31 December 2013

Baked Portobello Parmesan

What an awesome meal. Let me start by saying even if you're not the biggest fan of mushrooms, you will still probably like this! One of Will's friends was here and stayed for dinner. He usually stays away from mushrooms, but thought these were super good! You bread the mushroom caps (no frying!) and they get so crispy and amazing. 

1/4 c Italian-style bread crumbs
1/4 c Panko
1 c  freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 c fresh minced parsley, divided use

2 tsp salt, divided use
3/4 c egg substitute
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano leaves
4 large (5 to 6-inches wide) stemmed portobello mushrooms, brushed clean (mine were slightly smaller so I made six)
1-1/2 c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 c marinara sauce
cooking spray

Position a baking rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. Mist rack with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine bread crumbs, Panko, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp parsley, paprika and 1 tsp salt in a shallow pan. Mix well. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine egg substitute, remaining 1 tsp salt. pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Mix well.

Dip both sides of mushrooms into egg mixture. Dredge in crumb mixture until both sides are completely coated. Transfer, stem side down, to prepared wire rack. Spray tops with cooking spray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and the tops have browned a bit. Remove pan from oven.

Carefully turn mushrooms stem side up. Cover each mushroom with remaining Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce. Spray tops lightly. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts and mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes. I broiled for a minute or so. Use a wide spatula to transfer mushrooms to a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!

Original recipe found here.

We had these with roasted broccoli and these zucchini rolls. I didn't have a recipe for these, but I had seen a picture of something similar. I used a mandolin to slice the zucchini thin lengthwise. I broiled the zucchini for about 3 min per side, then I put them on paper towels and tried to soak up as much water as possible. I spread a little laughing cow cheese, rolled them up, secured with toothpicks, then heated up. I just put them in the 350 degree oven for about 7-10 min. DELICIOUS. 

29 December 2013

Spaghetti Squash & Peppers in Creamy Tomato Sauce

Obviously I'm obsessed with spaghetti squash. I came up with this recipe on my own, because I was limited on what I had and needed to use some things up. I had half a bag of sweet mini peppers, half an onion, and a spaghetti squash. I was going to combine that and make the skinny alfredo sauce (from Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo), but I know Will prefers tomato-based sauces, while of course I love creamy sauces. I compromised and mixed the skinny alfredo with some marinara to make a delicious creamy tomato sauce! I love the flavor the peppers gave to the dish. Winner!

1 large spaghetti squash, baked/shredded (See Spaghetti Squash Mac & Cheese to see how I prepare my spaghetti squash)
1/2 large onion, minced
1 1/2 c diced sweet mini peppers (about 14 peppers)
olive oil spray

1 tbsp light butter
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c skim milk 
1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese (I used Garlic & Herb)
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt/pepper, each
1/2 c marinara sauce
crushed red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, green onions (optional, for garnish)

Place cooked & shredded spaghetti squash in a large bowl. Spray a skillet with olive oil spray and heat over med-high. Cook onions and peppers for a few minutes until slightly soft. Add to bowl with spaghetti squash.

Now prepare your sauce. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a sauce pan over med-high heat. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add flour and mix with a whisk. Slowly add the milk next, while stirring with whisk. The chunks of flour/butter will melt. 

Once the milk is warm, add the wedge of Laughing Cow cheese. Continue stirring and let the cheese melt. Heat the sauce until boiling, but stir the entire time. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Next add the marinara sauce. Stir well, then pour into the bowl with the spaghetti squash & peppers. Mix it all together and pour into a greased 9x13" dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min. Enjoy!!

I made the Roasted Parmesan Green Beans to go with this.

Baked Butternut Squash Fries

I had some of my mom's butternut squash sitting on my counter for a while... I came across this recipe for fries on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. Really good! They get crispy like real fries.

butternut squash (the longer the trunk of it the better for getting more fries. I used 1 small squash, but I was just making enough for myself. You can use however much you want.) 
salt (coarse sea salt is best)
parchment paper

Pre-heat the oven to broil. My oven has low and high broil options, I used low.

Using a a strong vegetable peeler or knife. Peel the outside of the squash. Cut off the bulb shaped part of the squash. Cut the long part of the squash into skinny even fry like strips. They should be as uniform as possible for best results. If you make thicker fries you may need to bake them after the initial broiling at 400 degrees or until done.

Lay the fries out on a paper towel. Sprinkle evenly with FINE salt and let sit for 30 minutes. This helps the squash to 'sweat' and pull some of the water out. When they are finished sweating pat dry.

