Mama’s Lean-zagna

Meatloaf, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Chicken Noodle Soup, Honey Mustard… just a few of the make-overs I’ve done of my mom’s hit meal! But I cannot forget the lasagna!

Lean-Zagna

24 servings

  • 2 lbs 99% lean ground turkeyWP_007931
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried chopped onion
  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp granulated Splenda
  • (72oz+4lb3oz) (about 15 cups) your favorite sauce
  • 3 (11oz) bags fat free shredded mozzarella
  • 2 lbs fat free ricotta
  • 24 oz lasagna noodles (no-boil if possible)*
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat grated Parmesan

In a large pot, break up and brown the ground turkey. Make sure there are no chunks of meat, make it a nice fine ground. Over medium-low heat, add the spices and Splenda, and toss to coat the meat. Top with sauce, stir, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine the ricotta and mozzarella in a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Coat the bottom of a large pan, about 17 x 12 (this is the one time I choose a disposable pan, like a large rectangular roaster) with sauce. Line one layer of lasagna noodles, with edges slightly over lapping. Evenly distribute some of the cheese mix over the noodles. Ladle another ladle of sauce and use the back of the ladle to smooth and even out the layer. Place another of noodles down and repeat with the cheese and sauce. Repeat this process, reserving a small amount (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) of the cheese mix, until you’re out of noodles (about 3 or 4 layers).

Top the last layer of noodles with the reserved cheese and the remaining sauce. Smooth out the layer with the back of the ladle and distribute the reserved mozzarella and the Parmesan topping.

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Bake for 90min. Let it rest 5 minutes before cutting (6 x 4) and serving.

*If NOT using no-boil, just ensure you make up for it by using more gravy (and by gravy, I mean sauce), because the noodles will absorb a decent amount of liquid, and no one wants a dry lasagna.

WP_007932Nutrition (per 1/24, 1 piece)

Calories:291, Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 902mg, Carbs: 37g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 15g, Protein: 28g

**Nutrition info based off using an 80 cal sauce. If you use a lighter sauce, congrats! You cut more calories!

Oh man! All of the delicious flavor of mom’s lasagna without all the guilt!

While waiting for this to bake I put this together for my kitchen… I think after all my hard work I deserve a nice hunk of lean-zagna!

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Homemade Birthday

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day! I didn’t want meat included into my birthday dinner, so I began to play around with gnocchi recipes that incorporated tofu, tempeh, or seitan. I stressed about my birthday dinner for about a week prior. I knew the ingredients I wanted to use, but couldn’t decide how to utilize them… Red sauce? White sauce? Pesto? Wine?  I finally came across this recipe. It appealed to my Sicilian genes and thought it sounded delicious. I figured I could make this into a hearty meal to play with everyone’s taste buds, but I definitely want to make it with the eggplant in the future!

After looking at my other Sicilian recipes, I finally realized where I get this salty sweet tooth from! They love combining savory and sweet and this recipe does just that with the capers and raisins.

Its also a great way to kick off Italian Heritage Month!

Sicilian-Inspired Rabe and Pasta

serves 6-8

  • 1/2 lb broccoli rabeWP_004088
  • 6-8 servings pasta/ gnocchi
  • 2 Tbsp fat free ricotta
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 packet Splenda
  • 1 15 oz can no-salt-added sliced stewed tomatoes, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Brummel and Brown, or low cal, light buttery spread
  • 1 45 calorie box raisins, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers, chopped

Bring two pots filled with water to a boil. Once boiling, add broccoli rabe to one pot and pasta/gnocchi to the other. The broccoli rabe cooks for about 4 minutes. When the 4 minutes have passed, drain the broccoli rabe and set aside to cool. Cook the pasta according to standard directions.

