Pennette Lasagna


Pennette Lasagna

A couple of weeks ago, a coworker friend of mine brought me in some of his homemade lasagna and it was incredibly delicious. It took me a few meals to finish it as I like to eat pasta sparingly; however, when it was gone, it left me yearning for more, so I decided to make some and improvise with the ingredients I had on hand, which included pennette pasta. If you’re not familiar with pennette, they’re simply a shorter and thinner version of penne pasta, and have ends that are cut at an angle. I threw this together without doing a lot of measuring (and made a small serving), but am providing my best guesstimate on the amounts I used. To be honest, I was a little nervous how it would turn out, but much to my delight, it was truly scrumptious. 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 container (around 11 oz.) of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup 2% mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 tsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic 
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups pennette pasta
  • 2-3 cups prepared marinara or pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Mexican Style Four Cheese Blend

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta, cook for 8 minutes (they won’t be completely done but they finish cooking in the oven).
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. Mix together ricotta and egg, then add mozzarella, parmesan, basil, oregano, garlic and salt.
  5. Spray a small baking dish with Pam (I used a small 5″ x 7″).
  6. Put a layer of marinara in the bottom of your pan, sprinkle some red pepper flakes and then 1/3 of the noodles (lay them flat), spread the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles, put a layer of sauce on top of the cheese, add pepper flakes, top with 1/2 of noodles, repeat process again, and finish with remaining sauce and the Mexican 4 Cheese (there should be 3 layers).
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  8. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Pennette Lasagna

Pennette Lasagna

 

Top ↑

Mexican Egg White Omelet With Goat Cheese


Mexican Egg White Omelet

I whipped up this little omelet this morning, and wasn’t going to post it, then thought, why not share the deliciousness?!! Obviously, you can add (or omit) whatever veggies and/or spices that suit your fancy, but I love the combination of what I put into mine today. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, just substitute your favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup egg whites, from 4 large eggs or liquid whites
  • 2 pearl onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. jalapeño peppers, sliced or diced
  • 1 tbsp. goat cheese
  • 3-4 cherry or plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. cilantro, more or less to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. Mexican chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Omelet Ingredients

Omelet Cooking

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onions to pan and sauté for approximately 3 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  4. Wipe down pan and add remaining oil back to skillet.
  5. Put egg whites and spices in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until slightly frothy.
  6. Pour mixture into heated pan, swirl around a little and let cook for about 5 minutes, until almost completely set and opaque.
  7. Add remaining ingredients, including the sautéed onions, to one side of the omelet, then sprinkle with goat cheese.
  8. Fold “empty” side of omelet over the other side and carefully slide out of pan onto a serving plate.
  9. Garnish with cilantro and serve with additional avocado slices and salsa, if desired.

Egg White Omelet

Egg White Omelet

Top ↑

Healthy Fettuccine “Alfredo”


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I recently saw a post on Facebook from Daphne Oz about her take on Fettuccine Alfredo using a cauliflower puree as the substitute for alfredo sauce. Since I’ve made cauliflower mashed “potatoes” before, and it turned out delicious, I was overly anxious to try her recipe. And as expected, it turned out delicious! Feel free to add some chicken, seafood or tofu if you desire some protein with your pasta. I pretty much followed the recipe to a tee, which is rare, since I usually put my own take on it, but didn’t really see a need for changing anything. This does yield a ginormous amount of pasta, so divide it in half if you’re not feeding a large family or small army 😉

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 4 cups cauliflower (cut into large chunks)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot (finely minced)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (freshly grated)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup Parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Place the milk and the cauliflower in a large sauce pot and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until fork tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted utensil, transfer the cauliflower to a blender.
  4. Add the milk to make a creamy puree.
  5. Add the butter and continue blending until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt (Daphne writes, “so it tastes like the ocean”).
  7. Cook the pasta one minute less than the packaged instructions.
  8. While the pasta is cooking, place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the shallot, season with salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly tender.
  9. Deglaze with the white wine. Reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  10. Add the cauliflower puree to the sauté pan and thin out with about 1/3 cup of pasta water.
  11. Remove the pasta from the water, add it to the cauliflower puree, and then sprinkle ground nutmeg over the top.
  12. Toss again and add more cooking water if the pasta seems too dry.
  13. Add the Parmigiano and parsley, and toss to coat.

Note: For leftovers, you can reheat in the microwave or on top of the stove, but may want to add a little milk or water to make it saucier after being refrigerated.

Top ↑

Artichoke, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna


I woke up yesterday, yearning to make a meatless/veggie lasagna. I have no idea why this particular dish was pinpointed as the object of my affection, but knew I HAD to make it. I perused some of my saved recipes, and came across a few that looked delicious. So, I took one, altered it quite a bit and came up with this one, which I thought was amazingly scrumptious. I tried to be conscientious of the exact measurements I used… hopefully, that’s the case 😉

Artichoke, Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 (14 oz.) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 (28 oz.) jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (4 oz.) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled

Veggie Lasagna

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Put butter or olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium-high.
  3. Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms for 5 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp.
  4. Stir in broth, rosemary and basil, and bring to a boil.
  5. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.
  6. Mix together, ricotta, egg, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  7. Spread 1/4 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles.
  8. Add some big dollops of the ricotta/mozzarella mixture (using half) on top of the noodles, then more of the sauce.
  9. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with sauce mixture and remaining mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.
  10. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 10 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Cut Lasagna

Top ↑

Avocado Cilantro Hummus


What can I say about hummus… it’s yummy, healthy and now I know, super easy to make at home. There are so many variations to suit your taste buds, the possibilities are almost endless. Sweet potato, pumpkin, black bean, sun-dried tomato, roasted rep pepper… you get the idea. I think this recipe is great as is, but if you’re more of a lime person, feel free to substitute lime juice instead of lemon.

Avocado Cilantro Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted & roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Tahini
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
  • Ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, avocado, cilantro, garlic, Tahini, lemon juice, and salt. Process until smooth. 
  2. With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube in a slow steady stream, then add water, 1 tbsp. at a time until oil is incorporated and mixture is very creamy.
  3. Add cayenne, if using, and pepper to taste, and stir well.
  4. Serve with pita bread, chips and/or vegetables.

Top ↑

Spicy Edamame


I’m a HUGE fan of sushi, and always have to order edamame as a starter whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant. One of my favorite sushi restaurants is Sashi in Manhattan Beach, which is where I went for my birthday dinner last year. Naturally, we had to get an order of their edamame, which was not your run-of-the-mill edamame, as it’s served 2 ways; with Indian spices and also, sea salt. The Indian-spiced batch was incredibly tasty, and since that time, I wanted to recreate something similar at home. I came across this spicy edamame recipe using Japanese 7 spice, and can’t begin to tell you how many batches of it I’ve made. Actually, I’m making some more right now! Japanese 7 spice, or Shichimi Togarashi in Japanese, is a blend of spices that contains red chili, seaweed, sansho pepper, orange peel, poppy seeds and white and black sesame seeds. It’s a popular table condiment in Japan, where it’s used to add heat and flavor to lots of different dishes. This is the original recipe I found, but will make a notation as to how I like to prepare it. I also like to dip the edamame in a spicy Japanese mayo, so I’ll include a link to that recipe as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb edamame
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Japanese 7 spice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Japanese spicy mayo

Directions

  1. Cook edamame according to package directions & drain. (I like to add a little garlic and ginger powder to the water.)
  2. Place edamame in a large bowl. Add oil and toss to coat, adding more if needed.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients & mix together well.

For my version of this recipe, I eliminate the cayenne pepper and garlic, and add just a little bit of sugar. I love the combo of sweet & spicy.

Top ↑

Quinoa


Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. Quinoa’s origins are truly ancient. It was one of  the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinoa was known then, and still is known, with respect, as the mother grain. It is often called the “Supergrain of the Future.” Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids and more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. It looks like a grain and is often regarded as a whole grain even though it is actually the seed of a plant that is related to spinach. Quinoa is also low in fat and a good source of other nutrients such as calcium. As quinoa is free from gluten, it makes an ideal alternative for people who eat a gluten-free diet. Quinoa is naturally high in fiber and this is a useful addition to most diets. It is has many uses, like breakfast cereal, as a substitution for rice or in combination dishes such as pilaf, to name a few.

Cooking Instructions:

Quinoa should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking to remove any powdery residue. Place grain in a fine strainer and hold under cold running water until water runs clear; drain well.

To cook, use 2 cups liquid per 1 cup of quinoa. Combine liquid & quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover & cook until the grains are translucent and the germ has spiraled out from each grain. About 15 minutes.

I add some salt, pepper and garlic to the water prior to boiling for additional flavor.

The Oaks Peanut Sauce


This sauce, by The Oaks at Ojai chef Christine Denney, will really be the jack-of-all-trades in your refrigerator. Serve this versatile peanut sauce with salad greens, shredded carrots and minced green onion or with chicken or fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 tsp raw, organic honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup low-fat plain yogurt

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together except yogurt. Lightly fold in yogurt.

Cherry-Arugula Salad With Almonds & Tarragon


 Cherries and almonds are a classic pair and make a delicious salad combination with tart arugula and fragrant tarragon.

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp slivered almonds, divided
  • 1/2 pound cherries (about 2 cups), pitted and halved, divided
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 5 oz baby arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked whole grains (e.g. barley, farro, wheat berries, wild rice, or even quinoa)

Directions

  1. In a blender, combine vinegar, shallot, mustard, water, 3 tbsp of the almonds and 1/4 cup of the pitted cherries.
  2. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute. Stir in tarragon.
  3. Combine arugula, cooked grains and remaining cherries in a large bowl.
  4. Toss with the dressing and garnish with the remaining 3 tbsp almonds.

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Mash


This is a lovely side dish that not only tastes great, but is very low in carbs.

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Mash

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. goat’s cheese (I recommend herb-coated)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the cauliflower over medium heat in a large pot of lightly salted water until completely tender, 20-30 minutes.
  2. Drain the cauliflower into a colander. With a bowl or small plate, press on the cauliflower to remove all the water. Toss the cauliflower and continue pressing. This step is very important to the texture of the dish.
  3. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor (or blender).
  4. Add the cream and puree until completely smooth. If you like a chunkier texture, mash by hand, adding the cream after the cauliflower is mashed.
  5.  Return to the pot. When you are ready to serve the puree, heat over low heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the butter, Parmesan and goat’s cheese. Stir until incorporated and season with salt if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately.

Note: Feel free to add 1 tsp minced garlic and/or 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives for additional flavor.