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!

Zucchini Lasagna Header

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!

Advertisements

Pasta alla Zucchini

I love zucchini–it’s one of my favorite veggies. I know it’s technically a “summer squash,” but most places you can still get it all year round which I am grateful for, because it’s delicious! Zucchini is jam packed full of vitamin C and potassium and a bunch of other awesome vitamins and such, which makes it a nice addition to a simple pasta plate which usually lacks much substance. I’m sure you all have noticed the pattern my recipes seem to follow…this recipe is quick, easy, and pretty healthy as well. Bonus: it’s also really inexpensive to put together! Let’s get cookin’!

Pasta alla Zucchini Header

What You Need: 
Olive oil
1 medium sized zucchini
1 medium sized (or 2 small) yellow zucchini
1/2 onion
2 generous tablespoons of garlic
1lb of your favorite pasta (I chose linguine)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
dried basil (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
Parmesan cheese, as a garnish

The How To:
1. Bring water to a boil to make your pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions, but make sure to leave your pasta al dente. This isn’t vital to the recipe, but mushy pasta is gross, y’all. Trust me, it’s better this way.
2. While your water is beginning to boil and your pasta is cooking, prepare the zucchini. Over medium to medium high heat, warm about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and dice the zucchini and onions.
3. Generously measure out about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, and sautee until golden. Sorry I don’t have an amount in cloves of garlic–I keep about three pounds of minced garlic in a large jar of oil in my fridge at any given time. Because you never know when you’ll need garlic. (Hint: you always need garlic.)
4. When the garlic is golden, add the onions and zucchini to the pan. Mix well, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can also include the optional red pepper flakes (which I did not use) and the dried basil (which I did use) at this point.
Step by Step collage5. Sautee until the veggies are mostly translucent, but still somewhat crisp. You want them fully cooked, but not mushy and disintegrating.
6. By now your al dente pasta should be finished. Toss it with about two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. You want to coat the pasta so it doesn’t stick to itself.
7. Plate the pasta and top it with the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

See? Mostly healthy and definitely delicious!

Zucchini close upPasta alla Zucchini 1

What’s your favorite way to eat zucchini? Let me know! I’m always looking for yummy new squash recipes.

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, Lou Lou Girls, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

I wish we lived in an age where computers had smell-o-vision. Think about it…wouldn’t that be fantastic? If you need some convincing, let me help:

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff Header

Yum, right? Don’t you wish you could smell it? Well, you can! You just have to make it yourself. No worries though–it’s a simple recipe and takes less than 30 minutes. You all should know by now that those are my favorite recipes!

Recently I’ve been trying to find more vegetarian dishes to cook because sometimes I feel like our family eats far too much meat. I stumbled across this stroganoff variation, and since I am a sucker for anything portobello mushroom I knew I had to give it a try! I adapted the recipe quite a bit (okay…a lot), but if you want to view the original recipe you can do so here.

Mushrooms close up

Ahhh they look so yummy. Okay, okay…I’ll stop teasing you. Here’s the recipe:

What You Need:
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon (2-3 cloves) garlic
1 medium sized onion
2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
4 medium sized crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped (optional, but delicious)
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium broth (veggie, beef, or chicken works fine)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, as a garnish
8 oz egg noodles (pasta, rice, or even quinoa would be a nice variation as well)

The How To:
1. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the garlic and onions until the garlic is browned and the onions are somewhat translucent.

Onions and garlic

2. Add the portobello and the crimini mushrooms to the pan, and cook until they are browned.

Adding mushrooms
3. Make a small well in the middle of the mushrooms, and add the flour. Let it cook for just a moment, and then stir it into the mushroom mixture. Salt and pepper the mushrooms to taste. Remember, don’t go overboard on the salt! You will still be adding broth and soy sauce. You can even omit the salt completely in this step if you so choose.

4. Pour in the broth of your choice. If you are trying to be strictly vegetarian, veggie broth works fine. I only had beef broth on hand, and it created a wonderful flavor. Use whatever you prefer!

Adding broth
5. Stir well, making sure the flour has completely incorporated into the broth and that there are no lumps. Add the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, stir, and barely bring to a boil. Allow it to cook like this for a minute or two so that the broth reduces a bit and the flour begins to thicken it slightly.

