Spinach Tortellini Salad, The perfect holiday salad!

It’s Christmas…. almost at least! It took me a while to get into the holiday swing this year, but now I am definitely ready! During this time of year there are always plenty of parties and social outings where bringing a covered dish is common. This salad is one of my favorites for this time of year, mainly because it is red and green and tastes delicious! I use a lot of store-bought pieces, but overall this salad is fresh, fun, and light in comparison to a lot of other traditional holiday dishes!

For this salad, I have commonly purchased my ingredients from Trader Joe’s because I have a slight obsession with their cheese tortellini and light champagne vinaigrette. You can get these ingredients from just about any food store, so I’ll give you the general quantities for each ingredient that I typically use.

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Side not, yes my kitchen is vey messy! I apologize in advance, but with the holidays also comes lots of mess in the Quinn household! I tried to clean it up a little, but 24 hours later it was right back to where I had started.

I really hope you give this yummy salad a try! Let me know what you think, and happy holidays!

Spinach Tortellini Salad

Ingredients: (serves 8-10)

  • 1 heaping cup dry cheese tortellini; is using fresh cheese tortellini you can use about 1 1/2 cups
  • 4 cups (or about 3/4 bag) of fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (can sub goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces
  • dressing to taste (I tend to use Trader Joe’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette)
  • black pepper to taste

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(PS that is my super cute golden retriever, Eddie! He loves to supervise me in the kitchen!)

Directions:

Cook your tortellini as directed, strain and let cool. I usually add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together. In a large bowl, add your fresh spinach, sun dried tomatoes, nuts, cheese, and cooled pasta. Wait until 5-10 minutes before serving to add your dressing and toss. I tend to finish with a little sprinkle of black pepper. Enjoy!

 


Mmm mmm Meatballs!

Happy Sunday everyone! I know…. I haven’t posted something in so long. I’m sorry! I know it’s an awful excuse, but the holidays definitely have me in a whirlwind this year!

I’m happy to say that I did finally have a spare second to whip up a FABULOUS batch of my lean, yet super flavorful Turkey Spinach Meatballs. Everyone know I love Italian food, well meatballs are right up there at the top of my list.

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Because I’m really not a beef person, I tend to take a lighter twist on meatballs whenever I make them. My meat of choice is usually ground chicken or turkey, but feel free to play around with and meat combinations you like for this recipe. If you do, I can’t guarantee the same texture of cook time, but I’m always a fan of experimenting so please share your results if you do make any changes!

These meatballs are flavored with basic Italian flavors that I love: a blend of warm and aromatic herbs, salty parmesan cheese, garlic, and black pepper. Because I like to throw veggies into a dish whenever possible (hey, I need to get my husband to eat them somehow!), I added a little spinach to add an additional layer of flavor and a pretty little spec of color!

Don’t let the recipe fool you, these meatballs are just as decadent in my eyes as your grandmas favorite homemade recipe. They are just a little leaner, a little lighter, and a little more basic when it comes to recipe difficulty.

I hope you try my fabulous Turkey Spinach Meatballs! Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 15-18 meatballs, depending on size

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (or one handful)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Italian herb seasoning mix
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add the ground turkey, 1 whole egg, the spinach, and your seasonings (black pepper, herbs, and garlic powder). Pulse or place on low until your spinach is chopped and well incorporated. You may have to stop and mix a few times to assure it’s fully chopped.

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Remove your mixture from the food processor and mix in your bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. I tend to just use my hands (it’s easier), so if you do the same don’t think you did something wrong if the mixture is extra wet and sticky! It is supposed to be that way! If you are concerned about the meatballs being too wet, feel free to add another tablespoon or so of breadcrumbs, but be careful! The moisture is what keeps them from getting too dense.

Once you have combined all of your ingredients, roll golf-ball size (may alter the way you like!) meatballs and place on a lightly greased baking sheet about 1-1.5 inches apart. Again, they will be sticky, but you should be able to form a ball.

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Bake your meatballs at 350 for 15 minutes, turning over about halfway through to assure both sides brown. While your meatballs are in the oven, warm your favorite sauce on medium-low. Once your meatballs have been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the heat and add to your sauce. Cover with lid and let simmer for ~10-15 minutes before adding your favorite pasta or serving on their own (these can definitely be a star on their own!) with a little sprinkle of cheese and some extra sauce! Enjoy!

