Healthy Meat Lasagna! (Made even healthier!!)

Healthy Meat Lasagna

Mmm... So healthy...

Mmm… So healthy…

So I haven’t really mentioned this before, but I’m not a beef eater.  When I was in 8th grade, I thought cows were pretty awesome (I also thought they tasted awesome at the time).  Since I thought they were adorable, I started to feel bad about eating them.  I then started to feel bad about eating pigs and chickens too, so I was full on vegetarian for a while.  (My love of bacon ended that one…). Anyway, after I started eating bacon, and ham, and pork chops, I also started eating chicken again.  Somehow, I held out on the beef for years.  Now, I have tried to add it back in but now I can’t stand the taste.  The pure beefy-ness is too much.  I’m going to continue my attempts to add it back in, but I’m not sure I’ll ever really love it again.

Needless to say, I did not make this with beef.  I made it with turkey. It was quite tasty.  I also think you could very easily make this without any meat by replacing the ground meat with nice meaty cremini mushrooms.

One thing that may be a little unrealistic about the recipe is the call for whole wheat lasagna noodles.  I had to search three different stores, (including a health food store!) and ended up buying something that claimed to be a lower carb noodle which I took to mean had more whole grains.  I don’t know if the search for the right noodles was really worth it.  Isn’t the turkey and eggplant enough?

All in all, it did taste really good.  I think I need to end this post so I can go warm it up for lunch!

Sweet and salty sandwich

Grilled ham and cheese with pears

Plus, it pairs nicely with carrots...see what I did there?

Plus, it pairs nicely with carrots…see what I did there?

If you like things that are sweet and salty, then you’ll love this sandwich.  If you like fruit and cheese paired together, you’ll love this sandwich.  If you like ham, you’ll love this sandwich.  If you’re willing to substitute swiss cheese for gruyere, you’ll feel like a cheapskate, but you’ll still love this sandwich.

It’s quick and easy, too.  The hardest part is waiting for the pears to get ripe enough.  What is it about pears and taking too long to ripen!  sheesh…

And with that, we bid October 2003 adieu.  It’s been real.  Hello November 2007!!!

canned beets to the rescue!

Pasta with beets and blue cheese

Sweet, salty, pasta.  hitting all the high notes here

Sweet, salty, pasta. hitting all the high notes here

This is a delicious recipe.  If you like blue cheese and you’re even on the fence about beets, then this is a good one.  I’d also like to add that this is one of the first foods we fed J after we switched over from feeding him “baby” food to just giving him whatever we eat in smaller pieces with less seasoning.  He liked it!  Best. Baby. Ever.

One quick note about the beets: This recipe has you roasting your own.  That takes forever.  Unless you have a garden or there was an amazing sale on beets, just do yourself a favor and buy canned ones.  Here’s how forgiving this recipe is, it says you can use canned whole beets.  I used canned sliced beets from Aldi (I need a keyboard shortcut for how often I type “Aldi”), and it was 100% fine.  No, canned beets do not have the freshness or depth of flavor that roasted ones do.  But if it’s between no beets and canned beets…advantage canned.  

skillet recipes, redeemed

Beef stroganoff

Shout out to Great Lakes Brewery!

Shout out to Great Lakes Brewery!

Ok, ok.  I know I can get a little cranky about these recipes, especially when they don’t go my way.  Like my diatribe about the shrimp jambalaya recipe.  Here I am, back with another skillet recipe and this one fit just fine.  So there is no vast conspiracy to get me to buy an oversize skillet.  I just need to watch the size of my produce a little better.

Also, we had this recipe without the egg noodles.  It was totally fine.  If you’re looking to skip some carbs or cholesterol, know that you won’t miss the noodles.


Easy fish and the incredible shrinking recipe

“Aldi fish” veracruzano

Beef Tacos

These two recipes are from the “Some Like it Hot” story(?…column?…feature?) in the October 2003 issue.  They are all supposed to be based on a classic Mexican food.  I generally like the way Everyday Food does Mexican food.  Lots of avocado and healthier stuff than beef enchiladas with extra cheese.  

The fish veracruzano called for red snapper, but Aldi carries two kids of fish: salmon and tilapia.  So this is tilapia.

Side story: I've had those napkins since I sewed them for my first apartment back in college

Side story: I’ve had those napkins since I sewed them for my first apartment back in college

This was a relatively quick recipe without a ton of prep, and you’ll notice that most of the ingredients keep for a long time.  The plum tomatoes are the most perishable thing.  Other than that it’s onions, garlic, pickled jalapeños (gotta love a recipe that calls for jarred food), green olives (again, whoo and hoo), dried oregano, fish, and limes.  I like recipes that can be made at the end of the week when the more perishable things I shopped for have already gone bad or been used.

It’s a tasty recipe with lots of saltiness and tang.  If you like olives (attention, B!), then you’ll like this recipe.

On to the beef tacos.  

It's difficult to take pictures of tacos.  They always look like tostadas.

It’s difficult to take pictures of tacos. They always look like tostadas.

