Tag Archives: basil

Told Me To

Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable Lasagna

Greetings!  Hope everyone had an excellent 4th of July – and is now having a great weekend.  Summer is finally starting to arrive, and the sun is finally shining.  My garden isn’t as far along as it was last year but thankfully the local farmer’s markets aren’t having those issues.  This layered treat is essentially a lasagna without the lasagna, just squash and other delicious vegetables.  I kept things nice and simple and focused on vegetables that are currently in season, also making this the perfect Simple and in Season recipe!

Vegetable Lasagna

Serves: Serves 3-4


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 vidalia onion, diced

8 basil leaves, chopped

1/2 tbsp fresh thyme

3 roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 lb spinach, well washed and loosely torn

2 Zucchini, cut lengthwise

2 straight yellow squash, cut lengthwise

3 beets, grated

2 cup baby bella mushrooms, halved

2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced

1 cup ricotta, divided

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Heat the olive oil a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the diced roma tomatoes along with the spices. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 and lightly oil the bottom and side of a 9x9 dish
  3. Meanwhile, place a single layer of squash/zucchini and top with a quarter of the grated beet along with 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese followed by the spinach, mushrooms, and a layer of the beefsteak tomato slices. Build another layer and then top with half of the tomato sauce before making the final two layers.
  4. Top with the remaining sauce along with the grated cheeses. Cover the dish in tin foil and then bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a final 10 minutes.

I’m looking forward to doing this again in a few weeks with vegetables from my own garden but until then I’m lucky to have so many great farms just down the road.  Hopefully the sun will continue to shine and the temperatures will stay up as I can’t wait to start enjoying tomatoes and eggplant that are as local as local gets!

Gotta Get Out

Stuffed Shells Casserole

Stuffed Shell Casserole

I’ll admit it, sometimes I don’t want to cook or at least don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.  For example I’m a huge fan of stuffed shells but they take much longer than I’m willing to spend on the average work night.  So I decided to cut a few corners and make a stuffed shell casserole with all of the flavor and half the prep time.  To further speed up the process I used some frozen pomodoro sauce, leftover form a large batch I made in my slowcooker.  I swear one of the best things about my slow cooker is the ability to prepare huge batches of sauce (and other yummies!) and saving them for the future.  I simply placed the frozen sauce in the fridge before I left for work and then zapped it a bit to finish the process, adding a few more leaves of basil to make sure it had the right taste.

Stuffed Shell Casserole

Serves: Serves 4-5


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp oregano

3 cloves garlic

1 small onion, diced

1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced

1 cup fresh baby spinach, well washed and torn

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 lb precooked small shells

2 cups favorite pasta sauce

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. While oven preheats heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the spices and toss in the oil for 30 seconds before adding the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until soft then remove from heat and pour in to a large bowl.
  3. Add the spinach and ricotta cheese to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add half of the pasta, then top with a third of the mushroom and ricotta cheese mixture. Top with 1 cup of sauce and then repeat the layering finishing with the cheese mixture before topping with the remaining sauce. Finish with the shredded cheeses and then bake, covered, for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover and then bake for a final 10-15 minutes, until cheese on top is brown and bubbling. Serve and enjoy!

The photo might not be the best, but it’s delicious and quick and easy – which is all that matters after a long day at work.  I served this up with some oregano bread but would be just fine on it’s own.

Little Things

Caprese Grilled Cheese

No matter how fancy the meal, how exotic the ingredients, how elaborate the presentation it’s normally the simple dishes that stick with us.  Mom’s soup, Grandma’s candy cane cookies, Dad’s pasta sauce…those are the dishes that more often then not mean more than the most expensive dinner.  There is a reason, after all, that these are commonly referred to as comfort foods.  I can only guess what meals my future children will remember when they look back on their childhood, but if they are anything like their father this grilled cheese stands a chance of making the memory list.  It’s a switch on the standard grilled cheese, but nothing so elaborate that it “requires” a special occasion or a special trip to the grocery store.

Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches


4 slices bread (I used homemade oregano bread)

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced

6 slices fresh Mozzarella cheese

8 basil leaves


  1. Butter each slice of bread on one side. Place two slices butter side on on a hot griddle and cook for one minute over medium heat, then add the cheese, tomatoes, and basil leaves.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes, then carefully flip the sandwich and cook on the other side for 5 minutes or until desired doneness.
  3. Enjoy!

