Turkish Apricots Stuffed with Sweet, Thick Yogurt

by spiceaholic on February 25, 2015

Turkish Apricots Stuffed with Sweet, Thick Yogurt

After our little trip to Istanbul a few years ago, my already well-established love for Turkish food went into overdrive.  I collected cookbooks, sought out restaurants, and even found a Turkish grocery store near my old office. I’ve dabbled here and there with a few dishes, but I had never attempted to make a dessert.

Then the other day, I was going through some cookbooks and came across a copy of The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.  After ooh-ing and ahh-ing over several recipes, I ended up in the dessert section and found a recipe for Turkish Apricots Stuffed with Sweet, Thick Yogurt.  It looked simple and easy, which is good, because I tend to get intimidated by dessert recipes. Since this month’s theme for the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club was incorporating their Petite Crème into a dessert, I knew this recipe was perfect for that.

I tweaked the original recipe by substituting orange juice for the dessert wine, using Stonyfield Vive La Vanilla Petite Creme for the sweetened labneh/yogurt, adding some ground cinnamon and skipping the syrup at the end.

Can I just say how cute these are? When stuffing the apricots with the creamy filling, Jenkins says that they “should look like an old-fashioned whoopee pie, with the yogurt oozing out.” And they totally do! These soft and creamy apricot bites are full of Middle Eastern flavor with the yogurt, cinnamon, and pistachio complementing the natural sweetness of the apricots. They look and taste indulgent but are full of healthy ingredients, so eat away!

*Disclosure: Stonyfield Organic provided me with samples of Petite Crème as part of their Clean Plate Club. I did not receive any compensation.

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Turkish Apricots Stuffed with Sweet, Thick Yogurt

adapted from The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Ingredients

12 oz. dried Turkish apricots

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. orange juice

5.3 oz Vive La Vanilla Petite Crème or vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt

2 tbsp. finely chopped pistachios

ground cinnamon

 

Preparation

1.  Place apricots in a saucepan and cover with enough water to come to one inch.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the apricots have plumped up and softened.

2. Take out the apricots and set aside.  Keep 3/4 cup of the cooking water and discard the rest. Add the sugar and orange juice, cooking until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the apricots back and cook for about 20 minutes.  Remove apricots and let cool. Save the syrup if using (I didn’t).

3. Once the apricots have cooled, open them and place a spoonful of the Petite Crème/Greek yogurt inside.  The apricots won’t close up completely, and they do look like little whoopie pies, just like Jenkins says in her book.  I mixed a little bit of ground cinnamon into my Petite Crème but you don’t have to.

4. After the apricots have been stuffed, place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up the Petite Crème a bit.  Then sprinkle some ground cinnamon, the syrup if you’re using it, and garnish with the chopped pistachios.

Enjoy!

 

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A hearty but healthier lasagna with lean ground beef, mushrooms, spinach, low-fat cheese, flavorful tomato sauce and whole wheat noodles – doesn’t this sound like the perfect comfort food for all this cold weather we’ve been having recently?

I hope everyone’s been keeping safe and warm, especially those of you in the Northeast affected by the recent winter storm! It hasn’t been TOO horribly cold here in the Atlanta area lately. There was a bitter cold streak a few weeks ago that was not fun, but so far no snow! Even then, I’m definitely craving comfort foods. And I’m always a fan of cooking food so that we have leftovers for the next few days, it sure makes planning dinner easy!

So remember when I worked with Red Gold Tomatoes over the summer? (Quick reminder, it was this Quick and Easy Black Bean, Tomato, and Corn Salad!)  Well, they asked me to work with them again and try out their  “Skinny” lasagna recipe as part of their 2nd annual “Red Gold Simple Gourmet Lasagna Party,” in conjunction with Laura’s Lean Beef, which produces lean, natural beef from humanely-raised cattle who are fed a natural grass and grain diet and are not given any hormones. You can check out their party on Facebook and enter for a chance to win some fun goodies.

You know me and how I like to tweak recipes all the time.  So, I looked at their recipe and made a few changes like increasing the amount of spices (shocker!), substituting some finely chopped fresh mushrooms for part of the lean ground beef, and adding spinach to the sauce.  Oh and I used part-skim ricotta instead of cottage cheese.  Sorry, not a cottage cheese fan!

Red Gold Tomatoes and Laura’s Lean Beef were kind enough to supply me with my own lasagna making kit!  I got a cute Laura’s Lean Beef apron, a coupon to buy some Laura’s Lean Beef, lasagna noodles, Red Gold diced and crushed tomatoes, six Simple Gourmet Lasagna recipes (including their Skinny Lasagna recipe), and a super cute tote bag to hold everything!  And they’re letting me give away a kit to one of you!

** Giveaway!! **

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Here’s what you need to do to win, each is worth one entry:

1. Visit the Red Gold website, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me which of their recipes you’d like to try.

2. Visit the Laura’s Lean Beef website, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me which of their recipes you’d like to try.

3. Leave a comment here telling me your way you like to make lasagna

4. Tweet about the giveaway – make sure you mention @spicesbites, @RedGoldTomatoes, and @LaurasLeanBeef

Giveaway is limited to U.S. residents age 18 and over. Giveaway runs from Monday, February 2nd, 2015 through 9pm EST Friday, February 6th, 2015. Once I’ve selected a winner, I will email you to get your contact info, so make sure you enter an email address when leaving a comment (it won’t show up in the comment). Winner has 48 hours to reply or else I will have to select another winner.

*Disclosure: Red Gold Tomatoes and Laura’s Lean Beef provided me with the lasagna kit described above. I did not receive any compensation and am not obligated to post a positive review. Any opinions are my own. Red Gold Tomatoes is providing the prize for the winner of the giveaway.

 *UPDATE*

Congratulations to Maryann! You won!

Red Gold Tomatoes Lasagna Kit Giveaway winner
Maryann D.
Submitted on 2015/02/03 at 7:23 am
I would love to try Beef and Cheese Manicotti from Laura’s Lean Beef Website.

Please contact me with your shipping info so we can have this sent out to you!

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“Skinnier” Lasagna

adapted from Skinny Lasagna recipe on www.redgoldtomatoes.com

Ingredients

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. jarred minced garlic

1 dried bay leaf

1-2 tbsp. Italian seasoning (or use combination of dried oregano, basil, marjoram)

1 lb. extra-lean (96% lean) ground beef or lean ground turkey (I used Laura’s Lean Ground Beef)

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped finely

16 oz. frozen cut spinach

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or 2 (15 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (I used Red Gold)

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano (I used Red Gold)

1 (16 ounce) box traditional whole wheat lasagna noodles

1 (15 ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded low fat mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add minced garlic, bay leaf, and Italian seasoning. Cook until garlic starts to turn golden.

Add ground beef, continuously stirring and breaking up meat so that it browns and gets flavored by the garlic and herbs.

Once ground beef has cooked through, add the chopped mushrooms and frozen spinach, cooking until heated through.

Add the canned tomatoes, stir to combine pan contents, and bring to a boil. Once sauce has come to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan with 1½ cups of sauce.  Arrange 1/3 of noodles on top of sauce, slightly overlapped.  Top with ½ of ricotta 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

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