Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna
After a very mild few weeks, fall is 100% here and I’m becoming okay with that. Something about having those extra few weeks of nice temperatures is somehow making it easier – feel like we “cheated” in a way. The nice weather also made for some strange food overlaps as cherry tomatoes kept trickling in to the markets which are normally long gone by this point. Again it feels like we’re cheating! With that, I wound up with a bunch of random vegetables at the end of the week so I decided to just take everything out of the fridge and see what I could do with it. In the end it came down to a pizza or lasagna and a rogue sweet potato made the decision for me: lasagna!
For a different twist switch out the sweet potato for any type of squash – or use a variety of wild mushrooms. Spinach, swiss chard, or kale would also go fantastically in this dish either fresh or pre-cooked with the mushrooms and onions. Since my main mission was to clean out the fridge I just used what I had on hand, and it worked fantastically! If you don’t have alfredo sauce on hand a simple bechamel sauce can also work, tho you might want to add more garlic/salt/pepper in order to keep the dish from being too bland.
In other news, our little one made her appearance last Friday (11/27) and we are 100% smitten. She arrived at 7:02 am weighing 8lbs 13oz and has the cutest chunkiest little cheeks!. After years of fertility treatments and wishing/hoping/praying it is such a relief to have her home!
Wild Rice Salad
Still on #babywatch here but using that to my advantage to get back to blogging since I’m still feeling pretty good. I know for most people the second trimester is THE trimester but I’m still saying that the third is the best – even though I’m at the point where I want to meet the little one. Last weekend my mom and sister came up and we stocked our freezer full of delicious vegetarian treats, some that have been featured here, a few from my SRC blog last week, and some other random ones from the internet. The random ones I plan to feature here as we make them as I was able to test the changes I made, we just made them! Some of them I’m not worried about, such as switching in vegetable stock for chicken or doubling beans/vegetables in place of ground meat, while the ones involving switching chicken for tofu could be a bit more interesting. Enough about that, time for today’s recipe.
This recipe is about as easy as it gets – and since it can be served hot or cold it can be on the table in under 30 minutes! Thanks to the warm fall a few of the local markets are still selling cherry and plum tomatoes, so I took advantage and grabbed a pint of some yellow cherries. From there, dinner created itself!
I served this naked but to stretch it even further, and to give it a bigger nutritional boost, serve over some massaged kale or baby spinach. Make sure to add extra oil if there happen to be leftovers, otherwise the rice will dry out and start to clump. However I doubt there will be any leftovers as this dish is FANTASTIC! I kept my cold the next day while Joe warmed his up in order to melt the cheese – but there is no right or wrong way to enjoy this dish.
4 Cheese Pasta Bake
Nothing like a dairy challenge to get my husband involved with planning a meal – so thank you /52weekofcooking for that! He tossed around lots of ideas, and at least one of them will be making an appearance in a few weeks, but for today I’m sticking with a super cheesy pasta dish that comes together in record time. In fact, if you have some pre-made sauce in the freezer this delicious dish can be on the table well within an hour of getting home! This was also my first time testing out some treats from Gourmet Garden, which I got as part of a blog challenge I’m participating in come February. As for the cheeses, well I just grabbed whatever I thought would work – and then grabbed a few more!
Needless to say one must really enjoy cheese in order to enjoy this dish, so if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant this might be a good recipe to skip. It can be easily adapted for gluten free by switching out the whole grain pasta for a gluten free variety, of which there are more and more available! For even more vegetables, I love that there are more and more vegetable flavored pastas – tho it does keep me from making my own. For a super healthy option, switch out the pasta entirely for spaghetti squash – just reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes to prevent the squash from becoming totally dried out.
I have to say, using the Gourmet Garden pastes really sped up the process – and the flavors were fantastic! I only wish more of the pastes were vegan, with the collection I got only the ginger was whey free and while that isn’t a HUGE issue for me it would still be nice. However the convenience of the products is insane and I love that the ingredients are all organic, plus it tells you right on the container how many fresh cloves, bunches, etc went in to the container.
Note: I received a bunch of Gourmet Garden pastes and herbs as part of the #TripleS blog challenge, which starts February 2nd. I was not required to use the products, or post anything about them outside of acknowledging that I received them, so all opinions and experiences are my own.
Stuffed Shells 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.
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.
Stuffed Crust OOP Pizza
Time for another fridge cleaning adventure! This time I had some left over mushrooms and pineapple from a stir fry, olive and onion from a lentil soup dish, and a lot of cheese from some baked pasta dishes. I decided that instead of just tossing all of the cheese on top of the pizza I would stuff the crust with a variety of the cheese. I was more than a little nervous regarding this venture since dough and I don’t always get along. I used my bread machine to prep the dough, going with my sour dough oregano standby. Once I rolled the pizza out I debated between the standard under roll to form the crust or to try rolling over, which is the one I went with in the end since it seemed the easiest for stuffing crust.
I was thrilled when I took the pizza out of the oven and realized that all of the cheese stayed within the crust. I had horrible images of trying to take a slice off the stone and there being a huge hunk of cheese left behind. The combination of cheeses gave a variety of textures, with the stringy mozzarella, the sharper Parmesan, and the creamy provolone. This crust is so versatile, I can’t wait til April’s pizza night!
Homemade Veggie Lasagna
A few months ago I attempted, and failed at, making homemade ravioli. I was resolved that once I got my stand mixer I would try again to make my own rolled dough, and after a month of psyching myself up I finally did it! Having the stand mixer not only greatly reduced the extreme mess, it also allowed me to focus more on what the dough looked like to insure the right balance of flour, egg, and oil. I also made sure to take the time to let the pasta rest, and in the end I had dough that was rollable and edible. I thought about making ravioli, or tortellini again, but wanted to make sure I could handle the basics first. So I cleared off the space where my microwave once sat, laid out the parchment paper, and got to work. I divided the dough into three sections to make the rolling more manageable and occasionally got out my hubby’s measuring tape to see how thick the dough was. For the filling I used a combination of vegetables, based on what I found in the local section of the grocery – gotta love hothouse vegetables in December!
I’m not sure if I’m ready to try long noodles or shapes yet, but I’m hoping that after a few more goes at lasagna and ravioli I’ll have the rolling technique down enough to start cutting the dough. If that ever happens I can promise a very happy blog post.