6. Add in the sour cream and mix to ensure it is completely blended. Lower the heat and continue to cook until the sauce thickens to your liking.

Adding sour cream
7. As your sauce sits on low or warm, stir it occasionally. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Do not over cook the noodles! Al dente pasta just tastes better.

8. Serve the noodles with the sauce on top, and garnish with parsley if you so choose.

Here, taste the sauce. Isn’t it delicious?!

Mushrooms on spoon

The fresh herbs at my supermarket didn’t look particularly inviting, so I decided to omit the parsley, but oh man it would be delicious with it as a garnish. It’s so yummy either way, though!

Finished mealI hope you enjoy this as much as I did! Haha we have made this two times since Saturday already. That’s how good it is!

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

 

No Bake Cheesecake

No bake desserts are some of my favorites to make–and eat! Here in Hawaii in the summer my apartment is usually outrageously hot, so anything I can make that doesn’t require me to turn on the oven is a winner in my book. Plus, this comes together fairly quickly (if you don’t count the chill time) and is perfect for group get-togethers. A few weeks ago we had a special dinner event for our young women at church, so I doubled the recipe and made 18 mini cheesecakes and one large regular sized cheesecake. It was a hit!

No bake cheesecake header

This cheesecake is creamy, dreamy, and delicious. Trust me, you’ll be in love from the first bite!

Mini cheesecake side closeup

Seriously…it looks dreamy, doesn’t it? Mmm…

When I was looking for a recipe, I ended up scouring Pinterest and asking some friends for recipes they had. I ended up combining a few different recipes based on the ingredients I had on hand, and came up with this! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

What You Need:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups fresh whipped cream*
18 mini graham cracker crusts, or 1 regular graham cracker crust

*See notes at bottom of post

The How To:
1. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, and then gradually add in the sugar. Beat until well blended.
2. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla.
3. Gently fold in the whipped cream. It is important to fold it in–do not mix it in! If you mix it in it will lose all of its fluffy goodness, and that would be a sad, sad day.
4. Once everything is incorporated, pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. If using mini crusts, spoon a few tablespoons of the mixture into each crust. I find spooning it into the minis to be much easier than pouring.
5. Refrigerate for 4+ hours or chill in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Once it has set, you can serve with your favorite fruit topping**! Enjoy!

Mini cheesecake closeup 2

Notes:
* To make fresh whipped cream, you’ll need 1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream and 3 tablespoons of sugar. You can use granulated or powdered sugar, but I usually use powdered because I find it to be smoother and easier to blend. Beat the heavy cream using an electric stand or hand mixer until it begins to look slightly thickened, and then add the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat just until stiff peaks form.
** To make fruit topping, follow the instructions for this fruit filling. Feel free to use whatever fruit/berries you prefer.

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

Mongolian Beef, Chicken, and Tofu

First, I just want to say that I know I have been pretty absent for the past week, but it probably isn’t going to get any better this week. My sister is here visiting which means we are out doing fun things! I’m just too busy this week to be able to post consistently. Next week I will (hopefully) be back to normal!

Oh also, I’ve decided I’m just going to combine my July and August favorites because I completely fell behind on that too and with how busy this week is I feel like it’s going to be way too late to play catch up.

Okay, now that all my housekeeping is done…on to Mongolian goodness!

Mongolian Tofu Header

The first time I had P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef I was in love. It became my new favorite dish. Eating out often is way too expensive though, so I decided to find an at-home recipe that was just as good as the real thing.

Doing my research, I realized that most of the Mongolian sauce recipes online were all the same, and to be honest I really haven’t changed it up at all. What I do like to change up is the protein. This sauce is delicious on beef, chicken, and tofu, and I’m sure it would be just as delicious on pork or even just veggies alone. This particular time I made it, I used tofu.

I love making this on a weeknight when I don’t have a lot of time to cook but when I still want a filling, delicious dinner. This recipe is quick (under 30 minutes!) and keeps well for leftovers the next day.

