Kale and Mushrooms Baked Spaghetti

I am always looking for good healthy recipes to test. This recipe is very easy to make and the pasta choices can be gluten or rice free. I found this on another food blog I follow called http://www.hummusapien.com and I tweaked and added to the recipe only because I know that I want these flavors in this dish. What is so great about this is there are no eggs or cheese needed. I loved the idea completely. My next dish will be with spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Watch for that one. Enjoy!

Kale and Tofu Baked Spaghetti
Created on 3/10/15

Kale and Tofu Baked Spaghetti

For the Tofu Filling
16 oz. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
½ cup of hummus (I made a huge batch in the beginning of the week so I used that)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
½ fresh squeeze lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the zest

Press and drain the tofu for approximately 15 minutes. You can put the tofu on top of the colander, and put a plate with a heavy can to press all the water out of the tofu. Crumble the tofu in a medium size-mixing bowl. Add the hummus, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano and basil, and lemon juice and zest. Mix using your hands or a fork, the mixture will look like ricotta cheese. Set the bowl aside.

For the Baked Spaghetti
12 oz of spaghetti pasta (Gluten Free, Corn, Wheat or Rice Free whichever works for you)
32 oz jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Simply Organic Tomato Basil from Kroger)
2-1/2 cups of water
8 oz button mushrooms sliced
½ onion sliced
½ bunch of kale, chopped
2 tablespoons of water or olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium sauté pan over medium-high heat up water or oil and add mushrooms and onions. Sauté until the onions and mushrooms are soft.

In a greased 9 x 13-casserole dish, layer the uncooked spaghetti on the bottom. If using a stone, no greasing is needed. Break the noodles in half and cross over the pasta so the noodles do not stick while baking. Add the spaghetti sauce and water. Use a spoon and mix on top of the spaghetti. It will look very watery. Top with the cooked mushroom and onion mixture and the chopped kale. Sprinkle the tofu filling on top evenly.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven, and let the dish set for 10 minutes before serving.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

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Vegan Corn Zucchini Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are one of my favorite foods. But, they often tend to be on the unhealthy side with the different cheeses and sometimes meat. Because I am slowly changing my eating habits, I decided to try and make vegan stuffed shells instead. I have to admit I was a little skeptical. The stuffed shells to my surprise were delicious. I used organic vegetables, non-GMO tofu and whole grain pasta. At first, I thought that maybe the extra-firm tofu was not a good idea, but the tofu worked well in the recipe. Enjoy!

Vegan Corn Zucchini Stuffed Shells
Created 7/10/14

corn.zucchini.stuffedshells

1 cup of organic corn (cut off the cob, or frozen and thawed)
1 large zucchini, chopped into bite size pieces
½ of a medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable stock or olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
1 package (15.5 ounce) organic non-gmo extra firm tofu
1 (8 ounce) bag of Dayia shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup of fresh minced parsley
Zest of a lemon and the juice
3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 jar of tomato basil marinara sauce
Salt/Pepper for flavor
28 large pasta shells cooked and drained

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta shells and cook for approximately 6 to 8 minutes. The shells need to be firm and not soft as they will continue to cook in the oven.

It is important to drain the tofu well. Otherwise the filling will be very watery. I used an upside down colander and put the tofu on top, then a small plate weighed down with a heavy bowl to drain a lot of the liquid out. Drain for approximately 10 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, heat up the vegetable stock or olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, add more stock if needed. Add the corn and cook for another 3 minutes. Then, add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and add the minced garlic. The heat from the vegetables will cook the garlic. Set aside and cool.

In a large bowl, crumble the tofu up with your fingers and add the nutritional yeast. Add ½ of the cheese, sautéed vegetables, zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Mix well.

In a 9 x 13 casserole dish, spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Set aside. Stuff the shells with the tofu mixture and lay in the casserole dish. After all the shells are stuffed, cover the top of the shells with the balance of the marinara sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese on the shells.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Remove the foil and turn on the broiler for a few minutes to brown and bubble the cheese. Remove from the heat when done.

