Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

1 tbsp olive oil
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup water
1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add zucchini and bell pepper, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans, tomatoes and water.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.  
Add rice; stir well.  Reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, add cheese, cover and let stand until cheese is melted.  

Serve with salad or steamed vegetable for complete meal.  I used the leftovers in flour tortilla as a quesadilla and burrito, which was also very tasty.

Lasagna Bread Pizzas

This was yummy!  In an effort to add some fiber and also try to make it healthier overall, I substituted lentils for the ground beef/veggie meat crumbles.  Turned out great!  I served this with a salad of spring greens and a light olive oil dressing.  Perfect family approved summer dinner!

Shredded mozzarella cheese (or Diaya brand dairy-free mozzarella)
1 large Italian baguette, sliced in 4 pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup dried green lentils
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer, Plain
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups ricotta cheese (or recipe for Tofu Ricotta)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (or dairy free choice)
1 egg yolk (omit if using Tofu Ricotta)
A few basil leaves, torn

Heat oven to 375.  Lightly toast bread on 2 baking sheets.

Cook lentils in 3/4 cup water allow to simmer until most of the water is absorbed.  When substituting lentis for ground beef, try to keep them tender but still a bit firm for a more "meaty" texture.  If lentils are too hard, you can add a bit more water toward the end of the cooking process as necessary. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add olive oil, onions, and garlic and cook until lightly browned.  Stir in tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, thyme and oregano.  Add lentils.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine parsley, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg yolk.  Spread an even layer of ricotta over the 4 pieces of bread.  Top with sauce and then a layer of shredded cheese.  Bake pizzas until brown and bubbly on top, about 10-15 minutes.  Garnish with torn basil.  Serve with salad.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

No Boil Easy Manicotti

This recipe took the pain out of filling floppy manicotti noodles by not boiling them ahead of time and using a ziploc bag to squirt the filling into the shells.

Filling Ingredients (Place inside a gallon size freezer bag):
2 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1 package of Manicotti
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese
32 oz jar of marinara sauce (low sodium)
cooking spray

Combine filling ingredients in a gallon freezer bag and knead until thoroughly mixed.
Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and spread with a thin layer of marinara sauce to coat the bottom of the pan.
Clip a small corner, about 1/2", of the bag and proceed to fill manicotti and place in baking dish.
Pour remaining sauce over the top of the manicotti and cover with aluminum foil.  
Bake at 375 for 1 hour, until shells are tender.  Remove foil and top manicotti lightly with shredded cheese.  Return to oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with a tossed green salad or steamed veggie and garlic bread for a complete meal.

Veggie Pot Pie Cupcakes

1 cup frozen mixed veggies (I used frozen green beans, carrots, corn, and peas but I think it would be better with fresh carrots and green beans next time)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Daiya dairy-free cheese
1/2 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 can of Pillsbury Grands biscuits

Homemade Cream of Mushroom soup (filling):
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
1/4 cup flour
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (you can also use plain, unsweetened soymilk)
3/4 cup broth (you can use veggie broth or make "chick'n broth" from McKay's Chicken Style Seasoning)

**I chose to make my own Cream of Mushroom soup, as this is a much healthier option than the canned variety which is loaded with sodium, fat/cholesterol, and ingredients I prefer not to use**

For the Cream of Mushroom Soup:
Saute garlic, onion, and mushrooms and set aside.  Melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour.  Cook for ~2 minutes.  Add milk/cream and broth.  Add sauteed garlic, onion, and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until it reaches desired consistency (about 10-15 min).  Set soup aside for later use.

For the Pot Pie:
Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl, combine Cream of Mushroom soup, veggies, cheese, and herbs.  Lightly grease a muffin tin with Earth Balance buttery spread and place the Pillsbury biscuits into each cup, pressing into the bottom and up the sides.  Evenly spoon the pot pie mixture into each cup.  Slide into the oven and bake until golden brown and bubbly, checking after 10 minutes.

Baked Spaghetti

Such a quick and easy meal.  I basically made this recipe up as I went along, adding extra ingredients here and there to get some more veggies in.  Turned out pretty good and so simple.  Taking the extra step to bake the spaghetti took it from "just another spaghetti night" to something a bit more special.  I served this with a tossed green salad and garlic bread for a complete meal.

