Squash Lasagna

At the season’s end of our last farmer’s market, I decided to load up on a variety of squash. I’ll admit that I am not too big of a squash lover, but I did it for my wife, as she is the one that likes them. But as I stared at the delicata and butternut squash, I decided I would roast both of them. That’s when the idea came into play, probably because I was searching for ideas for dinner and something everyone would love and agree on, and that’s when I thought of lasagna. Lasagna with a twist that is. Who doesn’t love a great dish of lasagna? What no one knew is that I had a good couple of cups of that delish, roasted squash, and ever better I did not tell them until after they devoured a couple of slices. Yep, that’s where my kids are now, two slices, and eating me out of the house.

Squash Lasagna Recipe
Squash Lasagna Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 1 small butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, rubbed onto sliced squashes
  • 9 sheets of lasagna, oven ready, or par boiled
  • 1 lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 2 mild Italian sausage links, casing removed, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/12 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of red chili flakes
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the squashes to a baking sheet, and cook flesh side up for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Once the squash is cooked, scrape out, and mix into a bowl. You will only need about two cups, but feel free to use more or less based on your preference.

Start by cooking both of your meats. Feel free to combine these in a large skillet. Break apart the meat as it is cooking to prevent large clumps. Strain the meat mixture, removing the fat, then return the meat back on the stove on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, the red chili flakes, and the garlic powder. Give a good stir, cooking for a minute or two, then add in your sauce. Stir, and let this reduce down a bit, cooking for about 10 minutes.

To another mixing bowl, add the egg, ricotta cheese, the squash, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and half of the parmesan cheese. Give that a good mix so that the squash is fully incorporated into the cheeses.

Now let’s get to this lasagna. Take a good ladle of your meat sauce, and add to the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add the lasagna sheets. Mine fit three to the pan.

Squash Lasagna Ingredients
Squash Lasagna Ingredients

Next, be generous and add enough of the ricotta and squash mixture to cover the pasta sheets. Lightly sprinkle on mozzarella cheese, then more meat mixture, pasta cheese, more ricotta mixture, more cheese, more sauce, then remaining pasta sheets. Cover with meat sauce, the cover with cheese. Shower with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Spray the back of some aluminum foil with some cooking spray. I’ve found this to prevent all of that wonderful cheese from sticking onto the foil when removing from the oven.

Cover the baking dish, and place into a 375 degree oven, cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

The end result was everything that is wonderful about a great lasagna, but there was that bit of hidden sweetness from the blended squash that made this one even better. After the kids were finished eating (as well as my wife), I said “So how did everyone like the squash?”. They had confused looks on their face, but all replied that they had no clue it was in there, and loved every bite. What’s not to love about that? Gotta get the good stuff in there somehow, I was successful on that front. Hope you enjoy!

Garden Style French Bread

This time of year is a bit saddening in a way. I mean as much as I love the cooler weather, and the colors beginning to change, it is also that time where I say farewell to my garden. As much I has harvested tomatoes, chili peppers, bell peppers, broccoli, and beans, it is that time where I have to pull them all out, most likely in the next week or so.

So this past week I decided to use up some good Italian bread that I thought my boys would devour, but which they did not, and use it up to use up some of my fresh garden items. At first I thought I was going to to bust out some bruschetta, but that’s when I decided to come up with this garden style French bread.

Wow, was this ever awesome.

Garden Style French Bread Recipe
Garden Style French Bread Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of French bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 whole tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Broccoli, quickly blanched, and roughly chopped
  • 2 cup of mozzarella cheese, torn
  • 2 slices American cheese, torn
  • grated parmesan cheese, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.

Divide the garlic and spread on the bottom of each slice of bread. Season with salt and pepper.

Next spread out the American cheese on slices of bread. Next, lay on the tomatoes, and divide the mozzarella cheese between the tomatoes. Layer on the broccoli, and shower each slice with parmesan cheese.

Place onto a baking sheet, and place into the preheated oven, cooking until the cheese is nicely melted, about 14 minutes.

Garden Style French Bread Ingredients
Garden Style French Bread Ingredients

Once the bread is cooked, remove it from the oven, and slice into serving sizes.

The end result is everything you would love about a cheesy garlic bread, but the awesomeness for fresh garden ingredients. So if you are looking for new ideas to use up some of your delicious garden ingredients, give this one a shot. It’s something everyone loved at my dinner table. Hope you enjoy!

