Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna & April SRC Reveal

I am so excited to share this recipe with you for this month’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal day.  This is the FIRST Lasagna I’ve ever made!  I was really nervous but it turned out to be perfectly creamy, cheesy, and delicious.

The Secret Recipe Club (secretly) pairs bloggers up with each other every month.  We can pick ANY recipe that our assigned blogger has ever made, take it and try to make it ourselves.  Everyone reveals their partner and the recipe on the same day so we can all see what has been made!  This is the third month I’ve participated and I love it.  It’s a great way to meet new bloggers, try new recipes, and get others to try yours too!

This month, I was given the assignment to try a recipe from Holly who is the amazing woman behind the blog PheMOMenon (adorable).  Holly has three kids and the cutest Bulldog puppy, I don’t know how she does it all!  I enjoyed reading her story including how she met her husband-  he was her instructor on her very first skydive… love it!

After browsing so many recipes, I finally had to pick The Spinach Artichoke Crab Dip inspired Lasagna.  While her original recipe sounds so outrageously tasty, I couldn’t cough up enough dough on this week’s shopping trip to buy good crabmeat… so I left that out.  I also didn’t make the full size since I was only feeding three for dinner.  What I ended up with was an amazingly cheesy, creamy, absolutely fabulous lasagna recipe that I am going to make again VERY soon.  WOW!

I do have to thank Holly not only for the recipe but for the boost of confidence she gave me when her post warned me not to be discouraged by the “béchamel” I’d be making.  It was so easy.  Also, I loved her diagram of the lasagna… so cute.

Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna

Recipe slightly adapted from:  PheMOMenon

Ingredients**:

For the béchamel:

3 cups 2% Milk
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Shallot, chopped very fine
4 cloves Garlic, minced or chopped very fine
1/4 cup AP Flour
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 12oz package shredded Cheese- Italian/Pizza mix or Mozzarella, divided (about 2 cups for the sauce and another cup for the topping) 

For the Filling:
1 lb package Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained/squeezed dry (I used fresh spinach, cooked it, and then drained and chopped)
1 12-oz jar Marinated Artichoke, drained and chopped into small pieces 

For the Lasagna:

1 box Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne Noodles 

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x13x3 inch pan with Cooking Spray and set aside.  

2.  Place a dutch oven or large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and melt completely. Add shallots and garlic to the butter and cook for 3 minutes until softened.

3.  (Make the Bechemel! Key here is whisking) Add the flour to the pan and cook while whisking for 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5-7 minutes or until a little bubbly and slightly thickened (the cheese will make it a lot thicker, it will be more of a gravy-like consistency at this point). Whisk in the salt, pepper and red pepper if using.

4.  Remove the pan from the heat and add all but about 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and smooth.  (You’re going to want to go swimming in this stuff at this point.  OMG)  Stir in the drained/dried chopped spinach, chopped artichokes and stir to combine.

5.  I had 15 sheets of Lasagna in my box.  I did mine with 4 layers of sauce, 3 layers of noodles (slightly overlapping), and 1 layer of cheese.  

Order:  Sauce – Noodle – Sauce – Noodle – Sauce – Noodle – Sauce – CHEESE!

6.  Cover the baking dish with foil.  Bake for 50 minutes, then remove the foil and let bake for another 10-15 min to brown the top a bit, depending on how you like it.  Remove the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.  

**Pay attention!**  The original recipe was for two lasagnas which would be way too much for us.  I split the recipe in half.  I totally did not have enough filling.  SO, learn from my mistake (not fatal, but should be corrected) and double the bechemel/filling and use a smaller baking dish in order to have a more perfect lasagna.  Like I mentioned, this is also the first time I’ve ever made one, so there has to be some learning curve, right?!  (I should have listened and just made the whole batch and eaten the rest as dip or with a spoon!!!)

Chop chop

Chop chop

Couldn't you just eat the entire pot just like this?

Couldn’t you just eat the entire pot just like this?

Oven-Ready Sheets are easy to use!

Oven-Ready Sheets are easy to use!

Here's what it looks like coming together...

Here’s what it looks like coming together…

Layers are ready for the oven

Layers are ready for the oven

I made this for Myself, Dave, and our friend Diana and the three of us devoured it.  It is seriously so good.  Like I mentioned above, I didn’t have enough sauce to completely cover the bottom of the dish which made the first layer crispy.  Of course this made it taste freakin’ amazing… but in terms of lasagna, it certainly wasn’t supposed to happen!

I could have eaten this entire sheet...