8 -10 oz angle hair pasta
32 oz spaghetti sauce (low sodium)
1 small onion, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
Any other veggies that you might want to add (zucchini would be good, too).
Handfull of fresh parsley, chopped
Generous shakes of dried basil and oregano
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or Daiya brand dairy-free cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook onion, green peppers, and garlic in a bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for ~3-5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and any other veggies you are using.  Cook until veggies are soft and tender, about another ~2-3 minutes.  Add spaghetti sauce, spaghetti, and herbs.  Stir together until well mixed.  
Place in a 9x13 inch baking dish, coated with non-stick spray.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

These were delicious! We didn't have enough skewers to put all the veggies into "kebob form" so we grilled the rest of the marinated veggies in a foil packet and that turned out delicious too!  I served the veggies over a bed of brown rice with a side of grilled corn on the cob.  A perfect summer meal!

2 medium red potatoes
1 cup extra-firm tofu chunks
1 cup red, yellow, or green bell pepper chunks (I used a variety)
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 cup red onion chunks
1 cup white button mushrooms
1/2 cup zucchini chunks
1/2 cup yellow squash chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into cubes (with the skin on) and place in boiling water.  Cook until fork tender.  Drain and set aside. 
Whisk all marinade ingredients together until well incorporated. 
Place the potatoes and the vegetables in a shallow dish or container (I used a gallon ziploc bag).  Pour marinade over vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat.
Remove vegetables from marinade, reserving the extra marinade.  Thread vegetables onto skewers, alternating colors.  Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are slightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.  

**Note: I placed some of the veggies on skewers and kept some of the veggies loose in a foil packet on the grill.  Both ways turned out great.  I also did not include the pineapple in the marinade.  I simply put the fresh pineapple on the skewers unmarinated.**

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Granola Parfait with Fruit and Yogurt

5 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups nuts (I used chopped pecans and walnuts)
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Vanilla yogurt
Fresh fruit (I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and pineapple)

For the granola, preheat oven to 300.  In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, honey, maple syrup, and oil.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread evenly onto rimmed baking sheets in a single layer.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, stirring and rotating the pans every 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, stir to mix well.  It will crisp as it cools.  Store in an airtight container.
For the parfait: 
Place a bit of the granola in the bottom of a dish.  Top with a generous amount of yogurt.  Top with fresh fruit.  Sprinkle a little more granola on the very top.  Enjoy!

This recipe can also be made to freeze.  Follow this Link for further instructions.

Pesto, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Pizza

Goat Cheese Arugula Pizza - No Red Sauce! Recipe

1 tube of refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough
6 Tbsp prepared pesto sauce
4 oz goat cheese crumbles
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh arugula
1 Tbsp lemon juice
splash of olive oil

Roll/stretch pizza dough to desired size.  Brush lightly with pesto sauce.  Evenly top with a light sprinkling of the goat cheese and mozzarella.  Add cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with garlic.  Cook at 400 for ~10 minutes or until center is done and cheese is melted.  
In a small bowl, toss arugula in a little bit of lemon juice and olive oil.  Place this on top of the cooked pizza.  Enjoy!

Easy Black Bean Enchiladas


1 small yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ear of corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup frozen corn)
2 tsp chili powder (or +/- based on how "spicy" your family prefers)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup monterey jack shredded cheese (optional)
2, 16 oz jars of your favorite salsa, mild
12 tortillas (flour or corn)

In a medium bowl, mix together onion, pepper, black beans, corn, spices, and 1/2 cup of cheese.  
Spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray.  Coat the bottom of the pan with about 1 cup of salsa.  

Scoop about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and place it in the baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas until pan is filled.  When pan is full, top tortillas with salsa and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Remove foil, top with a sprinkling of cheese and cook an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

This recipe can also be prepared in a crockpot.  Follow this Link for how to prepare using this method.

I served these enchiladas topped with a few slices of avocado and a little dollop of Tofutti dairy free sour cream.  I also served with a chopped green salad to complete the meal.  

Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable Lasagna

This was actually a really easy and fairly quick lasagna recipe!

8 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 large yellow summer squash, chopped
8 oz package white mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup light ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 cups pasta sauce, low sodium
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onion.  Cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or until tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.  
In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parsley, Parmesan cheese.
Spray a 2 quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.  Place 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in the pan to coat the bottom.  Place 3-4 lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan.  Spoon half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles.  Top with half of the vegetable mixture, half of the sauce, and half of the mozzarella cheese.  Layer with remaining noodles, ricotta cheese mixture, vegetable mixture, and sauce.
Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with tomato and the remaining mozzarella cheese.  Bake 5 minutes or until heated through.