Potato, Leek, and Chicken Soup

There were a lot of great things at our local farmer’s market this past weekend. I typically buy things that I may or may not know what I am going to use. Maybe that is a challenge, who knows, but the recent visit I bought a bunch of great potatoes, leeks, and garlic, among a few other items. When I was looking at the produce, I figured I would make a big batch of soup. The weather was getting a bit cooler, so I figured this would be a great time for a nice comforting soup. That’s when the idea of a nice creamy potato, leek, and chicken soup came to mind. Heck, I was probably thinking I wanted a loaded bake potato soup, or a leek soup, or chicken noodle soup, so I decided to bring them all together for the most part, and I’m glad I did. This soup rocked and impressed my soup eaters, that for sure.

Potato, Leek, and Chicken Soup Recipe
Potato, Leek, and Chicken Soup Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 whole leek, thinly sliced, washed
  • 1 whole chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of potatoes, cubed and cooked
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • pickled chili peppers, optional

Start by adding the butter to a stock pot, and melt it on medium heat. Once melted, toss in the sliced leeks. Make sure you wash the leeks after slicing as a bunch of grit typically remains in the leeks.

Cook the leeks for about 5 minutes, or until they are nice and tender. Season with salt and pepper, then add in garlic, cooking another couple of minutes. Add in the cooked potatoes, sprigs of thyme, and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the sprigs of thyme and discard.

Potato, Leek, and Chicken Soup Recipe
Potato, Leek, and Chicken Soup Recipe

Now you have a couple of options at this point. You can blend this mixture in a food processor or blender, or if you have an immersion blender, use that. Blend until you have a smooth mixture, then return back to the stock pot and cook on low.

Add the shredded chicken, and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Taste and season with any additional salt or pepper.

Now you are ready to serve.

Ladle into a soup bowl, and garnish with pickled chilies if you desire (I prefer).

The end result is nothing but pure comfort. The smoothness you get from the soup is perfectly balanced by the shredded chicken, and if you are using any type of pickled chilies, then it gets even better, not only from the heat, but it cuts through some of that awesomeness. Plus, this soup, as noted, brings out the best of all three soups. I hope you enjoy!

Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Recently we went to our aunt’s annual pool party. It’s a blast as usual and our kids love spending all day in their pool, along with eating grilled burgers and hot dogs. Upon leaving their party, I was asked if I wanted a cabbage. I wasn’t about to turn it down, but in all honesty I had no clue what the heck I was going to do with it. So I thanked them for the cabbage, and then thought long and hard what the heck I was going to make with it. That’s when the light went off, and that’s when I decided to make stuffed cabbage rolls. When I mentioned that to my wife, I did not realize how excited one could get over the idea of stuffed cabbage rolls, but low and behold she did.

This was not only a great use of using up a lot of cabbage, but these things were delicious to boot.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls Recipe
Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls Recipe

This recipe is way too easy to make, plus it is one that is totally hearty, great for a busy work week and one that I was able to use up another batch of my tomato sauce.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole head of green cabbage
  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup of onion, diced
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • additional salt for boiling cabbage

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Generously season with salt. Once boiling, carefully add in the whole head of cabbage, and cook for about 4 minutes. The goal here is to soften the leaves, leaving them tender for rolling.

Carefully remove the head of cabbage and remove 6 of the outer, larger leaves. Set aside, and then return the cabbage back to the salted boiling water, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove again, and set the cabbage aside.

Next, make your meat mixture. To a mixing bowl, add the ground chuck, salt, pepper, onions, garlic powder, egg, rice, and worchestershire sauce. Mix well.

Now it is time to roll the cabbage rolls. Take one of the reserved cabbage leaves and lay it on your work surface.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls Recipe
Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls Recipe

 

Add about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into the center of the cabbage leaf. Now it’s going to be like rolling a burrito or egg roll.

Fold over the meat mixture, fold in the sides, and continue to roll. Place seam side down onto a place. Repeat with remaining leaves and meat mixture.

Take the remaining cabbage leaves, about 10 or so, and place onto the bottom of your slow cooker. This helps to prevent the cabbage rolls from burning.

Arrange your cabbage rolls in the bottom of the slow cooker, pour over the tomato sauce, place the cover on, and cook for 6-7 hours. This is a perfect way to cook while you head to work.

Serve each cabbage roll on a plate and spoon over any additional tomato sauce.

These cabbage rolls rocked. Not only were they super tender on the inside, but the cabbage lent the perfect vehicle for stuffing. Was my wife still excited? You bet, and she even took one the next day for lunch, they were that good.

If you are looking for an easy meal, and have some cabbage laying around, give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!