Vegetable and Cheesy Pasta Bake, Gluten-freePrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

I face this challenge quite a bit.

The craving for comfort food, but then the guilt because you know you should be making a healthy choice. That doesn’t happen all the time, but more often than I’d like. Sometimes combining the two just don’t work out, ya know? Then sometimes it does. Like this, for instance.

I loaded a bunch of veggies and a little spicy sausage into this cheesy pasta dish and the guilt magically went away. BOOM. And everyone’s happy, especially this pregnant lady.

The other nice piece about this dish is you can swap in your favorite vegetables. So if you don’t like broccoli, it wont make or break if you leave it out.

 

 

Oh and yes, I’m still pregnant. 38 weeks, actually.

BUT, last week was my first full week of maternity leave and I’ve been crossing things off my to do list left and right. Feels AMAZING. However, it’s a good thing this is our last child because my husband would never let me take leave prior next time. He’s come hime to new decorative pillows, throws, rug, art and that’s for both the family room AND the nursery…   I did also organize my cookbook collection by color, alphabetize our spices and made a freezer meal.

Gosh, I love nesting. Him, not so much.

 

So, I worked with one of my favorite company’s, DeLallo who provided me with their gluten-free products (& compensation) and I’ve been in heaven. Excuse me, my entire family has been in heaven. Like I always say, I only work with company’s that I believe in and actually use – they’re absolutely one of them. Everything from the gluten-free pasta options, to the sauces, antipasti, etc. They are top notch.

 

 

Vegetable and Cheesy Pasta Bake, Gluten-free

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ounces of uncooked Fussilli DeLallo pasta
  • 2 sausage links – My favorite is Cajun Style Andouille (if vegetarian, leave out)
  • 3 tablespoons EV olive oil
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 yellow squash, cut small and quartered
  • 1/2 zucchini, cut small and quartered
  • salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cups pasta sauce – I used a Tomato Basil
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 1 cup mozzarella

*Note: if there are vegetables here that you don’t like, simply omit them or replace with ones you do like.

Directions

Preheat oven 375 degrees.

Warm a large pan over medium-high heat. If using precooked sausage (like I did), cut lengthwise down the middle, lay flat and then continue slicing small half/bite sizes. If using uncooked sausage, remove from casing and pinch off small pieces into a pan. Add the sausage (cooked or uncooked). Add olive oil and broccoli since that takes the longest to soften. After 5 or so minutes, add in the yellow squash and zucchini. Toss around to everything is coated. Add salt and pepper to taste – I like a lot of salt, so I added about 1 teaspoon. Remove from the stove.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot of boiling <salted> water, cook the pasta. *make sure to not over-cook. It’s best when al dente so cook for less time then recommended. Drain the pasta and add to the veggie/sausage pan. Add the pasta sauce and mix everything <carefully> together.

In a bowl, mix together the two cheeses.

Spray a medium sized baking dish (I used an 8 1/2 X 10 1/2) with non-stick cooking spray. Carefully add half of the pasta mixture and then sprinkle half the cheese mixture. Then add the remaining pasta mix and top with the remaining cheese. For extra spice, add red pepper flakes.

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and bubbles slightly.

Remove, serve and enjoy!

 

*gluten-free * Vegetarian if you omit the sausage

 

 

Pregnancy, second time aroundPrint Recipe Print Recipe

Photos by Catherine Abegg

I can’t believe how fast this pregnancy is flying by!

With your first, each week feels like a month long and then with your second, you blink and you’re in the delivery room.

Given when I first announced I was pregnant, life was hectic and really slowed down since. Now that I’m just about 37 weeks, I’m thinking it’s probably time we pull out the infant carrier from storage and maybe put a few things in an over overnight bag. I’m not even going to tell you all the other things on my to-do list. I’m sure it’s totally normal to not have a crib weeks before baby is due.

So, I’m kind of embarrassed, but feel the need to confess. I googled “what are signs of labor?” today. I’ve had crazy back pain, cramping, a shit ton of pressure and my inner hips feel like they’re going to dislocate when I walk. I never had any of this with mason.

Sure enough, it’s all normal. And yes, I’m getting close, but we already knew that.

Back to the waiting (while uncomfortable) game.

 

 

Working this time around, I had to buy a whole new maternity wardrobe. With my first, I lived in sweats because I rarely left the bed. It was really nice, but I have to say, I like having to get dressed every day. Not so much now that I’m huge at the end, actually not at all, but there’s something about being put together that makes you feel good.

Maternity clothes are hard, but I got a handful of basics from Gap, a nice pair of jeans from Pea and the Pod, few dresses from ASOS, splurged on a few pieces from Hatch Collection and a few non-maternity items from Anthropologie.

 

 

Thankfully this pregnancy has been much kinder to me compared to my first. I only got sick a handful of times, had a much healthier appetite, and much more active – as in on my feet, not working out.

However, the emotions, not so much.

I think the hardest part is knowing that I wont have my mom here. She was with us the week leading up to Mason’s arrival and then by my side through the whole labor and delivery. She always had the best advice when I needed reassured. And there’s lot of reassuring needed, especially as a new mom. She helped to keep our family fed once we’d returned home. But most of all, it was her company that was so comforting.

I know it’ll be hard, but I’ll be okay.

I mean, this baby was brought into our lives for a reason and with the timing around my mom’s passing, I have a feeling this little being will be a gift to more than just my husband and I.

 

 

I now see why you forget all the “joys” of pregnancy in the last month. And child birth, for that matter. Although, that’s starting to come back to me.

I just keep reminding myself that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Lastly, here’s a sneak peek at my maternity shoot (below)! Catherine literally just sent over the photos and I seriously can’t wait to share. I’m going to talk more about maternity photos in a later post. It’ll be really good, in case you were wondering.

 

 35 weeks / iPhone photo by Catherine Abegg

Random, but I had completely forgotten that I’d posted “Packing for the Hospital” on the baby blog, which was also the last post… I was planning to keep up the two blogs, but then I ended up going back to work full time and then life happened. So, that will likely be the last post on WS&G Baby. Anyways, if anyone else needs a packing guide, it’s pretty helpful!

Grilled Vegetable SandwichesPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

I wish this could be a freezer meal.

I’m in full nesting mode (minus the time to physically nest) and trying to plan out my freezer meals for after the baby arrives. All the things I’m craving and eating right now really wouldn’t work to freeze for later. Maybe we can we talk about what are good freezer meals are then? I was going to do a few soups and maybe veggie enchiladas, but that’s kind of it.

Truthfully, I keep thinking that I’ll be super mom and can do it all after this baby. I mean, why not? … I’m quickly realizing that there’s a reason you forget about things. Like the last month of pregnancy, childbirth, and newborns.

Whatever, I’m sure I can either 1. still make these sandwiches  with an infant strapped to my chest or 2. find someplace or someone who can. And then whatever you’re doing, you should probably make these too. Trust me. They’re really easy, there’s nothing fancy about them, but so SO good!

 

 

I’ve made these so many times this summer and I typically go between two versions – one with mozzarella/balsamic and one with mashed avocado. I like them equally, which is why I’ve included both versions. Also, I have tried these with hummus and I wasn’t a huge fan. Just throwing that out there.

Now I should probably tell you a story.

It’s kind of embarrassing how long I’ve been thinking about these sandwiches and that I’m just now making them. We’re talking post college, pre-married life days. No need to do the math, it was a long time ago.

Once upon a time… Kidding, but kind of feels like that.

It was just after college, I strapped on a backpack and traveled around Italy with my two best girlfriends. There was no real agenda, or any pre-booked lodging. Very unlike my grownup self.  At the time, I didn’t do cheese (but I did do gluten) so when being on a “bread and cheese” budget, there were limited options. It was these veggie sandwiches, which I probably had at least one maybe two a day, biscuits and nutella or make your own bread and ham (with mustard) sandwiches. The end.

So, because these sandwiches have hardly left my mind and when you’re pregnant and  there’s something food related spinning in your head, it HAS TO HAPPEN. Period.

And you’re welcome.

