Friday, February 14

No Noodle Butternut Squash Lasagna

This lasagna came about because I had some homemade ricotta in the fridge and I couldn't wait to use it for something.  What else do you use ricotta for except lasagna? (I have since found other uses for it.) We don't do pasta around here so I took inventory of what produce we had on hand. My goal was to make something without having to go the store and I think we can call it a success! I had one butternut squash, pork defrosted, swiss chard from the garden, homemade ricotta, some goat cheese... After a quick internet search I didn't like any of the butternut lasagna recipes I came across. Why do people have butternut squash lasagna with pasta?? That just seems too much to me.

* 2 tbsp. of  ghee or coconut oil
* One large onion, diced
* Butternut Squash (medium with a long steam)
* Swiss Chard, one bunch cut up in strips
* Mushrooms, 5 or 6 chopped
* 1 lb. Italian Sausage (or Pork)
* 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
* 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomato
* Red Wine
* 1 tsp oregano
* 1 tsp garlic
* Ricotta, about 1 cup
* 1 egg
* Basil, 1 tbsp. chiffonade (I took 6 leaves from the garden)
* Goat cheese, 4 oz.

Preheat your oven to 350. First dice your onion and set aside half for the sauce. Melt your fat over medium heat and add half the onion. While it is sautéing, dice your mushrooms and add them when the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Cut up your swiss chard in strips and add to the pot. Sauté until the leaves are starting to wilt, about 5 minutes. Once the greens are just cooked (but not overcooked!) remove to a bowl and set aside for later use. Scramble the egg and then mix in ricotta, basil and salt/pepper.

In the same pot, add some more fat and sauté the remaining onions. When translucent, add the sausage and cook until browned. (I didn't have sausage on hand but I used really good quality pork. Just prior to cooking the meat, I folded in 1 tsp garlic,  1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp. dried parsley, 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp salt.) When the sausage is nice and brown, add the garlic for about a minute. This is just enough time for you to open a bottle of wine. Add the wine, I free hand poured but I would say about 1/2 cup. Once the alcohol has cooked off, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened. 

In the meantime, you will need to cut the butternut squash into lasagna like pieces. You can do it in strips like me or you can do rounds whatever is easiest for you. I chopped off the round part of the squash with the seeds and set  it aside for another meal. Then I peeled the tube like section and got out my mandolin. I set it at the thinnest setting possible and sliced noodle like pieces. This is easier said than done- it took a little bit of muscle. You could also take a very sharp knife and cut thin slices I would say about 1/8 of an inch or less.   
Let's put this dish together! Add just a bit of sauce to the bottom of your Lasagna Pan to keep it from sticking. Put one layer of  butternut squash to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Spoon out half of your meat sauce and spread evenly. Add another layer of squash. On this middle layer add the greens, spread evenly and then dot the ricotta over the greens. Add the last layer of squash, top with the last half of the meat sauce. Crumble the goat cheese over the whole pan.  

 Cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes. It's done when you stick a fork in easily. Broil on low for 3-5 minutes to get a nicely browned top and then let rest for at least 15 minutes so that it is not too loose when serving.

Enjoy! I hope you love it as much as we did. And remember that just because you don't have a dinner planned doesn't mean it can't be FABULOUS. 

How good are you at making meals without a plan?

Wednesday, February 12

How to Survive the Airport

Spoiler Alert: The only way to survive the airport is to plan.

We recently went to visit family via plane and it was my first airport trip in a while. We decided on the much much cheaper flight and had to drive 2 hours to the airport instead of the one 15 minutes from our house. (I know! If it wasn't more than double for the trip, I would have just paid the extra.) How on earth was I going to be able to eat the way I wanted, drive AND fly during lunch time? So I did what any normal over-the-top control-freak would do. I over planned my snacks and a meal for the trip.

That is it. There is no creative crazy tip out there that you didn't know. You just have to plan. Here is what was in my carry on (actually my husband carried my pink Lily since Allegiant Air has a one purse/personal item rule. Boooo).

* Paleo Simplified- Nutty Fruit Bliss
* Handful of Macadamia Nuts in a snack ziptop bag.
* 2 apples
* A packet of Justin's Almond Butter
* 12 oz. of Against All Grain's Paleo Vanilla Granola 
* A few different Tea Bags
Bare Fruit Apple Chips

Lunch for 2:
* Half Red/half Yellow peppers, in strips
* One very large cucumber, peeled, cut in slices and in two snack bags
* Handful of olives
* Two Bubbies Pure Kosher Dills
* Deli Tuna Salad (my most used Well Fed 2 recipe, packed in two snack bags

As we were driving to the airport (2 hours away instead of the one right next to us)  I told Mr. FFF the plan. "I have packed that delicious tuna salad that we like and we are going to eat it on the plane for lunch so that we can have a yummy healthy meal and not pay for expensive fried food." I thought that I was speaking his language (read: cheap) and it was a foolproof plan.  He told me that "under no circumstances was he eating tuna on a plane", that I was "worse than a terrorist" and "subjecting my fellow passengers to the smell of tuna (no matter how yummy) in that small of a confined place was inconsiderate and rude". 

Good thing we arrived to the airport and through security with more than enough time to eat our lunch. TSA did take another look at my bag after it went through the machine- I guess tuna in snack bags looked odd on their monitor. Also the agent that handed me my bag back did look at me a little funny when I over-explained that I wanted a healthy option for lunch instead of airport food. Not sure if he was weirded out by the tuna or healthy food....

Once we were in the waiting area, we bought two waters and sat in the cafe section. I got two cups, forks and napkins. Lunch is served. *How easy was that? After lunch we were so full so we saved the remianing snacks for the stay at our family and the trip back. And that my friends is my airport adventure! 

Fortunately for others but unfortunately for me, I did have to buy breath mints since I didn't plan for tuna breath after lunch. So maybe Mr. FFF was right about the smell after all... Let's not tell him. 

* Don't you just love Ina Garten?