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Meaty Lasagna

A few days after Thanksgiving, we had some people over for dinner. We had a still untouched pumpkin pie, so we served it for dessert. They commented they had never eaten homemade pumpkin pie before. I was astonished! Imagine my surprise when I told this story to someone else who admitted the same thing.

It reminded me of a time in college when one of my roommates was making lasagna for dinner. Another roommate walked in and said, “You can make lasagna? I didn’t know that. I thought you only bought it frozen.” Upon questioning her, her mom had never made lasagna which she attributed to picky eaters.

All of these experiences plus the holidays (when I know many people seem to eat lasagna) inspired me to make my lasagna recipe and share it with you. Everyone (including myself) thinks lasagna is hard. It’s really quite easy. It is a “little” time consuming. Only in that you need to plan ahead. But it is pretty hands off for most of that time. And it can easily be made ahead of time. Enjoy!

Meaty Lasagna (Serves 8-10)

Meaty Lasagna

1 lb Italian sausage
½ large onion, diced
½ cup diced carrots
2 cloves minced garlic
2 (15.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans no salt added tomato sauce
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1 bay leaves
½ tablespoon dried basil leaves
½ tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
10 (or so) lasagna noodles (not the no boil)
1 (10 ounce or so) package frozen spinach
1 (approximately 24 oz) container ricotta or low fat cottage cheese
1 egg
⅔ cup Parmesan cheese
¾ cup mozzarella cheese

1. Brown sausage. Add onion and carrots. Sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes through black pepper. Stir to distribute seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook for 20-30 minutes, until thickened to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove bay leaves before serving or blending.

3. While sauce cooks, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Before cooking, see how many noodles fit in your 9×13 pan (or lasagna pan). You will have 3 layers, so cook that many noodles.

4. Thaw spinach and squeeze out water. Mix spinach, ricotta/cottage cheese, egg, ⅓ cup Parmesan, and ¼ cup mozzarella. Set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 350.

6. Spread a very thin layer of red sauce in the bottom of your pan (9×13 or lasagna). Top with a layer of noodles. Top with a layer of red sauce. Another layer of noodles. Now a layer of the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture. Another layer of noodles. Top with a layer of red sauce. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.

7. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, until heated through and beginning to brown slightly.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 355
Protein: 16 gm
Fat: 19 gm
Saturated Fat: 2 gm
Cholesterol: 29 mg
Carbohydrates: 30 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 264 mg

Recipe notes: You could use lean ground beef or turkey instead of sausage. I prefer the flavor of sausage. You could easily leave out the meat too for a vegetarian lasagna. You could also throw in a bell pepper to the sauce. This sauce is my basic marinara sauce recipe halved. I usually make the full recipe and just have leftover marinara to freeze. I think I slightly prefer cottage cheese, but that is because that is what I was raised on. Ricotta is yummy too.

If you want to make this ahead, assemble the lasagna. It can be covered and refrigerated for 1 day before baking. I’d increase the baking time to 45 minutes-1 hour then. Or, you could assemble it and freeze it. Then you’d bake it covered for about 1 hour, then uncovered for 30 minutes-1 hour, or until it is cooked through.

This might be a bit full for a standard 9×13 pan. Just keep your layers thin. I have a lasagna pan, which is a bit bigger. I love it. If you have a bigger casserole dish than a 9×13, use it.

Source: adapted from a family recipe

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Sour Cream Waffles and Berry Syrup

Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly. For me, cooking a delicious meal is my favorite way to show love and caring.  I appreciate being on the receiving end of that kind of gift as well. I especially have a soft spot for breakfast food. Waking up to a delicious breakfast that I didn’t have to make is pretty high on the list of “things that will make Kim love you”.

Now, these probably aren’t the healthiest waffles ever. These are the waffles my mom only made on holidays growing up. They are a legend to me. I have tried to “healthify” them a bit. Syrup is syrup, guys. We aren’t kidding anyone. But I found this recipe that doesn’t call for adding a ton of sugar but is still super delicious and missing the sourness often found in homemade berry syrup. Make this for your significant other on Valentine’s Day. They will truly love you forever…or until it is all gone.