What You Need:
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon oil
2-3 teaspoons of garlic (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (again, to taste)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup brown sugar
3-5 scallions, green parts only

For the protein:
1 pound of your choice of protein
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste

The Sauce How To:
1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat the oil, add the ginger, and saute the garlic until lightly browned.
2. Stir in the soy sauce and water until well combined.
3. Add the brown sugar, mix until dissolved, and allow it to come to a boil for about three minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Protein How To:
1. If using beef or chicken slice into strips. I recommend flank steak for the beef (make sure to cut against the grain!) If using tofu, which is what I used here, cut it into cubes and press it to drain some of the water.
2. Salt and pepper your protein, and then toss with cornstarch so it is lightly coated. Let that sit for about 10 minutes to let the cornstarch stick. If you’re using tofu, you don’t have to wait the 10 minutes.
3. While you’re waiting, you can cut your scallions–green parts only–into inch-long strips. Set them aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan, and cook off your protein until lightly browned. For beef, this only takes a few minutes. You don’t want to overcook it! If you are using chicken, you will want to make sure it is cooked all the way through.
5. Once your protein is browned and cooked, add the sauce to the pan and stir to coat your protein. Let the sauce come back to a boil and then turn off the heat. Add the scallions and mix them in.

You’re done! I usually serve this over white rice, but brown rice is delicious too. If you’re feeling really adventurous I’m sure you could even use quinoa. I’ve also experimented with adding sauteed broccoli for some extra veggie goodness, but that’s totally up to you.

Tofu 1

Note: A lot of recipes I found say to saute your protein in a lot more oil (almost a cup) and then once it is mostly finished cooking, they say to drain the oil and return the protein to the pan. I usually just use less oil to begin with and skip this step.

I hope you enjoy this! Sorry I don’t have step by step pictures (again!). This was kind of a last minute idea for a post after I made dinner last night because I realized I hadn’t posted in a while. Again, I’m aiming to be more diligent with the blog next week. Right now though, I’m off to go hiking!

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

Delicious Homemade Tortillas

Well after a long (five day?) Fourth of July weekend, I’m back! It was nice to take a step back from the blog and spend time with family and friends. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday weekend as well!

As I was brainstorming earlier today about what to make for dinner tonight, I got a sudden craving for chicken fajitas. Doesn’t that sound so yummy? Don’t worry, I’ll share that recipe with you next week. Today though, I want to share this awesome recipe I stumbled upon for homemade tortillas. They seemed simple enough to make, so I decided to give it a go.

Tortillas

This recipe is a keeper! It was just as simple as it sounded, and the tortillas taste so good. I’ll summarize the recipe here, but be sure to go to The Café Sucré Farine blog and check them out!

All you’ll need is:
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water

1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix until everything is well incorporated. Add the water and oil, and mix until the dough is smooth. (Note: I don’t have a stand mixer, so I have to do everything by hand. I’m sure it is even more simple with the mixer, but I didn’t have any problems forming the dough just by stirring and then kneading just a little.)

Tortillas Step 1

2. Once the dough is smooth, form it into a ball and then divide it in half. Continue dividing the dough in half until you have 16 even-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a small disc with the palm of your hand. Let the dough pieces rest, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Tortillas Step 2

3. When the 15 minutes is up, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Roll each piece of dough thin with a rolling pin. I rolled them one at a time as I had one cooking in the pan so I didn’t have to worry about stacking the ready to be cooked tortillas and have them all stick together. Cook in a dry pan (you don’t need to put anything in it) for about a minute on the first side, until it becomes light brown. Flip it over, and cook about 30 seconds more on the second side. I personally like my tortillas a little darker, so I cooked them until they looked a little more dark brown.

Tortillas Step 3

4. Take the finished tortillas off the heat and store in a covered plastic container while you finish cooking the rest so they stay soft and don’t get dried out or crispy.

Tortillas Step 4

Viola! You’re finished. You can serve them warm–um, yum!–or you can cool them and keep them for later. The recipe says you can microwave them to heat them back up, but my husband and I always just throw our tortillas in a pan again for a few seconds on each side. Either way works, I’m sure! Apparently these can also be frozen indefinitely…which might mean I need to make a big batch of these now that the kiddo is asleep so we can enjoy fresh tortillas any time!

I’m really looking forward to experimenting with this recipe by adding flavors. Brinton loves spinach tortillas and I have had tomato basil ones before that were yummy, so next time I make these I think I’ll plan ahead and give that a go. If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Now that I have these delicious tortillas, I’m off to make fajitas. Check back next Tuesday for that recipe!

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

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!

IMG_3131

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!