White Lasagna for National Lasagna Day

White Chicken or Vegetable Lasagnacat in lasagna dish

It’s National Lasagna Day so what better dish to write about than a delicious vegetable or chicken lasagna. It can be a low-fat dinner using chicken or a nice vegetarian meal using zucchini noodles and mushrooms in place of chicken.  You’ll want to be sure to make enough as this always goes fast in our house.

White Chicken/Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles or thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or white wine
  • 1-3/4 cups low fat milk or plain almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or can use mushrooms if want to leave meat out altogether
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 9-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 12-oz box frozen mashed squash, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with Pam or other non-stick spray.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. When done, rinse well with cold water and set aside. If using zucchini strips, cut into 1/8″ thick long strips, lightly salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. Lightly dab with paper towel to help get rid of excess moisture. On a grill or under broiler, cook zucchini strips for 1-2 minutes per side then place on paper towels to drain.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic (and mushrooms if using them to replace chicken) then cook for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir well, cooking for about 1 minute. Add chicken broth or white wine slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Add milk, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Set cheese mixture aside.

Lay out remaining ingredients – mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, cooked chicken (if using), spinach (that has been squeezed to get out all liquid) and squash.

Begin assembling lasagna by putting a small amount of cheese sauce in the casserole dish and spreading to cover bottom. Place 3 lasagna noodles/zucchini strips on top of sauce forming the first layer. Place 1/2 of the remaining cheese sauce on top of noodles/zucchini strips, 1/2 of the chicken (ignore if omitting chicken) and then spread ricotta cheese on top. Layer 3 more noodles/zucchini strips. Spread remaining cheese sauce on top of noodles and top with chicken (if using), spinach and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Add last layer of pasta/zucchini strips and spread butternut squash over the top. Add remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and allow cheese to brown, about 15 minutes. If cheese is still not browning, turn on the broiler and watch carefully until browned.

Tip: If you let the lasagna cool for about 10-15 minutes it will be easier to cut and serve.

Note: You can prepare ahead of time, up to the covering with foil then store in refrigerator until ready for dinner. You may need to cook it slightly longer since the casserole will be cold.

Serves 6-8.

Wine Pairing: Choose a wine that will compliment the cheeses such as a Sauvignon Blanc or one that will suit the spinach and squash as well like a nice oaked Chardonnay or a Viognier.

Linda's Signature

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Zucchini – Whatever Floats Your Boat!

Margherita Zucchini BoatsI have developed a taste for zucchini lately and have been looking for new ways to fix this nutritious and delicious veggie. Did you know it was a member of the summer squash family and delivers loads of Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6 and potassium? It even delivers smaller amounts of Vitamin A, magnesium, calcium and iron and all for only 33 calories for the entire zucchini!

Of course, now that I told you how low in calories this vegetable is, I am going to up the count by adding some delicious cheese but still keep it on the healthy side with the addition of tomatoes and fresh basil. You will find it quite similar to a margherita pizza but with a lot less calories!

Margherita Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchini
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, or to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1/8-1/4 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 lb. sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 2-4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line with aluminum foil.

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and, using a teaspoon, scoop out seeds and just a little extra so that it can hold the other ingredients. Place on prepared cookie sheet. If you need to, cut a little off the bottom of each zucchini half so that it sits flat.

In a small bowl, mix 3 Tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper. Brush over the top of each zucchini. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the garlic spread then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Zucchini BoatsRemove from oven and place slices of mozzarella around tomatoes and sprinkle with a little of the chopped basil and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the top and place under broiler until cheese has melted and browned. To serve, top with remaining basil and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

Note: The amount of ingredients you use is up to you and your family’s tastes. I like to use quite a bit of garlic and fresh basil when I prepare this dish and sometimes add some red pepper flakes to the olive oil-garlic mixture for a little extra kick. Enjoy!

