Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

  1. baked breaded zucchini bites

    July 22, 2012 by Angie

    The theme for week 29 of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is summer. It can be a summer decoration or a summer ingredient. I made baked breaded zucchini bites because zucchini is everybody’s favorite summer vegetable, right? Well, it’s mine. We used to order a similar appetizer all the time at Bar Louie in International Plaza along with their amazing soy burger. As part of a large anti-vegetarian conspiracy they removed both from their menu and now offer only a portobello burger. Eww. Now we must improvise at home.

    This was pretty easy to make. I chopped the zucchini into rounds and sticks then set up my breading stations. There’s a a little plate for soy milk then the Italian-style bread crumb/parmesan cheese/garlic powder mixture then the cookie sheet. Baking these instead of frying let me stick to the guidelines of the challenge and avoid a lot of fat from the oil. You can also skip the parmesan to make these vegan. I sprayed the tops with olive oil and baked them for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

    They held together better than I thought they would without egg and they tasted really great. I’ll definitely make this again. They’d be great for a party.

     Don’t forget the spaghetti sauce for dipping!

  2. vegetable lasagna

    April 27, 2012 by Angie

    A homemade lasagna is a labor of love.  The good news is that I’m getting faster at making it. This is my (relatively) lower fat and lower carb vegetable lasagna made with part skim ricotta, reduced-fat shredded Italian cheese, and Dreamfields lasagna noodles.  It’s just as cheesy and delicious as any “naughty” lasagna and packed with zucchini, spinach, and fresh tomatoes.

    You’ll need a big rectangular pan for this.  I use a 9×13 Pyrex that came with a clip-on storage lid for the top.  Three Dreamfields lasagna noodles fit perfectly side by side in there.  I sprayed the pan with olive oil before assembling the lasagna.

    Makes about six servings.


    Olive oil
    Olive oil spray for the lasagna pan
    1 box of Dreamfields lasagna noodles
    24 oz jar of spaghetti sauce (We openly profess our love for Gia Russa’s Tomato & Basil.)
    15 oz container of part skim ricotta cheese (Sorrento brand was the lowest fat option at my grocery store.)
    Reduced fat shredded parmesan (…if you can find it.)
    Reduced fat shredded Italian cheese
    3 zucchini, sliced
    4 oz of fresh spinach
    1-2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
    Any other vegetables you want to add – we’re striving for roughly 4 cups of vegetables total
    Minced garlic
    Dried basil
    Dried oregano
    Dried parsley
    Garlic powder


    1.  Start boiling the water to prepare the Dreamfields lasagna noodles according to the package directions.  Unlike some varieties, you do have to boil these noodles before assembling the lasagna.

    2.  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, chop up the zucchini and tomato and any other veggies you’d like to add.  Also, snap the stems of the spinach leaves if that sort of thing offends you.  In a big pan, saute the minced garlic and zucchini in olive oil.  Add in the spinach just until it’s somewhat wilted.  Don’t cook the vegetables very long.  You might be able to skip this step but I think it cuts down on the amount of water the vegetables produce inside the lasagna.

    Cooked Vegetables

    3.  The water should be boiling by now.  Go ahead and make the noodles. While you’re waiting for them to cook, pour the entire tub of ricotta cheese into a medium-sized bowl and mix in 3-4 ounces of the parmesan cheese and the dried spices.  I don’t measure the amount of basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic powder I add to the ricotta mixture and I apologize for that.  I do know that the amount I use is in the order they’re listed – I go pretty nuts with the basil and easy on the garlic powder.  You want the mixture to smell flavorful and to be able to see spices throughout.

    4.  Once the noodles are ready, drain them.  It’s time to preheat the oven to 400 degrees and assemble the lasagna.  Start with a layer of noodles side by side (three should do it).  Follow that with a third of the spaghetti sauce, a third of the ricotta mixture, a third of the vegetables, and a third of the shredded Italian cheese.  Repeat this two more times ending with the shredded Italian cheese.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for an hour.  When the hour is up, take the aluminum foil off and bake for another five minutes or so until the cheese on top is slightly browned.

