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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Simple Cheese Lasagna


My niece Lacey borrowed me a cookbook called America's Test Kitchen's Family Cookbook.  It is an awesome cookbook if you are looking for some great recipes! 

This lasagna recipe comes from that cookbook.  I love how fresh it tastes!!  The main recipe is meatless, but there is a variation where you add ground beef to the sauce.  The first time I made it I did it meatless, and it was excellent!  When I made it this time, I decided to add steamed spinach for extra nutrients, and cooked ground turkey breast for extra protein.  The result:  AWESOME!  We loved it and so did our baby!

I halved the recipe and made it in an 8x8 pan, but I will write the recipe for a 9x13 pan.  Another idea if you have a small family, is to make the whole recipe and put it in two smaller pans.  Bake one for dinner, and freeze one for later!


Who says lasagna has to full of fat and unhealthy?  I use part-skim ricotta, part-skim mozzarella, and with the spinach and ground turkey breast, it cuts off fat, cholesterol, and adds great vitamins and nutrients!



These are my favorite brand of canned tomatoes! They are very fresh tasting!



If you have never used ground turkey breast, this is what it looks like cooked.  I added onions and dried spices to it also!  Make sure and get the turkey breast, and not just ground turkey.  The regular ground turkey has a lot of fat, where as the breast is 99% fat free.

I am always looking for healthier ingredients and ways to cook!



The chunky tomato sauce with the cooked turkey breast added in.



The tomatoes were pretty large, so I decided to use a hand blender to make a less chunky sauce so it would be easier for my baby to eat.


Spread a little sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then put a layer of noodles.  The original recipe called for no-cook lasagna noodles, but I just buy the regular kind and cook them.



Next layer one third of the ricotta sauce.  The fresh basil in it smells so good!



Then a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.



Add spinach if you like!  Thinly sliced steamed zucchini would be excellent also!



Layer with tomato sauce, then do the process over again twice.  Noodle, ricotta, spinach, tomato sauce, noodle, ricotta, spinach, tomato sauce.  Then put on more noodles, and the last of the tomato sauce.



Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Cover with sprayed foil, and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 25 more minutes.



Look at that delicious lasagna! Lightly browned on top and bubbling on the edges!  Cool for 10 minutes before cutting!  You don't want to cut into it steaming hot....it will make a big mess!


CHUNKY TOMATO SAUCE FOR LASAGNA

Makes: 6 cups

This sauce is also delicious served over regular pasta!

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, minced
salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and 1 tsp. salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.




SIMPLE CHEESE LASAGNA

If you don't want to make your own tomato sauce, you can use two 26 oz. jars of sauce.


15 oz. ricotta cheese (1 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 cups tomato sauce
12 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 pound mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)
1 cup steamed fresh spinach, or frozen spinach thawed (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the Parmesan, the basil, egg, salt, and pepper until well combined.

Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Place 3 of the noodles on top of the sauce and drop 3 T. of the ricotta mixture down the center of each noodle, then spread it to an even thickness.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Top with 1/3 cup of the spinach.  Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the sauce evenly over the spinach.  Repeat this layering two more times.

For the final layer, place the 3 remaining noodles on top.  Spread the remaining 1 1/4 cups sauce over the noodles.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Spray a large sheet of foil lightly with vegetable oil spray and cover the lasagna.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake for 25 more minutes or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.


SIMPLE TURKEY or BEEF LASAGNA

In a pan over medium heat, brown 1 lb. of ground turkey breast (or ground beef) with 1 cup of chopped onion.  Add a generous sprinkle of each of the following:  Pepper, Lawry's All Season, Italian seasoning, dried basil, oregano, parsley, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Add this to the chunky tomato sauce after you add the garlic and continue with the recipe.  If you are using jarred tomato sauce, simmer meat with sauce for 15 minutes on low heat.







Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby Muesli


My son who is almost a year old just loves this Muesli!  The first time I made it for him he tasted it and said, "Mmm!"  I love it too! It is very fresh tasting and makes a great healthy breakfast! Eat it cold or warmed!


Just the right size for baby!



I got the recipe from this book.  It is a wonderful book! Full of great tips and information!



My precious son enjoying Baby muesli for breakfast.



BABY MUESLI


2 T. rolled oats
1 T. finely chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 tsp. raisins
1 T. ground almonds
1/4 cup apple, orange, or pineapple juice
1/2 small apple, peeled, cored, and grated

Mix together the oats, apricots, raisins, and ground almonds in the plastic bowl of a handheld electric blender.  Pour in the juice and leave to soak for 5 minutes.  When softened, blend to make a finer texture, then stir in the grated apple.

Yield:  1 baby sized portion

The book says for babies 8 months or older.

It also says you can add other fruits to this muesli such as chopped peach or banana.

Omit almonds if there is any family history of allergy in the family.

