Not Yo Mama’s Vegetarian Lasagna ala Bobbe

I have finally come up with a recipe for vegetarian lasagna that I think is worth sharing. Seriously, we loved this dish!

Recently I was asked by a wonderful lady if I would create a meatless lasagna for her to serve the vegetarians at her dinner party. Happily, I obliged even though I am not typically a lasagna maker. (Something about the ricotta cheese always messes me up and the dish ends up too gloopy.)

I started this dish just thinking about vegetables I like to eat together. Spinach and artichoke always find themselves front and center wearing gold stars, when I start this thought process. Next, what items could I add for taste, color and texture: onions, shredded carrots and chopped Shiitakes! Perfect combo!

Then I thought about my issues with ricotta and I remembered watching an episode of “The Pioneer Woman” where she made hers with a yummy Béchamel sauce (white sauce) instead of ricotta. I questioned this though, because of this being a meatless dish. When there is no meat present, flavors are different and I worried that Béchamel might make a squishy, drippy lasagna. What to do; what to do?

I decided to make a sauce using heavy cream, cottage cheese, finely grated Parmesan cheese, a little corn starch, an egg and some fresh garlic. Then I put together my red sauce and got the rest of my ingredients assembled and ready to go.

Cast of characters:

I should mention too, that I grated a block of Fontina cheese to mix with the bagged Mozzarella for more flavor. To make it easier, and because I was only making this in an 8″ x 8″ pan, I used no boil noodles-they are shorter.

Then it was a simple matter of layering. First, a thin layer of tomato sauce, etc.

Then repeat the layers until the top is reached.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes covered. Then 10 minutes more, uncovered, until brown and bubbly.

The final secret is to let it cool for 20-25 minutes before serving, otherwise, it will wilt as it did below. (I was hungry! It still tasted great!)

Oh and PS, I tested this recipe the night before I made it for my friend. My version didn’t include the carrots and mushrooms. It also had way too much fresh garlic and I had added too much lemon zest to my white sauce. I like to add a little zest to ricotta because it lightens it up, but it didn’t work here because duh, I was using cream. It actually made the dish a little sour. The recipe posted below includes my tweaks. You’re welcome.

((Hugs and love))


Ingredients:
White Sauce:
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 egg
1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ tea. Salt
Red Sauce:
(1) 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (OR you can buy a can of San Marzano’s and crush them yourself)
½ jar of your favorite prepared marinara sauce + 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
¼ cup freshly chopped basil
½ tea. Salt
½ tea. Pepper

1 pkg no boil lasagna noodles
(2) 8 oz. packages of frozen, chopped spinach
2 cans artichokes, quartered, then chopped
2 medium onions chopped
2 carrots grated
1 c. Shiitake mushrooms finely chopped (you can leave them chunkier if it’s your preference)
(2) 8 oz. bags of shredded Mozzarella
8 oz. grated Fontina
½ c. finely grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare both sauces and set aside. Neither has to be heated. Simply mix the ingredients and set aside. This can be done a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator if you like.

Sauté the onions, carrots and mushrooms until the onions are translucent. I started the onions & carrots about five minutes before adding in the mushrooms.

Thaw the spinach, combine it with the chopped artichokes and then squeeze out as much water as humanly possible. I use a cheese cloth. Then mix the cooked onions and carrots.

In a 9 x 13” baking dish, layer as follows:
Red sauce in the bottom
Noodles
Vegetable mixture (about half)
White Sauce
Mozzarella/Fontina Cheese
Red Sauce
Noodles
Repeat
When you reach the top your final layer should be Noodles, Sauce, and Mozzarella/Fontina cheese.
Finish by sprinkling a little Parmesan on top of this.

Cover loosely with foil that you have sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake 30 minutes covered.
Uncover and bake 10 minutes more or until brown and bubbly.
Important: Allow this to cool for 20-25 minutes before you serve it.

PS-I had leftover vegetable filling and cheese that I turned into a crust-less quiche for the following night’s dinner. It was so yummy. Just add 5 eggs and a half cup of cream. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

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Lemon-Basil Brown Butter Chicken

This was intended to be lemon chicken, but I goofed and let my butter get brown. Introducing Lemon-Basil Brown Butter Chicken ala Bobbe! It ended up being very tasty (and it smelled delightful too!)

At some point I will stop using my iPad to do my photos in favor of using the canon that just sits upstairs feeling lonely. Although most of the time I’m fine with my photos, the iPad just could not capture a great image of this dish. Trust me, it received rave reviews from the hubs and I actually loved it too. (I can always find some way to be critical of my creations, but not this time.)

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This started out to be lemon chicken but I got lazy when it was time to make the sauce, so it became lemon-basil brown butter chicken because I let my butter get too brown. Happy accident.