Creamy Tortellini with Kale

Le ricette

This recipe originally called for heavy cream.  Given that we know heavy cream is not good for our health, I substituted it with the coconut milk creamer.  You still get a wonderfully thick and creamy dish but with a significantly improved nutrition profile.  Now you can provide rich and tasty white sauces for your family without the guilt!

1 large package of refrigerated ricotta and spinach tortellini
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1/2 cup prepared McKay's Chicken Style Broth
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
Handfull of chopped sundried tomatoes, soaked in water to re-hydrate

Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant.  Add kale and saute for 5 minutes.  Add sundried tomatoes and chicken  broth; simmer until liquid is reduced by half.  Add coconut creamer and simmer, stirring regularly, until sauce is thickened.  
Add cooked tortellini to the skillet along with the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.  Toss with sauce and continue to cook on low until heated through.  Top with fresh parsley if desired.

Skillet Ravioli Toss

Picture of Skillet Chicken and Ravioli Recipe

1, 9oz package of small cheese ravioli (I used the kind found in the refrigerator aisle)
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 large handfulls of fresh spinach or kale, coarsly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup prepared McKay's "Chick'n" Broth
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Cook ravioli according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside.  
Heat olive oil in the skillet.  Add mushrooms and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic and vinegar and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1-2 minutes.  
Return the ravioli to the skillet.  Add broth and Parmesan cheese.  Bring to a simmer, cook stirring well until heated through.  Top with parsley.  

Santa Fe Beans and Rice

This recipe was quick, easy and made great leftovers.  You could even put the filling in a tortilla and make a burrito to change it up.

2 cups brown rice, cooked
8 oz tomato sauce, low sodium
1/2 cup mild salsa
2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix, low sodium (or make your own)
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (you can also use frozen corn instead)
1 cup Tofutti Dairy Free Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided (or Daiya dairy-free shredded cheese)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, tomato sauce, salsa, taco seasoning, black beans, corn, sour cream, and half of the cheese.  Pour into a 2 quart baking dish (coated with cooking spray).  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Garlic Bread

Yummy!  I served this garlic bread with Splashy Potatoes and steamed green beans. 

1 loaf Cibatta bread (or other Italian loaf)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
Dried oregano and basil for sprinkling
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Stir to combine.
Cut bread loaf in half, lengthwise.  Brush the mixture on top of each half of the bread.
Sprinkle with basil and oregano.
Place halves back together, wrap in foil, and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove bread from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Separate the halves and sprinkle Parmesan on top (you can also sprinkle some mozzarella or Daiya dairy free shredded cheese on top if you wish).
Return to oven under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.  Be sure to keep an eye on it...it will burn quickly!

Splashy Potatoes

These potatoes are called splashy for the splash of color the spinach and tomatoes add.
This was a nice, fresh spring meal on a warm day!  I served this with steamed green beans and Garlic Bread for a complete meal.

9 small potatoes (I used baby white potatoes)
~4 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
4 roma tomatoes, diced
3 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup pine nuts
Large handfull of fresh italian parsley, chopped
small handfull of fresh basil, chopped

Boil potatoes until tender.
While potatoes are boiling, dice tomatoes and chop spinach, basil, and parsley
Lightly saute spinach in olive oil over medium heat with the garlic and pine nuts for 1-2 minutes until wilted.  Add tomatoes, parsley, and basil.  Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until warmed through.  
Dice potatoes.  Add to spinach mixture.  Top with feta cheese.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Unstuffed Shells

Make-Ahead Unstuffed Shells recipe

Ok...so this is not the healthiest meal that I've cooked (I typically don't use a lot of dairy products/processed foods), but it's not too bad for once in a while.  It was an easy dish and this is the type of food that my husband loves.  I just made sure to sneak in some extra veggies to make it a bit healthier.  So, it was a big hit with the family and I was happy that I was able to sneak in the veggies for my 3 year old to gobble up.  It was a hit for the family and it made great leftovers, too! 

