Tag Archives: garlic

Sneaky Tofu Lasagne

tofu lasagne 3

Awhile ago, I did a post on our favorite lasagne done several ways.  Well, I found another way to vary it and still keep it vegetarian!

Our dear friends came over for dinner over the weekend, and I needed to make something FAST that would serve eight people, AND be something kids would probably like.  While I was making it, I felt like it needed more substance.  But I didn’t have time to grill vegetables, and I didn’t know if my friend’s kids would like it with vegetables anyway.  I thought of adding more cheese, but there is a lot in it as is.  I remember reading about combining ricotta with tofu on The Kitchn blog, so I thought I would try it.   I doubled my sauce recipe and added onion to it.  Then I made the lasagne with a mixture of fresh mozzarella and smoky mozzarella and parmesan as I always do.

You can see the ricotta and tofu mixture here.

You can see the ricotta and tofu mixture here.

Roasted zucchini and eggplant were served on the side, so people could have the veggies if they wanted it.  The lasagne was really delicious!  I’m happy to say, adults and kids had seconds, and no one was the wiser! 🙂

tofu lassagne 2

Sneaky Lasagne

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or smashed

2 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (or whole pureed)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

1 box of lasagne noodles (1 lb.)

1 container of ricotta cheese (16 oz.)

1/2 block of tofu (I used firm, but any would do)

8 oz. smoky mozzarella, grated

8 oz. plain mozzarella, grated

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Mix grated mozzarella cheeses together in a bowl and set aside.  Mix ricotta and tofu together with hands in another bowl.  Set aside

3.  Saute onions in oil until soft.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute — do not burn!

4.  Add tomatoes, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and sugar if desired.  Simmer 20 minutes uncovered over medium low heat.

5.  Meanwhile soak noodles in boiling water in 2  9-inch by 13-inch baking dishes, covering by about 1/2-inch.  Stir occasionally to keep pasta from sticking.

6.  Assemble lasagne in each pan in this general order:

1 cup sauce, pasta, 1/6 of the ricotta mixture spread on top, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture, a spoonful or so of the parmesan.  Then pasta, 1/6 ricotta mixture spread on top, some sauce, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture, and a spoonful of parmesan.  The last layer is pasta, 1/6 ricotta mixture, some sauce.  Leave about 1 cup of mozzarella mixture to cover both pans later.  You will have extra sauce leftover.  Heat and serve later with meal.

7.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and top with remaining mozzarella and spoonful of so of parmesan and bake for another 5- 10 minutes.  Serve with extra sauce at the table.

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Filed under Children, Dinner, Pasta, Vegetarian

Coconut Sesame Kale Chips and Soy-Sesame Grilled Salmon

Sesame Kale

Coconut Sesame Kale

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store, and I noticed packages of kale chips at the cashier stand — $7.49 for a little box!  I decided I needed to make these again at home ASAP.  I did a Miso Peanut Kale Chip post some time ago.  Remember these?

kale up close on plate darker

I began experimenting again.  I decided I wanted a lighter, crispier chip in less time.  So I used coconut oil, a bit of sesame oil, and soy sauce for flavor and sprinkled on sesame seeds.  Instead of 200 degrees, I roasted them at 375 for 15 minutes.  Then I turned off the oven, removed the already crisp ones, and let the not quite crisp kale chips roast in the residual heat.  I kept checking after 5 minutes and removed the crispy ones so they didn’t burn and let the others stay in.  The result was a really light, very crispy kale chip that kept for days in an air tight container and did not lose their crisp!  So this is the method I shall be using in the future.  The coconut oil gave it a real lightness and subtle coconut flavor.

Another soy-sesame based recipe I would like to share was inspired by the Weight Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook which I reviewed in my last post.  I used salmon instead of tuna and I grilled it on the stove, rather than on an outdoor grill.

This is good served with hot, white rice-- it is so good with some of the accumulated juices spooned on top!

This is so good with hot white rice with some of the accumulated juices spooned on top!

 

The flavor was incredible!  The texture was  flaky and moist! It was the best salmon I have made in a long time.  Even Jamie loved it and asked for seconds — and he’s usually not a big salmon eater.

I used Kirkland frozen salmon, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  I marinated the fillets in a soy, ginger, lemon, sesame oil marinade for 30 minutes, then grilled on the stove in a cast iron grill pan.   Because I heated the pan for four to five minutes beforehand, it was piping hot — perfect for beautiful, crispy grill marks and a slightly caramelized flavor.  The crunchy exterior contrasted with the silky, richness of the interior meat.

I love that I was able to grill it on the stove, making this a dish I’m likely to repeat when it’s too cold to grill outside!

kale 2

Coconut  Sesame Kale Chips

Non-stick spray

One large bunch of kale, leaves torn up, thick stems removed and discarded

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

pinch of kosher salt (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  Mix oils and soy sauce and sesame seeds together in a small bowl

3.  Place 1/2 of kale leaves in a large mixing bowl and drizzle 1/2 of oil and soy mixture on top.  Rub into kale with clean hands to coat well.  Spread seasoned kale in one layer on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat with the other half and kale and spread onto second baking sheet.  Sprinkle kale with salt to taste.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir leaves in baking pan.  Remove any to a plate that are completely crispy.

5.  Turn off oven and return baking sheets inside, letting kale crisp up in the residual heat.  Check every 5 minutes, removing crisp ones to plate and letting others bake longer.

6. Cool completely before storing.

Soy-Sesame Grilled Salmon based on a recipe from The Weight Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons dry white wine

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 salmon fillets (I used Kirkland’s)

non-stick spray

1.  Combine all ingredients except salmon and non-stick spray in a large container or freezer bag.  Add salmon fillets.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once.

2.  Heat a grill pan on the stove until very hot – about 4-5 minutes.  Spray with non-stick spray.

3.  Grill salmon for about 1-2 minutes, until top is starting to look opaque.  Turn over and grill for another minute or less.  Transfer to a plate and let sit for a few minutes.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dinner, Fish

Creamy Pesto Sauce

creamy pesto ravioli


When it comes to gardening, my thumb is pretty much black.  The one thing I have success with every summer, though, is basil.

This is only a fraction of basil leaves on my plants!

This is only a fraction of basil leaves on my plants!

And everyone knows, the best way to use copious amounts of basil is to make PESTO!  I make a lot during the summer and freeze it for future use.  When freezing, the one thing you want to remember to do is omit the cheese — it messes up the texture.  Then after the pesto is thawed and heated, add grated parmesan to it.

Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, which can be really expensive. I buy the Chinese ones instead of the Spanish ones.  Also, you can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts if the price is too great in your area.

Mmm.  Toasted pine nuts!
Mmm. Toasted pine nuts!

You just process the nuts with basil, garlic, parmesan, salt, and olive oil, and you end up with a great sauce.  You can also thin the sauce with some hot pasta water (from the pot you boiled your pasta in).

pesto with pasta

With some extra grated parmesan of course!

I also love pesto on sauteed zucchini “pasta”.  You may like this low carb alternative.

pesto with zucchini slices

Another great pesto sauce is a creamy version.  Heat cream cheese and milk in a sauce pan, whisk until smooth, and then whisk in about 2 large spoonfuls of pesto.  It makes a wonderfully creamy pesto sauce that is not as rich and fattening as one made with heavy cream.

creamy pesto ravioli2

Which do you prefer?  Regular or creamy pesto sauce?

Pesto Sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup  pine nuts

a huge bunch of basil leaves, washed and dried

2 garlic cloves, smashed

about 1/4 cup olive oil or more as needed

grated parmesan to taste

kosher salt to taste

1.  Toast pine nuts.  I use my toaster oven.  Watch carefully, because they brown quickly!  You could also toast them in a skillet on the stove.  Keep stirring and watch them so you don’t burn them.  Remove from heat and let cool.

2.  Wash and dry basil leaves.

3.  Process basil in a food processor until chopped up fine.  Add garlic and pine nuts and process until fine.  While processor is running, add olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth.  Add grated cheese if you plan to use immediately, rather than freezing the pesto.  Taste.  Add salt if you think it needs it. Or more olive oil.