I’m sending this over to /52weeks as part of their lunch challenge, even though this sandwich will also great with a big bowl of soup for dinner.  At the end of the day, this sandwich is simple and delicious and perfect.

Doing Just Fine

Baked Eggplant with Lentils


There is nothing more relaxing and refreshing than the sound of rain, it just seems to make everything better.   After the dry summer that most of the country has been experiencing, I can only imagine that for many the rain is a welcoming relief.  I had originally been planning to spend this weekend switching out the garden and starting some fall vegetables, but Mother Nature seems to have other ideas and now I’m wondering if I’ll have a chance to plant the fall garden at all!  This summer has been the craziest and busiest summer I’ve ever had, and it’s not over yet.  I’m looking forward to October and the chance to rest, relax, and recover assuming that October allows for that.  Until then, my kitchen will be my safe haven since it isn’t large enough to house a clock or calendar.

Since Joe and I have been traveling so much the past few weeks my trips to the grocery store have been few and far between.  I have been focusing on using my pantry basics in addition to the fresh vegetables I’ve been growing.  This recipe features the first of my Black Beauty Eggplants as well as some more delicious tomatoes and fresh herbs.  When I started cooking I really had no idea where I was going with this recipe, which was evident by the large cast of characters I had sitting on the counters.  I thought about sauting the eggplant with some basil and serving over lentils, or doing an all-eggplant stir-fry.  In the end I decided to bake the eggplant and serve the lentils over them as a thick ragu style sauce.   The result was a very filling and rich dinner that only needed a small salad to go with it,  perfection!

Doing Just Fine


1 large eggplant, cut 1/2 in thick length wise

1 egg, beaten

1 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup tbsp Parmesan Cheese

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp EVOO

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 vidalia onion, chopped

3 large tomatoes, diced

handful of basil, roughly torn

1 cup red lentils

2 cups vegetable stock


  1. Place the eggplant in a large bowl and toss with salt, move eggplant to colander and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 then rinse the eggplant and do a quick press to get as much water out as possible.
  2. In a small bowl combine the cornmeal, bread crumbs, cheese, pepper, and salt. Dip the eggplant in the egg before placing in the small bowl and covering with the dry mixture. Place on cookie sheet, bake for 15minutes then flip and cook for a final 10minutes.
  3. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 5minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10minutes, stirring occasionally to help break up the tomatoes. Add the basil with the lentils, toss well and then add the vegetable stock. Bring to a quick boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Allow lentils to cook for 15-20minutes, or until reaching the desired tenderness. Serve the lentils over the eggplant and enjoy!

This recipe comes together pretty quickly once the eggplant has been salted.  For an alternate way of prepping the eggplant, press the cut slices between two plates lined with paper towels.  Failure to properly pre-treat the eggplant can result in a bitter aftertaste, which is probably why more than a few people have been turned off of this amazing vegetable.

My Scene

Basil Focaccia Bread Machine Style

A second SRC recipe!  This time featuring a Blog from the amazing Group B.  Danielle is the brains behind Mostly Food and Crafts, a blog that features all sorts of delicious recipes and cute crafts.  I realized at a young age that crafting was not for me and am in awe of anyone who does pocess the crafting gene.   However I still checked out a few of them, just couldn’t resist the temptation!  Since I had a quick turnaround with this post I tore myself away from her craft list and started investigating recipes.   Oh my are there some good ones!  From curry rice to banana nutella bread to her recipe for Baked Potenta with mozzerella and basil…so many delicious options for such a small amount of time.  After eliminating a few options due to time constraints, I decided I needed a new fresh bread recipe that was different than anything I had tried before.  After all, part of the reason behind SRC is trying out things we wouldn’t normally go for.  With that in mind I decided that her Rosemary Focaccia was just right, even if I did have to turn the oven on.

In doing this I also found out that the standard dough setting on my machine is twice as long as the pizza dough setting, which resulted in a slight delay.  I did have to switch out the rosemary for half fresh basil, half dried rosemary.  I added the rosemary to the dough while I kept the basil as a topping with the olive oil, pepper, and salt.    I kept the same overall measurement (split), same cooking time, and experienced the same amazing results!  This bread was that something extra my dinner plans needed, I just didn’t know it!  The smell it gave my entire house was an added bonus, and just one more reason why I need to make this on a regular basis.

Thanks Danielle for such a great recipe, I can’t wait to try more!