Around the holidays I’m always trying to fit in meals that are healthy and low fat. I guess I’m trying to balance out the over indulgence that often occurs! One of my favorite recipes is actually an adaptation of a Weight Watchers recipe, which I found years ago. If I didn’t mention that it was Weight Watchers you would never know! It’s a simple Turkey Lasagna that is easy to put together, freezes well and is actually good for you. Not to mention that it is delicious and every time I’ve served it folks have enjoyed it!

Turkey Lasagna

2 tsp olive oil
10 ounces of ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
one 28 oz can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
one 6oz can tomato paste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp sugar
12 no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups nonfat cottage cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 350. In a large nonstick pan heat the olive oil. Add the ground turkey and onion. Cook until the turkey is browned and the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

ground turkey, onion, lasagna, healthy eating

Brown the ground turkey and onion.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until the flavors are blended, about 5 minutes.

lasagna, prudent living

Add tomato paste and tomatoes to ground turkey mixture.

Spoon about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9” baking pan; top with 3 of the lasagna noodles, spread with half of the cottage cheese and top with 3 more noodles. Repeat the layering once more, ending with the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly on top.

lasagna, turkey lasagna

Layer the sauce, noodles and cheese.

Bake, covered for one hour; uncover and bake until cooked through and golden, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

lasagna, low fat

Turkey Lasagna ready to eat.

oats, prudent pantry, prudent livingOats are a staple that everyone should have in their pantry! They have so many uses, as a hot cereal on a cold winter morning, for making bread, baking cookies or even making granola. You can use rolled oats as a meat extender in meat loaves. Oat flour makes rich thickeners for soups, gravies and stews. Oat flour will also add nutrition to your breads, muffins, crackers and desserts. Did you know that you can use 25% oat flour in making bread and the natural vitamin E in oats will help keep your breads from going stale so quickly? It also has numerous health benefits such as lowering your cholesterol due to its soluble fiber content. Oats are also rich in the B vitamins, contain the anti-oxidant vitamin E and oats are mineral rich as well. Oats contain high levels of complex carbohydrates, which have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer and the better control of diabetes. Oatmeal is ground oat groats, it can also be ground oats, steel-cut oats, crushed oats or rolled oats. The process of heating produces a nutty flavor to the oats.

Perhaps you are familiar with instant oatmeal, which is precooked and dried, usually with a sweetener, and flavoring added. You can eat oats uncooked as in muesli or cooked as in porridge.  It only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook regular rolled oats. Quick rolled oats, being thinner, cook much quicker in 2-3 minutes.  The instant rolled oats are the least nutritious, you should think seriously about using them in your every day cooking habits. However you decide to eat oats you should definitely have some on hand.

oats, oatmeal

Oats are a wonderful pantry staple.

Oats are much like barley with a hard outer shell that must be removed before it’s ready to eat. If you want to purchase oats you usually purchase them already hulled. Because of the antioxidants in oats, they are a good storing grain. For best storage conditions, pack them in airtight containers and store them in a cool place.

I use oats in many recipes. Here is a simple muffin recipe that I adapted from a recipe found on the epicurous.com website.

Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries

buttermilk, oatmeal, muffins

Let oatmeal and buttermilk sit for one hour.

In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk and let stand 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400°F and butter twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins. Add egg, sugar and butter to oat mixture, stirring until just combined. Into another large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and add to oat mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in dried cranberries. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tins. Bake muffins in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Makes a dozen muffins.

muffins, cranberry oatmeal

Divide batter evenly into muffin tin

These muffins are delicious warm from the oven!

cranberry oatmeal muffins, home cooking

Warm muffins right from the oven, delicious!

muffins, homemade, cranberry oatmeal

Muffins right out of the oven.

 

forcing bulbs, indoor flowers

I love flowers!

Before Thanksgiving I wrote a post on forcing bulbs. I set up several containers of bulbs and placed them in a cool spot while we went away. Was I ever surprised when we got home and I saw all the green shoots coming up out of the bulbs! The bulbs were so healthy they had a huge root mass at the bottom of each bulb and were nearly forcing themselves out of the container!

Narcissus, paperwhites, indoor flowers

In full bloom and very tall!

I brought them upstairs and kept them watered. In what seemed a very short time I was rewarded by beautiful blooms.

paperwhites, indoor flowers, forcing bulbs

They needed support to keep from falling over.

Our kitchen has had a profusion of blooms for the last week. They were such a success I’m thinking of going back to the garden center and seeing if they have any bulbs left. I could start some more to enjoy in late January or early February!

Narcissus, paperwhites, indoor flowers

Incredible tall flowers!

 

flowers, forcing bulbs

I love flowers!

Narcissus, christmas lights

Narcissus and Christmas lights.

 

Funny the things you grow up with and the things you don’t. In my house growing up I don’t ever remember my mother making any sort of Chex Mix at Christmas, she made other things such as delicious Christmas cookies which we loved to decorate. In the collection of recipes my mother-in-law gave me when I was to be married was a recipe for “Snax Mix” which I think I have made every year since I received it! It is so much a tradition in our family that my daughter says it isn’t Christmas without the Snax Mix! I usually make several batches and give them away to friends and neighbors.