4 cups medium pasta shells, whole wheat, uncooked
1 package of Yves Meatless Ground Round (I used this, but I think that you could omit this ingredient based on your preference)
1 jar (24 oz) Marinara Sauce, preferably low sodium
1 tub (10 oz) Piladelphia Italian Herb Cooking Creme
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cups fresh spinach, coarsley chopped
Large handfull of fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown the ground round (if using), green pepper, and onion in a large skillet with a touch of olive oil.  Stir in marinara sauce, spinach, and parsley; simmer on medium heat for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Drain pasta.  Mix cooking creme, basil and Parmesan in a large bowl; stir in pasta.  
Spray a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.  Spread 3/4 of the meat sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with pasta mixture.  Finally, top with the remaining 1/4 of the meat sauce.   Sprinkle with mozzarella; cover with foil.  
Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  Serve with a steamed green veggie for a complete meal.

BBQ Black Bean and Corn Pizza

This was delicious and a family favorite, especially in the summer months when the weather is warm and the produce is fresh!  Hoping warm weather will come our way as I eat this :)

Pizza dough (since I was in a hurry, I used Pillsbury Artisan Refrigerated Pizza Crust)
BBQ Sauce (I LOVE Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce)
Shredded colby jack cheese or Daiya dairy free shredded cheese
1 medium green pepper, diced
2 medium roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Unroll pizza dough onto the cookie sheet. 
Spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce on top of the pizza dough.  Top with a light sprinkling of cheese.  Evenly sprinkle the black beans, green pepper, tomatoes, corn, and cilantro on top of the pizza dough.  Top with another light sprinkling of cheese.
Bake 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Serve with a tossed green salad for a complete meal.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fruit Salsa

Such a wonderful, fresh dish for an appetizer, dessert, or snack!  
I served this dish along with Greek BruschettaGreek Quinoa Salad with Avocado, and Hummus and Dill Mezze Plate for some guests we had over to our house.  It was a wonderful, fresh and light appetizer spread for guests (and it was pretty, too!).

A total of 4-5 cups of diced fruit.  I used the following:
fugi apple, peeled and diced
fresh strawberries, diced
fresh blueberries, halved
kiwi, peeled and diced
frozen pineapple and mango blend, thawed diced
frozen raspberries and blackberries, thawed

2 Tbsp jam, any flavor
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
2 Tbsp orange juice

Cinnamon-sugar pita chips - I used Stacy's brand found in the deli/bakery section of my local grocery store.

Gently mix fruit together in a mixing bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together jam, honey, and orange juice.  Pour this over the diced fruit and mix gently.  Refrigerate to keep cool.  Serve with cinnamon pita chips.  

Greek Quinoa Salad with Avocado

This is a go-to dish that seems to be a crowd-pleaser every time I make it!
I used this as a side dish for a casual lunch/appetizer plate I prepared for company.  I paired this dish with the Hummus and Dill Mezze PlateGreek Bruschetta, and Fruit Salsa.  It was delicious and pretty, too!

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained before cooking to reduce bitter taste
1 cup water
2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh spinach, shredded
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
2 avocados, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, reduced fat

In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, about 15  minutes until liquid is absorbed.
Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl.  Add tomato, spinach, onion, and feta.  Stir to combine.  In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt (if using).  Add to quinoa mixture; toss to coat.

I used this as a side dish for a casual lunch/appetizer plate I prepared for company.  I paired this dish with the Hummus and Dill Mezze Plate

Greek Bruschetta

Greek Bruschetta Recipe

Yummy!!  I served this dish along with Hummus and Dill Mezze PlateFruit Salsa, and Greek Quinoa and Avocado Salad for some company.  It was delicious and pretty, too!

3 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup artichoke hearts;  rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, reduced fat
3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 slices french bread baguette, whole grain (1/4 inch thick)

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients.  
Place bread slices on a baking sheet.  Broil for 1-2 minutes.  Top each slice of bread with a heaping spoonfull of the tomato mixture.  

You can serve immediately or I actually placed the bread and tomato mixture back in the oven and broiled it for an additional 1 minute to melt the cheese a bit.  I also sprinkled a little bit of italian seasoning on top and reserved some of the basil to top each bread slice just before serving.  I actually prepared this recipe without the artichokes because I didn't have any on hand.  It was delicious without them, but I do think that they would make a tasty addition.

I believe that this recipe would also be good dairy-free.  Simply omit the cheese or replace with a bit of Daiya dairy-free shredded mozzarella.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Greek-Bruschetta 

Artichoke Pasta Bake

artichoke pasta bake

This was a quick, delicious weeknight dish!  You can skip the baking step and just serve immediately if you are crunched for time.  It's a delicious dish either way.

