Tag Archives: baked

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake

Christmas is coming. I hope you don’t feel like you are getting as fat as the proverbial goose. Treats and snacks and parties abound this time of year, which often leads to weight gain. While I don’t think you should go on a “diet” right now or work hard to lose eight, avoiding weight gain is a great goal. Trying to stay balanced is important. I posted last year about some great tips for eating at parties.

The holidays are full of family and friends being together. Food is usually an important part of these get togethers. I remember my mom always trying to avoid meals that required her to spend excessive time in the kitchen for cooking and for clean-up. This dish does require a bit of prep, but it can all be done well ahead of time. It isn’t difficult and will fill up any cold, hungry crowd. Enjoy!

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake (Serves 6-8)

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake

5 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces uncooked whole wheat short pasta (penne or ziti work well)
4 cups chopped kale
2 bacon slices
2 cups thinly sliced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces fat free cream cheese
½ cup shredded smoked Gruyere cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine squash, oil, and black pepper in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until squash is tender.

3. Cook pasta one minute short of al dente directions on package. Add kale during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

4. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble.

5. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

6. Bring 1¾ cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining ¼ cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and red pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and ¼ cup Gruyere until melted and sauce is well combined.

7. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with remaining Gruyere cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 311
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 222 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use any pasta shape or dark leafy green you want. Regular Gruyere works, but I like how the smoky Gruyere accents the flavor of the bacon. If you can’t find Gruyere, you could substitute another type of Swiss cheese.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Eggplant and Orzo Baked Pasta

The next few months feature a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables that are ripe and delicious and affordable like no other time of the year. I love it. There is nothing like asparagus in the spring when it is tender and delicious or tomatoes in the summer when they are juicy and meaty at the same time. However, I’m always in a small quandary with all these vegetables. I love baked pasta and roasted vegetables but hate turning my oven on at all for the next few months.

However, this pasta is completely worth it. And while hearty and filling like all baked pasta should be, it still tastes light, fresh, and springy, which not all baked pasta can achieve. The other great thing about this recipe is that you can mix up the veggies a bit based on what you have or what is in season. Zucchini or summer squashes would mix in deliciously. Asparagus was a nice addition in this batch. This freezes well, if you want to save it for cooler months when you want a reminder of what summer tasted like.

Enjoy!

Eggplant and Orzo Baked Pasta (Serves 4-6)

Eggplant and Orzo Baked Pasta

1 large eggplant, cut into ¾-inch dice
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery stalk
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces orzo
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces mozzarella, diced
¼ cup grated parmesan
3-4 large tomatoes, diced

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Sprinkle eggplant with salt. Let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. OR Place eggplant on several layers of coffee filters or paper towels. Microwave for 10 minutes, or until beginning to look slightly shriveled.

3. Heat a large frying pan with the 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Transfer them to paper towels to drain.

4. Heat remaining oil in pan. Add carrots, celery, and asparagus. Cook for 3 minutes, then add onion and garlic. Cook 5 more minutes on medium to medium-high heat. to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste ,and cook for two minutes more. Remove from heat and add eggplant, stock, oregano, lemon zest, pepper, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Mix well.

5. Transfer mixture to an 8×11 or 2 quarts ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 319
Protein: 15 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 431 mg

Recipe Notes: As I mentioned above, mix up the veggies however you like it. And don’t be too scared of adding celery. You don’t taste it in the end. I really like the tomato flavor and the lemon flavor, so I add as much of those as I can. And DON’T precook your orzo. It is a small pasta, so it will cook just fine in the oven. If you can find whole wheat orzo, go for it. My smaller grocery store doesn’t carry it. If you are freezing, freeze it before baking. Then bake in at 350 until cooked through, probably 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Growing up, I hated cold cereal and oatmeal for breakfast. I feel sorry for my poor parents looking back. What kid hates eating cereal? I enjoy both immensely now, but I had to find my way. Now, I feed oatmeal to my family almost every day.