Serve with a lightly seasoned arugula or green salad.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

Tomato Sweet Onion Macaroni Salad

I was hired to cater a workshop event recently and wanted to make macaroni salad that would not spoil sitting out in a warm room. After a lot of researching, I decided to come up with something of my own using different ideas from recipes. I found this tomato relish on Recipezaar and just made minor adjustments to it. I added the tomato relish to the cooked elbow macaroni. It came out fantastic, I was surprised. I have become encouraged to come up with my own recipes because it shows I have really improved as an experimental/healthy/simple home cook in the last year or two. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Enjoy!

Tomato Sweet Onion Macaroni Salad
Serves 14 to 16 people ½ cup servings
Created on October 5, 2011

Click on the image to see an enlarged picture

1 Box of Whole Grain Elbow Macaroni
3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
1 quart of mini Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped (I used ¼ yellow, ¼ orange and ½ red tomatoes)
½ of a red onion finely minced
3 green onions, minced fine
½ cup of Fage Greek yogurt or Hellman’s mayonnaise (both ways is delicious)
2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
½ cup of freshly minced parsley
Salt/Pepper to taste

Prepare the tomato relish in the morning if you can. This way the tomatoes have time to marinate with all the other seasonings. Trust me it is worth the wait.

Cut the mini Heirloom tomatoes into quarters and put in a glass bowl. Finely mince the red onion. You can use green onions or shallots if you want a milder taste. Add the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover and marinate for about 3 to 4 hours. The juices from the tomatoes will develop and this will really flavor the macaroni salad.

Cook the elbow macaroni per the package directions. Rinse well and put in a bowl and set aside. Chop 3 stalks of celery and mince the green onions and parsley. Add to the cooked elbow macaroni. Add the tomato relish. Combine all the ingredients before adding the Greek yogurt or mayonnaise. Stir well. Serve with sandwiches or a fresh green salad.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

Late Saturday Night Pasta

I had a very busy day today and by the time I got home it was very late. I was starving but did not want to get take out. This recipe has all the healthy vegetables I love and I decided to do a fast broil and stir-fry. The whole dish took no longer than 30 minutes to cook. Love the fresh flavors and I am addicted to tomatoes broiled with melt cheese on top. A great recipe that is fast and healthy. Enjoy!

Late Saturday Night Pasta
Created on 09/24/11

Click picture to see an enlarged image

3 tomatoes sliced about ½” thick

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

½ pound of asparagus chopped into 1-1/2” pieces

10 ounces of button mushrooms (use any mushroom you like)

½ cup of fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated

1 pound of whole grain pasta, cooked according to the package directions

Salt / Pepper

 Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.

 Preheat Broiler on low heat to prepare for the “Broiled Tomatoes”. Click here to see the “Broiled Tomato” recipe used here.

 In a sauté pan over medium high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms for approximately 5 minutes and add the chopped asparagus to the pan. Continue to sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes until asparagus is heated thoroughly. The asparagus should have some bite to it and not soft and soggy.

 On a plate, layer with pasta, 3 tomato slices, asparagus mushroom stir fry, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and 3 more tomato slices on top.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken Stir-Fry

I have always felt that dinner meals should be simple with just basic ingredients that have minimal fat and full of things that you love. Sometimes things in our lives can be complicated, hectic and feel overwhelming. I think I used enough verbs in this sentence to stress me out. On that thought, I created this recipe from reading one of Rachel Ray’s meals on the internet, and saw the recipe blooming to another one of my cooking concept as I analyzed the recipe to death. I decided to tweak the recipe to make it my own. Balsamic Vinegar is one of the most wonderful things that you can add to a dish and it changes the flavor to appealing when cooked. It is also asparagus season here in Michigan so I try and take advantage of using this vegetable as much as I can because it is absolutely delicious, helps regulate my blood sugars, and is one of the vegetables that helps clean all the bad toxins out of your body. I wish that asparagus grows all year around and life would be just so good.

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken, created on 05/02/10


1 pound of fresh asparagus
1 medium onion
1 pint of baby Bella mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lb bag of Penne Brown Rice Pasta
4 to 5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
6 ounces of chicken tenderloin cut into 1” cubes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut the chicken tenderloins in 1 to 1-1/2” cubes. Put into a glass bowl and pour in the balsamic vinegar and toss the chicken well. Let the chicken marinate for about half an hour to an hour.

Prepare the brown rice pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside in a colander. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat, and then add the chicken with the marinade and cook until done. Take out of the skillet and put in a bowl and set aside.

