Friday, April 2, 2010

Veggie Lasagna

One of my family's favorite meals is veggie lasagna. It takes a little extra time, and when the veggies are not from our yard, a little extra money, but it is so worth it.

Here is how I make it for my crew.

First I put some pasta sauce in the bottom of my biggest Pyrex pan. If you have homemade, that is the best, but as tomatoes are not in season, I used a jarred Roasted Garlic sauce.

On top of the sauce, place as many dry lasagna noodles as will fit without overcrowding. I often break mine up to get them to fit best...I like good noodle coverage.

I then prepare the zucchini layer. In a very large skillet, melt a few tablespoons of butter with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Slice 3 medium or two large zucchinis into thin rounds. Take three large cloves of garlic and mince. Take a handful of white mushrooms, or whatever mushroom you like, and chop into bite size pieces. Slice a large leek, or two smaller leeks in half lengthwise, then into half moon slices no more than 1/4 inch think. Add leeks to a large bowl and rinse in water a few times, the last time filling the bowl up so that the leeks rise to the top and any remaining sand can sink to the bottom (leeks can be very sandy). To the pan, add half the leeks and all garlic, cooking for a few minutes before adding the zucchini and mushrooms. Cook on medium low until everything is soft and starting to caramelize. Add some kosher salt and pepper to taste, then place the mixture on top of the noodles in the dish.

I then top this with a simple Beschamel made using butter and flour to create a roux and adding milk, salt, pepper and grated garlic. Cook until thick and poor over the top (you can also add mozzarella cheese to the sauce to make a cheese sauce).

Add another layer of noodles and prepare the spinach layer. Add some olive oil to the pan you cooked the zucchini in. Add the remaining leeks and two large bags of baby spinach (or about 6-8 cups). Add Kosher salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until leeks start to soften and spinach is wilted but still holds it shape well. At this time, add 1/3 a block of cream cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Add the mixture to the Pyrex dish, cover with more noodles a layer of Ricotta cheese, enough to cover the noodles, then slice some fresh tomatoes and add them with some fresh basil on top of the Ricotta. Top with more noodles and cover with enough pasta sauce to evenly cover the whole casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake until noodles are cooked and everything is hot and bubbly. About 10 minutes before the lasagna is done top with mozzarella so it can melt and won't burn, or you can just add to the top and leave in the hot oven with the heat turned off when cooking is completed.

So yummy, so good for you :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our smallest member

As I was feeding Teagan this morning, I thought I would share some of what we feed her.

I try not to rely on baby food, none of my kids were huge baby food eaters, but we do use some of the pureed fruits and veggies since they are easy and smooth.

Teagan is nearly eight months old and has begun enjoying a variety of foods. Every day she eats yogurt. It is whole milk, vanilla yogurt we get from the farm so it is also organic and antibiotic free. She loves the yogurt and it is so good for her belly. It also helps fend off any diaper rashes caused by yeast. Sometimes we smush a banana in the yogurt or we add in a pureed fruit such as apples or pears. This is either breakfast or lunch everyday.

Teagan also LOVES egg yolks (no whites until a year). We get her the farm eggs since the chickens are free ranged so the eggs are higher in good fats that help brain development. We scramble two egg yolks (farm egg yolks are almost orange) in a little of the cream that rises to the top of our milk bottles or a dab of butter, again these are good for growth and brain development.

Teagan also loves avocados! She will often eat a half an avocado for lunch with some dry cereal or puffs, or she will eat it with some oatmeal. We have some of the baby oatmeal, but we are transitioning her to steel cut oats since they have more protein and are a whole grain. Now that she tries to chew food, she is able to eat a lot more. She enjoys spaghetti squash with just a bit of butter, and she is slowly adding new things every day.

This is such a great time of exploration! We try to feed her the healthiest and most diverse foods possible so that she has a good palette and eats well like our other kids. I must admit, however, that she is a total puff junkie and I need to find something to replace them in her diet, they are really just poofy flavored carbs :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yes we still eat

I just haven't had a lot of time to post!

Recent new recipes include cinnamon rolls that are to DIE for and hamburger rolls.

But this morning I took a staple of ours, Steel Cut Oats, to a whole new mistake.

I put the oats in the crockpot last night on high, but then got tired and turned them down too early. When the baby was up at 6:30 I came to check the oats and they were still undercooked, cranked them to high and went back upstairs. When the other kids got up, the oats were cooked but still a little loose, so I added in a jar of my home canned apple slices, a bunch of cinnamon, some pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. We eat our oats with a little milk on top, and I swear this tasted just like apple pie a'la mode! It was so yummy, the kids and hubby gobbled it all up! The best part is the oats are organic (and super cheap), the apples are picked and canned by me and everything that is in the oatmeal with the exception of the milk is ok for Teagan to eat too. Gotta love the oats!

The hubster requested meatball subs for dinner, so I need to make meatballs this morning so they can simmer all day and I will use my hamburger roll recipe to make whole wheat hoagies for the subs. The extra dough will be made into whole wheat cinnamon rolls because we will eat them for Sunday breakfast.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Anniversary Cake

On our real anniversary, the one in January, we got married at the magistrate, went to breakfast at Bob Evans with my sister, brother in law and niece, then registered for my baby shower...yeah, we did things the "unconventional" way :) We then had a big "wedding" in July back home on Long Island with all of our friends and family, but don't worry, no one was tricked, they knew we were married already and Haven was the guest of honor!

