Quick Fix Low Pix: Lighter Side Banana Pudding

I love banana pudding, as any good southern woman should. I remember my grandmother had this special dish (a large ceramic pot) that was just for banana pudding. she’d line the sides and bottom with wafers, then pour in the pudding and bananas and put meringue on top and bake it in the oven. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of meringue. I can tolerate it on my grandmother’s chocolate pie but it belongs there. So when I started to make my own banana pudding I wanted something that was a bit different. I came across Paula Deen’s recipe and decided to alter it a bit for those of us who don’t need so much sugar or fat in our lives. This is my creation. It’s pretty simple and since I was in a hurry today I decided not to take step by step photos but just show you the completed version.

healthy banana pudding recipe

Lighter Side Banana Pudding
Ingredients

6 small(ish) bananas, sliced
1 Box Reduced Fat Vanilla Wafers
2 Boxes sugar free instant vanilla pudding
3 cups skim milk or coconut/almond milk (I prefer coconut milk for this)
1 brick fat free cream cheese, softened
1 can fat free condensed sweetened milk
1 tub light cool whip

This is literally so simple. Line the bottom of a rectangle casserole dish (like the one pictured) with vanilla wafers. The OCD in me makes sure the flat surfaces are all on the bottom so it looks pretty even on the bottom side. After that, top the vanilla wafers with the sliced bananas. You can use less (and the original recipe does) but I like a healthy amount of fruit in my pudding so there you go. Set that aside and it’s time to assemble the pudding.

I use two bowls and a mixer for this, with a silicone spatula as my best friend. In the first bowl I combine the pudding and milk, then beat it on high for about two minutes. After that, set it aside and work on the second bowl. It’s best to use a pretty big one because you’ll need the room – trust me. In the second bowl cream together the condensed sweetened milk and the brick of cream cheese. The softer the cream cheese, the easier your time will be. Once it’s fully blended you’re done with the mixer. Fold in the cool whip using your best friend the spatula, and when it’s mixed well transfer the pudding over in and fold, fold fold. Once it’s thoroughly mixed, pour it over the bananas in the dish. It’ll just flow down like ribbons and be delightfully good. When you’re done? I won’t tell if you lick the bowl or the spatula. It’s that good.

After it’s level in the dish all that’s left to do is add another layer of wafers on top. You’ll most likely have some left over but I like to snack on them at random. Hopefully you enjoy this as much as me and mine do! You definitely can’t tell it’s low fat or sugar at all.

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

So I’ve just found out I was pregnant. The news is happy news, as my husband and I started trying around the first of the year. We’re having a Christmas baby and I’m so excited! I’ve been trying to eat healthy and get plenty of protein and veggies in. I had some mini sweet red and yellow peppers I got from Aldi and figured this would be a great way to use them – boy was I right!

The best thing about this recipe is that the stuffing can be used in burritos or tacos, frozen to have in later peppers if you have a small family (And I’m always cooking for one or two depending on my husband’s work) and if you have a larger family to feed, then just use the entire batch and watch them disappear! I loved everything about these and I hope that you do too.

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 small onion, chopped
5 large mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
shredded cheddar cheese (approximately 3/4 cup, give or take)
mini sweet peppers, tops removed and centers cut out
(9 for half the batch, 15-18 for full batch)

I cook the quinoa and gut the peppers while I’m working on the filling to save time. in a skillet, I heat the oil over medium high heat and then add in the onions and garlic.

stuffed peppers recipe

Once the onions and peppers have cooked for two minutes, add the ground turkey and cook on high until every bit of the meat is browned.

stuffed peppers recipe

Add the barbecue sauce and quinoa and mix well, then turn the heat off. You’re ready to stuff once your filling looks like this!

stuffed peppers recipe

Here’s an image of how your peppers should look before they get stuffed!

stuffed peppers recipe

Here’s where you preheat the oven to 350. I layered the stuffing like a parfait. I put an amount in the bottom, a little bit of cheese, and then a little more stuffing. Make sure it’s packed in good. I found that a muffin tin makes the perfect holder for these. However, if you are making a full batch they should fit into a pyrex casserole dish. It’s really up to you.

stuffed peppers recipe

Let bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and then put cheese on the top and let it bake for another five minutes, or until cheese is melty and bubbly. When you are done you’ll have the tastiest bite of peppers you could hope for, and if you only made half of it you have plenty left over for other endeavors (or to freeze for another meal!)

stuffed peppers recipe

Country Cottage Pie – A Healthy Take On Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve really got to get better at photographing this stuff. The first few pictures were just steam (lol) so I decided to pitch them. There’ll be more text and less photos at the beginning, so hopefully you don’t care that much. I love shepherd’s pie and well, I wanted to do something to make it a little healthier. So here’s my take on it. You can make your mashed cauliflower any way you like, but I will detail what I do to make it for this recipe. This tastes amazing .. I’ve already gone back for more!

healthy shepherd's pie recipe

Country Cottage Pie
Ingredients
1 head cauliflower, cut cooked and mashed (I mash mine with 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup light sour cream)
1 lb ground turkey
6 mini sweet peppers (2 red, 2 yellow, 2 orange), chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small sweet onion, chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, diced
2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 TBSP flour
1/4 cup water
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup shredded low fat cheese

I prepare my mashed cauliflower first, just so I can set it aside. Well actually I do it while I’m doing the meat and veggies, it’s just easier to put that down first then go onto the rest of the pie. I cut out the florets off a head of cauliflower and boil the heck out of it. Once it’s done, I drain well, add 1/4 cup of grated parmesan and 1/4 cup of light sour cream then mash, baby mash! I like to add some pepper but the parmesan is salty so additional salt shouldn’t be needed.You can prepare them however you like, just make sure it’s a head and it’s mashed. This subs as the mashed potatoes in a real shepherd’s or cottage pie.

Now the bottom layer! Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium high and cook the onions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms for 3-5 minutes. Add the ground turkey and salt and pepper and turn to high, cooking until everything is done. Add in the worchestershire sauce and stir well. The sauce just adds a bit beefier taste since we are using ground turkey. Sprinkle in the flour and add the water then strip the thyme leaves into the goodness and stir well, cooking until there’s a nice gravy formed.

healthy shepherd's pie recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 and get ready to build! In a casserole dish, put down the meat and veggie mixture. On top of that layer the frozen peas. Give peas a chance.

healthy shepherd's pie recipe

After that? Layer that gorgeous mashed cauliflower on top and sprinkle the cheese. It should look like this beautiful photo below!

healthy shepherd's pie recipe

Then this bad boy is ready for the oven. Bake it at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melty. See photo below. Note: You can let it go a little longer if you like browner cheese. This is just to my liking. At this point everything is cooked so it’s just to let flavors meld.

Chicken Tortilla Soup and Bountiful baskets

So now that I’m back in Houston and this is an option, I decided to try out Bountiful Baskets. I definitely recommend it if you are in an area that they service. It’s very inexpensive and the stuff you get – well it’s good quality and quite “bountiful” if you will:

chicken tortilla soup recipe

It’s bi-weekly so I needed to think of a way to cook something good for me and get a lot of the veggies out of the house, especially since I bought the juicing pack and the herb pack too! Celery overload for sure! I had chicken thawed out so I decided soup was it. NOTE: I have seen commercials out for these new Swanson infused broths, and I’d been meaning to maybe try them. However that would’ve meant going to the store and I had regular chicken broth on hand. If you do use the swanson chicken tortilla broth, then of course omit the cumin, cayenne and chili powder. Unless you just like concentrated tastes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 box of chicken broth
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
tortilla strips – either self made or bought

chicken tortilla soup recipe
A power shot of all the ingredients ready to go!

In a large pot or small stock pot, warm the oil on medium high and then add in the chicken, cooking and stirring frequently for a few minutes, until it’s all white on the outside. It’s going to cook more so if it’s not 100% done yet it’s fine. Add the cumin, cayenne and chili powder and stir well. Add the onions, celery, and peppers and cook for a couple more minutes, then add the remaining vegetables. Cook for another minute or two then add liquid and the rosemary. Turn to high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it’s boiled for a few minutes, reduce the heat and let it simmer for a half hour (even longer is fine … all it does is mesh out the flavors). If it’s not as liquid-y as you’d like, then all you need to do is add a little water in. It was fine for me though. Serve immediately with tortilla strips!

chicken tortilla soup
This was like the second bowl, sans strips!

Southwestern Zucchini Lasagna – No Pasta Needed!

I’m still on a fairly healthy trying to eat right kick. I use ground turkey most times in place of beef and I eat the hell out of some chicken. I decided I was going to try a lasagna with zucchini sliced thin instead of noodles after seeing a “roll up” made with them on pinterest. I also wanted to do a southwest version as opposed to a straight up Italian mozzarella version as well. Not gonna lie, it took about 5 tries to spell “mozzarella” correctly. Thanks, little red squiggly lines.

