BAKED GROUND TURKEY PASTA CASSEROLE

Ahhhh……Fall. It’s a great time to cook and eat meals with a little more substance. Still, this one is a Weight Watchers recipe coming in at 4 Smart Points. It has a total of 12 servings. I turned it into 8 servings. I have no problem with 6 points for a larger serving. Well worth it in my opinion.

I wanted to use items that I already had. I always keep a good stash of Italian spices. My pantry is always stocked with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. What self-respecting Italian wife would I be?? I mean c’mon….haha!!

I use ground turkey all the time in place of ground beef. Not that there is a thing wrong with ground beef. You could totally use ground beef in this recipe. I don’t think you will be disappointed with either choice here.

It has a great flavor from the baby bella mushrooms and fresh basil.  I would definitely serve this to guests with a salad and some crusty bread. It is good comfort food that is packed with flavor.

I made a few small changes to the ingredients. I recently discovered roasted piquillo peppers. They are a sweet pepper grown in Spain. I also love cavatappi because it has a cool shape and really holds sauces well. The increased amount of basil, really pushed it to flavor town.  I always manage to have fresh basil on hand too. I still have some from my last summer planting.

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So, without further adieu here are all the details.

BAKED GROUND TURKEY PASTA CASSEROLE

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, pre-sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 oz package of roasted piquillo peppers, drain and chop
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 C fresh basil, packed tightly (about 20 nice sized leaves) rough chopped
  • 12 oz cavatappi, cooked for 8 minutes
  • 1 C part skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divide in half
  • 1/4 C grated fresh Parmigiano/Reggiano cheese, remove 2 Tbsp and set aside

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×14 casserole dish with non-stick spray (I use Pam with olive oil)
  3. In a large skillet, brown the turkey, onion, and mushrooms on med high heat. Continue to cook until all of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil. Add salt to the water and drop the pasta in and bring back to the boil. Boil for 8 minutes. Remove, drain, and set aside.
  5. To the meat mixture, add the salt, garlic, piquillo peppers, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and basil. Stir well to combine.
  6. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes so flavors can combine.
  7. Stir in the drained pasta, 1/2 C of mozzarella, and the 2 Tbsp of Parm/Reg cheese. Stir until is all combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into your prepared casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the dish is heated through and bubbly hot.

**For 12 servings = 4 SP per serving     For 8 servings = 6 SP per serving

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

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LOOKING FOR RECIPES..USING BASIL

Okay…….so I’m looking for recipes using basil! My go to is always Pesto. It’s great and I make a pretty good one. I’m looking for other ideas!!! This is my second crop this year. I have to say, it’s more gorgeous than the first.

I would love to get some new recipes.  I would also like ideas about what you do with the last of your crop.  You know…uses, storing, preserving, anything at all will be appreciated.

I will post the recipe that is my favorite. It will go in my cookbook and posted on my blog. All of your ideas and thoughts will also be posted. So when you send them to me, add a little about yourself. Tell me where the recipe came from or where it originated. Give me some hints or tips on how you use it. Don’t forget to mention the name of your blog or website. If you wish to remain anonymous, I will respect that too.

So……pull out your favorites and send them to me. I can’t wait to prepare and taste all of them. Looking forward to hearing from you and thanks for reading!

The deadline is October 20th, 2018. The post will be the first week of November.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

 

FRESH GREEN LIMA BEAN SOUP

It’s Fall! Or is it? Hard to tell with the temperatures we’ve had in Maryland. It’s been in the upper 80’s and severely humid. It’s been a boaters paradise to grab the last moments of summer fun. As for me……it’s just too stinking hot!!!!

I’m ready for sweaters, jeans, and colorful leaves. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s ever going to happen. I know it will and I’m really pushing it. I do every year because I love the cooler months. I am truly a Fall and Winter gal.

It’s getting to be that time of year when I am ready for a change in foods too. Soups and stews are two of our favorites. There is nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of yumminess on a cold day.  I can remember going to my Grandmother Pearls in the fall and winter. She would always have some sort of soup on the wood stove. This was a soup she made all the time. It’s quick and easy and very tasty.

Fresh lima beans have a short season. My grandmother used to get them by the bushels and shell them. She would then freeze them for later use. So if you can’t get fresh lima’s, no worries. Frozen limas are just fine for this. Same goes for the corn, I use frozen all the time.

