Spinach and Artichoke Mac & Cheese

I love spinach and artichoke dip and I love mac and cheese – so why not put them together for dinner!!

Spinach and Artichoke Mac & Cheese

Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese

1 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz. bag frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 12 oz. jar chopped (or quartered) artichoke hearts
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 cups milk (I use skim)
1-1/4 cups shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish with non stick spray.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package (I omit the salt). While the pasta is cooking, place a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add the olive oil and then the onions. Saute the onions for about 10 minutes; until they are soft. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 -3 minutes. Add the spinach and artichokes; season with nutmeg and pepper; mix well. Saute until the veggies are warm and well combined (3 – 4 minutes). Place all into a plate and reserve.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain, put pasta back in the pot and then add this veggie mixture to the pasta; blend well and keep warm while you make the sauce.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the butter. When the butter is mostly melted, sprinkle in the flour and, using a wire whisk, mix well. You will have what looks like crumbs in the pan. Let this cook for 2 – 3 minutes, keeping everything moving and letting the pan get fairly hot. Start adding the milk a little at a time, whisking well after each addition and making sure everything is smooth; letting the pan heat back up again before adding the next milk addition (this will help the sauce stay smooth and lump free). Once you have added all of the milk, add in the Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano and whisk until smooth.

Add the sauce to the pasta/veggie mixture and put it all into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of Mozzarella over the top, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, turn on the broiler for about 3 – 4 minutes to brown the top (watch very carefully!!).

 

 

Baked Beans – Slow Cooker

I just recently started making some recipes in my crock pot and I can’t believe I went without it for so long! I love putting it together in the morning and then having a delicious meal at the end of the day. I can work later in the day, still get in a great workout (I just started P90X3…more about that in another post), shower or a hot bath, and then sit down to a yummy hot meal. I’ve always loved baked beans, but I haven’t owned a bean pot in years so I haven’t made them. Give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it.

Baked Beans

Baked Beans

1 pound navy beans

The first thing you’ll need to do is soak your beans. I never remember to do this the night before, so I use the “quick soak” method. Rinse your beans in a strainer; looking for bad beans, rocks, dirt, etc. Dump the beans into a large stockpot and cover with about 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then let them continue to boil for 2 minutes; then take off the heat, cover, and let them sit for 1 hour. After the hour, drain and rinse the beans and they are ready for the recipe.

Navy beans, prepared as instructed
6 oz. can tomato paste, no salt added
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Chicken or Vegetable Stock, low sodium

Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients into cooker; mix well. Add enough stock to cover to about 1/2″ above beans. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 – 9 hours or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours. That’s it 🙂

Curried Lentil Soup

This is a delicious – meatless soup full of protein, fiber, and flavor! Just throw it together into a slow cooker and at the end of the day you have an amazing meal…fair warning….if you are going to be home all day, the smell is going to drive you crazy!!

Curried Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils rinsed
1 can – 15 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 bay leaves

Place all ingredients into a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Stir really well to combine. Cover. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours or until lentils are tender. Yum 🙂

 

 

Chipotle Chili

I found the idea for this recipe a few weeks ago and it took me this long to find “Chipotle” peppers in my supermarket!  I’ve been making my “Kelly’s Famous Chili” for many years and loving it; so I was  a little hesitant to try something completely different. I’m so glad I did 🙂 Eric and I only eat poultry and fish, but my son is a big red meat fan; I wasn’t sure how a vegetarian chili would fare – well it was a hit. It has a great texture (you don’t miss the meat at all), it’s very thick and creamy, and it’s got an awesome slow burn that will have you slightly sweating after a few bites. I hope some of you will give it try and let me know what you think. You will notice that there is no photo, this is because it was so delicious that we all dug in and ate it all before we realized we’d forgotten to photograph it. I’ll be making it again soon and I’ll add photos 😉

**UPDATE** new photo 🙂

Chipotle Chili

1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 – 14-1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 whole chipotle peppers, chopped
1 – 8oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1 – 14oz. can creamed corn, no salt added
1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 16 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained

Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Saute the onions until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and sweet potato and cook for an additional 3 -4 minutes or until the sweet potatoes get lightly browned (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add the chili powder, cumin and chipotle powder and cook for an additional 2 -3 minutes (stir frequently). Add the chicken broth (scrape up any little browned bits on the bottom of the pan – I just learned that these are called “fond” and they are full of flavor). Turn up the heat to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are just getting soft (you don’t want them to be completely cooked). Add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, tomato sauce Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until it begins to thicken slightly. Add the corn an beans. Mix well and let cook for an additional 5 minutes or so.