We don't celebrate either date a lot, we are just happy each year to be with each other, loved and together. Yesterday was our anniversary and the kids had a snow day, Ryan had work, and I had a huge to do list, so we plan to "celebrate" tomorrow with a nice dinner at home after the kids are in bed with a movie on PPV.

However, I cannot pass up an opportunity to make a cake, and in honor of our 10 years of marriage, I decided to make a chocolate chunk cake with peanut butter buttercream and chocolate chunks.

I cheated today and used a boxed mix...sorry, but the baby wouldn't nap and I needed to make the cake with only one free arm. Sometime soon I will post my yellow cake recipe, it is super yummy.

So I made the cake mix, added in a few handfuls of chocolate chunks and split the batter between two loaf pans. Bake as directed and when the cakes come out, sprinkle with more chocolate chunks, let melt and then spread evenly over the cakes. I then put my cakes in the freezer to cool well.

Then make the butter cream. Soften a quarter cup of butter and half cup of peanut butter. Using a mixer, blend the two until well combined and creamy. Add two and a half cups of powdered sugar (I don't like it too sweet, add more if you do) and blend until smooth adding half and half or milk in small increments until the frosting is smooth, creamy and the consistency you desire. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla and mix one more time.

When the cakes are cool, cover with the frosting and chocolate chunks, or if feeling fancy, melt chocolate and drizzle over. So yummy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pork Roast with Apples and Cider

You know those times when you are cooking and making things up as you go and you think...hmmm, I should really remember this just in case we like it? Well, thankfully I remembered to keep track of what I did when I made pork roast with apples and cider.

Here is what I did, and the results were super yummy!

I had a nice boneless pork loin. In my dutch oven I added a few tablespoons of olive oil and then diced a good sized sweet onion and added it to the oil. Cooked until the onion began getting soft then added the pork loin and browned on both sides. Added the spices, salt and pepper, a teaspoon or so of paprika, two good pinches of red pepper flakes and a dash or two of cinnamon. Once combined, add a half a bottle of a good quality hard apple cider, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Then I added two big handfuls of dried apples (we dry our own so I had a bunch )but if you don't have dried apples, you could add a couple of diced apples, be sure to pick something tart that will hold up well. Cover and put in the oven for an hour to hour and a half on a low hear, around 325. Check about halfway through to see if it is getting dry, add more cider as needed.

Check that the pork is cooked, it should be very tender, but if you had a really big loin, it may take longer. Right before serving, take the pork and try to slice it...mine was so tender it pretty much shredded. The cider and apples and onions cooked into a thick sauce which I combined with the pork and then checked for seasoning...I found we needed a touch more salt. Serve over thin egg noodles...delicious!

Friday, January 1, 2010

OK, new year, new goals

Wow, this blog gets neglected a lot, I think it is because I actually have to think about what I am making and then find a way to write it down here. I will try harder.

I think I am going to using labels, to see if that helps me organize my thoughts a bit better. I am also going to try to talk a little about food choices, what choices we have made and trying to feed a family of six good meals on a budget.

Tonight we are having spiced chicken, and I have already posted how I make that. I also made a pot of tortilla soup since the whole family has been sick and the spicy goodness should help.

I am making spicy potato wedges as a side tonight. I have never made these before so I am not sure how they will turn out, but I am tired of spanish rice or white rice or lime cilantro get the idea.

This is what i did. I sliced about 7 potatoes into wedges and then sliced those wedges in half to make decent bite sized pieced. I then took a bowl and added a generous amount of kosher salt, a few dashes of cayenne pepper, a few more dashes of paprika, some cumin and black pepper. I then added olive oil to the mixture to make a slurry to coat the potatoes and added a few dashes of hot sauce. I then mixed everything together with the potatoes and left to marinate. I will roast them at a high temp, about 425, turning until cooked through and crispy. You can play with the spices as you like, this is the basic process I use for a few potato recipes including lemon dill and parsley potatoes, but I have never spiced them before. Hopefully they will crisp nicely and not be too spicy for the kids, although my kids are spice lovers. The nice part is, you can always customize the spice as you like, or even go mild and do salt and lime. The oil is needed and most stays in the container when you pull the potatoes out, and be generous with the salt, potatoes need salt.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best Zucchini Sticks ever

Oh my I love fried zucchini, and so does my 9 year old. Being that I was exhausted and needed a pick me up, I asked the hubby to grab two zucchini at the store on his way home and I got to work. In the past, I would simply bread the zucchini in dry bread crumbs that I had seasoned, but today decided I wanted to try a new approach. I scoured the web and looked at all the recipes and decided to do a battered stick. Here was what i did.

Slice a well washed zucchini into sticks (rounds would work as well). I made a bowl of seasoned flour, with salt, pepper and a little cayenne.

I then made the batter using an egg, some milk or half and half and a half cup of flour. I wanted the batter pretty thick, about the consistency of melted premium ice cream or pancake batter. I then seasoned this as well, with salt, pepper, a iittle "complete seasoning" and some tabasco. The first time, I dredged in the dry flour, then put in the batter, then back in the flour. The result was pretty good and the batter held tight to the zucchini, but there was just not a good coating/zucchini ratio. The next time I dredged in the dry flour then into the batter and then into the oil...this was perfect! The batter spreads a bit and creates a case around the zucchini, but there is so much flavor in the batter that I like the extra crunch I get. I cooked over med-high in veggie oil until really super crisp, added a little salt when they were draining and served with blue cheese dressing....oldest child deemed these the best ever and she has eaten a lot of zucchini sticks in her short life :)