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A nice complement to this or any soup is cornbread or a buttermilk biscuit. (See the posted link for buttermilk biscuits below). You can add a salad if you like. We usually make the soup our main, but anything goes!

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You can make this on the stove-top or in a crock pot. Either way the taste is great and the soup is very filling. I hope you enjoy it!!

FRESH GREEN LIMA BEAN SOUP

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 40oz. fresh or frozen green lima beans
  • 16 oz frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15oz) cans of fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 6-8 C of chicken broth (depends on the amount of broth you like)
  • 2 pieces of uncooked center cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp of sugar (more or less after you taste, it depends on the tomatoes)
  • Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the first 5 ingredients into a large stockpot on the stove-top.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer, stir all together until well combined.
  3. Simmer for at least one hour, 2 hours really brings out the flavor.
  4. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper to your taste.

To use your crock pot repeat the steps above. Set your pot to low for 4 hours.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS..and failed fried chicken!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

 

DECOR STEALS CONTEST

Hello fellow bloggers. The purpose of my blog today is to ask for your help.

Decor Steals is having a design challenge on Instagram appropriately called, stealersdesignchallenge. I entered my design and it was chosen as one of the top seven. They are now leaving the choice in the hands of the public.

The winner gets to have their design placed on Decor Steals next pillow top. I would love to see my art work out there. In either case it is very exciting to even be chosen.

I submitted a drawing of a rooster that I drew for my daughter. He is appropriately named “Dennis”. She has a rooster named Dennis who is the source of many conversations. Ol Dennis is a bit ornery and can be a pill.

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So here is Ol Dennis. All you have to do is go to Instagram and search for Decor Steals. Then look for their design challenge. There are 7 different designs. You have to like an actual design and not the first one that pops up. When you find the pics click on the design you like and then hit the heart to vote for it. If you really love it, please leave a comment.

Wish me luck. The winner will be chosen Monday, September 24th.

Thanks everybody for the help and for reading my blog.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

RUSTIC PIZZA DOUGH (thin crust)

Who doesn’t love pizza? I personally don’t know anybody that doesn’t like it. For me it’s all about the crust. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t have quality cheese and other toppings it’s not going to cut it. However, to paint a good picture, you need a good canvas. Don’t you agree?

Twice now,  we have been invited to friends and have had homemade pizzas. I sort of lost hope that I could ever duplicate a good crust.  But after the last invite I decided to give it another try. What you see here my friends is one of the best crusts I have ever had; including those fancy wood fired restaurants. I think I may have come up with the one that will make you stay home.

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There was another motive for this last attempt. We have a ton of tomatoes. As per usual, they all come off at the same time. My husband loves goat cheese pizza. PHILADELPIA, SHAKESPEARE, and GOAT CHEESE PIZZAS I like it too but there are other flavor sensations I also enjoy. My pizza was a ramp pesto, chopped calamata olives, and burrata. Hot off the grill and topped with fresh basil. Totally AMAZING!!!

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I cut my dough into 4 pieces because I wanted two larger pies. It worked out beautifully. I had two left over, so I froze one, and gave the other to my daughter. Mine was actually cooked on the grill. A thin crust with a major crunch factor and dough as light as air. I even impressed myself with this one.

If you’ve never worked with dough, don’t be intimidated. You really need to give this a try. Mine came out perfect the first time. I did have to add a little more water during the kneading process. I noticed some dry crumbs that weren’t mixing in. If you have to make additions do it sparingly and with patience. Using your Kitchen Aide is pure genius.

RUSTIC PIZZA DOUGH

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 C bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp French grey sea salt
  • 2 1/4 C cold water
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Olive Oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a Kitchen Aide mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix all the dry ingredients on low until incorporated.
  2. Switch to the dough hook, add the cold water and the honey. Mix on low for 10 minutes.
  3. The dough should be smooth and elastic, it should not stick to the bowl. If it sticks to the sides of the bow sprinkle a little more flour. If it is too dry and the dry ingredients are still not mixing in, add a little more water.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove the dough from the bowl and cut into 4 or 6 pieces and form into rounds. Place the rounds on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on top of each round spreading gently with your hand over the top.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a cold oven with the door closed for 2 hours to rise.
  6. On a work surface sprinkle some flour and remove one piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Using your hands or a rolling-pin spread the dough out into a disc or oval 10-12 inches in diameter (if you cut the dough into 4 pieces your discs will have a larger surface area)
  7. Dust a pizza peel (you can also use some sturdy cardboard) with cornmeal and place your dough on top making sure it slides around easily.
  8. ON THE GRILL: pre-heat and oil you grill generously. Slide the dough from the peel onto the grill and lightly brown on both sides turning gently as it cooks. Remove and top with your favorite toppings. Be careful not to overload as this is a thin crust. Return to the grill and cook to desired doneness.
  9. IN THE OVEN: place a pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat the oven to the highest temp (most ovens will go 500-550. Slide the dough from the peel onto the stone and repeat the steps as for the grill. Finish by placing it under the broiler for a nice charred effect.