1 lb. rigatoni pasta
4 cups pasta sauce, preferably a low sodium option.  I LOVE Mamma DiSalvo's Original Italian Sauce
1 jar (14 oz) artichoke hearts, chopped
1 can (6 oz) black olives, sliced
1 jar (8 oz) sliced banana pepper (I omitted this because my hubby and son don't like these)
4 oz crumbled feta cheese, low fat
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, drain and roughly chop the artichoke hearts and black olives.  Rise and chop the parsley.  If using, drain banana peppers.

In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, pasta sauce, artichokes, black olives, banana peppers and parsley.  Stir everything together.  Add Parmesan, feta, and 1/2 of the mozzarella.  Stir to combine. 

Transfer pasta mixture to a 9 x 11 inch casserole dish (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle a little more chopped parsley on the top, if desired.

I still think that this dish would be delicious made dairy-free.  If that is your goal, you could omit all the cheese or you could instead just top with a bit of the Daiya shredded mozzarella style dairy free cheese.
Serve with a tossed garden salad or steamed green vegetable for a complete meal.

Recipe adapted from: http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/2011/11/artichoke-pasta-bake-1399-recipe-155.html

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hummus and Dill Mezze Plate

This is a quick, easy lunch around our house.  My 3 year old son gobbles it up and I enjoy that he is eating something healthy (and also quick and simple for me to prepare)! 

Pita bread
Feta cheese (optional)
Fresh vegetables - I used carrots, red pepper slices, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumber slices
Dill Yogurt Dip - I used Sabra Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Dip
Falafel - I used Veggie Patch Falafel

Lightly toast the pita bread to warm it up a bit.  Spread with hummus and sprinkle top with a little bit of feta cheese.  Cut into finger sized pieces.
Arrange vegetables, falafel, and pita bread slices on a plate.  Put a small amount of the dill dip on the plate for dipping veggies into.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Black Bean Enchiladas

For the Sauce:
3 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chili powder

For the enchiladas:
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 ears worth of fresh corn, cut from cob (or 1 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels)
6 oz fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 cup (+/-) shredded colby jack cheese
sliced black olives, avocado slices, shredded littuce for toppings, if desired.
8 four tortillas

To make the sauce: 
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add tomato paste, flour, 2 tsp cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder.  Cook 1 minute, whisking.  Whisk in broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook until slightly thickened; ~8 minutes.  Set aside.

To make the enchiladas:
Saute the spinach in a splash of olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until slightly wilted.  In a large bowl, combine beans, cheese, spinach, corn, green onions, 2 tsp cumin, and cilantro.
Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and pour a small amount of sauce to evenly coat the bottom of the dish.  
Generously fill tortillas with mixture, roll up tightly with ends tucked in, and place seam side down in dish.
Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas, coating evenly.  Sprinkle top with black olives and shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes.  
If desired, top with avocado slices, shredded lettuce, and crumbled tortilla chips.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.thegardengrazer.com/2012/03/black-bean-spinach-enchiladas.html

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fiesta in a Skillet

Fiesta in a Skillet recipe

I got home from work late and I was still able to have this on the table and ready to eat within 20-30 minutes.  It's was a pretty good recipe for rush hour dinners.

1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans in mild chili sauce (vegetarian)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (including green parts)
2 cups water
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and mild green chiles, undrained
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese or dairy free alternative (optional)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp taco seasoning, low sodium (optional)

Saute onions and peppers in a little bit of olive oil over medium-high heat for ~3-5 minutes.  Add beans and cook for an additional ~2 minutes.  
Stir in water, taco seasoning (optional), and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in macaroni; cover.  Simmer on medium-low heat 10-12 minutes or until macaroni is tender, stirring occasionally and adding corn for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
Remove from heat.  Top with cheese; cover and let stand 2 minutes or until melted.  Sprinkle with cilantro.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/fiesta-in-a-skillet-143425.aspx

Pepperoni Twists

My toddler son LOVED these!  He helped make them and watched them cook through the oven window and then he gobbled them up for lunch.  It was a wonderful (and quick) afternoon project with him!

