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Veggie Lover Lasagna!



If you have followed this site or read many of my posts and recipes for long, you know I am not a vegetarian.    However, I do love vegetables and eat tons of them. I can't even think of a vegetable I don't like.  Well, maybe brussel sprouts which I am not crazy about, but my sister showed me a way to cook them that made me actually like them. 

 I did try to give up eating meat once, for some reason that I cannot now imagine, and it was not pretty.  By the end of a week, I was meaner than a junkyard dog.  Everyone around me, who had to put up with me, begged me to just eat a pork chop!  I was just not designed to be an herbivore.  Bunny rabbits are cute, but it isn't me! 

  I do get requests for vegetarian dishes quite a bit, but I also get requests for low fat and sugar free ones and when I post them, no one pays much attention to them.  I always wondered why there weren't more food blogs dedicated to vegetarian, vegan, fat free, sugar free, gluten free, light...now I know!  Nobody reads them!  

I do love this vegetable lasagna though and I promise you, you will not even miss the meat.  I promise!  I think Italian food can get away with not using meat easier than most, because of all of the flavor you put in it and of course, the cheese.   This is a great recipe for summer when zucchini and yellow squash are so abundant.  

 Here is what you will need for this:

9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 cups zucchini, diced
2 cups yellow squash, diced
1 cup shredded carrot or cut in very small matchsticks
2 cups fresh mushrooms diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sugar
32 oz. carton of ricotta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided


In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and green or red pepper.  Saute until just soft.  Add the zucchini, yellow squash, garlic and carrots.  I like to cut the zucchini and yellow squash in thin circles and then diced.  I don't think they work as well if left in big hunks or huge slices. This should all cook down somewhat into sort of a vegetable ragout.  Add the mushrooms right at the end, because the will cook fast and does not need to be cooked too much.  You want the veggies soft but still with a little bite to them, not mushy.


Once all of the veggie are just soft, but still have some body to them, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste.  If the tomatoes are in big hunks, take your kitchen shears and cut them up some.  I hate big hunks of tomato in my lasagna sauce.  That's just me, if you like hunks, leave them in! 


 Add all of the seasonings, sugar and water to the sauce.   Bring up just to a bubble and then lower heat to low, cover and simmer while you assemble the other ingredients.


Mix the ricotta with the beaten eggs until smooth.  Add 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of the Mozzarella cheese and mix until well combined.  This mixture should be fairly thick.


Spread a layer of the sauce in a deep 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 


Lay three of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  Dollop the cheese mixture over the noodles.


Continue to repeat the layers.


Finish with the sauce and the other 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.


Finish the top with the last cup of Mozzarella and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.


It will be bubbly around the edges!

















Banana Puddin' Cheesecake!



Some of my best dessert creations come from combining a favorite of my husband's with one of my favorites!    This is the case with this yummy "Banana Puddin' Cheesecake".     I love cheesecake, but my husband is not all that crazy about it!   However, he has never met a banana pudding he didn't like!  As you know, I have several banana pudding recipes on my site already, so I was thinking about how I could combine the two and this was the result!  I must say it did not disappoint!   

This is a great recipe for summer, because it's cool and creamy and no-bake!    In this record breaking heat, that is a good thing!  

Here is what you will need:

1 (8 oz.)  pkg cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 (3.4 oz. pkg.) instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix (could use vanilla pudding)
1 cup milk
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed  (I used Cool Whip)
1 (9.0 oz) prepared graham cracker crust  (this is the 2 extra serving one which works best for this)
2 large bananas sliced or 3 small
1/2   (11 oz.) box of vanilla wafers
whipped topping for garnish



In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with the confectioners sugar until it's light and fluffy.  Add the teaspoon of vanilla,  the instant pudding mix and 1 cup milk.  Beat until the mixture is well incorporated and starts to thicken.  When it's thick, fold in the 2 cups whipped topping.   This mixture should be thick.  If it's not, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before proceeding.

Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into the graham cracker crust!


Top the cheesecake layer with the banana slices.  I used two large bananas, but if your bananas are smaller, use three. 


Cover the banana layer with about half of the vanilla wafers.  



Pour the rest of the cheesecake filling over the top and smooth it out.  Refrigerate for 5-6 hours or if you are in a hurry, freeze for 1 hour.

Right before serving, crush the rest of the vanilla wafers and sprinkle over the top.  I also piped whipped topping around the edges and then put a dollop on top of each slice.  You could also put a slice of banana on top of each slice! 



This is delicious and it was gone in no time at our house!




Enjoy!!!



Berrylicious Banana Cheesecake Trifle!

 


A trifle is the perfect dessert for summer and for serving company, because they are usually cool and creamy and will serve a crowd!   This trifle is all of those things and it's just full of wonderful flavors!  It's got fresh berries, bananas, pound cake (or angel food cake) and a delicious cheesecake filling then topped with whipped cream!!!  Could it get any better than that!   

Actually, it could, because there is also virtually no baking involved, if you buy your pound cake or angel food cake!   This is also a hit with all ages!!!  

Here is what you will need:

1 prebaked pound cake (or you can use an angel food cake if you want something lighter)
1  (8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 (3.4 oz.) instant cheesecake pudding mix
1  1/2 cups cold milk
1  (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz.) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
1  tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 (21 oz.) can blueberry pie filling
1  (21 oz.) strawberry pie filling
2 bananas sliced
1 pint strawberries, sliced 
1 pint blueberries 

First, you will need to make the cheesecake filling.  Place the softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light fluffy.  Add the instant pudding mix and the 1 1/2 cups cold milk and beat until smooth.   Add the can of sweetened condensed milk and beat with the mixer.  The mixture will be starting to thicken.  Add the tsp. of vanilla flavoring and fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping.  When it's all combined well, set in the fridge to thicken while you get the other ingredients prepared.

You will need a large trifle dish for this or even a smaller punch bowl will work.   Cut the pound cake in about 1 inch cubes.  If you want a lighter dessert, you can use an angel food cake.  You can purchase either in the your deli section of your supermarket or I used the frozen Sarah Lee pound cake after I thawed it. 


Place half of the cake cubes in the bottom of the dish.  Pour the blueberry pie filling over the first cake layer.  Sprinkle with a layer of fresh blueberries, saving half of them for the top!


Place the banana slices over the blueberries, then spread half of the cream cheese filling over banana layer!   Continue with the layers, by layering the rest of the cake cubes,  the can of strawberry filling, top with half of the strawberry slices and then the rest of the cheesecake filling!



Spread the rest of the whipped topping evenly over the top and then arrange the rest of the blueberries and strawberries over the top! 

 

You can arrange the berries randomly or in a pattern like this!  This is best if you refrigerate it for a few hours before serving so it has time to set up and the flavors to blend.  



This is a great recipe for cookouts or holiday gatherings!  When I served it, it was a hit with everyone!  Enjoy!




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