Linda's Signature

Memorial Day Cookout – Blue Cheese Zucchini Burgers

Blue Cheese Zucchini Burgers

What’s on the menu? Blue Cheese Zucchini Burgers! But don’t let the name fool you as these burgers are plenty beefy. I know zucchini sounds like an odd thing to add to a hamburger but  adding zucchini to the mix not only helps make the burgers more moist but you can use leaner beef as well to make them healthier. Oh, and your kids won’t even know that you are helping them eat their veggies! Of course, the most important thing is how do they taste. Well, once you bite into one of these beauties you will find them both rich and hearty and, to make them reach the over-the-top mark, pile on toppings of grilled onions and crisp bacon. I served mine with coleslaw and grilled corn on the cob but for a Memorial Day BBQ to remember serve them on a toasted whole wheat bun with all the trimmings!

Blue Cheese Zucchini Burgers

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb.or about 1-1/2 cups zucchini, peeled & shredded
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat buns
  • Garnishes: Grilled onions & bacon (optional)

Directions:

Shred zucchini and place between paper towels and squeeze out excess moisture.

Place all ingredients other than buns and garnishes in a bowl and mix with your hand. Form into 4-6 hamburgers. Place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours to firm so they hold their shape during cooking.

Preheat grill. If grilling onions, slice in thick slices, spray grill with nonstick cooking spray, sprinkle rings with a little olive oil and cook alongside hamburgers. Cook hamburgers for 5-7 minutes per side. If you are topping with additional cheese slices, place slices on top of the burgers in the last minute or two and wait until melted. Serve on whole wheat buns topped with grilled onions.

Serves 4-6.

memorial day flags

May everyone have a wonderful Memorial Day and remember those that fought for the freedoms we enjoy!

Linda's Signature

A Sweet Treat for any Occassion

chocolatechip2Today we celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day and what better way to honor these sweet, delicious morsels of heaven than to give you 10 recipes to choose from! Or, if you’re like me, you can just grab a handful out of the bag and enjoy right away!  Nom Nom Nom!

  1. Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
  2. Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips
  3. Tropical White Chocolate Chip Cookies
  4. Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
  5. Chocolate Butterscotch-Chip Cookies
  6. Reverse Chocolate Chip Pancakes
  7. Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies
  8. Chocolate Chip Shortbreads
  9. Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (video recipe)
  10. Emeril’s Pecan-Chocolate Chip Pie

Resources:

Delish.com

WomensDay.com

Allrecipes.com

Sip. Saute. Savor.

MarthaStewart.com

Christina signature 3

What’s Cookin’ for Meatless Monday?

Zucchini Ribbons with Tomato Basil Sauce

There are great benefits from cutting a little meat out of our diet. These include less fat intake, fewer calories and a lower risk of heart disease and when we substitute lots of fresh leafy vegetables and whole grains we enrich our diet with vitamins, fiber and many other important nutrients that can lead to a healthier, longer life.

Try this fantastic recipe made with zucchini instead of pasta and a wonderful tomato-basil pasta sauce. I also included a link to a Bolognese meat sauce for those that just can’t give up  meat.

Zucchini Ribbons with Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini, washed
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped (or 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes & 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Zucchini:

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into thin ribbons. You could also use a slicer that comes on the side of most cheese graters. Blanch the zucchini in salted water by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, dropping in the ribbons, and letting it cook for 1 minute. When time is up immediately drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and leave for 1 minute. Drain then toss with preferred sauce such as this tomato-basil or primavera sauce and serve with a side of grated cheese.

Sauce:

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until golden, about 5 minutes. Add in chopped tomatoes (if you like smoother sauces they can be pureed in blender), basil, bell pepper and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for 30-45 minutes then serve over zucchini ribbons or whole wheat pasta with a side of grated Parmesan cheese.

For all you meat lovers, here is a link to a delicious bolognese sauce from food.com  http://www.food.com/recipe/real-italian-bolognese-sauce-83950

Enjoy!

Linda's Signature