Alley's Recipe Book
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Baked 'Ziti' - total time 45 minutes

Baked ziti is a perfect weekday recipe.  A little bit of work upfront, put it in the oven, walk away, and it taste like you spent hours making it!

2 cups pasta (I used spiral noodles)
3 cups (1 jar) of pasta sauce
1 package thawed frozen chopped spinach (strained)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1.5 cup fresh mozzarella balls
.25 cup parmesan, grated
fresh basil & oregano, chopped
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook noodles according to package.  
2. Transfer noodles to mixing bowl, add tomato sauce, spinach, half of the mozzarella, herbs, salt & pepper.  Stir mixture together and add to casserole dish.  Add remaining mozzarella and grated parm on top.
3. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  (You can do whatever you want for the 30 minutes, because you're done here!)

fresh basil and oregano from my indoor herb 'garden'  -  not really much to look at, but it sure is tasty!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup - total time 50 minutes

This soup oddly tastes like tomato parmesan despite not having tomatoes.

4 red bell peppers
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yukon gold potato, chopped
.5 cup carrots, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
.5 cup dry white wine
.25 cup sour cream
.25 parmigiano, grated
1 tsp oregano
salt & pepper

1. Broil peppers in oven.  Turn peppers to ensure completely roasted.  Once roasted, remove from oven and cover to 'steam' the peppers (makes the skin easier to peel) for 10 minutes.
2. In a pot, saute onions in a little bit of olive oil.  Once onions are tender, add garlic and carrots, cook for 5 minutes.
3. Uncover peppers, peel skin, discard seeds, and chop.  Add peppers, potatoes, broth, and wine to pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Simmer for about 20-25 minutes.  Add sour cream and parm, stir in.
4.  Place mixture in blender and serve.

Zucchini Enchiladas - total time 45 minutes

This tastes like an Italian take on a traditional Mexican dish, probably the best combinations for a weeknight dinner at home.  It reheats really well too for good leftovers!

3 medium zucchinis, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1.5 cup shredded white cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
2 green onions, chopped
8-10 corn tortillas (taco size)
1 cup tomato sauce (marinara works)
.25 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Saute onions in a little olive oil in a pan (medium heat).  Add garlic after onions are tender, cook 2 minutes.  Add chopped zucchini, cook five minutes.  Transfer to mixing bowl and add 1 cup of shredded cheese, salt, and pepper.  
2. Microwave tortillas for 1 minute.  Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.  Add .5 cup of zucchini mixture to each tortilla, roll up and place in casserole dish seam down.  Cover and put in oven for 20 minutes.
3.  Add tomato sauce to pan on medium heat.  Add vegetable broth, chili powder and red pepper flakes.  Let simmer until enchiladas are ready.
4.  Pour sauce on enchiladas.  Top with remaining shredded cheese and green onions.  Place enchiladas back in oven for one or two minutes for cheese to melt and serve!

chopped onions, zucchini, & garlic sauteing  -  bare enchiladas out of the oven 

 sauce simmering in a pan while enchiladas cook  -  melted cheesy goodness

4/10 Update - tried adding spinach (box of frozen chopped spinach), yum!

Veggie Jambalaya - total time 30 minutes

1 bell pepper, chopped
2 small zucchinis, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
.75 cups rice
1 pint crushed tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
1 tbsp hot sauce
3 bay leaves
salt & pepper

1. Prepare rice according to package.  Saute onions in some olive oil in a pan for about five minutes.  Add garlic and zucchini, cook for three minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and bay leaves.
2. Add rice and vegetable broth, simmer for ten minutes.  Add seasoning and hot sauce, continue simmering for five additional minutes.  Remove bay leaves and serve.

If you want to add meat to the dish, add some chopped sausage when you add the crushed tomatoes (or make the sausage separate like I did below).

Short Week

A short week of menu planning this week.  I have been making easy things lately, like pizza on naan bread.  Ingredients for 'semi homemade' pizza are always on hand

* Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Grilled Cheese
* Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas
* Spinach Manicotti & Seared Brussel Sprouts with Gouda sauce
 And Peanut Butter Banana Muffins for breakfast on the go!

We had a series of tornado warnings last night and while I was hanging out with my pup in the basement, I found tons of vegetarian recipes to add to my Pinterest board.  Probably should have looked for this at the beginning of Lent, but they will be good after Lent too!

How to Poach an Egg

 Bring a half pot of water to a simmer.  Add vinegar (I used red wine vinegar).

Crack an egg into a bowl.

 Stir simmering water to form a 'tornado'. 

Gently slide egg out of bowl into the water tornado.

Let cook for a minute or two.

Remove with slotted spoon.

Enjoy on toast or in soup or with vegetables!

Delicious with toast, mozzarella, salt, and cracked pepper.  Yum!

Car Bomb Cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day - 90 minutes


A cupcake that is just like the drink.  Guinness, whiskey, and Baileys are all used to make these moist, decedent treat.  This is going to make about 60 little cupcakes (don't worry, they will all disappear).

.75 cup Guinness
.75 cup butter
.5 cup cocoa powder
2.25 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
.66 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling...
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
.5 cup heavy cream
1 shot Irish whiskey

1.5 cups butter
3.5 cups powdered sugar
2 shots Baileys

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whip butter and sugar in mixer.  Add sour cream, and eggs and combine slowly.  Add cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until everything is combined.
2. Add Guinness to batter, the batter will be 'soupy'.  Add one cup of flour at a time continue to combine together. Once everything is fully combined, scoop into cupcake tins (with cupcake liners).  Put in oven for 15 minutes.
3. While cupcakes are baking, whip butter for frosting in mixer.  Once butter is nice and whipped, alternate adding one cup of powdered sugar and one shot of Baileys (ending on powdered sugar).
4. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler (or in microwave).  Once melted, add cream and whiskey.  Stir to combine.  Once cupcakes have cooled for a few minutes, you can dip top of cupcakes in the ganache or carve out a small dip into each cupcake (I used a small measuring spoon) and add ganache as a sweet surprise when you bite in.
6. Top cupcakes with frosting and enjoy!

Pictures added 3/17/13

Vegetarian Stuffed Pepper - total time 40 minutes

.25 cup chopped onion
1 pad of butter
.75 cup of cubed zucchini
.5 cup dry rice
.25 cup chopped tomato
.5 cup tomato sauce
.25 cup ricotta
.25 cup fresh mozzarella
salt & pepper
2 large bell peppers

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare rice according to package instructions.
2. Melt butter in pan, add onions and saute three minutes.  Add zucchini, saute for five minutes.  Add rice, tomatoes, and tomato sauce, cook three minutes.  Add cheeses, cook three more minutes.
3. Stuff peppers with filling, put in baking dish, bake for 20 minutes.

Weekly Menu - Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I ate at Panera twice today... weird, I know.  My husband has been working long hours again since the Arnold Classic is in town and he loves Panera, so we went there for lunch.  Then my mom and sister wanted to go there for dinner.  I noticed a sticker on their door saying they were named healthiest fast food restaurant by Zagat.  I would think this title might mean they have an increased number of vegetarian options in their menu, but that is not really true.  In fact, one of my favorites that sounds like it should be vegetarian (broccoli cheddar soup) is not (it includes chicken broth).  One of the easiest substitutes for eating less meat is to change out chicken stock for vegetable stock!  So now broccoli cheddar soup is on this week's menu...

* broccoli cheddar soup
* homemade pizza
* sun-dried tomato pesto linguinie
* tomato parm soup with grilled gouda sandwiches

Pretty easy recipes this week.  I need to find some new vegetarian recipes to keep everything interesting!


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