Mini Veggie Pizza Toppings

There is a pizza crust to go under the toppings but the fun is in the topping.  I keep, mini pizza crusts, in my freezer, for the times, we want pizza for dinner.  The two of us eat two each with a heaping bowl of salad.  What I started doing, was making two pizzas with one type of topping and a the other two with something different.  It makes the meal more interesting and enjoyable.

Tonight, we had a more traditional pizza with tomato sauce,broccoli, onions, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.   The other pizza had carrots, radish, spinach with ricotta, Parmesan and Cheddar.  This is a nice change from pizza as we knew it, a few years ago.

For two mini pizzas……

Pizza 1

1/4 cup Marinara sauce for each of the two pizzas

1 teaspoon chopped onion for each

sprinkle of Parmesan for each

1/4 cup chopped broccoli for each

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Lay out the mini crusts.  Pour marinara sauce on two of the crusts.  Cover with vegetables and cheese.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake completed pizza for 10 – 12 minutes or until cheese is browned.

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Pizza 2

1/3 cup Ricotta cheese for each of the two

1/4 cup thin sliced carrots for each

1/4 cup spinach

1/8 cup yellow tomato

few thin sliced pieces of radish

1 teaspoon of Parmesan

1/4 cup of cheddar cheese

Cover crust with Ricotta leaving a small space at the edge that is plain crust.

Spoon spinach on Ricotta.  Top with carrots, tomato and radish.

Sprinkle Parmesan and grated cheddar cheese.  I grate right onto the pizza.

Bake in the same manner as above.

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Polenta and Vegetable Bake

Since I bought two rolls of polenta, I want to use them but I want to do something, I know we will like, with them.  Since, we are vegetable aficionados, I knew vegetables of some kind, had to be involved.  Eating Well comes through time and again with good, solid, healthy recipes so that is where I turned for an idea.  With a name like, “Polenta and Vegetable Bake”, I couldn’t go wrong. 

If you have not made polenta or bought the rolls, I suggest you give them a try.  They are versatile and I have a feeling, as I am more comfortable cooking with polenta, my imagination is going to be the drive that determines the recipes.

Polenta and Vegetable Bake (adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce, preferably lower-sodium
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or oregano or cilantro
  • 4 slices prepared polenta
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese, divided

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Coat a round baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.  Stir marinara sauce into the vegetables and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil or oregano or cilantro.
  3. Place vegetables in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
  4. Top with polenta and cover with cheese and more sauce, if necessary
  5. . Bake until bubbling and the cheese has just melted, 12 to 15 minutes.

This is linked to Real Food Wednesdays     Whole Food Wednesdays          Gluten-free Wednesday    We Are That Family     Allergy Free Wednesdays    Cast Party Wednesday     Momnivore’s Dilemma        Frugal Follies     Allergy Free Wednesday     Creative Juice     Pennywise Platter    Breakfast Ideas Monday

Eggplant Polenta Parmesan

This is the story of a lonely eggplant and 6 unhappy polenta slices who both wanted to meet a new friend.  They came to me to find out if I could help.  Each had a long story to tell about how they ended up so sad and lonely and yes, each has had a difficult life.

Ellie the Eggplant was not favored by the “Vegetable Eaters” who wanted carrots, corn, broccoli, squash and peas.  They walked by Ellie without even a glance.  Ellie sat in the store, hoping someone would come along before she went bad and take her to a real home.  She hated the cold aisles in the food store, lined up with food that called people and people came.  She watched the cauliflower depart followed by the zucchini and onions. She waved goodbye to her friends and put on a smile so they would not know, just how sad she was.

As she sat on her shelf, the polenta found itself in a home, a home where they enjoyed eating polenta with cheese but did not have any good ideas how else to make her into a meal.  She dreamed of finding a friend and working herself through the digestive system with the new-found friend.  Casey, her owner looked for recipes and actually  had a lot of them written on pieces of paper that were piling up.  Casey really did like polenta but was very busy and just could not find time to decide which recipe she should cook.  So the six slices, sat in the cold refrigerator wanting to catch up with their brothers who already had found friends to move on with.

Casey was shopping and saw Ellie sitting in a bin, looking longingly at the customers who ignored Ellie.  Casey saw tears rolling down her purple skin and took pity on Ellie.  She placed Ellie in her basket with two zucchini, one butternut squash, a bag of onions and some beautiful red tomatoes.  The eggplant thought to herself, one of these is going to become my friend.