I could have eaten this entire sheet…

What an amazing dish!

What an amazing dish!

I am a loser and actually googled what to serve on the side of Lasagna... we had a delicious baguette with some seasoned EVOO!

I am a loser and actually googled what to serve on the side of Lasagna… we had a delicious baguette with some seasoned EVOO!

Thanks Holly for such an awesome recipe!!!  I can’t wait to read more of your blog 🙂

Click below to see so many other creative/delicious recipes from today’s SRC Reveal:



Salsa Omelette

I’ve made a couple new exciting discoveries lately.

1.  Happy Hour Oysters are seriously awesome.  Buck a shuck?  I think I will.

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2.  These chips from Trader Joe’s are amazing.  There’s flax seeds in them… so that means they’re healthy.  Yup!

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3.  A guilty pleasure:  The Carrie Diaries.  The prequel to Sex & the City.  I forgot how dramatic high school is, and I LOVE it.

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4.  THIS list of 50 Nacho recipes.

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and 5.  I LOVE corn tortillas.  I don’t think I’ll ever buy any other type again!

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While one might think that corn tortillas = tacos (and they may be right), corn tortillas to me = eggs.  It’s the perfect crispy, salty, warm vessel for eggs.  Goodbye english muffins … hello corn tortillas.

My new favorite thing to do is to saute up one or two corn tortillas (2 are only 80 calories! omg!) with some sea salt and stuff them with eggs.  Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and now even a delicious omelette covered in salsa.

Salsa Omelette

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Butter

3 slices of Onion, chopped

1 Jalapeno, chopped

1 handful Fresh Spinach

1 handful Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half

2 Egg Whites & 1 Egg

1/4 cup Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese

Red Pepper Flakes, Ground Pepper & Sea Salt

1-2 small Corn Tortillas

2 Tablespoons Salsa (I use Jack’s Special from Wegman’s… its the BEST)

Directions:

1.  Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeno.  Stir and cook for a few minutes before adding the spinach.

2.  Meanwhile, scramble the egg whites, and egg into a separate bowl.  Add the water and scramble with a fork.

3.  Switch the heat on the pan to medium so you don’t burn the eggs.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan.  Let sit for about 4-5 minutes.  Make sure to tilt the pan so the uncooked egg covers the entire pan.

4.  With a spatula or silicone scraper, lift the sides of the egg up to make sure it’s not sticking. (If it is, forget the omelet and just scramble it up… it will taste just as good!)  When there isn’t much runny egg left on the top, add the cheese, then lift one side up and flip it on the other (creating a half moon shape).  Let cook for another 4-5 minutes or until it looks like there is no runny egg left.  You might want to put a lid on the pan… it will help with the cooking time.  Season w/ Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes and remove from the pan.

5.  Add a few drops of olive oil to the hot pan and place a corn tortilla or two onto the pan.  Season with sea salt.  Flip after two minutes of cooking.  Add the salsa and tomatoes to the omelette and enjoy!

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Try one of my other favorite Omelettes!

The Ultimate Jewish Omelette

The Ultimate Jewish Omelette

Portobello Omelette

Portobello Omelette

Salami Omelette

Salami Omelette

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry

It’s MEATLESS MONDAY time!!

After last week’s slow cooked Asian Beef was a huge success, I was inspired to find more recipes for my crockpot.  I had been holding onto this Indian inspired Cooking Light recipe since forever ago.  It just sounded so easy- something not typically associated with Indian flavors.

I really, really, really love this recipe.  I actually ended up making it while I was making another dinner so we could eat it throughout the week as leftovers.  While it was delicious when I cooked it up, it got even better when it sat in the fridge and then was reheated. MMM!

Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of ingredients here.  It’s simple:  Chickpeas, Veggies, Spices, and a few Cans.  That’s really all there is to it.

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry

Recipe adapted from:  Cooking Light

Makes 6-8 Servings (Less than 300 calories per serving! OMG!)

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 Onion, chopped

3 peeled large Carrots, cut into circles

1 Tablespoon Curry Powder

1 teaspoon Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced

1 Red Jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and minced

2 cans Chickpeas (Garbanzos)

1 Baking Potato, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1  Bell Pepper, diced

1 cup Cut Green Beans (i used fresh, frozen would work too)

1 cup Cauliflower Florets

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/8 teaspoon (or more!) Cayenne Pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can Diced Tomatoes (don’t drain)

14 oz Vegetable Broth

3 cups or 1 bag Fresh Baby Spinach

1 can Light Coconut Milk

Directions:

1.  Chop all your veggies.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and carrot, cooking for 5 minutes or until tender.  Add curry powder, brown sugar, garlic, and hot pepper.  Stir and cook for another minute.

