Thursday, January 31, 2013

Portabella Pizza

You won't miss the carbs, trust me.  

This personal pizza is healthy, filling, and delicious.  And you can play around with the toppings to keep it interesting.  The pictures here are the version with the Pizza Dip, but I've also made these differently before, so I added some variations down at the bottom of the post.

What you need (per pizza):
1 large portabella mushroom, washed and stem removed 
Olive oil spray
Seasoned-All (or just a bit of salt)

2 tablespoons Pizza Dip
1 teaspoon Pesto (I just used a little from a jar of store-bought)
2 thin slices of a large tomato
3-4 green olives, chopped
1-2 tablespoons Marinara Sauce 
1 teaspoon crumbled Feta Cheese
2 anchovies
Pepper, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes

Heat oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray baking sheet with a little olive oil, place mushroom on sheet, and spray mushroom with a bit of olive oil too.  Season lightly with Season-All or just salt and pepper.  Bake for 30-45 minutes (I baked mine for about 45, and it was deliciously well-done.  30 minutes would also do the trick, it just won't get quite as "meaty").  The mushroom should be tender and have shrunk a good deal.

Spread the Pizza Dip and Pesto over the gills of the mushroom.  Layer the tomato, green olives, marinara sauce, feta cheese, and anchovies over this.  Season with the spices that you desire.  Return pan to oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until everything is heated and melty.  

Grab your knife and fork (or don't, but I'll let you know it's gonna be messy), and dig in!

Some Other Topping Ideas:
  • Replace Pizza Dip with fat-free cream cheese, add more Marinara sauce 
  • Add some pepperoni
  • Add some other/ extra cheese: Goat, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Blue Cheese
  • Add fresh basil
  • Make it a "burger" instead of pizza: lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, and ketchup (I've done this one and it was pretty darn tasty)
  • Add whatever you like!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Healthy Pizza Dip

Dip is awesome.  There are endless possibilities of types to make and types of things to dip.

It's always fun to eat (finger food = awesome.  In fact, I like to make many non-finger foods into finger foods as well).

And it can be super healthy or super indulgent, depending on your mood/ lifestyle/ how many drinks you've had.

This particular dip (while not super-photogenic) is really pretty healthy, especially if you use vegetable dippers.  (Though I did just try it with a bagel chip and that might have to triumph over veggies at the moment)  I also made some roasted baby carrots as another dipping option.

What you need:

1 cup low fat cottage cheese (I used 1 %)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
15 thin slices of "de-fatted" pepperoni (see below)
2 whole heads roasted garlic
3-4 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
1/3 cup canned artichokes (if using oil packed, omit that olive oil above)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (again, if using oil packed, omit that olive oil above)
2-3 anchovies
Splash of red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons grated good-quality Parmesan cheese
Spices: Season-All, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, and black pepper, to taste (this is what I had, Italian seasoning would be a good substitute for the Season-All if you have it)

To "de-fat" your pepperoni (this step also makes it crispy and probably better for the dip):

Place pepperoni slices in a single layer across a baking sheet or toaster oven pan.  Broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or until pieces have shrunk substantially but not burnt.  Drain fat and sop up the rest from the slices with a paper towel.

For the rest of the dip:
Blend everything in food processor or blender.  Let sit for half an hour or so in the frig.  Serve with dippers of choice, such as:
  • Cucumber slices
  • Red bell pepper slices
  • Roasted cauliflower or broccoli florets
  • Baby carrots, raw or roasted
  • Bagel or pita chips
  • Toasted baguette slices

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

I was all set to make actual Eggplant Parmesan (albeit a healthy version).  But then my eggplant rounds came out of the oven looking all crispy and delicious and I couldn't bear the risk of them becoming too soggy as part of the casserole.

And besides, why knife and fork a dinner when you dip it or pick it up like pizza?

I can see this going in a lot of different directions in the future... laying out an array of different dipping sauces as a fun party/game food, trying out an Asian-inspired version, or simply enhancing the Italian dip I made this time.