Unfortunately, that evening, Casey did not use either the polenta nor the eggplant but each were happy to visit in the refrigerator and life was calm and happy.  The next day, excitement reigned.  The eggplant was removed from the refrigerator and was peeled and sliced.  Ellie was happy but she wanted her new friend there, also.  She begged Casey who went along with her and concocted a recipe where the polenta and eggplant could stay together.  There was rejoicing in the house.

Eggplant Polenta Parmesan

Ingredients

1 eggplant

6 slices of polenta

1 small onion, sliced thin

1/2 jar of Marinara sauce

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Season according to you likes.  I did not think it needed any.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a large skillet with oil and turn heat on to medium.

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch pieces and place in skillet.

Cook each side until slightly browned and partially cooked.

While eggplant is cooking, slice onions and polenta.  Polenta should be 1/4 inch thickness.

Remove eggplant and put on paper towels to drain.  Mine almost had no oil.

Add onions to skillet and cook for 4 minutes or until translucent.  Remove and place in a separate pile with the eggplant.

Brown polenta lightly on both sides, adding another spray of olive oil to skillet first.

Using a 19 inch baking pan, pour 3/4 cup of marinara sauce into baking pan, to cover bottom.  Place polenta slices to cover the bottom.    Place an eggplant slice on top of each piece of polenta.  Top with sliced onions and Mozzarella.

Pour remaining sauce over top of casserole and sprinkle Parmesan on the very top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 2o minutes until thoroughly heated and cheese melted.

Take a bite and be happy.

This is linked to Friday Food         Foodie Friday

Baked Cranberry Meatballs

There is magic, at this time of the year, and my meatballs have been touched by this magic.  I make meatballs, throughout the year and while they are good, they are not the top of the line.  The Passover meatballs were unbelievable.  I did put a lot of chopped vegetables in them and I have discovered that vegetables can be more powerful than spices.

My guests raved about them and I had to hide a few for after the holiday since I had not eaten them, at them meal, they were served.  One of the problems, for me, about food on Passover is that with four filling meals to eat, by the fourth, there is nothing I want to eat.  The first meal is appreciated and by the second, I eat but am pulling back.  The third, I eat minimally, a taste of this and a taste of that and finally, the fourth meal, I select one dish and eat just a little bit.  I can’t say the same about the others, at the table, who had no such issue.  They ate heartily.  When I saw my husband, going for seconds, I had to control myself , not to take the dish from him.

I finally ate a meatball, last night, after the holiday was over and I thought it was a magical meatball, also.  The magic of Passover appears to pass its wand over all our food.  Chicken soup never tastes better.  Brownies made from potato starch are transformed to chewy masterpieces.  It must be the holiday

Cranberry Meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound chopped chicken

1 pound chopped turkey

3 tablespoons ground nuts (I used walnuts.)

3 tablespoons potato starch

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/4 green pepper, finely chopped

1/4 red pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Sauce

3 cups Marinara sauce

1 can smooth cranberry sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Procedure

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.

Mix ground turkey and beef with walnuts, potato starch and black pepper.  Mix in the egg well.  Add chopped and shredded vegetables.  Add garlic and onion powder.

Form meatballs into round globes.  I used a quarter cup measure to determine the size of these meatballs.

Place meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, combine sauce ingredients, Marinara sauce, ketchup, cranberry sauce, lemon juice and brown sugar.  Mix until cranberry sauce is incorporated into the sauce.

Remove meat from the oven and drain before dropping into the sauce.  When you put the meatballs into sauce,  swirl them around so they are all coated.

If it was not Passover, I would probably serve these with rice. 

This is linked to   $5 Dinner Challenge

Desperation Tomato Soup — Giada

I made this, one night, when my eyes were literally closing.   Forget cooking, I didn’t even want to eat.  

The other of lifting a fork to my mouth overwhelmed me.    I am sure, many of us, have these days or evenings where everything looms large.  I have them more, these days, when I am on extra duty for my job.  

That night typified exhaustion but I knew, not eating, was not going to do me any good.  I could see sleeping for an hour and waking up with hunger pains.  Then, I would, very likely not fall back to sleep for hours.  No, we were going to eat even if was lettuce without dressing.

Why I picked up Giada’s book up, I don’t know and why it opened to this soup is even more strange.  Who am I to ask questions?  I had dinner, Italian style, ready in a short while.  Tomato soup, something I love and something comforting.