I ground up the almonds and dried apricots in my mini food processor.  I also used it to blend the finished product to a finer texture.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pick Me Up Coffee Shake

Often in the mid afternoon I get a slump.  What is better to perk you up than a little shot of caffeine! 

If you think you might ever want to make this shake in the next few weeks, get out your coffee pot right now and make double strong coffee.  Then pour it in ice cube trays and freeze until firm.  Put in a ziplock freezer bag and store in your freezer so they are ready when you get the need for a pick me up!

I am drinking this as I type and it is just what I needed this afternoon to get the energy to finish cleaning!





PICK ME UP COFFEE SHAKE


6 double strong coffee ice cubes
2-3 T. chocolate syrup
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
spray whipped cream
cinnamon

No need to measure on this recipe! Get out your blender and throw in the coffee cubes.  Then squirt in some chocolate syrup, dump in some milk, throw in a scoop of ice cream if you have some.  If you don't have ice cream, or want a less caloric shake, no need to add it! Flip on the blender and let it go! If it gets stuck, add more liquid.  Taste it and see if it needs more of anything.  If it meets your taste buds, pour in a glass, spray on some whipped cream, and sprinkle with cinnamon!  Add a straw and enjoy the moment!

Yield: 1 shake

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stir-Fried Chicken and Rice Noodles

I love Asian food!  I have tried many different Asian recipes, and many of them call for several different  sauces in one recipe.  This can get costly if you need to buy them all!  What I love about this recipe, is it doesn't call for anything too unusual (the only thing you might not have is the sesame oil) and it is so simple and delicious!!  It has really great flavors! If you don't want to try the rice noodles, it would be excellent served over jasmine rice!  Give it a try and let me know how you like it!




The chicken marinates for about 20 minutes.  Then you saute it and set aside.



Saute the veggies.  I love the bright greens!



These are the rice noodles.  Boil water, then remove from heat and stir in noodles.  Let sit for 10 minutes or until tender.



Mmm! Love these flavors!



Mix in the noodles and top with roasted peanuts!


STIR-FRIED CHICKEN AND RICE NOODLES


2 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine or low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 T. sugar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3 oz. uncooked Asian rice noodles
4 tsp. canola oil, divided
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
2/3 cup green onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot
1/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, soy sauce, wine or broth, and sesame oil until smooth.  Pour 1/4 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the chicken.  Seal bag and turn to coat.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Add the broth, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and chili powder to remaining marinade; set aside.

Cook the rice noodles according to package directions.  Meanwhile, drain and discard the marinade from chicken.  In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in 2 tsp. canola oil until juices run clear; remove and keep warm.

Stir-fry broccoli in remaining canola oil for 5 minutes.  Add the onions, garlic, and ginger; stir fry 3-5 minutes longer or until broccoli is tender.  Return chicken to the pan.

Stir reserved broth mixture and stir into pan.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Drain noodles; toss with chicken mixture.  Garnish with peanuts.

Yield: 6 servings

Note:  Gingerroot usually comes in fairly large pieces, and recipes usually only call for a small amount.  I buy a piece of gingerroot, peel it, and put in a freezer bag and store in the freezer.  Then when a recipe calls for it, I remove from freezer and grate frozen.  Then you always have fresh ginger on hand and don't have ginger rotting in your pantry! 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Awesome BBQ Ribs


My good friend Beth gave me these tips on making ribs....And they turned out incredibly! Ohh they were soo good!  The meat was very tender and fell off the bone in a perfect way!  I used to roast mine slowly in the oven, but that will be a thing of the past!  I love how these have great grilled flavor! They were better than any restaurant ribs I have had! Thanks Beth (and Pete for the grilling tips)!!  This is an overnite recipe so make note!


These ribs are par-boiled, then marinated overnight in BBQ sauce, and then grilled!  Oh so FABULOUS!



I marinated mine overnight in Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, and basted with Sticky Fingers barbeque sauce.



You grill them for about 20 minutes, flipping and basting every few minutes.




AWESOME BBQ RIBS


baby back ribs
bbq sauce


Cut ribs to fit into a large stockpot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Keep at a rolling boil uncovered, for 2 hours, adding water if needed to keep them covered.  Remove from water, and cool slightly.  Place in container or ziplock bag and coat with bbq sauce.  Marinade overnight in the sauce.  Heat grill to medium to high heat (about 400-500 degrees).  Place ribs on grill like pictured above.  Cook for 5 minutes covered.  Flip and baste ribs in bbq sauce.  Continue flipping and basting ribs every couple minutes, for about 20 minutes or until meat becomes very tender and starts to fall off the bones.  Serve immediately and dig in!! Make sure you have lots of napkins!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Roasted Asparagus

Springtime = Asparagus!  I have never liked asparagus until I tried it this way.  It is so tasty I could eat a whole pound of it!  (Haven't tried it, but I bet I could!) I have made it so many times in the past few weeks my husband said, "Enough with the asparagus!" It apparently isn't his favorite vegetable! He does eat it though!




