Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Zucchini Lasagna

In my many hours of skimming pinterest, I keep seeing pins for lasagna using zucchini instead of noodles. I'll be honest-I didn't stop and actually read any of the instructions. And we all know what happens when I do that. I'm happy to report that this time wasn't quite as disastrous and now I can share the lessons I learned! I love that this is a veggie packed meal with so much flavor (and CHEESE) but nearly guilt free.

What you'll need:

2 large zucchini
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cooked and diced
2 c fat free ricotta
6 oz baby bella mushrooms
1 medium bag of baby spinach
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 c shredded Parmesan cheese (the good stuff, not the weird cheese like stuff in the can)
Italian seasoning to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs (optional)

First, I cut the zucchini into long strips using a wire cheese slicer. I'm going to guess they were about 1/4" thick. They need to be study enough to hold up the filling of the lasagna, but thin enough to still cook through in the oven. Pictures would be helpful here, but hey-I'm working with afterthoughts here so we're using some Creative Commons photos.

Raw zucchini cutlets
photo by Gloria Cabada-Leman 
Here's one of the things I learned after the fact....par cook the zucchini to reduce the moisture. The dish will work if you don't, but you'll have a lot of veggie water in the pan-not very appetizing. Next time I make it, I'm going to just toss these in a non stick pan for a few to draw some moisture out. I may do that with the spinach too.

Line the bottom of an 8x8 dish with strips of zucchini. Next add half of the spinach, half of the chicken, half of the mushrooms, half the ricotta, a good sprinkling of the Italian seasoning and some garlic, a third of the mozzarella and a third of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat. Top with remaining zucchini strips, cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 375 until all the cheese is melted and center of lasagna is hot. That took about 45 minutes for me.

And the leftovers make a great lunch the next day! 

I wasn't very organized while I was making this and realized as soon as I put it in the oven that I forgot to put the mushrooms in. Oops! So I had to carefully pull back strips of zucchini to add it all in, which led to clumps of mushrooms and sections without any. Oh still turned out tasty! With the healthy versions of the classic lasagna ingredients, I was able to cut the calories down to about 237 per serving! And that included the breadcrumbs. If you skip those, it would be even less. This lasagna is super cheesy and very filling.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Getting Ready for the Next Batch of Chicks

After our first incubator hatch, we had lots of young chicks living in our basement for a few weeks. It was still a little chilly outside, so they weren't quite ready for the early spring temperatures until April. But we were finally able to move them outside into our grow out pen so they could get used to the big chickens and the big chickens could get used to seeing them around.

After a couple of weeks, we were able to let them out to explore the entire yard.

It didn't take long for each group to check the others out.

Within a couple of days, the two groups became one flock.

Maybe it was seeing the young chicks around the yard, but of course we now have 2 broody hens sitting on a total of 45 eggs! The first group should be hatching this weekend.

Most of our birds are dual purpose breeds, so with this sudden influx of birds, we will likely raise the roosters as freezer fillers and some of our older hens will join them later on this summer. We will also select the hens we want to keep for their specific traits-best layers, temperament, and markings.