I will hang my head, in shame, for those of you who always cook from scratch, something I often do, very often, but not that night.  This soup embarrassingly is made from bottled Marinara soup, boxed Vegetable Soup and canned beans plus a few extras.  I, even peeled carrots…..Wow!  Chopped an onion…..Double wow!!

Let me tell you, this soup was very good.  It had flavor and was smooth and went down, easily and I loved it, at least that night.  My instincts tell me, I would like it again and then again.  It was not simply the desperation but I can keep it for another desperation night when sleep calls.

Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Serves:  4 to 6 serving
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 28 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2  any small pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.

Add the carrots and onion. and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the jar omarinara sauce, chicken broth, cannelloni beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Eat and enjoy!

Note the length of time for this soup, if you cook the pasta while you are browning the vegetables………12 minutes. Even a tired lady should be able to handle this and if one can’t, sleep is the only answer.

This is linked to Totally Tasty Tuesdays (Mandy’s Recipe Box),   Tuesday’s Tasty Tidbits  Tasty Tuesdays   Mix it Up Monday    Cookbook Sundays

Gluten Free Wednesdays

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

I thought, I was going to make lasagna and cheesecake for our family party and filled my refrigerator with cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta and farmer cheese plus Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan and miscellaneous favorite cheeses.  We didn’t make lasagna nor cheesecake.  Instead, I made cottage cheese latkes and bagels and lox.  Dessert was chocolate cake and cookies.

Are you picturing my refrigerator now?  You are right; it is filled with cheeses from top to bottom.  I am planning lots of dairy dishes in the next days.  We  love dairy meals so that is not a problem.  I still, I can’t imagine using up all that cheese.  I started with one meal, stuffed shells.  I added some cream cheese to make it creamier than usual and I like the addition.

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

Ingredients

1 box large pasta shells, cooked al dente (according to package directions)

1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta

1 cup whipped cream cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1 egg

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Cheese School 101

1 jar Marinara sauce (I did not use the entire bottle – make it as saucy as you like)

extra shredded mozzarella to top casserole

 

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine cheeses in large bowl.  Mix together so that you have a creamy cheese mixture.  Add egg to the cheese and mix until incorporated.  Add seasoning and mix well.

I have some odd-shaped dishes but the closest standard size is a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Cover the bottom with a thin layer of marinara sauce and put aside.

Spoon cheese mixture into shells and place each shell into baking pan.  When shells are positioned, pour as much sauce as you like on pasta.  Add shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

Place in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  I keep checking to make sure the cheese does not burn.

We find this to be a hearty dish and a side of salad is satisfying for us.

 

Mexican Spaghetti Pie

I have been making different spaghetti pies for decades.  I am trying to remember if my mother made these.   I can’t imagine where I was introduced to these pasta gems.  I just know, they were part of our married lives as far back, as I remember.

Usually, these “pies” are predominantly cheddar and the crust, which is Parmesan in this version, was a yellow cheddar, in past versions.  However, I have made these, we like them but tonight’s dish is the hands down winner.  My husband, who is not exuberant in praise,  could not stop extolling the virtues of this comfort food.

This is not a pie by any sense of the word, other than there are three layers and  we form that bottom layer to go up the sides.  Our “pie” is filled with vegetables and sauce and topped with a cream cheese-Parmesan combination.  It is baked and the cheeses meld together to form a beautiful dish with a cheesy top, browned to perfection.

Mexican Spaghetti Pie

INGREDIENTS

Crust
7  ounces uncooked vermicelli or spaghetti
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Filling
8 ounces Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 jar (14 oz) Marinara sauce
Topping
1/4 cup light cream cheese  (I use whipped)
1 cup Mexican cheese. shredded  (Monterey Jack,  Cheddar and Asadiero)

DIRECTIONS

1 Cook and drain vermicelli as directed on package.

2 Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9 1/2-inch glass deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray.

3 In large bowl, beat egg. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add cooked vermicelli; toss to coat. Spoon mixture evenly into pie pan, pushing mixture up sides of pan to form crust.

4 Microwave vegetable for 2 – 3 minutes on high until translucent. Stir in pasta sauce. Spoon evenly into vermicelli-lined pie pan.

5 In small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons over filling.

6 Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until pie is thoroughly heated and crust is light golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes. To serve, cut into wedges.

Notes:

I bought the Mexican cheese in Costco in a large plastic bag.  It is a good combination and made  this dish.  The original recipe called for Mozzarella.

The original recipe called for chopped meat.  I replaced this with Ricotta cheese.

A good Meatless Monday recipe….

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