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Lighter Lasagna

Ugh pasta…. Talk about the ultimate comfort food for me. While a big bowl of Alfredo with gooey cheese and lots of noodles looks and sound fantastic, I know it’s probably going to cost me at least 700-1000 (if not more) calories for a very tiny portion. While most restaurants really know how to make pasta taste delicious, comforting, and decedant, they typically don’t do so well with the nutrition portion. If I’m planning on have any sides with my pasta or going back for seconds, this bowl just got a lot less appealing and I got a lot more grumpy.

Solution: create a lighter, lower-calorie version of what sits in front of me. Now… Don’t get me wrong. I am all about indulgences in moderation, BUT, we all know what are weaknesses are and where we tend to give in and yes…. My name is Chelsea and I cannot say no to pasta or control my portions.

When an Italian themed potluck came around at work, I was thrilled and excited to try out my newest recipe for lighter spinach lasagna. While the cheese and the garlicky goodness are still in full force, 1/12 of this lasagna will only cost you about 170-200 calories. Aside from the calorie cut, the veggies and whole wheat noodles also add a little healthy twist.

Add a little piece of protiein on the side and maybe another helping of veggies and you have one deliecious, yet balanced, meal. I hope you try this easy, simple, cheesy little delight!

Ingredients:

  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles, boiled and cooked until tender
  • 3/4-1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • About 2-3 cups of raw spinach leaves
  • 2 medium sized, plump Roma tomatoes: sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 can Bertolli light Alfreddo sauce (May use another but nutrition facts may slightly differ)
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • About 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (can omit if you’d like)

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Pre-heat to 350 degrees.

Add a think layer of sauce to coat the bottom of your baking dish (mine was medium sized with just enough room to fir the 3 lasagna noodles perfectly). Layer: 3 cooked lasagna noodles, sauce, spinach, cheese, sprinkle of black pepper and garlic powder 2 times. For your last layer, place your remaining 3 noodles on top, your remaining sauce, and place sliced tomatoes sporadically on top. Top with a little extra mozzarella, the grated parm, and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Bake in the oven uncovered for about 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and the top has started to get a little golden. Allow at least 10-15 minutes to cool before serving.

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Simple Soups

Sorry I don’t have a picture for this one, but I promise it is very tastey! When I am having a busy week, I love to pull out the crockpot. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is think of and cook a full dinner at the end of a busy day. There are so many things you can do in a crockpot, the possibilities are endless! I made this crockpot Spinach Cannellini Bean Soup a few weeks ago and meant to post it but got wrapped up on the couch with a big bowl of warm soup and it slipped my mind πŸ™‚ It is so simple, flavorful, and comforting. I really hope you try it out!

Crockpot Spinach Cannellini Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 container vegetable broth (I believe it is a total of 4 cups)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I used large carrots, peeled, and cut them)
  • 1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • dried thyme, basil, black pepper, and garlic powder (season to your liking, just remember dried herbs are much more potent then fresh!)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat rotini

Add all ingredients (except the pasta) to your crockpot and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours. During the last 1/2 hour, keep your crockpot on low and add in your pasta. Serve after your pasta is tender, and make sure to turn your crockpot off or the pasta will eventually overcook and become soggy! I finished off my bowl of soup with a sprinkle of low-fat mozzarella cheese. This recipe makes a total of about 4-5 servings. I froze half of mine to use at a later date! Enjoy πŸ™‚


Good Morning Green Smoothie

So it happened… I got sick of having oatmeal for breakfast. Oh no! Oatmeal has been my go-to breakfast for as long as I can remember, and I knew the day would come when I just couldn’t pack one more oat into my stomach. To change it up a little bit, I have been on a morning smoothie kick. I think that smoothies can be a great way to get in a serving of fruits and vegetables (especially if you aren’t a veggie lover) and can be so versatile, different, and colorful. This morning I had a delicious green smoothie. Drinking something green may seem a little strange or unappealing to some people, but if you can stand it, I suggest you try this one! It is sweet, refreshing, and was the perfect start to my morning!

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Good Morning Green Smoothie

  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach (I just used a big handful)
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup Silk Vanilla Light Soy Milk
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. It helps to add a little bit of your liquid first so that it is near the blade. Your fruit will blend easier this way. I was able to fill 1 large mason jar plus 1/2 of a regular sized mason jar with this recipe. I saved the smaller jar for a snack later in the day. Enjoy!

What are your favorite smoothie combinations?