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Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

This is from my cousin, Tracy.  I love the idea of using the zucchini instead of lasagna noodles and it was really good but my version wasn’t vegetarian because I only had chicken stock on hand so I just went with that.


4 med zucchini, sliced into 15 strips to fit your baking dish

1 cup quinoa

2 cups veggie stock

1/2 c. tomato sauce

1 small onion

10 basil leaves

2 cups marinara

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup thawed drained chopped spinach

1/4 cup cottage cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 400.  Layer sliced zucchini into a colander, sprinkle with salt & layer with paper towels.  Combine stock, quinoa, tomato sauce, onion, garlic in sauce pot, bring to a boil and simmer 20 min.  Turn off heat, stir in cottage cheese, spinach and basil, season with salt and pepper.  Pour marinara in baking dish to coat, layer with zucchini, half of quinoa, zucchini, rest of quinoa & the last of the zucchini.  Top with marinara & shredded cheese.  Bake for 30 min or until bubbly & zucchini are tender.  Set for 5 min and serve.

I used fresh spinach instead of frozen, it wilted just fine when I put it in the hot quinoa mixture.  Maybe my basil wasn’t very fresh but I didn’t taste it very much in the dish and I think you could omit it if you don’t have it on hand.  It was very delicious and makes quite a large pan, which is a great thing in my house because I like to have leftovers for lunches!  I think this might make it into the freezer meal rotation for the baby’s arrival.


This one came from my Aunt Debbie.  It was very easy and really delicious.


2T Olive Oil

2 ribs celery

1 large carrot

1 small red onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

1 tsp chili powder

4 c low sodium chicken or veg stock

2 15 oz cans black beans

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup fresh or frozen corn

salt and pepper


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over med heat.  Add celery, carrot, onion and bell peppers.  Saute unitl onion becomes translucent, abt 8 min.  Add garlic and spices.  Cook another 2 min.

Add stock or cooking liquid of your choice, beans and tomatoes.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat.  Cover and let simmer for about 20 min.  Using a hand held blender, puree soup to desired consistency.  Add corn and let simmer about 5 min more.  Season with salt and pepper, Serve hot.

I omitted the green bell peppers as Jason doesn’t care for them and blended to a chunky rather than completely smooth consistency.  I also garnished with a bit of shredded cheese.  It was really good and made a good sized batch so I still have leftovers in the fridge.

Once again, too hungry to stop and take pics of this but we ate it all up.  The tilapia recipe is from Libby and the bread is from my cousin Mollie.



1/2 cup Parmsesan

1/4 c. butter, softened

3 T mayo

2 T lemon juice

1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 tsp dried basil

4 tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven’s broiler while you mix all ingredients except fish.   Arrange fish in a single layer and broil 2-3 min.  Flip the fish & broil another 3-5 min.  Remove from oven and top with parmesan mixture.  Broil 3-5 min until the topping is browned.

I did all of this except officially broiling it.  I just baked it on a sheet pan while the bread was baking.  It worked fine.  The mixture adds a lot of flavor to the fish.  I brushed it on thickly and still had a bit leftover that I’m going to try on some chicken.

Birthday Bubble Bread:

Packaged frozen bread dough

1/2 c butter

2 T Italian seasoning (I used a blend of dried basil and oregano)

Leave bread dough out to thaw.  Grease bread pan or bunt pan & preheat oven to 375.  Soften butter & mix in seasonings.  Tear bread dough into pieces & roll in balls.  Dip bread balls in the butter mixture and bake in pan.  Allow bread to rise for about an hour.  Bake until golden brown on top.

I used some pizza dough I had made and had in the freezer.  I realize on re-reading this that I made it wrong.  I didn’t let it rise for an hour before baking it!  It turned out ok but next time I will let it rise.

We ate this so fast I didn’t even take a picture.  The recipe makes a small pot of soup.  Next time I’m going to double it.  I liked it so much it made my list of freezer meals that I am going to prepare before the baby comes so I don’t have to worry about cooking.


1.5 cups sliced carrots (I diced my pretty small)

2 cups chopped broccoli

1-14oz can chicken broth (I used my homemade chicken broth)

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup butter (I used more like 2 tablespoons, I tend to always use a bit less fat in recipes.  I like it but I’m cheap)

1/4 tsp ground black pepper (does anyone measure this?  I just grind over the pot til it looks right)

2.5 cups milk

2.5 to 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/3 cup flour


Combine carrots, broccoli & broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat & simmer for 10 min.  Remove from heat and set aside

In a large soup pot cook onion in butter until onion is translucent.  Wisk in flour & pepper & cook for 1 min (J.J. was tricky here, she didn’t mention the flour in the ingredients list!  I’ve made this type of roux before and have learned that you use about the same proportion of butter to flour so I just did that and it turned out fine.  Ha, ha J.J.).  Slowly wisk in milk.  Bring to a boil then stir in cheese, saving some for garnish if you like.  Once cheese is melted, stir in veggies and broth and heat through & serve.