This is three recipes in one: beef taco filling, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  Speaking of letting things go bad…I purchased 7 plum tomatoes for this recipe.  The pico de gallo called for 6 and the guacamole called for 1.  All but one went bad in the fridge by the time I got around to this recipe.  Oops.  But I didn’t want to hold off on making this and it was too late to go to the store.  So I made an incredibly tiny batch of guac and an equally ridiculously small batch of pico de gallo.

It's not often you get to sixth a recipe

It’s not often you get to sixth a recipe

You know what?  This was a totally legit option.  Sometimes you don’t need a giant amount.  This was enough for two adults to garnish their tacos for one meal.  It meant we didn’t have them for leftovers, but that’s not the end of the world.

There’s another substitution involved here.  The recipe calls for 3 total jalapeños in the three recipes.  D and I just took apart the last of our garden.  This yielded one more random pepper (Anaheim?):

I'm from LA! ...Anaheim...

I’m from LA!

and one eensy weensy baby Poblano pepper:



The long skinny pepper has almost zero heat, so it didn’t help much but the Poblano gave it all good flavor.

This is a fine taco meat recipe, by the way.  I like the freeze it taco filling recipe from another issue better, but this one is fine too.

And if you need more heat, may I suggest Valentina.  Ah Valentina…the magical $1.00 hot sauce. How are they making any money selling this stuff?!

mi amor, Valentina

mi amor, Valentina

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner(s)!

So, owing to the fact that I don’t really eat red meat, I make a lot of chicken.  I roast it, I pan fry it, I bake it, I stir fry it.  Since G has already explained her “poach only” stance on chicken, this Roasted Paprika Chicken obviously fell into my realm.

Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that.

Don’t worry, it’s supposed to look like that.

Generally, the goal when roasting a chicken is to have a nice glistening crispy skin.  In this recipe, the thick spice crust is meant to blacken while cooking.  The flavor of the spices really get deep into the meat of the chicken.  It was good.  Although, honestly I prefer chicken to have some bright notes like lemon and garlic.  This chicken was so deeply savory you kind of needed something with a little acid to brighten it up a bit…

…Which is why I liked the french chicken salad so much!  The red-wine vinaigrette, while thin, somehow coats the chicken and adds body.  The celery and onion add crunch and a bit of zip and the acidity of the vinegar and mustard wakes the chicken right up.  So tasty.

This issue actually had two chicken salad recipes and four serving options.  I served mine in an avocado:

So creamy!

So creamy!

I lucked out and had a perfectly ripe avocado! The creaminess worked really well with the zing of the chicken salad.  I think this would be a really satisfying and healthy lunch.

I also served the french chicken salad in a roasted tomato:

Roasty toasty ...

Roasty toasty …

You core the tomato and scoop out a nice bowl for the chicken salad.  Then you roast it at 400 degs for just a few minutes.  You can see the skin just began to split.  (For the full instructions, see page 119, October 2003, issue 6).  I enjoyed the salad this way as well, but let’s face it, nothing beats an avocado.

Now G is going to tell you about her adventures with classic chicken salad.

G here!  Well, it’s time for me to eat some crow on my “poach only” stance.  Crow would probably be tastier than chicken salad made with poached chicken thighs or really any chicken thighs.  They are too fatty and rich to be paired with a mayonnaise dressing.  It just tasted off.  There’s a reason why chicken salad recipes call for white meat.  Yum!  Crow!

Anyway, I had the classic chicken salad recipe, and Beth had the French.  I spent a lot of time trying to suss out the difference between the two.  Here it is, dear reader: the classic has double the Dijon mustard, lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar and slightly less of it, hot sauce, and mayo.  I guess the mayo is the real difference, but we’re talking 2 teaspoons per cup of chicken.  Suffice it to say there’s not much of a difference between these two.

Here’s my salad as a sandwich:

Let's play spot the yellow peppers!

Let’s play spot the yellow peppers!

And here it is on a bed of mixed greens:

I found 'em!

I found ’em!

The takeaway here is that poaching chicken is not always the answer.  …—>the moooore yoooou knoooow!!!!—>

Toffee Blondies

Toffee Blondies

October 2003, pg. 106 (no link found)


Ingredients and Directions

½ cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups flour

1 cup toffee bits

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°.  Line bottom and sides of pan with aluminum foil.  (I used an approximate 8”x 5”x 1.5” casserole dish.)

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and salt.  Add flour slowly and beat until combined.  Stir in toffee bits.

Step 3: Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes. (Toothpick should come out clean when inserted in center of cake.)  Let cool completely before lifting cake out of pan by grasping sides of aluminum foil.

Step 4: Cut cake into squares or freeze for a later date.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*adapted from Everyday Food, October 2003 issue, p. 106

I’m not sure why, but I don’t tend to bake with toffee.  My choice add-in is usually chocolate or some kind of fresh or dried fruit.  Making me a little apprehensive of the toffee blondies recipe that was up next on my list to bake.  There must be a reason I don’t use toffee: Did I have a bad cooking experience or eat a toffee desert that wasn’t delicious?  I’m very good at forgetting the bad things that happen to me in life, maybe this was one of those cases…it was not!

