Sunday dinner & what intimidates me in the kitchen

If you were to ask me what I would have my mom make me if she could only make me one meal, I would answer without a blink of an eye: Roast chicken with all the fixin’s… “fixin’s” being mashed potato casserole (pretty much the best thing ever), steamed veggies, and loaded stuffing. Really quite simple if you ask me! Just kidding… a roast chicken dinner is a very labor intensive meal, but it is worth every ounce of time put into it.

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With that said, when I looked at the garden care package from my dad and brainstormed what I could do to use up the veggies before the went bad, it came to me: make a roast chicken meal!

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I made my meal just as my mom would, except I bought a roast chicken from Market Basket that was already roasted. I know, I know. Totally a cop-out move, but the truth is, I’m scared to cook a whole roast chicken on my own! Has anyone done that before? They are so big and there are so many “gizzards” that have to come out and how do you know it’s fully cooked?! I could go on and on, but bottom line is that I realized I need to face this silly cooking fear and make a stupid roast chicken start to finish all on my own. I will do it, but maybe when I’m home and can have my parents walk me through it ūüėČ Baby steps!

Anyway, as I talked with my mom for nearly an hour on Monday, I puttered in the kitchen chopping veggies, peeling and boiling potatoes and preparing the stuffing. The kitchen was an absolute disaster by the time I finished (and I used about every pot, pan and Tupperware container by the end of the night), but it was so worth it once I tried everything!

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I didn’t measure anything, but here’s a quick run down of what I made and what ingredients I used.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 small red potatoes, peeled and boiled until soft
  • about a 1/2 cup of 1% milk (They were out of skim, which is what I usually buy, but 1% has been a nice treat!)
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • salt, pepper, garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp. margarine

Maple Glazed Steamed Carrots and Parsnips

  • cut carrots and parsnips, steam until soft (or whatever consistency you like your cooked veggies to have)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 tbsp. maple syrup- I used a pecan maple syrup that my sister brought me back after one of her site visits which was perfect!

Loaded Stuffing

  • 1 package of stuffing mix- cook according to the instructions on the box
  • green peppers & onions- maybe 1/2 cup of each? saut√©ed so that they are already cooked when you add them to the boiling water with the dry stuffing mix.
  • 1/4 cup of craisins to add in with the peppers, onions and stuffing mix. Let everything set for 5 minutes.

Serve everything with gravy, because gravy makes everything better ūüėČ

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It’s a shame I live alone because I still have so many leftovers, 3 days later. I have issues with cooking smaller portions sometimes!

Questions for you: What’s¬†a food or meal that intimidates you or makes you nervous to try? If you could have your parents (or anyone) make you one meal, what would it be?

Summer Squash and Zucchini Lasagna

Well, I think it’s safe to say that it has been a REALLY long time since I’ve posted a recipe for you guys! Between the hot, summer weather and busy, summer plans, cooking “real” meals has really gone by the wayside. Since I was around all day on Sunday doing my “Sunday” things (workout, laundry, blogging, cooking, etc.), and I had¬†a summer squash and zucchini from my garden that I wanted to use, I figured it was a great time to cook!

I’ve been on the lookout for new recipes to use the veggies that I’ve grown in my garden. Athena recently posted a Summer Squash and Zucchini Ribbon Salad that is likely next on my list of recipes to try, but since my summer squash was on the bigger side, I realized that it might be better used in a lasagna to replace the noodles vs. a ribbon salad.

I didn’t really have a recipe in mind, but I knew the basis of a lasagna recipe: ricotta cheese, egg, meat/filling, and noodles (or, summer squash and zucchini in my case). With that said, I did double-check my idea of a recipe against a number of different websites. Man, there are A LOT of different lasagna recipes out there; some of them are so detailed and ingredient heavy, which was not at all what I was looking for. So, I went simple! And, you know what? You couldn’t even tell the difference!

I am a fan of lasagna with a lot of “stuff” in it, so in addition to the ground turkey and ricotta stuffing, I saut√©ed onions and mushrooms (in¬†wine, of course!) and added in diced¬†tomatoes. I didn’t¬†want to overload the lasagna with too many veggies/flavors, but¬†saut√©ed onions and mushrooms are such a good combination that I¬†had to¬†add them.

Summer Squash and Zucchini Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack since that’s all we had, but I would likely do Italian instead)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • herbs and seasoning to taste (I added some to the turkey while it was cooking, veggies while they were cooking, and the ricotta cheese mixture)

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Directions

1. Cut up the onion and mushrooms and sauté them with wine, minced garlic and seasonings.

2. Cook the ground turkey. When it is cooked through, add in a can of diced tomatoes (drained).

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3. Use a kitchen gadget (peeler or a slicer from Pampered Chef) to create thin slices of summer squash and zucchini. Make sure to pat the slices with a paper towel or place them on a paper towel to help absorb some of the water. I didn’t do this, and I ended up with a very watery lasagna!

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4. Mix together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, shredded cheese, egg, milk and seasoning.

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5. Once everything is combined, start to create your lasagna layers: summer squash and zucchini ribbons, meat & veggie mixture and cheese mixture until all of the ingredients are used up. I put one last layer of shredded cheese at the top before baking at 350* for 30 minutes. To brown up the top of  the lasagna, I broiled it for about 5 minutes.

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This meal was a perfect example of a “healthified” home-cooked meal because even though the noodles were substituted with veggies, we still felt satisfied when we finished. Between the ricotta cheese mixture and ground turkey, there was enough sustenance to leave us feeling full, but not in a bloated/stuffed way.

Questions for you: Do you have a garden? Do you tend to cook less in the summer because of a busy schedule and hot weather?