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Layered Moussaka Casserole

Welcome to another work week! I wish I was heading off to work this morning like so many of you, but instead I will likely spend my day napping. Trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

Actually, one of the most frustrating things about chemotherapy is that I have all this free time now, and absolutely no energy to do anything with it. Usually all I can muster is a very mild “work out” and hanging out with my family. Some days I try to run a few errands or clean my room. But the best days are those I find the energy to cook.

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This coming week is a chemo week – in other words, my least favourite kind of week. But the weekends preceding my chemo weeks are also my best. My body has recovered enough that I feel *almost* normal. Or the closest to normal I can get these days anyways!

So on these weekends you will likely find me in the kitchen. And boy, do I have a kitchen creation to share with you!

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This recipe is “moussaka-inspred,” meaning it bears only a small resemblance to the traditional dish to make it a little healthier and easier to cook. This is definitely not a weeknight dinner, but rather something you could make on a Sunday and have the leftovers for the rest of the week. Now you know for next weekend!

Layered Moussaka Casserole

Prep time: 1 hour
Bake time: 1 hour
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb beef
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute (or your favourite all-purpose seasoning)
  • 1 tsp allspice (or something similar to a pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like lots)
  • 1 700ml jar of your favourite tomato sauce (I used President’s Choice organic roasted garlic)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 small zucchini
  • mashed potatoes – 8-10 small potatoes worth (I’m not going to tell you how to make mashed potatoes! I went the garlic potatoes route made with a little milk + butter and lots of salt + pepper)

Directions

Peel and cube the potatoes and add to a pot of boiling water.

Brown the beef in a large pan with onion, green pepper, garlic, and celery. Add spices and seasoning along with the jar of tomato sauce. Simmer for around 30 minutes.

While beef is simmering, make mashed potatoes. Slice the eggplant and zucchini lengthwise. Traditional recipes would have you sauté them first, but I usually don’t bother and leave them raw. I never notice how bitter the eggplant is.

Cover eggplant slices on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of the beef mixture on top. Cover with zucchini slices and add remaining beef on top of zucchini. Spread mashed potatoes over top of beef.

Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

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After hours of chopping, stirring, and cleaning my mess in the kitchen, I sat down to eat my hot meal only to suddenly feel too sick to eat it! Ahhh the joys of chemo.

Thankfully, I’ve since been able to eat the leftovers after a quick 2 minutes in the microwave. It is FANTASTIC and worth every minute in the kitchen. If you ask me, making hearty, healthy food is one of the best ways to use what little energy I have. Now if you don’t mind, I think it’s time for another nap.

Recipes Worth Bookmarking

Yesterday’s post was so deep I needed to give my poor chemo brain a break for today. So instead, I thought I’d dig into my recipe bookmarks and share some of the FOOD blog posts that have caught my eye recently! Click on the links to see the pictures and recipes of my fellow bloggers. Can’t wait to try these out on my own.

Peanut Butter Bran Muffins – Teenage Taste

Oven Fries – Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Stuffed Mushroom Phyllo Roll – Oh She Glows (mostly, I just want to make phyllo)

Basil Hummus – Eating For England

Pizza Swirl Bread – How Sweet It Is

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bread – How Sweet It Is

BBQ Pumpkin Pizza – Running Around Normal

Mmmm Sauce – Peas and Thank You

Grilled Red Pepper Harissa – Eating For England

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Trifle – How Sweet It Is (I may save this for Canadian Thanksgiving)

Golden Brioche Loaves – Tea and Scones

And most recent bookmark that I’ve actually cooked – Cheezy Taco Mac from Leftovers 4 Lunch!

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A dairy-free version of one of my old favourites – Hamburger Helper. The noodles may have still come from a box, but the flavour sure didn’t!

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I made a few changes based on what I had on hand – extra lean ground beef, whole wheat egg noodles and shells, and the addition of green pepper. I also didn’t have any salsa so I subbed in a can of plain tomato sauce, two fresh tomatoes, and half of a very, very hot pepper I got from the farm on Sunday. Served with leftover red cabbage.

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The “cheese comes from the addition of nutritional yeast flakes which I lovelovelove both in flavour and nutritional properties. Awesome job with the recipe Leah! I will make this over and over again.

And with that, I am off. I am getting a tube inserted up my arm today and poisons injected in. In other words, a PICC line and chemo. Also getting news on a chest x-ray I had done yesterday. Think shrinking cancer thoughts!!

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