ROASTED ASPARAGUS

desired amount of asparagus
olive oil
salt
pepper
Parmesan cheese

Wash asparagus and hold the the ends.  Bend until each stalk snaps.  It will snap in the perfect place so you won't have "woodiness" (aka: tough stalks).  Lay stalks on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until bright green and tender.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tangy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I hardly ever cook pork.  In fact this was only my third time cooking it!  This morning I was trying to find a recipe that would be quick and easy, and I found this!  Tangy Pulled Pork Sandwiches from the February/March 2010 Taste Of Home Magazine.  What made things even more fabulous, was that it cooks in the crock pot AND pork tenderloin was on sale this week at the grocery store!

So I tried it and was pleasantly surprised! It was quite tasty! The only thing was that it tasted pretty salty.  We try to eat low sodium (more heart healthy!) so next time I would probably cut the sauce in half and add a little water to the sauce.  But, if you are used to a regular sodium diet, you probably wouldn't notice it being salty at all! :) So make adjustments as you see fit!


Mmm!


Raw pork tenderloin.  I bought mine on sale for $3.99 a lb.


Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over pork.  It's quite a bit of sauce, so that is why I figured I could easily cut it in half!


Remove pork after 4-5 hours of cooking on low in the crock pot.  


Then shred with two forks.  The meat was so tender it shredded very easily!  Then put the meat back in the sauce remaining in the crock pot. 



These are the rolls I bought.  I found them in the Walmart Bakery and they were excellent! I even warmed them like the package says :)


I served my sandwiches with Roasted Asparagus. A very yummy and simple meal! 


TANGY PULLED PORK SANDWICHES

 1 pork tenderloin (1 lb.)
1 cup ketchup
2 T. plus 1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
2 T. plus 1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 T. plus 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 kaiser rolls, split

Cut the tenderloin in half; place in slow cooker.  Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and pepper.  Pour over pork.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours in slow cooker or until meat is tender.  Remove meat; shred with two forks.  Return to slow cooker and heat through.  Serve on rolls.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Talkin' Trail Mix

One day I was watching Sandra Lee on the Food Network, and she was making this trail mix.  She called it Talkin' Trail Mix, because she said it's so good everyone will be talking about it!  Well I agree with her!  It is such a perfect blend of ingredients!  I tweaked the recipe a bit and I like it even better! It's very addicting!  Every time I make it someone asks me for the recipe.


Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate. YUMMY!!


First you toast the nuts and coconut in the oven.  Toasting nuts bring out their flavor.


Then while the mixture is still warm, you add the chocolate and cranberries.  The original recipe called to stir these in when mixture is completely cool, which I did many times.  Then one time I accidentally left my trail mix in the sun. It melted the chips and when it cooled, the mix sort of clumped together and I thought it was good that way! So I do it both ways now.


Talkin' Trail Mix

1 bag (6oz) slivered almonds

3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (they are green)

1 cup sweetened coconut

3/4 cup walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup dried cranberries (Ocean Spray)

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a foil lined baking sheet, combine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and coconut.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the coconut is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Combine toasted mixture with cranberries and chocolate.



Friday, April 2, 2010

Cheesy Potatoes

These are the perfect side dish for your Easter Dinner....or any meal!  They are great because you can make them the day before, and just pop them in the oven the next day about a half hour before your meal!  I think they are some of the best potatoes I have had...but try them out and you decide!  They also make excellent leftovers!


I don't even have words to describe these potatoes! Five stars for sure!


After the potatoes are cooked and cooled, you shred them and spread in a baking dish.  I use my food processor to shred them.  An electric salad shooter would work too! Or just a regular grater! They don't have to be perfect shreds....if they crumble some, that's okay!


Then you mix in some shredded cheddar cheese.


The good stuff! Butter, sour cream, onion, salt, pepper, and parsley. 


You add the sauce to the pan, and using a fork mix it all in until all the potatoes are coated. 


At this point you can top with extra cheese if you have any, then bake.  Or if they are for the next day, cover and put in the refrigerator.



CHEESY POTATOES

6 large potatoes
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. parsley flakes
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Peel potatoes and boil whole until tender.  Cool.  To melted butter, add sour cream, onion, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Heat until warm and stir to combine.  Grate potatoes and spread in a greased 9x13 pan.  Add cheese, fluffing with fork to spread out evenly as you mix.  Pour sour cream mixture over and fluff into potatoes until evenly distributed.  More grated cheese can be added to the top if desired.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  These can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.  Bake before serving.


If you wish to make these potatoes healthier:  Reduce the amount of butter by several tablespoons, use light sour cream, less salt, and use less cheese.  I have made them this way with great results!





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