Vegetarian Lasagna

vegetarian lasagna with vegetables and cheese

This vegetarian lasagna is healthy and delicious. The recipe allows you to make ahead an extra one to freeze. Feel free to add any other favorite veggies you like.

Healthy Alfredo Cauliflower Sauce

Ingredients

• 10 large minced garlic cloves
• 2 Tablespoons butter
• 10 cups cauliflower florets
• 13 cups water or vegetable broth
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon pepper
• 1 cup milk
• Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Directions

Saute garlic and butter on low heat until soft. Boil cauliflower in broth until tender; seven minutes. Do not drain. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower and place in a blender. Add one cup broth, garlic, butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend until smooth.

Make Ahead Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients

• 2 packages frozen spinach, chopped (20 ounces)
• Alfredo cauliflower sauce (recipe above)
• 1 cup skim milk
• 2 packages of lasagna noodles (16 ounces)
• 2 pints cauliflower puree
• 2 eggs
• 16 ounces shredded carrots
• 16 ounces fresh sliced zucchini
• 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions

1. Spray two 10 x 15 inch pans with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Put spinach in large bowl. Microwave on high for four minutes uncovered. Mix in the cauliflower puree. Beat the eggs with whisk and then add. Stir until well blended.

3. Combine Alfredo Cauliflower Sauce with milk in separate bowl. Mix well.

4. Spread ½ cup of Cauliflower Sauce mixture on the bottom of each pan. Place three uncooked noodles over sauce. Spread ¼ of the spinach mixture over each pan. Sprinkle each with ¼ of the carrots and ¼ of the zucchini. Place three more noodles on top of each. Cover both with more sauce. Divide the remaining spinach mixture between the two pans and spread evenly. Do the same with the remaining carrots and zucchini. Add three more noodles to each. Reserve a small amount of sauce and divide the remaining between the two lasagnas and spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle both dishes with mozzarella cheese. Spray two sheets of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Place one sheet over each pan with the sprayed side down. Tightly cover.

5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Uncover and spread the last of the sauce over exposed top noodles. With the oven off, return the lasagnas to the warm oven uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve one vegetarian lasagna for dinner (allow to set up 30 minutes) and freeze the other for another evening. All left overs can also be frozen for later.

 

Enchilada Casseroles

Taco Casserole

Enchilada Casseroles are ideal for a family meal any day of the week. It satisfies our craving for spicy food, providing taste and comfort at the same time. This recipe serves 8 people, meaning it is a double batch. You can serve it to fewer people and freeze the rest for future use. It is an easy meal that you can make ahead of time in preparation for weeknight meals.

3 pounds ground beef
1/2  cup of olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
2 cups mild enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
6 tortillas
2 garlic cloves, diced

You can substitute different types of cheeses for the cheddar and Monterey Jack. A mixed cheese blend or muenster cheese will work. You can also substitute other meats for the beef, like chicken or chorizo. Keep in mind that this recipe is mild in terms of spice, so feel free to add more of your own hot sauce, salsa or peppers.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spread the olive oil around a skillet on medium heat. When the pan warms, place a tortilla on it and warm until it is crispy. Cook them one by one and place each on paper towel after cooking.

Next, add the diced garlic and onions to the pan. Once they've cooked, put them aside on a plate or in a bowl. Cook the ground beef in the pan until it is brown. Then remove the beef and drain the fat out of the pan. Return the beef, garlic and onions to the pan and stir them together.

Spray a cooking spray onto a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Then put the enchilada sauce (only ½ cup) into the dish and spread around the bottom. Put 3 tortillas over the sauce. Then add another half cup of enchilada sauce onto them. Put a layer of the onions, garlic and beef onto the sauce. Add a layer of sour cream, spreading it across the top, and sprinkle with cheese. Perform this same layering with 3 more tortillas and the rest of the ingredients for a second layer.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until you see that the cheese has fully melted. An enchilada casserole is something you can make ahead of time and freeze, as it tastes great after being warmed up.

 

Hearty, Healthy Hash

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One of the most delicious and easily prepared dishes for a busy lifestyle is a hearty, healthy hash. The best thing about hash is that you can make it ahead of time and then freeze it in individual packages. To make your hash browns both hearty and healthy, use vegetables instead of meat.

