Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups

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Zucchini Challenge Day #2. So as I mentioned yesterday I have a gigantic zucchini my parents gave me that absolutely needs to be eaten up by tomorrow evening. Paul and I are setting sail to Bermuda this Friday for on a week long cruise and I refuse to let anything in my refrigerator go bad…ever! Because our fridge is filled with summer squash and zucchini I decided to make these cute little Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups. I channeled an old veggie lasagna recipe I made awhile back and jazzed it up a bit with a white sauce. I think the next time I make them I would love to add some carrot to the veggie mix or even some mushrooms. Yum!

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups

  • 10 lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup summer squash; diced
  • 1 cup zucchini; diced
  • 1/2 medium onion; diced
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 cup kale; torn
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 10 leaves basil; chopped


White Sauce

  • 2 tbl margarine
  • 2 tbl flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package; about 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool in colander. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan to medium heat. Add onion, squash, garlic and zucchini. Saute until soft and onions are translucent; about 10 minutes. Add kale and saute another minute, until kale is wilted. Add salt, pepper and dried basil.
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Once cooled, in a separate bowl combine veggie mixture into the ricotta. Mix well and set aside.IMG_1388

White Sauce: In pan heat margarine until melted. Whisk in flour and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, until golden.
Slowly whisk in milk a little as a time. Whisk continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Add parmesan cheese and continue to cook and whisk; about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt & pepper to taste. IMG_1386

In a baking dish spoon a small amount of white sauce on the bottom of the dish. Take each lasagna noodle and spread about 2 small spoonfuls across each noodle. Sprinkle with a small amount of fresh chopped basil. Roll each noodle up and place seam down in the baking dish. Continue this step with each noodle.

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When all of the noodles are rolled and in the dish, spoon the remaining white sauce liberally over the roll-ups. Make sure every noodle is covered well. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

IMG_1393Yum! Next time I might top it with mozzarella cheese and add a little to the noodles before rolling them up for a more lasagna-like feel. I thought about it before but couldn’t stand the thought of running another errand. These came out great anyways. Enjoy!

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

Oh. My. Goodness. These noodles are fantastic! I’ve always wanted to make Sesame Noodles, but I’ve never had the right ingredients. It was kind of one of those meals that required me to buy more than one thing I didn’t already have, so I just kept putting it in my back pocket for another time. Well I finally splurged and purchased the sesame oil and rice vinegar and can now continue to explore new recipes with these fabulous ingredients.

I made my Sesame Noodles with tofu…please don’t say “Blech!” I honestly really enjoy tofu, and Paul likes it too! Can you believe it? It was a really wonderful addition to these noodles so give it a try!

I adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, it’s very similar so I give her the credit for these awesome noodles!

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

1/2 block extra-firm tofu
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch ginger
Thin noodles; enough for 4 servings (I used my Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta spaghetti noodles)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tbl sugar
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl rice vinegar
4 tbl canola oil; divided

Serves 4

Cook pasta according to directions. Keep warm until ready to use.IMG_1322

Sauce: Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic and 2 tbl canola oil in a bowl. Set aside.

Tofu: Cut tofu in half and fold a paper towel in half on a cutting board. Place tofu slices on paper towel and place another folded towel on top. Lightly press on the tofu to soak up liquid. Continue to do this until most of the liquid is absorbed.
IMG_1317Cut up tofu into bite-sized cubes and sprinkle a pinch of ginger onto cubes. Pour cornstarch onto a plate and dredge the tofu pieces in it. Make sure each piece is coated evenly.IMG_1319IMG_1320Heat 2 tbl canola oil to medium heat in a non-stick pan. Add tofu and cook on medium-low until the tofu is crispy and golden. Make sure to continually turn the tofu in order for it to cook evenly on all sides. Set aside.IMG_1321Take strained pasta and add sauce. I did this in the same pan I cooked the pasta in. Why dirty another pan…especially when you don’t have a dishwasher. (ugh!) Incorporate sauce well. Add tofu right before eating. Enjoy! (We did!)IMG_1323IMG_1324

Vegetable Ricotta Stuffed Shells

IMG_0972Hello friends! I’m back to the grind after two amazing days off from work. Back to work also means back to my weekly Wednesday night volunteering. Because of this, my Wednesday night dinner usually consists of an easy meal I can reheat once I get home. I’m pleased to announce that tonight was a different story! On my Tuesday off I was able to prep a wonderful meal that Paul easily popped into the oven…with some detailed instructions of course.