2.  Place the onion mixture in a crock pot.  Stir in chickpeas, potato, bell pepper, green beans, cauliflower, salt, pepper, cayenne, tomatoes, and broth.  Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or until potatoes and veggies are tender.  

3.  Add spinach and coconut milk.  Stir for a minute, then serve!

Get your veggies sauteed and spiced up

Get your veggies sauteed and spiced up

Here we are before it's cooked for 4-6 hours.

Here we are before it’s cooked for 4-6 hours.

I made ours a little extra spicy by adding some more Cayenne… obviously!  So, this recipe would work with any types of veggies.  I had so many veggies leftover from our trip to the Italian market that I just threw them all in there.  Have fun and get creative here!

I LOVE spinach, so I just threw a whole bunch on there.  It's also so healthy!

I LOVE spinach, so I just threw a whole bunch on there. It’s also so healthy!

This curry would be delicious over Jasmine Rice or Quinoa, but we just ate it plain.  It’s healthy and actually very filling!

The finished product, so creamy and delicious.

The finished product, so creamy and delicious.

This is how it looks as leftovers... mmmm!

This is how it looks as leftovers… mmmm!

Like it hot?  Check out these other Asian inspired spicy recipes…

Thai Chicken & Green Bean Saute

Thai Chicken & Green Bean Saute

Sriracha Chicken w/ Onions

Sriracha Chicken w/ Onions

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Bean Faux-Ritos

I have one more recipe for you this week that I made from my cookbook… I had saved this one from June’s Cooking Light Magazine (my favvv) and the only thing I had to buy was another package of chicken breasts.

The original recipe was supposed to be a Burrito that was folded and grilled in a pan to seal it and make it nice and warm and toasty.  My tortillas that I picked up were too “healthy” for it and I think the Flax seeds and multi-grain factor made the wraps crack when I tried to fold them properly.  Instead of getting all frazzled… we just ate them as a sloppy mess.  I think they may have tasted better 🙂 … but you should use Flour Tortillas if you want to make them into actual burritos as the recipe suggests.

To make the recipe go even farther and healthier, I added an entire bag of Baby Spinach to the mix.  We love doing that- it’s a really easy and delicious way to take a recipe to the next level!

Chicken and Bean Burritos Faux-Ritos

Recipe Adapted from:  Cooking Light

Ingredients:

1lb Chicken Breast, thinly sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 Sweet Onion, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder

1/2 teaspoon Cumin

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt & Black Pepper

1/2 Can Small Red Beans (calls for Black but I didn’t have any left!) rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon Garlic, minced

1 Bag Baby Spinach

2 10-inch Flour Tortillas (I used multigrain from Trader Joe’s which would NOT fold properly)

1/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, reduced fat

Cooking Spray

Fresh Cilantro, Hot Sauce, Salsa  (I used TJ’s Fresh Mild Salsa) & Fat Free Sour Cream

Directions:

1.  Combine chopped Chicken, Onions, Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt, and Pepper in a bowl.  Mix well to combine.

2.  Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan.  Add chicken mixture and cook for 8 minutes while stirring occasionally.  Add beans and garlic- cook 2 minutes while stirring.  Add whole bag of spinach (maybe 1/2 at a time if need be), stirring to combine and wilt spinach.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Remove mixture from heat and put into a bowl.  Clean the pan and get ready to use again if you’re going to be making them into actual burritos.

3.  Put about 3/4 Cup of mixture into the center of the tortilla.  Top with hot sauce, cilantro, and cheese.  Fold the burrito (if you want… if not skip to step 5).

4.  Re-heat the pan over medium-high.  Coat both sides of the burritos with cooking spray and place in the hot pan.  Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until it is browned.  Cut in half.

5.  Top with Salsa, Hot Sauce, Cilantro, Sour Cream, or any other desired garnish.

Ready to heat up the chicken and onion mixture.

Ready to heat up the chicken and onion mixture.

Gorg!  Loving our new Fiesta dishes from my Mommom and Poppop :)  They make everything so pretty

Gorg! Loving our new Fiesta dishes from my Mommom and Poppop 🙂 They make everything so pretty

So in typical Beth fashion, I put too much hot sauce on my Faux-Rito 😦  I had just opened a bottle of Trader Joe’s Habenero Hot Sauce… and should have known better.