The first step was to butterfly and pound the chicken breasts into about 1/4″ cutlets. Then I salted and peppered each side and dredged them in a seasoned flour mixture. (Lemon pepper & Italian seasoning.)

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Once I had all of the cutlets dredged on both sides. I set them aside in order to assemble my sauce ingredients.

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Cast of characters for the sauce: chicken broth, zest of three lemons, juice of three lemons (I didn’t cut or squeeze the lemons until I was sure I would need them all.), garlic, basil, olive oil, a little flour and BUTTER. (Butter was late for the photo-op. I trust everyone has seen butter before!)

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Next I heated some butter and olive oil to medium high in my cast iron skillet and I added the first cutlet in. This guy was pretty large, so I didn’t try to crowd the pan with the other one. Instead, I did them in batches.

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Once browned, I took them out and set them aside. At this point I added some more butter and a little flour and some chicken broth and started whisking away. Then came the lemon juice and zest, the basil and at the very end; the garlic.

Here is a video of what it looked like. I did add some more liquid to it after this because I didn’t want it to be too thick.

We served it over plain orzo with a side of delightfully perfect roasted Brussels sprouts and rainbow carrots.

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And here you have it! I garnished mine with cilantro even though there isn’t cilantro in the dish. I failed to save some fresh basil leaves, so I improvised. LOL! This is a no-no in the real world; but since this is “Bobbe’s World”, I get to do what I want!

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Ingredients:
2-4 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to ¼”
2 ¼ cups flour
1-2 Tbsp. lemon pepper (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (use REAL full-fat butter, anything else is poison!)
3 cloves garlic slivered (can be chopped if you are lazy)
16 oz. Chicken broth
Zest & juice of three lemons
½ fresh chopped basil

Directions:

Create a flour dredge using 2 cups of flour mixed with 1-2 Tbsp. lemon pepper & Italian seasoning.

Butterfly the chicken and pound into ¼” cutlets. Salt & Pepper both sides.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high, add in 2 Tbsp. olive oil & 2 Tbsp. butter. Fry the chicken until golden brown on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side).

While the chicken is in the pan, assemble the ingredients for the pan sauce:
Butter, Flour, Chicken broth, Lemon zest, Lemon juice, Chopped Basil, Garlic.

When the chicken has finished cooking, remove to a plate. Using the same skillet with the chicken drippings: whisk in 1-2 Tbsp. butter, then 1-2 Tbsp. flour, and the chicken broth. Continue whisking until the lumps are out and you have a smooth consistency. Reduce heat to medium and while still whisking, add the zest, juice, basil and lastly, the garlic. Continue whisking about 2 minutes more.

At this point, you may add the chicken back to the pan OR if you are serving it over rice or noodles, or in our case, orzo; you may want to wait and drizzle the sauce over the top. Anyway you do it will be the right way for you!

 

Somewhat Blackened Sword Fish -OOH LA LA!

Every time I make fish at home, I amaze myself. It isn’t because I think I’m a fabulous cook; it’s because I grew up hating all fish. As an adult, I’ve realized I probably hated it because it was never served in our home. (My Mom was afraid of cooking it. ) Sword fish is one of my favorites now. Here is how we prepared it the other night…

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I had assembled this tray (above) with all the pretty vegetables in order to try Delicata Squash for the very first time. Since I wasn’t sure what the squash would taste like (because I’d never made that variety before), I wanted to make something that had a little bit of kick to it.

Ordinarily when we make sword fish, I like to flavor it with cilantro and lime, but since I was in search of “kick”, I opted for a little bit of spice and a little bit of black. Sword fish is very forgiving and almost impossible to screw up!

The first thing I did was melt 3 Tbsp. butter in my little measuring cup. To it, I added some cayenne, some bourbon smoked salt, chili flakes, onion powder, smokey paprika, and garlic. I didn’t measure this, but I will attempt to give you some help.

Let it get all melted and then turn off the heat and let it sit.

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Meanwhile, I’ve had my sword fish filets sitting on the counter for about 20 minutes. I like them a little close (but still cool) to room temperature before I cook them.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high. Add 1 Tbsp. REAL butter and 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil. Let it heat to a shimmer and then place in the fillets. Then pour the spiced butter mixture over the top. I had debated on making this totally blackened fish, in which case I would have dipped the fillets in the butter and then coated them on both sides with a dry rub, but I decided on this route instead.

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I let these cook for 5 minutes on each side, then I did the unthinkable: I added MORE butter to the top! You can skip this step if you are afraid. After this, I simply sprinkled more seasoning on each side and poof, this fish is done!

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The finished product!

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Delicious! I should also mention here that if you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, this is a great place to find fish for two. We regularly shop in their frozen fish section because you can buy small portions (usually two fillets per vacuum package) of lots of different fishes. (and no, they did not pay me to say this, it’s just a fact.) We really like the swordfish, salmon, cod and tuna!

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Ingredients:
2 Sword Fish Fillets
4-6 Tbsp. butter (yes, I used that much. You don’t have to if you are sckeeeeeeeerd.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tea. Smoky paprika
½ tea Cayenne pepper
1 tea. Chili powder
½ tea. Bourbon smoked salt
2 tea. Minced garlic
1 tea. Onion powder
½ tea. Chili flakes

Directions:
Melt 3 Tbsp. butter. Add the spices to it and stir.
Preheat cast iron pan to medium high.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the pan until shimmery.
Add the fillets.
Pour spiced butter over the top of each fillet.
Cook five minutes each side.
Turn the fish over, sprinkle with a little more seasoning, and cook each side about 2 minutes more. (Optional: add more butter prior to adding more seasoning!)

Delicata Squash & Onions with Tomatoes!

I like to try new things. On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I spied a pretty display of different types of squash. My eye kept going to the pretty Delicata Squash and so I picked two of them. Here’s what I did with them.

I have had two delicata squash’ sitting on my counter for the past month (yes, MONTH!). They arrived in my home in much the same way a lot of things do: impulse purchase at Trader Joe’s! Last night I decided I was tired of looking at them, so I did a quick search through some recipes on the Internet to see what to do with them. Nothing appealed to me so I decided to put together my own using ingredients I had on hand.

I have an abundance of fresh herbs in my garden so I picked some thyme and some tarragon. I also had about a quarter of a bag of basil sun-dried tomatoes to get rid of. I hate those things, but my husband loves them, so I indulged him. Next I simply cut the squash in half, cored it and sliced it and then sliced a couple of Spanish onions. (I would have loved to use red onions for their color, but we were out.) Lastly, I threw in the last of a bag of baby Roma tomatoes mostly for color.

Pretty, isn’t it?

If you have never had Delicata squash, it tastes like a cross between butternut, acorn and yellow squash. They told me at the store that it is sweeter, but I found it to be milder. It’s not as dense as acorn and butternut and not as watery as yellow squash. I found it to be a perfect mixture and I love the fact that the skin is so thin, it can be eaten. (No need to peel! Yay!)

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I greased a casserole dish, sprinkled in some of my fresh thyme leaves and a few cloves of garlic and then I put down my slices, alternating between the squash and the onion. Last but not least, I sprinkled on the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the last of a bag of baby Roma tomatoes.

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Once I was satisfied with how it looked, I melted about 3 Tablespoons of butter and a splash of olive oil along with more thyme leaves and tarragon. I drizzled the mixture over the top of the squash and onions and tomatoes.

I covered it with foil and baked it at 400 degrees for the first 20 minutes, then I uncovered it and baked it 30 minutes more (until it was fork tender.)

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Let me tell you. I am a fan of this squash and this dish. The next time I make it, however, I will come up with some form of sauce to bring it all together. This could have easily been done on a sheet pan with no particular order, but I liked this presentation for the table.

I decided to pair this with blackened sword fish (recipe is coming next ), and roasted green beans and it was delicious.

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Ingredients:
2 small Delicata Squash
2 Onions (use what you like)
10 sprigs (or more) of fresh thyme
10 sprigs (or more) of fresh tarragon
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter (use REAL butter!)
10 (or more cherry tomatoes) I used baby Roma tomatoes
3 Tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the squash length-wise. Core and then slice into wedges.
Slice the onions the same size as the squash.
Grease a baking dish. (anyway you like. I used coconut oil spray)
Sprinkle down about ¼ of your fresh herbs.
Crush the garlic and add it to the pan as well.
Put down the squash and onions, alternating between the two.
Add the tomatoes and the sun-dried tomatoes on top.
Melt the butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil with remaining herbs and drizzle all over the top of the vegetables.
Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.
Uncover and bake 30 minutes more (or until fork tender).

Now say, “Delicata, Delicata, Delicata!” (because it’s fun to say!

 

 

Yummy Asian Inspired Meatballs!

I started making these little bites of delicious love many moons ago. Even though we have been on a ground chicken kick for a while, these balls certainly remain a favorite!

Why does it feel like I am always talking about Meatballs?

I resurrected this recipe when I discovered a package of ground turkey lurking in the back of our fridge. I remember it was supposed to become the main ingredient of a turkey meatloaf recipe I want to try. I wasn’t feeling especially creative last night, so I went with a recipe I’ve done so often, I know it by heart.

Hello beautiful Asian Inspired Meatballs with super yummy sauce. These balls are great for a main course but work beautifully as appetizers as well.


INGREDIENTS:

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. ground pork or ground beef (I haven’t tried these with ground chicken yet.)

2 tsp. Toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup steel cut oats (more if necessary)

1/2 tsp. ground ginger (fresh is best)

2 eggs

3 tsp. minced garlic

3 green onions thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions

ASIAN SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. ground ginger

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix together meatball ingredients until well-combined. Shape into balls (about one inch), and place on a greased baking sheet or in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until meatballs are golden on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.

While the meatballs are baking, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until blended. Once meatballs have finished cooking, pour the sauce over the meatballs and gently stir them until coated.

Serve warm, and sprinkle with additional garnish. (I used sesame seeds and cilantro. Green onions would be nice as well.)

Hi Gang! Just a Note!

Just poking my head in the door to say hello and that I’ll be back soon!

Just thought I’d pop on and say a quick hello! I am catering a Wedding this weekend, so I have been MIA here for a week. Not to worry! I will be back next week (or sooner) with all sorts of fun appetizers and some easy peasy recipes to use during the Holidays.

Today at church we’ll be serving up some meatball stroganoff over egg noodles with a side of glazed carrots. I’ll be posting this recipe in the days to come.

Meanwhile, I miss you all and thank you for the continued support!

I’d love it if you would subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already done so and pick your favorite recipe and share it. That would be GREAT!

Love to all!

Bobbe

Oh, Those Hot (Not Spicy) Italians! (Sliders, of course!)

Lately I have become crazy about any kind of sandwich. I don’t know if it’s a phase or what, but when I think of comfort food, my thoughts turn right to sliders and then my mouth starts to water!

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Last week when I pre-ordered the supplies for our Wednesday Night Fellowship Meal catering job, I made a mistake. (At least, this is what they tell me.) My original menu idea had been soups and sandwiches, but at the last minute I was inspired to make something else. I thought I’d cancelled my soup order, but when I got to the store, it was there. The store had ordered it in, so they informed me that I had to take it. Graciously, they agreed to store it for me until this week.

Long about 2:00 AM Wednesday morning, I started popping around Pinterest, looking for inspiration for my menu. My tomato basil soup is pretty yummy, so I already knew I’d be making this to go along with the home-style chicken noodle waiting for me at the store. I wanted to try some type of slider we’d not done before, so I settled on a version of an Italian slider I found on Pinterest.

The first step is to lay out all of your rolls in greased pans, taking the tops off. Then I made a softened butter mixture that included fresh basil and thyme (from my garden), granulated garlic, and dried Italian Seasoning.

Next is a layer of smoked ham. It’s important to fold the pieces so each sandwich has volume and texture to it. No one wants to bite into a flat meat sandwich. Yuck!

Next is a layer of pepperoni.

Then, a layer of your favorite Salami. This is Genoa.

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Then a layer of Roasted Red pepper. In the interest of time, I used a jarred variety. Were I making this at home, however, I’d have roasted my own peppers.

Then a layer of smokey provolone cheese. (We cut ours into squarish shapes- you don’t have to.)

The next time I make these, I will add one more layer which will be caramelized onions. I planned on doing it this time, but completely forgot about the onions I left in the car! Here, you simply replace the lids and then the fun part is drizzling a mixture of melted butter, Italian seasoning, garlic and Parmesan cheese over the top. Use a pastry brush to ensure every part of the sandwich is covered in butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. I like to start them off covered for 15 minutes, then finish them uncovered for 5.

We paired these with a choice of tomato basil bisque or chicken noodle soup and a garden salad with sliced mushrooms and artichoke quarters. It was yummy and very very easy to do.

If you have a crowd to feed, sliders are the greatest option!


Ingredients
1-2 sticks of butter
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped basil (optional)
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped thyme (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. Dried Italian herbs (more if needed)
1-2 Tbsp. granulated garlic (more if needed)
1 package of sliced Hawaiian Type rolls. (I used a generic version.) 1 dozen.
1 package of Smoked Ham
1 package of large Pepperoni Slices
1 package of large Salami Slices
1 package of Smokey Provolone slices
1 jar of Roasted Red peppers (at home I would roast my own, but not for a huge crowd)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a baking pan and lay the bottoms of the rolls inside.
In a bowl combine one stick of softened butter with half the herbs of your choice.
Spread the butter mixture over the bottoms of the rolls.
Layer as follows:
1. Folded Ham Slices
2. Pepperoni
3. Salami
4. Roasted Red Peppers
5. Provolone Cheese
6. Put the tops back on.
Melt the remaining butter, add the herbs and then drizzle this over the tops of the buns being careful to coat each one.
Bake covered at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and the tops of the rolls are a little bit brown but NOT hard.