Broken Lasagna

31 July 2012

Ryan loves lasagna...LOVES...but there's only so much regular lasagna I can take. So when I saw "Broken Lasagna" on the cover of this month's Food Network Magazine, I had to try it. It was really much so that we devoured the entire amount I made...and that's supposed to serve 4...But honestly, I feel like it could feed 3 as a main...4 if you had a salad or bread to go with it.

I was so excited to find this grater at Fry's. It looks like a giant version of the small one I have. One of the sides has an even larger grater than the one in this picture! Great for grating veggies. Get 2 zucchinis and cut off their two ends.

Use a grater and grate both of them completely.

Put the grated zucchini in a colander and place over a bowl or your sink. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes and then squeeze out any excess moisture.

Grab a box of lasagna. I used whole wheat to be healthier. Heat a large pot of salted water on your stove.

Break your lasagna into bite sized pieces. Once the water is boiling, drop your pasta in and stir it vigorously for the first 1-2 minutes so the noodles won't stick. Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain and rinse your noodles.

Meanwhile, get a box of cherry tomatoes - 12-16 oz will do. Heat a large skillet and add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Cut half of the tomatoes in half and leave the other half whole.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. The tomatoes will start to blister and shrivel up a bit - Like this!

Add in the zucchini and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Cook for another 5 minutes until the zucchini starts to look golden. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Transfer the tomato-zucchini sauce to a large bowl. Add the noodles and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Stir and add in about 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and a small bunch of chopped up chives. Add in more water as needed to loosen the noodles. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Divide into bowls and top with extra cheese.


And there you go! This is delicious, easy, and about 480 calories per serving. I ate the few spoonfuls we had left over for lunch, cold, and it was just as good!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust - CRAZY!!!

26 July 2012

I've seen this idea a thousand times around the internet....but I never had the chance to try it. We had something else on the lineup for dinner tonight, but last minute I was craving pizza and I had a head of cauliflower so I decided to finally give it a shot.

This pizza crust is made out of cauliflower...crazy, I know. It was AMAZING! And best of all, the crust only has 120-140 calories for every 2 pieces of crust! So Ryan and I split the pizza for only 250 calories - crust only lol. I put a ton of delicious toppings so I'm sure it rang in at a bit more, but still, for a pizza crust this has no carbs and no calories compared to the regular ones we normally get.

It was cheesy and delicious and it completely surpassed what I thought it would taste like. Even Ryan said the crust tasted better than normal thin crust (:

Basics: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the florets of your cauliflower head and put 2-3 in a food processor at a time. You're about to make your cauliflower "rice". Pulse in the processor until it looks like grains of rice. Pour out into a bowl and do 2-3 more florets.

It will look like this when you're done. Then put a pot on the stove and fill with about an inch of water. Bring it to a boil and lightly salt. Once boiling, pour your "rice" into it and boil, with a lid on, for 4 minutes. Sometimes it can boil over (mine did) so turn it slightly down when you cover the pot.

After 4 minutes, pour the "rice" into a fine mesh strainer. After the water drains out, transfer your "rice" onto a clean, thin, cotton dishtowel.

Measure out 3-4 cups of cauliflower. I used 3 and it was fine, if you want a thicker crust use 4. Gather up your towel and squeeze out any excess water. This is SOOOO important if you want your crust to cook - otherwise it may end up soggy. Transfer your "rice" to a big bowl. Add in 1/4 cup of "1/3 less fat" cream cheese, a generous handful of mozzarella cheese, 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of fennel and 2 cloves of garlic. Mix extremely well. Take a pan and line it with parchment paper. Do not skip this step! You can use a round pizza pan like I did or even a cookie sheet. Press out your dough to it's desired size and thickness. Don't worry, it doesn't feel like normal dough...It will bake up though!!!! Bake in your oven for 35 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

It will look like this! Then put your toppings on. I drizzled olive oil on the crust and topped with sautéed spinach and sun dried tomatoes. I then layered on the extra cajun turkey sausage I had from earlier this week, sautéed mushrooms and onions. On top I placed mozzarella cheese and hand grated fresh parmesan cheese. I also sprinkled the cheese with some basil.

Place in the oven for 10 more minutes.

Um, yum. This crust is crazy. I just couldn't believe I was eating veggies and not bread. I couldn't tell the difference. Enjoy!!!!

Cheesecake Fudge Brownies

24 July 2012

These are one of the best desserts I have ever made...I will now continue to make these until I go to my grave.