She says it’s great with sourdough bread.  I was so hungry I just ate two bowls and called it a night.  Jason ate the rest.  My mother makes a soup similar to this but with potatoes and celery in addition to the carrots.

My mom’s cute idea.

My birthday is Nov 11, which means that this year it fell on 11/11/11.  A week ago I got a card from my mom saying I should keep an eye on the mail for three 11’s that were coming for my birthday.  I started getting birthday cards from my family, the first one came from my brother and sister in law and included a recipe.  Since my sister in law loves to cook I thought it was a sweet thought but then I started getting cards from the rest of my family and they ALL had recipes so I realized that was one of the three 11’s I should be looking for.  My mother also mailed me 11 baby boy buttons and today I got a card from Heifer International with information that mom donated enough to buy 11 small animals for the project.

Baby boy buttons


Tonight I made the first of the birthday recipes with my new slow cooker.  This one came from my Aunt Carol.

New slow cooker

Slow Cooked coffee pot roast

1 beef roast (I used chuck)

2 tsp. canola oil

1.5 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/3 cup sliced green onions

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/5 cups brewed coffee

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup cold water.

In a large non stick skillet, brown roast on all sides in oil over med-high heat.  Place in a 5 qt slow cooker.  In the same skillet, saute mushrooms, onions and garlic until tender.  Stir in coffee, liquid smoke, salt, chili powder and pepper.  Pour over roast.  Cover, cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove roast and keep warm.  Pour cooking juices into a 2 cup measuring cup, skim fat.  In a saucepan combine cornstarch and water until smooth.  Gradually stir in 2 cups cooking juices.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 min or until thickened.  Serve with beef.

My aunt says she never bothers with the gravy.  I didn’t either.  In fact, here are my alternate directions for the way I really cooked the roast:

I didn’t have green onions so I used a red onion since it is mild.  I also didn’t have mushrooms so I just didn’t bother with them this time.  Also, turns out I was out of chili powder so I used hot sauce.  I didn’t brown anything in the pan, I just tossed the roast into the slow cooker, minced the onions and garlic and tossed those on top, then poured the coffee, liquid smoke, hot sauce, salt and pepper on top, set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low, and ran to work.  When I came home the house smelled great and all I had to do was make some garlic mashed potatoes.  Next time I’m doing the mushrooms and gravy with this.  So delicious!   Thanks Aunt Carol!

Yummy! Just waiting for mashed potatoes

I’m going to make the rest of the recipes and post them because my family is so cool and I really appreciate that they all got in on this sweet little project for my birthday.  Also big love to my gal, Libby, who may not exactly be family but she is pretty close and she also kicked in a card and recipe for this little project.  You are the best.

I’ve been putting together some things for the baby here and there and I thought I’d clue you in.

When my mom and dad were visiting us mom and I decorated some baby onesies.  I had already dyed a couple of them.

I used a fabric marker called Tee Juice.  It worked very well, no color bleeding and it glided over the fabric pretty well.

Mom decorated this one.

I made some burp cloths using this tutorial on the Happy Together blog:


I made matching stuffed bunnies for our baby and his cousin, my sweet niece Lila Jane, using this pattern from Polka-Dot Umbrella:


Obviously, I did the face a bit differently.  Lila Jane is 2 now and would probably be ok with button eyes on a toy but the baby definitely won’t be so I just embroidered blue eyes on both of them.  The bunnies are spending a lot of time together now but will soon be separated when I visit my family in Tennessee later this month and take Lila her bunny.

Joint project for the baby

For about 7 years I have had the Ikea Apa wooden toy box.  I’ve used it for storage but I’ve been clearing out a lot of stuff lately and don’t have anything in it so I thought, why not use this for the baby’s toy box?  I got some fabric to put on the sides and then Jason said, why don’t we paint it?  So this is what we did.

This is what we started with, $14.99 at Target.This is what we started with, $14.99 at Ikea.

First Jason painted it.  He got the high gloss green from Home Depot.  He only needed a pint and I think it only cost about $15.  On the inside of the short end you may notice a bit of pink paint.  That was leftover from our bedroom and Jason thought the toy chest looked kind of cool with a bit of contrasting color.

I measured each of the 4 sections I planned to add fabric to and cut the fabric to size with about 1/4″ extra on each edge.  Then I pressed down the excess fabric while measuring carefully to make sure I maintained the correct dimensions.


I hot glued the fabric to each section.  I found it worked best if I glued a few inches at a time and ended on a corner.  When I did the long edges I worked on both sides simultaneously, a few inches on one side, then a few on the other.

After the fabric was glued down we attached handles and some purchased feet from Home Depot.  We are already trying to think of the ways in which our kid will try to destroy our home and dragging a toy chest across the wood floor until it scratches the floor seems like a pretty good possibility.  Hence, the feet.  We debated putting casters on the bottom but decided against it.  I think if we had our little one would be tobagganing down the hill in his toy chest as soon as our backs were turned.

This is the kind of project I get really excited about because we repurposed something we already had and it didn’t cost much.  I think the materials cost for the project was under $30.  Since I had been using the chest for 7 years I don’t think the cost figures much into the cost of the project.