Sunday, December 30, 2012

Turkey and Spinach Lasagna


Lasagna is a great way to feed a crowd with not a ton of work, or if you want to have a lot of leftovers. If you are having a group over for the holidays or New Year’s Eve, this is a healthier spin on lasagna that tastes just as great. Jason’s family is Italian so for Christmas there is always a lasagna in addition to the main meal. This year it was just us, so we made this lasagna together to try and incorporate some tradition on the day, but would be good any day! The original recipe called for beef, but we used ground turkey to cut down on the fat and didn't miss the beef. By adding spinach to the lasagna it is a great way to get in some vegetables, especially with kids. The recipe made a ton, so our freezer is full of 2 piece portions to defrost for quick weeknight meals.
Turkey and Spinach Lasagna
Serves: 12
Source:  Taste of Home

1 pound ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 jars (24 ounces each) spaghetti sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
9 no-cook lasagna noodles

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, garlic, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta and egg.

Spread 1-1/2 cups meat sauce into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with three noodles. Spread 1-1/2 cups sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat layers. Top with the remaining noodles, sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of those who celebrate! This is the first year we haven't had any plans and are home just the two of us. In a way it is nice to have a whole day together to relax and catch up on things around the house. One of the perks to staying home is that I am able to celebrate with my friends through at our holiday cookie exchange. A cookie exchange is a great way to try new cookies and get new recipes. Each person brought 3-4 dozen cookies and the recipe to share, so we ended up taking home 3-4 dozen of a variety. Since it was so close to the holidays this year, those that are hosting part of the holidays are able to use them instead of having to make more food! This was our second year and the group has grown, which means not only more friends, but more cookies! This year we tried to have a more crazy/festive attire, it was so much fun to get dressed up!
And of course, all of the cookies and food were delicious! I will try to post the recipes with pictures throughout the week. We are working our way through a big tin of cookies. I made Andes Mint Cookies that were a hit last year at our family Christmas. 
We voted on our favorite cookie and it seemed like everyone one voted for something different! However, we did have a winner, the soft ginger cookie, my favorite! And the best part was my friend who made them had dressed up like a gingerbread man!
The winning soft Ginger cookies

Soft Ginger Cookies
Yields: 2 dozen

¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup margarine or bugger
1 cup sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on low speed for 30 seconds to soften. Gradually, add the 1 cup sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, and molasses, beat well. Stir dry ingredients into mixture. Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in sugar and pace on an un-greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

4. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until light brown and still puffy. Do not overcook! Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chili-glazed Pork with Sweet Potato Hash

You have made it half way through the week! The week before a holiday is always hard, people have started to leave for vacation and you want to be any place except work. Might as well have a nice dinner while you wait out the rest of the week. I'm a fan of pork tenderloin since it is a lean protein and tends to go on sale. This chili-glazed version has heat from the chili powder and a subtle sweetness from the maple syrup. Paired with a fancier take on sweet potatoes and spinach its a complete meal. By cooking the sweet potatoes with shallots it reminded me of a potato latke only without being fried. 

Chili-glazed Pork with Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4
Source: Real Simple


1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1⁄4 pounds)
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
kosher salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled
2 large shallots, chopped
1 5-ounce package baby spinach, chopped

Directions:1. Heat broiler. Place the pork on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Rub with 1 teaspoon of the oil, the chili powder, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Broil, turning occasionally and basting with the maple syrup twice, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes (May take longer depending on thickness). Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the coarse grating disk, grate the sweet potatoes.  (If you don't have one you can use a box grater)

3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 7 to 9 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook, tossing, until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve the pork and potatoes with the hot sauce, if desired.
Nutritional Information:
  • Per Serving
  • Calories 366
  • Fat 10g Sat Fat 2.5g
  • Cholesterol 90mg
  • Sodium 308mg
  • Protein 35g
  • Carbohydrate 33g
  • Sugar 13g
  • Fiber 5g
  • Iron 4mg