For oatmeal, I discovered I just don’t like dousing my oatmeal in milk like my parents did. So you would think this baked oatmeal would be a dream for me. I found eating it just like this was actually a little too far on the “thick and dry” spectrum for me. However, cooled off and eaten like granola over some Greek yogurt, I could eat an entire pan of this stuff.

This baked oatmeal comes together very quickly as far as hands on time. It’s perfect for a holiday morning, like Easter. Mix it up, throw it in the oven, then go enjoy hunting for eggs and trying to keep your kids from eating all of the candy before breakfast. It’s great for a get together too, since it can be served hot, warm, or cold.

Enjoy!

Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal (Serves 8)

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2 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 tablespoon peanut butter, optional
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups berries, fresh or frozen
1 banana

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Combine oats, brown sugar, soda, and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine egg, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Gently fold in berries and banana. Pour into prepared baking dish.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until looks “set”. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 166
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 24 mg
Carbohydrates: 30 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 120 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use whatever combinations of fruit you like. Apples, pears, and coconut come to mind as other great ideas to mix in. I liked the addition of peanut butter, but make sure you whisk it in well. I didn’t do the best job, so some bites tasted very peanut and others not at all. As I said above, if you don’t love this as is, try it cold over some yogurt. It’s the best parfait ever.

Recipe source: adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

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Tilapia with Tomatoes and Green Beans

I was pretty oblivious to Lent and eating fish on Fridays until I got to high school. Even then, most of my exposure was making sure we chose somewhere to eat on Fridays that had fish for the one Catholic member of a traveling team I was on. Even during graduate school, I would forget. I once took pork egg rolls to a Friday gathering during Lent. Needless to say, my friends weren’t super thrilled with me.

While I still don’t observe Lent, I am making a conscious effort for my family to eat more fish these days. We all know fish is good for us – low in fat, low in cholesterol, high in omega-3s, good source of protein. But I find most people, like myself, are hesitant to cook fish. Maybe it is fears of “fishy” smells or tastes or overcooking it. I know I seem to hold fish dishes to a higher standard of needing to be “amazing” to be worth the effort.

This fish dish actually exceeded my expectations, which is pretty rare. The flavors were light, refreshing, and still filling. Even my toddler ate a few bites, although I did tell her it was chicken. Enjoy!

Tilapia with Tomatoes and Green Beans (Serves 4)

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Cooking spray
4 roma tomatoes, sliced between ¼ and ½ inch thick
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces green beans, trimmed
¼ cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
4 teaspoons horseradish mustard
4 tilapia fillets
2 lemons, sliced to get 12 slices total

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Arrange tomato slices on baking sheet. Spray tomatoes lightly with cooking spray, then sprinkle half of the salt and pepper over the top.

3. Combine remaining salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, and green beans on a separate piece of foil; toss to coat green beans evenly. Fold foil to make a sealed packet around green beans. Place on baking sheet next to tomatoes. Bake tomatoes and green beans for 20 minutes.

4. Combine mayonnaise, herbs, and mustard in a small bowl.

5. Remove pan from oven. Scoot tomatoes and green beans to make room for fish. Place fish in a single layer on tray. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over top of fillets. Place 3 slices of lemon on top of each fillet.

6. Return pan to oven and bake for 6 minutes. Leave pan in oven, but turn broiler on to high. Broil 3 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork or reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees. Serve fish with tomatoes and green beans.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 207
Protein: 26 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 61 mg
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Fiber: 3.5 g
Sodium: 395 mg

Recipe Notes: I admit to scanning this recipe when menu planning, and then being totally shocked when I went to make it. I missed that the original recipe included breadcrumbs on the fish, which I wasn’t in the mood for. If I want breaded fish, I’ll buy fish sticks, thanks very much. I also thought sliced tomatoes were much nicer for serving. The “sauce” needed a lot more herbs and mustard for my taste than originally called for. I had rosemary and thyme on hand, which was very tasty. The original recipe called for tarragon, which would also likely be delicious. I used horseradish mustard, but Dijon would also work nicely. Don’t be disheartened by the muted green color of the green beans when you unwrap the packet. I felt like they looked like they had come out of a can. But the taste was completely different and delicious.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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