In the meantime, drain the can of tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Combine the reserved liquid with water and wine. In a food processor, blend ricotta, basil, 2 tsp garlic, crushed red pepper, Splenda, and 1/3 cup drained tomatoes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sprayed with non stick cooking spray, over low heat, add the onion. Toss the onion until it begins to brown. Chop the remaining stewed tomatoes. Add the remaining garlic and light buttery spread, chopped tomatoes, and chopped raisins and capers. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add the reserved tomato/water liquid and ricotta mix. Recover and simmer.

WP_004091Meanwhile, chop the drained and cooled broccoli rabe, and add to the skillet. Recover the skillet and simmer over low heat.

Turn off the heat, remove the lid, stir the pan, and serve over plated pasta. Top with reduced fat grated parmesean, if desired.

I served this over the gnocchi I had made last week! I really enjoyed it!

Sweet 16

Today is a most wonderful day for this family! Beauty is 16, today! Can you believe it? My beautiful beagle is sixteen years old!

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When I was turning 6, my uncle worked for a company that tested on animals. He rescued his dog and for my 6th birthday, grabbed me her half sister: The most beautiful pup I’ve ever seen! I got her when she was just 6 weeks old and I feel so blessed to have 16 years with her, now!  It seems surreal! We weren’t sure if she was going to make it to her 16th birthday with the health problems she was having earlier this year, but we were all wrong!

This was a big day in our house and I was prepared to celebrate!

Our day began with… uh, oh… where are the eggs? We opened the fridge and had to run out to the store so we could have our omelets this morning. My girlfriend Maggie was here so I made breakfast for the three of us, plus a sandwich for dad for work.

I browned up some turkey sausage links while I cooked Barry a jalapeno and spicy cheese egg, which I served with the sausage on toast. HE was ballsy enough to try out new ghost pepper hot sauce on the sandwich, too! For Maggie and myself, I used the the liquid egg substitute, salsa, spinach, and chopped turkey sausage with fat free cheese. She enjoyed hers with ketchup, and I with hot sauce. My breakfast was completed with a mug of coffee, while Barry’s ending with a glass of milk to cut some of the fiery hot sauce.

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After assembling a shopping list, and dropping off dad’s breakfast sandwich at his work, we ran our errands and arrived to see the birthday girl! She was sleeping, of course, but her loud mommy woke her with balloons and kisses!

By far, Beauty’s favorite treat is peanut butter! Duh! Isn’t it every ones? Every year, we typically get a coffee cake or sticky bun to celebrate, but this year, I made a peanut butter creme pie, compliments of Hungry Girl. It was delish! We all were in PB heaven.

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While this was firming up in the freezer, the birthday girl got to lick the spoon… and the bowl, while her mommy made dinner.

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Today, also happens to by National Cheese Pizza Day. I had left my scale at Barry’s and made this without weighing a simple thing, only measuring spoons, same with the salads that accompanied dinner and the PB Creme pie. This was a big step for me. So much so that I needed to take a walk while it was baking…

The pizza was one of the best I’ve made yet! The humans loved it and went back for seconds. The canine of the house was treated to a special meal, as well. I found in a health magazine a while back a recipe for heart healthy food patties for dogs. Both meals were cooking.

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WP_003760Salmon Patties for Pups

makes 8 cakes

  • 1 14.75 can salmon
  • 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, or panko
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Combine the first three ingredients and form 8 patties. In a hot skillet, drizzle with half the olive oil and brown one side. Drizzle the remaining oil and flip patties until the other side is browned and patties are warmed through.

These can be frozen and refrigerated.

She, too, wanted seconds! Its her birthday, so, of course, she got them!

Cheese Pizza

serves 4-8WP_003761

The Crust:

  • 1 medium to large cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup shredded fat free mozzarella, further chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornmeal

The Topping:

  • 1/4 cup fat free ricotta
  • basil, to taste
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp pizza sauce
  • 1 cup fat free shredded mozzarella
  • granulated garlic, to taste

Steam the cauliflower with 1/3 cup water in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap. Microwave about 9 minutes. Carefully transfer the steamed cauli into a food processor and blend until the cauliflower is a rice consistency. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of “riced” cauliflower. Mix that with egg, cheese and spices. The mixture will form a dough like consistency. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the hot pizza stone or pizza pan. Spread the dough on a hot pizza stone and bake for about 20 min at 400 F.

