Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Skinny Lasagna #RedGoldRecipes #Giveaway

I’m not sure what the weather has been like where you live, but in these parts it has been darn cold. I’m not really complaining (well, maybe just a little…) since I do live in Minnesota and it is January. The thing is, the cold weather makes me crave a nice comforting, warm casserole. Something that can serve a crowd, in case we invite a few people over to watch the game. Something easy, because I don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen. Oh yeah…can we make it lower in calories? I need to drop a few pounds….. Sound impossible? Meet Red Gold Tomatoes' recipe for Skinny Lasagna!

I was introduced to Red Gold's lasagna recipes last year, when I made their Fresh Harvest Lasagna. It is so easy to make! Seriously, there is no need to boil the lasagna and you don't need to buy that leathery "no boil" stuff, either...just regular lasagna. This year, Red Gold has teamed up with Laura's Lean Beef to create the perfect "Skinny", yet meaty lasagna....and it's just as easy to make. Laura's Lean Beef is a Kentucky based company that produces lean, natural beef from cattle that are humanely raised without hormones and fed a natural diet of grass and grain. Like Red Gold, they are a family run company!

"Skinny" Lasagna (recipe courtesy of Red Gold Tomatoes)


1/2 cup water
1 (28 ounce) can Red Gold® Crushed Tomatoes, or 2 (15 ounce) cans Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Red Gold® Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano
Ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pound Laura's 96% Lean Ground Round, or ground turkey, cooked and drained
1 (16 ounce) box traditional whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 (15 ounce) carton low fat cottage cheese
2 cups shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated low sodium Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large mixing bowl combine water, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes, black pepper, Italian seasoning and ground round, stir to combine ingredients in the sauce.

Cover the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with 1½ cups of sauce mixture.  Arrange 1/3 of noodles on top of sauce, slightly overlapped.  Top with ½ of cottage cheese, ½ of mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of sauce.  Repeat layers and top with last 1/3 of noodles and the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 to 1½ hours; until noodles are cooked. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

So that's it. Really. And even though I usually change at least a half dozen things in any given recipe, this time I left it as it was (except that I couldn't find whole wheat lasagna). Skinny? At about 330 calories per serving, it certainly is. My husband actually preferred the cottage cheese to the ricotta. He had no idea he was eating "Skinny" lasagna.

This year, to celebrate their line of Simple Gourmet Lasagna recipes, Red Gold and Laura's Lean Beef are teaming up to give away six Gourmet Lasagna Party Kits valued at $325 and 750 custom aprons. Simply "like" both Red Gold and Laura's Lean Beef on Facebook, and fill out the form. The sweepstakes will run from January 13 through February 3, so hurry over and throw your hat in the ring!

Click Here to enter.

To sweeten the pot even more, Red Gold has given me the nod to have a little giveaway of my own. You can win a "Mini" Lasagna Kit consisting of:

2- 14-ounce cans of Red Gold diced tomatoes with Basil Garlic and Oregano
1- 28-ounce can Red Gold crushed tomatoes
A package of lasagna noodles
A Laura's Lean Beef apron
A coupon for Laura's Lean Beef product
6 Simple Gourmet Lasagna recipes

Simply enter with the Rafflecopter widget (your info will only be visible to me)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was given product and coupons. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars #Chiquita®Bananas

What kind of recipe would you put together if you had to include bananas, pears, and cinnamon? That was my challenge a couple of months ago when Chiquita® Banana had an awesome 8 week contest going on. I was slightly late to the party since I didn't even think about entering until week 7, but I gave it my all that week and entered at least 4 recipes. Can you even begin to imagine how excited I was when I won the grand prize for week 7?! they are and they are healthy to boot: Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars!

These are so easy to make and really quite versatile. The mashed bananas, a little honey, and some dried fruit are all of the sweetness the recipe needs. I added some dried cranberries and blueberries, but any dried fruit would work. The flaxseed offers some awesome Omega-3's, but make sure you refrigerate the rest of the bag...those little seeds can spoil if they aren't stored correctly.

Chiquita® Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars 
Printable Recipe

2   cups large flake rolled oats
1/2   cup coarsely chopped almonds
3   medium, very ripe Chiquita® bananas
1   Tbsp. coconut oil
2   Tbsp. honey
1   tsp. cinnamon
1/4   tsp. allspice
1/4   tsp. sea salt
1/4   cup flaxseed
1   Bartlett pear, peeled and diced
1/2   cup dried cranberries
1/2   cup dried blueberries

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both long sides of the pan. Set aside.

