Zucchini Lasagna with Beef & Mushrooms

I posted this so-so photo of the lasagna I made last night, inspired by a Skinnytaste recipe. After many requests for the recipe, here’s my adaptation!

Do not be fooled by the fact that the original recipe is Skinnytaste. As you may know by now, I love cheese. So I was compelled to add extra cheese. Not sorry.

Make sure you salt the zucchini slices, laid out on paper towels. Pat them dry after 15 minutes. If you skip this step, you’ll have lasagna stew because zucchini is full of water.

Use any type of ground meat you like – I used half a pound of venison and half a pound of beef sirloin. Turkey…Italian sausage…it will all work great!

I shortcut the sauce by using jarred. 6pm on a Monday after a full day of work is no time to make your own sauce, so pull out the jar, folks! I won’t tell.

Zucchini Lasagna with Beef & Mushrooms

servings=6

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, stem end removed, sliced to 1/8″ on a mandolin slicer (this is the weight of the final stack of slices)
  • 1 pound ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, venison, etc.)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 jar (around 24 ounces) of your favorite spaghetti sauce (tomato basil works great)
  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or you could use shredded if you like), plus more for topping
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt, for zucchini

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Slice the zucchini and lay on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

In a large pan, brown the meat and onion over medium heat. While the meat cooks, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and egg in a bowl. Set aside.

When the meat is done, drain off any liquid. Add spaghetti sauce and mushrooms; stir to combine. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, blot the zucchini dry.

In a deep 3 1/2 quart casserole, layer 1/4 meat sauce in the bottom. Layer 1/3 zucchini slices on top, making the slices overlap. Spread 1/3 ricotta mixture over top; repeat sauce-zucchini-ricotta two more times so you have 3 layers.

Spoon remaining sauce on top of top layer of ricotta. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.

Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then 15-20 minutes uncovered until cheese is browned and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Adapted from Skinnytaste.com’s Zucchini Lasagna

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Slow-Cooker Chicken & Rice Soup

This nutritious family staple is too easy to not make at home. I make the recipe even simpler by using a slow cooker – by late afternoon you’ll have a fragrant, steaming soup that just needs some cooked brown rice and you’re done! I like to use boneless, skinless cuts of chicken to keep the fat down.

You can use red potatoes instead of rice, if you like. Cut them into 1-inch chunks and add in the beginning so they’re tender when it’s time to eat.

You’ll be seeing more slow cooker recipes from me soon!

chickenricesoup2

Slow-Cooker Chicken & Rice Soup

servings:4-6

  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced (including top leaves)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Place the chicken breasts in a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Add all ingredients except rice, cover, and cook on low 6-7 hours.

Remove bay leaves and onion. Shred chicken. Add rice and stir; top with chopped fresh parsley if you like. Enjoy!


Chicken in Savory Tomato Sauce

I got home from work and realized I had no plan on what to make for dinner.

I really hate when this happens! But I had a full pantry and hungry mongrels all around me. What to do?

This is what I did, and I’m glad I did.

The sauce was really rich and delicious…a quick homemade marinara. Simmer some chicken in it, and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this before.

I didn’t have any, but tear some basil over the finished plates if you like. Or add fresh herbs for even better flavor!

I sprinkled shaved Parmesan cheese over the top, but you could use mozzarella too.

Something about the crunchy, peppery arugula under that rice really worked here. If that’s not your fancy, serve over pasta.

Either way, this recipe just proves the old saying that simple is better!

Chicken in Savory Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds chicken (any pieces you like; I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into slivers (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small green bell pepper (about 1 cup)
  • 26 ounce container chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • rice or pasta, for serving
  • arugula, for serving (optional)
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Generously salt and pepper the chicken. Add to pan and cook 10-15 minutes, turning once, until browned all over. Remove from pan to a plate.

Drain all but a small amount of oil from the pan (you may not need to do this if your chicken is skinless). Add garlic, onion, and green pepper, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.