It's been a rough week so far. Ryan and I have been exhausted. Marcy was sick and has been making messes all over the house, neither of us has gotten a lot of sleep, and we've had a lot going on in our personal lives and with our families. I wanted to cheer him up so I sat down this morning and came up with a plan. He LOVES brownies, but I just made him some a week or two ago...I wanted something different. Since I had less than an hour to whip something up, I started wondering if I could find a recipe that uses boxed brownie mix as it's base. I LOVE recipes like that. For example, I love funfetti cake....and you can actually use funfetti cake mix to make cookies (:

So I found a base recipe and played around with it a little bit and what resulted was the most delicious brownies I have had in a REALLY long time. They are so rich and moist and I literally made an audible noise (mmmmmm!) when I tried my first bite...

The ingredients are simple: definitely use a fudge or dark chocolate brownie mix (13x9 size), canola/vegetable oil, 3-4 eggs, 8oz of cream cheese, butter, vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, cornstarch, chocolate chips and milk.

Prepare the brownie mix as stated on the box. If it gives you a "fudge-like" or "cake-like" option, go for the fudge. Mine called for oil, water and two eggs. Mix that up really well. Grease a 13x9 pan thoroughly and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the brownie batter evenly into your greased pan.

Next get out your electric mixer. Beat together 2 tablespoons softened butter (softened or room temperature, NOT melted!!), 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 8oz of  softened low fat cream cheese. It will say "1/3 less fat" on the front - see my picture. I cut a few fattening corners on this one so they won't be as tough on the waistline...but I DID NOT sacrifice on taste! Beat until well mixed and fluffy. Next, beat in one egg and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Gradually add in a can (14oz) of fat free sweetened condensed milk. 

After beating for about 2-3 minutes it will look like this. Pour the mixture evenly on top of the brownie batter in your pan.

Place the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top of the cheesecake is light golden brown.

Tah-dah! Let the brownies cool for about 10-15 minutes. In a glass bowl, mix 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1/4 cup milk. Place in your microwave for 3-5 minutes on power level 2 or 3. You don't want to cook them too fast or they will burn. Stop the microwave every minute or so and stir. Pour and evenly spread the mixture on top of the cheesecake.

 Cover the pan with foil and place in the fridge for 1-1 1/2 hours before cutting. Use a sharp knife and wipe with a napkin after every cut so it's clean and you can see the pretty layers. Store the brownies in an airtight container in the fridge. The topping will be firm, but I added in the milk with the chocolate chips so it wouldn't be rock solid.

I promise you - you will thank me.... did Ryan as he gobbled 2 down with a huge glass of milk.

Sunday Brunch

22 July 2012

We love used to be a highlight of our week when we lived in Nashville. We found this old historic house that had a southern brunch buffet and bottomless mimosas and champagne.

There is not one brunch place where we live now...not one. There is one about 30 minutes away that we want to try, but that's kind of far to make a weekly tradition. So I decided to make our own brunch. I definitely love my biscuits and sausage gravy over pancakes and french toast....I'm just more of a savory breakfast person I guess. And even though biscuits and gravy are one of Ryan's favorite things I make, I know he LOVES pancakes and french toast.

Instead of picking just one, I made peanut butter and banana pancakes, peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes and french toast. I also made him scrambled eggs and mimosas.

Mmmmmmm delicious.

Easy to make! Just get some buttermilk pancake mix. I bought the heart healthy buttermilk Krusteaz brand because you only need water and it's healthy! I just made the 6-7 pancake serving and added 2-3 tablespoons peanut butter. Then just scoop the mix with a stainless steel scoop into a a greased pan and let cook 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Right before you flip them, add bananas or chocolate chips or anything else you want! Cook for another 2-3 minutes and move to a plate. French toast is easy peasy...One egg, scrambled in a bowl with 1/4 cup milk and some cinnamon. Coat both sides of a slice of bread and place in a pan with a tablespoon of melted butter. Cook 3 minutes on each side. This made 8 small pancakes and 3 slices of french toast. With the 3 scrambled eggs we couldn't even finish it all. And best of all it only took about 15-20 minutes from start to finish (:

Taco Pie

21 July 2012

So I honestly thought this was going to turn out so-so. Ryan kept asking for Mexican and it was Friday night...I was I just threw it together and didn't really take any pictures. I should have, because it was delicious.

This is super easy and super tasty. I once again got the idea from a Food Network Magazine, but I changed it, so here is the recipe I used:

Taco Pie

  • 5-6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 corn tortillas, halved
  • 1 small onion, chopped (I just used 1-1 1/2 cups frozen onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 pound hot turkey sausage
  • Salt
  • 1 15-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 4.25-ounce cans chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tortillas and cook, flipping a few times, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to a paper towel to drain.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cayenne and cook 30 seconds. Add the sausage and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chiles and corn. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
  3. Arrange half of the tortillas in the bottom of a 9-to-10-inch pie plate or oven safe pan (I used a casserole dish). Top with half of the meat mixture, then half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, meat and cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

Gnocchi, Butternut Squash & Kale

20 July 2012

Ok, unless you cook A LOT like me, you may not know what any of the three ingredients in the title are....Ryan didn't until recently...Or maybe you've heard of them but you haven't ever cooked with them. I am telling you right now, this is the best recipe I have posted to date.