Check, using a spatula, that the crust is not sticking to the pan/stone. Allow the crust to slightly cool while you lower the temperature of the over to 350 F. Once slightly cooled, top the crust with an even spread of ricotta, and sprinkle that with basil. Next, spread the pizza sauce, and, finally, the shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle the granulated garlic over the top and bake at 350 F for about 8 minutes.

Slice and serve.

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After our pizza and salads, we digested while Beauty took her full belly to Nap Time Land.

We eventually got the pup up, lit the candles, sang Happy Birthday, and dug in! She was so cute as she kept trying to lick the pan. This picture looks like she is trying to blow out the candles!

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She seriously loved her pie! We could not top watching how much she enjoyed it!

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Happy Birthday, Babygirl!

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Eggplant Pie

It was nice to sleep in yesterday and not have anything to do! I spent all day studying for the NCLEX, filling myself with brain food, like Saturn peaches, sugar free chocolate pudding, and a delicious dinner! (recipe to follow) My family has really been lucking out these past few weeks. Since I’ve found an outlet in cooking, my family has been eating really well. During my studying, I reward myself with breaks to cook, or prep to cook. Yesterday the result was baking Strawberry Muffins, and Eggplant Pie. Both were so good! Frank, my biggest critic, said the muffins were very good and the Eggplant Pie was,”Outstanding!” Having the word “outstanding” come from him was definitely a treat!

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The muffins came in handy when I woke up this morning to find a tray of donuts on the table from an apparent late night craving they had while out on the town… To resist the urge, I warmed up a strawberry muffin, sliced it in half, and added to the already gooey strawberries inside it with some sugar free strawberry preserves. Take that, donut!

After dinner, and along day of brain overload, I rewarded myself with Zumba. Unfortunately, my booty shaking was cut short when a girl got light headed and fainted. I ran to help her. Behind me, I hear my girlfriend yell,”It’s okay! She’s a nurse!” It was thrilling hearing someone yell that so close to my exam!

WP_003511Following Zumba, I got really hungry. Thank goodness Zumba is early on Monday nights and I went home to enjoy an Orange Cream Dannon Light & Fit Greek, with cheerios for crunch. I got antsy and wound up finishing a head of romain with salsa, filling up on water. I’m such a bunny rabbit…

I headed to bed with a mug of chamomile tea and fell asleep in NCLEX-mode.

After Sunday’s adventure at the Ren Faire, and my brief time at Zumba, last night, my calves we starting to feel it today. I began the WP_003512gloomy day with my normal routine of a shake. Since my vanilla protein powder has been replaced, I began with an Apple Eggnog Shake:

  • 2 scoops Vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 md fuji apple, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sugar free Eggnog Da Vinci syrup
  • spinkle apple pie spice
  • water
  • ice

A total winner that Barry didn’t think would work! I made Frank a very bright Watermelon Shake.

Today was so gloomy that my dad’s boss told him not to come to work because there was so much flooding! It was also gloomy in my kitchen when my spare Magic Bullet bit the dust. I’m glad I had my smoothie maker to fill in.

Before heading to work, I filled up on some watermelon and I’ve really been digging the beet scene lately. I actually made another beet salad for dinner tonight, for work. I even used some Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh! And what goes well with bacon? Bleu Cheese! I steamed together sliced onion, chopped tempeh, sliced petite carrots, and chopped, sliced beets and served it over a bed of spinach, topped with crumbled reduced fat bleu cheese. The warmth from the vegetables warmed up the cheese and this salad was “no dressing required!” I’ve been trying to talk dad into trying beets, but I haven’t quite gotten there. Maybe I’ll sneak it into something one day. What can I say? You can’t beat beets!

