Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Superdelicous veggie lasagna

We love lasagna, but who doesn’t?! =)  It is very easy to make and it is so much fun to make it. Also it makes a full meal if you plan on having dinner guests or without dinner guest you end up with leftovers. These leftovers are ideal delicious lunches or you can freeze the leftovers and enjoy later. Depending on the season or veggie preferences, the ingredients can be adjusted, which is another great benefit of making home-made lasagna.

For this particular recipe, we did not make the tomato sauce from scratch. It was store-bought. However, we did make the lasagna noodles from scratch.

Ingredients for lasagna noodles:
100 g Semolina flour
100 g All-purpose flour
2 eggs, at room temperature
milk if necessary to make the dough

Preparation of lasagna noodles:
1. Add flour and eggs to the KitchenAid and mix until it makes soft pliable dough. If the eggs are small or the dough does not seem to come together, try adding a bit of milk.
2. Once dough is soft but not too sticky (if too sticky, add a tiny bit more flour), run it through the pasta-press attachment. You will likely have to run it through a couple of times until the pasta has the desired thickness. Keep in mind that you do not want the pasta noodles too thin or too thick. Place the pasta noodles to the side. Make 6 noodles (similar in size to the store-bought lasagna noodles), enough to make two layers in the lasagna dish.

Ingredients for the vegetables:
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 rainbow carrots, peeled and sliced
2 zucchini, cubed 3 tomatoes, cubed
1 yellow pepper, cubed
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

Preparation of the vegetables:
1. Heat olive oil in large pan. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add carrots and continue cooking over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.
2. Add zucchini, yellow pepper, tomatoes and spices. Continue cooking until all vegetables are tender. Be careful to not over cook the vegetables, as they will still be baked with the lasagna. Pasta sauce (we used store-bought pasta sauce, 26 ounce jar) You could use home-made marinara sauce, see the following link for a suggestion:
Shredded cheese (we used shredded 6 cheese Italian blend)

How to assemble the lasagna:
1. Lightly spray lasagna dish (13 x 9 inches, 3 qt) with vegetable cooking spray. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of pasta sauce very thinly on the bottom of the lasagna dish. (This prevents the lasagna noodles from sticking to the lasagna dish.)
2. Layer three uncooked lasagna noodles on top of the pasta sauce. Layer half of the vegetable mixture on top of the lasagna plates and spread evenly. Spread of the pasta sauce on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with cheese. 3. Repeat layering with another three uncooked noodles, pasta sauce, and cheese.
4. Bake lasagna uncovered in preheated oven (400 F) for approximately 30 minutes. Check for doneness of pasta noodles with fork. Enjoy with fresh baked bread =)




Pasta noodle recipe adapted from

You can use store-bought lasagna noodles. Make sure to pre-cook them following the box instructions. You may have to increase the baking time a bit. Check with a fork testing for doneness of the pasta.
This dish freezes well. Just cut into portion-sized pieces and freeze in separate containers. When you want “fresh” lasagna, just pull one of the containers out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the fridge overnight. Simply heat in microwave and enjoy =)

Health benefits of this recipe * By not adding a ricotta cheese, egg, and parmesan mixture layer, we are able to reduce the amount of calories considerably. * The various vegetables contribute a variety of different vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.


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Minestrone soup

Minestrone soup is among my favorite types of soups. It is so easy to make and it is offers so much flexibility. It is a great way to use up a variety of veggies that need to be used up. It also easy to change the ingredients, so you can choose your favorite ones or can skip one if you do not have it at hand. Furthermore, depending on what you add to the soup, you can change how filling it is.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
same asparagus
3 rainbow-colored carrots, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 veggie buillion cube
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
optional pasta (for example, elbow pasta)

1. Saute onions and carrots, until softened. Then add the other ingredients, except pasta and cheese (if using).
2. Continue heating the soup on low to medium heat. You do not want to cook the soup. Heat until all vegetables are desired tenderness. Meanwhile (if using pasta), prepare the pasta according to directions on pasta package.
3. Once vegetables are tender, pour soup into bowls and add pasta. Serve with shredded cheese, baguette bread, or grilled cheese.
Note: This soup stores well in air-tight container in refrigerator. If you add the pasta before storing it, the pasta will soak up all the liquid in the soup, so it may be best to store the pasta in a separate container.