Place the fries on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Broil the fries for a few minutes on one side. You want them to start getting a little bit of  a 'skin' but not to burn. Take the pan out of the oven and using a spatula flip the fries over. Do the same for this side. You will need to keep broiling and flipping a few times to ensue even browning and dryness. 

Everybody's oven is different, so cooking times will very. For this reason, it is normal to have some of the fries burn (the smaller thinner ones of the bunch, that's why uniformity is so important). You can take out the fries that finish early and continue to flip and broil till they are done.

If you find that your broiler is too hot, you can lower the oven rack. Just remember, the goal is to cook the fries quickly (as you would in frying) That way the inside doesn't have time to get mushy. 

Butternut squash can burn easily, so toward the end of cooking keep a close eye on them or you will end up with a heap of charred squash. But don't take them out too soon either, be patient enough to let them get browned.

When finished sprinkle lightly with salt. Cool the fries slightly on a paper towel, spreading them out so they are not laying on top of each other. This will make them get soggy. Eat and enjoy!

Original recipe found here.

Oven Fried Eggplant

I didn't expect this recipe to be so good! These get nice and crispy. I always thought my favorite way to eat baked eggplant was with tomato & Parmesan on top... but this is equally delicious!

1/2 c fat-free mayonnaise
1 tbsp minced dried onion
1 lb unpeeled eggplant, sliced (1/2 inch slices) (I always peel my eggplant)
1/4 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/4 c Panko
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
cooking spray
Combine mayo & onion, stir well. Spread evenly over both sides of eggplant slices.

Combine breadcrumbs, Panko, cheese, and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl; dredge eggplant in breadcrumbs mixture.

Place eggplant on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. I used a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. 
Bake@ 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Turn eggplant over; and bake an additional 12 minutes or until golden. I broiled mine for about 1 min per side to get them a little more brown. You could also dip these in marinara. Yum!
Original recipe found here.
I made one of my favorites - Zucchini & Carrot Cakes with Basil Chive Cream - to go with these. I also roasted some broccoli.

27 December 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I lost 22 lbs between early July and mid October. Then Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas came along. I weighed this morning and I've gained 5-6 lbs back. What does that mean? I will be buying massive amounts of produce, thus having veggie mania, plus logging everything in My Fitness Pal app again! I set a goal a couple lbs less than what I made it to last time. I feel pretty confident I can do it. There's nothing like putting on pants you wore in May-June, that are 2 sizes too big, and they hang off you. That's enough motivation right there!

In other news, I have 9 glorious days left of Christmas break. Main goal: Complete resume (ugh), and start application process. I am dreading this. I'm very excited about our move to Houston... but NOT excited about the process of getting there. In addition to the application process, I've been doing some major house cleaning... like scrubbing cabinets, floorboards, etc. Ahhh, the joys of getting a house ready to sell!


Wow, that was like a journal entry above. Sorry about that. Let's get to THE RECIPE!! Y'all, this was seriously good. First of all, this was my first experience with a head of cabbage. I've always bought the shredded cabbage if I needed any. It was super easy to use it and then I cut up the leftovers. Also, the recipe called for raisins... I didn't have any so I used dried cranberries instead. Delicious! Don't leave them out. This is kind of like a mini meatloaf wrapped in cabbage! You can also prepare this beforehand, then just drizzle the tomato sauce mixture over the top when ready to bake.

olive oil spray
1 c diced onion
1 medium head green cabbage
1 lb lean ground beef (I use the 96/4%)
1/2 c cooked rice (I used some brown minute rice)
1/4 raisins (I didn't have any, I used dried cranberries)
1 tsp salt
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 c fat-free beef broth
1/2 tsp paprika (I used 1 tsp, we like spice!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13" dish with cooking spray. Spray a medium skillet and heat over med-high heat. Add the onion, cook about 5 min, then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Using a small, sharp knife, cut in a circle all around the stem of the cabbage and remove the core. Place the cabbage in the boiling water. After about 2 minutes an outside leaf will come loose--pull it off and out of the water using tongs. After another minute the next leaf will come loose. Remove and repeat until you have 8 to 10 leaves. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels. Cut out the thick part of the rib from the bottom of each leaf, but don't cut more than a third of the way into the leaf.  **This was so much easier than I thought it would be. 

