some mozzarella cheese. Continue to layer until you run out of ingredients. My lasagna usually consists of sauce, zucchini, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, zucchini, ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella to top it off. Also, sorry! I forgot to take a picture of my ricotta layer. But I’m sure you get the idea.
Zucchini Lasagna Layers

10. Cover your baking dish in tinfoil and then bake at 375°F for 45 minutes, then bump the temperature up to 400°F and bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the mozzarella on top is browned and bubbly to your liking.
Baked Zucchini Lasagna

Enjoy! You will probably want to dig in right away, but if you have the time to allow it to rest for about 10 minutes, you may come out with a slightly more structured slice of lasagna than I did. Ha, I didn’t want to wait–I was starving!

Plated Zucchini Lasagna

Also, don’t you worry if it kind of falls apart. It may not look like the most amazing thing you have ever cooked, but I can promise it will be among the most delicious! I hope you love it! Let me know if you try it out or if you have any questions.

Happy cooking!

Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

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Chicken Fajitas

As promised, this week’s recipe is chicken fajitas! If you missed last week’s delicious homemade tortillas, make sure you head over to that post because they really made these fajitas even more amazing than they usually are!

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The key to these fajitas is the marinade. It is best to prepare the chicken far enough in advance so that it has enough time to soak in all of those delicious flavors for a few hours before you cook it. I have made it before without letting it marinade at all, but it really is better when it has time to sit for a while.

I originally saw this recipe on the Young Wife’s Guide and have adapted it to what works for me. I don’t have a grill, so I always make these in a regular pan. I also changed the marinade a bit, and our family loves it this way. Also, this recipe freezes really well! I made shredded chicken before hand, put it in a ziplock with the marinade and tossed it until it was well coated. I popped it in the freezer and when I was ready to use it, I just defrosted it and heated it in a pan and it was just as good as making it fresh. In fact, it may have been even better because it was soaking in that marinade for a few weeks!

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To make the marinade:
3 Tablespoons oil (whatever oil you prefer is fine)
1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
1 Tablespoon garlic

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a plastic bag or container and add the chicken. For this recipe I usually use two chicken breasts, which you can marinate whole or already cut into strips. Because I use just a regular pan and not a grill I always cut my chicken into strips. Allow the chicken to marinate for 3-6 hours, if you have the time. The longer it sits, the yummier it will be!

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For the veggies, you’ll want to chop up an onion and several bell peppers. I had mini bell peppers on hand so I used quite a few, but if you are using medium sized peppers I would probably use two or three. Also, I didn’t realize I didn’t have an onion in the house until I was already cooking, so just pretend like I cooked an onion too.

When the chicken has marinated for long enough, heat up your pan over medium high heat and cook it off. While the chicken is cooking, saute the peppers and onions, tossing every now and then to make sure they cook evenly. Don’t forget to season them with salt and pepper!

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We like our veggies tender-crisp, so we don’t cook them too long. If you prefer them softer, cook them longer! Just watch them to make sure you don’t forget about them and let them burn. I didn’t time any of this…sorry! I just watch everything and test it as I’m cooking. Both the chicken and the veggies shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes though!

Once everything is cooked as you like it, it’s time to assemble! Take one of your homemade tortillas as a base, add the chicken, and top with the peppers and onions. This dish is delicious served with rice, but if you want to keep it a low carb meal, you can pair it with my fiesta bean salad for a fresh, healthy option!

Assembling fajitas

Fajitas

Now go make some for yourself! Yum!

Linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday and Tuesday’s Table!

Simple Roasted Asparagus with Swai

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I am all about quick, simple recipes. Between when Evan usually goes to sleep around seven or seven-thirty and my husband’s work schedule which on occasion keeps him out until ten o’clock, sometimes we don’t have dinner on the table until between 8pm and 10pm. Yes, I’m aware it’s not good for us to eat that late, but we are also in a stage of life where we don’t even have a table…so you know…sometimes it is what it is. Our days are so busy usually that if I haven’t menu planned, there’s a good chance that I haven’t even decided what to make until five o’clock. But by then it’s all about Evan–making sure he has a good, balanced dinner, some play time, and then starting his bedtime routine so he can get to sleep on time. It’s usually at least 8 o’clock before I start cooking, and at that point I don’t want to be in the kitchen for longer than I need to be. Is anyone else’s life as chaotic as this sometimes? I hope the answer is yes!

