Posts

No-boil lasagna is one of my favorite inventions, omitting the most cumbersome part of the process entirely. Couple that with the speed of a microwave, and you now have an everyday favorite you can make in half the time. Just brown the top under a broiler and no one will know you only pressed a few buttons.

Super Simple Microwave Lasagna

Stopwatch icon: 22 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup White Bean Puree (see recipe below) or store-bought hummus*
1/2 cup butternut squash puree (frozen or baby food squash puree)
2 1/2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 cup part-skim ricotta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 oven-ready no-boil lasagna noodles
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese

*Note: Substituting time-saving hummus for my White Bean Puree adds more flavor and a bit more fat to this dish; be sure your family likes the taste of hummus as it doesn’t go as unnoticed as the homemade White Bean Puree.

Preparation

Spray a microwave-safe 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with oil.

In a mixing bowl, combine the White Bean Puree (or hummus), squash puree, and marinara sauce. In another bowl, combine the ricotta and Parmesan cheese.

Spread 1/2 cup of sauce mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Place 2 no-boil lasagna noodles on top of the sauce, side by side. Spoon 3/4 cup of sauce mixture evenly over noodles to cover completely, then top with 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture in small dollops. Gently spread dollops with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons of mozzarella. Repeat with 2 more noodles, 3/4 cup sauce, 1/2 cup of ricotta mixture and another 2 tablespoons of mozzarella. Top with last 2 noodles, remaining sauce, then remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with wax or parchment paper, tucking ends under baking dish to hold them down.

Microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is fully melted and noodles are tender. (Optional next step: in order to brown the cheese, place baking dish in oven under hot broiler for about 2 minutes.) Let sit about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 6 servings.

PER SERVING: Calories 305; Total Fat 10.5g; Saturated Fat 4.6g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 35mg; Sodium 723mg: Carbohydrate 37.5g; Dietary Fiber 4.9g; Sugars 10.9g; Protein 17.8g; Vitamin A 46%; Vitamin C 1%; Calcium 31%; Iron 15%.

White Bean Puree

Ingredients

1 (15-ounce) can white beans* (Great Northern, navy, butter, or cannellini)
1 to 2 tablespoons water

*Note: If you prefer to use whole beans, soak overnight and cook as directed.

Preparation

Rinse and drain the beans and place them in the bowl of your food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of the water, then pulse on high until you have a smooth puree. If necessary, use a little more water, a tiny bit at a time, until the mixture smoothes out and no pieces or full beans are visible.

This recipe makes about 1 cup of puree; double it if you want to store another cup. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1/4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Makes about 1 cup of puree.

Sneaky shortcut: No time to take your food processor off the shelf? Just mash the beans using a fork.

Recipes reprinted with permission from THE SPEEDY SNEAKY CHEF © 2012 by Missy Chase Lapine, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.

A taquito is a small rolled burrito that’s usually deep-fried. Missy Chase Lapine, AKA the Sneaky Chef, makes her good-for-you version a few batches at a time and freeze them. When it’s time to load up the lunchboxes, she simply thaws them in the microwave.

Too-Good-To-Be-True Taquitos

Stopwatch: 11 minutes

Ingredients

4 ounces cooked chicken, turkey, or ham
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/4 cup Green Puree (see recipe below) or baby food mixed green vegetable puree
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (packaged) or Make-Ahead “Instant” Taco Seasoning Mix Recipe (see recipe below)
8 (6-inch round) corn tortillas (white or yellow)
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican or cheddar cheese
Toothpicks

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 and spray a baking sheet with oil.

Cut chicken, turkey, or ham into thin strips, easily done using kitchen scissors. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flax, puree, tomato paste, and seasoning.

Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds to one minute to make soft and pliable (you may want to do a few tortillas at a time so they don’t get stiff again).

Remove paper towels and lay soft tortillas out on the baking sheet. Spread each with about one tablespoon of the tomato mixture, top with about 1/2 ounce of chicken, turkey, or ham, and one tablespoon of cheese. Roll tightly and place seam-side down on the baking sheet (secure with a toothpick, if necessary). Spray the tops of the taquitos with more oil and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove toothpicks and serve warm, or allow to cool and freeze for up to 3 months (simply pop the taquito in microwave).

Makes 8 taquitos (4 servings).

PER SERVING: Calories 119; Total Fat 3.1g; Saturated Fat 0.9g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 17mg; Sodium 224mg; Carbohydrate 15.4g; Dietary Fiber 2.3g; Sugars 1.4g; Protein 8g; Vitamin A 8%; Vitamin C 6%; Calcium 11%; Iron 6%.

Green Puree

Ingredients

2 cups raw baby spinach leaves*
2 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
1 cup sweet green peas, frozen
2 to 3 tablespoons water

*Note: Missy Chase Lapine prefers raw baby spinach to frozen spinach for this recipe for its more mild flavor; if you must use frozen spinach, only use 1 cup.

Sneaky timesaver: Missy Chase Lapine recommends using frozen broccoli florets (with no added sauce) which are frozen at the peak of freshness to preserve maximum nutrients and have been blanched before freezing. The florets simply need to be thawed or microwaved for a minute before pureeing—it saves time chopping, washing, and steaming fresh broccoli.

Raw baby spinach should be rinsed well, even if the package says “prewashed.”

Preparation

To prepare Green Puree on the stovetop, pour about 2 inches of water into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Put a vegetable steamer basket into the pot, add the broccoli, and steam for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the frozen peas to the basket for the last 2 minutes of steaming. Drain.

To prepare in the microwave, place the fresh broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes (frozen florets take only 1 to 2 minutes), until very tender. Add peas for last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

Place the raw spinach in the food processor first and pulse a few times. This will reduce the spinach significantly. Next add the cooked broccoli and peas, along with 2 tablespoons of water. Puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to make a smooth puree.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store more. Green Puree will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1/4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Makes about 2 cups of puree.

Make-Ahead “Instant” Taco Seasoning

Ingredients

1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons each: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1+ tablespoon kosher salt, to taste
1+ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a plastic bag or air-tight container, seal, shake and store until ready to use.

Recipes reprinted with permission from THE SPEEDY SNEAKY CHEF © 2012 by Missy Chase Lapine, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.

Missy Chase Lapine, AKA The Sneaky Chef, learned about Indian candy salmon on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. It usually requires a tedious 20-day process of curing and drying salmon so that it becomes a consistency similar to jerky, and is alleged to be the way Native Americans convinced their kids to eat salmon. For her version, the maple and brown sugar oatmeal packet adds a gently sweet taste that eliminates any fishy flavor.

Sweet Salmon Sliders

Stopwatch: 9 minutes

Ingredients

6 tablespoons Orange Puree (see recipe below) or baby food carrot or sweet potato puree
6 tablespoons liquid egg white or 2 egg whites
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 packets (about 2/3 cup) instant oatmeal, maple and brown sugar flavored
1 large can (about 14 ounces) wild salmon, drained
10 slider buns or small soft dinner rolls (ideally whole wheat)
Optional toppings: honey mustard, sliced pickles, lettuce, tomato slices

Preparation

Heat a large skillet or indoor grill pan to medium and brush or spray with oil.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the puree, egg whites, and wheat germ, then mix in the oatmeal and salmon until well combined.

Using damp hands, shape mixture into 10 patties (about 1/4 cup sized each). At this point, the burgers may be prepared a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator, or frozen. If you are not freezing for future use, proceed to next steps.

Spray both sides of the salmon burgers with oil and place them on the prepared grill pan or skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Serve on whole grain buns with honey mustard and pickles, if desired.

Makes 10 burgers (5 servings).

NUTRITION BURST: Salmon
Wild salmon is a concentrated food source of vitamin D (helps calcium absorption and essential for bone and immune health). However, research shows that farmed salmon has only a quarter as much vitamin D as wild salmon. Most canned salmon comes from wild salmon sources.

PER SERVING: Calories 390; Total Fat 8g; Saturated Fat 0.7g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 28mg; Sodium 849mg; Carbohydrate 52.3g; Dietary Fiber 4.5g; Sugars 12.4g; Protein 29.8g; Vitamin A 28%; Vitamin C 1%; Calcium 12%; Iron 25%.

Orange Puree

Ingredients

1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Preparation

Place the carrots and sweet potatoes in a medium-sized pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until carrots are very tender. Careful—if the carrots aren’t tender enough, they may leave telltale little nuggets of vegetables in recipes, which will reveal their presence to your kids—a gigantic no-no for the Sneaky Chef.

Drain the carrots and sweet potatoes and put them in the food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth—no pieces of vegetables showing. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth out the puree, but the less water, the better.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store more. Orange Puree will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1/4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Makes about 2 cups of puree.

Recipes reprinted with permission from THE SPEEDY SNEAKY CHEF © 2012 by Missy Chase Lapine, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.