10 oz refrigerated bread stick dough
2 oz meatless pepperoni slices - I used the Yves brand
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Take breadstick dough and separate out (stretch each breadstick just a bit as well).  Place 3 pepperoni slices on half of each breadstick.  Fold other half of breadstick over the pepperoni slices.
twist breadstick dough ~3 times.  
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and place breadstick on it.  Replace until all breadsticks are assembled.
In a small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, cheese, and garlic powder.  Sprinkle mixture over breadsticks. 
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. 
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.  Make a complete meal by serving with a salad or veggies and dip and a fruit.

Recipe adapted from: http://onceamonthmom.com/pepperoni-pizza-twists/

Monday, March 11, 2013

Garlic and Herb Potato Wedges

These potato wedges were served alongside the Oatmeal Mushroom Patties and green beans at a luncheon recently hosted by a friend of mine.  Everything was so delicious that I asked her for the recipes.  Here is the recipe for the Garlic & Herb Potato Wedges.

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, finely crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Cut each potato in half lengthwise.  Cut each half, lengthwise, into 4 equal wedges.  Add the potato wedges to a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Toss to coat the potatoes evenly.
Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Place the wedges, skin side down, on the foil.  Be sure to space evenly, so they cook uniformly.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until well browned, crusty edged, and tender.  Serve immediately.

Oatmeal Mushroom Patties with Gravy

I don't have a picture for this post, but I had these for lunch at a friend's house and they were DELICIOUS!  It is definitely a must try recipe!

1 small potato
2 eggs,or 1block of tofu  - mashed
1 cup dry oatmeal 
1 - 4oz. can mushrooms chopped, drained
1- envelope onion soup mix
2  tbs oil
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1- tsp mrs Dash seasoning  or another seasoning you have

1 Tbsp oil
1 package (12 oz) fresh mushrooms, chopped or a 13 oz can of mushrooms, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp beef style seasoning (I use McKay's Beef Style Seasoning)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 cup white flour
1 cup hot water
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (plain) or unsweetened non-dairy milk

Blend together the potato, eggs/tofu, and oatmeal, alllowing oats to absorb moisture.
Drain mushrooms, saving liquid.  Mix with oat mixture and shape into patties (option: could refrigerate patties before frying to help them stay together.  If necessary, add some seasoned bread crumbs to help thicken the patty mixture).
Fry patties in a little oil until browned.  Place in a casserole pan. Top with gravy (instructions below) and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, about 5 minutes (if using canned mushrooms, stir until heated through).
Add garlic, beef style seasoning, and salt (if using).  Stir to coat.
Sprinkle flour over mushrooms; cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add water and creamer to skillet.  Cook until gravy thickens, 6-8 minutes (to prevent lumps, make sure that when you sprinkle in the flour you get out all the lumps before adding the water).

Mushroom patty recipe received from a friend.
Gravy recipe taken from: Give Them Something Better by Sarah Frian and Stephanie Howard

Kale, Banana, Mango Smoothie

1 cup chopped kale
1 banana
1 cup frozen peaches or mango
1 tsp chia seeds
1 squeeze of a lemon (about a teaspoon of lemon juice)
1 cup diced pineapple

Place all ingredients in blender.  Blend on high speed until smooth.  If too thick, can add a little bit of water, juice, or soymilk to thin the mixture to your desired consistency.

Received this recipe from a good friend

Spinach Artichoke Panini

1/2 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
2 cups lightly packed fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
shredded mozzarella cheese, or dairy free cheese alternative
4 pieces whole-grain bread

Preheat panini press/grill pan.  
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add spinach.  Stir until it wilts.  Stir in the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, stir until heated through.  Spread half of the mixture on one slice of bread and the other half on another.  Top each mixture with cheese, if using.  
Close the sandwiches with the remaining two slices of bread.  
Spray the outside of the bread with a light coating of olive oil spray.  Cook sandwiches in panini press until it is crispy and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.  Slice in half and serve immediately.

Recipe taken from: http://happyhealthymama.com/2011/04/hot-lunch-in-a-hurry-spinach-artichoke-panini.html

Tortellini Salad

Connie's Tortellini Salad Recipe

This dish can be served warm or cold.  Delicious both ways.

