Monday, August 29, 2016

Zoodles! with Ground Turkey in a Tomato & Basil Marinara Sauce

ZOODLES! with Ground Turkey in a Tomato & Basil Marinara Sauce

Spiralized veggies have been super popular lately on cooking blogs, cooking magazines, etc.  If anything, I am late to the party... again. 

I have been wanting to try spiralized veggies, but did not want to invest a ton of money in an expensive gadget, nor did I want a possibly-seldom-used-one-trick-pony-kitchen-gadget to take up precious space in my crowded kitchen cabinets.

ABOVE:  On a recent trip to Des Moines, Iowa, I did find an inexpensive veggie spiralizer (less than $10.00) but the design leads to quite a bit of veggie waste when you use it.

LIGHT BULB MOMENT! It occurred to me that I was gifted a mandoline as a retirement gift from my friends, Belinda and Bev (Thanks, ladies!!!) and the mandoline has a setting to cut julienne strips which are similar in size/shape to the spiralized veggies.  The mandoline made these great matchstick shapes which made great zucchini noodles (Zoodles). 

I read a bit on line about how to cook up my little Zoodles.  I ended up sautéing my Zoodles in a small skillet which had been sprayed with a little non-stick cooking spray (Pam).  Next time, I'll cook my Zoodles just a bit longer.  They were a tad crunchy this time around, but I really did mind chewing on my noodles.  The Zoodles did not taste like pasta; really, they did not taste like anything.  But they were great with the spaghetti sauce I make at home.

For my sauce tonight, I used Jennie-O Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey. I cook and crumble it, and add in a little salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic powder, as well as a little dried oregano and dried basil.  I used some jarred pasta sauce as you can see above. I have a few favorite brands and this is one of them.

This is not much of an exact recipe, but I was excited to have finally tried Zoodles!  I loved this meal and it really felt light and healthy with the veggie noodles instead of pasta, and the turkey in place of ground pork sausage or beef.  For my husband, I did make up some mini-bow tie pasta. 

If you've not heard of veggie spiralizers, here is an image of a more elaborate version.  Yes, my mandoline-made veggies noodles are missing the characteristic spiral shape, but that's okay in my book! 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cranberry-Orange Walnut Overnight Oats

Cranberry Orange Walnut Refrigerator Oats

The other day I made up two kinds of overnight or refrigerator oats. I was totally bummed that I threw out the pumpkin pie version; the taste and texture were just all wrong. 

Today I tried the Cranberry Orange Walnut version I came up with and it is GREAT. 

I portioned out the various ingredients using my 21 Day Fix containers. I have been following the 21 Day Fix eating plan since June 6, 2016. It's definitely got me to focus on eating more fruits, veggies, and lean protein, and fewer carbs.  I've lost a little over 20 pounds and I am at the point now where I am trying to figure out how to just maintain the weight loss.  I'll get it figured out.

Cranberry Orange Walnut Overnight Oats

1/2 cup oats (yellow container)
3/4 cup plain low fat yogurt (red container)
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons dried sweetened cranberries "Craisins" (1 ounce box)
2 tablespoons chia seeds (orange container)
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (blue container)
finely grated zest of one naval orange, about 1 teaspoon (I use a Microplane grater)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir well until all ingredients are distributed.  Divide into two glasses for serving. Cover with plastic wrap and store on the refrigerator. Eat cold. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 4 - 5 days.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

Earlier this week, I tried to make Pumpkin  Pie Refrigerator Oats. The recipe is here:

Unfortunately this recipe was a flop. I did not care for the taste or texture. It left me with leftover pumpkin purée. 

Pumpkin Pie Refrigerator Oats 

With the leftover pumpkin, I considered making these dog treats:

Then I got distracted by this recipe for Breakfast Cookies... because, c'mon... who doesn't like the idea of cookies for breakfast: 

I decided to make this recipe for no bake energy bites because it would result in me using the pumpkin and I loved the idea of not having to bake these treats. 