Spinach & Zucchini Pie – 141

If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know that I LOVE to shop at Whole Foods. The last time Eric and I went there, I may have gone a little overboard with the produce – but everything looked so good! I bought a giant container of fresh, organic baby spinach. My plan was to make a Spinach Lasagna (which I did – it was awesome 😉 ); but Eric had warned me that there was still going to be a LOT left over – I disagreed….OK, he was right. So I had to come up with something delicious that would use up the rest of the spinach…that way I’m still technically right and I didn’t waste any food 🙂

Back in the mid 90’s I spent a bunch of time going to clubs in Salisbury and Hampton Beach (Massachusetts and New Hampshire). My friends and I would go and see either Shockwave or Jet City(our two favorite bands)  at Bevie B’s or the Kon Tiki or Tequila Jacks (oh..the memories 😈 ) and at the end of the night, once the bars closed down, we would very often visit this little pizza place that was on the strip in Salisbury and order a piece of “Spinach Pie”. Those of you from New England know what I’m talking about. I don’t know if it was the time of night or “other circumstances” that made that pie so delicious, but it sure was tasty! I don’t even want to think about how much fat, salt and calories it contained, I was young, having fun, and I didn’t think about such things.

Now that I’m older (and wiser…no wisecracks…) I want that same delicious spinach pie, without the excessive junk. I think this recipe accomplishes that pretty well. I used a whole wheat pie crust, a mixture of fat-free and low fat cheeses, and added in some zucchini for fun. I made it for dinner last night for me, Eric and Josh and we all had it for lunch today – it’s all gone now…I think that says it all 🙂

Spinach & Zucchini Pie

 

1 9″ whole wheat pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome from Whole Foods)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 – lb. baby spinach
1 large zucchini, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 cup fat-free feta cheese
1/2 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 cup egg substitute (or 4 eggs)

Preheat oven to 350°

Heat olive oil in a  skillet over medium heat; add garlic, onion, and zucchini. Saute until the onion is starting to soften. Add the baby spinach in small batches (it will look like way too much, but the spinach wilts down pretty quickly), continue sauteing until all the spinach has been added and is wilted down. Set aside and let cool slightly.

Combine feta, mozzarella cheeses and egg in a large bowl. Add in the cooled spinach mixture and mix well. Pour into the whole wheat pie crust. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

 


Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna – 143

Yesterday Eric and I took a trip to the new Whole Foods that just opened in our area. It’s actually a new location for the Whole Foods that we’ve been visiting for years. Yesterday was the Grand Opening – how could we resist? We made a big list, loaded up the car with our canvas grocery bags and we were on our way!

There was one small crimp in our plan…I had forgotten to write down directions to the new location…ooops 😳 We were almost at the old location when I realized my mistake. Not to worry – I have a GPS and Google Maps on my phone, a couple of wrong turns later and we arrived at our destination. Wow, this place is huge and the parking lot was packed (at 2:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon – doesn’t anyone work any more?).

The first thing we realized when we walked in was that we had no idea where anything was located. Oh well, they had plenty of samples – fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, cheeses….mmmm. As we made our way around this giant food heaven, I started realizing that our cart had a lot more in it than we had on the list – but how can you resist? The produce is spectacular. I found a huge container of fresh baby spinach and I decided that we were going to cook a vegetarian lasagna for dinner! A few minutes later we arrived at the “Olive Bar” and I saw some beautiful roasted red peppers; another great addition to my lasagna.

Once we arrived at home we had the monumental task of putting away all of this good food and then getting in a P90X workout! We did it, a kick-ass P90X+ Intervals workout, followed by creating a huge pan lasagna, followed by a great bath, followed by eating this amazing creation with a glass of red wine – what a perfect ending to the day 🙂

Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna

 

1 – 8 oz. box whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions, no salt
1 – 28 oz. can tomato puree (I finally found a large can with no salt – Dei Fratelli brand)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
6 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fat free cottage (or ricotta) cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fat free feta cheese
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups Mozzarella cheese ( I use 1 cup fat free and 1 cup of regular)
1 large roasted red pepper, sliced into julienne strips

Preheat oven to 375°, spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the tomato puree, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and oregano; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms; saute until onion is soft and mushrooms begin to lightly brown, season with basil and oregano. Add in the baby spinach – you’ll need to do this a little at a time. It seems like a ton of spinach, but once it cooks down it’s just right. Once all the spinach has been added and is cooked down; take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool slightly. In another large bowl mix the cottage cheese, Parmesan, egg, and black pepper; then add in the cooled spinach mixture and blend well.