Stir in tomatoes and oregano, and bring to a simmer. Put chicken back in the pan, cover, and simmer on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, turning once.

Serve over a bed of greens and rice like we did, or over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!


One-Skillet Eggs with Potatoes and Kale

Thanks to Julie at feedfeed.info for featuring this post on her “Breakfast Eggs” feed in November 2014!

Here’s an easy, one-pot-to-clean way to get breakfast or brunch on the table. I’m always throwing things together in a pan and this morning’s turned out pretty derned good.

This is a simple recipe. Use the pretty multicolored potatoes like I did, or use any waxy potato (such as small red “new” potatoes).

I made 2 servings in a 10-inch pan. You could squeeze 3 or maybe even 4 servings out of a 12-inch pan.

I love when a meal you throw together turns out great! Enjoy.

One-Skillet Eggs with Potatoes and Kale

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 pounds waxy potatoes, such as red or fingerling, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2-3 cups kale, stems removed, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pepper, to taste

In a 10-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and garlic powder and cook 10-15 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add onions and cook another 5 minutes. Pepper potatoes and onions to taste.

Reduce heat to medium. Move potatoes to one side and add bacon. Cook slowly for 10 minutes until crisp. Set on paper towels to drain.

Stir potato and onions, and add kale. Move potatoes to one side and slowly pour eggs (pan should be hot enough that the eggs begin to cook immediately and don’t mix too much with the potatoes). Top with cheese. Scramble and cook until fluffy.

Serve half the eggs and potatoes with 1 slice of bacon. Enjoy!


Chicken with Salsa Verde

Salsa verde is the easiest thing ever. Made fresh on your stovetop in 45 minutes (including the meat), you’ll never buy the sodium-laden jars again.

Make tacos, enchiladas, burritos…or dip tortilla chips in it!

If you don’t like heat, leave the jalapeño out, because it does make the sauce spicy. Add in green bell pepper as a replacement.

As always, corn tortillas are traditional. Flour tortillas will work fine, but because they’re larger, you’ll get fewer tacos.

Garnish how you like…cilantro, lime wedges, radish slices, queso blanco…or sour cream. Or queso dip. Or all of the above. So delicious.

Chicken with Salsa Verde

Yield 10-12 tacos or enchiladas.

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken cuts (such as breast or thigh)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound tomatillos, papery shells removed, cut into small wedges
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced into rounds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste

garnish with:

  • chopped cilantro
  • radish slices
  • queso blanco
  • sour cream
  • hot sauce
  • lime wedges

Heat oil in a large fry pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat; generously salt and pepper chicken, and add to pan. Brown meat 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan to a plate.

Add chicken broth and scrape up the brown bits in the pan. When broth is simmering, stir in tomatillos, jalapeño, onion, and garlic. Simmer on medium-high heat 15-20 minutes, or until tomatillos soften. Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, crush the tomatillos.

Add the chicken back and simmer 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and cut into slices; squeeze lime into sauce and season with salt if needed.

For enchiladas: heat tortillas, covered with a damp paper towel, in the microwave a few at a time, 15-20 seconds. Fill middle with a few slices of chicken, roll and place seam side down on a plate. Spoon verde sauce over the top. If desired, top with cheese and place under broiler for a few minutes to melt cheese. Finish with desired toppings.

For tacos: heat a dry skillet over high heat and lightly brown tortillas (corn only- heat flour tortillas using the microwave method above) until firm. Lay flat on a plate and add chicken, sauce and toppings as desired.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Bon Appétit’s Chicken with Salsa Verde


Salvadorian-Style Red Bean & Short Rib Stew with Salsa Cruda

This is an adapted version of the Salvadorian classic, made with ingredients more readily available to American cooks. The stew is rich and saucy, and the salsa cruda (“raw sauce”) is fresh and a perfect flavor compliment.