Anyway this was adapted from a spaghetti squash recipe and formatted but it is amazing and I love it. I hope you do too. The one thing I like is that it’s really customizable – there are a couple “use what you want” ingredients here and that’s because everyone’s taste is different. Want a tangy sweet taste to your sauce? Use barbecue. I had ketchup on hand so that was what I used. If I had a can of tomato sauce I might’ve used that. If you like things spicy? Throw some red pepper flakes in. Load it with cayenne. Even chop up jalapenos and add it to the vegetable mix. Make it your own and come back and tell me how it was!

Southwestern zucchini lasagna

1 large zucchini, thinly sliced longway ( I used an accordion slicer and made it so easy and super thin)
1 small jar salsa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white/yellow corn, drained
12 oz ground turkey
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
5 large mushrooms, chopped
1 container skim milk ricotta cheese
2 cups reduced fat / fat free shredded cheddar (or cheddar jack blend, taco blend, whatever you like)
1/4 cup “Sauce” of your choice (tomato, barbecue, ketchup, etc) with a little extra left over
2 tbsp olive oil
seasonings to your taste

Oven: 350 – 20 minutes covered in foil, 10 minutes after uncovered.

First off? Heat that olive oil on medium high and cook the garlic, onion and mushrooms for about three minutes. Add the turkey and turn to high, cooking until everything is done. I added an herbs de provance sea salt blend and pepper here. Another good addition would be cumin, cayenne and/or chili powder to make it even more southwestern. Once the meat was done I turned the heat off.

In a large container I mixed the salsa, corn, and beans. I used about a cup and a half and added to the meat mixture with the 1/4 cup of sauce and stirred until it was all blended. I’ll use the rest of the salsa mix either as dip or on spaghetti squash later in the week. It works well for either. Once it was all mixed it looked like this:

healthy lasagna recipe

Provided I had all my components prepared – by prepared I mean the zucchini sliced (I cut off both ends to make it even) and the ricotta prepared (here is another place you want to at least add salt and pepper but you could mix it up with other spices too) it was time to build. I put a little splattering of the same sauce I put in the meat mixture on the bottom, then a layer of zucchini to cover it up. You can preheat your oven to 350 at this time too!

healthy lasagna recipe

On top of that goes a layer spread of ricotta cheese, and then the meat mixture.

healthy lasagna recipe

Cheese gets sprinkled over the meat and then the layers repeat with the zucchini strips in the alternate direction. (if they were up and down the first time, make them stretch left to right this time). A final layer of cheese on top pretty heavy should top it off. I did three layers on mine out of one zucchini in an 8×8 pan.

healthy lasagna recipe

Then it’s ready! Cover it in foil and cook at 350 for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and cook about 10 minutes more or until the cheese is nice and browned. Take it out, let it stand for about five minutes, then cut in and devour.

healthy lasagna recipe

I didn’t just eat two servings of this. I lie. I totally did. Not even caring. It’s comfort food that you can feel kinda good about. It’s not the best healthy recipe in the world but it beats layers of pasta noodles and ground beef right?

Farmer’s Market Find: Italian Cheesy Squash Tart

Squash. It was the reason I got to the Farmer’s Market fifteen minutes before the opening bell. They were out of it the weekend before when I came. This time, I came home with a little basket of yellow golden goodies that I couldn’t wait to put in this tart. The boy is not a huge squash fan, but he inhaled this – the creamy cheese in it melted and it became a delicious gooey treat of awesomeness and love. you could also use a white onion and sliver very thin slices but I liked the milder taste of the green onions. If you use a small bunch instead of a larger onion, you may not be able to separate the rings too well, and that’s okay. Just make sure they’re sliced VERY thin!

1 8-oz can refrigerated crescent rolls
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 1/2 lbs yellow squash, sliced as thinly as possible
4 large or one bunch small green onions, sliced as thinly as possible and rings popped out
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp basil
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk

First, you press the crescent rolls in the bottom of a tart pan or spring form pan, 9-10 inches. Make sure all the preforations are pressed together. Then poke holes in it with a fork, and bake at 375 degrees for approximately six minutes, or until light brown.
squash tart recipe

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter, then add in the squash, garlic, onions, and herbs. Also add salt and pepper.
italian tart recipe

Cook about six minutes, or until the squash and onions are tender.
squash pie recipe

Stir in the cheese into the squash mixture, then pour over the crust and even out the layer. In a separate bowl mix eggs and milk well, then pour on top of the squash mixture.
squash tart

Then bake it at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until a fork inserted comes out clean. It should be brown around the edges. Then serve as tart slices!

Here’s a picture of dinner, including the green beans I will do later: