Eggplant and Spinach White Lasagna

eggplantandspinachlasagna

 

One of the best things about summer is the plethora of fresh veggies at farm stands.

The other week I picked up a huge eggplant for $1.00 and I decided to try a new recipe. Unfortunately a lot of eggplant recipes include tomatoes or tomato sauce (which I cannot eat). So I decided to experiment a bit.

That is how I ended up with this gooey, mouth-watering eggplant and spinach white lasagna. It was easy and supplied Ryan and I with meals for about 3 days! Plus we got our fill of veggies. 

Ingredients:

  • One large eggplant
  • 8 ounces of spinach
  • 1 box of ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz of ricotta cheese
  • Jar of Alfredo sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp of basil
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

Cooking Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Spray a 13×9 baking dish and set aside
  • Cut the eggplant in 1/2 inch thick circles and bake for 20 minutes
  • While the eggplant is baking mix together the ricotta cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, basil, and black pepper in a large bowl
  • Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a small layer of Alfredo sauce
  • Then lie down the first layer of the lasagna noodles
  • Next comes a layer of the baked eggplant circles
  • Now smear a nice layer of the cheese and spinach mixture on top of the eggplant
  • Place another layer of the lasagna noodles and repeat the above layers again
  • Repeat the layers a third time (or until you run out of ingredients)
  • Sprinkle the top of the lasagna with the remaining cheddar cheese
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

How do you like to prepare eggplant? 

 

 

Crescent Roll Cheesy Bites (my easiest and most popular recipe)

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These little appetizers are my go to recipe to make for any party, get together, or snack for movie night at home.

I started making them a few years ago when trying to throw together a snack with random ingredients I had in my fridge. Since then I’ve tried all different variations and make them almost every other week.

They are always a crowd pleaser and are  so very easy to make.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1 block of Cream Cheese
  • 3/4 cup of your choice of shredded cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon of taco seasoning
  • Plus any extra add ins. For example I sometimes throw in Corn, Onions, Green Peppers, or Chicken

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a mini muffin pan and set aside.
  • Let the cream cheese soften a bit.
  • In a mixer, mix together the cream cheese, shredded cheese and any other ingredients you wish to add.
  • Unwrap the crescent rolls and rip off a pieces that is approximately 2×2 inches. Flatten the roll on the counter and place a spoonful of the mixed cheese mixture in the center of the dough. Fold up the edges to create a little ball. Place the ball into the mini muffin pan.
  • Repeat until you have used all of the crescent rolls. 
  • Bake the bites in the oven for 8-9 minutes (or until they are a little toasted on top)
  • Devour them!

 

Easy Spaghetti Squash Mexican Casserole

spaghettisquashmexicancasserole
 On Wednesday I shared my tips on how to cook one of my favorite veggies, spaghetti squash. I promised to come back today to share my go to spaghetti squash recipe.

This meal is cheap and super easy to prep and make but is also very filling.  I need to say that it is impossible to make spaghetti squash, or any “casserole” for the matter, look amazing in photos. So you’ll just have to take my word (and Ryan’s) for it. 

This dish satisfies any mexican cravings you may have but fills you up with veggies, protein, fiber, and vitamins. 

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Ingredients:

  • One large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb of chicken breasts (or other meat of your choice or go 100% veggie!)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • Taco Seasoning
  • 8 oz of Cheddar Cheese
  • Salsa and Greek yogurt (drizzled on top)

Directions:

  • Cook the Spaghetti Squash (follow these instructions if you don’t know how)
  • Grill the chicken in taco seasoning
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the beans and the chilis
  • Spray a 13.x baking dish
  • Spread a layer of the spaghetti squash on the bottom on the baking dish
  • Add a layer of the chicken, bean, and chili mixture
  • Add a layer of cheese
  • Repeat the layers until you run out of ingredients
  • Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Top with Salsa and Greek Yogurt (our sour cream, but did you know Greek yogurt taste just like sour cream when mixed?)

 What do you like to make with Spaghetti Squash?

I’m headed off for a girls’ weekend in NYC! I hope you enjoy this crisp Fall weekend.

I’ll be back on Monday for another Think Positive Monday.

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

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I love spaghetti squash. I cook with it about once a week and keep inventing new ways to incorporate it into recipes or turn usually carb heavy recipes into vegetable heavy ones.

Yet, a year ago I barely knew what a Spaghetti Squash was let alone how to cook it. The first time I bought one was last September at a small produce stand alongside the road. It was $1.00 and I thought, “Why not?”

I brought the beast of a squash home and had no idea what to do with it. After a few Google searches and frustration I quickly figured it out. I fell in love with the sweet crunchy taste and filling nature of the noodle looking squash. 

So this post is for any of you out there who were like me a year ago, clueless as to how to cook a spaghetti squash. Below are simple step by step directions and photographs.

I wish I had something this simple when I was first experimenting, hope it helps!

1. Pick out your perfect Spaghetti Squash.

I like when they are golden-yellow and about 8 inches long.

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2. Place the spaghetti squash in the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. Cook for 20 minutes. 

This allows the squash to soften up a bit before you do anything to it.

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3. Carefully remove the squash from the oven. Cut the squash into two perfect halves.

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4. Place the two halves back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your squash)

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4. Carefully remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then use an ice cream scoop to remove all of the “icky” parts of the squash.