You will need the following ingredients:
– 5 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes
– 3 average-sized zucchinis
– 1 large onion
– 3 red bell peppers
– 1 pound of white bell mushrooms
– 3 stalks of celery
– 4 cups of chopped spinach
– 1/2 cup of olive oil
– 1/2 cup of butter
– Salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried parsley, to taste

Cut the potatoes up into bite-sized pieces, put them in a large pot of water, and bring them to a boil. Let the potatoes boil only for about five minutes, then remove them from the heat and drain. Next cut up the zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and dice the onion and the celery up into very small pieces. Mix all the vegetables together in a large bowl to even distribute everything. Of course, you can substitute other veggies, such as cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

In a large frying pan, heat up the olive oil and the butter. (If you do not have a frying pan large enough to cook everything at once, this can be done in multiple batches, just make sure to split the olive oil and butter up accordingly.) Once it is hot, pour all of the vegetables into the frying pan, mixing them around as you do so to evenly coat everything with the oil. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Allow this to cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes. About three minutes before you remove it from the heat, add the chopped spinach and stir it around. You do not want to overcook anything you make ahead to freeze, so remove it from the heat before the potatoes start to brown. Let it sit in the pan until it is cool.

This will make enough for eight meals serving four people, so have eight freezer-proof plastic containers ready. Evenly distribute the hash browns into the containers and seal them tightly before placing them into the freezer. When you are ready to use them, simply take one out and let it thaw on the counter for several hours, then heat up a frying pan and cook it until the potatoes are brown. Serve it as-is or with a sprinkling of cheese.

 

Yummy Bread to Make Ahead

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There is no need to settle for those unhealthy plastic wrapped bread loaves you find at your local supermarket. It doesn't take a lot of money or time in your kitchen to prepare a make ahead recipe that's delicious and good for your family, which you can then freeze for later. In a few hours time you can create two loaves of Whole Wheat Oatmeal Herb Bread, enjoying one loaf hot out of the oven to accompany a hearty bowl of soup, or freeze both loaves to enjoy in the weeks ahead.

Here's what you'll need on your shopping list:

* 1 cup regular oats, not the quick cooking variety
* 1/4 cup butter
* 3/4 cup orange juice
* 1 1/2 whole wheat flour
* 3 cups all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 2 packages active dry yeast
* 1 whole egg
* 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 teaspoon each of dried basil leaves, dried thyme and dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

You can use 8-inch square cake pans for this make ahead recipe instead of loaf pans. Grease these and set aside while you bring 1 1/3 cup water and 3/4 cup orange juice to a boil, carefully stirring in the oats. Add 1/4 cup butter after removing pan from the heat. Allow to cool.

Now mix 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup all purpose flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Blend in the cooled oats/orange juice mixture and beat well until the dough stiffens. Add enough flour until the dough's consistency is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and put in a large greased bowl, cover and let rise about an hour before turning the mixture into your greased pans.

Score the dough in the pan with diagonal lines, then cover and let rise again until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.  preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Make a cheese-herb mixture by combining the Parmesan with the herbs and garlic salt. Brush about 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the dough and bake about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, brush again with 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkling the cheese-herb mixture on top. Bake an additional 15 minutes until the crust is nicely brown. Place each pan onto a cooling rack for 10 minutes prior to removing the bread, now ready for eating or freezing.

 

Appetizers in Advance

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If you are planning to throw a holiday party this season, you might wish to consider preparing time saving appetizers you can make ahead of time. You will be plenty busy with cleaning and decorating on the day of the party and the last thing you need is having to worry about cooking the entire meal. Of course, you can offer one or two store bought snacks, but it is always nice to mix it with homemade appetizers. Below are two easy recipes you can make ahead and freeze until the day of the party.

Meatballs
These versatile appetizers are perfect to offer in the holiday season. Caramelize a small onion in olive oil or butter and mix it with a pound of ground beef, a cup of bread crumbs you soaked in milk, an egg, salt and pepper, and any seasoning you like. You can go for the classic Italian taste with oregano, parsley, and garlic or draw from the Asian spice palette with turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with oil. Make small, bite size meatballs by rolling them between your palms. Arrange the meatballs in rows on the cookie sheet and bake them for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Let them cool off completely before placing them in an airtight container for freezing. On the morning of your holiday party, put them in a slow cooker with some marinara sauce/gravy or simply re-warm them in the oven. You can have a dish of sauce on the side if you wish. Insert toothpicks into the meatballs for easy party eating.

Cheese Pastry
Another great appetizer you can make ahead is a simple cheese pastry recipe. Mix eight ounces of small curd cottage cheese and butter each with two cups of flour and a pinch of salt. Knead together until a firm dough forms. You may need to add a little bit more flour depending on the cottage cheese you use. Wrap the dough ball in plastic and put in the refrigerator for a half hour. Roll your dough ball out into a 1/2 inch thick sheet. You can either use a knife to cut it up to small squares or a cookie cutter or small glass to cut round circles out. Lay the pieces on cookie sheets about ½ inch apart and sprinkle some grated cheese on top. Bake in preheated 375? oven for 20 minutes or until brown.

In addition to these recipes, you can also experiment with other snacks and appetizers such as cheese puffs, a roasted vegetable cream cheese dip, or the sweet holiday classic:  homemade fudge. Miniature cheesecakes are festive desserts you can make ahead and pull out from the freezer only a few hours before your guests arrive.