Vegetarian Lasagna

If you like lasagna but think meat lasagna is just too heavy for you this is the recipe for you. Can be prepared ahead of time. Adapted from Family Vegetarian Cooking by Good Housekeeping. See notes at bottom.

Serves: 6-8, depending on serving size
Required Equipment:
Large skillet
13″ x 9″ glass baking dish (or equivalent)
Large bowl and spoon
Large pot
Knife and cutting board (for prep work)
9 lasagna noodles
8 oz portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 bunch spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs basil, fresh chopped or dried
2 tbs parsley, fresh chopped or dried
15 oz ricotta
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes (or around 2 cups tomato sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
A dash of nutmeg
~1 tbs of olive oil (for sauteing)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Cook noodles, rinse with cold water, and set to dry flat (so no wrinkles or folds form).
3. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add mushrooms and onions. Saute until soft, around 5 minutes.
4. Add zucchini, attempting to separate slices as you cook, and saute until soft, and still colorful, about 4 minutes.
5. Add spinach and tomatoes and cook until spinach wilts and most of the liquid has evaporated, around 2-3 minutes. If vegetables are not soft and liquid is gone continue to saute until soft.
6. Add garlic, parsley, basil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, and cook until garlic is fragrant, around 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
7. While vegetable mixture is cooling mix the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, milk, nutmeg, and 12 tsp salt and pepper in a bowl.
8. Add half of vegetable mixture to glass baking dish, spreading out evenly.
9. Add a layer of noodles and half of the cheese mixture, spreading out evenly. Top with half of your crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce).
10. Add another layer of noodles and top with rest of vegetable mixture, spreading out evenly.
11. Add the last layer of noodles and finish with remaining cheese mixture, spreading the remaining crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce) on top.
12. If immediately cooking bake on middle shelf for 25-30 minutes. If being prepared after refrigeration cook for 35-40 minutes.
13. Cool for 10 minutes to minimize burns and maintain the best structure when served.

I don’t particularly like store-bought tomato sauce. I think it’s too sweet and I pretty much hate sweet things mixed in with my savory things. As a result I’ve developed the habit of using crushed tomatoes whenever a recipe calls for tomato sauce (unless I have some home made sauce lying around). If this isn’t a problem for you for whatever reason I would advocate using tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes.


Maiden’s Bruschetta

This is not a traditional bruschetta recipe. This is the result of me making something from an idea based on a half-remembered picture and then my sister and me adjusting it until it suited us. Easy to make. See notes at bottom.

Serves: 2 as a light meal or 4-6 as an appetizer
Required Equipment:
A large baking sheet
Spoon or basting brush
A cutting board and knife (preferably a bread knife)
1 mini-baguette
1 15 oz can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (or diced tomatoes, or one fresh diced tomato)
~4 oz of feta, crumbled
~1 loosely packed cup of baby spinach
Basil (fresh or dried)
Garlic powder
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Slice baguette so slices are about 1 in thick. Arrange on baking sheet.
3. Brush or drizzle olive oil on each slice of bread.
4. Sprinkle garlic powder and oregano across each slice of bread. If using dried basil sprinkle this too.
5. Distribute tomato across bread slices. If using can tomatoes you might have a little left at the end.
6. Distribute feta across bread slices.
7. If using fresh basil distribute across bread slices now. Top with several spinach leaves. (Remember that spinach shrinks when cooked.)
8. Place baking sheet in oven and cook for around 7 minutes, or until spinach leaves begin to turn crisp and feta begins to melt. Is best served warm but can also be eaten at room temperature.

My bruschetta recipe is not an exact science and lends itself well to modification. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
It’s not the end of the world if you put the ingredients on the bread in the wrong order, but it’s certainly more inconvenient.
Italian seasoning works well for the base seasoning as well.
I have also made this recipe adding diced onions, but my sister doesn’t like them as much so I generally leave them off.
If you sprinkle olive oil over top the bruschetta before putting it in the oven the spinach tends to take on a bitter taste, so I would advise against it.

French Toast with Quick Compote

French toast is a very easy breakfast that can easily be made healthfully. This is my version. I usually serve with home-made whip cream. See notes at bottom.