What you need:

For the Eggplant:
2 medium Eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 rounds (or try making stick shapes, which is what I would have done if I wasn't still planning on a casserole at this point)
Olive oil spray
1/2 cup Egg beaters (or egg whites, or a few beaten eggs)
1-2 cups Bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular and panko- would've tried whole wheat if they were easily available here)
1-2 teaspoons Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Black pepper
2-3 teaspoons Season-all (or just a bit of salt)

For the Dipping Sauce: (Also see other suggestions below)
1 24 ounce jar of your favorite Marinara/ Pasta Sauce (or use 3 cups homemade, that'd be tastier, but I was lazy)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4-1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Chopped fresh Thyme, Basil, Oregano

Start by heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place egg beaters in one bowl.  Mix both bread crumbs, the garlic powder, black pepper, and Season-all on a plate.  Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil.  One by one, dip the eggplant pieces into first the egg beaters and then the bread crumbs, coating all sides.  Place pieces, just barely touching, on the baking sheet.  Continue until you have used all of the eggplant (you may need additional eggs/ bread crumbs- I didn't actually measure mine, and I added a bit at some point, but then didn't finish it all).

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, flipping once (this is for rounds, reduce time if you cut into sticks).  The pieces should be browned and completely cooked through.  You can slice into one to check- it should be all soft inside.

About 20 minutes before the eggplant is supposed to finish cooking, make the dipping sauce:  Pour the sauce into small-medium casserole dish and top with cheeses and herbs (and any additional seasonings you like- maybe some garlic, black pepper, or red pepper flakes).  Place in the with the eggplant and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until nice and bubbly.

Serve with a spoon in the dipping sauce for slopping over the rounds (and then eat like pizza).  Or cut rounds into slices and dip.  Enjoy!

And some ideas for future dipping:

  • Amped Up Italian Dipping Sauce: Same idea as above, but better.  Roast some garlic cloves and mix the roasted cloves into some ricotta cheese.  Spoon ricotta cheese in the bottom of the pan.  Cover with a homemade meat and veggie pasta sauce.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake. 
  • Put out an Italian-themed dipping assortment:  A tomato-based sauce, such as above, some pesto,  some dipping oil 
  • Try something a little Asian: a spicy mayo (wasabi or sriracha mixed with light mayonnaise, or light mayonnaise and greek yogurt, to make it healthier), a soy sauce based dip: maybe some soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic and ginger, and honey.
  • Or a White Pizza Dip, like this one on How Sweet It Is.  I haven't actually tried it yet, but have eyed it before and it came to mind when I was thinking of other ideas for this eggplant.
Happy Creating!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another "Borscht" Recipe

I'm not sure I know what authentic borscht tastes like- I've only had the kind my mom makes (from a recipe she found somewhere) and the kind I make (made up new each time, often based on what ingredients I have at the time).

But this is tasty and the beet is the predominant flavor, so I figure it is close enough to the real thing to call it borscht, for lack of a better title.

The other borscht recipe I have posted here is a little different and the directions are for making it in the CrockPot.  This time, I did it on the stove, but this recipe could be made in the CrockPot as well.

What you need:

2 teaspoons olive oil
large pinch of salt
1 medium onion, chopped into rough pieces
1/2 of a head of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 small leek, sliced
4 beets (mine were about 2.5 inches in diameter, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 cups beef broth
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tahini (optional, but I think it really enhanced the flavor)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic, and celery, along with the pinch of salt.  Saute until slightly softened.  Add the leek and beets and continue sauteing until the leeks are also softened and everything is starting to brown a bit.  Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until beets are cooked, but not mushy.  Turn off heat, add the Tahini and apple cider vinegar, and blend with an immersion blender. If you want, you can only blend it halfway, so that there are a few chunks left.

Drizzle with Tahini for garnish, if you want.  Enjoy!