Thursday, June 4, 2015

Easy Lasagna

If you haven't guessed by now posting may a bit sporadic in the next month or two. I mentioned in my last post that we are expecting a new daughter in a month. Like always, I have lots of recipes waiting in the wings to be shared, but just not enough time in the day to share them. This is one that's been waiting for a while that I decided I wouldn't let wait any longer. It's so easy and so good and that makes it definitely one our family's favorites. I'm all about taking recipes that are already easy and making them healthier and easier. That's how this recipe was born and it's now my go-to recipe for a quick lasagna. Hope you enjoy!

Easy Lasagna
Printable Recipe

*Serves 8-10

*Note: To make this recipe even easier, I like to make the homemade spaghetti sauce with quinoa ahead of time in a large batch and freeze a recipes worth in quart bags. I will also sometimes precook and freeze the ground beef so you can skip the browning step. These shortcuts make it really easy to whip up this lasagna in just a few minutes.

15 lasagna noodles
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 recipe Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Quinoa or 3 to 4 Cups Spaghetti Sauce
16 oz. cottage or ricotta cheese
4 Cups cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large pan of boiling water add the lasagna noodles and cook only for about 4 to 5 minutes until very al dente. This is the secret to lasagna without soggy noodles. Meanwhile brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, draining of the excess grease. Return the skillet to the heat and add the spaghetti sauce and cottage or ricotta cheese. Once the noodles are done, remove from heat and drain to stop the cooking process. You may want to retain just a little bit of hot water in the bottom of the pan to keep them from going stiff or you can lay them out flat. In a 9x13 pan, add a little sauce to the bottom of the pan and then layer 3 noodles followed by sauce and then sprinkle with cheese. Repeat this pattern of layers until all the noodles are used, making sure to reserve enough sauce and cheese for the top layers. Bake 350 F for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

*Recipe Source:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

It's been ages since I've posted and I apologize for my negligence. It's been a crazy last month or so. To give you a quick update, I'm about six weeks away from delivering our third child. We've been busy getting things ready for this new little girl. (Yes, that's right! Our first girl. We couldn't be more thrilled.) On top of that we're finishing out the last couple of weeks of school with all the chaos that that brings. On top of that we've had lots of other family emergencies crop up and it's been quite the adventure trying to navigate all those.

But here I am. For the time being. And happy to be posting a wonderful and amazing recipe with you that will save you big time if you're experiencing anything like the chaos that we are right now. This recipe is quick (less than 30 minutes from start to finish), light (perfect for spring or summer), and totally taste-bud-stunning delicious. It's fancy enough for a weekend, but easy enough for everyday. Not too spicy, but enough flavor to let those taste buds rise to heaven. And I won't even go into how healthy Salmon is except to say it's really good for you! We like to serve this with brown rice and a green salad (the salad pictured is fresh from our spring garden). Enjoy.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon
Printable Recipe

1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 4-oz. salmon fillets
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

In a shallow dish, combine honey and 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Lightly brush onto each salmon fillet, flesh side up. In another shallow dish, combine brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to make a dry rub. Using your hands, rub mixture onto the flesh sides of each salmon fillet. Heat large skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil. When hot, add seasoned salmon fillets skin side down and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a splatter guard (a large lid or flat pizza pan works great in a pinch). Pan-sear salmon fillets for 7 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in fillet reads 145 degrees F. Remove from heat and serve immediately. We like to serve this salmon with brown rice and a fresh garden salad.

Recipe Source: Adapted slightly from

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grilled or Broiled Honey Chipotle Chicken Kebabs

The weather is warming up and that means a perfect chance for grilling outside. Food always seems to taste better when cooked outside. We have a charcoal grill and a open flame barbecue pit that both take a little extra planning for a meal. But they make grilling a fun family affair. If I'm in a hurry, but still want to enjoy this recipe I sometimes make them under the broiler. I've included the broiling instructions below, It's wonderfully delicious. I've made this recipe several times since it's initial discovery and it's been delightful every time. We've cooked these over an open fire, on the grill and under a broiler. Each time with wonderful success and I'm completely in love with the flavors. Chipotle is a great flavor, not to mention how fun it is to say. Last time I made these I served them with this Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice made using Basmati rice. Oh my. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Comfort, soul food. So good. Enjoy.

Grilled or Broiled Honey Chipotle Chicken Kebabs
Printable Recipe

*Serves 4-6

Honey and Chipotle Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
2 colored bell peppers (I like red, orange or yellow), cut into 1-1/2" pieces
Mushroom Slices, optional
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the Honey and Chipotle Vinaigrette (see recipe below). Reserve 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and place in refrigerator. Add the chicken cubes to a large, shallow container or seal-able gallon freezer bag. Pour the remain vinaigrette over the chicken cubes and cover or seal container. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight (the longer the better) in the refrigerator.

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for an hour before grilling. I used about 8 metal skewers (12" long). Heat grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Or if cooking under a broiler, preheat the broiler and spray broiler pan with cooking spray.

Place onions and peppers in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto skewers. Discard remaining marinade. Sprinkle kebabs with salt and pepper, if desired. Place kebabs on hot grill pan or under a broiler (on the top oven rack) with the oven door open. Watch the kebabs closely and turn them as each side gets charred, about 4-6 minutes per side. I rotated three times for a total of about 12-18 minutes. When the kebabs are almost done cooking (after the third side has been cooking for a few minutes) brush them with the remaining 1/4 Cup of marinade and then finish cooking them until done. Serve immediately warm. These are amazing with this Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice.

*Recipe Source: Adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles

Honey Chipotle Vinaigrette
Printable Recipe

*Makes about 1-1/4 Cup

1/3 Cup honey
1/4 Cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the oil. Blend on low for 20 seconds. Add olive oil, a little at a time and blend until mixed well. Use immediately or chill for an hour or two to blend the flavors. Use as a salad dressing or grilling marinade.

Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

One Hour French Bread

I've been on the lookout for a quick and easy (and healthy of course) French Bread recipe for many many years and I'm excited to tell you that I've found my dream recipe and it's fabulously easy and delicious. It comes together in just over an hour! That's right, I can hardly believe it myself. Most French Bread recipes I've tried take babying for several hours and frankly I just don't have that kind of time. I needed a recipe that was straight forward and easy and tasted amazing. Well here it is folks. Happy to share it with ya.

One Hour French Bread
Printable Recipe

*Makes 3 loaves

2-1/3 Cup water, heated until quite warm ( >110° F) *I put mine in the microwave for 2-3 minutes to heat it
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. real salt
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2-3 Cups freshly ground whole white wheat flour
1 Tbsp. SAF instant yeast
3-4 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg

In a Bosch mixer with the dough hook add the heated water, sugar, salt, and coconut oil. Next add 2-3 Cups of freshly ground white whole-wheat flour and put the yeast on top of the flour. Turn on the mixer and mix on low speed. With the mixer still on, slowly add in the 3-4 Cups of unbleached flour, 1 Cup at a time. You will know you've added enough when the dough starts to pull away from the sides as well as the center of the mixer. Since these loaves are free standing you want the dough to be slightly firmer than you would for loaves you place in bread pans. Once you've added the correct amount of flour, let the dough mix for 6-8 minutes. The dough should be very elastic, but not stiff. 

Once the dough is mixed, let it rest in the bowl for 5 minutes.

Grease a large cookie sheet. After the dough has rested in the bowl, place it on the cookie sheet. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Then let it rest again for 5 minutes. (Make sure to not skip over the resting periods. These are important to the final product.) While the dough is resting preheat the oven to 170 F. 

After the dough has rested for the second time you will shape it into the loaves. Take one section of dough and spread it with your fingers out into a rectangle. Fold one long end up over half of the dough, then fold the other half over that one. Then fold each side up over each other. Turn the loaf so it is seam down and press in the sides to make it look nice and smooth. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough. With a sharp knife, cut 3 angled 1/2" deep slits in the top of the dough.

Crack the egg in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until frothy. Spread the egg over the tops of each loaf, making sure to get inside the slits. Place the loaves in the oven and let them rise for 15 minutes (while the oven is at 170 F). The turn the oven up to 400 F (while the loaves are still inside) and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the baking sheet and allow them to cool before slicing them.

*Note: We like to use the leftover French bread for french toast the next day

*Recipe Source: Adapted from a recipe found at Life in the Lofthouse, simplified mixing method, adapted to be partially whole-wheat

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My New Favorite Popcorn (that's healthy...)

Sometimes it's the simplest things that can change your life. Like popcorn. Seriously, who knew that popcorn could be so life changing, right? But believe me, it can be! Just finish reading this post and you'll find out how.

I've posted about popcorn before. And even taught you a quick microwave method of cooking it that I use a lot...well used to use a lot. I honestly don't think I'll use it very often in the future because this new method of cooking popped in my life (hahaha) the other day. It's easy and wonderful and delicious.

Wow. Hold on to your hats folks. Here it comes. The life changing method of cooking healthy popcorn.

All you need is a large, heavy bottom pan with a good lid (mine is 5 quart). Make sure the lid fits tightly - you'll thank me for this later.

Some coconut oil.

Popcorn (of course).

And salt (I use Real Salt or Himalayan salt). This one is Himalayan, that's why it's pink.

Place the pan on a burner over medium high heat (this is about an 8 out of 10 on my stove). Put in 1/3 cup coconut oil and 2 kernels of unpopped popcorn. And put the lid on.

The coconut oil will melt and heat up. While you are waiting, place 1/2 Cup of popcorn and 1 scant tsp. Real or Himalayan salt in a bowl together and mix it.

After about 6 minutes of heating up. Surprise! A kernel will pop. I always jump a bit when this happens. Then a few seconds later the second one will pop.

At this point you will pour the mixture of popcorn and salt in the pan and shake it a little to distribute the kernels around the hot oil.

Then carefully replace the lid and watch the magic happen. This is when you are thanking me I told you to get a tight fitting lid.


During this process you want to pick up the pan carefully and shake it around a couple of times to redistribute the kernels evenly. The crazy popping lasts less than 2 minutes. When the popping has slowed considerably, carefully remove the pan from the burner, but don't remove the lid yet. It always surprises me with a few more pops. Finally when you're feeling brave, remove the lid and stir around the popcorn to mix it evenly.

And enjoy your healthy treat! Yum.

Printable Recipe

*Makes about 4-1/2 to 5 Quarts popped corn

1/2 Cup popcorn +2 kernels, divided
1/3 Cup Coconut oil
1 scant tsp. Real or Himalayan salt

Place a large, heavy bottom pan with a good tight fitting lid (at least 5 quart) over medium high heat. Place 1/3 cup coconut oil in pan along with 2 kernels of unpopped popcorn. Replace the lid. Then place 1/2 Cup of popcorn and 1 scant tsp. Real or Himalayan salt in a bowl together and mix. Once both kernels have popped in the pan (takes about 6 minutes), add the popcorn and salt mixture to the pan. Carefully replace the lid and shake the pan a couple of times to redistribute the kernels evenly. As the kernels are popping, shake the pan a few more times. The popping should last less than 2 minutes. When the popping has slowed considerably, carefully remove the pan from the burner, but don't remove the lid yet. Finally when the popping has stopped completely, remove the lid and stir the popcorn to mix it well. Eat and enjoy.

Recipe Source: Adapted from the method shared by a good friend Marlou

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lasagna Soup

Do recipes with lots of ingredients scare you? I hope not! Cause this one has a lot, but it's really not hard and it's worth every one of those delicious little ingredients. I adapted the recipe from one I found on A Farm Girl's Dabbles a few years ago. We've made it several times and we love it. This last time I perfected it to my liking by reducing the Italian sausage and adding the black-eyed peas. Yum. I mean double or triple yum. It totally rocks my socks (even though I really don't know what that means).

I like to keep the pasta separate from the soup so the pasta stays a nice texture when you add it to the soup (otherwise it tends to just absorb and get soggy...ugh). Plus kids always seem to be happier when they see their bowls fill up with plain noodles first and then soup. Don't ask me why. It's a kid thing I guess. Don't leave out the cheesy topping. It's the best. I like to stir it in so the cheese gets all melty and delicious. Mmmh. I'm dreaming of eating a bowl of this soup right this very minute.

Lasagna Soup {Pressure Cooker Recipe}
Printable Recipe

*Serves 8-10

1 lb. Italian Sausage
3 Cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Cup dried black-eyed peas
1 28-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (or use 1 Quart home canned tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
7 Cups chicken stock
16 oz. bow tie (or other flat) pasta
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat pressure cooker on medium heat (or brown setting for electric pressure cookers). Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the paste turns rusty brown. Add black-eyed peas, tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir well. Then lock pressure cooker lid in place and heat to high pressure, cooking for 15 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.

Meanwhile, while the soup is cooking, cook bow tie pasta in a separate pan according to package directions until al dente (being careful not to overcook).

Prepare the cheese mixture by combining in a small bowl the ricotta and Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper. Set aside.

When the pressure has released completely, open lid carefully stir and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, add a scoop of cooked pasta to each bowl and top with  a ladle or two of soup. Add a dollop of the ricotta cheese mixture and sprinkle some grated mozzarella on the very top. You can also sprinkle some chopped fresh basil on top of the cheese if you want, it makes it yummy if you happen to have some on hand.

Recipe Source: Adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

I think I've been on a Mexican food kick lately cause I've been posting a lot of Mexican food recipes. Honestly, Mexican food is one of my favorite things to cook and eat. We have it every Monday and I love trying new recipes. My kids don't always love it so we try to stick with some good old favorites every few weeks to keep them happy too.

This is another healthy, delicious (and easy) recipe shared with me by my sister-in-law Lisa. I altered it a bit by adding more quinoa and less meat to make it even healthier. Also using the corn flour adds more nutrition as well. It's a very satisfying, delicious meal and makes yummy leftovers. Enjoy.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Printable Recipe

*Serves 6-8

1/2 Cup quinoa (any color)
4-1/4 Cup water, divided
3/4 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 Cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. chili powder
3/4 Cup flour (I use corn flour from freshly ground popcorn)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt + more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper + more to taste
12 white corn tortillas
3/4 lbs. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, diced avocados, lettuce and tomato, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small sauce pan add the quinoa and 1-14 Cups of water. Heat to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until water is completely absorbed and quinoa is tender and displays a curly white thread.

While quinoa is cooking, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey. Add the onions and saute for a 3-5 minutes or until onions are tender. Add the cooked quinoa, the oregano, chili powder, flour, tomato sauce, minced garlic, salt and pepper and let heat to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Prepare corn tortillas by tearing them into 2" pieces (they do not need to be uniform). In a 9x13 casserole dish, add about a third of the sauce mixture, then a third of the tortilla strips, then a third of the grated cheese. Repeat these layers in order two more times, making sure the top layer is cheese. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and diced avocados on top with a side of lettuce and tomato.

Recipe Source: Adapted from my sister-in-law Lisa's recipe

Popular Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails