Lasagna Casserole…On the Stovetop

I mentioned here that I’m trying to avoid the oven during these hot summer days.  Later this week, I’ll be making Lasagna Casserole, which is one of our family’s favorite recipes (and one of mine because it’s so easy).

Cook Your Casserole on the Stovetop

But, I don’t want to bake it in the oven right now.  It’s just too hot.

For recipes like this, I “bake” them on the stove top.  Just follow the recipe as normal, but then leave it in the pot on the stove.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and put the lid on.  Let it sit and simmer for a few minutes until the cheese is all melty all over the place, then serve.

This method also works for Cheesy Beef and Rice and Pizza Casserole - and probably a bunch of other casserole recipes you have that are all pre-cooked and then baked for a few minutes.

This summer, skip the oven.  Use the stovetop.  Unless of course you like sweating profusely and passing out.  I’ll use my oven when I absolutely have to.  In the meantime, when I can, I’ll stick to my stove-top.

This post was originally published on June 29, 2009.

Orange Creamsicle Recipe

Did you like the Strawberry Creamsicle recipe I shared?  How about an Orange Creamsicle recipe to add some variety?  For that matter, you can sub just about any fruit you like to make creamsicles.  Such a refreshing treat!

Orange Creamsicle Recipe

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each after these have been in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.  Makes about 12 small creamsicles.

Orange Creamsicles

7-Minute Strawberry Ice Cream ~ Dairy Free Option

Healthy food always takes a long time to make, right?  Not at my house.  Healthy food always tastes like “health food,” right?  Oh, for real.  Healthy food always costs a lot of money, right?  Not if I can help it. 

Most of the guests I feed at my house don’t even suspect that I’m serving them healthy food.  In fact, I fed this simple Strawberry Ice Cream to someone last week, and all he knew was that I was handing him a dish full of homemade ice cream.  All he knew was that it tasted delicious, he loved it, and he asked for seconds.  He was impressed that I had “taken the time” to actually make homemade ice cream.  He had no idea it was made in 7 little minutes.  He had no idea the dessert didn’t have any added sugar (I used stevia).  He had no idea the health benefits of what he was eating.  He just thought he was eating really good ice cream.  Boom.  Score one for healthy food that doesn’t appear to be health food.

Yes, from start to finish, this ice cream just takes about seven minutes to make.  No ice cream freezer necessary – all you need is a strong blender or food processor.  By the way – those seven minutes it takes to make this treat?  Well, it’s not like it takes 7 minutes of work on my part.  I just put the ingredients into the food processor and walk away.  God bless the person who invented food processors so that I can check email while I’m making ice cream.

7-Minute Strawberry Ice Cream

4 cups (give or take) frozen strawberries
1 can (13.5 ounces) chilled coconut milk or 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 drops liquid stevia or 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup or 1 Tablespoon honey

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Serve right away.  Makes 4-8 servings.

7-Minute Dairy Free Strawberry Ice Cream

Have you tried the Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert recipe yet?  This is pretty much the same recipe, except for the obvious switch from pineapple to strawberries.  I found that when using pineapple, I didn’t need to add anything else to sweeten the treat.  Strawberries are a little more tart, so adding a tiny bit of stevia made this perfect.

Next I plan to make this treat using frozen peaches.  Then maybe frozen blueberries.  Then frozen raspberries.

Health food?  You can keep your rice cakes.  I’m having ice cream.

What’s your favorite “healthy food” to serve that doesn’t appear to be health food?

Strawberry Creamsicle Recipe

Strawberry Creamsicles in Muffin Tins

Tis the season to enjoy cold, sweet treats.  Tis the season to find refreshment in a frozen snack after a hard day of work or play.  Tis the season to drip syrupy red or blue food dye down the chin, staining the teeth, the tongue, and the swim shirt in the process.

No, wait.  Not that last one.  Let’s skip the food dye and syrupy fake sweetness of high fructose corn syrup, and instead enjoy a real food treat.  Although do feel free to let this Strawberry Creamsicle melt and drip down your chin.  After all, what’s summer without messy, sticky chins and swim suits?  Seriously, you should watch me eat a slice a watermelon.  It’s like I’m a three year old, slurping and grinning and ignoring the watermelon juice as it runs all the way down my neck while I stand at the kitchen sink taking bite after bite.  Hey, there’s no shame in enjoying a treat while ignoring the napkin.