Spread the oats and the almonds on a large baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the oats are just starting to brown. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in the coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Fold in the flaxseed, pear, cranberries, blueberries, oats and almonds.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan, packing it down with a spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until firm and set. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and continue to cool completely.

Cut into 12 bars.

I finally found a use for the baker's twine!

I've made these several times already, and keep them wrapped in parchment, in the fridge, and at the ready to grab for a quick breakfast or to bring to work as a snack. Not a bad start to some healthier eating, eh? 

Be sure to visit the Chiquita® Banana recipe page for some more awesome and healthy banana recipes....everything from smoothies, to banana bread, to...granola bars!

What is your favorite Banana recipe?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Appelbeignets (Dutch Apple Fritters)

Of course I have every intention of starting those New Year resolutions. Really. Healthier recipes are coming your way...a couple of them, at least. But c'mon. The whole year is looming ahead of us. There is plenty of time. Let's start the New Year right with another Dutch tradition: Appelbeignets!

A few years ago, I hauled out my Fry Baby (circa kidding) to make Oliebollen. They are by all accounts a precursor to the modern day doughnut...fried balls of dough studded with raisins or chopped apple and rolled in sugar...all of Holland celebrates with them on New Year's Eve. I found them to be pretty awesome, but deep frying isn't my thing so I put the Fry Baby into storage. 

This year, a deal on cooking oil got me to thinking about those Oliebollen and how I've been wanting to try and make their better looking cousin, the Appelbeignet....literally a Dutch Apple Fritter. Out came the Fry Baby...

Just peel, core, and slice a few apples....

I searched around for a good recipe to use and I found several very similar ones. A few use a bottle of ale in the batter, but I didn't have any so I went the way of buttermilk.  To brighten things up, I decided to use a little orange zest, but otherwise the batter is pretty straight forward. Simply peel, core and slice some apples...I used a few Honeycrisp....and make a simple batter. Very easy.

Appelbeignets (Dutch Apple Fritters)

3 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

Heat at least 2 cups of oil to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 tablespoon orange zest. Sprinkle over the apples,

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat the egg into the buttermilk and stir in half of the orange zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour, stirring until combined. If the batter is too thick, add more buttermilk a teaspoon at a time to thin it out.

Dip the apple slices into the batter, covering completely. Carefully drop two or three slices into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

I couldn't decide if I wanted them rolled in cinnamon-sugar.....

.....or simple sprinkled with powdered sugar. I made them both ways.

What is your New Year tradition?

Next up: Good for you Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


A few years ago, my husband pestered me into calling his sister for his mom's recipe for Hermits. Carol was happy to comply, but apparently she couldn't read her own was a disaster! I had wanted to surprise his mom with one of her favorite Holiday cookies, since she wasn't able to bake anymore and had misplaced her copy of the recipe.

Fast forward to last Saturday morning. Both Carol and my mother-in-law are no longer with us, and Pete and I (feeling a bit nostalgic, I suppose) were bemoaning the fact that I never got a copy of the recipe. Later that morning, something compelled me to go upstairs and into the bedroom that was my mother-in-law's. We pretty much use it as a big closet now...I rarely go in there....but there I was checking to see if I could find one of my sweaters. I didn't see my sweater, but I did notice an old wicker basket Pete's mom used to keep various odds and ends...half empty nail polishes and such. I opened the lid and, lo and behold, folded into a square, there it was. The Hermit recipe. Coincidence? Maybe. I prefer to think that she is still looking out for us.

Just a list of ingredients...but I knew what it was. It was nice to see her handwriting.

I researched these cookies (trying to find a comparable recipe) and found many variations. It's an older American cookie, found in cookbooks from the mid to late 1800's. On the East coast, Hermits are most often made into a bar. These cookies are a simple, not too sweet, drop cookie with spices, raisins, and chopped walnuts. They actually taste better a few days after they are made.



An American cookie found in cookbooks dating back to 1880, the Hermit comes in many variations. This version, a simple spicy drop cookie, tastes even better a few days after it is made.


  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Place the raisins in a small bowl. Boil one cup of water and pour over the raisins. Soak for one hour. Drain completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the brown sugar. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the milk and the vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just mixed. Fold in the drained raisins and the walnuts.
  6. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to brown. Cool completely. Makes 36 cookies
Yield: 36 cookies
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 12 mins.
Total time: 22 mins.

Wrap 'em up and give them as a gift...or just eat them yourself.

What is your favorite Holiday cookie?