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Usually, being clerk at work makes me want to eat. Not because I’m hungry or burning calories, but because I’m bored. Tonight was great because I ate my delicious salad for dinner, and had some grahams and PB for a snack! Plus, with studying and all the paperwork at the desk, I kept busy!I’m serious! As soon at 7pm hit, this place went crazy, like full moon crazy! Eureka!

I picked up a pack of sliced eggplant from the farmers market last week and wanted to use it up before it began to turn. My intent was to make an eggplant parm pizza, but then this brain of mine began to crank some gears and this little beauty was born. Its like if eggplant parmesean and spaghetti pie had a baby…

Eggplant PieWP_003507

Serves 4

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/8in
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup fat free ricotta
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pkg Fettuccine Tofu Shirataki noodles
3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
4oz 96% lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed (25g)
1 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan

Peeling the eggplant is your preference. Over high heat, in a skillet, cook slices of eggplant until they begin to shrivel from the water loss, flipping to ensure both sides cook. Transfer to a paper towel while cooking the remaining slices of eggplant. While eggplant is still pliable, lay the eggplant strategically in a sprayed 9in pie pan to create a pseudo-pie crust (about 7 slices). Sprinkle the bottom on the pan with 1/4 cup of mozzarella.

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Empty the noodles into a colander, rinse, and snip through the noodles with scissors, as these these noodles can be pretty long. In the hot pan, after the eggplant has been cooked and removed, briefly toss the noodles in the pan, tossing constantly to remove excess fluid, and return to the colander.

Spray skillet with non stick cooking spray and briefly cook down onions, garlic, and bell pepper, until onions are
mildly translucent. Transfer warm vegetables into a bowl with uncooked mushrooms, ricotta, spices, and egg. Then add the noodles to the ricotta mix. Transfer into eggplant crust and distribute evenly.

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Brown the ground beef. Once crumbled and browned, add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir together and top over the noodles in the crust. Sprinkle a pinch on mozzarella and the grated cheese. Add the chopped spinach and cover with the remaining eggplant (about 5 slices). Top with remained shredded mozzarella and bake in a preheat oven  at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

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Slice and enjoy!

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Nutrition (1/4 recipe):

Calories: 149, Fat: 0.8g, Sat. Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 22.5mg, Sodium: 294mg, Carbs: 15.8g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4.7g, Protein: 16.8g

Calzone or Pizza?

Yesterday, I had every intention of a new recipe for you and I was really excited about it, but….

WP_003389My day began early with and orange banana shake (I prepared one for Frank for when he got up) and a trip to my moms new job. It was followed by lots of food shopping for her and then a doctors appointment. The doctor was really excited to see me healthy and at an ideal weight! By the time I left, the shake had definitely worn off and i was hungry! I grabbed a snack bar and slammed like 30oz of lemonade… NOT a good idea. By the time I got home, I felt terrible and got sick! I think there was just too much acid at one time from the lemonade.

This totally sucked since my dinner involved tomatoes and I decided to stick with soup. I actually made another batch of Italian Peasant Soup since I had so much cabbage left, and a half grilled cheese. It did the trick and dad and Frank were more than happy to benefit from it.

Note to self: Italian Peasant Soup cures belly aches.

Of course, even though I was full, snacky Sammy snuck up…

I’m not kidding when I tell you that I looked like a rabbit, tearing off 1 leaf at a time off a head of romaine lettuce and dipping it into salsa! (Which was genius and all since salsa has absolutely ZERO acidity!)~ that was sarcasm…

Today began rather early for a Saturday, as I picked up a shift for a girl at work. After my cup of coffee, made with my new Cashew Milk (35 calories a cup), and rounds, my tummy began sending me the “feed me” signal. I microwaved some liquid eggs substitute, while toasting a cinnamon raisin bagel thin. As odd as it sounds, I spread a tablespoon of sugar free orange marmalade on the toast, popped my micro-egg on there and had  a delicious breakfast sandwich that lasted me until about 1pm.

