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Lasagna with Spinach and Zucchini

April 19, 2013

Of course, the freezer list of meals to make before baby has to include Lasagna.



I took a look at the Pioneer Woman’s Lasagna before I made this, and although hers looks yummy (I am totally going to try Mozzarella Slices next time, maybe cottage cheese), I really love veggies in my lasagna and lean meat. So I put in spinach and zucchini, used Dreamfield’s pasta, but made my sauce like her. After looking at a lot of lasagna recipes, I find that they are infinitely flexible, so I add what I like.  Sometimes artichokes, spicy sausage, red peppers.  I was going for a healthy meal after baby arrives, so I tried to fit my ‘salad’ in my lasagna for a no-fuss night (although greens with Italian dressing goes so well with lasagna too).  So feel free to play around with this recipe and try your favorite ingredients. Here are all the ingredients I used:

First I simmered my meat with garlic (I used 1 lb. turkey, 1 lb. grass fed beef since I was doubling it), then added some zucchini, making sure to season this with 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper:

Next I added tomatoes, and I swear by San Marzano tomatoes.  I can’t remember where I started using whole tomatoes and crushing them with my hands :

But I love the rustic texture.

Then add the seasonings – parsley, basil, salt and pepper, and stir.  Allow to simmer away for 20-30 min. depending on how much time you have.

While this is cooking, make sure the lasagna noodles are cooked and drained.  I like to add a drizzle of oil after they are cooked to prevent sticking.  Then you assemble the ricotta mixture:

I like to add the spinach next, half to the cheese mixture and half to the sauce.  Then, you assemble.  Then, layer bottom of 13 x 9 pan with sauce from jar so noodles don’t stick (about 1/2 a cup). Then add noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce mixture, jar sauce mixture, noodles, repeat. Finish with thick layer of mozzarella. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze if freezing after this step.

Don’t the green specks look pretty? You can use basil or parsley too (which is more traditional in the cheese mixture).  But I am trying to sneak in nutrition where I can, and I know my kids eat the cheesy part.

Please note that I always double these ingredients.  It is such a luxury to invest 1 hr. of work and have enough food for the weekend AND a pan in the freezer. (I often give one away to someone who just had a baby or something.)

Lasagna with Zucchini and Spinach (printer version here.)

2 T. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 lb. ground turkey, beef or sausage

2 zucchini, chopped

2 cans whole San Marzano tomatoes

2 T. dried parsley flakes

2 T. dried Basil

2 t. salt & 1 t. pepper

1 package lasagna noodles

2 eggs

1/2 cup Parmesan

3 cups part skim ricotta

1 10 oz. frozen package of spinach, thawed and drained

2 c. shredded mozzarella

1 32 oz. jar of favorite pasta sauce (I love having extra sauce, no dried out noodles!)


Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, being sure to add salt and oil to the water so they don’t stick.

Cook meat and garlic together until meat is fully cooked, then add zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more.  Add tomatoes, squeezing each until it is in big chunks. Add parsley, basil, salt and pepper, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, parm, 1 t. salt, and add half of the spinach to the ricotta mixture, the other half to the meat mixture. (I like to see specks of green in the ricotta. You can add all the spinach to the meat mixture if you like).

Then, layer bottom of 13 x 9 pan with sauce from jar so noodles don’t stick (about 1/2 a cup). Then add noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce mixture, jar sauce mixture, noodles, repeat. Finish with thick layer of mozzarella. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze if freezing after this step.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 min until top is bubbly. If frozen, cook for 45-50 min covered with foil, checking to see if cheese is melted and middle is warm.


Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna

March 15, 2013

Happy Almost St. Patrick’s Day! We are headed up north for spring skiing, and have a corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner to eat up there, but I wanted to at least give you an Orange, Green and White meal for the weekend. Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna!



I first tried this recipe from Cooking Light.  The recipe below is SEVERELY edited from their version which is much healthier I am sure. (You can find their recipe here if you are interested.) I was making it and I was like, what? 6 pieces of lasagna? How does it even stay together? Dry veggies? With no fats or salt? What? Soooo, as you can imagine, I had to tweak this.  This is the comfort food version. Complete with Mario Batali’s Béchamel sauce.  It is worth this extra step, but if you are in a pinch for time Alfredo sauce works (I almost can’t believe I am saying that, but if it gets dinner on the table faster, ok).


Kale and Butternut Squash Lasagna (for printer version click here):
1 Butternut Squash, cubed (or 1 12-oz package pre-chopped fresh squash)
½ c. water
3 cups chopped kale
2 T. olive oil
2 T. minced garlic
3 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe below)
6 oz. Gruyere cheese
4 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
S & P
Cooking Spray
12 Lasagna Noodles (No-Boil or already prepared al dente according to package)
3 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts (Warning: My kids disliked these, I loved them, so skip them or only put on half if serving to munchkins.)
Ingredients for Béchamel (from Mario Batali at
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions for Béchamel:
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use. Yields 3 cups.Directions for Lasagna:

Pre-heat oven to 450:

Place butternut squash in microwave safe dish. Add water, cover with plastic wrap tightly, then pierce 2 or 3 times to let steam escape. Microwave for 5 min. or until tender. Drain.While squash is microwaving, heat up oil on medium high heat in large pan. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. until fragrant. Add kale, seasoning with ½ t. salt and dash of pepper and saute for 3-4 min. Add butternut squash and stir to combine, set aside.

Make bechamel sauce. While still hot, add half or Gruyere and all of the Parmesan cheese to sauce, stir until melted.  Reserving other half for top of lasagna.

Coat Baking dish with cooking spray, then spread 2/3 c. bechamel sauce on bottom. Lay 3 noodles on top, then top with ⅓ of squash and kale mixture, then 2/3 c. bechamel sauce. Repeat two more times, ending with noodles and remaining sauce on top. Cover with foil; bake at 450 for 15 min. Remove foil, sprinkle remaining Gruyere on top with nuts. Bake uncovered at 450 for 10 min. or until lightly browned and sauce is bubbly.  Let stand 5 min. before serving.


Wishing you the happiest of St. Patrick’s Days!!! xoxo Katie


Farfalle with Salmon, Asparagus, and Heirloom CherryTomatoes

August 4, 2012

Farfalle with Salmon, Asparagus, and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes


This dish is great for a quick summer dinner but nice enough to bring to a party.  

I put it together on one of those nights you only had 10 minutes at the store to get something for dinner. Luckily, they had beautiful grilled salmon in the prepared food section.  It turned out SO good, I had to share it with you!

If you can’t find it prepared you can use pre-cooked chicken, or cook which ever you prefer at home first then cut up into 1 inch pieces. 

2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. shallots, chopped
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 pint cherry tomatoes (heirloom if possible, so pretty and good!)
1 lb. farfalle pasta
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese (more to taste)
2 salmon fillets,  or 2 chicken breasts, grilled or baked

Boil salted water, then add farfalle.  Cook according to package.
While it cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then saute the shallots for 2 min until soft, then add garlic for 1 minute more. Add cherry tomatoes, and cook for an additional 3 minutes. 
I then added blanched asparagus, cut into thirds.  (Blanched means I boiled it for 2 minutes then put it into an ice bath, then into the saute, which is an all around great technique for any vegetable.)

Meanwhile drain farfalle, reserving 2 c. cooking water. The starch in the water will help mix with the parmesan and give it a delicious sauce.  Add the farfalle to the veggies, stir to combine, then add salmon/chicken and parmesan and stir.  Toss with 1 c. cooking water until pasta is well-coated.  Add more water if more sauce/moisture is desired.  

The flavor cold the next day is delicious.  

Pork Souvlaki (3 ways)

June 2, 2012


Jamie Oliver calls this ‘wicked kebabs’.  I call it heaven. Lemony, zingy, flavorful Pork Souvlaki is crazy good.  I make it with this secret weapon:


I am not sure if you can find this in your local grocery store, but if so you must buy it!!!  Basile’s Greek Style Pork Souvlaki Seasoning.