Now you’re ready to assemble it – put a very thin layer of the puree mixture on the bottom of your prepared 9″ x 13″ pan, followed by a layer of lasagne noodles, spread the noodles with 1/3 of the cheese/spinach mixture, add several strips of roasted red pepper, a layer of Mozzarella – continue until all of the noodles are used up; ending with a last layer of sauce followed by Mozzarella on top. I also added a few last strips of the roasted red pepper on the very top.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour. Take the foil off and place under the broiler for about 1 minute to lightly brown the top. Now the hardest part – let it sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it. 😆

 

 


Mini Pizza – 148

I have to give credit to Eric here, he is my pizza king. These pizzas make a great quick lunch, or (if you can afford the calories) an awesome snack 🙂 We use whole wheat pita bread for the crust, it’s the perfect size, all whole wheat, no fat and it cooks up nice and crisp. If you’d read many of my other recipe blogs, you’ll know that we don’t eat beef or pork…but I’ll bet you’ve noticed there are pepperoni’s in the photo…fooled you…they’re vegan “pepperoni”. I promise you, with all of the other flavors and cooked up with yummy melted cheese on the top, you’ll never miss those greasy, salty, nitrite slices.

 

Mini Pizza

2 whole wheat pita breads
olive oil (in a spray bottle, if possible – here is a link to one on Amazon for about $10)
1/2 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup onion, sliced (sweet yellow is really good, red is awesome)
12 slices of vegan pepperoni (Smart Deli is my favorite)
2 cloves garlic, sliced razor thin (watch “Goodfellas” to observe correct technique)
1 teaspoon fresh basil, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced

Tomato Sauce:

1 eight ounce can no salt tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon each: garlic powder,  onion powder, basil, oregano, onion flakes
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

 

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 500°,  when it is preheated, turn it down to 450°.

Spray a light mist of olive oil onto each pita bread. Spread a thin layer (or more if you like it “saucy-ier”), sprinkle each with about 1/4 of the mozzarella. Add the mushrooms, onion, and pepperoni. Top with garlic, remaining cheese, basil, and oregano. Spray with a light mist of olive oil. Place onto pizza stone and cook for approximately 7 – 9 minutes or until nicely browned.

African Chickpea Stew – 151

I came across this recipe idea totally by accident, it came up in some search results when I was looking for exercises that can help a hernia! It was a link from a link from another link…anyway, long story. The first recipe I saw had some things in it that I really didn’t like, but I loved the idea of a thick stew (more goulash consistency really, not at all soupy) and the combination of sweet potatoes, chickpeas and carrots. I started searching other recipes and I put several ideas together, added more garlic and onion and came up with this.

African Chickpea Stew

 

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
1-1/2 lbs. uncooked sweet potato, diced
1-1/2 cups carrots, diced
2-1/2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 – 15 oz. can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz. can low-salt chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Spicy Sauce
2 bags Success brown rice, cooked according to package directions and drained

Spicy Sauce

4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon All Natural Peanut Butter
1 – 6 oz. can no-salt added tomato paste
1/2 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend into a smooth, thick pasty sauce.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the garlic and onion. Saute until the onion is slightly soft (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add the sweet potato and carrots; season with a little black pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon). Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes (until the potatoes and carrots are done to your liking). Add the Spicy Sauce and blend well. Mix in the diced tomatoes and chickpeas; cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked rice, mix well and enjoy!

 

Zucchini Quiche – 159

This is a really simple vegetarian dinner that comes together really quick, has an easy clean up and tastes heavenly! I like to just have a simple salad with it, and you’re done. My favorite way to make this meal is to throw it together, place it in the oven, and then relax in a hot bath while it’s cooking. The timing is perfect 😉

Zucchini Quiche

 

3 cups zucchini, diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Whole Wheat Bisquick
1 cup Egg Substitute (equal to 4 eggs)
½ cup Canola oil
½ cup low-fat cheese, grated
½ teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350° and spray 9” pie plate with non-fat butter flavor cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. The mixture will be very thick, don’t worry – it supposed to be. (Click on the images below) Pour into buttered pie plate. Bake at approximately 35 to 45 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Mexican Stir Fry – 161

This is one of my favorite recipes. It’s super fast, really good for you and takes very little time to cook. Of course, having my prep cook (I mean sous chef 🙂 ) chopping up the veggies first is a big help! Even if you don’t have your own sous chef, it’s still a really quick meal to prepare and it makes a ton. You can vary the amounts of spices to make it as hot or mild as you like. We like ours pretty spicy!

At less than 300 calories per serving, you can feel good about pairing it with an icy cold beer (or two)!!

Mexican Stir Fry

1 diced green pepper
1 diced yellow pepper
1 diced orange pepper
½ cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup diced jalapeno peppers
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 – 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 bags Success Brown Rice, cooked and drained
1 – 15 oz. can low-sodium black beans, drained & rinsed*
1 – 16 oz. can low-sodium chick peas, drained & rinsed*

Sauté the peppers, onion and garlic in a hot wok (or large saute pan) that has been sprayed with non-fat cooking spray. Sprinkle with spices and continue cooking until the veggies are just slightly soft. Add the jalapeno peppers and saute for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and let cook over low/med heat for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve topped with a sprinkle of Fat Free Cheddar Cheese.

*Variation – when I have leftover Baked Beans (recipe here) I substitute 2 – 3 cups of the leftover beans for the canned beans.