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Italian Sausage Lasagna

9 Oct

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of lasagna.  I’ve never ordered it out, never plan to…in fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time I even tasted a bite.  But after a long day at clinic, the husband was in the mood for something hearty.  In an attempt to please, I pulled out a cookbook we received as a wedding gift from a sweet friend, flipped through a couple pages, and voila! dinner. 

From here on out, folks, y’all can call me Garfield; this dish made me puuuuurr.

1 lb Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp dried parsley flakes, divided
1 (14 1/2 oz) can whole tomatoes, chopped and undrained
2 (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
12 dried whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 (15oz) carton low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1.  Remove and discard the casings from sausage.  Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until sausage crumbles; drain.
2.  Stir in 2 Tbsp parsley, tomatoes, and next 4 ingredients; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
3.  Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.
4.  Combine remaining 1 Tbsp parsley, ricotta cheese, 1/4 c Parm, and oregano; set aside.
5.  Spread 1c. meat mixture in a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish.  Top with 4 noodles, 1c ricotta cheese mixture, 2/3c mozzarella cheese, and 4 more noodles.
6.  Spread remaining ricotta cheese mixture over noodles, and top with 1c meat mixture, 2/3c mozzarella cheese, and remaining 4 noodles.  Top with remaining meat mixture and mozzarella cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
7.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly.   

Tortilla Soup

23 Aug
The school year has officially begun. That means that when I arrive home, I’m tired AND hungry.  Behold! A reeeally easy dinner that will make your family and friends think you’re a rockstar.  Perfect ending to a busy day.
1 small onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded & chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 lbs cooked shredded chicken (3-4 boneless breasts)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 (16 oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 (10 oz) can Rotel
1 (10 oz) can beef bouillon
1 (10 oz) can chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can tomato soup
1 1/2 c water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
6 corn tortillas halved, then cut into 1/2 in strips
1/2 c grated cheddar cheese 
Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot.  Saute the onion until translucent (a couple of minutes).  Add the garlic, jalapeno, and chicken. Stir and continue cooking for several more minutes.  Add tomatoes, soups, water, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for one hour.  Add tortilla strips and cheese.  Cook for 15 minutes. 
Top with cheese and avocado chunks.
Holly’s Notes:
**This soup is excellent the next day for lunch.  If you are a teacher, all the other peeps in the lounge will be
***For all of you who cook ahead and freeze meals, listen up.  I have doubled the recipe and frozen it before.  However, the tortillas (sadly) did not survive the freeze…they were mushy. Yuck.  Next time I’m planning on preparing the soup through the simmering step, cooling it down, and popping it in the freezer. When we finally decide to eat it, I’ll heat it up and then add the tortillas and cheese.

Chicken with Avocado and Roasted Red Pepper Cream

13 Aug
If computers had scratch-n-sniff capabilities, now would be the time to use them; this dish smells incredible and tastes even better.  Be careful who you serve this to though…they’ll want to marry you. Seriously. It’s that good. 
3 red bell peppers
1 c uncooked long-grain rice
2 c heavy cream, divided
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 avocados
1/2 c sour cream
Preheat oven broiler.
Quarter the red peppers removing the seeds and place the peppers flesh-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet (about four slices per pepper). 
Char skins until blackened.  (Disclaimer: this is not the part of the experience that smells good. You’re burning food for crying out loud! Be patient. Goodness is on her way.)
Now when I say “blackened”, I mean seeeeriously dark.  If you take them out prematurely, it’s much harder to remove the skins.
Remove peppers from baking sheet and place in a plastic bag.  Close tightly and allow to steam for 10 minutes. 
Cook rice according to package directions.  When the rice is cooked, remove from heat and keep warm.
Carefully remove peppers from the bag.  When peppers are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard charred skins. 
Coarsely chop the peppers. (YUM.)
Combine the peppers and half of the heavy cream in a food processor (or blender).  Process until smooth.  Stir in remaining cream. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken until brown on both sides. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Pour cream mixture over chicken.  When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a vigorous simmer.  Cook until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 20-30 minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste. 
Just before serving, peel & thinly slice the avocados.  Remove chicken from the sauce and stir in the sour cream.  Serve chicken over rice with plenty of sauce, and garnish with the avocado slices. 

