The BEST Healthy Pasta Casserole!

This was supposed to be my birthday lasagna… and it turned into an amazing birthday pasta casserole because all 3 of my grocery stores didn’t have brown rice lasagna noodles! (Gluten free) This is a great, simple dish to prepare for a large group, or, great for meal prep! You can totally put this in the freezer in individual servings. Great for gluten free or vegetarian guests! A healthier version of lasagna for sure. Feel free to substitute the pasta for lasagna! I made it in layers so it can easily be switched!

For 12-16 servings, you’ll need these ingredients. Feel free to chop them in half!

36 oz pasta

16 oz raw spinach

1 egg

16 oz of ricotta

1/2 tsp salt/pepper

1 onion

3 green squash

4 cups mozzarella

Handful of fresh basil

48 oz tomato sauce

Directions:

  1. Put a large pot of water up to boil for pasta. In another pan, heat up the olive oil and saute the spinach.
  2. Once it has cooked down, you need to drain the liquid. Put the spinach in a colander and use a spatula to  squeeze it out.
  3. In a bowl, beat an egg, add the ricotta cheese and mix together.
  4. Add the spinach, salt and pepper, and mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. When your water boils, add the pasta and cook al dente.
  6. Cut up the opinions, add olive oil and saute in the same skillet you used to cook the spinach.
  7. Slice your zucchini thin and saute with the onions.
  8. When your pasta is al dente, drain it and put back in the pot. Make sure to add a bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick together.
  9. Once the zucchini has cooked down, add in the sauce. Stir together and cook for a few minutes
  10. Now we build. First layer is 1/3 of the pasta, next is the sauce, fresh basil, half of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella, and half of the zucchini.

casserole 1

  1. Then another layer of pasta, sauce, basil, the rest of the ricotta, 1/3 of the mozzarella, and the rest of the zucchini. Top it off with pasta, sauce and the rest of the mozz.
  2. Add some fresh black pepper to the top and cover the tray with tin foil.
  3. Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, take the tin foil off and bake for another 10 minutes.
  4. Then, put the broiler on high to get the cheese toasty, leaving the oven open a bit so you can watch it. It will only take a minute or two.
  5. casserole 2
  6. Once it comes out, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.

BOOM! Everyone will love it!!

casserole 3

Let me know how it comes out and if you made any substitutions!

Make it a great week,

Stephanie

Simple Tomato Bruschetta!

How classic does it get for an appetizer?  Classic AND simple?  Amazing!

Chef Stef’s first field trip!  WOO HOOOO!  Chef Stef is officially taking this gig on the road.

Mary and I met at a Food and Wine event through Habitat for Humanity.  We clicked right away and kept in touch.  She had the idea to collaborate on a video and I thought it was brilliant!  We had such a blast making this video.  What a voice she has!  She’s amazing.  I loved that we could bond through music.

That house really was something!  Beautiful Victorian with the radiator and door handles still in tact from the 1800s.  Super cool.  The kitchen was recently fixed up and was beautiful!  So much light coming in the windows.  Unfortunately, the only time we could meet was dusk so the lighting doesn’t look as incredible as it is in person.

On to bruschetta.  Who on this planet doesn’t like bruschetta?  With all of its oily, garlicky, basily, tomatoey goodness?  It’s like an Italian heaven.  Well, now you can learn to make it for REAL!  The stuff you buy at the store pre-made is “eh”.  Nothing like the real thing!

You need:

1 loaf of Italian bread

1 pound of tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons fresh basil

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt and pepper

1. Put your broiler on high.

2. In a large mixing bowl, crush your garlic.  (If you don’t have a garlic press, just chop in small pieces.)  Dice the tomatoes and add to the bowl with your garlic.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon each.   Chop your basil and throw into the mixture.  Mix!

3. Using a serrated knife, cut your bread into 1/2″ slices.  Place on a baking sheet.  They can be as close together as possible.  After 2-3 minutes, they should be brown on top.  Take out, flip over and brown again for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Use that last tablespoon of olive oil to drizzle on your toasted bread. (That’s what Italian bruschetta is, after all!  Toasted bread with olive oil!  Didja know that?!)  If you feel you need more oil, go for it!  Spoon your tomato mixture on top of your bread while it’s still hot and SERVE!

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Doesn’t get much easier than that, folks!

Have leftovers?  Perfect!  Put it on some chicken or in a salad!  There isn’t much that tomatoes, basil and garlic doesn’t go with, so get creative and use your imagination!

And hey, if you live in CT and are looking for a new home, Mary is AWESOME and you should contact her!!!

marypetroctrealestate@gmail.com
203.380.6279

Thanks for watching… always!!