Cut the onion in half and then again into half moon slices. Clean and cut up the asparagus into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces. Heat the rest of the olive oil in the pan over medium high heat and cook the onions for about 15 minutes until a deep brown and caramelized. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more and add the asparagus. Add the cooked chicken with any juices with the vegetables and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. I tasted the dish and thought it needed a couple more tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Once that was added the dish improved to a WOW! Season the dish with salt and pepper, if needed.

Put the pasta in a pretty polka dotted bowl – that always looks cheerful and top with the chicken mixture. My roommate sprinkled her favorite Parmesan Cheese over the dish and sighed. But I thought it was fine by itself. Let me know what your thoughts are. Serve immediately, serves about 3 to 4 if you are lucky. Enjoy!

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Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Pasta Bake

This dish just sounded so appealing to me. I love casseroles but the fat content is always high in these types of dishes because the main ingredient is often a creamy sauce that is made from scratch or from a soup. I think I would take the Parmesan cheese over a creamy sauce any day. But, I learned something new for myself today. Parmesan cheese has a higher fat content than mozzarella cheese. I always thought it was the other way around. The house smelled like an Italian restaurant with the amount of garlic I put in the dish. Full of flavor and there were also some benefits of fiber from the whole wheat pasta, mushroom and spinach.

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Pasta Bake
Created recipe on 02/25/2010

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Pasta Bake 11 lb or one box of whole wheat pasta (use any shape you like)
4 oz of chicken tenderloin strips chopped in 1” cubes
1 box of frozen spinach thawed and all excess liquid squeezed
½ pint of mushrooms thickly sliced (I used button mushrooms)
8 -10 cloves of garlic minced fine
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup of wine (I had a red wine available and used that)
1-1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Prepare the whole wheat pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain liquid and set aside.

Sauté the cubed chicken tenderloins for about 10 minutes until browned in olive oil over medium heat in a 10” skillet. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. The garlic will brown with the chicken. Stir constantly so the garlic does not burn. Note: If the garlic burns in the dish, it gives a bitter flavor to the whole thing and does not taste great. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Add the spinach, wine and cook until the spinach is heated thoroughly and the wine is cooked off. Add 1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese to the mixture, mix well. I used about 3/4 of the 1 lb pasta that I cooked. I felt that adding the whole 1 pound of pasta was too much. Mix the pasta in the filling.

In a casserole dish, even out the filling and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan Cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until dish is thoroughly heated and the cheese is melted.

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Pasta Bake 2I wasn’t satisfied with the color so I flash broiled the dish in the broiler for about 5 minutes to give the cheese the golden color I wanted.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

The Happy Meal aka Pam’s Vegetable Stir-Fry

Today is a snowy-cloudy-gloomy day here in Michigan and I was getting sick of making soup so I decided to do a quick stir-fry for dinner. The thoughts of cutting up and sautéing fresh green vegetables and adding left-over whole-grain penne pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese appealed to my mood thus creating the simply healthy version of “The Happy Meal”. Enjoy!

The Happy Meal aka Pam’s Vegetable Stir-Fry
Created recipe on 02/02/2010

1 pound of fresh thin stalked asparagus
½ bag of grated broccoli and carrot slaw
1 pint of button mushrooms cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves sliced
1 medium onion cut in half and sliced in half moons
2 to 3 handfuls of cooked Penne whole grain pasta (you can use any pasta or rice)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
Fresh or dried parsley about 4 tablespoons
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan Cheese
You can add lemon zest but no one wanted that today

Stir Fry Vegetables in Wok

Clean and cut up all the fresh vegetables as the sautéing part will go very fast. Remember the pasta was already cooked; it was a left over from another meal. If you do not have pasta or rice cooked make sure you start that process first and have it ready for your meal.

In a wok or stir fry pan, heat up the olive oil in high heat, this will heat up very fast so you will need to be ready. Add the onion, sauté for 2 minutes, and then add rest of the vegetables. Saute the vegetables to the desired consistency. I happen to like my veggies crunchy with a burst of freshness, so I sauté the vegetables for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Add the pasta as the final ingredient. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Serve in individual bowls with sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top. Be happy!

The Happy Meal

Nutritional Notes:

  • High content of vitamin K
  • Naturally detoxifies the body

(For more information– check out the nutritional note #4)

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