Minestrone (sad this picture has glare on it)

Minestrone (sad this picture has glare on it)

Minestrone soup with elbow pasta

Minestrone soup with elbow pasta

Health benefits:
* Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Kidney beans are rich in potassium and magnesium, thus they help to keep blood pressure in check. In addition, the high fiber content can help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.. Kidney beans are also rich in iron and protein, making them a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and E, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium

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Minestrone soup–Dutch Oven Version

Here is another recipe that we successfully adapted for cooking in the dutch oven. The great thing about this recipe is that you can adjust its list of ingredients based on what produce is in season and better yet based on what you need to use up from your fridge or pantry.

Ingredients (Makes 2-3 servings):
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, sliced (my favorite type of carrots to use are rainbow carrots)
3 fingerling potatoes, cubed (these are small potatoes which come in different colors, I used one purple, one violet, and one yellow potato)
1 can organic kidney beans
3 Roma tomatoes, diced including the juices
1 veggie bouillon cube
Approximately 3 cups of water
salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried basil to taste
a dash of Cajun pepper

Cooked pasta (we used bicycle-shaped pasta) and shredded cheese (optional)

1. Use a little bit of butter and coat the bottom and sides of the Dutch oven (8 inch).
2. Add all the ingredients, except the pasta and cheese. Add some water to the dutch oven. I rinsed the can of beans and the flexible cutting board with some water that I added into the Dutch oven–it’s the whole leave-no-trace thing. (It is advised especially in areas where there are bears to not dump any water that may contain food particles on the ground. Therefore, I used the rinse water for the soup and brought pasta that I had cooked at home. If you cook pasta in “bear-country” without outhouses or restrooms, you are advised to drink the pasta water…yuck!!!)
3. Place Dutch oven on hot coals and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes. The length may vary depending on heat of fire, size of the veggies, and the desired done-ness). Check periodically and stir to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom or the sides of the Dutch oven.
4. Once heated, serve in bowls with pasta and shredded cheese. Enjoy =)

Minestrone soup in Dutch  Oven

Minestrone soup in Dutch Oven

Minestrone soup served with bicycle pasta

Minestrone soup served with bicycle pasta

Health benefits:
* Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Kidney beans are rich in potassium and magnesium, thus they help to keep blood pressure in check. In addition, the high fiber content can help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.. Kidney beans are also rich in iron and protein, making them a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and E, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

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Dutch oven risotto

So far…after checking numerous dutch oven recipe books…I have been rather disappointed by the lack of variety in vegetarian dishes for the dutch oven. However, there seems to be an abundance of meat dishes. In a dutch oven cook book from the 1950ties, one can even find a recipe for “oven-fried squirrel”–a recipe that reminded me of the “Hunger Games.”

In an attempt to introduce more variety to vegetarian/vegan dutch oven cooking, I was determined to use the recipe as a start.

Hans and I tried it with a little backyard fire and during our recent trip to Canyonlands. Two of our friends totally approved of this recipe.

Ingredients (Makes 2 servings):
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup uncooked Arborio (short grain) rice
¼ cup sliced green onions, or regular white onion
1 vegetable bullion and 2 cups of water, another cup of water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium (½ cup) Roma tomatoes, chopped
Grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste

1. Coat Dutch oven (8-inch for two servings) with 1 table spoon of butter. (This may be easiest after warming Dutch oven briefly in camp fire. Make sure that the lid is closed. After warming Dutch oven, remove from fire and spread butter.)

2. Place Dutch oven over camp fire. Melt 2 tablespoons butter; add rice and green onions. While stirring, cook onion and rice briefly. Add beans, water, vegetable bullion, and basil. Cook for approximately 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. If mixture becomes too dry, add a little bit more water (approximately 3/4 cup of water).

3. Stir in tomatoes and continue cooking until rice is done. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.  (Note: vegan option possible, just use vegan butter and do not sprinkle with cheese.)