Keep it classy,

Chef Stef

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Pasta with Chicken, Tomato and Basil

What I vow to do in this new blog I created:

A) write out recipes from my videos for you to see in text format http://www.youtube.com/classychefstef

B) share behind the scenes fun facts

C) give advice on different ingredients you can use to substitute in case you are missing an ingredient

Let’s start with my most recent video!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hDP0nB-jxE

My mom literally walks around singing my jingle. It gets stuck in my head. Her head. Everyone’s heads. I had the idea for the gags in this video because so many people told me how they can’t get it out of their heads either!  For that, I apologize.

So here’s the thing.  I never measure anything unless, of course, I’m baking.  But for cooking, I taste test, throw stuff in and just go with the flow.  I think everyone needs to start doing that more.  Again, I’ll reiterate, baking IS ALWAYS about being exact.  In cooking you have a lot more creative opportunities.  I will give you a few measurements, but feel free to add an extra chicken breast or two, add less tomatoes and more basil… it’s up to YOU.

You are the chef, have fun and just… go with the freakin’ flow!

-3 Chicken breasts, or if you don’t feel like cutting up chicken because it’s “icky” or you’re feeling lazy, use 1-2 pounds of GROUND CHICKEN. Works the same way, follow the recipe as is, just substitute chicken breasts for ground chicken!

-olive oil, salt and pepper

-a yellow (or red) onion, slice either a half of one or a whole one, up to you!

-basil, FRESH basil makes a huuuuuge difference.  Buy a package or a plant.  You can never have too much basil.

-1-2 cups of tomatoes, dice them up, not too small or they will cook down to nothing leaving you with tomato skins

-package of pasta, or rice or quinoa, whatever floats your boat

Yes, that is me playing piano.  Yes, I made up some silly fanfare.  My 85 year old grandfather is convinced there is no way that’s me playing, since he can clearly see me on the screen without a piano.

“You edited it? Ugh, I can’t keep up with all these confound it electronics.”

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Isn’t he the cutest? You’ll meet him later on when he makes some appearances on the show! And I know what you’re thinking… No I have no African American heritage.  It’s okay, I was confused too until I was probably 7 or 8.  He’s just really, really Sicilian and sits in the sun all day long.  I was not fortunate to inherit the Italian skin, so I avoid the sun, hence my lily whiteness.  Skin cancer is serious, be safe people!

All comedy aside, the tip of the day was supposed to teach you to figure out what your plan of action is before you start anything.  That’s how things like your chicken gets overdone or the pasta turns cold. Cooking is mostly about timing. One of the timing issues I always have, is figuring out when the perfect time is to call everyone to the table. Are they going to come right this second?  Are they going to mosey on down here?  You never know!  I usually end up screaming from the bottom of the stairs, “I’M EATING WHILE IT’S STILL HOT!”

For this specific recipe, put up the pot of water first.  Turn it on high.  Throw salt in your pot.  If you’re using sea salt, use less than you would regular salt, because it tends to be much saltier.  You can always add salt, however you cannot, no matter how hard you try, take it away.

Dice your onions, tomatoes, basil and chicken. Do it in that order. Why?  So you don’t have to clean the cutting board or dirty another one for the chicken…Genius, I know.

Once everything is cut up, put a tablespoon of olive oil in your pan.  Put the onions in and cook them for a minute or two until they become translucent.

Now, put in your chicken and mix it around.  Put your pasta in the (boiling) pot of water.

Cook the chicken on medium heat, mixing it around consistently.  Add the salt and pepper.  Pay attention the entire time.  You never want overcooked chicken, YUCK!  As soon as it seems like the chicken pieces are no longer pink, cut one in half.  If it’s still slightly pink, cook it another minute. Same goes if you’re using ground chicken.  Just make sure it’s cooked fully.

Now add in the tomatoes.  Put your flame on low. Add the basil.  Don’t mix vigorously, just lightly.

If you want the healthy version, take out the pasta, put some olive oil on the pasta, and serve! It should look like this..

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If you want the naughty version, use a cup of heavy cream and a tablespoon (or 6) of parmesan cheese.  Mix in with the chicken and let the cream boil for a minute on medium low heat.  It should appear thicker.  Serve on top of pasta, and ladle the sauce over it and it is to die for.

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Simple, no?

If you like my videos and recipes, please subscribe to my channel and spread the word!  This is only the beginning, there is SO MUCH to come that I can’t wait to share with you!

http://www.youtube.com/classychefstef

Thanks for reading!

Chef Stef