Roasted Eggplant Lasagna

eggplantBake

I love Italian food and I’m a sucker for anything eggplant. The other day, my Swiss cousin said she making millefiore. I asked, “What’s that?” She explained it to me and my mouth just watered. We happened to be texting at midnight (which was about the time she was waking up) so I went to bed hungry. The next day, I ran to the grocery store and bought my ingredients for this tasty dish. I wish I could have eaten this for breakfast, but I waited till dinner before serving. And leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day!

She doesn’t put the ricotta-spinach layer so I couldn’t really call this millefiore. Instead, the best thing to call this dish is Roasted Eggplant Lasagna. No pasta, no flours, no sugar. It’s low-carb, gluten-free, wheat-free, vegetarian, and cheesy good! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

RECIPE

  • 2 large eggplant, sliced thinly (about 1/4″)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen chopped spinach (or use fresh spinach, chop first)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • salt / pepper
  • 1 lb of ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/2 c of grated parmesan and/or romano cheese
  • 1/2 grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 c spaghetti sauce (I used half a jar of Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce.)
  1. Preheat oven at 350*.
  2. Slice eggplant. and lay on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Salt eggplant and roast in oven till they turn brown. (About 15-20 min.) Set aside.
  3. While you are roasting your eggplant, you can sauté spinach with olive oil, garlic, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Let it cool. Then mix the spinach in with ricotta cheese, parmesan/ricota cheese and egg(s).
  4. Grease the bottom of an 8×8 square.
  5. Layer like a lasagna (eggplant, sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, etc.
  6. Top with more tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake covered in foil for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and cook for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
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Cheesy Quinoa Salad

cheesyquinoaA few months ago, I went to an upscale deli and had this beautiful quinoa salad that was so delicious and flavorful. I didn’t know how to reciprocate it since I didn’t know all the ingredients used. But I decided to get creative and try to achieve something close. I call it Cheesy Quinoa Salad because, well, there’s cheese in it. Maybe I should have come up with a different name but, hey, my kids will eat anything that starts with “cheesy.”

This makes for a great gluten-free, vegetarian side dish with dinner or you can eat it by itself for lunch. Filling and tasty!

RECIPE

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of grilled asparagus, zucchini, steamed spinach (or whatever cooked veggies you may have)
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (Not the dry pre-grated that comes in a can but the one that comes fresh in a resealable bag or plastic tub. But you can really use any kind of cheese you prefer: Mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, etc.)
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cook your quinoa following the directions on the package. I cooked mine in my rice cooker using 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water.
  2. While that is cooking, grill or steam your vegetables, then rough chop them in to big bite size pieces. I like to see and bite into my veggies.
  3. After the quinoa is cooked, mix in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from the lemon, and salt & pepper. (You can add red pepper flakes if you want more heat!)
  4. Let the quinoa cool for about an hour, then add the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Add the tomatoes and stir.
  6. Add more olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper depending on your taste.
  7. Serve as a side dish at room temp or cold.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

cauliflowerpizzaDoesn’t this Cauliflower Pizza Crust look like a REAL pizza crust?! I finally found a recipe for this gluten-free, wheat-free, low carb crust that doesn’t turn out soggy and is actually a decent guilt-free substitute for pizza crust. This is based from a recipe from GoSuperSisters.com. The trick is getting ALL THE EXCESS WATER OUT! And it’s best to make this a personal-sized pizza vs. a regular family-sized pizza because then the center will be soggy. I couldn’t bake it longer without burning the edges. And look at those edges! Yup… there is a little crunch with this crust!

RECIPE

Crust:

  • 2 cups of rough chopped cauliflower
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbs coconut or oat flour
  • 1 T Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of dry Italian herbs or seasoning
  • Pepper (optional)

Toppings

  • 2 T tomato sauce or sugar-free pizza sauce
  • 2 T Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • Your choice of toppings
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place cauliflower in a food processor (or in a blender with a bit of water) and process until “riced.”
  3. Put the riced cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
  4. Once cauliflower has completely cooled (a couple hours?), pour the cauliflower “dough” in a clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the excess water out. I’m talking SQUEEZE! There is a lot of water in cauliflower and when you think you’ve squeezed it all out, SQUEEZE some more! You’ll be thankful you did.
  5. Place cauliflower back into a bowl and add your egg white, flour, cheese, garlic, salt, seasoning and pepper. Mix well and form into a ball.
  6. Place the dough on your lined baking sheet and flatten into a round circle with your hands. Place in oven for 15 minutes, then remove and carefully flip (I used another lined baking sheet on top to support the crust and make sure it didn’t fall apart).
  7. Put it back into oven for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown (more if you want).
  8. Once your crust is done, top it with sauce, cheese and any other toppings.
  9. Place it back into the oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is golden.
  10. Buon Apetit!