Marinating tender pork with this tangy, lemony greek flavoring is beyond delicious. I dream about it in my sleep. Then once you have the pork cubes ready, the uses of them are endless.

If you can find it, making pork souvlaki is as easy as marinating 2 lbs. of pork tenderloin with:

4 T. of Souvlaki seasoning
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup of olive oil

If you can’t find it, follow this recipe I got from

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • skewers


Marinate for 2-3 hours, then cook the meat on the stovetop:

Then the uses for the meat are so yummy and easy!! 

1. Gyros: 

I also call them Greek Tacos because setting out the fixings is just like tacos. This is one of the best 10 min meals I know of, since it just involves opening these containers while the meat cooks:

      • Pita Bread
      • Olives
      • Tabouleh
      • Hummas
      • Feta
      • Tzatziki Sauce (yougurt with dill and cucumbers). For Ina Garten’s recipe for this click here
      • Cucumbers, Tomatos, Mint, Spinach, Romaine
The low-carb/gluten free version has romaine lettuce instead of a pita.
The kid version has their favorite fixings…..

2. Pork Souvlaki Skewers:  serve over rice pilaf or orzo. Perfect for easy summer entertaining.

  • 2 lbs. marinated meat
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • skewers

Thread skewers with meat, peppers, and onions. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Lightly brush with oil. Cook for 10-15 until cooked through.


3. Orzo Salad with Pork and Feta: another summertime backyard favorite, travels well.

  • 2 lbs. cooked pork marinated in souvlaki and lemons
  • 1 lb package of orzo, cooked and drained according to package
  • 8 oz. of feta, crumbled
  • 1 package of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 jar of drained, pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced 
  • 1 bottle light Greek or Italian dressing 
  • 2 T mint, chopped (Optional)

Toss all ingredients together and serve hot, room temperature or cold. Enjoy! 

Lobster Mac & Cheese

May 25, 2012

If you are anything like me, you are drawn to this menu item in restaurants like a moth to a flame.  And you also believe that the chef who put these two luxurious ideas together deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.  So it was a delight to discover how easy it was to make this dish at home.  


It all started when I visited a friend off of an island in Maine, and fell in love for my brief stay with all things related to island life.  The ferry, the harbor bell, the bike riding, and of course, the lobster buoys.

We picked seashells and blew bubbles on the most beautiful beach I have ever seen (the water was too cold to swim so we needed some activity on the beach!).  Little kids are just cute in Maine. They wear sweatshirts and Keenes and run all over the ferry.  And they believe Mermaids are in the water, which keeps everything a little bit magical. 

We had lobster races while the water boiled…I consider this a science experiment if someone thinks it is heartless.

We ate until our bellies were full, and still had a lot of this left over: 


So I brought some home.  It was my son’s graduation from Kindergarten (****sniff****), and I wanted to make a special dinner.  So I ran into a convenience store (that is how easy this recipe is) to buy elbow macaroni, and the rest is a delicious, glorious history. 

You start with a roux (1/4 c. butter, 1/4 c. flour), then add 4 c. milk.


Then you add CHEESE….mmmm……

I literally used what I had in the fridge, a combo of cheddar, Monterey jack, and aged gouda. 


You cook elbow macaroni, mix with delicious cheese sauce, until you are left with….



Can anyone else hear the Hallelujia chorus right now??? How could you ever improve on this loveliness? Who ever thought to improve on this?  As already noted, they deserve an award.


Popped them in little pots since it was a special dinner.


Added bread crumbs with butter, baked at 375 for 30 min until they were bubbly and delicious. 



Below is the recipe I followed, which is from Ina Garten.  I looked at other recipe’s and in the end hers had more sauce (i.e. more butter, flour and milk) which, unlike plain Mac & Cheese recipes helped coat the lobster too. 


  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 c. milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

DirectionsPreheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.