Let me tell you, these vegetable stuffed shells are the perfect combination of healthy eating and Yum! They came out absolutely fantastic. I made this recipe for 2 people, but definitely double it up if it suits you!

Vegetable Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • 1/2 cup diced green zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow zucchini
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 12 jumbo shells
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • Spaghetti sauce (I used about a cup)
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta shells according to package. I cooked them until al dente; about 10 minutes. When cooked, drain and set aside.photo 1

Dice onion, green zucchini, yellow zucchini and shred carrot. Heat a pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute veggies for about 10 minutes on a medium-low heat, until everything is soft. *If you need more oil use a little at a time but I sometimes just add a little water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the veggies.

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While veggies are cooking, mince garlic. Then whisk egg. Incorporate parmesan cheese, egg and garlic into ricotta cheese. Set aside.

When veggies are cooked, incorporate them into the ricotta mixture.

Spoon a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture and place into dish. Continue filling and placing the remaining shells in the dish. When all the shells are filled, pour sauce sparingly over the shells. I also topped with mozzarella cheese because I had it.

IMG_0970Cover dish with tin foil and cook for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

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Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

I have had a box of whole wheat rotini sitting on my shelf for years. Years! Seriously. I’m sure it’s expired. It kind of just hangs out next to my quinoa and all my other pasta. I know, whole wheat is better for you and I do almost always opt for the healthier option, but for some reason when I’m grabbing a box of pasta it’s the good old white stuff. Maybe it’s the Italian in me?

Anywho, something about that boxed whole wheat pasta is super unappealing to me, but these Homemade Whole Wheat noodles are anything but unappealing. This recipe is great, so give it a try!

IMG_1269Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

The first time I made homemade pasta it was a disaster! I was swearing and covered in flour and cursing Paul for asking me to make it. He woke up and found me in the kitchen yelling at the dough, with the pastry brush stuck in the KitchenAid pasta attachment. (Yea, that happened) Things have changed since then.

In a bowl mix together the flours and salt. Make a well. Whisk together the eggs and water, and pour into the well and begin to mix well until a ball is formed. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 20 turns. OR Throw it all into your standing mixer and mix until incorporated. Attach dough hook and allow to knead for about 5 minutes.
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IMG_1288If the dough is too dry sprinkle it with water, a little at a time. I also added about a 1/2 tsp of olive oil.

Form dough into a ball and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

Now you’re ready to make your pasta! Roll it out thin and cut your pasta, either by hand or with your mixer attachments.
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IMG_1290When your noodles are cut, coat lightly with flour. Place small bundles of noodles on a cookie sheet and pop into the freezer for a few minutes. Once slightly hardened pop into tupperware and back into the freezer until you’re ready to use.

*Remember homemade noodles often take less time to cook, so make sure you watch them carefully!
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Bacon & Brussel Sprout Pasta

IMG_1269Traffic. It will take you from the best of moods to the very worst. Driving in Boston is literally painful. I was heading home after a long day working at my first job, followed by my extra side job with my stomach grumbling. I could not wait to get home and make this Bacon & Brussel Sprout Pasta when BAM! Red light after red light, brake lights and more brake lights. AH! I’m sorry to all the people I would have offended if they heard me swearing in my car. Perhaps an overreaction offset by hunger, but hey, it happens…right? The only thing to pull me out of my hunger related funk? Pasta! I hope this recipe can turn even the worst of your frowns upside down!