Italian Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

ItalianStuffedSpagSquashThis hits the spot when you’re craving lasagna! Italian Stuffed Spaghetti Squash uses an alternate for pasta. And the best part is your kitchen smells so delicious –  like you’re baking a tray of your favorite Italian dish. Gluten-free and lower in carbs. So good!

RECIPE

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (or chicken, turkey, pork, etc.)
  • 1 tsp. of minced garlic
  •  1 jar of sugar-free spaghetti sauce of your choice (or make your own)
  • 1 tub of ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
  1. Cook your spaghetti squash per instruction on this link: click here.
  2. While that is cooking, make your meat sauce by first browning the meat and garlic, then adding the spaghetti sauce. Set aside.
  3. When your squash is done, cut it into two halves lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and fill each side half way with ricotta cheese, then top with meat sauce until it’s over-filled.
  4. Top with cheese and place under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  5. Scoop out your servings and enjoy with a side of green salad!

Frittata

frittataI’ve never made a Frittata before. I’ve ordered it from restaurants but I always thought it was just a fancy omelet. I didn’t know you stuck the pan in the oven to cook the frittata. Well, one learns something everyday! Once again, I learned something from Frugal Feeding. The great thing about omelets – and now frittatas – is you don’t need a whole lot of “filling” to make your own creation. You could have an assortment of vegetables and herbs, small portions of leftover meats, and a bunch of different cheeses from various recipes, then BAM! You can make a frittata. And people will think you spent HOURS slaving over the stove making a fancy meal. Ha! Another great thing about frittatas (aside from being gluten-free and low-carb) is that it’s perfect for any meal: breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

RECIPE

  • 4  eggs
  • 1 cup of Parmesan or any kind of shredded cheese
  • an onion, sliced
  • 2 mushrooms, sliced
  • diced leftover roasted chicken
  • 3-4 tomatoes, quartered or halved
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, washed
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp. of  butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat over at 350˚F.
  2. Heat the butter with olive oil in an oven-proof pan. Sauté the onions, chicken and mushrooms.
  3. Whisk the eggs and half the cheese together. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  4. Add the tomatoes and spinach to the pan (or whatever ingredients you are using), spreading them evenly. Add the egg mixture and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
  5. After the egg has been cooking for 2-3 minutes, place the pan in the oven and cook it until golden brown on the top.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Pasta Alternative: Zucchini Noodles

zucchini_noodlesI’ve been seeing this pasta alternative Zucchini Noodles on a couple of other food sites and had to try it. But first, I had to find the tool. It’s called a julienne peeler and I found mine at Bed Bath & Beyond. It looks like this:

mak-200515_2Like spaghetti squash, it doesn’t taste exactly like pasta, but it is a healthy side dish that’s a really good gluten-free, low-carb substitute. And once you season it and eat it with your protein, you’ll forget that it’s not real pasta. Well, maybe you will, but you’ll feel good after eating zucchini and your body will thank you.

How to Cook

  1. Wash your zucchini and shred noodles using your julienne peeler.
  2. Blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil or butter, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you wish.

Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken

garlic_parm_chixMy kids LOVE Chicken Parmesan but I hate making it because it’s so time consuming and fatty when you have to fry it oil. Then I found this easy Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken on Allrecipes.com. I made some alterations to make it low-carb and gluten-free, and let me tell you, it turned out delicious! Simple to make, great flavor, and still has that great crunch! This has become a family favorite in our weekly dinner rotation. The kids, of course, have it with pasta and spaghetti sauce, but I really enjoy it by itself with some steamed spinach or grilled zucchini.

RECIPE

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp of dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a pie plate, mix the olive oil and garlic.
  3. In another pie plate, mix the almond meal, Parmesan cheese, basil, and pepper.
  4. Dip each chicken breast in the oil mixture, then in the almond meal mixture.
  5. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish, and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.
  6. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.