Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

24 03 2015

Traditional lasagna can be time-consuming, but in this version you can save time by using store-bought or pre-made pesto, and no-boil lasagna sheets. Just because you’re saving on time though, doesn’t mean you’re skimping on the flavor. Trust me, this lasagna is totally decadent! You can make this two days in advance if you want, just store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.

I made this for a family Sunday supper and was feeding a crowd, so I doubled the recipe. If you end up having some leftover ricotta filling like me, you can toss it with some whole wheat pasta and a little of the pasta water for another great meal or side!

Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

The following makes 10-12 servings (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken
  • 1 package (15 oz) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 box flat, no-boil lasagna sheets
  • 4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

For the bechamel, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and nutmeg, bring to a simmer, and cook 2 more minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked chicken (simply season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic and saute in a little olive oil until cooked through) and set aside.

For the lasagna, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, and 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper.

To build, spread 2/3 cup bechamel in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Using a rubber spatula, spread some of the ricotta mixture on 3 lasagna sheets making sure they’re fully covered, then lay them side by side in the baking dish. Top lasagna with more bechamel, making sure to cover the noodles. Next top with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat laying three times or until your ingredients run out, making sure that the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Top the final layer with 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 15 more minutes, then broil on high until golden, 2-3 minutes. Let lasagna rest 15 minutes before serving.

Advertisements




Italian Chicken and Veggie Cobbler

17 03 2015

This is a savory and fun take on a fruit cobbler, made with chicken and veggies. The original version topped this with cornmeal dumplings, but I substituted with polenta. You could switch out different veggies for what you have on hand, or could also use Italian sausage in place of the chicken, making this a versatile dish.

Italian Chicken and Veggie Cobbler

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Granulated garlic
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can cannellini beans (15.5 oz) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond milk or skim milk)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chicken, season with a little Italian seasoning, salt and granulated garlic. Saute until just beginning to brown, then transfer to a plate.

Add onions, broccoli and bell peppers to the skillet; cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with wine, scrapping up any brown bits, and reduce until nearly evaporated. Stir in beans, 1 tsp Italian seasoning and the cooked chicken. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Whisk together 1 cup of broth with the cornstarch and add to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted and cooked down. Season lightly with salt to taste. Remove from the heat and make the polenta.

In a small-medium saucepan, heat the water, milk and remaining cup of broth over medium-high. Bring to a slow boil, then whisk in the cornmeal. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir with a wooden spoon, constantly until thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese, mixing well, then remove from heat.

Pour the polenta evenly all over the chicken and veggie mixture, smoothing out if needed. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cobbler from the oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving.





Sausage and Lentil Soup

17 01 2015

This hearty Italian soup, packed with protein, is a great addition to your winter recipe lineup! I didn’t grow up with lentils like a lot of Italians, but my Mom did….eating them all the time. Which is likely why she left them out of her meal plans, she was over them.

But I’m a lentil convert now, thanks to this soup (and maybe my Ma will be again when she sees this)! Don’t be intimidated by the amount of ingredients. They basically all go into a large pot and time will do the rest. I recommend making this over the weekend so you can enjoy it throughout the week – the longer it sits the better it gets.

Sausage and Lentil Soup

The following serves 6 (adapted from Food.com and The Italian Table):

  • 1 lb bulk mild chicken sausage – if using sausage that’s in a casing, just remove the casing first
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 pint fresh, diced tomatoes or a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups of water or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Grated parmesan cheese for serving

In a large dutch oven, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until the veggies begin to softened, 3-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Next, add the sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through and broken up in little pieces.

Next, add all the spices (parsley, oregano, basil, salt, thyme, pepper flakes and pepper) – stir to combine well and toast for a minute until the spices become fragrant. Add the dried lentils, stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the lentils are lightly toasted.

Add the tomatoes and all their juices, mix well and scrape up any bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the water or stock, stir to combine and bring to a slow boil. If using water, you can also add a few chicken bouillon cubes for extra flavor (1 cube for each cup of water).

Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 – 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you let it cook, the thicker the soup will become on its own.

Turn off heat, stir in vinegar if desired and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Allow the soup to sit for 5 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.





Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

8 01 2015

This comfy casserole will help keep you warm on a bitter cold night. There’s no flour, butter or excess cheese, so you can feel good about diving into this healthy take on mac-n-cheese!

