dinner from scratch

Taking the Training Wheels Off

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that I am a recipe follower. As someone who never really cooked until just a few years ago, I rely heavily on recipes and follow them to a T. I rarely deviate from what the recipe says, simply because I am not confident in my cooking skills. That being said, I’ve been trying my best to try altering recipes to practice.

Recently, Michael was out of town and I decided I wanted to try my hand hand creating my own recipe from scratch–no recipe following here. This is that meal.

Lisa's Florentine Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Category: Cooking, Dinner, Easy meals, food, Food update, harvesting veggies, Low Calorie Recipes, pasta, recipes, salads, Vegetable Garden, veggies

Servings: 6


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni pasta
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup onions, sauteed
  • minced garlic
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Basil


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. 2. Cook pasta al dente.
  3. 3. Saute the onions, zucchini and garlic in a skillet. I used Grapeseed Oil.
  4. 4. Mix all the ingredients in a big boil to coat with the sauce.
  5. 5. Pour into greased pan, top with some shredded cheese, and bake 20-30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Lisa's Florentine Casserole


Amount Per Serving
Calories 280
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


I chose to do a casserole type dish because I knew it would be pretty hard to screw up and I wanted to use some of the frozen shredded zucchini from last summer’s garden. I defrosted the zucchini (I’d shredded and frozen 2 cups individually packed and put in the freezer for later use) and tried to get as much of the liquid out of it. It was pretty soupy.

I cooked the pasta until it was al dente, drained the water and then mixed the following ingredients in a large bowl: pasta, pasta sauce, onions, zucchini. I added some of the shredded cheese into the bowl and then the spices.

Note: I used 3 cloves of garlic and minced it. I did not add enough! Next time, I will add more garlic. I defrosted one cup of frozen peas and added that to the mixture.

I topped the casserole with some of the leftover shredded cheese and then baked it.

While dinner was baking, I cleaned up the disastrous kitchen and made myself a small baby spinach salad to go with dinner. I also calculated the calories according to a website I use pretty frequently. I am skeptical about the calorie results, but that’s what the website said.

A dish with a bunch of pasta and cheese is less than 300 calories? Hmmm…I don’t know about that! (What do you guys think?)

The casserole was bubbling, the cheese was melted and the sides were looking a little crispy so I took it out.

The verdict: it was tasty but needed a lot more garlic, or a spice of some kind. Or both. It was a tad bland, but it wasn’t bad. I love the gooey cheese and the flavor of the vegetables in it.

I am not delusional in that I know this recipe is nothing special or difficult! But it was my first stab at creating something of my own completely from scratch. And it was a success!

QUESTION: Do you ever create your own recipes? Tips?