    First layer: noodles, sauce, ricotta, vegetables, shredded cheese.

    Finished lasagna!

    A serving of lasagna.

    We both got seconds, wiping out half the lasagna between the two of us.  Mmmmm, mmmmm.

  3. homemade pizza with whole wheat crust

    April 25, 2012 by Angie

    Robbie tells me that the moment he realized he loved me was when I joked that it takes all of my willpower not to have pizza in my mouth at all times.  We are dedicated pizza connoisseurs and have enjoyed pizza with our favorite toppings (that’s garlic, tomatoes, spinach and sometimes basil or artichoke hearts) in every city we’ve visited together.  We even served pizza at our wedding.

    We also love to make our own at home with our favorite spaghetti sauce: Gia Russa’s Tomato & Basil.

    Here is the recipe for our most successful homemade pizza.  It has a whole wheat crust.  It requires some planning ahead so that the dough can rise for at least an hour but it makes two large thin crust pies so it’s worth the time commitment.  Here’s the crust recipe:

    1 cup warm water
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 packet of active dry yeast
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    cornmeal for dusting the pizza pan
    extra all-purpose flour to get the consistency just right
    extra olive oil for oiling the bowl


    1. Heat a cup of water in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm it up.  Pour the water into a small bowl.  Stir the tablespoon of honey into the water.  Empty the entire packet of yeast into the water mixture and gently stir to mix.  Let the yeast mixture sit and gather a foamy layer on top while you move onto the next step.

    2. In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt.  Once the yeast mixture has sat for five minutes, make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture and the three tablespoons of olive oil into the well.  Mix the ingredients together with a spoon and add more flour if needed until a dough forms and the dough can be pulled away from the bowl without sticking.

    3. Knead the dough for about eight minutes.  The bowl I use is big enough to allow me to flour my hands and knead it right in the bowl.

    4. Shape the dough into a ball.  Hold the ball in one hand while you oil the same bowl with the other hand.  Place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise for an hour.  It should double in size.

    5. When the hour is up and your dough is gigantic, knead it for a few more minutes.  Now divide the dough evenly into two balls.  If you’re only making one pizza today, wrap one of the balls in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  If I make it within the next 1-2 days it tastes just as good as the first pizza.

    6. Dust a 12″ pizza pan with cornmeal.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Work one of the dough balls in your hands, pulling and stretching it gently to make it into a thinner, flatter disc.  Put the dough disc on the pizza pan and begin pushing it into the pan and spreading it so that it covers the pan evenly.  Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and parbake for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

    The crust is ready to go!  Now here are the ingredients and steps for topping the pizza.

    24 0z jar of Gia Russa brand Tomato & Basil spaghetti sauce
    minced garlic
    garlic powder
    reduced fat shredded Italian cheese
    16 oz block of part skim mozzarella (We like the Sorrento brand.)
    2-3 vine ripened tomatoes
    fresh spinach leaves (about an ounce)
    jar of artichoke hearts


    1. We pour a jar of Gia Russo Tomato & Basil sauce into a saucepan.  Add a generous scope of minced garlic and a sprinkle of garlic powder to the sauce.  Heat over low and stir occasionally while preparing the other ingredients.  This sauce is delicious but is sometimes too runny so this step thickens it up and makes it garlicky.

    2. Cut small chunks of part skim mozzarella.  I use about a quarter of the 16 oz package on one pizza.

    3. Wash the tomatoes and cut thin slices.  Select the nicest fresh spinach leaves from the bag and set them aside.  I like artichoke hearts of my half of the pizza so I take 3-5 artichoke hearts from the jar and press them in a paper towel to get some of the oil off.  Chop those into smaller pieces.

    4.  Once the sauce is ready, top the pizza with that first making sure to leave a crust around the edges. Then top with a light layer of reduced fat shredded Italian cheese.  After that I place the tomatoes followed by the artichoke hearts then the spinach.  Put a slice of mozzarella on each spinach leaf and try to space it evenly.  The mozzarella chunks spread a lot during baking.  Top with another light layer of the shredded cheese.