Gnocchi is tricky in recipes (super easy to make - you just boil a package for 2 minutes). Gnocchi is heavier than a typical pasta, so finding a recipe with a good sauce to balance it can be hard. I make some of the BEST Butter Sage Gnocchi that I promise to post sometime.

Kale is also strange. I had never even tried it until a week before our wedding. And I fell in love! It only has 34 calories per cup and is 206% of your daily value for Vitamin A. It's really, really good for you. The problem is that it can be bitter and pretty stiff compared to lettuce or spinach. Finding a recipe that makes you love kale is not easy. I hear people all the time say they hate it - but i know it's because they didn't prepare it right.

And butternut squash. This is the first time I've cooked with it....I didn't even know what it looked like in the grocery store. When I cut it up it smelled like pumpkin, and I am NOT a I was worried this would be disastrous, possibly bitter and not up to Ryan's standards because it's a vegetarian meal....Ohhhhhh was I WRONG.

This meal was phenomenal. It is a great meal to make for company (I am definitely making this when my parents come to visit), it's vegetarian if you have a friend who doesn't like meat, but it's SO good that meat lovers won't even realize the meat is missing! I am begging you to go to the store and try this meal as soon as you're done reading it. Don't be afraid! If you follow my directions you can't mess this up!!

Ok, get your squash. Mine was a medium sized one. I found it easiest to cut it in half and flip it over (the flat side and seeds down - not like it the picture!) This lets you control it better so you don't hurt yourself. I cut it into 4 long pieces about the width you see to the left. Then I CAREFULLY took the knife and sliced off each rind (hard outer shell) and cut out the seeds. I chopped it up into small 1/4-1/2" pieces. I was so worried we weren't going to like the flavor of the squash that I wanted the pieces small and not in big chunks.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a big skillet over medium/medium-high heat and make sure it's one that you have a lid for. Add the squash and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often. It will be soft and slightly golden. While it's cooking....

Grab your kale. One big bunch from the grocery store. Get a big bowl and fill it full of water and swish the kale around. It can have some dirt on it sometimes, but if you dunk and swirl it for about a minute, it will sink to the bottom of your bowl. Shake it off and cut the stems out of the middle of each piece like above. Them stems are REALLY hard, so you want to cut them out. Chop up the kale. Now this can seem overwhelming. I stood there looking at it for was A LOT of kale. Just grab a handful and start chopping one direction and then turn and start chopping the other direction. Once you've chopped it up, put it in a bowl to the side and grab another handful. It doesn't have to be fine chopped, just chop it. I too was worried I hadn't cut it small enough, but I got so tired of chopping I decided 'this will have to do' and it worked out fine. Look at the next picture to see how I chopped it. If you're not a quick chopper, and you think it will take longer than 10-12 minutes, just chop it before you do the squash!

Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic (I use the minced jar in the refrigerator kind), 2-3 teaspoons sage, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir and cook until the garlic is soft (about 2 minutes). Turn on the broiler of your oven. Pour 1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth in the skillet.

When it starts to simmer, add in the kale. The recipe said 8 cups. I measured it out and it was the whole bunch, so just pour everything you chopped in. It will look like a mountain of kale, don't worry! (see above) Stir it around to coat it and cook for 2 minutes until it is wilted and shrunken up.

Like this! See, it really looks like a lot has disappeared once it wilts. Then you add a 16-17oz package of gnocchi. I used whole wheat for this, but I've used regular and tri-colored in the past. I thought it was weird they didn't say to boil it first, but this is awesome because it saves a step and a dirty pan. Stir the gnocchi around so they are coated and then cover and cook for 5 minutes...

...and tah-dah! the gnocchi are completely cooked and plumped up! Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup parmesan. I used the REAL parmesan, like freshly makes all the difference...but I also got it for half price because it can be pretty expensive. Stir everything together and transfer to a baking dish. A brownie pan would work really well for this.

Sprinkle the top with another 1/2 cup or parmesan and place it in your oven, under the broiler, for 3 minutes. It will be brown and bubbly.

This was supposed to be 4 servings...we devoured all of it except for this:

Which I ate for a pre-lunch snack. I put my chapstick next to it so you could see how little we had left. If you're hungry, this could definitely be eaten by two, maybe three...but not 4. It was just as delicious warmed up the next day. This is also another low calorie dinner. Only 438 calories per serving.