In a large bowl, combine the beef, cooled onion, rice, raisins, and salt - I used my (clean!) hands. With the stem side of the cabbage leaf facing you, place about 1/3 cup of the beef mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom edge over the mixture and then fold the sides over and roll into a little packet. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish.
In a bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, broth, and paprika. Pour evenly over the cabbage rolls. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
Original recipe found here.
After I peeled 8 cabbage leaves off the head of cabbage, there was enough left over to make a side out of it. I immediately took it out of the water, easily chopped it up, let it dry, then just sauteed it with a little light butter & olive oil, plus salt, pepper, and garlic powder. We drizzled some of the tomato sauce from the cabbage rolls over it. Delish!!

I also made some mushroom pizza bites. They are just baby bellas, stems removed. You bake the mushrooms for about 7 min @ 350 degrees. Then pull them out, add a little marinara, part-skim mozz, sliced olives, and turkey pepperoni. Broil on low for a few minutes. Mmmm.

25 December 2013

Slow-Cooker Breakfast Casserole

For the last few years, I've made these amazing Sticky Buns for Christmas morning breakfast. This year I wanted to try something different. It was a success!! It smelled delicious and was just perfect when we woke up.

If you have a big crock pot (6 quarts or so) you will probably want to follow the original recipe. But the site said you can't make it in a smaller crock pot because it won't fit. I think my crock pot is somewhere around 3-4 quarts, so I just (kind of) halved the recipe. Below I posted how I made the casserole in my crock pot.

20 oz hash browns (I used a bag of the shredded "Simply Potatoes" hash browns, near the eggs - you can also use frozen, shredded or cubed)
12 oz ground sausage, browned (we used the reduced fat kind)
1 c shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1/2 c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
8 eggs
1/4 c skim milk
1 tsp salt/pepper, each
additional seasonings (use whatever you like, I also used some seasoning salt, this stuff called bacon salt, and some parsley)

Spray a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes on the bottom of slow cooker. 
Top with half everything else: the sausage, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, onions, and red peppers. Repeat the layers again, and then top with the last 1/3 of potatoes.

Beat eggs, milk, and salt, pepper, and other seasonings in large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over potato-sausage-veggie mixture.

Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours or on high setting for 4 hours or until eggs are set. Sprinkle a little cheddar over the top, let it melt, and enjoy! 
Top with green onions, salsa, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado- whatever you like!

Original recipe found here.

Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites

I think I have gained a solid 5 pounds alone just by eating these!! They are DELICIOUS! I rarely make desserts, but I gave the gingerbread cheesecake bites to my team, and I made the Reeses Bites (see the end of this post) for Christmas. I have eaten way too many of both! Operation Veggies happens tomorrow. ;)

1 (30 oz) package Pillsbury Gingerbread Cookie Dough (refrigerated section)
4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll two teaspoons of cookie dough into a ball for each cookie. Place balls of dough into paper liners mini cupcake/muffin pan. Make a well/indentation into each ball of dough with a flour dipped mini rolling pin or the back of a measurement teaspoon. Bake for 9 min. The dough will rise a lot. I just pushed the indention back down and baked about 3 more min. Let cool a little bit while you make the frosting.
Beat room temperature cream cheese with powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla. Place filling into a piping bag, cut off edge of bag. Place one teaspoon or so of filling into each area of cookie dough. Then I placed mine in the fridge to help harden the cream cheese.
Original recipe found here.
This recipe inspired me to try something similar! I used peanut butter cookie dough and Reeses cups instead of gingerbread & cream cheese. You make them the exact same way, just with peanut butter dough and Reeses! Very tasty.

11 December 2013

Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup

I noticed I hadn't posted since Nov 29. I've been cooking tons - just not trying many new recipes. But I did tonight and it was a success!! (Last night's Skinny Chicken & Dumplings was good, but not good enough to post!).

This is like a stuffed pepper, in soup form! VERY tasty. I browned the ground beef and put everything together in the crock pot the night before. So this morning all I had to do was move it from the fridge to the crock pot, and set the timer! So awesome.

1 lb lean ground beef (I used Laura's Lean Beef 96/4%)
1 small onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
29 oz (2 cans) tomato sauce
29 oz (2 cans) petite-diced tomatoes
3 beef bouillon cubes
2 c water
1/2 tsp salt/pepper, each
1 bag instant rice (I used the Success brand brown rice)
shredded part-skim cheese (optional)

Brown the ground beef. Add ALL ingredients --except rice-- to your slow cooker. Cook on Low 5 hours. Remove lid and pour in the bag of instant rice. Replace lid and let cook about 30 more minutes. Top with cheese if you'd like, and enjoy!

Original recipe found here.