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.

Giveaway: Gift Pack of Natural Goodies from Wow Summit!

Ok, so if you follow me in Instagram, you saw all my pictures over the weekend of the fun and excitement that was Moms Meet 6th Annual Wow Summit.

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Looking refreshed after a mid-afternoon nap!

One of the perks of the summit, besides learning how to be a better blogger, and listening to great speakers like Dr. William Sears, was to meet with new brands and sample products. The brands loaded us down with tons of awesome goodies to bring home to sample in our families- and of course to share!

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So many goodies!

I filled one of the reusable shopping bags they gave us with all kinds of stuff: candy, food, samples, beauty products, healthcare samples, personal care, and more!

There are samples, full size products, and/or coupons from the following brands:

Solgar, Table5 Pizza, National Peanut Board, NestfreshPlusCBD Oil™ by CV SciencesSambucolVitamin Friends, Wild Planet, Boiron, Bundle Organics, Child Life, Flora, Herb Pharm, Hippo Sak, Lindsay, Malaysian Palm Oil, Mum-Mum, Natracare, Organic OCHO Candy, Regular Girl, Don’t Go Nuts, Earth Science, Little Duck Organics, Mabel’s Labels, MacroLife Naturals, Scholarshare529, Sola, TruthBar, Motherlove, The Honest Kitchen, NOW, Stork Bites, & Juicy Jems.

Entering is easy: Leave a comment on this post. I’d love to know what Natural Product from the list above you are most excited to try. This contest is open to the US only. I’ll chose a winner on 11/12/18!

This is NOT a sponsored post, I am paying to ship this package to the winner. I just want to share the goodies with you guys!

 

Recipe: Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

file000382147880.jpgWe love Garlic. It’s a good thing that hubs and I both like it, because otherwise this recipe wouldn’t go over too well.

This is my spin on the Spaghetti with Garlic White Wine sauce found here.  It appeared in hubs Facebook feed one day several months ago, he sent it to me, and we’ve been tweaking it to make it our own ever since.

To make it a little healthier, I added in 1 large spaghetti squash. If you’ve never cooked one, I write about it here. It’s super easy to cook, and it’s very yummy

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white onions, cut into quarters and layers separated
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (you can use more or less)
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 T Thyme (I usually have it dried in my spice cabinet, but if you have it fresh, use 5-6 springs)
  • 1 c. Grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 c chicken broth (or pasta water)
  • 1 large spaghetti Squash
  • If you want to add pasta to this dish, you’ll need 1/2 lb spaghetti, 8-10 cups water (to cook pasta), and salt (to salt the water)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prep spaghetti squash (scoop out the stringy parts and seeds) and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Toss cut up onions in oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a baking dish covered for 20-30 minutes, uncover and bake an addition 10-15 minutes.

IMG_3202.jpgAfter the squash is done cooking, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, or until it’s easy to handle. Scoop the “meat” out and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baked onions, cooling, along with the butter needed to finish the recipe.

After onions are done baking, set aside.

If you are cooking pasta, start the water to boil and cook pasta as directed.

Zest and juice the lemons, set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heat half the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the minced garlic and cook on medium for 5-ish minutes until fragrant (watch out, it burns really easily). Add red pepper flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3200.jpgAdd Lemon juice and wine, turn up the heat for a few minutes. You’ll want to cook off the alcohol, so about 5-10 minutes at medium high heat. Add the baked onions.

Add 2 T. chicken broth (or pasta water), and the remaining butter, and the Thyme. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat.

Add the spaghetti squash and/or pasta into the skillet, and gently toss to coat. Add lemon zest, and half of the parmesan cheese. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or pasta water a little at a time.

Top with any additional cheese, thyme, and/or pepper flakes.

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Here is an extra step that makes it a little better (IMO) but isn’t needed: Place skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese on the top is brown and bubbly.

I have made this recipe with both pasta and spaghetti squash.  This last time I made it, I used only 1 serving of whole wheat spaghetti, mostly because I prefer the way it turns out when it has the pasta water in it, instead of the chicken broth.

*If you are a vegetarian, feel free to substitute in veggie broth.

**This recipe can be made with GF pasta.

 

Quick Recipe: Easy, Healthy Brownies!

IMGP8542.jpgIn the search for healthier yummy recipes to feed Lil’ Man, I stumbled upon a recipe for black bean brownies. Ok, so stop making that face and read on. Oh, and this one is GLUTEN FREE!!

I read the recipe, and a bunch of comments and did some more investigating online and made a few tweaks to the recipe and got to cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 T. sugar free applesauce
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. Hazelnut extract (You could use vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 t. instant coffee crystals (optional)- I used 1 t. of very strong coffee instead.
  • 1 C. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 8×8 baking dish. I used an 8 inch round baking dish.
  3. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips. This is important.  I didn’t do this!
  4. Pour batter into greased baking dish and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 25-35 minutes.  The brownies are super fudgy. If you want cake-ier brownies, add a pinch of baking powder.

 

If you like your brownies really sweet, add 1/4 c. white sugar. I like my desserts not super sweet, so I opted to use a little less sugar, and I’ll top mine with a scoop of ice cream- Yum!

They are not bean-y.  If I didn’t know they had beans in them. I wouldn’t be able to tell.  They are very moist, fudgy brownie. And if you use a flax egg and vegan chocolate chips, you’ve got a yummy vegan recipe!

 

2 Great Freebies from Ralphs!

Right now Ralphs club members can add two great real food freebies to their Ralphs Club Card!

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The first great freebie is  ONE  Free Bfree bakery item – includes loaves, rolls, bagels and wraps. Available ONLY at Ralphs. This deal expires on 02/29/16, so you best hurry!

The second is the usual Free Friday Download, but this week it’s actually something yummy and a little more healthy than the usual fare. Score one Free Kroger Greek Yogurt Pre and Probiotics, any variety (5.3oz). This deal expires 03/13/2016.

One thing that I really like about Ralphs is their Free Friday Download.  If you are new to Free Friday Downloads from Ralph’s, here is more info about how it works:

WHAT IS FREE FRIDAY DOWNLOAD? An exclusive benefit to having an account online at ralphs.com is FREE products (yes, we said FREE!). When you download the free product coupon, it will be loaded directly to your Shopper’s Card and applied at checkout in-store.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Visit this page on Fridays

DOWNLOAD the digital coupon for the free product (make sure to download between 12:01 am and 11:59pm PT). View the coupon under ‘My Coupons’ in your account online or in the mobile app.

You have two weeks to redeem this coupon in store! Pick up the product at your local Ralphs store and digital coupon will automatically apply at checkout.

Don’t forget to check back on Fridays to see if a free product is available for download!

 

I’ll be getting back into the habit of posting the freebies at Ralphs as they pop back up!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies! (Egg Free)

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Yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

I had a can of pumpkin open the other day and I decided to make cookies. Part of the show that hubs is in has a scene where all the characters eat cookies on stage. They had been eating Madeline’s, which are super tasty, but high in calories.

So I opted to bake something a little lower in calories. I also made the cookies quite small (1 tablespoon, instead of two), to cut down on calories.  I added pumpkin instead of the eggs and some of the fat to lower the calories and add fiber and fruit.

In keeping with the spirit of using up what we have in the house, I also used only brown sugar, as we were out of white sugar.Lil’ Man was a big helper- He added the chocolate chips and helped scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets. He’s going to be a Master Chef yet!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c butter (or use vegan margarine if vegan), room temp
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c flour (I used AP, but feel free to use wheat or even 1 for 1 gluten free)
  • 3/4 c. almond meal
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 2 c. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the first 4 ingredients until smooth using a hand mixer on medium.
  3. Add remaining 4 ingredients until a soft dough forms, using hand mixer on low, or by hand with large wooden spoon.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-13 minutes.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Variations: This recipe is east to make as vegan, just sub out butter for the solid fat of your choice. To make GF, sub in GF flour of your choice.  To make it nut free, omit the almond meal and increase the amount of flour to 2 cups.

 

Review: Nicole’s Natural’s gluten-free waffle and pancake mix!

Lil’ Man loves him some waffles. And pancakes. Pretty much anything hot that he can have slathered in butter.

image001Recently the awesome folks over at Nicole’s Natural’s offered me a canister of their gluten-free waffle and pancake mix to try out. We’re not a GF family due to allergies or sensitivities, but I love trying new products, especially new breakfast products!

IMG_3110What I really liked about these waffles is that despite being Gluten Free, they cook up super crispy. They contain brown rice, corn meal, and GF oatmeal, all of which gives the waffles an amazing texture. Even when I re-heated some the next morning in the toaster oven, they stayed crispy, as if I just made them!

IMG_3111Each 22 ounce canister makes about 8-10 waffles, depending on your waffle iron size and how thick you like your batter.  I got 12 waffles out of the mix, but I added a little extra milk because the batter was a little too thick towards the end of the bowl.

All you add to the mix is water (or milk of your choice), melted butter or coconut oil, and eggs. It’s easy peasy.

Nicole’s Naturals Mix:

  • Is Gluten-, Wheat-, Dairy- and Soy-Free (but definitely not taste-free!)
  • Contains 150 calories per serving
  • Has only one gram of sugar (much less than other mixes that contain upwards of nine grams per serving) and two grams of fiber
  • Is independently tested at less than five parts gluten per million, far below the FDA regulation of 20 parts per million for products labeled gluten-free.

12 waffles is a bit much for the three of us, so after we had eaten, I cut up the remaining waffles into quarters, let them cool and put them into a freezer bag.  The next morning we enjoyed them again after a quick trip through the toaster oven.

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San Diego Residents can find Nicole’s Natural’s at the following stores:

For those not in the immediate area, you can find this fabu mix online at Amazon or at www.NicolesNaturals.com.

 

I was given a canister of Nicole’s Naturals gluten-free waffle and pancake mix at no charge to facilitate my review, however I was not financially compensated for my review.