Anyway, this asparagus took less than 15 minutes to make. That’s my favorite kind of recipe, y’all.

I say y’all a lot on here. Which is funny, because I don’t think I say it that much in real life. Not that this isn’t real life. But “in person” real life. Know what I mean?

I’m rambling. Sorry. Back to the veggies.

Rinse the asparagus and break off the tough bottoms of the stalks. Line a baking tray with tinfoil, and lay the asparagus flat. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top, and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic. If you don’t have fresh garlic, garlic powder will do the trick. Roll the stalks around to make sure they are evenly coated, and then pop into the oven at 400°F for about 10 minutes. You can play it by ear with the time depending on how crunchy or soft you prefer your asparagus to be, but I felt like this was perfect.

Take it out of the oven. Be happy forever. Done.

Seasoned asparagus on the left, finished roasted asparagus on the right. I know. It pretty much looks the same. But one is roasted and delicious and amazing and the other isn't I mean, I guess it could be okay. I've never eaten raw asparagus. But just roast it. You'll thank me. I promise.

Seasoned asparagus on the left, finished roasted asparagus on the right. I know. It pretty much looks the same. But one is roasted and delicious and amazing and the other isn’t. I mean, I guess it could be. I’ve never eaten raw asparagus. But just roast it. You’ll thank me. I promise.

I loved this recipe because even though I normally love my asparagus with parmesan cheese, we were all out. Most everyone has some oil, salt and pepper, and garlic in their homes. Well, maybe not the garlic. I usually have between one and three pounds of minced garlic in my fridge at all times. No, I’m not kidding. I’m Italian. That’s how it was for me growing up and if I didn’t have that much garlic on hand, well, I think I would be kind of lost. So it’s hard for me to imagine that people don’t have a ridiculous amount of garlic in their homes. But if you don’t, just use garlic powder. No big deal.

I paired this simple side with an even more simple entree. Swai fillets were on sale at my local grocery store, so I melted some butter in a pan, seasoned them with lemon pepper seasoning salt, and cooked on medium until they were flaky while the asparagus was roasting. Both things were done at the same time, and dinner couldn’t have been more delicious!

Asparagus and fish 1

Let me know if you try this recipe and how it goes. I love hearing from you!

Linking up for Delicious Dish Tuesday!

Spaghetti Squash with Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach

I love spaghetti squash. I had eaten it before, but it wasn’t until I had gestational diabetes and I was looking for low-carb alternatives in my dinner recipes that I was reminded of how delicious it is! The first few times I made it, I pretty much stuck with simple vegetarian meals–steaming the squash and then topping it with sauteed bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. More recently I cooked up the more traditional “spaghetti squash bolognese,” and while it was yummy, I still wanted to experiment with other options. 

Well, this is it. This is the one. 

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This recipe is so ridiculously simple, and so delicious. 

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Are you drooling yet?

I call it “Spaghetti Squash with Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach,” because those are pretty much the only ingredients. The only other thing you’ll need is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt, and pepper. Simple!

Here’s the how-to…with pictures of course!

Step 1
Get your spaghetti squash roasting. This takes the longest amount of time, so you’ll want to make sure you get this started right away. There are many different ways to prepare the squash, but I prefer baking/roasting it. I have also steamed it and microwaved it in the past, but I think it tastes yummier (i.e. not as mushy) when it is baked. In our tiny apartment we have a mini-stove/oven and it is kind of a pain, so recently we purchased a nice convection toaster oven, and that’s what I used to bake the squash for this recipe.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half length-wise and scoop out all of the seeds. Drizzle with EVOO, salt, and pepper. You can add other seasonings–garlic or garlic powder would be yummy–and spices if you like. Place face down on a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake for about 45 minutes. Depending on your oven it may need slightly shorter or longer to cook. Because my oven was baking on the convection setting, it only needed about 35 minutes until it was finished.