Dutch oven risotto

Dutch oven risotto

Health benefits:
* This recipe is low in fat, but bursts with flavor.
* In addition the beans are rich in vitamin C. (Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron and to maintain healthy skin, teeth, and bones. It is also an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and helps fight infection.)
* The beans also have potassium and magnesium, which help regulate body fluids and maintaining muscle, bone, and teeth health, respectively.
* Compared to white long-grain rice, Arborio rice has more dietary fiber. Fiber can help with hunger control and may also lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C and E. They also contain beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Cooking enhances some of the health-giving qualities of tomatoes, particulary the effectiveness of lycopene (a bright red carotene).

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Easy, no-fail vegetable risotto

Afraid of making risotto? Or not having enough time to make risotto? Try this simple and fairly quick recipe for yummy risotto.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup uncooked Arborio (short grain) rice
¼ cup sliced green onions, or regular white onion
1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves**
1 cup frozen cut green beans***
2 medium (½ cup) Roma tomatoes, chopped
Grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet until sizzling; add rice and green onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened (2 to 3 min.). Add vegetable broth and basil. Continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil (2 to 3 min.). Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook 15 min.
2. Stir in green beans. Cover; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed (10 min.).
3. Stir in tomatoes and remaining butter; continue cooking until heated through (1 min.). Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

* Substitute 1 vegetable bullion and 2 cups water
** Substitute 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves.
*** Substitute 4 ounces (1 cup) fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces.

Vegetable risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Vegetable risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Perfect Pizza Sauce (Accidental Find)

As I was going through the NYT looking for fun science facts to share with my students, I came across a recipe for tomato bisque with fresh goat cheese. I am still not sure whether red pepper flakes (what I used) are much more potent than chile flakes (what recipe asked for)…but the soup turned out superspicy…yummy but way too hot…even after some attempts to make it less spicy. We really like the soup, but better yet…Hans suggested to try it as pizza sauce because it had the perfect amount of spice and its smooth consistency…and it was perfect.

2 tablespoons red pepper flavored olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup diced onion, white or yellow
3 (14 ounce) cans organic diced tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces goat cheese

1. Put oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it simmers, add garlic until just fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add onion and continue cooking until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).
2. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until flavors have melded. Pour into blender and bland. Add goat cheese and stir until mixture is creamy.

Note: Stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

In the future: The amount can be reduced if less than 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes is used. Also, with less red pepper flakes, it will make a delicious soup. I will re-post both recipes once I have time to tweak the spice combinations.

Here is finally the soup recipe for tomato bisque with goat cheese:


Beneficial health effects:
* Homemade pizza sauce will have fewer ingredients and fewer preservatives. It may also be lower in calories in comparison to store-bought pizza sauce.
* Onions are rich in vitamins A and C, manganese, iron, and phosphorus.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C and E, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
* Goat cheese is easier on the human digestive system than cheese made from cow milk. Goat cheese is also lower in calories, cholesterol and, fat. In addition, goat milk cheese is a good source of calcium, protein, vitamins A and K, phosphorus, niacin, and thiamin.


Homemade Pizza

While I really love olives and mushrooms on my pizza, Hans does not like either on pizza. Luckily, I have found other ingredients we both like…and now we can share the joy of making pizza together and being able to consume the super-yummy result together.

Pizza dough
see recipe under:

Pizza sauce
see recipe under:

1/2 green pepper, sliced
2-3 tomatoes from the vine, sliced and seeded
fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
fresh oregano leaves, cut into small pieces
4 ounces goat cheese, cut into small pieces
top with additional shredded cheese (we like to use mozarella and italian shredded cheese)

1. Roll out the pizza dough. Spread pizza sauce on the dough leaving about 1/2 inch (or for the metric person 2 centimeters) on the edge uncovered.
2. Sprinkle with cheese. Add pepper and tomato slices evenly on the pizza, add the goat cheese, basil, and oregano.
3. Bake in preheated oven at 400 F for 13 minutes (or until it looks done).

Pizza--before baking

Pizza–before baking

Pizza--after baking

Pizza–after baking

Pizza 2_before baking


Pizza 2 after baking

Pizza with goat cheese