Vegetable Gumbo

3 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. container chopped celery, onions, green peppers
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 large bay leaf
¼ tsp. dried thyme
36 oz. vegetable broth
1 lb. sliced zucchini
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can baby corn, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. peeled, cubed butternut squash
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large soup pan over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and green pepper mixture along with garlic. Cook for 7 minutes. Add bay leaf and thyme and cook for 2 more minutes. Add vegetable broth, stir and bring to a boil. Add zucchini, tomatoes, baby corn, and squash. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in rice.

Simmer covered for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so rice doesn’t stick to bottom. Mix in beans and parsley and cook for 5 minutes more. When rice is done, serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.

Challah Bread Pudding

8 thick slices challah or at least 8 cups torn into one-inch cubes
2-1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 large or extra-large eggs
Cooking spray
4 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put challah into a large bowl. Add next 7 ingredients. Pour into greased 11 x 7 baking dish. Pour challah mixture into baking pan and sprinkle sugar on top. Bake for 1 hour. This dessert is sweet enough that it doesn’t require a sauce, but you can serve it with warmed maple syrup. Or top with canned light fruit pie filling, i.e. cherries, peaches, or apples. It’s a satisfying dish for brunch on a chilly day.

Zucchini Egg Bake

2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. diced onion
15 oz. can sweet corn, no salt added
2-16 oz. containers sliced zucchini
8 oz. diced tomatoes
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the vegetables and sauté until softened. Remove from heat and stir in seasonings, about 2/3 of the cheese, and the eggs. Mix thoroughly. Transfer into greased casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Top with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more or until browned and bubbly. Serves 6-8.

Vegetable Lasagne

12 no-cook lasagna noodles
12 oz. shredded Italian blend cheeses

Vegetables
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
2 large carrots, julienned
2 red bell peppers, julienned
2 tsp. chopped garlic
¾ tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup olive oil

Sauce
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups small Portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2-28 oz. cans no salt crushed tomatoes
3 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Filling
1-1/4 cups ricotta cheese
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Put first seven ingredients into a bowl and mix to blend. Spread over two greased baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, mushrooms, and garlic in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until tender. Then stir in crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and fresh basil leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Combine filling ingredients in a separate bowl. In a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish, spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom. Then layer with noodles, cheese filling, vegetables, and sauce. Sprinkle shredded Italian cheeses on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve as a one-dish meal or with garlic bread and salad. Serves 6-8.

*Note: I don’t add salt to my recipes, so you might want to add salt to taste. Also, I use pre-sliced vegetables as a shortcut when possible.

Apple Rum Cake

18-1/4 oz. spice cake mix
21 oz. can apple pie filling
3 eggs
¾ cup light sour cream
¼ cup rum
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. reduced fat milk

Set aside 1 Tbsp. cake mix and 1-1/2 cup pie filling. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, rum, canola oil, almond extract, remaining cake mix and pie filling. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour half the batter into a greased fluted baking pan coated with nonstick spray. In a separate small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, reserved cake mix, and remaining pie filling. Spoon over batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool on rack before turning over onto plate. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk. Dribble glaze over cake and serve. Serves 10-12.

Chicken Paprika

¼ cup butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
8 skinless chicken thighs
1 can Campbell’s Healthy Choice cream of mushroom soup
1 cup reduced fat milk
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
¼ tsp. dried thyme

Melt butter in microwave. Remove from oven and stir in flour, paprika, and poultry seasoning. Place chicken in greased baking dish. Spread buttery paprika mixture over chicken. In a separate bowl, whisk the soup and milk until blended. Stir in sliced mushrooms. Pour liquid mixture over chicken. Sprinkle parsley and thyme on top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more or until chicken is cooked through. Serves 8.

Tuna Spaghetti Pie

Crust
8 oz. cooked spaghetti
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. chopped garlic

Filling
1 Tbsp. chopped onion
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ cup reduced fat milk
¼ cup light sour cream
1 egg, beaten
6 oz. can tuna, drained and flaked
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tomato, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, mix together the first five ingredients. Press onto the bottom and sides of a greased 9-inch pie dish. Set aside. In a skillet, sauté the onion in butter until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir in the flour and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, beat the milk, sour cream, and egg until blended. Stir into the onion mixture. Fold in the tuna. Spoon filling into crust. Sprinkle half the remaining Parmesan cheese over the pie. Arrange tomato slices on top. Sprinkle on the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is puffy.

Chicken Cranberry

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
8 oz. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
¾ cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
¾ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. allspice

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Sauté shallots until beginning to brown. Add cranberries, water, vinegar and honey. Cook until the berries soften and begin to burst. Stir occasionally. When cranberries are softened, add the ginger and allspice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken thighs in greased baking dish. Spread cranberry mixture over chicken. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serves 4 to 6.