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Taco Salad

With the holidays upon us, there are so many cookies, desserts, and goodies around the house, office and parties. It can be really hard to resist them at every turn. We are trying to have at least one healthier meal at home and a packed salad is a good opportunity to do so. Normally, we would have tacos, but the shells can add up to a lot of calories and fat. Jason was making dinner tonight and found this recipe for taco seasoning to keep sodium down. It is packed full of flavor with a little kick, but nothing to be afraid of. We used ground turkey instead of beef and layered it on a bed of shredded lettuce, you can buy it pre-shredded or save some money and slice it yourself. Then top with your favorite add-ons like shredded cheese, peppers, corn, salsa and a few tortilla chips for crunch. You don't even miss the the beef or taco shell, all of the flavors are here! This is a quick and easy meal, perfect for a busy weeknight! 
Taco Salad
Taco Seasoning
Serves: 10
Source: All Recipes

1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl combine all ingredients. Store any remaining in an airtight container.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy Friday!! You survived another work week and can now enjoy the weekend. I hope you have some fun holiday plans for the weekend, whether it be holiday shopping or a party

I am trying to break a habit of purchasing muffins or breads from coffee shops like Starbucks and Panera. Besides the fact that they are a rip off and most likely not that good for you, I can make something even better tasting and healthier at home. I have a bit more time now and am trying to bake what I can and freeze them in ready to go bags to prevent a last minute stop/purchase out of hunger. My latest batch were seasonal pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Anything with pumpkin is good in my book and helps to keep the muffins nice and moist. I love the mini chocolate chips because they distribute better in the muffin and don't overpower it with chocolate flavor. By using whole wheat flour you get in a bit more fiber, but I want to try using some applesauce instead of oil to make them even better for you.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields: 26
Source: eMeals

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 
1 ½ cups sugar 
2 tsp baking soda 
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
15 oz can pumpkin puree
½ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine all dry ingredients.

2. Combine oil, eggs and pumpkin in a separate bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture stirring until just moist. Stir in chocolate chips if using.

4. Scoop batter into 28 muffin cups coated with cooking spray or lined with paper liners. You can use a cookie or ice cream scoop to evenly distribute. 

5. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Nutrition Information (per muffin): Calories: 180, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 140mg, Total Carbohydrates: 28g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 17g, Protein: 3g

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spaghetti with Kale and Lemon

Everywhere I look there seems to be another book, magazine, etc. raving about kale. It is packed full of fiber and  vitamin C, and are also great for your skin, heart and brain. I figured I should finally try it out. There are a few types of kale, I could only find the curly kind at the store, which has a stronger flavor, but might try the flatter or baby kale with a milder flavor next time. The kale is a good alternative to spinach, or can be combined together. The lemon flavor in this recipe give the dish a bright citrus flavor. Pasta is a great way to try out a new ingredient and is quick and easy for a weeknight meal.

Spaghetti with Kale and Lemon
Serves 4
Source: Bev Cooks

1 pound thin spaghetti
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 (4 oz) tub of baby kale leaves (or 1 bunch, roughly chopped)
2 Tbs. sunflower seeds
2 Tbs. lemon zest
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus a ton more for garnish
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the rest.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper; bloom for 30 seconds. Add the kale and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to wilt the greens. Stir in the sunflower seeds, lemon zest and juice. Toss to combine.

Add the spaghetti to the skillet and toss to combine. Add enough pasta water to create a thin sauce. Finally, add that cheese and toss. Serve with more cheese on top

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Green and Yellow Beans

We actually made these as a healthy side dish for our Thanksgiving meal. It is something that was quick, simple and flavorful. I am a big fan of green beans, just love that crunch and learned that I like yellow beans just as much. The originial recipe calls for wild mushrooms, but we were already having a mushroom stuffing so we omitted them. I included them in the recipe in case you want to incude them as well, but my hubby is not a mushroom fan so doubt I will ever make it with them. If you like some heat feel free to add some crushed red pepper flakes.
Green and Yellow Beans with Wild Mushrooms
10 Servings (3/4 cup each)

1lb green beans, trimmed
1lb yellow wax beans, trimmed
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces wild mushrooms (chanterelle, oyster or porcini, trimmed and sliced)
1/2 tespoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and wax beans and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. (Cook for another minute or two if you like your green beans more tender). Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Reserve 1 Tablespoon of the mushrooms for garnish. Add the cooked beans to the mushrooms in the pan and cook, stirring to combine, until heated through, 1 to 3 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve topped with the reserved mushrooms.

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