In the original version, several hard-to-find vegetables are called for, as well as much less meat. I also add onion and garlic when cooking the chicken. Chayote is a fruit that tastes like a cross between a papaya, avocado, and squash; it’s available in my grocery store, but if you can’t find it, leave it out or substitute yellow crookneck squash.

I like to serve this stew over white rice, with one short rib per person. Give everyone a small bowl of salsa cruda for topping, and you’re all set. ¡Muy delicioso!

Red Bean Stew Closeup

Salvadorian-Style

  • 2 pounds short ribs
  • 3 cans undrained red beans
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 6 whole peeled garlic cloves
  •  3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 light or dark green chayote (1 pound), pitted, peeled and cut into a 1-inch dice (peel skin with a vegetable peeler, taking off just the top layer of skin)
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, cut into 1-inch strips
  • salt to taste

for the salsa cruda:

  • 1 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes (4-6 count), seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large cooking pot; simmer 1 hour covered.

When ribs are tender, remove them along with the garlic cloves. In a fry pan, heat oil over medium heat and brown garlic and ribs on all sides (keep pot of beans simmering while you do this).

While the ribs brown, add parsley, cilantro, plantains, chayote, and salt (if needed) to beans; stir. Add ribs and garlic back to pot. Simmer 20 more minutes or until vegetables are getting tender, then add cabbage and cook another 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are done.

Make the salsa while the pot finishes cooking: combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Gluten Free Easy Chicken & Vegetable Pies

So I haven’t posted in a while because my sister Whitney got married! It was total craziness! But so fun.

In the last few hectic weeks I’ve come to really appreciate easy recipes. That everyone can (and will!) eat.

Therefore, I give you refrigerated gluten free dough, frozen vegetables, and leftover chicken. Add a few everyday ingredients in, and bingo – dinner is done! Kids and adults will eat these because they’re yummy, my sister Caroline can eat these because they’re gluten free…everyone is happy.

The chicken base is optional, but it adds a lot of flavor – add it if you have it! You can also use a (non-gluten-free) chicken bullion cube.

If gluten free isn’t necessary…roll out those premade biscuits or croissants in a can and put this filling in. So good.

A few comments:

  • gluten free dough is finicky. If it starts to tear as you’re cutting it, put it back in the fridge to firm up. When you bake it, bake it to well done so it gets crispy but not burned (cover the tops with tin foil if needed).
  • use individual ramekins filled with the chicken and vegetable mixture and cover with a piece of dough, for easier assembly.

Chicken & Vegetable Pies closeup

Gluten Free Easy Chicken & Vegetable Hand Pies

Adapted from rachelschultz.com’s Chicken & Vegetable Hand Pies

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 white onion, diced small (omit if it’s in your vegetable mix)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups frozen cut vegetable mix
  • 2 cups cooked cubed chicken (grocery store rotisserie chicken works great!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup gluten free, low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 milk
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free chicken base (I use RC Fine Foods Brand)
  • 3 ounces gluten free flour (I use Better Batter All-Purpose Flour), or 3/4 cup regular flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2-16 ounce container refrigerated gluten free pie dough (I use Pillsbury, it’s in the dairy section), or regular pie dough, or mini biscuits in a can
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

(If you are starting with raw chicken, cook them in the olive oil over medium heat until cooked through and do not drain the pan; then proceed with onion and garlic below.)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the butter and vegetables, stir, and cook until they are thawed and warmed through.

Add the diced chicken, celery seed, chicken base, milk and chicken stock and cook to a simmer. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over everything and mix well; the final filling will be thick.

Roll out half the pie dough to 1/4 inch thickness and slice into 4 pieces. Repeat with the other half of the dough, then repeat all steps with the second pie crust.

On each of 8 dough pieces, add 1/2 cup of the chicken and vegetable mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with another piece of pie crust and seal edges well with a fork, or crimp with your fingers. Brush tops with egg. Cut 2-3 small holes in the top to vent. (No need to brush with egg if using biscuit or croissants.) Sprinkle tops with more cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until dough is well done and golden brown. Enjoy!