    5. Bake the pizza pie for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is starting to brown and the cheese is melted, at 450 degrees.

  4. pasta primavera

    March 14, 2012 by Angie

    I wanted to eat a ton of vegetables so I made this for dinner last night.  It was really good but next time I’ll go easier on the asparagus per Cute Husband’s request.  Also, I’ll add much more basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and add cheese right into the vegetable mixture in the pan.  I found myself sprinkling an absurd amount of these things onto my plate as I was eating because I wasn’t liberal enough with them during the cooking phase.

    3 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 tbsp minced garlic
    1/4 c green onion
    4 oz asparagus
    2 medium zucchini
    3 small yellow squash
    2 tomatoes on the vine (or 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
    about 1 oz spinach
    1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
    3/4 c vegetable broth
    1/2 c unsweetened soy milk
    dried basil, to taste
    dried parsley, to taste
    garlic powder, to taste
    sea salt, to taste
    freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1 box of Dreamfields linguine
    grated Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, or grated soy cheese to sprinkle on top (I used freshly grated Parmesan and some powdery Parmesan-Romano cheese.)

    1.  Wash, trim, and chop the veggies.  Finely mince the garlic and green onion.  You can leave the asparagus pretty large.  Chop the zucchini and yellow squash in the matchstick style.  Snap the stems off of the spinach but do not chop.

    2.  Meanwhile, prepare the box of Dreamfields linguine according to the package directions.

    3.  Heat some olive oil in a largish pan on medium heat.  Add the vegetables in the order listed in the ingredients beginning with the garlic and finishing with the tomatoes (we’ll add the spinach later).  Allow each ingredient to cook for a a minute or three before adding the next.

    4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture in the pan.  Stir to coat the vegetables and cook for about a minute.

    5.  Stir the vegetable stock and soy milk into the vegetable mixture.  Bring it to a boil then turn the burner to low and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 more minutes.

    6.  Add the spinach to the milky vegetables and stir until the spinach is wilted.

    7.  Add basil, parsley, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    8.  Pour the milky vegetable mixture into the drained pasta pot.  Mix them up to coat the pasta.

    9.  Serve and top with grated cheese or nutritional yeast.  Yay!

  5. caprese salad and zucchini spaghetti

    February 10, 2012 by Angie

    For dinner Wednesday night, I wanted to use up some left over ingredients from the pizzas we made last week.  I used the leftover part-skim mozzarella, tomatoes on the vine, and fresh basil to make a caprese salad appetizer.  I assembled the salad then drizzled about 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs balsamic vinegar on top.

    Robbie made “regular” linguini noodles for himself but, in an effort to kick it low-carb (as “the kids” say), I made zucchini spaghetti for me.  I followed this recipe from the New York Times’ Health section then covered it in garlicky tomato sauce.  It’s a very simple recipe.  Just use a peeler to trim off long, thin pieces of zucchini.  Stop when you get to the seeds and core.  I used one zucchini since I only needed one serving.  Sauté it in a little olive oil, sprinkle some salt and freshly ground pepper, and serve covered with your favorite tomato sauce.

    Delicious and quick!


  6. mini veggie lasagnas

    February 5, 2012 by Angie

    Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking challenge for Week 2 was Miniature.  I love baked goods but they aren’t necessary like “real food” is necessary.  Because I don’t own any mini-bakeware I was happy to branch out to savory foods with a rendition of mini veggie lasagnas based on this recipe from Chow Vegan.

    I followed the method she used but with some ingredient changes.  I used spinach, zucchini, and onion for the veggies.  Instead of making the tofu ricotta I made my own mixture using part skim ricotta cheese, a little reduced-fat shredded Italian cheese, and a generous sprinkle of each of the Italian-leaning spices in my spice rack.

    These tiny lasagnas were adorable and tasted fantastic!  Cute Husband and I nearly finished off the entire dozen for dinner.