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Food52):

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, about 4 cups cubed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small box (13 oz) whole wheat penne
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Panko breadcrumbs

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, stock and garlic cloves to a simmer. Add cubed squash and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with a little salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste. Add to skillet and cook until just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and add to bowl with pasta. Bake in the skillet, add 2-3 cups of chopped kale – add a little at a time, wilting slightly as you go. Remove sautéed kale from skillet and add to the bowl with pasta.

When the squash is tender, remove from the heat and transfer (carefully) to a high-powered blender. Puree until smooth.

Add the puree, a little at a time, to the bowl with the pasta, along with the goat cheese and parmesan cheese. Mix everything until well combined and the cheese melts. I added a little puree at a time as I didn’t need to use it all, and will save some for another sauce. You want everything to look really creamy with a little extra sauce mixed in as it will thicken in the oven.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with panko and more grated parmesan.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before serving.





Chicken Cutlets With Braised Purple Cabbage

25 11 2014

Cooked cabbage was never a favorite of mine. But I’ve come to enjoy it, especially in a braised preparation. This is a fairly easy dinner, packed with delicious fall flavor and better yet, it’s oh so pretty to look at!

Chicken Cutlets With Braised Purple Cabbage

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat with inspiration from Food Network Magazine):

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium head purple cabbage, sliced
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded into thin cutlets
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Granulated garlic
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon

Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, a few minutes. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes (use more if you’d like it a little on the spicy side). Add the sliced cabbage, chicken broth, vinegar, agave and a few sprigs of chopped thyme. Season with salt to taste. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30-45 minutes. Cabbage should be tender and the liquid should be mostly evaporated.

Meanwhile, pound out the chicken breasts with a meat mallet until thin. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a couple of Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. To a large plate, add some panko, parm cheese, chopped thyme and granulated garlic and stir to combine. Dredge the chicken in the egg on both sides, followed by the panko mixture. Add the coated chicken to the hot skillet with the olive oil. Saute for 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown all over and chicken is cooked through.

Before serving, add the zest of half a lemon and a few Tbsp of chopped parsley to the cabbage. Stir to combine and season with salt to taste. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the chicken and serve along with the cabbage.





Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Bake

13 11 2014

Are you a sucker for cheesy fries or anything buffalo chicken? Who isn’t! Here’s a healthy rendition of a riff on both, featuring leftover chicken and sweet potatoes. Using Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cheese helps keep this dish lighter, while still offering the classic creamy flavors we all love in our less-healthy favs.

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Bake

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated garlic
  • Smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buffalo hot sauce like Frank’s
  • 1-1 and 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1-2 small celery stalks, chopped
  • Reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, toss cubed potatoes with just a little olive oil along with salt, garlic and paprika to taste. Toss well. Spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with a silpat or foil sprayed with non-stick spray.

Roast potatoes until browned, about 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Meanwhile, mix the yogurt and buffalo sauce together in a bowl. Add the chicken and mix well. Season lightly with salt to taste.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and cool slightly. Using your hands or a spatula, move the potatoes to the center of the baking sheet until they’re all touching. Top with celery, a little cheese and then spread the buffalo chicken mixture evenly on top. Finally, top with another layer of cheese.

Bake until hot and cheese melts, about 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and top with parsley or cilantro before serving. Garnish with more hot sauce if desired and serve with a side salad. Pictured above is shredded cabbage tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.





Sesame Chicken Lo Mein

4 11 2014

Here’s a super fast and flavorful Chinese meal that you can make at home in less time than it would take you to order and pick-up take out! This is also a good recipe to switch out different veggies for what you have on hand. For instance the original recipe called for bell peppers, but I used napa cabbage instead.

Sesame Chicken Lo Mein

The following serves 4 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup halved broccoli florets
  • 1 heaping cup shredded napa cabbage or thinly sliced bell peppers
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 bundles of buckwheat noodles (from a 10 oz package, which typically contains 3 bundles)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles according to package directions and set aside.

Whisk together the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. If you want it to have a little kick, add some chili flakes as well. Add chicken and chill 15 minutes.

Heat canola oil in a wok over high. Remove chicken from marinade; allow excess to drip off. Reserve marinade. Stir-fry chicken in batches, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Add broccoli, cabbage and garlic to wok. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add marinade, cooked noodles and chicken, stir-fry until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked, about 3-4 minutes.

Garnish with sesame seeds before serving, and lime wedges if desired.