Sometimes you just really don’t know what to say or do with the things I tell you about myself, do you?  Oh c’mon.  Live a little.  Grab some watermelon and make some Strawberry Creamsicles.  Grin and slurp.  Be a kid again.

Strawberry Creamsicles

2 cups frozen strawberries
2 cups whole milk (or coconut milk)
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.

Strawberry Creamsicles

Nothing fake – all natural sweetness, just perfect for a summer treat!  I can’t think of anything I’d rather have running down my chin.

#whoneedsnapkins  #lifestooshort  #grinandslurp

Icy Cold Milkshake Treats

I’ve been sharing quite a bit about coffee treats lately.  Iced Coffee, Homemade Chocolate Frappe, Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffeeyum.  This is great for everyone except for those who don’t like coffee, right?  Yes, well.  This post should take care of that.

My family definitely fits into the “don’t like coffee” category of people.  In fact, they really don’t understand why I’ve suddenly started loving the stuff.  Okay by me.  It’s the one and only food/drink in this house I get all to myself.  Ha!  It’s mine.  All mine!!  (she says, lovingly.)

So for all the “don’t like coffee” people out there, including my family, who thinks my Homemade Chocolate Frappe looks really good but tastes really bad – here’s what I’ve come up with as a delicious alternative.  Icy Cold Milkshake Treats.  Instead of starting out with coffee ice cubes, simply start out with regular ice cubes.  Instead of adding cold coffee and milk, simply add cream and milk.  Instead of adding chocolate…oh wait.  We’re still adding chocolate.  Unless you want straight up vanilla.  That works too.

You’ll love how easy this is, how “real food” this is, and how it’s a treat completely void of sugar.  It doesn’t get any better.  (Unless you add coffee, but we’ve been through this already.)

Icy Cold Milkshake Treats

2 cups ice cubes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Liquid stevia to taste (I use about 10 drops NuNaturals brand)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (omit if you prefer a vanilla milkshake)

Blend ingredients together until slushy-like.  Serve right away.  Makes about 3 servings.

Icy Cold Milkshake Treats

Most of the ingredients in the list are in “give or take” proportions.  You’ll figure this out if you actually try to measure 2 cups of ice cubes.  Rectangle shaped ice cubes don’t cooperate very well in a round measuring cup.

In addition, you may want your shake to be creamier, smoother, sweeter, chocolatier, or with coffee.  Oh wait.  This one doesn’t have coffee in it.  Well anyway, feel free to add more or less of any of the above listed ingredients to make this shake just what you want it to be.

As for me, I’m going to stick with the Homemade Chocolate Frappe.  And I’m going to drink the entire blender of coffee goodness all by myself because no one else in my house likes it so I don’t have to share, so ha!  (she says, with kindness.)

What do you think?  Which will you like better?  And which will your family members like better? 

Healthy Homemade Chocolate Frappe

This recipe has nothing to do with me and everything to do with: you all totally rock.  Thank you for reading my posts and then sharing your great ideas too.  YOU are Heavenly Homemakers that I am so thankful to call friends.  Plus, you give me more delicious chocolate ideas, so of course I love you.

This recipe is a result of putting several of your comments together from both my Make Coffee Ice Cubes for Iced Coffee post and my Chocolate Whipped Cream – Perfect For Your Coffee post.  I took all of your thoughts, advice, and suggestions – put them together with my ingredients and my blender…and what did I get?  Chocolate Frappe perfection which is a completely guilt free treat on a hot day.  Or a cold day.  Or in the middle of the night.  Not really.  I sleep at night.  But I dream of this Chocolate Frappe.

Healthy Homemade Chocolate Frappe

This frappe is stevia sweetened, which means there is no sugar in this – only wholesome, real food ingredients that won’t give you a sugar rush.  Don’t like stevia?  I didn’t like it either until I learned to use it correctly.  I prefer NuNaturals Liquid Stevia (ordered through Vitacost).  Use only a few drops – too much and your drink will have a bitter aftertaste.  Get it just right and you’ll feel like you’re drinking something naughty.  Oh lovely Chocolate Frappe fantastic-ness.