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ImageStep 2
While the squash is baking, remove the sausage from its casing (if using links). Again, you can change up the type of sausage you use if you prefer a spicier flavor, but I used sweet Italian sausage. The squash will make a lot–we had enough for 6 adult servings–so if you want to make it all with sausage, cook up extra links. If you want to save some of the squash for another recipe, cook up less sausage. You can count on about one link per person. We wanted leftovers so we cooked up all five that came in the pack. With the casing removed, “chop” with a wooden spoon and cook until nicely browned with no pink left. 

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Once the meat is browned, add fresh spinach and cover. Cook just until the spinach wilts. Spinach shrinks down to almost nothing once it is cooked, so add way more than you think you need to! I added more than half of the bag to start with, and once that was wilted down, I added almost half of what was left. 

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Once the spaghetti squash is finished baking, allow it to rest for a few minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Using a fork, scrape out the insides into the spaghetti like strands the squash is named for. 

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Scoop the squash onto a plate and top with the sausage and spinach, and you’re done!

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Fiesta Bean Salad

Summer is officially here, which means I have been in the market for recipes that don’t require me to be standing over a hot stove or oven preparing dinner. Of course, living in Hawaii these kinds of recipes are welcome all year round, but there is something about this Hawaiian humidity that really makes summer feel like summer. This bean salad is delicious, light and refreshing. Even Brinton said he loved it, and he doesn’t even like black beans!

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Can you taste all of that flavor just by looking at it?! Not only is this super yummy, but it’s very quick to make and there is no cooking involved at all. I kept a big tupperware full of this salad in the fridge so we could just grab a few scoops here and there to make our meals more interesting. It was so convenient to be able to just put a scoop of this over our taco meat the other night when we had burritos! And of course, once again, this is a diabetes friendly recipe! Low on carbs, way healthy, and crazy flavorful!

What you need:

Bean Salad Collage

Ready for instructions? Chop it all up, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil (not pictured, sorry!) and season with salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste. Easy peasy, right? If you are interested in proportions, this recipe is really forgiving, and it’s great because you can add more of a veggie you love, not add one if you don’t prefer it, or add another veggie entirely. I personally used one can of black beans, rinsed and drained, half a bag of frozen corn kernels (about one and one-thirds cup), and just under half of the red onion. I chopped up the whole green pepper, cucumber, and all three tomatoes. I would have loved to add some red, yellow, or orange peppers too, but they were way too expensive at my local grocery store and I was trying to keep to a budget. I like the lime flavor as well, so I squeezed the whole lime on top and mixed. I meant to add some garlic too, but I had completely forgotten (what kind of Italian am I?!) and it tasted delicious enough for me to not feel the need to throw it in.

Carb count: about 8 grams of carbs per half cup scoop. My measurements are based off of the specific beans and corn that I used, divided by 13 half cup portions that the salad made. If you add more or less or a certain ingredient, you may want to double check your carb count!

What are some of your favorite light and refreshing summer recipes? Leave me a comment with a link and I’ll go check it out!

Tofu “Mac” and Cheese

This meal is easy and delicious. Let me just say…the tofu doesn’t fool anyone into thinking it is pasta, but I love this dinner anyway! Plus, the protein in this meal makes it super filling. Pair this with a side of fresh veggies for a nice balance. Also, keep in mind that there are almost no carbs in this entree, so make sure to include some kind of starch–whole wheat or whole grain dinner rolls, a side of rice, or even potatoes will compliment the tofu and veggies nicely!

Tofu Mac and Cheese Collage

Tofu Mac and Cheese Recipe

What’s your favorite twist on mac and cheese?

Caprese Platter

Recipe time! It’s been so long!

Granted, you can’t really call this a recipe. All you need is fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Alternate the tomato and cheese, and drizzle everything else on top. It is also absolutely fabulous when you garnish with fresh basil, and sometimes when I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll even splash a bit of balsamic vinegar on top. If the queen is coming, I’ll serve it with freshly baked crostinis (but really, who has the time?)

This dish is fresh and light, totally refreshing for summer, and my new favorite thing…diabetes friendly! No promises on low calorie, big promises on delicious.

Caprese Platter Collage

 

Go make one! You know you want to…