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!

 

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

Fall into Pork Chops & Apples!

Every now and then my husband pops off to the market alone.  He often loves to find and bring home bone-in pork chops that are thick-cut and gigantic! The last time he came home with them, I was remembering the episode of “The Brady Bunch”, where Peter and the whole gang kept repeating the phrase, “Pork chopppppssssss and applesauuuuuuce! That’s right, pork choppppssssss and applesauuuuuuuce!” I had never actually tried to make pork chops with any type of apple; so here you have what happened next!

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Every now and then my husband pops off to the market alone.  He often loves to find and bring home bone-in pork chops that are thick-cut and gigantic! The last time he came home with them, I was remembering the episode of “The Brady Bunch”, where Peter and the whole gang kept repeating the phrase, “Pork chopppppssssss and applesauuuuuuce! That’s right, pork choppppssssss and applesauuuuuuuce!” I had never actually tried to make pork chops with any type of apple; so here you have what happened next!

I have often heard that Granny Smith apples are the best for cooking, so I popped out to the market and picked up a few, then I cored them, sliced them and held them in a water bath (to prevent browning).

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Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.

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Sear in butter and olive oil until golden brown.

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See? This is starting to look yummy!

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Pay no attention to that last photo with the apples on top. The apples go on the BOTTOM of the pan. I just forgot to save the correct photo! LOL!


Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples
  • 6 tablespoons REAL butter (Down with substitutes!)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Peel, core & slice the apples. Place in a bowl and cover with water until ready to use.
  3. Salt & pepper the chops, then sear them in 2 Tbsp butter using a medium high cast iron skillet.
  4. Grease a 9 X 12 baking dish.
  5. Line the bottom with the apple slices.
  6. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the apples. Break up the 2 Tbsp. butter into pea sized little bits and sprinkle them over the apples and sugar mixture.
  7. Place the chops on top of the apples and sprinkle the remaining butter (broken into bits) over the chops.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

 

Veggie & Quinoa Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

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Yesterday’s blog about Good Grains got me to thinking about stuffing things! During the summer months our city has an abundance of farmers markets I like to visit. I must have walked by a dozen types of patty pan squash before I decided to pick up a few to see what they are like. It was actually the grower who shared with me that one of the best uses for them is to stuff them. (We also like them on the grill, but that’s for another time.)

As soon as I arrived home, I scoured the cabinets and bins to find what would go inside my squash. I settled on sprouted quinoa with red peppers and onions.

Here’s my sautéed onions, red bell pepper, squash, salt & pepper, minced garlic and cooked quinoa all read to stuff in.

In order to do these squash properly they need to be pre-baked a little bit. (Below)

All stuffed and ready to head into the oven for the final bake! And then, the final product. These were delicious, filling and super healthy.


Ingredients:

3 patty pan squash

1 package sprouted quinoa (I save time by using the pre-packaged mixes)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp REAL butter

1 large onion diced

1 large red bell pepper diced

2 cloves garlic minced

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 egg

1/4 cup fresh herb (I used basil because I grow it, but flat leaf parsley or fresh thyme would be wonderful in this.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions and set aside.

Scoop out the squash to make a well for your stuffing.

Coat the squash in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes until somewhat soft but still firm.

Chop up what you scooped out and add it to your vegetables for sautéing

Using the olive oil and butter, Sauté the onions, peppers, garlic and squash until soft. Set aside to cool.

Mix the egg, prepared quinoa, 1/2 the chopped basil and sautéed vegetables together.

Stuff your squash.

Return to the oven and back 20 minutes.

Garnish with the remaining basil!