4.  Cook pasta until al dente. Dress with the pesto sauce — thin if you need to with pasta water.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

1/2 cup light cream cheese

1/4 cup milk

2 large spoonfuls of regular pesto sauce (see above)

1.  Heat cream cheese and milk in saucepan over low to medium heat.  Slowly whisk together until smooth.

2.  Whisk in dollops of pesto sauce.

3.  Serve over you favorite pasta.

40 Comments

Filed under Condiments, Dinner, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Low Carb Mashed “Potatoes”

We’ve been traveling a lot recently (hence the sporadic posting here!) visiting family in Illinois and Long Island.  In Illinois we celebrated my nephew and sister-in-law’s graduations.  So proud of them!  My sister-in-law decided to go back to school to finish her college degree when my niece was two (she will be 21 this year).  She really stuck with it and kept working towards her goal,  while raising three children, and working full-time as a teacher’s aide for several years.  Sometimes she could only take one class a semester.  For several years, she had to take a break from it.  But in the end, she did it! And she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education this summer.

So proud of this woman!!

So proud of this woman!!

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Before all of our travels and family events, I had meant to post a couple of simple veggie recipes that I make daily.  The cauliflower ones are low carb and make a good substitute for starchier vegetables like potatoes.  I tried once to sneak in some cauliflower into my husband’s plate but he wasn’t having it.  He barely tolerates me cooking it, complaining about the smell.  I usually light a scented candle and continue with my cooking.  

I made a hearty meal of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes, but for myself, I made mashed cauliflower.  You basically make it the same way as mashed potatoes.  Just added heated milk/cream, butter and seasonings.

cauliflower

I love the versatility of cauliflower.  I have also used it in place of rice sometimes, but processing it in a food processor and microwaving for about 4 minutes.  

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You process it until it has the consistency of rice.

 

Another great way to prepare it is roasting at a high temperature — around 400F for 20 minutes, flipping and roasting for another 10 minutes.   I can seriously it a whole half of a head this way in one sitting.

roasted 2

For my guys, though, I made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese.  It also was quite yummy.

Silky smooth

Silky smooth

With gravy...

With gravy…

They like it with absolutely no lumps or grainy texture, so I whip the whole batch up with an immersion blender.  It makes it silky smooth!  When Jamie was a baby, I used to make all of his food like this (sans seasonings).  I’d just steam or boil the vegetable and then puree with a blender with some liquid, like milk, water, or broth.  It’s a really easy way to make a lot of baby food.  I used to freeze extra too in ice cube trays.  I’d transfer the cubes to freezer bags, and I’d always have a portion on hand to serve.  Apparently, though, there are some foods, I learned later that you should not make for babies.  Check it out here.

Which do you prefer?  Potatoes or cauliflower?  Do you prefer your potatoes smashed with texture or completely smooth?

Mashed Cauliflower

1/2 head to 1 whole cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

butter to taste

about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup warm milk or cream to taste

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Steam or boil a half or whole head of cauliflower

2.  Process in a food processor.  While processor is on, add some butter, warmed milk or cream to the desired consistency.

3.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower “Rice”

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

1.  Process raw cauliflower in food processor until it has the texture of small grain rice or couscous

2.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cauliflower couscous with butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries

Cauliflower couscous:  I added butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries to the cauliflower “rice”

Roasted Cauliflower

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower washed, and cut into quarters, then eighths

olive oil

kosher salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Slice pieces of cauliflower into 1/4 -inch slices.  Toss in large bowl with olive oil.

3.  Spread on one or two baking sheets in one layer.  Sprinkle with salt.

4.  Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Flip and roast for 10 more minutes.

roasted cauliflower

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan

1 head of garlic

Olive oil

2 lbs. Yukon potatoes, diced

1/2 cup to 1 cup warm milk or cream

kosher salt to taste

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Cut off top of garlic.  Drizzle with oil, wrap head of garlic in foil.  Roast for about 30 minutes.  Unwrap and squeeze cloves out.  Set aside.

3.  Place potatoes in water to cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender.  While potatoes are simmering, warm milk or cream (but do not let boil).

4.  Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Season with warm milk, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and salt, a bit at a time, tasting  along the way.  Stir with a spoon to incorporate.  When you are satisfied with the flavor, whip smooth with an immersion blender or mixer (if you want it perfectly smooth — some people prefer there’s mashed with more texture and feel the smooth way is too “gummy”,  so it’s up to you)!

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Filed under Sides, Vegetables