Category Archives: Italian

Super Easy and Quite Healthy Crock Pot Lasagna

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The last time I was trying to lose weight, the one dinner that I missed the most was Lasagna. I was lucky to find, and adapt, this incredibly, tasty AND healthy version that is quick to put together. You can simply leave the lasagna to cook in your crock pot while you do other things around the house. It makes a great dinner, and as with all Lasagna recipes… it makes an even better lunch!

Quick and easy slow cooker lasagna that can be good to go in just a few minutes

Quick and easy slow cooker lasagna that can be good to go in just a few minutes

Crock Pot Lasagna
(6 servings)

1 Onion, chopped

1 Garlic Clove, minced

1 pound Lean Ground Beef

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 1/2 tsp.  Italian Seasoning, dried

1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

28 oz Crushed Tomatoes , canned

15 oz  Tomato Sauce, canned

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1 cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

1 package Frozen Spinach, chopped

1 1/2 cups Part-Skim Mozzarella, shredded

6 Lasagna Noodles, no-cook variety

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

OPTIONAL: 1 cup Zucchini, shredded & 1 cup Fresh Mushrooms, diced

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1. Brown ground beef, onions and garlic with seasonings on stove in pot large enough to accommodate all the sauce ingredients.
To save time on this step I just use 3-4 cups of my usual spaghetti sauce from the freezer.

2. Once the meat is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce (and optional vegetables). Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Mix the thoroughly drained spinach with ricotta and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella in a bowl.

4. Snap your lasagna noodles in half (depending on the size of your crock pot) using the edge of your counter, as shown.

5. Place 1/3 of the meat mixture in the bottom of your crock pot. Then layer 1/2 of the cheese mixture on top. Lay 4 lasagna noodles on the cheese mixture, and repeat all layers one more time.

6. Place the crock pot cover on top, and turn your crock pot on low for 4 to 6 hours.

7. Just prior to serving, turn off your crock pot. Mix 1/2 cup parmesan with 1/2 cup mozzarella, and add to your Lasagna as topping, and let melt for 10 minutes.

What is the secret ingredient in favourite Lasagna recipe?
Please feel free to share your tips in the Comments section below.

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Spicy Marinated Mushrooms – A Great Holiday Appetizers

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At this time of year it’s a great idea to have a few last-minute appetizers to pull out of your fridge to wow unexpected guests. These marinated mushrooms are super easy to make, and hold well for 3 to 5 days in the fridge, or can try canning them for a longer-lasting product.

Tender, spicy mushrooms for the fungi-fan in your family

Tender, spicy mushrooms for the fungi-fan in your family

Spicy Marinated Mushrooms

1/2 bag White Button Mushrooms, small
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
5 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce, Low-Sodium
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or more)

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1. Boil a large pot of salted water.

2. Place the mushrooms whole into the boiling water for 7 minutes.
I do not recommend washing your mushrooms until just before you are going to cook them – a light washing is fine. I scrub mine 4 at a time in my hands under running water.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sririacha.

3. Once the mushrooms are done boiling, drain them, and place them into a large resealable container.

4. Pour the liquid over the mushrooms, stir together, and cover with the lid.

5. Let your container sit on your kitchen counter to cool.
Allow the mushrooms to begin their marinading process at room temperature for a couple of hours.

6. Then you can refrigerate your mushrooms, and use as needed.

7. Create an Antipasto Platter by adding Roasted Red Peppers and Roasted Garlic. Serve the mushrooms with on a platter with room-temperature cheeses, deli meats and crackers or baguette.

TIP: The spicy taste is great!!! For a more intense flavour, pull the mushroom stems out of the caps before boiling which will allow the marinade to permeate into the mushroom from the inside.

These little, succulent snacks go well with any appetizer spread

These little, succulent snacks will go well with any appetizer spread you can dream up this Holiday season

Other Uses…

* Diced the marinated mushrooms up and use as a condiment on burgers or beef dip sandwiches.
* Mince them up to use as a mushroom tapenade on french bread.
* Pop off the stems, and pipe in some soft cheese like Boursin for a fancier appetizer.
* They’d be a great accompaniment to any steak.
* Excellent choice for use in any salad, especially to dress up a Caesar salad with fresh tomatoes.

What do YOU like to have with these mushrooms?
Please feel free to share your uses below in the Comments section.

Hubby’s Home Sick Today Soup

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So my dear husband, who never ever calls in sick… is home sick today with a bad head cold. Our pups, who wanted to be featured today are so accommodating and work great as “nurses”! We just have to call “nap time” and they are right there to cuddle.

Jeff in bed with his Dog Nurses - Toby & Mitzie

Jeff in bed with his Dog Nurses – Toby & Mitzie

I was feeling bad for my hubby last night when he went to bed at 830pm, so I prepped some homemade soup and tucked it away – just in case.

My interpretation of Italian Wedding Soup

My interpretation of Italian Wedding Soup

1/2 Spicy Italian Sausage, raw

12 Baby Carrots, chopped

1 Celery Stalk, chopped

3 cups Broth (any kind)

2 tablespoons Pasta Stars

1 tablespoon Minced Onion, dried

3 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Lime Juice

1 teaspoon Veggie Spice Blend

Salt & Pepper to taste

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1. Bring the broth to a boil.

2. Add vegetables, and cook for 5-10 minutes.

3. Remove the sausage’s casing and pinch off 1/2 inch ‘meatballs’, adding them to the boiling broth as you go. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Aim for a very small, bite-size meatball

Aim for a very small, bite-size meatball as it will cook better and faster for you

4. Add pasta stars and cook another 5-10 minutes. Squeeze in some lime juice at the end to finish.
NOTE: This time I didn’t cook them separately, and the stars got very large and plump overnight. Thankfully, I didn’t lose too much broth liquid.

5. Cool to room temperature, and place in fridge overnight to amaze someone the next day with a quick to reheat lunch.

6. Serve with a great slice of artisan bread. This one I slathered with my tummy-tempting, homemade chevre cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

Italian Wedding Soup with Flax Artisan Bread spread with Sun-dried Tomato Chevre Cheese

Italian Wedding Soup with Flax Artisan Bread spread with Sun-dried Tomato Chevre Cheese

And for dessert… Deb’s Whipped Shortbread cookies. I had one, and Mr. Sicko had THREE! But more about all our cookie options following yesterday’s Cookie Monster Christmas Cookie Exchange on another LunchFor1 Post.

Our #1 favourite Christmas Cookie - Whipped Shortbread

Our #1 favourite Christmas Cookie – Whipped Shortbread

Jeff was VERY patient in waiting for me to photograph his LunchFor1 today! Thanks honey – feel better soon.

What do you like to eat when you’re feeling under the weather?
Please feel free to share your ideal comfort food in the Comments section.

Simple Soup for One

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I arrived home famished after volunteering at Koats for Kids Winnipeg this morning.

Faux Minestrone-a Simple Soup for 1

Having no plan for lunch (ergo nothing to blog about) I saw that I had some stock defrosted in the fridge from supper last night. And after grabbing a few veggies from the crisper, I was able to quickly whip up this very delicious “Minestrone” soup on the fly.

Simple Soup for One Ingredients

Whatever you have on hand is fine

Whatever you have on hand is fine

2-3 cups Broth
1 Carrot, chopped
1 Celery stalk, chopped

1/8 Onion, chopped

1 clove Garlic, minced

1 tsp. Lemon zest

1 tbsp. Sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp. Dill, dried

2 tbsp. Pasta, cooked

1 tsp. Salt

Tiny Pasta Stars are a quick and easy addition to any soup

Tiny Pasta Stars are a quick and easy addition to any soup

TIP: When I buy a grocery store rotisserie chicken for our Chicken Taco night, I use all the meat I want from the bird, and then put the bones in a small pot of boiling water with 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and dried parsley. I boil it for about an hour while my husband and I eat dinner. And once it’s cooled, I put it in a storage container, and freeze it for days like today. No more buying expensive, sodium-heavy, pre-made chicken stock!

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1. I boiled the broth in one pot, and cooked the pasta in another. Once the pasta was done, I ran it under cold water and kept it in my strainer. I find that adding grains or pasta to soups makes them thicken up very quickly from the starch content.

You do not need a lot of broth, about 2 cups is good.

2. Add whatever vegetables you’ve got in the fridge to the broth, and pick one or two “wow” ingredients like lemon zest or sun-dried tomatoes. Whatever you have on hand is fine – black beans, peppers, potatoes, etc., even quinoa or rice in place of the pasta.

3. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies reach your preferred tenderness. And voila! You have an easy homemade soup for one. Or up-size this idea to feed a crowd at any time of the day.

4. Serve in a pretty bowl to warm your day! And feel good about this healthy, low-calorie, but filling lunch choice.

A spoonful of goodness!

A spoonful of goodness!

What is your favourite soup?

Please let me know in the comments section below what your “wow” ingredients were when you tried this recipe.

Quick Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes

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Thank you Johnsonville for bringing out loose-form Italian Sausage meat! I don’t know about you… but I always detested having to take the sausage meat out of the casings. Here’s a quickie 5-minute meal, and my quickly written blog post.

5-Minute Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes with Feta and Dill Pickles

5-Minute Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes with Feta Cheese and Dill Pickles on the side

I had defrosted this spicy sausage meat last night, and used about half of it on our homemade pizza. It added just the right zing!

However, I was left with about half a package to cook up today along with some thinly sliced onions. Now… what to make for lunch?

I was inspired to create a twist on one of my favourite, childhood  lunches – Sloppy Joes. Typically, I use ground beef and Heinz’s Chili Sauce to make mine on toasted buns. But today… I tried something different.

In a nutshell, here’s what I did…
1. Place meat in fry pan, and use your potato masher to break it up.

2. Add the sliced onions, and fry together with a squeeze of Sriracha and Worcestershire Sauce.

3. Slather Toasted Garlic and Horseradish Dip on the buns.

A new find while traveling last summer from Robert Rothschild Farm.

A new find while traveling last summer from Robert Rothschild Farm.

4. Top the buns with the cooked meat and onion mixture, and feta (mine was homemade – salty-goodness).

5. Serve with a side of dill pickles. I like to crinkle-cut mine!

Best thing I ever bought at Ikea - a veggie crinkle cutter.

Best thing I ever bought at Ikea – a veggie crinkle cutter.

Hope you love it as much as I do!

How do you make your Sloppy Joes?
Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Learn how to make your own cheese from scratch,
check out my instructor’s easy-to-follow RECIPES.