Bacon & Brussel Sprout Pasta

  • 1/2 a box pasta; spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine
  • 1/2 an onion; sliced or chopped
  • 8 brussel sprouts; halved, and sliced
  • 4 slices of bacon; cooked and crumbled  (*Turkey bacon is a wonderful substitute which I often use)
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1/4 cup seasoned oil or olive oil (I use Wegmans basting oil with garlic & herbs)
  • salt & pepper

*Note: If you chose to use regular olive oil instead of a seasoned oil, I recommend adding a variety of spices to this dish, such as more salt and pepper, as well as garlic, basil or even parsley. Be creative!

Cook bacon according to package. Set aside on paper towels to cool. Crumble when cooled.

Cook pasta according to directions, strain and set aside. I used homemade, frozen fettuccine noodles, pictured above.
IMG_1270In a non-stick pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil at medium heat. Saute onions and brussel sprouts until tender. Onions should be translucent and brussel sprouts should have wilted down. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper.
IMG_1272Add noodles to hot pan and add seasoned oil, a little at a time. Use your best judgement when adding oil. The warm pasta will soak up some of the oil, but you don’t want your noodles sitting in a pool of oil. Once heated through add bacon and toss around. Give it a nibble and add salt and pepper to taste.
IMG_1273Pour into a bowl and top with grated cheese and get ready to feel a whole lot better than you did before you ate!

Tuna Noodle Salad

20130719-183354.jpgI am so apprehensive to post this recipe as I am afraid of the scrutiny. The scrutiny? Yes! Because I am embarrassed to admit this is yet another mayo-based recipe! Ah, the horror! I swear I cook with other ingredients normally, but the heat is slowly withering me and the less stove/oven use the better. Unfortunately a lot of summer meals depend on mayo, so mayo I will eat!

However, as I have mentioned in other posts, non-fat, plain greek yogurt goes a long way in substituting, so I definitely used a little to offset the high fat content of the mayonnaise.

When I asked my boyfriend what he thought of “tuna noodle” for dinner his immediate reaction was “Blech!” But once he realized it wasn’t his moms hot, cheesy tuna casserole he came around, and I think you will too!

 

Tuna Noodle Salad

1 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 can tuna, drained
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain non-fat greek yogurt
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch of salt

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and allow to cool in refrigerator for at least two hours. I often make the pasta a day before and allow it to sit in the refrigerator over night.
*Note: The colder the pasta is, the less mayo it will absorb, meaning the less you have to use. (And the less fat you’re consuming!)

20130719-182326.jpgOnce pasta is cooled add tuna, onion, peas, mayo, greek yogurt, salt and pepper. Incorporate ingredients well. Serve cold on a hot day!

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Summer Avocado Pasta

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I have been dreaming about making this pasta salad all day! Pathetic, I know, but I have been seeing so many different avocado pasta recipes lately and couldn’t wait to try my hand at my own version. My first attempt at this definitely needs a few tweaks but was all and all pretty good. To be honest, when I made the sauce I panicked because it had WAY too much lemon. I even gave my boyfriend fair warning that he was  “NOT going to like this…”Surprisingly, he disagreed…yay! However, he also agreed that there was way too much lemon happening, but nothing we couldn’t fix next time! I altered the recipe to what I plan to do when I make it again…because I will definitely be making this again!

Summer Avocado Pasta

  • Half a box Farfalle, Medium Shell or any pasta you like. (I used these fun Elbow Twists!)
  • 1 ripe avocado; peeled and pitted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 TBL lemon juice (start small and add as needed
  • 1 TBL mayo
  • 1 1/2 TBL olive oil
  • 5 fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Follow instructions for cooking on pasta box. Strain and allow to cool. Refrigerate completely after cooking. I cooked my noodles the night before so I could quickly make the sauce and dig in!

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Add avocado, garlic, lemon juice, mayo, (you could also use non-fat plan greek yogurt instead!) olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Give the sauce a taste test and add any additional salt, pepper or lemon. If the sauce is too thick add a little olive oil. Similarly, if it’s too thin, add a little more mayo (or yogurt).

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Pour this over your pasta and toss well. Top with some grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy! This meal will mostly likely not keep long due to the avocado, so enjoy it in one night.
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