Think of it as removing the inside of a pumpkin when you are carving it. Remove the area in the middle that is full of seeds and “mushier”.

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5. Next, grab a fork and start scraping at the edges of the squash. This pulls apart the meaty part of the squash and creates the noodle like appearance that gives the spaghetti squash its name.

Place the noodle looking parts to the side.

Keep scraping and scraping until all that is left of the squash is the hollow skin.

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6. Look at all of this! All from one spaghetti squash! 

You can now use the spaghetti squash in a recipe as is, or put the pulled squash back in the oven for a bit longer of a crisper taste.

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Enjoy in the place of regular spaghetti, in a casserole, roasted with a few herbs and spices, or in Asian dishes.

Pretty simple, right?

The hardest part is leaving the time set aside for baking in the oven prior to being able to enjoy it.

Come back on Friday and I’ll share my newest favorite spaghetti squash recipe: Spaghetti Squash Mexican Casserole.

Zucchini Brownies

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Who doesn’t love a way of eating chocolate that can be labeled as “healthy”?

These zucchini brownies are a healthier way, (no eggs and no butter) of indulging in dessert. Even though they still contain sugar, you also reap the benefits of eating zucchini, hidden within all that chocolate goodness.

One benefit of country living is scoring produce for super cheap. Last weekend I procured two monster zucchini. They were the largest zucchini I ever saw. They were each about the length of my forearm and the width of my calf. Actually that sounds a bit awkward. Anyways, they were huge.

I decided to experiment with one of the zucchini and make a chocolate version of zucchini bread, realizing that they are actually zucchini brownies. They turned out moist, delicious, and not tasting of zucchini at all. 

Here is the easy recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/4 cut coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • handful of chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Chop of the raw zucchini into small pieces
3. In a food processor, puree zucchini
4. After awhile add the coconut oil, sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract to the food processor. Continue to puree until well mixed. It will be a very fluid like.
5. In a separate large bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
6. Add the zucchini mixture and then add chocolate chips. 
7. Pour into greased 9×13 baking pan.
8. Bake for 25 minutes.
9. Enjoy!
 

What other healthier dessert options do you like?

 

Pesto Quinoa Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats

Summer, the perfect season to eat healthy, when fresh veggies and fruit spring up all over and can be purchased cheaply.

Right now, zucchini are on sale at my town’s farmer’s markets for 5 for $1. With an abundance of zucchini on hand and a stomach that is so tired of zucchini bread I decided to experiment with a new recipe. 

Pesto Quinoa Zucchini Boats!

What You Need:

5 medium to large zucchini

1 cup of quinoa

2 tablespoons of pesto

2 tablespoons of reduced fat cream cheese 

1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. Using a spoon, carve the zucchini into “boats”. Scoop out the seedy section making enough of a bowl to stuff with your quinoa mixture.

2. Bake the plain zucchini in the oven (preheated to 325 degrees) for 25 minutes or until they are soft. 

3. Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa on your stove top. 

4. Once the quinoa is ready and fluffed, mix in your pesto and cream cheese. Stir generously.

5. Remove the zucchini boats from the oven, fill them with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

6. Place zucchini boats back in the oven for another 4-5 minutes until the cheese melts. 

Enjoy!

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What else do you like to make with zucchini? I’d love to try other new recipes. 

xoxo Katie

 

 

Cranberry, Pecan, and White Cheddar Cheese Ball Recipe

cranberrypecancheddarcheeseball
This post is about cheese, what more do you need to know?

This summer has been filled with a lot of wine and toasting. What goes good with wine? Cheese. (Actually what doesn’t go with cheese?) This savory and sweet cheese ball goes well with both white wine and red wine as well as fun conversations with girl friends or long talks on docks with your love. (I made this cheese ball for both a girls’ night in as well as our anniversary trip to the Finger Lakes.)

It’s easy. Super easy. So if you’re still looking for a last-minute recipe to make for a Fourth of July get together you’ve found it!

I hope you all have a fun long weekend celebrating with friends and family. My best friend gets married this Saturday and I’m a ball of emotions. It’s going to be a beautiful wedding weekend. Think of me as I nervously await my Matron of Honor speech – I’m terrified of public speaking!  But in all seriousness, I can’t wait to celebrate her and her love all weekend long. They are the most adorable couple.  Cheers to them! 

Now go and enjoy some wine with this awesome cheese ball:

Cranberry, Pecan, and White Cheddar Cheese Ball:

cheeseball
 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Chopped Pecans
  • 8 ounces of Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 8 ounces, weight Shredded Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1-½ cup Dried Cranberries

Directions:

  • Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans evenly over the baking pan and bake for 5 minutes.
  • In a mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese and the shredded white cheddar cheese. 
  • Add in the pecans, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Mix until everything is well blended. About 5 minutes. 
  • Remove the mixture from the mixer and form it into a ball. Wrap the ball in Saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. (I did mine the night before and let it sit in the fridge over night because of timing)
  • Remove the cheese ball from the fridge and remove the Saran wrap. Cover the cheese ball in dried cranberries. You will have to push the cranberries into the cheese ball to secure them into place.
  • Serve with crackers and enjoy! 

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spread 
xoxo Katie