1 package (13 oz) fresh cheese tortellini
1 medium zucchini, haled and sliced
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (or more to taste)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can (14 oz) water packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
1 jar (11 oz) pitted Greek olives, drained
1 carton (8 oz) miniature fresh mozzarella cheese balls, drained

In a large saucepan, cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain; transfer to a large bowl.  
If planning to serve warm, sautee zucchini, tomatoes, and artichokes in a large skillet until warmed through.  If planning to serve cold, omit this step.
Add remaining ingredients, toss to coat.  If serving cold, refrigerate.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Connie-s-Tortellini-Salad

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pan Pizza

green pepper
sun-dried tomatoes
shredded mozzarella cheese
spaghetti/pizza sauce, low sodium

Dough: (makes 2 crusts)
  • 5 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 2 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3/4 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
For the Dough:
Combine bread flour and water and mix with a mixer on low speed until blended.  Set aside and let sit for 15 minutes.  Add the salt and yeast and mix on low speed for 5 minutes.  Place in a bowl lightly covered with oil (dough may be sticky, this is OK).  Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.  Uncover and punch-down dough again.  Cover and set aside for a third time for 20 minutes.  Finally, uncover and punch-down dough.  Cover and set aside for at least 2 (or up to 8) hours.
About an hour before baking time, divide dough in half.  Refrigerate half for later use. 

For the Pizza:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 8 x 11 baking pan (I used a jelly roll pan)  with cooking spray.  Spread the other half of the dough out in the pan and let sit for 15-30 minutes.  Then, evenly spread about 1 Tbsp olive oil over the dough.  Top with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and vegetable toppings.  Sprinkle with a bit of oregano and bake for 15-20 minutes.  

Serve with a tossed green salad.

To save time, dough can be made ahead of time and kept in refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe taken from: http://www.simplylifeblog.com/2012/11/pan-pizza-mindfulness/

Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti

8 oz uncooked ziti pasta
2 cups sliced mushrooms, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2-3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese, low fat
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 Tsp dried basil
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add mushrooms, garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.
Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in ricotta cheese and dried basil.  Add mixture to the bowl with the cooked pasta, then add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup mozzarella.  Stir well.
Transfer the mixture to an 8x8 baking pan, sprayed with nonstick spray.  Top with remaining mozzarella.  Bake until hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.
Serve with tossed salad for a complete meal.

Recipe taken from: http://www.healthforthewholeself.com/2011/01/simple-vegetarian-baked-ziti/

Pasta with Sauteed Broccoli, Garlic, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Cavatelli with Sauteed Broccoli, Garlic, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

4 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional or to taste)
1 lb cavatelli (I used whole grain bow tie pasta)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over moderate heat and once hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden.  Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes - cook, stirring for 2 minutes.  Add the McKay's chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.  
Add pasta and toss to combine.  Serve topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.rachaelray.com/recipe.php?recipe_id=4692

Pasta Toss

Picture of Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese Recipe

1 pound fusilli pasta (I used bow tie pasta instead)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (9 oz) bag fresh spinach, chopped
8 oz (1/2 pint) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook until the spinach wilts, about 2 more minutes.  Add cooked pasta and toss.  Add the cheese, seasoning, and pasta cooking liquid and stir to combine.  
Serve with a tossed green salad for a complete meal.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/fusilli-with-spinach-and-asiago-cheese-recipe/index.html

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped red onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, low sodium
8 oz kale, chopped
8 oz swiss chard, chopped
2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
7 cups vegetable broth, low sodium 
1/4  cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, and carrots.  Cook until veggies begin to soften, 6-8 minutes.  Add garlic and pepper flakes.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add diced tomatoes (with juice), kale and chard.  Cook until kale is wilted, 8-10 minutes.
Puree 1 cup of the beans and 1 cup of the broth in a blender.  Add to the soup along with the remaining beans and 6 cups of broth.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the basil and salt.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with Parmesan and a slice of crusty bread on the side.

Recipe adapted from: http://mypanera.panerabread.com/recipes/recipe/tuscan-vegetable-soup/

Hummus and Monterey Jack Wraps

Ingredients: (makes 4 wraps)
1 1/2 cup hummus (I used roasted red pepper hummus)
4 large flour tortillas
1 slice of Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup copped cucumber
2 green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
Ranch dressing (optional)

For each wrap, spread hummus over top 2/3 of tortilla.  Layer on cheese, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, scallions, tomatoes, and lettuce in a row in the center.  Top with a drizzle of ranch dressing if desired.
Compress filling tightly and wrap tortilla around filling.

Recipe adapted from: http://mypanera.panerabread.com/recipes/recipe/hummus-and-monterey-jack-wraps/