Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I tried this for the first time last summer and while I do love traditional lasagna, this one immediately became my MORE favorite one. I love that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand and it is really filling, but quite healthy. I am giving you the ingredients I used this time, but there is a lot of variation possible.

2 small eggplants, sliced into 1/4" slices
2 red peppers, cut into 1" squares
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup sliced carrots
3 heads of baby bok choy, whites and greens separated, whites cut into 1" squares
2 Tlbs olive oil
black pepper
3 roma tomatoes, sliced
1.5 cup frozen corn
10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
grated mozzarella cheese
grated cheddar cheese
small container of low-fat ricotta cheese
6 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1 can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can chopped tomatoes

Put the eggplant, peppers, carrots, bok choy whites, garlic, olive oil and black pepper into a ziploc bag and shake until the oil coats everything. Pour them onto a cookie sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees, stirring thoroughly every 10 minutes. To make the tomato sauce, put the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and chopped tomatoes in a pot with parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer over low for a while. In another pot, boil the noodles until done, then drain and set aside. Spray olive oil into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Using a spatula, spread ricotta cheese on a noodle, then lay in the bottom of the pan. Repeat with two other noodles until the bottom of the pan has one layer. Ladle half of the sauce mixture over the noodles. Scoop half the roasted vegetables on top of the sauce. Layer half of the sliced tomatoes on top of the veggies, then sprinkle half the corn on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle half the chopped basil over the corn, then sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella on top of that. Repeat the entire layer process again, only adding cheddar as well as mozzarella on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.

I originally tried this recipe when looking for ways to use eggplant, which I dislike the smell of. I got the idea for the roasted vegetables from allrecipes.com, but the rest of it is my own. I like the fact that it is full of vegetables and still tastes like lasagna. The original version has other roasted vegetables, like mushrooms, but I used what I had in the fridge. I have never used bok choy in it before, but it turned out ok, although I don't know if I would use it again. I used the bok choy leaves in it as well this time, but I disliked it, so left it out of the recipe above. I have used black beans and loved them as well. Another thing I like is that this is easy to freeze in small portions for lunch.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? I prefer to make my own tomato sauce, but I didn't have enough patience to simmer it down to a thick sauce, so the lasagna was a little runnier than I like. Also, I didn't like the bok choy. Normally, this would be a 5/5.


Crispy Chicken Quesadilla

Recently, a friend of mine got me hooked on Pinterest, and poof...there went several hours. One of the things I pinned recently was a recipe that looked delicious and consisted of ingredients I already had in my fridge. Those are the best kinds of recipes, in my opinion. I didn't change much, and I found the original recipe here.

1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded
1 cup cooked rice
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 chopped green onions
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 Tlbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
shredded Monterey Jack
shredded cheddar
white corn tortillas

Mix the rice, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder together (Alternatively, cook the rice with the spices). Stir in the remainder of the ingredients, except the cheese. Warm up a cast iron skillet over medium or medium low heat. Spray one of the tortillas with olive oil and put it oil side down in the pan. Sprinkle some of the Monterey Jack on the tortilla (not too much or it will melt out the sides). Spoon the rice/chicken mixture on the tortilla out to about 1/2 an inch from the edges all the way around. Then sprinkle a small amount of cheddar on top, and put the other tortilla on top. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, until it is toasted, then spray the top tortilla with olive oil, flip the entire thing over and toast the other side. Cut and serve.

A note here...In the original recipe, she rolled a larger tortilla into a burrito style shape and toasted it closed. When I did that, everything fell out. And then I ran out of whole wheat tortillas, which is what I usually use. However, I had some white corn tortillas left over from the green enchiladas last week, so I used those instead and it turned out pretty good. To flip them without spilling out all the ingredients, I lifted the quesadilla off the pan and onto a small plate, then flipped another small plate over and put it on top, then flipped the entire thing, took the top plate off, and used the spatula to put the whole thing back on the pan. No mess. In the original recipe, she used garlic salt and a fresh lime, but I didn't have either one of those. I think I would add corn next time, just because I like it, but this is pretty good as is. This recipe makes a fairly large amount, about 3 cups of mixture total, but it would be really easy to cut it down. In the original recipe, she said she served 6 people.

Rating 5/5
Why? This is super easy to make, and I almost always have all of these ingredients on hand. I like that it will make a relatively large amount that will sit in the fridge for several days and I can use when I want a quick snack.


Green Enchiladas

My friend's mom came up with this recipe, and Kathleen introduced it to us in college. It is now something that we make every time we get together. This is a somewhat healthier variation on the original. This picture is pretty bad, but it will do. It's hard to photograph these.

** NOTE: all amounts are approximate. Each time I make this it turns out slightly differently, so I add a little of this or that to make it the right consistency or flavor.
2-3 chicken breasts
4-5 cups shredded cheese (Mexican or fiesta mix)
16 oz Greek yogurt (2ish cups), divided
1/8-1/4 cup chicken broth
5-6 jalapenos (or more)
1-2 poblano peppers (sometimes called ancho)
3-4 Tlbs flour
1 tsp salt
white corn tortillas (smallest package has about 25-30)

First, boil or bake the chicken. You could season it if you want, I don't. Let it cool, then shred it and put it in the fridge until you are ready for it. Prep the peppers by cutting the tops off and if you want to, removing the seeds and membranes. In a food processor or blender, put 1 cup or so of the Greek yogurt, 1/8 cup of chicken broth, and all the peppers. Process until smooth. It should be quite green due to the peppers. Pour the pepper mixture into a cast iron frying pan, and turn it onto medium or medium low. As it is heating, add the rest of the Greek yogurt and the salt and whisk until smooth. Sprinkle the flour in, a tablespoon full at a time, until the sauce is just a little thick (so it will stick to the tortillas). Continue to whisk the flour through until it is smooth each time before you add more. If it gets too thick, add chicken broth a tablespoon at a time. When the mixture feels right, turn the burner to low, and let it simmer for a while (15-20 minutes, or until you are ready for the next step).

The tortillas need to be slightly softened before using, so unless you made your own fresh ones, you need to put them in the microwave between damp cloths and microwave 30-40 seconds. Also spray a 9x13 pan with olive oil and set up a construction line with the green sauce next to the pan, and the chicken and cheese close by. Take a tortilla, dip it in the sauce, then flip it over to get both sides with the sauce. Lay it in the 9x13 pan, then put a SMALL amount of shredded chicken down the center, then top with a slightly larger amount of cheese. Roll the tortilla, then shove it to one end of the pan. Repeat the process, shoving the enchiladas close together until the pan is full. If your sauce appears to be running low, add a little more chicken broth and Greek yogurt to the cast iron pan while you still have enough green sauce to mix. When your 9x13 pan is full, pour any remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas, then top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is totally melted and the edges are starting to crisp. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving or it will be a hot mess.

This is a dish that is easier to construct with someone helping you with the assembly line portion. It is so good, and is very easy to make all kinds of variations - more jalapenos for more heat, beans instead of chicken for vegetarian, fewer jalapenos for less heat. As far as the cheese goes, you can buy the fiesta mix, or I mixed monterey jack, cheddar, and mozzarella together myself. I have also made quite a lot of changes from the original recipe in the interests of making it healthier. However, the original recipe called for:
* the tortillas to be quick fried (dipped in hot oil for 5-10 seconds, then drained on a paper towel). I chose not to do this because I was trying to make them healthier, but if you do this, you will not need to soften the tortillas in the microwave and you shouldn't have any problems with them tearing when you roll them.
* 2-3 cans of cream of chicken soup instead of the Greek yogurt. Again, I was trying to make them healthier and Campbell's has a ridiculous amount of salt in their soup. If you use this, leave out the salt and the flour, and you won't need as much chicken broth.

One final note. These get hotter the longer they are refrigerated and are really good as leftovers.

Rating? 4/5
Why? The original, full-fat, unhealthy version is really amazing, so it is hard to make it healthier and still as tasty. But this comes pretty close...close enough for me, anyway. I think the jalapenos I used were WEAK because it was not hot at all, so that's why in this recipe it is pretty important to taste as you go. I put in 6 jalapenos and should have doubled it, and I am not a person who loves ridiculously spicy/hot food.