Healthy Homemade Chocolate Frappe

5-8 iced coffee cubes
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup coffee (cold brewed or hot brewed then chilled)
1/2 cup (or more) Chocolate Whipped Cream

Mix ingredients in the blender until smooth.  Feel free to add more or less of any of the above ingredients.  Serve and drink immediately.  Pass out from the deliciousness.  Take joy in the non-guilty pleasure.

Some additional ideas I learned from you regarding the creation of cold coffee treats:

  • In addition to freezing coffee cubes, you can also freeze cream or milk to blend into frappe type drinks.
  • You can cold brew coffee in your French press if you have one.  I’m definitely trying this.
  • You can cold brew coffee in jars.  Well shucks, I have jars.  I can do that.
  • You can freeze tea in ice cube trays so your tea doesn’t get watered down.  This has nothing to do with coffee, but it’s worth sharing anyway because, duh.  Why didn’t I think of that?
  • We should all get together and drink coffee, or tea, or something because wouldn’t that be so much fun?

Keep on sharing – What are your favorite coffee drinks for summertime?

Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert – Dairy Free, No Sugar Added – 100% Delicious

pineapple dessert 3

I found this recipe and decided to make it on Sunday night for our small group.  A couple of my friends who were coming can’t eat dairy, so I figured it would be perfect.  I had it whipped together and served into cups by the time friends began arriving.  And then, it just sat there, looking ever so inviting and refreshing.

Seeing as this is sort of like ice cream, and seeing as the cups of Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert were just sitting there on the counter while my friends and I waited for the burgers to come off the grill so we could eat, and seeing as my stomach was growling as loud as a mack truck - I interrupted our visiting and said something like, “Forget it.  I’m not waiting for a burger.  I’m going to try one of these.  You guys want one?”

And so it was that three of us gals stood in the kitchen, eating our desserts before dinner even began.  Hey, the kids were all outside running around.  Nobody even knew.  Except that I just ratted us out to all of you.  But you’ll never tell, right?

Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert.  It’s a dessert, it’s a snack, it’s breakfast, it’s lunch, it’s a cool treat in the evening while you’re sitting outside on the porch.  This recipe can be whatever you want or need it to be.  Why?  Because it’s sweet enough to be a dessert, but it’s healthy enough to be a part of your meal.  With only three, whole food ingredients, and no added sugar – this recipe is perfect.

My friends and I decided it tasted a bit like pineapple sherbet from the store.  If you want this to taste a little sweeter, simply add a few drops of real maple syrup.  I thought it was great without any added sugar.  In fact, after I was a good girl and ate my dinner, I went ahead and ate two more cups of this goodness, guilt free.  I just couldn’t help myself.

Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert

4 cups (give or take) frozen pineapple chunks
1 can (13.5 ounces) chilled coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Serve right away.  Makes 6-10 servings.

Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert

Can other milk options work in this recipe?  I don’t see why not.  Regular cow milk should work just fine (1 1/2 cups), and I’m guessing almond or rice milk would work – although I don’t have much experience with either of those.  Coconut milk gives this extra great nutrients, plus a mixture of pineapple and coconut will help you make believe you are vacationing in Hawaii.  Especially if you are eating dessert before dinner, right?  Ah the beauty of being a grown up.  :)

Ever snuck dessert before dinner when the kids weren’t around to catch you?

Pasta Salad Bar – Easy, Inexpensive, Nutritious, and Cool

pasta salad bar 3

Here you will find one of the coolest (literally) meal ideas for summer.  Here you will see a great way to feed your whole family - even the picky ones.  Here you will experience deliciousness that isn’t expensive, offers lots of nourishment, and is super easy to put together.  Yes, here is a great idea given to me by several readers last summer that I finally tried last week.  Again, I must ask:  Why did I wait so long to try this?

Welcome to our lives, oh lovely Pasta Salad Bar.  We’re sorry we never met before now.  You’ll be a regular visitor at our house this summer.  We will load our bowls full of your goodness, based on what sounds good to each of us at that moment.   You are deliciously fun.

