Healthy layered spring zucchini casserole

Thank you Country Crock for sponsoring this post.

Layered Zucchini Casserole

There’s nothing like fresh veggies this time of year, which makes tossing together a quick, easy, and healthy casserole just about the best thing at the end of a long day. With my daughter really excited about helping to make dinner, and doing the grocery shopping, I ended up with a few more than the three fresh zucchinis that I had selected in my shopping basket the other day. Instead of putting them back, we happily brought them home for making this delicious and low-fat casserole, which is the perfect thing for celebrating spring. Instead of being heavy and covered with loads of cheese, you can enjoy this casserole as a side or on its own. Swapping butter for Country Crock cuts down on extra calories and you’ll never taste the difference when using low-fat cheeses and milk.

This recipe is seriously easy, so invite your little one into the kitchen to help make this light casserole. And if you love creating tasty concoctions as much as I do, head over to Country Crock Stars, enter a picture of your latest casserole, and share in 100 words how you demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness in the kitchen for a chance to win $5,000.

-Keep reading for the easy recipe!

Ode to One Fish

Yeah, my fish died. I had it for a really long time — like 10 years or so. It was just a simple goldfish that I’d brought home from school to take care of over winter break years ago. For some reason I didn’t take it back and that fish found its way into our home. It moved with us several times, changed locations around the house a million times, saw several fish friends come and go, allowed the cats to drink the water from its bowl, and survived the tot dumping tons of fish food in the tank.

It was a good fish.

I know it is silly to get attached to a goldfish. I love fishing. I love eating fish. But that darn goldfish greeted me every morning when I stumbled into the kitchen, kept watch over me while I cooked dinner, and wiggled its tail like crazy whenever I came near the tank.

Fish’s latest companion of three years left us a couple of weeks ago. Just another simple goldfish. We hadn’t done anything different or changed the water or moved the tank around or anything. But I kind of had a feeling.

When I woke up the other day and One Fish (yes, that was my fishy’s name) was lilting, I just acted like he/she was extra tired. Maybe it had  a long night? Maybe he/she was lonely?

Nope.

One Fish was on the way out.

Last night I bawled while my husband took care of my floating fish. It was pretty pathetic. I know One Fish was just a goldfish, but that goldfish was the awesomest goldfish around. I was used to watching as he/she swam around the tank, loved how my daughter was starting to understand the concept of caring for a pet, and how One Fish’s tail was the coolest fish tail around.

Our solution?

We went to the pet store and picked up a mini tank and plopped it atop of our daughter’s dresser in her room. She’s been a bit of a challenge at bedtime (it’s too dark, I’m not tired, I need water, I’m bored, tuck me in again, I dropped my toy….) and figured having the new fish in her room in a tank with a light would help lull her to sleep.

Her nighttime routine now includes saying goodnight several times to her new itty-bitty goldfish that she named Red, she then sings the fishy a song, then talks to it, then sings again, then talks to it a bit more, and eventually falls asleep.

Hey, I don’t care.

She’s not calling for me every five minutes and that itty-bitty fish cost 15 cents at the pet store and can be swapped as many times as needed.

Thanks for the memories, One Fish.

I’ll miss you.

Cooking with kids: Grilled cheese turkey pesto casserole

turkey pesto grilled cheese casserole
Now that the days are getting longer, we’re making a big attempt at eating family dinner. Yeah, I’ve made two dinners a night for the last few years, but it’s (amazingly) worked out just fine. I make something fun and healthy with the tot and then something a bit more sophisticated for the adults once she goes to bed. Over the last few weeks it’s quickly become apparent this schedule will no longer work. This means a big adjustment to my recipes, creating kid-friendly and adult faire that’s delicious for everyone.

This recipe is wonderfully easy, can even be prepped ahead of time, and is a perfect diner to make with your kids. And it’s easily adjustable to your family’s liking. Swap prosciutto or sliced roast chicken for the turkey, sprinkle in some pepper jack, or layer on a few roasted red peppers. The results are delicious, healthy, and on the table in less than an hour.

Ingredients

Butter

4 slices whole wheat bread

1/2 pound roast turkey

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup pesto

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

1 tablespoon water

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon grainy mustard

Hot sauce (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Directions

Place the pesto, water, and fresh spinach and pulse until it’s nice and smooth. Place in a small bowl for your child to use later. Now offer your child a lightly greased (with butter) 8 x 11-inch casserole dish and invite her to layer the bottom with two slices of bread. Sure, you can use white bread, but whole wheat is just a bit healthier. Artisan bread would be absolutely delicious, or mix it up with rye or sourdough. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 375˚F so it’s nice and hot when you’re ready.

Making turkey pesto

Offer your child the pesto along with a small spoon and invite her to scoop and spread the sauce evenly over the slices. Try to reserve half of the pesto sauce for use later…

Cooking with kids

Next, it’s time for the cheese and turkey. Once again, try to reserve half for later… And it’s okay to taste test along the way.

Turkey pesto

Top with the remaining slices of bread, and another layer of the pesto sauce, turkey, and shredded cheese. In a small mixing bowl, add the eggs, milk, grainy mustard, and a touch of hot sauce. You can also add a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. Give things a good whisking and then pour over the casserole, pressing the tops of the bread with a spatula as needed to coat the slices.

Making turkey casserole

Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes or until the tops of the slices are nicely browned. It’s as simple as slicing and serving! Finish the meal with a side salad and you’re good to go.

Turkey pesto casserole

Yum!

Leftover egg salad sandwich

egg salad sandwich

So it was Easter over the weekend and I don’t know about you, but we’ve got leftover eggs. We also had leftover (gasp) bacon — how it wasn’t all gobbled up, I have no idea. There’s nothing better than bacon and eggs, and with a healthy sauce, this leftover egg sandwich is just about the tastiest lunch around. And it’s as easy as shelling a couple of eggs and layering on the goodness.

Ingredients

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

2 slices of bacon cut in half

1 tablespoon plain Greek-style yogurt

1 teaspoon grainy mustard

1 leaf romaine or lettuce

2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

Salt

Pepper

Lemon

Directions

Gather the ingredients for making the sandwich. We had a great time naturally dying our Easter eggs this year, with really pretty results. You can use any type of mustard, but I love a strong grainy mustard for this sandwich.

egg salad 3

Mix together the spread, which is wonderfully low-fat and seriously delicious.

egg salad 4

Toss two slices of whole wheat bread in the toaster and thinly slice the eggs while they are toasting. Once they pop, spread each with equal amounts of the sauce and then begin layering on the ingredients. Give each side a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

egg salad 2

Press the sandwich together and cut in half. You’re ready for lunch!

egg salad

Yum.