Enjoy!

Sour Cream Waffles (Makes 8 waffles)

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3 large eggs
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup melted unsalted butter
¾ cup nonfat sour cream
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

1. Separate eggs. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

2. Beat yolks until bubbly. Add milk, butter, and sour cream. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, and soda until just combined.

3. Fold egg whites into batter.

4. Bake in hot waffle iron to desired doneness.

Nutritional information (Amount per waffle):

Calories: 230
Protein: 7 g
Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 103 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 148 mg

Berry Syrup (Makes about 2 cups)

3 cups frozen mixed berries
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon – 1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Combine berries, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let cook for about 5 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir into berry mixture. Cook, adding more cornstarch as needed, until it reaches desired thickness.

3. Serve over waffles with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Nutritional Information (Amount per ¼ cup serving):

Calories: 58
Protein: 0 g
Fat: 0 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 14 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 1 mg

Recipe notes: I think I ended up adding close to 1 tablespoon cornstarch. But I don’t like super liquid sauce. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more if needed to suit your preferences.

Source:  family recipe for waffles;  berry syrup from eatingwell.com

Low-iodine:  The syrup would work well on a low-iodine crepe or pancake.

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White Chicken Pizza Plus Homemade Pizza Dough

Does Friday night feel like pizza night to anyone else?  Whenever I plan my menu for the week, I’m always tempted by pizza on Friday night.  It just feels right.  While getting takeout or delivery is inticing, homemade pizza can actually be very simple.  As always, I like being able to control the ingredients and add a lot more veggies.

I’m sharing two recipes with you, both of which I use all the time.  This pizza dough is fairly foolproof, and I love the short rising time.  The white sauce on the pizza adds a cheesy element, so you don’t need a ton for the topping, which cuts down on calories and sodium.  Enjoy!

White Chicken Pizza (Serves 3-4)

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½ batch of pizza dough (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
1 bell pepper, sliced
½ red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1. Prepare pizza dough per recipe. While dough is par-baking, prepare toppings and sauce.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add bell pepper and onion to pan; sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add to plate with chicken.

3. Heat butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper when melted; cook 1 minute. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture is thickened and begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. Stir in ½ cup parmesan until melted.

4. Spread sauce over par-baked pizza crust. Top with chicken, peppers, and onions. Sprinkle mozzarella and 2 tablespoons parmesan evenly over the top. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information: (Amount per Serving)

Calories: 327
Protein: 26 g
Fat: 17 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 64 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 511 mg

Recipe notes: You could easily use some leftover chicken or grill the chicken as well. Make sure to chop it into small enough pieces for the pizza; big chunks are hard to eat. You can mix up the vegetables however you like. Fresh tomatoes are also great on this pizza. You could skip cooking the vegetables before putting on the pizza, but they don’t get fully cooked on the pizza.

Homemade Pizza Dough (Makes 2 pizzas)

1 tablespoon yeast (instant or active dry)
1 ½ cups warm water (110-120 degrees F)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

1. Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in 2 cups of flour. While mixing, add in salt, olive oil, and enough of remaining flour that dough forms a ball that is tacky but not overly sticky. Knead for 5 minutes.

2. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into desired shape. Place onto baking pan that has been lightly greased (if desired) and dusted lightly with cornmeal.

3. Preheat oven to 400. Pizza dough will “rise” during this time.

4. Par-bake for about 7 minutes. You may need to prick the dough with a fork if it starts to bubble up too much.

5. Top with desired toppings and bake for 12-15 minutes more.

Recipe Notes: I usually use a mix of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. It works equally well with all of one kind of flour, too. This does have to roll out fairly thin, but it isn’t a crispy, cracker-like thin crust. I have an “air-bake” pizza pan, but I still use the cornmeal. Along with par-baking, the cornmeal helps prevent the pizza from sticking to the pan.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light and a family recipe

Low-iodine adjustment: The pizza dough works for low-iodine. Red sauce with the chicken and vegetables would work. But no cheese, which may kind of defeat the point of pizza.

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