White Veggie Cups

I’ve now made two or three different renditions of this recipe and it’s become one of my favorites. It’s a great way to use up any leftover vegetables in your fridge and is healthier than most of the things I can come up with to eat for a quick meal. Veggie cups (made with some white wine) are delicious, versatile, and even freeze-able!

Ingredients: 

  • A leafy green vegetable (I’ve used a bunch of Swiss Chard, Spinach, or even Kale), chopped fairly fine
  • Onion (I like to use 1/4-1/3 of a sweet onion), chopped fine
  • Leftover vegetables from the fridge, chopped.  I used a small yellow pepper in these photos, but I chopped up a tomato recently and it was equally delicious
  • Shredded Cheese (I sprinkled a small amount on each muffin cup – it totalled about 3/4 of a cup).  I have used Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese – use your favorite
  • 2 cups of egg mixture (I used 1 1/2 cups of fat-free egg substitute, 1/4 cup egg whites, and 1/4 cup white wine
  • Seasonings (I like simple salt and pepper, but go wild and use what you like!)WhiteVeggieCups

DIrections:

  1. Chop all your veggies, put your egg mixture together, spray your muffin tin with cooking spray, and pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Into each muffin cup, place some chopped greens, chopped onion, chopped veggie (yellow pepper, tomato, whatever you’re using), and top each with a sprinkling of cheese.  Add seasonings.
  3. Ladle a bit of the egg mixture into each muffin cup, using the ladle to push the veggies and cheese into the egg mixture.  If you have extra egg mixture left over, add it to the cups so everything is as equal as possible but DO NOT overfill the cups.  They should be about 3/4 full since they will puff up as they cook.
  4. Cook the Veggie Cups at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes until the egg is set.  Allow the veggie cups to cook slightly before removing them from the pan and serving.

This recipe is extremely versatile.  You can add bacon, sausage, or ham to the veggie cups if you’d like.  You can substitute vegetables as you prefer.  This is a great way to make a quick breakfast sandwich but simply toasting an english muffin and putting one veggie cup in the middle.  Play with this recipe and see if it doesn’t become one of your favorites as well.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Vegetarian Lasagna

Don’t let the title of this recipe fool you into not trying it…. my older son just found out that his favorite lasagna recipe was actually good for him and he was not pleased.  He’s a true meat-and-potatoes kind of guy who only eats vegetables if they are expected of him… I don’t think he’s ever intentionally chosen to eat vegetables… but he loved this lasagna, which speaks volumes to it’s ability to turn heads and make believers out of meat-eaters.

Here’s how I made this delicious lasagna:VegetarianLasagna

“Meat” layer:

  • 1 package Boca crumbles
  • 1 cup Cabernet Franc
  • 2 ½ c marinara (plus ¼ cup + ½ cup marinara reserved – total needed 3 ¼ cups)

Cheese layer:

  • 1 package part-skim ricotta
  • 1 ½ c mozzarella
  • 1 egg, whipped slightly
  • Nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste
  • Lasagna noodles (not cooked)
  • Parmesan (to sprinkle on top)

I started by making the “meat layer”.  In a medium bowl, mix the Boca Crumbles (see photo for package), marinara (in this case I used much of a Meritage Marinara that I had made earlier in the week), and James River Cellars Cabernet Franc red wine.  You want to make this part of the recipe fairly “wet” since you’re not cooking the noodles.

In a separate bowl, mix your “cheese layer” ingredients together.   Fresh nutmeg is key in this and you don’t need much… just a few sprinkles will do the trick – it adds a back note that is really lovely.