Pasta with Eggplant and Pesto

13 Aug
This is the story of three foods that moved in together and created the most delicious relationship.
Friends: meet Pesto, Pasta, & Eggplant.
For the Pesto:
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic (I don’t believe you can ever use too much garlic; I put in two)
1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2/3 c EVOO, eyeball it
1/2 c grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
Mix all in a food processor (or blender).  If you don’t have either, borrow one from a neighbor.  Store-bought pesto is “ehhh”; homemade pesto is da bomb.
For the Pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted (a palm full) water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta (I used what I had although I prefer penne–you can use whatev, though) and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and save about 1 cup of the pasta water.
Put the pasta into a large serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Toss until coated.
For the Eggplant:
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO over med-high heat. Add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant turns golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Add the pesto and toss until the eggplant is coated.


Add the eggplant mixture to the serving bowl with the pasta and toss until all of the ingredients are coated. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water (if needed). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with extra parmesan…Weesie, are you down wit dat?
Holly’s Notes:
I prefer an all basil pesto, but when I got to my fridge, I realized I only had about 3/4 c of basil leaves. I threw in 1/2 c of baby spinach, and it still tasted great (arugula also works as a substitute).
To toast the pine nuts, arrange them in a single layer in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. They’re done when golden-brown…and you can smell’em. Caution: these suckers burn easily, so watch’em.
Eggplants are a really “thirsty” vegetable, so I often have to add extra EVOO to the skillet as they’re cooking. 
***If you’re like my husband and dinner isn’t complete without meat, I just heated up some leftover chicken I had in the fridge and served it right on top.
*Recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis

Southwestern Salmon Burgers

12 Aug

Colorful, fresh, a little spicy, good for you, AND delicious.

1 pound of skinless salmon fillet
¾ cup blanched almond flour
2 large eggs
1 red bell pepper, diced into ¼ inch cubes
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1 tbsp finely chopped scallions (use the white and green parts)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp grapeseed oil

Rinse the salmon, pat dry, and cut into ¼ inch cubes

In a large bowl, combine the salmon, almond flour, eggs, bell pepper, cilantro, scallions, salt, cumin, chipotle, and lime juice. 

Form the mixture into 2-inch patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the patties for 4 to 6 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the patties to a paper towel-lined plate and serve hot.

I served this alongside a salad and Cilantro Lime rice. Delish!

**I wish I had a picture to show you how beautiful the final product was…but Baby Hunter showed up, and this Auntie wouldn’t set him down to pick up a camera.  By the time I thought about it, all the salmon was gone. Oops!
Holly’s notes: I made this dish with my momma (gluten-free, soy-free, dairy free…) hence some of the unusual ingredients: almond flour, grapeseed oil.  I went ahead and bought a small bag of almond flour as I’ve been trying to incorporate more of it into what I cook. I substituted regular ol canola oil instead of grapeseed. Grapeseed sounds a little too “hippy-healthy” for me. 🙂 You could also use EVOO if that’s all you had.

I didn’t have a red bell pepper on hand, so I used green—they’re always cheaper, anyways.

Instead of trying to skin the salmon myself, I asked my friendly HEB butcher to do it. He gladly obliged.

Bon appetit!

*This recipe is from the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

Gooey Cake

9 Aug

Be warned that this dessert is not for the faint of heart, it’s seriously sweet and rich…and oh-so-good.  I made it for my Momma’s birthday; not a bite survived.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick of oleo – room temperature (I used butter)
4 eggs (2 & 2)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese softened
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350.  Mix cake mix, oleo (butter), and 2 eggs together.  Pour into a 9×13 inch greased pan.  Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 2 eggs together.  Spread on top of the other layer.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Holly’s notes: If you don’t have yellow cake mix, feel free to substitute other flavors. The result is still delicious! Set out the butter a few hours ahead to soften it, but if you forget just microwave it for 10-15 seconds.  Lastly, I’ve made this with and without using a hand mixer—the end result tastes great either way, but it’s much easier with the mixer! Enjoy!