I want to mention that I eat all of the food I put on here, usually 1-2 servings of it for dinner. I also eat dessert and have a serving of the previous night's dinner the next day for lunch. I'm lucky to go to the gym 3-4 times a week....and I've lost 5 pounds since moving. I purposely pick the lowest calorie dinners offered in the Food Network Magazine. They are usually 400-600 calories per serving...And the great thing is, they have ALL been delicious. So delicious, easy and healthy (:

Gnocchi, Butternut Squash & Kale (makes 2-3 servings)
  • 3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4 -1/2" pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
  • 2-3 teaspoons sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 1 (16-18) ounce package potato gnocchi
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

  1. Chop the squash into small 1/4-1/2" pieces after peeling and seeding it. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a big skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Add the squash and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often. It will be soft and slightly golden.
  2. While it's cooking, grab your cleaned kale. Cut the stems out of the middle of each piece and roughly chop the leaves.
  3. Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic , 2-3 teaspoons sage, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of salt to the skillet. Stir and cook until the garlic is soft (about 2 minutes).
  4. Turn on the broiler of your oven. Pour 1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth in the skillet. When it starts to simmer, add in the kale. Stir it around to coat it and cook for 2 minutes until it is wilted and shrunken up.
  5. Add a 16-17oz package of gnocchi. Stir the gnocchi around so they are coated and then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup parmesan.
  6. Transfer to a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with another 1/2 cup or parmesan and place it in your oven, under the broiler, for 3 minutes. It will be brown and bubbly.

One little picture to leave you with. Marcy was attached to our hip all last night - ever since she was outside when a loud clap of thunder occurred. It scared her into stopping her terrorist ways. Instead, she started constantly sleeping on our laps or following us around - it was a nice change...and I'm sure it won't last for long...

Chicken Corn Chili & Chili Corn Muffins

18 July 2012

Oh these chili corn muffins. It's no secret that Ryan and I love hot food. We have weekly buffalo chicken pizza and Tabasco CheezIts and buffalo Wheat Thins are a pantry staple. You will ALWAYS find Frank's Red Hot, Frank's Buffalo Sauce and Tabasco in my fridge. I have married my perfect match because it's really hard to find others who share in our enthusiasm for food that burns your mouth. Well this recipe uses Tabasco, but the great thing is, it doesn't have the spice. You get the delicious flavor, but if you don't like spicy food, you don't have to shy away from this recipe.

Along with the chili corn muffins I made a chicken corn chili which was a really nice alternative to the typical beef chili most people make. I had extra buttermilk from the smothered pork chops, so that's how I came about this muffin recipe. This recipe makes 18 normal sized muffins.

Here are the only things you need for the muffins. Super simple and these are things you can keep in the pantry for the most part to use anytime you find yourself with extra buttermilk.

Here is what you'll need for the chipotle butter you spread on the muffins. This butter MAKES the muffins. The recipe makes WAYYYY too much, so I'll give you the correct measurements. You can just use a chipotle seasoning, but I didn't have any so I used some cayenne, cumin and a garlic & herb seasoning.

Pour all the muffin ingredients in a bowl....

Mix really well and fill your muffin cups! A little trick is to use a stainless steel scoop. This is something I always do for cupcakes. It makes them all even and have nice flat tops.

And 17 minutes later you have delicious corn muffins!

While they were baking I poured all the chili ingredients in the pot. A little hint: I use frozen/jarred veggies and ingredients as much as possible. Then you always have them on hand. So I used frozen onions and jarred jalapeños for this one!

...and around the same time, the chili was done! It was delicious.

Chicken Corn Chili & Chili Corn Muffins with Chipotle Butter

Chicken Corn Chili (serves 4)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped or about a cup of frozen onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12-15 jalapeño pepper slices (I get them in a jar), chopped up
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (Walmart actually makes the best!!! It just falls apart!)
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini or pinto beans (1 undrained; 1 drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until somewhat translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic, chopped jalapeño, green chiles and cumin and cook about 2 minutes, stirring every so often.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth, chicken and beans along with the liquid from one of the cans of beans. Bring the chili to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer about 15 minutes until the chili has thickened up.
  3. Using your spoon or a potato masher if you have one, mash the chili until about half of the beans are smushed. This will make the chili creamier and thicker.
  4. Lastly, add in the corn, cilantro and 1/2 cup cheese. Pour the chili into bowls and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and some sliced jalapeños if you want.

Chili Corn Muffins (makes 18)
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) box honey cornbread mix (recommended: Krusteaz)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (11-ounce) can Mexi-corn
  • 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Spoon into either a greased muffin pan, or one with cupcake liners. Bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

Chipotle Butter
  • 1 sticks unsalted butter, softened (NOT melted!!!)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons southwest chipotle seasoning

  1. Mix all ingredients together until fluffy and smooth. Smear on muffins.

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