Now you’re going to layer your lasagna in a 9×9 pan. Start with your ¼ c reserved marinara,then add noodles, 1/3 meat, 1/3 cheese, noodles, 1/3 meat, 1/3 cheese, noodles, 1/3 meat, 1/3 cheese, noodles, ½ cup reserved marinara, and finally top with Parmesan.  I find it extremely helpful to turn the direction of the noodles at each layer so the lasagna cuts nicely.  Lay the first layer vertically in the pan, the second layer would then be placed horizontally the third layer would again be vertical so the final layer lays horizontal in the pan. Note: Your noodles will be longer than your pan – just break the noodles and use any pieces that aren’t the same length in the center and keep the longer pieces along the edges.

The last step is to bake your lasagna for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees, until bubbly and cooked through.  Let set for 5 minutes before serving so the lasagna has time to let everything “pull back together” and cut beautifully.   I find that turning the noodles’ direction is key in being able to serve a nicely “square” piece of lasagna.

I hope you find this lasagna to be something that your entire family will enjoy… I also find that if I add a piece of garlic bread or Texas Toast, my guys are even happier.   

Buon Divertimento… Have Fun!

Recipe: Meritage Marinara Sauce

It’s always good to have a basic recipe in your cooking repertoire that can be used for lots of different dishes.  A basic marinara sauce is just such a recipe.  I used James River Cellars Meritage for this recipe, but you can just as easily use a Merlot, a Cabernet Franc, a Petit Verdot, or any other dry red wine that you prefer.  I based this recipe on one I found in the latest Cooking Light magazine (Slow-cooker Marinara) but I really didn’t want to take the time to use my crock-pot, so I altered the recipe and came up with something that make more sense for my current timetable and needs.  I hope you like it!

Ingredients:Meritage Marinara

  • Olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bag of mini carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped (I like the taste of celery, so I tend to go heavy on this veggie)
  • garlic, to taste (again, I like garlic, so I tend to use more than most – use as much as you like)
  • fresh oregano, finely chopped (I used a few stems from the plant I have – about 2-3 Tablespoons)
  • tomato paste (about 1/4 of a can)
  • red wine (I used James River Cellars Meritage, since that’s what I had on hand)
  • 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes

Directions:

  • In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil before adding the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Saute’ all until the vegetables are softened.  *See #1 on the photo
  • Add oregano and tomato paste and cook until fragrant.  *See #2 on the photo
  • Add wine to the sauce and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates.  I used The Force with regards to the amount I used, but it was equal to two turns around the pan.  *See #3 on the photo
  • Once the wine is incorporated, add the tomatoes and stir to combine.  *See #4 on the photo.  At this point, I covered the pan with foil and popped it into a 200 degree oven for about 2 hours.
  • After baking the sauce, I removed it from the oven and used an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce.  *See the final photo marked “YUM!”.  I adjusted the seasonings by adding some salt/pepper and a little sugar to sweeten the sauce a touch, since our family likes a sweeter marinara.  It’s now ready to use for a myriad of different dishes.

Ideas for Marinara Sauce use:

  • Meatball sandwiches:  For each sandwich, fill hoagie roll with meatballs (homemade or store-bought), top with marinara and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Broil sandwiches to melt cheese and serve.
  • Portabella Mushroom sandwiches:  For each sandwich, fill hoagie roll with sauteed portabella mushroom/spinach mixture, top with marinara and ricotta cheese, then broil to warm before serving.
  • Veggie Mexican Pizza:  On pizza crust, smear marinara sauce as you would tomato sauce, top with black bean and corn salsa and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.  Bake as desired and serve.
  • Simple Italian dinner:  Top pasta (macaroni) with Meritage marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Serve with garlic bread.
  • Eggplant, chicken, or veal Parmesan:  substitute Meritage marinara sauce for standard tomato sauce under your eggplant/chicken cutlet/veal cutlet and top with mozzarella cheese

This sauce is incredibly versatile and really tasty.  Try it in any dish where you’d typically use a canned or jarred tomato sauce.  It’s a great way to sneak vegetables into your family’s favorite meals and you can feel good that you’d made something healthy AND tasty.  It’s one of my favorite things… making healthy foods that my family will love.  Enjoy!