Zucchini Roll-ups ~ Lasagna-style!

If you liked my Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups, you will love these zucchini lasagna roll-ups!

Whenever I make meatballs, I always seem to make enough sauce for an army of people. Since it’s just Charlie and I (and I hate left-overs), that’s not a great thing. Because I loved the Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups  I made a few weeks ago, I decided to make up some zucchini lasagna roll-ups using the additional sauce. I did look around Pinterest for recipes but in the end, I made up my own.

These little things are really tasty and you will not miss the pasta. However, be warned, they are a little bit of a pain in the butt to put together. This time I ended up doing them “assembly line style”, which meant I figured out how many I would need to fill a row (four for my little dish). I then laid my zucchini out across the counter top so I would be making four roll-ups at a time. It shaved off some time and made it easier to get them into the baking dish. Try it.

First make the zoodles and yes, if you follow my blog you’ve seen this photo before. I didn’t feel like taking a new one since a zoodle is a zoodle is a zoodle. They always look like this.

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Here are two of them before I spread the mixture out across the zoodles. I did four of these at a time.

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Here is what they looked like in the pan. The red flecks you see are sauteed red peppers I had leftover in the refrigerator. They were an after thought because I wanted the dish to look prettier. I did NOT include the peppers in the recipe below, but if you want to, feel free.

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At this point, I just filled in the empty spots with more sauce.

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Then the last step is the cheese. What you see here is just a thin layer. I wasn’t sure how much cheese I wanted at this point, so I baked it with a little bit, then I took it out and added more. (You don’t have to do what I did. I am a freak. I own this.)

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Poof. When it comes out of the oven, it smells spectacular and it looks like this:

And THEN, it looks like this:

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Ingredients:
5-6 medium zucchini
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
10 oz. fresh spinach, sautéed. (Frozen works well too. Thaw and drain it.)
3-4 cups prepared marinara sauce
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon pepper (or to your taste)
½ Teaspoon salt (or to your taste)

Directions:
Preheat Oven to 375
Using a vegetable peeler, create the zucchini ribbons. (You can use a mandolin set on “thin”, but the peeler really works best for me.)

Drain and chop the artichokes and the sautéed spinach. Place both into a clean dish towel, twist tightly and smash out as much liquid as is humanly possible.

Mix together the ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 cups Mozzarella, 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce, eggs, and seasonings. Add the artichokes and spinach to the bowl and mix again. IF it is too wet, add a little bit more Parmesan & Mozzarella.

Spread about ¼” of sauce into your baking dish. Keep in mind that you will need this much sauce to support the roll ups vertically.

On a clean surface, lay 2-3 pieces of zucchini down slightly overlapping each other. I made mine to be about 2 & ½ inches across, so depending on the size of the zoodle, I either used two or three slices. Spoon & spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over the slices. Roll up tightly and place vertically in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is brown and bubbly.

NOTE: I had leftover sauteed red peppers and onions in my fridge, so I cut up some of the peppers and stuffed them into the tops of the rolls to make them look pretty. You do not have to be as crazy as I am OR you can make these rolls your own and add whatever else you like to them. They are very forgiving!

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Smokey Potato Leek Soup ala Sickly Baba!

Ever since I started making my own soups, I have a hard time with any type of canned soup. (This is mainly because the stuff in the cans is so full of sodium and fat and yet it still tastes bland to me.)Today I made a Smokey potato-leek soup that turned out really well. Here is the recipe.

I am on my second go around with sickness. Thankfully, it’s just a virus, and I’m feeling better today, yet I am still not really into eating anything but mild food. That being said, after having not eaten a thing but saltines yesterday, this morning I woke up feeling hungry for chicken noodle soup. Ordinarily, I would have made my own, but I’m sick, remember? Charlie pulled out a can of chunky chicken noodle and lovingly made it for me. (He takes such good care of me even when I’m not sick. I am Blessed!) I was happy to eat it (and that it stayed down), but it reminded me of why I like to make my own soups. It was borderline tasteless, brimming with sodium and fat and the noodles tasted like rubber.

