Monday, June 29, 2009

Pasta Substitutions

I have been trying to figure out food for a while. Having the same things week after week gets old, even if it tastes good. I love my lasagna (and so does everybody else) but I get tired of so much pasta, lol. A couple weeks ago Ken brought home some yellow squash and zucchini so I served it as the veggie part of a pasta meal- yes, pasta again. I love summer because it means we get to grill all our chicken, and that's just yummy!

Pasta with grilled chicken and squash

I got a crazy idea after doing the first meal... I thought about how "healthy" people (those who don't eat pasta 24/7 like us poor married couples) substitute veggies for pasta in dishes. Then I connected just how cheap squash is in the summertime... so I decided squash would sub for pasta at a meal. I might have been crazy trying it the first time we've had a house guest since Weslee arrived, but I pulled it off somehow. I cooked up diced tomatoes with onion, garlic and seasonings for the sauce and sauteed strips of yellow squash for the "pasta". The chicken is lemon dill, and is cooked in tin foil on the grill. Both Ken and his sister (and me) were pleasantly surprised that the meal actually tasted good... instead of being "just edible" like Ken had been wary of, apparently. So squash will now be a staple in our meals!

Grilled chicken with sauteed squash and homemade tomato sauce

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tomato Alfredo Lasagna with Spinach

I bought ingredients for lasagna the last time I went to the store because I thought it might be a fun dish to make. First I was going to use my mom's recipe, and I had also looked at a Food Network recipe. In the end, I came up with my own recipe after figuring out the basics of a lasagna. Some of this could be done more simply by buying things ready-made, but it only takes about an hour to do it all from scratch.

1 Package Lasagna Noodles
2 C. White sauce recipe (with garlic and onion powder added) --could also you store-bought
1lb Ground Beef (turkey won't give the same taste)
1 Jar Three Cheese Pasta Sauce
1/2 C. Onion, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Parsley
1/2 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/2 Bundle Spinach, washed and dried
1 2lb container Ricotta
6 oz Parmesan
8 oz Mozzarella
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F when noodles are cooking
It's easiest to prepare the sauce ahead of time or first in the recipe. Cook white sauce (I'll put the one I use at the bottom of the page if you don't have one). Brown ground beef in skillet with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Make sure the beef is in very small bits. Add beef and jar of pasta sauce to white sauce, set aside. Boil water, add lasagna noodles, cook, drain, and coat with olive oil. While noodles are cooking, add olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Saute onion, garlic and seasonings until translucent. Add spinach and salt and pepper to taste and cook down; finely chop, set aside. In a bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, egg, and spinach.
In a deep 9x13 casserole dish spoon a little sauce into bottom. Layer noodles, slightly overlapping. In spoonfuls place 1/3 of ricotta mixture on top, spread evenly. Pour 1/3 sauce over ricotta, spread evenly. Repeat 2x, then top with mozzarella cheese. Bake 1 hour. Remove and let cool approx. 30 minutes before cutting and serving so everything sets. Enjoy!

White Sauce
4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
2 C. Milk

Melt butter in pan, add flour and seasonings. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.