Tag Archives: holiday

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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Cranberry Orange Pancakes and Cinnamon Rolls

Thanksgiving is one week away! Holy cow, November seems to have flown by. I have two last ideas for your Thanksgiving weekend. Both are great ways to use up any extra fresh cranberries you may have around and solve breakfast dilemmas. However, I’m not posting full recipes. Sorry. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel with these, though.

Cranberry Orange Pancakes (Serves about 4)

Cranberry Orange Pancakes

Make up your favorite pancake recipe or a box mix. Add 1 cup of fresh cranberries and the zest and juice of one orange before adding the liquid in the recipe. Cook as normal.

Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Rolls (Makes a dozen rolls)

Cranberry Orange Rolls

Make a small batch of your favorite cinnamon roll dough, adding ⅔ of the zest of 1 orange to the dough. Once you roll it out, spread 1 ½ tablespoons melted butter over the dough. Then sprinkle evenly over the dough: ½ cup brown sugar, 1 cup fresh cranberries chopped finely, and the remaining orange zest. After baking, drizzle with an icing made of 1 cup powdered sugar and about 2 tablespoons orange juice.

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Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up

I have several more recipes to post over the next few days that I hope you find worthy of your Thanksgiving weekend. However, here is a quick round-up of recipes for your feast on Thursday.

Meat
Citrus and Sage Roasted Turkey Breast (I’m sure this general idea would work for a whole turkey. You would need a bit more of the oil/herb/citrus mixture and definitely need to cook it longer.
Citrus and Sage Roasted Turkey Breast

Sides
Fall Vegetable Bake
Fall Vegetable Bake

Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasted Butternut Squash

Sweet Potato Casserole
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Roasted Green Beans
Roasted Green Beans

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
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Bread
Honey Wheat Rolls
Honey Whole Wheat Rolls

Pretzel Rolls (obviously without the Halloween designs)
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Dessert
Apple Cake
Apple Cake

Apple or Pear Crisp
Apple or Pear Crisp

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake
White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints
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Breakfast
Pumpkin French Toast
Pumpkin French Toast

Apple Pancakes
Apple Pancakes

Breakfast Rolls
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Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
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Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes

Other

Tangy Cranberry Sauce
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Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza
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Citrus and Sage Roasted Turkey Breast

I usually post a nutrition article on Mondays, but I have several Thanksgiving recipes I want to make sure I share in time for you to add them to your menu. While all holidays have come to center around food in my world, Thanksgiving especially is important. If there is high pressure meal for most cooks, it is Thanksgiving.

I feel like turkey is the most stressful of all the items on a Thanksgiving menu for most of us. Roasting meat in general is incredibly easy: season, put in oven, leave it alone. But, turkey provides some higher stakes. It is a big bird, which most of us buy frozen. It is hard to thaw, which can lead to long cooking times. And undercooked turkey is bad news.

One solution: go for a turkey breast instead. Since it is much smaller, it thaws and cooks faster. The other tricky part of cooking a traditional turkey is getting the dark meat done without drying out the white meat. Since a turkey breast is just the white meat, you avoid that problem too. It is a win al around. And this recipe adds a lot of really delicious seasonings to make your turkey breast extra special.

Enjoy!

Citrus and Sage Roasted Turkey Breast (Serves about 6 plus some leftovers)

Citrus and Sage Roasted Turkey Breast

1 whole bone-in turkey breast (about 5-6 pounds)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 orange
1 onion, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Pat turkey dry. Run hands between skin and meat to loosen, being gentle to not tear the skin.

3. Stir oil, sage, orange zest, salt, pepper, and juice together. Gently spread this mixture between the skin and meat with your fingers. Distribute it evenly throughout. Stuff Orange halves and onion pieces inside the cavity.

4. Place turkey breast in roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Rotate turkey breast 180 degrees and roast for 30 more minutes. Rotate again and then tent loosely with foil. Connie to cook until turkey breast reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees (about 25-40 more minutes). Remove onion and oranges pieces from cavity; discard. Let turkey rest for 25 minutes, uncovered, before slicing.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 229
Protein: 34 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 76 mg
Carbohydrates: 1 g
Fiber: 0 g
Sodium: 179 mg

Recipe Notes: Make sure you get the turkey breast that looks kind of like a whole turkey. They sell smaller, skinless turkey breasts. That isn’t what you want. For the nutrient analysis, I’m assuming you do not eat the skin.

Source: slightly adapted from epicurious.com

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Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake

This recipe isn’t healthy. Thank you for indulging me. I find myself missing my mother a lot this Christmas, and she instilled a love of cheesecake in me. I have a lot of fond memories of eating little wedges of half frozen Sarah Lee cheesecake with her while watching a cheesy chick flick.

I haven’t even attempted to make this more healthy than the original. Cheesecake is one of those foods I don’t mess with. The good news is that this is pretty rich, so it is slightly easier to eat in moderation.

Happy Holidays!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake

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Crust:
1 ¾ cup gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup pecans or walnuts

Filling:
3 (8 ounce) blocks cream cheese
¾ cup pumpkin puree
6 ounces melted white chocolate (1 cup chips)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger

Mousse:
1 cup whipping cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces white chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of foil, securely wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan.

2. Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Then crush pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.

3. To melt chocolate, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside.

4. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. With the mixer running, slowly add in white chocolate in a steady stream (or steady blobs). Pour mixture on top of the crust.

5. Place cheesecake pan in pre-heated oven. With a kettle or pitcher filled with hot water, pour water into cake pan on the lower shelf until you have about 1-2 inches of water. Shut oven door.

6. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. Let cool for approximately 30 minutes in oven with oven off. Remove from oven and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. This is a soft cheesecake, so don’t be alarmed.

7. Once cheesecake is cooled, in a medium bowl, beat the cream and vanilla with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until combined and the peaks are slightly stiffer. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the white chocolate and mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream, taking care not to deflate the whipped cream, and mix gently with a rubber spatula, lifting and turning the cream, until the mousse is combined and creamy.

8. Spread the white chocolate topping on top of the cooled cheesecake. Cool with topping for at least an additional 1-2 hours.

Recipe Notes: None of us want to know the nutrition on this bad boy. It’s Christmas.

Source: Our Best Bites for cheesecake and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for mousse, no adaptation

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Chocolate Banana Bread

I was invited to participate in an online cookie/holiday treat exchange by Patience Brewster. If
you’re not familiar with Patience, she is an artist that is on a personal mission to bring you joy through the unexpected in her handmade gifts, holiday ornaments and home decor.

I am very excited to participate and share this fun, tasty, and healthy treat with you that is perfect for gifting.  I’m also supposed to tag friends to participate, so Anna Costa, show us what you’ve got!

Everyone gets a ton of cookies, fudge, and homemade candies around Christmas.  Try doing something a little different – give a dessert bread that is rich but still healthy.  Your friends and neighbors will appreciate the variety and your consideration of their waistlines!

Chocolate Banana Bread (Makes 1 large loaf or 2-3 mini loaves, depending on pan size)

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4 very ripe bananas
¼ cup melted butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup chopped walnuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat loaf pan(s) with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Whisk in butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.

3. Combine baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder in another bowl. Sift or whisk to remove any lumps. Add to wet mixture. Stir until just combined with a spoon. Gently stir in chopped nuts, if using.

4. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 55-65 minutes (large loaf) or 35-45 minutes (smaller loaves) or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Then loosen from pan with knife and remove to a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before wrapping.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving with 10 slices per large loaf)

Calories: 209
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 21 mg
Carbohydrates: 33 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 196 mg

Recipe Notes: If you are eating this yourself, it is really delicious when it is still a bit warm from the oven.

Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

Does anyone else enjoy the leftovers almost better than the actual Thanksgiving meal? It just isn’t Thanksgiving without the leftovers. That being said, I’m over it within 3 turkey sandwiches. Here a couple other ideas to spice up your leftover routine.

Thanksgiving Pizza

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This is more of a general outline than an actual recipe. Start with pizza dough, parbaking per the instructions. After parbaking, spread on a thin layer of cranberry sauce. Top with leftover mashed potatoes, leaving a few mounded areas. Add shredded turkey, scoops of stuffing if desired, and any remaining vegetables. Lightly cover with shredded cheddar or colby cheese. Drizzle gravy over the top. Bake until heated through and crust is browned.

Turkey Noodle Soup

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Don’t throw out your turkey bones! You can freeze them if you want to make soup later. But cooked down, they will give up plenty of meat and tons of flavor to make the best batch of soup ever. This is the only way my mom made “chicken” noodle soup when I was a kid.

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

I don’t have a picture of this one. But my sister-in-law does it every year. Place shredded turkey in the bottom of a casserole dish with corn, peas, carrots, or whatever vegetable you have handy. Pour on gravy to moisten. Top with a layer of stuffing, then a layer of mashed potatoes. Bake until heated through. It’s amazing.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week when the mayhem is over!

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