HOTTEST HOT SAUCE!  OWWW!

HOTTEST HOT SAUCE! OWWW!

Beth:  How’s the new hot sauce?  Is it really hot?

Dave:  No, not at all.

Beth:  Even with it being Habenero??!

Dave:  Habenero is just the flavor, it’s really good, not too spicy.

Beth: (as I liberally shake some ontop of my entire meal) That’s weird, Habenero Peppers are usually really ——- (I take a bite) SPICY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Typical, typical.  My mouth was burning for maybe a half hour.  Nice.

Destroyed.  MMMMMMM

Destroyed. MMMMMMM

This recipe was great for a late, rushed dinner… it was super easy to make but was a little more special than my typical Mexican Night dinners.  We had about 2 servings of filling leftover which we ate without the tortilla, so you could probably stretch this to 4 servings- or you can use the full can of beans!

 

You may also like these recipes:

Simple Guacamole

Simple Guacamole

Tex-Mex Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Tex-Mex Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Butternut Squash Tacos

We’re back with Meatless Monday!

I can’t believe I was able to wait until today to share this surprisingly awesome meatless recipe with you.  It was so yummy.  It’s meals like this that I’m reminded how fun it can be to cook without a recipe.

This dinner came about last week when I was at the apartment alone and very bored.  I decided to roast the cut butternut squash I picked up from the market earlier, but had nothing to do with it.

I started off by spreading the squash out on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with Pam.  I didn’t know how to season it, so I went with some sea salt and a little bit of black pepper.  I looked up several roasted BS recipes and added a sprinkle of cinnamon onto the squash without realizing that ALL of the recipes included some kind of sweetener… not the type of thing I wanted.  UGH.  I’m stuck with cinnamon and now I have no idea what to do!

I decided to run with it.  Cinnamon could be good on savory squash, right?  Next, I sprinkled some red pepper flakes for good measure.  I can’t make anything anymore without some type of spicy.  Sigh.

After roasting the squash in the oven, I tasted it.  YUMMMM YUM YUM!  It was just a little caramelized on the edges but the inside was soft and creamy.  So good.  The next question became, now what?!

I could have easily stopped there and eaten the entire sheet of squash.  But there was dinner to be made and a hungry boyfriend coming home soon.  Here’s what we ended up with:

Butternut Squash Tacos with Chili Oil Sauteed Spinach

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash (recipe below)

1 teaspoon Olive Oil + another teaspoon for Tortillas

Sea Salt, Black Pepper

1-2 Dried Chili Peppers (you could use red pepper flakes)

1 bag Baby Spinach

4-6 Small Corn Tortillas

Shredded Cheese (I used Red Fat Mozzarella)

Cilantro

Directions:

1.  Heat 1 teaspoon Olive Oil in a skillet.  Add chopped Chili Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes and heat, swirling the peppers around, for maybe a minute or two.  Add spinach and pinches of salt & pepper.  Mix together until spinach wilts but does not brown.  Remove from heat and drain.

2.  Add the 2nd teaspoon of Olive Oil to the pan and place on the stove over medium heat.  Using 2 Tortillas at a time, fry the tortillas in the olive oil, flipping once or twice to get both sides.  Season with just a touch of salt.  Remove onto a paper towel and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

3.  Assemble Tacos!  I used the Cheese first, then the Spinach, Butternut Squash, and topped it off with some Cilantro and Black Pepper.  

*Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash*

Take 1 container of pre-cut Butternut Squash and spread over a foil-lined baking sheet prepared with Pam Spray.  Drizzle or spray with Olive Oil.  Season with Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and Cinnamon.  Lightly stir to spread seasoning.  Bake in a pre-heated oven of 400 degrees and cook for about 15 minutes.  Take the baking sheet out and stir the squash, spreading out again before putting back in the oven.  Mine cooked for another 15-2o minutes, but you can test doneness just like a potato, by sticking a fork in it.  

Just a little preview of our kitchen!  It's so big :)  Stelly is getting settled in.

Just a little preview of our kitchen! It’s so big 🙂 Stelly is getting settled in.

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Squash Tacos

SO, after totally throwing some stuff together, I ended up with a blog-worthy meal!  I ate mine right away and heated up a few later for Dave who loved it too (he was just as surprised as I was)!