Like a said before, these sandwiches are really nothing fancy, but I felt like you might need these in your life so I had to share. You can basically chop the vegetables any which way you like. I typically like them thin, but if my husband is grilling, I’ll cut them thicker so they don’t fall through the grill. You can chop in little pieces after you’ve grilled them and have the cheese act as “glue” to hold it all together. If there’s a vegetable you don’t like, them forget it, switch it out with something else. And of course, if you’re not gluten-free, it’s also very easy to make with any type of bread.

 

 

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches

makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini, cut in half and sliced vertically
  • 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, cut in stripes or sections
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 8 slices of gluten-free bread

Cheese version 

  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

Directions

I used a grill pan on the stove, but you can also toss these on the outdoor grill.

Heat grill pan over medium-high heat.

Toss vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt. *you may need extra olive oil with the eggplant as they tend to soak more of it up. You can either toss them all together or one vegetable type at a time. Place coated vegetables in a single layer on a the pan. After a few minutes, flip  the vegetables. *note – I added a little more salt at this time, but you don’t have to if you’re watching your sodium intake. Once they’ve softened and browned, remove and place on a plate or platter. Continue this until all the vegetables are cooked/grilled.

I used a panini press, but you can also use the same grill pan and kind of smash the top with a heavy pan. Or however you typically make grilled cheese.

Avocado version – spread mashed avocado on two slices of bread. Layer the grilled vegetables how you like and top with the second piece of bread, avocado side down. Place the sandwich in the panini press or back on the grill pan (like you’d make a grilled cheese) and flip after a few minutes or the bottom has browned. Once both sides have browned nicely, remove and enjoy! Continue these steps until all the desired sandwiches have been made.

Cheese version – drizzle balsamic vinaigrette on two slices of bread. Layer the grilled vegetables how you like and top with the slices of fresh mozzarella. Add the second piece of bread. Place the sandwich in the panini press or back on the grill pan (like you’d make a grilled cheese) and flip after a few minutes or the bottom has browned. Once both sides have browned nicely and the cheese has melted, remove and enjoy! Continue these steps until all the desired sandwiches have been made.

Enjoy!

*gluten-free *dairy-free, optional 

 

 

Summer Vegetable and Quinoa SaladPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

I’m back.

I know, I can’t believe it either.

I didn’t think it would be this hard to get back into blogging. Baby steps, I guess.

Since my mom passed, I went back to work full time, we moved – it was a crazy month long process, I entered the third trimester in my pregnancy and my husband took a new job.

We’re still adjusting to our new normal, but I’m definitely back in the kitchen and it feels more comforting than ever.

 

 

To get myself back into the grove of things, I remade an old favorite. A recipe from my mom. I thought it was only appropriate.

Mom would make big batches of this every year we were in Hawaii and then during the summer time when we’d visit. Everyone loved it and the best part, it’s incredibly easy and adaptable.

 

 

I made a big batch so we would have extras for lunches and also enough to send home with my sister.

I put a little in a bowl for my son (he’s now 20 months) and he went through two helpings. Not only was I thrilled he was eating a healthy meal, but I felt like he got to experience a little piece of my mom in that moment.

My sister and I top ours with baked tofu (extra firm, olive oil, salt, pepper and a little garlic powder) and grilled chicken for my husband. It’s also perfect for those summer days or nights that are too hot to cook. We’ve had a lot of those recently. Really thrown off my menu planning, but nice when there’s a backup already in the fridge.

Thank you all for being patient with me while I’ve taken the time to get into our new routine, be a mom again and find our new normal. More to come on pregnancy, life and of course gluten-free recipes!

 

Quinoa and vegetable Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 zucchini, quartered
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), chopped small
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes – red/orange, halved
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup  (3.8 oz.) black olives, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt + pepper
  • Optional – add baked tofu or chicken for protein

Directions

Place 1 cup uncooked quinoa and 1 3/4 cup water into a pot, sprinkle a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat, cover and cook for 15-18 minutes.

Add the cut/chopped vegetables to a large bowl. Add quinoa, olive oil, garlic powder, and salt + pepper. Mix together and set aside, allowing all the ingredients to soak up the flavor.

For the taste test – if it’s too dry, add more olive oil. Add additional salt + pepper if needed.

Serve as is or top with tofu or chicken for extra protein.

Serve and enjoy!

 

*gluten-free *dairy-free *vegetarian