Recipe: Pasta Free Lasagna

img_3880WHAT? Pasta free lasagna? Are you nuts? I know that’s what you are all thinking, but bear with me.

I know so many people are sticking to their New Years Resolutions of eating healthy, but they are longing for the warm, cheesy, rich gooey-ness of their favorite comfort foods. Mr. just finished a 10 day cleanse, and we are slowing adding things back into his diet. He missed cheese, so I set to find a recipe that contains cheese that I could make a little more healthy by omitting some of the other things that he isn’t quite ready to add back in (meat and lots of heavy carbs). I did make spaghetti to go on the side, but you can skip that if you want.

We had a bag of yellow squash in the fridge, so I decided to make lasagna using the squash in the place of the lasagna noodles.

With this recipe, you can add as many veggies as you want. I opted for mire poix (I had bags of it prepped in the freezer), garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and little pieces of the squash that I chopped into bite size pieces. These were the neck or end that I couldn’t cut into planks. I recommend that you use what you’ve got on hand that you really like. You can add ricotta between the layers, but I skipped it because we didn’t have any, and Mr. isn’t ready to add eggs back in yet (if you’ve never made lasagna before, the ricotta filling is a mixture of egg, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta).

img_3875This recipe makes a big 9×13 inch baking dish- There will be leftovers!

Pasta Free Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 4 yellow or green crooked neck squash (zucchini), cut into planks, Reserve remaining pieces for sauce
  • 1 jar sugar free pasta sauce (or use your favorite)
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 can (approx. 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. Italian seasonning
  • 2 T. Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup parmesaen cheese
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese
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Dinner is served (salad not shown)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large stock pot, saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add garlic and shallots, reduce heat. Cook until garlic and shallots are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Burnt garlic is gross.
  4. Pour wine over veggies and scrape any yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pot. This is called De-glazing the pan. Those brown bits are full of flavor.
  5. Add pasta sauce, herbs, and both cans of tomatoes (diced and paste). Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. If you want, you can simmer the sauce on low for as long as you want. Make sure to stir frequently and put a lid on the pot.
  6. Add reserved squash bits to sauce. They will cook quickly, so you need to add them last.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Ladle sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
  9. Cover the sauce with planks of squash, then layer cheese, and sauce.  repeat until the pan is full- the top layer should be cheese. If you like lots of cheese, use more than the 2 1/2 cups listed above.
  10. Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350. after 20 minutes, uncover pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  11. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with salad and a small portion of whole wheat pasta. I made whole wheat pasta and topped it with a dollop of Chef Shamy Garlic Butter. It’s amazing.

Variations: This meal is already vegetarian and gluten free. If you are vegan, use dairy free cheese. I cannot promise it will be as gooey and delicious, as I’m not familiar with how dairy free cheese cooks.

If you just gotta have meat, start by sauteing 1 lb of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, or turkey), then continue the recipe as written.

Money Saving Tips for Going Back to College!

collegeSo after a few year s(cough cough), I’ve gone back to college to finish up my AA and get ready to transfer to a CA State University.

Like any endeavor in my life, I’m trying to do the college experience on the cheap. Here are a few ways you can save money while going to school:

Start out by completing a FAFSA. That’s a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Regardless of your family income or situation, you should fill it out. You never know what kind of loans, fee waivers, or grants you may be eligible for. I was able to get a Governor’s Board Fee Waiver, which paid for my classes. All I had to pay was the Health Fee (which is $20).

amazonprimeAmazon Prime has a discounted program for students. The first 6 months are free (Courtesy of Sprint, and just $6.49/month after that. That’s 50% off the regular price.

You can rent your textbooks online, Amazon rents textbooks. Your local school library may also have short term checkout of some textbooks. You may have to ask the librarian for more information.

If you need a new computer, Apple offers a discount through Unidays. I’m still in the middle of setting my account up, but it looks like Unidays partners with hundreds of retail partners.

School supplies are always cheaper if you buy them off campus. I like to shop for school supplies at Dollar Tree, they have lots of great stuff all year long.

A list on online retailers offering discounts can be seen here, courtesy of Dealhack.

Once school starts, get a Student ID card.

Beyond saving money at on tuition, books, and supplies, your student ID may give you discounts out in the world! College students who meet some criteria may also receive a discount on your automobile insurance, cell phone bill, even fee free banking products.

Movie theatres, museums, local attractions, and restaurants sometimes give students discounts, make sure to check before you go.

Talk Back: What’s your favorite Student Discount?

 

1/28/19 Meal Plan Monday

stemarie_1650skitchen

Mr. husband is on the second week of his cleanse.Much like last week,  the kids and I will will be eating some similar foods, it’s hard to convince the kids to eat kale and steamed salmon night after night.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Leftover Pizza, fruit salad
  • Tuesday: Vegetarian crockpot chili
  • Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner- Blueberry pancakes (Kodiak flap jacks), fruit salad. Blueberries are on sale this week at Sprouts for .88, so we are eating a lot of them!
  • Thursday: Homemade red sauce, spiralized crockneck squash, Italian marinated chicken breasts
  • Friday:  Date Night (dinner out, but I’m not sure where)
  • Saturday: Salad bar night: mixed greens, kale, and whatever types of veggie bits I pull out, various nuts, and dressings. The kids love cheese on their salads too.
  • Sunday: Ladies night out since it’s my birthday. Probably use one of my million free birthday meal offers.

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

National FrozenYogurt Day is Coming!

 

February 6, 2019 in National Frozen Yogurt day, and  two of our favorite fro yo companies have some yummy deals to be has! In years past there have been true freebies with zero OOP, but I think those days are long over.

Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 4.06.02 PM.png

Menchie’s is hooking us up with BOGO Fro Yo. Check out their Facebook page here for more info.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 9.39.22 PM.pngNo Menchie’s nearby? Yogurtland is also hooking us up with a BOGO deal! You can learn more on the Yogurtland Facebook page

 

TCBY also has a deal for National Fro Yo day, as do many smaller, local shops. Make sure to check with your local fro yo shop before heading out to load up on the cold, creamy dessert.

Talk Back: What is your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt?

1/21/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

Mr.husband is doing a cleanse with a few friends this week and next, so the menu this week is extra healthy. The kids and I will will be eating some similar foods, it’s hard to convince the kids to eat kale and steamed salmon night after night.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Pot roast, steamed broccoli, applesauce
  • Tuesday: pan seared herbed chicken (or salmon), quinoa/wild rice blend, roasted carrots
  • Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner- pancakes (Kodiak flap jacks), fruit salad.
  • Thursday:Stir fry veggies and cauliflower “rice”
  • Friday:  Homemade pizza night (Mr. will be having salmon and veggies)
  • Saturday: Salad bar night: mixed greens, kale, and whatever types of veggie bits I pull out, various nuts, and dressings. The kids love cheese on their salads too.
  • Sunday: Leftoverpalooza

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Free Sample of Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee!


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Do you buy coffee at make at home, but maybe you haven’t tried Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee?

Check out this sweet Freebie!

Choose one of the following:

  • Original Blend Coffee
  • K-Cup Pod Pack (1 Original Blend + 1 French Vanilla)
  • K-Cup Pod Pack (1 Original Blend + 1 100% Columbian)

Note: As variants deplete, screens will automatically adjust to show only the remaining samples.

 

I ordered my sample! I can’t wait for it to arrive.