The spinach really only had a tiny little kick to it, it was by no means SPICY… which worked exceptionally well with the sweetness of the cinnamon butternut squash.  Oh, and if you haven’t realized, I am now deeply involved in a love affair with corn tortillas. MMM…

Check out these other Meatless Monday Recipes from It’s Good to be the Cook:

Sunflower Seed Purple Pesto

Sunflower Seed Purple Pesto

Portobello Burger w/ Balsamic Glaze

Portobello Burger w/ Balsamic Glaze

And look at Allie from www.allieatfood.com ‘s

Meatless Monday Quinoa!:Allie's Meatless Monday Quinoa

 

 

“Green” Spinach Smoothie

Okay I finally gave into the “Green” Smoothie madness.  Everyone everywhere has been all over Green Smoothies for a while now, and I have been way too intimidated and freaked out by them to try.

Oh yeah… I’ve also been too freaked out by Kale to give that a whirl too.  My boss’s wife convinced me to try to make Kale Chips (if he eats it I know it has to be good)… which was a huge disaster.  They were either burnt or wet and not crispy.  They tasted bitter and chewy.  I think I actually gagged on a piece before I tossed the entire tray.  Gross.

Fresh Kale! My failed attempt at Kale Chips.

For now, a Spinach Smoothie will have to be Green enough for me.  While Kale has these Top 10 Health Benefits:  

Low in Calories/High in Fiber/Zero Fat, Iron, Vitamin K, Antioxidants, Omega 3’s, it can lower cholesterol, it’s high in Vitamin A, C, and Calcium, and finally… it is known to be a great “detox” food.

Spinach has these 11 Health Benefits:

Good for your diet, prevents cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidents, lowers blood pressure, it is good for your immunity, skin, bones, and vision, and the Vitamin K in it helps the process of calcification and brain and nervous functions.

 

Whew!  All of this healthy green talk has got me wanting more now!

 

My First Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 Banana

1 Kiwi

1/2 cup Frozen Mango Chunks (Trader Joe’s… great purchase)

1 HEAPING Tablespoon Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt 

1/4 Cup Juice (any kind!  I used apricot-peach because we had some in the house)

2 cups or handfuls of Fresh Spinach

Directions:  

I like to put my fresh fruit first (banana and kiwi) into the blender.  Then, I put the frozen fruit, yogurt, and juice.  Top it off with the spinach.  It took about 30 seconds or a minute of blending for the spinach to make its way down into the smoothie.  Blend for another minute or two or until the spinach is broken up in the smoothie.  Enjoy!

Smoothie Sunday… I think I will!

Sippin’ my smoothie and readin’ my Rachael Ray… LOVE Sunday Mornings.

MMMM!

 

Okay, so the results were great.  I really liked it!  I like to surprise myself sometimes when I try things I think I’ll hate but end up liking them.  This was one of those times… now I know why everyone’s doin’ the Green Smoothie thing.  It’s great!

While I’m talking here, my co-worker Lori came in and shared a sip of her Kale Smoothie with me… I like those too! 🙂  Thanks Lori!

 

 

Trader Joe’s Carne Asada

Trader Joe’s makes an amazing pre-marinated steak that I love to pick up every once in a while. It’s a great change of pace from my typical asian-flavored marinades I normally use.  This Carne Asada packs a PUNCH of Mexican flavor.  It is a bit spicy but super flavorful.  The steak is also sliced so thin that all you have to do is put it over some high heat (pan or grill) and it’ll be done in just a few minutes.

I cooked this batch up with some Parmesan Garlic French Fries and Sauteed Spinach.

For the Parmesan Garlic French Fries, I took a good ol’ bag of frozen fries my Dad keeps in the house and fried them in a pan with some Sunflower Seed Oil.  I added Minced Garlic, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and some Smoked Paprika.  Once the fries were all crisped up, I removed them from the pan onto a wad of paper towels and shook off some of the oil.  Next, they went into a brown paper bag with a few shakes of Reduced Fat Parmesan Cheese.  I added a few shakes of Sea Salt too.  YUM.  What a great combination with the garlic and parmesan… seriously yum.

The spinach was frozen also, I just took a big hunk of it and threw it into a saucepan with maybe 1/4-1/2 Cup of water.  I let it cook over medium-high heat until all of the spinach “melted” and was stirable.  It is a pain in the ass (using frozen spinach) but you have to drain the water.  I take a colander and cover it with a few layers of paper towels, then use some paper towels for my hands and squeeze it all out.  Careful though, it can be really hot!  When serving, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a few sprays of butter spray, some salt and pepper and another shake of that Reduced Fat Parm Cheese.  That’s all you’ll need!

Deelish! Super fancy on our paper plates 🙂

Thank you, Instagram!