I had to force myself not to cut the hot toffee blondies immediately after taking them out of the oven.  The smell was intoxicating.  (Yankee Candle would most certainly benefit from a ‘toffee blondie’ scent, if they don’t already have one.)  I didn’t think I would be able to wait until they were cool, and I was right.  I had my first toffee blondie bite when they were warm.  Great decision.  They were delicious!  My husband agrees.

The toffee blondie recipe was fantastic.  Easy to make and tasted great!  Everyday Food said it perfectly when they suggested this baked-good for lunchboxes, bake sales, or to share at a friend’s house party.  We chose to bring the toffee blondies to a friend’s house and they were a hit!

Huevos and another cocktail!

Huevos rancheros

Fiestaware = FTWare

Fiestaware = FTWare

This is a dangerous recipe.  Why?  Because it’s super good and it makes a ton of food that you know won’t be good leftover.  I’d be stupid not to eat 5 eggs by myself, right?  oof.  If you split this meal between two people, you will eat too much.  Guaranteed.

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs...

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs…

Let’s take a look at the recipe.  The sauce itself is delicious and easy.  You puree canned tomatoes, a jalapeno, some onion, and some garlic in the blender, then heat it for a while.  Super easy.  Makes me think I should be putting rancheros sauce on everything.  I do have one small bone to pick here.  The recipe calls for a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  I have never in my life seen a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  Whole tomatoes only come in the big cans.  Maybe if you’re buying the fancy, fire-roasted tomatoes, they come in smaller cans, but not for me.  So I used 1/2 of a big can.  Lucky for me, the tex mex chicken and beans in an upcoming November issue (stay tuned) could use 1/2 a can of tomatoes.  You are blending them, so I have a hard time seeing why a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes wouldn’t do just fine.  Anyhoo, here’s the sauce:

sauce rancheros

sauce rancheros

The whole thing is built on an oven-toasted tortilla.  Mine got a little tough.  Perhaps I overcooked it?  I think maybe a plain unbaked tortilla would be just fine.  For toppings we had avocado, Jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and homemade yogurt instead of sour cream.  That’s a move from my childhood.  We never had sour cream.  My mom always put out non-fat yogurt instead.  It’s all well and good until she puts out the vanilla flavored yogurt.  Vanilla refried beans!  Yum!

They do look a little brown...

They do look a little brown…

The D cocktail recommendation for this meal is the La Paloma.  It’s Squirt and tequila.  Sound like a poor woman’s margarita with bubbles?  It is.  What’s wrong with that?

La Paloma, which is Spanish for....the Paloma

La Paloma, which is Spanish for….the Paloma

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions and Red Cabbage with Apple

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions

Red Cabbage with Apple

October 2003, pgs. 79 & 91


Coming from a German background, this kind of dish is very familiar to me.  My mom has made red cabbage since I was a kid.  She always wings it (this is true of most things she makes but somehow they usually taste pretty darn good), but this recipe tastes a lot like hers.

There is just enough bacon to make the dish taste rich and meaty and there is just enough vinegar to cut the richness and round out the flavor profile.  You hardly notice the apple to be perfectly honest, but I like the idea of having some extra nutrients in there.

The other thing I really like about the cabbage is the color.  It’s so pretty.  And everyone knows you are supposed to eat all the colors of the rainbow!  How many opportunities do you have to eat burgundy!? (I said eat, not drink!).  If you have never given red cabbage a shot, you should really consider this recipe.  It is very simple and it really is delicious!

On to the pork! The pork was good.  I liked the flavor added by the rye bread rather than just plain bread crumbs.  I did not like the fact that the breading refused to stay on my pork.  Maybe I should have dried the crumbs out a bit.  I think they might have held on to the egg better if they weren’t still so moist on their own.  Every time I would flip one over, the just-browned crust stayed in the pan without the pork.  Luckily, I was able to scrape it up in one piece in most instances and place it back onto the pork so the idea of the crust was still there even though it was more of a blanket by the time we ate it.  But like I said, the flavor was good.  Really good when in conjunction with the red cabbage.  Definitely make them both, just perhaps let your bread crumbs sit out for an hour or so before you start cooking.

And Another Dessert!

Cherry Sheet Cake

October 2003, pg. 101

Mmm… buttery...

Mmm… buttery…

So of all the desserts we had to make this issue, this one seemed sort of underwhelming.  No chocolate, no custard, no intensely autumnal spices.  But the ingredient I think we all overlooked in this was BUTTER.  Lots and lots of butter.  It has the same butter to flour ratio as the shortbread wedges M made, so yeah, it tastes shortbread like.  It really is like a fluffy slightly fruity shortbread.  What’s not to like about that?

The recipe does make an entire sheet pan worth of this buttery goodness so as usual I shipped it off with the Bear I live with to take to work.  They were gone before 10am so I am taking that as a sign of approval.

Moral of the story: check the recipe before you rule something out as boring, it might be filled with butter!