* After the dough has risen you can easily freeze it. Just place the dough into a lightly oiled Ziploc or plastic bag and place in the freezer. When ready to use remove it from the freezer and let it thaw overnight in your refrigerator.

* Cutting: I have recently been taught by two friends to use a pair of scissors when cutting my pies. It works really well. Give it a try!!!!

Original recipe found at: https://ciaoflorentina.com

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

KETO AIR FRIED BAGELS

You may have noticed I am putting a lot of emphasis on Keto recipes. My doctor told me to stay away from white flour and sugar. In an attempt to do that I am exploring no sugar and no white flour recipes.

I have to say I love bread and pasta. I am learning that there are great substitutions with great flavors. If there is one thing I must have, its exceptional flavor. I am not at all into eating cardboard and / or tannic tasting food. Texture is also a biggy for me. I am giving up things I love!!!  I can only stay the course if I can make them better.

In a previous blog I posted a recipe for a Weight Watchers bagel. I’m Back…..Air Fried Bagels They are amazing and I thought I was in heaven. Sadly, they are made with white flour. So it’s one of those things I have to give up. That’s not to say you do. It’s a great recipe, I highly recommend it.

These bagels are made with almond flour and coconut flour. Believe it or not, they also have cream cheese and mozzarella cheese as a base! I know, hard to believe, but true. This is a version of a Fat Head dough recipe. I lightened it up a bit by adding coconut flour to it. I also cooked them in my Air Fryer. I was so happy with the finished project I couldn’t wait to share it with everybody.

This is a sticky dough and should be kneaded while it is still warm to incorporate air and mix all of the ingredients thoroughly. You will want to measure everything out beforehand so all of the ingredients are at the ready. If you don’t have an Air Fryer, you can cook them in the oven: I have included those instructions.

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Keto Air Fried Bagels

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 C almond flour
  • 1/2 C coconut flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 1/2 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 oz softened cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Everything bagel seasoning or sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
  • 1 egg or egg white, beaten in a separate bowl and set aside

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, and baking powder in a small bowl and mix together.
  2. Beat the 2 eggs together in a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, add the mozzarella and the cream cheese.
  4. Microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir, return to microwave and continue to heat for another minute. Remove and stir quickly.
  5. Add the flour mixture and stir together briefly.
  6. Add the beaten eggs and with your hands begin to knead the dough to incorporate air and mix thoroughly. It will form a ball.
  7. Separate the dough into 6, relatively equal, pieces.
  8. Take each ball and roll into a snake, about 7-7 1/2 inches long. Bring the ends together, forming a circle with a small hole, pinch together and repeat with the other dough balls.
  9. If you want to add toppings, take the beaten egg white or egg that you set aside and brush the one side of the bagels and add the toppings of your choice. Turn over and repeat on the other side. *this step can be omitted and they can be cooked plain.
  10. In the Air Fryer: Pre-heat the air fryer at 370 degrees for 8 minutes. Place a parchment round in the basket and spray with coconut oil cooking spray or avocado oil spray. Place 3 bagels at a time in the air fryer basket and cook for 4 minutes on each side. Remove and repeat with the remaining 3 bagels. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to cool before cutting.
  11. In the Oven: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bagels on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silpat. Bake for 6 minutes and check, turn over and continue to bake for another 5-6 minutes or until a golden color is achieved or to your liking. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to cool before cutting.

These are great toasted or plain. Now you can have your bagel and eat it too!!

Nutritional info: 6 servings = 1 bagel per serving

Calories = 231, Total Fat = 18.9 g, Sat Fat = 4.8g, Cholesterol = 79 mg, Sodium = 127 mg, Total Carb = 7.6g, Fiber = 3g, Total Sugar = 1.1g, Protein = 11.3g

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D