Pasta Salad Bar

How do you put together a Pasta Salad Bar?  Simple.  Just set out everything you have on hand that might taste good in a pasta salad.  This is a great way to eat up leftovers or odds and ends from your fridge.  Here are some Pasta Salad Bar food suggestions:

  • Cooked and cooled whole wheat or brown rice pasta – any shape
  • Chopped sweet peppers
  • Chopped carrots
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Cooked chicken, tuna, steak, roast beef, or other meat that sounds good
  • Chickpeas or other cooked beans
  • Corn
  • Olives
  • Shredded cheese
  • Favorite salad dressings – we prefer homemade Italian Salad Dressing and Ranch Salad Dressing

Once your food items are set out, simply let everyone fill their bowls with whatever they like.  Stir in favorite salad dressings to make a creamy pasta salad, a tangy pasta salad – or a mixture of both!  (Yep, I like both Italian and Ranch in my pasta salad.)

This meal is extremely filling and hearty.  Oh, and a side of fresh pineapple or chilled watermelon goes great with this.

Ever done something like this before?  What other ingredients do you think you would add to this Pasta Salad Bar?

Chocolate Whipped Cream – Perfect For Your Coffee

I was so excited about putting my Chocolate Whipped Cream on strawberries that I never thought to put some in my coffee.  Thankfully, I have smart friends.

Earlier this week, I had 11 other women in my home for Bunco.  (It was time for this Mama of boys to get some girl time!).  I served BLT Wraps, veggies with Homemade Ranch Dip, chips and salsa, and Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries.  It was all simple to prepare and serve, which made it perfect for a fun night in with the ladies.

While many of us were enjoying bowls of strawberries with Chocolate Whipped Cream, one of my friends took her full coffee cup over and scooped in some of the chocolaty goodness.  It didn’t take long for several of the rest of us to follow her lead.  Before I knew it, I was brewing another pot of coffee and making another triple batch of Chocolate Whipped Cream.  Mmmmm, so good.

Here, so that you can drop whatever you’re doing and run make this, is the recipe once again:

Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 rounded Tablespoon cocoa powder
Liquid stevia to taste (we used about 10 drops)

In a bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Add cocoa and stevia, and whip again for a few seconds until ingredients are mixed well.  Serve on top of sliced strawberries…or coffee!

Chocolate Whipped Cream - Perfect For Your Coffee

Now, a few days later, as if I wasn’t already beginning an addiction to putting Chocolate Whipped Cream on my strawberries, now I’m adding it by the huge spoonful(s) to my coffee mug in the morning.  Ahhhhmazing.  And no guilt.  It’s all real food, and there’s no sugar involved.

If you don’t want chocolate, can I interest you in making Peppermint Cream for your coffee?  And if you really want a sugar splurge, but you still want real ingredients, how about Homemade Chocolate Caramel Creamer?

Listen everyone – with goodness like this to put in our coffee, why would we ever need to buy coffee creamers that are full of not-so-real ingredients?  Why??

So what do you think will be your fav?  Chocolate Whipped Cream in coffee…or on strawberries?

BLT Wraps – The Perfect Summertime Meal

Nothing says “I’m a humble cook” like shouting really loudly that this is the best recipe you’ll ever eat!  My bad.  What can I say?  There’s bacon in it.  And cream cheese.  The goodness of this recipes has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the amazing mixture of ingredients all rolled up in a tortilla.

This recipe is so easy that my kids made it on their own for our family to eat on Mother’s Day.  These can be made ahead of time – or at the very least, you can cook the bacon and prepare the tomatoes and lettuce so that you can put them together right before serving time.

The best part?  Well…the bacon, duh.  Yeah, but the other best part?  These wraps really hit the spot on a hot day.  There’s minimal cooking involved, so the house won’t heat up.  Serve these with a variety of fresh fruit like pineapple, watermelon, or strawberries.  Set out some sweet peppers, sliced cucumbers, and carrot sticks.  What a wonderful, nourishing meal.

BLT Wraps

4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded spinach, romaine, or green leaf lettuce
3 eight-inch whole wheat tortillas

Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth.  Stir in bacon crumbles and chopped tomatoes.  Spread mixture onto tortillas.  Sprinkle shredded lettuce on top evenly.  Roll tortillas up tightly.  Cut each into 5 diagonal slices.  Chill until ready to serve.

BLT Wraps

Which do you like better: bacon or cream cheese?  How sweet it is that you can have both in this recipe, at the same time.  :)