Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Chock Full of Veggies Lasagna and Summer-y Blackberry Bars

Tonight for dinner I made my signature dish--LASAGNA.  I've been making this for years and it is often the meal I make for special occasions, company and when I just really feel like indulging.  BUT, it's made pretty darn healthy and you'd never know it!


Once again though, I don't follow a recipe and this lasagna still comes out SO GOOD every time!  (It's gotta be because I NEVER put onions in it! ; )  I always use different amounts of veggies and such, so this is just estimates of what I used today.

Katrina's Chock Full Of Veggies Lasagna

1/4 lb. lean ground beef (93% fat free, usually, I only ever buy 90% fat free or better)

green pepper, chopped (about 3/4 of a pepper)

mini baby carrots, chopped, about 1 cup

zucchini, chopped, 1 medium

yellow squash, chopped, 2 small

mushrooms, chopped, about 1 cup

celery, chopped, 2 small stalks

3 garlic cloves, minced

onion powder (okay, I usually put a little in, but powder only)

1--28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1--15 oz. Italian chopped tomatoes

oregano, dried, to taste (about 2 teaspoons)

basil, dried, to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons)  I always use fresh in the summer!

1-2 teaspoons sugar (this cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)

salt and pepper to taste

a little ground red pepper (or flakes)

fat free cottage cheese, about 1  1/2 cups

1/4 cup Egg Beaters w/touch of yolk

Kraft 2% milk mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup, shredded

parmesan cheese, shredded, about 1/4 cup

whole wheat lasagna noodles, about 12 noodles (some think you have to precook the noodles--I never have done that and the noodles always cook just fine in the oven--stop wasting time boiling the noodles first!)

Brown the ground beef, set aside.  Chop all the veggies.  (I LOVE THE VIDALIA ONION CHOP WIZARD (See my post about THE WIZARD CHOPPER)--sure made all the chopping a breeze!--Thanks again, Mom and Dad!)


Saute in olive oil the peppers, carrots and celery (onion, if you must) for 3-5 minutes, then add the rest-zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms and saute another 3-5 minutes until soft, but not too much.   Scoot some of the veggies aside, add a little more oil and the garlic and saute for 30 seconds to a minute.  Stir all together.  I usually move the veggies to a pot instead of a saute pan at this point and add the tomatoes, ground beef, spices, and sugar and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.  During this time, I put the cottage cheese in the food processor and pulse it up until it looks just like ricotta cheese!  Add a good half of the mozzarella cheese and the Egg Beater and pulse a few times. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Assemble the lasagna in a 9x13 pan.  Layer ingredients, beginning with sauce spread on bottom of pan, then lay pasta over the sauce, spread cottage cheese mixture over noodles and begin layers again--sauce, pasta, cheese mixture.  After the third layer, end with sauce, then sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 40-50 minutes, remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.  Let set for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly.  Serve.


The corner pieces are my favorite, cheesy-gooey-saucy-flavorful-and HEALTHY! 


Dessert--I made these yesterday and unfortunately didn't take the greatest pictures, the color/lighting was off, but this is actually quite good.  I got some blackberries at $1 a pint recently (Love those winter sales on summer fruits!) and decided to find something to make with them.  I found this recipe at (Southern Food).  It is simple and more flavorful than I thought it would be.  It is almost more of a cake than bars, but there is a surprise streusel type layer on the bottom.

Blackberry Bars, adapted from About, Southern Food

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sour cream (I use light)

1/4 cup Egg Beaters with touch of yolk (or 1 large egg)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blackberries (these were huge, so I chopped them a little)

Combine flour and brown sugar, cut in butter with pastry blender--wait-as I was doing that, I decided a few pulses in the food processor would be much easier.  Pulse to combine in food processor.  Press 1  1/3 cups of mixture in bottom of an ungreased 8 inch pan (I used a round cake pan), a square pan works, too.  Combine remaining  crumb mixture, sour cream, egg, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Mix together until combined.  Stir in blackberries.  Spoon over crust and spread evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.


The recipe said to sprinkle with powdered sugar, but I thought that seemed a little boring.  So I made a glaze with some blackberries that I stuck in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Then I mashed them with a fork and added about 3/4 cup powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.  Stirred together well and drizzled on the "bars".  Mmmm, good!  (Again, sorry about the color of the photo, it's not bad, but just off a little.)



Jersey Girl Cooks said...

I am loving all these carbs. I could use something summery with the weather we're having. Yum.

Anonymous said...

Very nice, I mean wow what a dinner. It doesn't get better than this.

Becky said...

Did you know that lasagna was my absolutely favorite! I have it for my birthday every year. This will be a perfect dish to try on weight watchers, Thanks!

Maria said...

Everything looks perfect!

Shari said...

It must have taken hours to chop up all those vegies! Looks great!

Anonymous said...

Your lasagna looks great! It looks like you're putting your new chopper to good use!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I just got some blueberries for $1/pint, so I'll be baking something blueberry this weekend! Your food looks fab. That lasagna is making me hungry!

Jaime said...

that lasagna looks like real comfort food!

Anne Marie said...

I love how that lasagna is so full of veggies. Looks delicious.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I'm craving lasagna now you know?That's really a great idea to add all those veggies! I'm having fun latelly with lasagnas since I got a pasta machine, love the homemade pasta!

test it comm said...

That lasagna looks and sounds good. I like all of the veggies in it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Katrina, what a great recipe! I made it, with some changes for personal preferences (more turkey and cheese, for instance) and oh how delicious. I had been looking for something like this for awhile and hadn't found just what I wanted, so thanks!

I'm just getting going on my own blog, and want to post my version and credit/link to you, is that okay? I'm not sure what the "blogging protocol" is for doing stuff like that...

Found you from Cookie Madness, btw.

Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Katrina your veggie lasagna looks so good it actually made my mouth water to look at it. I wish I had a piece right now!!!

Suzanne said...

WOW, WOW, WOW! This looks so rich and delicious and I love the lower carb ww pasta and all the veggies. But I'm ga-ga over the Blackberry Bars! My kind of sweet treat.

red-headed Wilson's said...

I made this a veggie lasagna for a group dinner. People were saying they were surprised that they liked it as much, and some more, then the meat lasagna. YUMMY.