Here is the recipe link:
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bites
  • From
  • 3 cups dry, uncooked oatmeal 
  • 1 cup all-natural Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 cup all-natural Peanut butter, or Almond butter (I used peanut butter)
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey ( I used maile syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 Tbsp ground flax seeds :  if ‘dough’ seems too wet, then I add more ground flax, if it’s too dry, add less…start with a smaller quantity. (I used only 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup small chopped walnuts, chopped almonds, chopped peanuts, coconut flakes, or any combination of mix-ins that equal 1 cup total (I used walnuts, pecans, almonds, and unsweetened coconut)
  • 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl until very thoroughly mixed.
  2. Roll into balls of about 1″ in diameter (I made about 50 small balls with my cookie scoop). 
  3. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper & freeze one hour.
  4. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Texts from College

Over the summer, I shared my cooking and baking experiences with my college student son, Zach. He went off to college last fall for his freshman year and he did not yet have many skills in the kitchen. 

This summer Zach learned a lot. In the past week, he's sent me some photos (via cell phone text) to show me what he's been cooking. I was so tickled to get these images I thought it would be fun to share.  Looks as if he's got the protein food group covered. 

Turkey Taco Burgers

Turkey Taco Burgers

A few weeks back, Jennie-O brand ground turkey was on sale for $2.99 per pound. I stocked up and put it in the freezer.  I bought some unseasoned lean turkey of course but also bought the Italian Seasoned and Taco Seasoned varieties. I've cooked and crumbled the Taco Seasoned turkey before and made tacos. Delicious, easy, and a nice change from beef tacos. 

Today I made some taco burgers. I opted to add in some finely diced bell peppers and onions. These burgers are highly seasoned without adding anything else.  They are so flavorful in fact that I think one could add in more unseasoned ground turkey to stretch the seasoned turkey even further.  Whatever the case may be, I enjoyed my turkey burger lunch today. I topped my burger with a dollop of plain low fat yogurt in place of sour cream and some sliced pickled jalapeños. Next time I'll add even more of those hot peppers!  These burgers would be great on a bun or topped with avocado slices or guacamole. Pepper jack cheese would be a great addition as well. 

Oh! (Above) Check out my new All Clad brand stove top grill pan from Williams-Sonoma. I love it!

I used the cute little peppers. I got a nice bag of these at Sam's Club. 

Turkey Taco Burgers

1 pound Jennie-O brand Taco Seasoned ground turkey 
3 tablespoons finely diced sweet bell peppers
3 tablespoons finely diced onions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 

Crumble turkey with fingertips and gently work in the diced vegetables. Shape mixture into four large, flat equal sized patties with even thickness. 

Preheat skillet or stove top grill pan over medium heat. Spray skillet or grill pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

Cook burgers in preheated pan for 8 - 10 minutes, turning once, or until internal temperature if 165 degrees Fahrenheit is reached. 

Dijon Tuna Salad with Cottage Cheese

Dijon Tuna Salad with Cottage Cheese

Tuna + Cottage Cheese = Good Eats!

I tried to eat tuna without adding anything to it a few weeks back and I nearly choked since the tuna was so incredibly dry. It was actually scary. Thankfully I had some water to drink nearby.

I have had a recent love affair with cottage cheese, as it's a great source of lean protein. I got to looking on the Internet in search of various recipes with cottage cheese. When I saw it, the idea of combining cottage cheese and tuna sounded great. Replace the typical mayonnaise in tuna salad with cottage cheese!  Smart indeed. 

I just whipped this up as a late night snack last night.  I would have added celery if I had it. And I was too lazy to chop up some red bell pepper. I considered adding some fresh parsley, but I just wanted my snack. This was a tasty, light treat and especially great on crunchy, salty Triscuit crackers. 

Dijon Tuna Salad with Cottage Cheese

1 small can solid white tuna, drained (solid white albacore in water, 5 ounces)
3/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 - 3 tablespoons finely minced onion
Optional: add in 2 - 3 tablespoons finely diced celery & 2 - 3 tablespoon red bell pepper if desired
Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir well to combine. Enjoy!  Great on Triscuit crackers. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chicken & Orzo Salad

Chicken & Orzo Salad

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, Maryellen. This salad is so delicious. I recently changed up the proportions to this recipe so that there was more chicken and veggies and less pasta. My recipe tweaks need some work!  Here is the original recipe (it is PERFECT as is!); the recipe source is Williams-Sonoma. 

Click here for the recipe link:

This is a great dish to bring to a potluck or a picnic. Make preparation easier by using rotisserie chicken from your grocery store deli. 

I even made noodles out of zucchini (zoodles) and added them to my salad after sautéing them slightly.

Brace yourself, I think you'll be seeing zoodles and other spiralized veggies here in the near future. I got a new kitchen gadget!