Serves: One
Required Equipment:
A small or medium skillet
A spatula
One glass baking dish or other rimmed, flat-bottomed dish big enough to hold at least one slice of bread
One microwave safe bowl, large enough to hold fruit
A microwave (for the compote)
Two thick, medium slices of bread or one thick, large slice
One large egg, beaten
A cup of frozen berries OR a cup of sliced fruit
2 tbs of sugar or other sweetener
1 tbs of butter or margarine
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of allspice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

French Toast:
1. Mix 1/2 tbs of sugar (or other sweetener), cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla extract with beaten eggs in the glass baking dish.
2. Place bread in egg mixture. Wait several seconds, about 30, then flip.
3. Heat butter or margarine in skillet until it begins to bubble.
4. Place egg-coated bread onto skillet.
5. Flip French toast when the egg coating beings to turn golden-brown and all of the egg looks cooked, several minutes.
6. When remaining side is golden brown and all of the egg looks cooked remove to plate. Serve with compote (and any other desired toppings).

Quick Compote:
1. Pour fruit into bowl. Add 1.5 tbs sugar or other sweetener and microwave on high for one minute.
2. Stir fruit and microwave for an additional minute. Serve on top French toast.

The basic components of any French toast are thick slices of bread coated in egg and then cooked in a skillet until golden brown. Pretty much any bread will work for French toast, though more savory breads like onion breads tend to result in more in-congruent flavors. I usually use a simple multi-grain bead. Beer breads do not make good French toast.
The longer you leave your bread in the egg mixture the more egg it will soak up. If you prefer a more egg-soaked bread you can use two eggs (one for each slice) and simply leave it in the mixture for twice as long. Likewise, if you forget about your bread in the egg mixture for too long you wont have enough egg to coat the other side.
If you find that your berries or fruit slices are too big for this recipe try cutting them into smaller pieces after the first bit in the microwave. This may help. Additionally, all microwaves are different and you may have to adjust your settings or times appropriately.
Frozen fruit are used for the compote to ensure a nice pool of juices to soak into the bread.

Yellow Squash, Zucchini and Onions

So simple a side-dish I’m almost afraid to call it a recipe. My go-to side whenever I feel like dinner needs a few more vegetables. See notes at bottom.

Serves: Four (as a side)
Required Equipment:
Large skillet
Cutting board and knife (for prep work)
A spatula or large, heat-resistant spoon
2 medium yellow squash, chopped (such as crookneck squash)
1 medium-large zucchini, chopped
1 small or half a large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs olive oil

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
2. When oil is hot add garlic and onions. Saute until garlic begins to turn golden.
3. Add squash and zucchini. Saute until soft, around 10 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper. Serve.

I have come to realize that not everyone loves garlic as much as me. If you’re not all that fond of garlic you might want to cut down the garlic cloves to one. If you love garlic as much as mean you might want to up it to three.

Spinach, Feta, and Basil Stuffed Chicken

An easy, simple recipe I created when I felt there wasn’t enough feta in my life. I usually serve this with a multi-grain bread and sauteed yellow squash and zucchini. See notes at bottom.

Serves: Four
Required Equipment:
A roughly 9×12″ glass baking dish
A meat mallet
A cutting board and knife (for prep work)
~1.5 lb chicken breasts
Handful spinach, stems removed (preferably baby spinach)
1-2 tbs fresh basil (can substitute dry if necessary)
1.5 cups (~4 oz) feta, crumbled
2 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes (I prefer the Italian style)
2 tbs Italian seasoning
A pinch of salt and pepper
Wooden or bamboo toothpicks (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Trim fat off chicken, butterfly, and pound flat to around 1/2 in thickness.
3. Layer one half of each flattened breast with feta, basil, and spinach, leaving the other half bare.
4. Fold bare half of breast over the stuffing and pin in place with toothpicks.
5. Sprinkle top with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
6. Place in glass baking dish and cover with the stewed tomatoes.
7. Bake (uncovered) for 25-30 minutes. Remove toothpicks and serve.

If you’re having difficult folding the flattened breasts over the stuffing you can simply cut the different sides in half and make it as if it were a sandwich, where the chicken is the bread.
If you don’t have or don’t like stewed tomatoes for whatever reason an earlier version of this recipe didn’t use them at all. However, they help keep the chicken moist, so if you choose to leave out the tomatoes you should cover the chicken while cooking it.