One of the containers I use to package up this Snax Mix is coffee cans. I collect them over the year and even have my mom saving them for me. I wrap a piece of wrapping paper around the can, put a bow on the top and it’s an instant Christmassy package. Very easy and very inexpensive!

coffee cans, inexpensive gift container

Coffee cans transformed!

coffee cans, gift wrap, prudent living

Wrapping paper can transform an ordinary coffee can.

Here is the recipe for Snax Mix. I’ve changed it ever so slightly to add more cereal, I figure adding more cereal without increasing the butter mix means it’s less fattening!

dried cereal, snack mix, munchies

Cereals are placed in a large roasting pan.

 

pretzels, dried cereal, snack mix

All ingredients combined.

Snax Mix

½ lb butter (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp garlic salt
4 cups popped corn (1/2 cup un-popped popcorn)
2 cups unsalted nuts
4 cups cheerios
3 cups rice chex
3 cups corn chex
2 cups wheat chex
2 cups bite size-shredded wheat
Pretzel sticks
Mini bagel chips (optional)

Melt butter over low heat and add Worcestershire, celery salt, onion salt and garlic salt. Stir until combined. Place the popcorn, nuts, cereals, pretzels and mini bagel chips in a large roasting pan and pour the butter mix over; stir to make sure everything is coated. Bake 2 hours at 250 degrees, stirring every so often. Let cool and keep in an airtight container. I insert a plastic bag in the cleaned coffee can and then fill with the snax mix.

coffee can wrapped, gift idea

Snax mix in coffee can ready for gifting.

snack mix, gift ideas

The finished product, ready for snacking!

 

Linked to: HomegrownOnTheHill

Remember those candied nuts I made earlier this week? They are a wonderful addition to this Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad. This will be served with what we’ll be eating on Christmas Day, I’m sure it is destined to become a family favorite!

Ingredients:

1 head of spinach or about 10 oz of fresh salad greens
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 pears, thinly sliced
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup candied pecans or walnuts (see Tuesday’s blog for recipe!)
1 avocado, cubed (optional)
¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)

Dressing:

¼ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
⅓ cup mayonnaise
¾ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground pepper

salad, recipes, pears, lettuce

Layer the sliced pears on the lettuce.

Layer the greens, onion, pears, blue chees and, pecans. Add avocado or dried cranberries as desired. Blend the dressing ingredients together in a blender. Pour over the salad just before serving.

Enjoy!

candied pecans, pear, salad

Candied pecans on the top of the salad.

Linked To: HearthandSoulHop, FatTuesday, TheGatheringSpot

A few weeks ago I wrote about wheat berries. There are actually two types of wheat: hard and soft. The key difference between them is protein content. Where wheat is grown can determine protein content: Northwestern US and western Canada produce a hard wheat that’s very high in protein, while the southern US states grow a softer wheat with less protein. It is the protein that contains the gluten that allows bread and other baked goods to rise. Hard wheat is best for making breads and rolls. Since soft white wheat flour contains less protein it is typically used to create the buttery, crumbly texture associated with piecrusts, biscuits and cakes. Soft wheat flour intended for baking is often labeled pastry flour or cake flour, according to its primary use.

wheat berries, soft wheat, hard wheat, flour

Hard wheat berries (left), soft wheat berries (right).

wondermill grain mill, electric grain mill

My new WonderMill electric grain mill.

I recently purchased a new electric gain mill, the WonderMill. This will actually be an item that will be carried in the Prudent Living Market. I used it to grind some soft wheat berries and make a quiche. The result was delicious, the only flour I used was the flour ground from the soft wheat berries, it lived up to its reputation, the crust was buttery and flaky.

The recipe I used was a basic pie crust recipe:

¼ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup of flour
Dash of salt
Up to 3 Tbsp of cold water, milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)

I used a pastry cutter to cut together the butter and flour until they were a uniform substance resembling coarse corn meal, then I added the salt.

pie crust, flour, butter, prudent pantry

Flour and butter cut together until fairly uniform.

Stirring with a fork I added the buttermilk until the dough stuck to itself. You can chill the dough to roll out later or you can roll it immediately and then chill the formed crust. This is what I did. While the crust was chilling I made the filling.

pastry dough, pie crust, whole wheat flour

Pie crust formed.

There are three more steps to making a quiche before you can bake it. These are: the cheese, the filling and the custard.The cheese – your first layer, by putting the cheese in first it forms a moisture resistant barrier between the filling and the crust, thus helping to keep the crust from getting soggy. You can use any type of cheese (Swiss types and cheddar work well), ¼ – ⅓ pound. I used ¼ cup of grated Swiss cheese.

The filling – here you can use your creativity.  Spinach steamed with sautéed onions, mushrooms sautéed with scallions, tomato slices with crumbled bacon. I used leeks and spinach, which I cooked together. Layer this on top of your cheese.

The custard – beat together 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk (or 4 eggs and 1 ½ cup milk if you are using a larger pie pan). Pour it over the filling. I also sliced some grape tomatoes and placed them on top. Bake 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees. The result was wonderful and the soft wheat berries made a delicious flaky crust.

quiche, spinach, leek, tomato

Quiche ready to go in the oven.

quiche, homemade, vegetable, leek, spinach

Cooked quiche ready to eat.

cheese, Swiss cheese

Shredded cheese on top of crust.

vegetables, quiche, spinach, leek

Spinach and leek filling is placed on top of the cheese.

 

 

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