Portabella Pizza

Want to eat pizza without all the carbs? Instead of using dough, buy some large portabella mushroom caps. They can hold a lot of toppings, they cook well in the toaster oven (or on the grill) and they pair wonderfully with all the traditional pizza ingredients. Tonight’s mushroom pizza was one of my favorites so I thought I would share it. Plus, Kyle loved it, and when he loves something healthy I know I’ve done it right. You can make any kind of pizza toppings and cheeses you can imagine.  While I was making the topping for this pizza I also reserved half to put over whole wheat pasta for lunch the next day. So this recipe can make 4 portabellas or, 2 portabellas and a lunch portion of pasta.

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Ingredients:

-4 large portabella mushrooms

-2 spicy Italian chicken sausages from whole foods

-2 garlic cloves

-1 fresh tomato, diced

-About 1 cup of tomato sauce (you can just use a can of diced tomatoes instead of the combination of fresh and sauce but I didn’t have any)

-1/4 or so of red wine

-Fresh chopped basil

-Mozzarella

-Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Saute your red onions in olive oil in a hot pan until they start to caramelize. Cut your chicken sausage out of the casing and add to the pan. Let it brown on all sides. Using a potato masher will help grind the chicken up in to small pieces. Then add garlic. Let the mixture cook until the sausage is browned and mostly cooked.

Add the red wine and let reduce. Using your spoon, scrape the grits off the bottom of the plan. They have tons of flavor.

Get your toaster oven heating up to about 350 on bake.

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Add the fresh tomatoes, basil and tomato sauce. Let simmer for a few minutes. You want it to be a thicker sauce so it holds well in the mushroom. If it is too thin, add some tomato paste.  I used half of the mixture in the photo below to fill two large mushrooms, and saved the other half for pasta the next day. If you choose this option, add a bit more tomato sauce to the pan so the noodles have liquid to soak up. I recommend cooking the pasta now, adding it to the sauce and then putting it in the fridge for lunch the next day.

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Place your mushrooms on tinfoil and using a spoon scrape out the insides so they are easy to fill. Add the mixture.

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Top with your favorite cheeses! I sprinkled some parmesan, some shredded low fat mozz and I diced up some fresh mozz I had on hand. 20130805-201413.jpg

Cook in the oven until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. The mushrooms will release some liquid which is normal. Use a spatula to take the mushroom off the tinfoil and plate.

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Top with fresh basil and enjoy!!

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Get out your fork and knife and dig in! 🙂20130805-201554.jpg

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Chicken Sausage, Veggies and Tomato Sauce Over Whole Wheat Pasta

What to do when you are craving pasta but you’re trying to be good? Instead of having the pasta as the feature of your meal, use a portion more equivalent to a side. I had some Whole Foods Italian chicken sausage in my fridge and all I could think about was putting it over a large bowl of pasta and covered in parmesan cheese. With this recipe, you can have your cake and eat it too. I satisfied my craving by using lots of protein and fresh vegetables and didn’t overdo it on the carbs and fat.

This recipe yields 3 servings: Dinner for Kyle and I and lunch for me the next day!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 links Whole Foods Italian Chicken Sausage
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Handful of spinach
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tomato Sauce (I used Jerry’s because it’s the only jarred sauce I will buy, it’s simply amazing! You can use your own sauce, or some canned diced tomatoes.)
  • 3 slices, fresh mozzarella

Instructions:

Put a pot of boiling water on, salt it and add your pasta. When your pasta is done, portion it out into the bowls and put a spoonful of sauce on each one so the sauce sticks to the pasta.

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You can choose to saute all of your ingredients in a pan, or grill all of your ingredients. Out of personal preference, I grilled the sausage and peppers and sautéed the onions and garlic in a pan.

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This is not a necessary step but I am funny about sausage. I like it to have a nice crunchy outside so I sliced it up and threw it on a pan to crisp up the edges.

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Do not dice your veggies into small pieces as you might normally would, instead cut them into larger bite sized pieces so they don’t get lost in the pasta. Remember, veggies and protein are the feature of this dish!

Now add your veggies to the pasta.

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Then add an even number of sausage pieces into each bowl. Finally, add some spinach to each bowl–as much as you’d like.

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Add a few more spoonfuls of tomato sauce to each bowl.

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Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Since all the ingredients are already warm, put the bowls under the broiler until the cheese turns golden brown and bubbly.

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I cooked two and put the third in the fridge to save for lunch tomorrow. When they come out, top with some fresh chopped basil and enjoy!

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Lasagna Soup

If you love lasagna, then you will love this recipe. My friend at work, Marie, showed me a new recipe from Bobby Deen (Paula Deen’s son who is trying to put a healthier twist on Paula’s meals). “Lasagna soup” sounds very strange and I was hesitant at first but it tastes amazing; it’s lasagna in a bowl with half the amount of cheese and pasta. You lose out on calories, but NOT on flavor. I’m so happy she turned me on to this recipe. I have a feeling I will be making it many, many times in the future.

Here is the link to Bobby’s recipe, which of course I slightly altered. I am not a fan of green pepper so I substituted with fresh finocchio. I added red wine because I would add it to my gravy I use in lasagna and I decided to top the dish with cheese and broil it rather than stir it in for a nice bubbly crust.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Italian Chicken Sausage, 2 links or about 1 lb (Whole foods makes an excellent one where you can read and understand all ingredients. Be careful when buying sausage, pay attention to the ingredients b/c it can get gross)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • Finocchio (few stalks)
  • Fresh basil
  • Parmesan Cheese, few tablespoons
  • Part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Part-skim t ricotta, 1 large spoonful
  • 4 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • Tomato Puree (San Marzano tomatoes are the best, you can find them at Whole Foods)
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Italian red wine

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick saucepot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic.

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, 8 – 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, more salt, and crushed red pepper. I also added the red wine I was drinking. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 20 minutes.

Bring to a boil again when you are ready to add the noodles. Break the noodles in small enough pieces so they will fit on your spoon. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly and the noodles are tender, 10 – 12 minutes. I added a few squirts of tomato paste to thicken it a bit more.

Remove from the heat; stir in the ricotta. Turn your oven broiler on.

Spoon the soup into oven safe bowls and top with parmesan and mozzarella. Bake until the cheese bubbles, sprinkle with fresh chopped basil and serve.