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WP_003396The girls always order out on the weekend shifts, but I was determined to stick with my lunch. But watching them eat Seasons salads and calzones made me really want a calzone from the place, as I ate my turkey and pepper romaine wraps.

One of my favorite calzones is ham, spinach, and ricotta. I had ricotta, ham, and spinach in the refrigerator… What is a Bundo to do? To take my mind off the intensity of studying and work, I did one of the things I do best: Cook!

Do I make the calzone or whip up a pizza?

I opted for the later since I’ve had it in dough, but never on top of it!

I picked up a super huge head of cauliflower from the farmers market. I’m serious! Talk about a “head!” Its as big as mine! And guess who has enough for another pizza?

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Ham and Spinach Pizza

serves 8

The Crust:

  • 1 medium to large cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup shredded fat free mozzarella, further chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp minced)

The Toppings:WP_003409

  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups (85g) fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 8 slices 98% fat free ham, or low sodium
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fat free shredded mozzarella
  • basil for sprinkling

Steam the cauliflower with 1/3 cup water in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap. Microwave about 9 minutes. Carefully transfer the steamed cauli into a food processor and blend until the cauliflower is a rice consistency. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of “riced” cauliflower. Mix that with egg, cheese and spices. The mixture will form a dough like consistency. Spread the dough on a hot pizza stone or a baking sheet (my least favorite part- it may take a bit of work to finally smooth out) and put in the oven for about 20 min at 400.

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Next, roll ham slices, slice lengthwise, then across the two halves until a bunch of hammy shredded are made. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine ricotta with garlic, a handful if the chopped spinach, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Set side. Pull out the crust and using a spatula, ensure it is not sticking to the pan/stone. Spread a large spoonful of the ricotta mix on the crust along with the mozzarella. Dollop sauce and remaining ricotta mix around. Top with ham and the remaining spinach.Sprinkle some dried basil over the whole pizza and put it back in the oven for another 5 to 10 min.

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Slice and serve.

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Thunderbird power, Activate!

Its another shortened day since I’m working night shift tonight. Hey, a broke college girls gotta do what shes gotta do.

I’ve recently discovered a new brand of bars and thought I’d give them a try. This morning I enjoyed Almond Cookie Pow Wow by Thunderbird energetica. What caught my attention about this energy bar is that it was apricot based, not date based. I really enjoyed it fruit-roll-up like consistency and simplicity. It also contains coconut sap, which I’ve never seen before, and quinoa.

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The wrapper caught my eye, as well. This bar is vegan, raw, soy, agave, and gluten free, with a low glycemic index. I give this company a lot of credit since each bar is handmade. Did I mention this bar, in its compostable wrapper, is shaman-blessed.

I looked up this bar in the website and its considered the “Spirit Animal” bar. After reading the bars wrapper, it really motivate me for the rest of the day! Its about channeling your inner spirit animal to tackle the challenges of everyday life!

I tackled my first challenge of the day, but completing Julie’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop circuit. I felt so energized when it was done!

I had every intention at trying Katie’s Vanilla Pear Cobbler; but since I had no one to share it with, I went another route.

A really scrumptious dessert is baking a pear and topping it with ricotta and cinnamon. I decided to take dessert the breakfast way. I sliced up a pear, than cut those slices in half. I tossed them in a bowl, along with a 1/4 cup of fat free ricotta and 1/3 cup Special K Cinnamon Pecan cereal (another cereal I prefer to eat dry). Purrtty Yummers. Its was a combo of refreshing and classic!

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My goal today is to tire myself out so I can sleep before night shift. I have a long class this after noon, so I’m trying to get as much done as I can before its time to leave.