Now I don’t know what to think of myself. Have I become a food snob? I used to love chunky chicken noodle soup!

This afternoon while Charlie was at the gym, I reached that stage of illness where you are really still too sick and weak to do much; yet you are so bored, your brain tells you it’s okay to get up and go make a pot of homemade soup. (After all, it’s not that hard.) I have a butternut squash sitting on the counter waiting to be cut up and roasted and turned into a beautiful, creamy soup, but instead I focused my attention on the ever present leeks in my fridge. I pulled them out, cut them up and threw them into a bowl of cold water to be certain there was no sand. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped about two and a half pounds of russet potatoes. (Why? Because if I didn’t, they were bound to start sprouting any day. We don’t eat a ton of russets.) It bears reporting that I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes in soups, but this is what I had on hand. Use what you have on hand, people!

Next, the leeks got drained, dried; then sautéed in some olive oil and butter for just a short time. Afterward, I added the potatoes, seasonings, and then six cups of chicken stock. The top went on and I let it boil for about thirty minutes-until everything was soft enough to blend.

At this point I was feeling accomplished and it dawned on me that we had a pound of bacon that also needed to be used before it was wasted. What better thing to do then to make some bacon as a garnish, right? I always make my bacon on a sheet pan with a rack, so this too, is really easy to do. I was just about to lay the stuff out in strips when I remembered having seen one of those Facebook videos that showed bacon being weaved together so it would form a perfect square for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. OMG! Genius! I just happened to have a big juicy tomato on the counter and some lettuce in the fridge. Poof! Done! I weaved that bacon like a professional bacon weaver and into the oven it went.

I was so proud when it came out looking pretty! (Seriously, I was envisioning the Instagram praise-fest about to happen! I am a sick girl and not in a good way.) I decided to take some of the smaller pieces of cooked bacon and drop them into the the soup for a little more Smokey flavor. See them?

Truth to be told: I did all of this today…but I made frequent trips to the couch to pass out, drink ice water, take my temperature, cough, etc. See that last soup photo? It’s not even hot. I just forgot to take the money shot so I fudged it. Now I am back, dying on the couch, but this blog is scheduled to go. LOL! (I really did love this soup, however.)

This photo below; now that’s actually hot soup! LOL!


Ingredients:

2.5 pounds potatoes peeled and cut (I used russets but Yukon golds are better.)

3 large leaks sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (REAL butter)

6 cups low sodium chicken broth (that’s two 32 oz cartons)

1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon raw honey

2 pieces of cooked bacon crumbled

1/4 cup cream

3 tablespoons full fat sour cream

Juice of half a lemon

Salt & fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1) Clean and slice leeks

2) Peel and cut potatoes (If you use Yukon Gold, skip peeling. It isn’t necessary.)

3) Heat olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven (medium high heat) Sauté leeks for about five minutes. Salt & pepper.

4) Add potatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, more cracked pepper. Stir.

5) Add chicken broth and bacon pieces. Turn up heat, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and put the lid on. Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to be blended.

6) When the vegetables are tender, turn off heat, remove bay leaves, stir in honey and allow to cool with the lid on about 30 minutes.

7) Pull out and mash (or rough chop) about a cup of the potatoes. Set aside.

8) Add cream and sour cream. Stir. Then blend with an immersion blender (This is what I use.) Add the reserved potatoes back in with the juice of half a lemon.

9) Taste. We like our soup spicy, so I usually add more cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.

10) Stir and cover. Turn the heat back onto low. Let the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Note: The best garnish in the world for this soup are caramelized onions! Also great: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions


PS- I ended up making a grilled cheese sandwich with the bacon lattice for Charlie. (By the time he came home from the gym, I was way too tired and over-extended to make TWO. I didn’t need a sandwich. I needed to be in bed.)

I present the Cha-Cha approved bacon, tomato, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese on Sourdough bread grilled cheese: