Lasagna with Zucchini

Lasagna is the quintessential comfort food.  And when you want comfort food, it doesn’t matter if it’s winter (the perfect weather for lasagna) or the start-up of summer.  Since I found this recipe in my June issue of Cooking Light, I felt it was the Food Gods way of telling me I need to make this.  Stat!  While midst of cooking, I realized it is the perfect remake of the perfect comfort food.  The zucchini and squash hold up well in place of Italian sausage or any other meat.  I found myself not even missing the meat.  Also, the sauce was not heavy, but so flavorful and rich.  The next day when I reheated for lunch, I did notice the zucchini and squash had a stronger flavor, but it still was very good and a meal that will make it to my rotation.  PS – This meal takes a LONG time to pull together, definitely keep for the weekend or when you have some additional time.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cups julienne-cut zucchini
2 cups julienne-cut yellow squash
1½ Tbs chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (this is where I cheated, b/c I always have to cheat.  I used pre-chopped garlic)
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup water from fresh mozzarella container
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2½ oz grated fresh Parmesan
1 (9 oz) package refrigerated fresh lasagna noodles (Our market did not carry this and I don’t care of the No Boil variety, that is until I found Delverde Ondine Instant Egg Lasagna.  Unlike our American brands, it did not take doughy or uncooked to me.  Certainly will use again and again!)
Cooking Spray

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add zucchini, squash, time, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.  Remove zucchini mixture from pan and cool.

Combine remaining ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, ricotta, mozzarella water, and mozzarella in food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Combine ½ cup ricotta mixture and ½ cup Parmesan.

Coat 8″ baking dish with cooking spray; arrange 2 noodles, trimming to fit if needed.  Top with half of zucchini mixture and half of ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers, ending with noodles.  Top with the rocotta-Parmesan mixture.  Cover dish with foil and back for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.

Turn broiler to high.  Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 2 Tbs parmesan cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6
Hands-On time: 20 minutes; Total: 65 minutes

 Lasagna with Zucchini

 *Derived from Cooking Light

Chicken minus the Vesuvio

This was supposed to to be a traditional chicken Vesuvio, except I was missing, well, the Vesuvio. Or, the red-skinned potatoes and artichoke hearts. ” so I attempted to make do without.  And boy, did I make do.  This got a thumbs-up from my R Jr., foodie.  And it was literally a thumbs-up because he had a mouthful of food.  Does it really get better than that?  I think not. I’m going to go ahead and add in the ingredients that I didn’t have, since it’s from Giada De Laurentiis, I think I’m safe 🙂  Everything with a * I did not have / did not do.

Ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil
4 skin on & bone in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ lb small red-skinned potatoes, halved (I did not have this)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
¾ cup dry white wine (ok, everyone MUST keep this on hand)
¾ cup chicken broth
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
8 0z frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I did not have this)
2 Tbs unsalted butter

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Heat olive oil in a large oven proof pot on high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Working in 2 batches, cook chicken in pot until golden brown on all aides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a bowl.  Carefully add the garlic and onions to the pot and cook until softened.  *Add the potatoes and cook until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Add the wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add the broth, oregano, and thyme.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Once a boil is reached, cover the pot and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove pot and transfer chicken to platter.  *Arrange potatoes around chicken.

*Add artichoke hearts to sauce in pot. cover and simmer over high heat until artichokes are tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes.  Turn heat to low.  Stir in butter.  Add artichokes to chicken and potatoes, pour sauce over dish and serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:

Beaujolais
Chardonnay
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Syrah

Serves 6

Total time: About an hour

Chicken minus Vesuvio

Chicken minus Vesuvio

Derived from: Giada De Laurentiis

Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken

It seems like lately I’ve had those, “This recipe says what?? How am I going to do that??” only because when preparing my menu I haven’t thoroughly read the recipe.  This is one of those times.  I pulled a great looking recipe from Annie’s Eats on Pinterest.  I quickly scanned the ingredients, no worries there.  And that is where I went wrong.  The recipe called for marinating 2 hours.  Yes, I gave the kids a snack but not a great enough snack that I could add 2 hours to the dinner prep.  Sure, we could get more homework done in that 2 hours, but dinner would be ready at bedtime!  So, below is what I came up with by morphing two recipes together.  And wow, it was a huge hit!

Ingredients:

2 small lemons; zested and juiced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp each thyme and crushed rosemary
1 tsp Kosher salt
4-6 Tbs olive oil
2-4 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks (I used mostly drumsticks)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Combine garlic, lemon zest and juice, herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large ziplock bag.  Add chicken and move it around in plastic bag to ensure even coverage.  Let sit for about 20 minutes (enough time to start your side dishes).

Remove chicken from marinade and place in a baking dish lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray.  Use the marinade to brush over the top of each piece.  Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until skin is well-browned.  Let stand for 10 minutes and then transfer to a serving platter.  Garnish with lemon slices.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Riesling
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves: 6

Total Time: 1 hour

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

*Derived from Annie’s Eats and Our Best Bites

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Just because Old Man Winter has turned his nose up at Sunny California and left us with spring-like weather, doesn’t mean that we don’t still crave winter food.  You know what I’m talking about; thick stews and rich meals to warm the body (even if the body isn’t particularly cold).  It must be an internal time clock, kind of like bears hibernating or salmon knowing where to spawn.  If only I had a little more time, I would have added a thick slab of my buttery cornbread.  Something to look forward to, for sure. 😀

Ingredients:

12 oz boneless beef check, trimmed and thinly sliced (tip – for easier slicing, pop the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
5 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion (time saver – buy already chopped onions, found in the produce or freezer section)
1½ cups diagonally cut carrot (time saver – buy pre-sliced carrot chips in the produce section)
2 cups pre-sliced cremini mushrooms
3 thyme sprigs
1 Tbs tomato paste (tip – freeze remaining paste in a sandwich bag for later use. Freeze flat and just break off the amount you need)
2 tsp minced garlic (time saver – jarred minced garlic such as Spice World)
3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
1½ cups unsalted beef stock
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1½ tsp lower-sodium soy sauce

Preparation:

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs olive oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add beef to pan, cook for 3 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove beef from pan.  Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add chopped onion, carrot, mushrooms, and thyme sprigs; sauté for 4 minutes.  Add tomato paste and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute.  Add beer; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Combine beef stock and flour in small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add to pan.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in beef, and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in soy sauce.  Discard Thyme.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Hermitage
Petite Sirah
Syrah / Shiraz
Zinfandel

Serves 4

Total time: 40 minutes

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

*From Cooking Light