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pasta pizza pie

Pasta Pizza Pie

Pasta Pizza Pie combines two Italian favorites (and two of my favorites!) into a delicious pizza-inspired baked pasta.  First, you start by baking a pasta “crust.”  Then you spread your favorite pasta sauce over the crust and top it with your favorite toppings.  I used a 12-inch saute pan in lieu of a pizza pan, and it worked great!

Pasta Pizza Pie puts a fun twist on pizza and a fun twist on pasta,…and incidentally since it’s also a “pie,” this Pasta Pizza Pie is perfect for today, March 14th (3.14)…”Pi Day!”


Pasta Pizza Pie
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped*
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced *
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup milk (I used skim)
  • 8 ounces (1/2 of a 1 pound box) rotini-shaped pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1½ cups of your favorite pasta sauce (I used Muir Glen Tomato Basil)
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • * substitute with your favorite pizza toppings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-inch saute pan or pizza pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last minute, add minced garlic and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir egg, milk, pasta and ½ cup cheese. Spread pasta mixture in prepared pizza pan. Bake this pasta crust for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove pasta crust from oven and spread sauce over crust. Top with onion-mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Shake crushed red pepper flakes over cheese.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Campbell’s Kitchen

healthy lighter chicken parmesan

Light Chicken Parmesan

This Light Chicken Parmesan is a delicious and healthy spin on a classic favorite.  There are a few tricks that helped with the lightening up of this dish.  Baking the chicken results in moist meat without having to use any extra fat.  By breading only one side of the chicken, you get the benefit of the delicious breadcrumb/cheese mixture without the excess.  Using part-skim mozzarella cheese helps keep the fat and calories down without sacrificing taste.

The sauce can easily be substituted with your favorite marinara (use jarred for a time saver) – simply skip to step 5.  We enjoyed Light Chicken Parmesan with a mixed green side salad for a light, healthy dinner.  Spaghetti tossed a little olive oil, herbs and red pepper flakes would also be a delicious accompaniment to this dish.

Light Chicken Parmesan
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 to 6 ounces each)
  • ¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (3 ounces)
Instructions
  1. Make Sauce: Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender (about 8 minutes). Add garlic, pepper flakes, and Italian herb seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cover, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce heat to medium low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and flavors combine (about 30 minutes).
  3. Add vinegar and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until slightly cooled.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, puree sauce until smooth.
  5. Make Chicken: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  6. In a food processor, combine bread, Parmesan, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until mixture becomes coarse crumbs; transfer to a shallow bowl.
  7. Place flour in a separate shallow bowl, season with salt and pepper. Place egg white in a third shallow bowl, and beat with fork until frothy.
  8. Dip top side of chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess. Dip same side in egg white, letting excess drip off. Then dip in breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Place on prepared baking sheet, breaded side up (Note: you only bread one side). Repeat with remaining chicken.
  9. Bake until breadcrumbs are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with mozzarella. Continue baking until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted and slightly browned, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Serve chicken with a generous amount of sauce.

Light Chicken Parmesan

Source:  Chicken from Everyday Food Light; Sauce adapted slightly from Clean Eating, March, 2012

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Easy Spinach & Cheese Lasagna

While working on clearing out the cupboards in advance of our upcoming move, I found myself faced with 3 boxes of lasagna noodles.  How did that happen!  At least it is something I am happy to use, unlike the random can of soup that I have been avoiding.  In lieu of my usual lasagna recipes, which tend to be a bit more labor intensive, I decided to go with something easy and quick to prepare.  This Easy Spinach and Cheese Lasagna is exactly that…and so good!

This lasagna is first simplified by not boiling the noodles.  I used no-boil noodles, but have used regular noodles in the past and they have worked just fine.  Another step is saved by using a good quality pasta sauce from a jar.  A from scratch sauce would of course be fabulous, but we’re going for easy here.  Mix the filling, layer it up with the sauce and noodles, add water, and pop the pan in the oven.  In a little over an hour, you have an easy, healthy, delicious meal.  This lasagna makes plenty for serving guests, or you can enjoy some great leftovers!    

Easy Spinach and Cheese Lasagna
Yields 6-8 servings

15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (divided)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed, chopped and drained well
3-4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (25-ounce) jar pasta sauce
9 to 12 no-boil uncooked lasagna noodles

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9×13 inch non-reactive baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Paremsan, egg, spinach salt, pepper and Italian herb seasoning.
  3. In another bowl, combine the remaining mozzarella and Paremsan cheese.  This is for the  topping, so set aside.  
  4. Pour 1 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking pan.  Top with a layer of noodles and then a layer of the ricotta-spinach mixture.  Repeat with another layer of noodles and ricotta-spinach mixture.  Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.  Pour 1 cup water around the edges of pan.  
  5. Cover very tightly with non-stick foil (or foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake for 1 1/4 hours.  Let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes before serving.  

Adapted from Whole Foods

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Spicy Beef and Zucchini Pasta

When I was flipping through a recent magazine for the second time, I was a little surprised to see that I flagged something called ‘Stovetop Chili Mac.’  It’s not something that I would typically make, based on title alone.  After a quick glance, I could definitely see the potential in this dish – increase the veggies, give it some kick,…and we find ourselves with the delicious Spicy Beef and Zucchini Pasta.

The beef and zucchini sauce was a spicy and flavorful topping on top of pasta, which is a nice change from your every day bolognese.  The preparation of this sauce reminds me of my go-to taco recipe though.  This recipe makes plenty, so enjoy pasta for dinner and then tacos for lunch the next day.  That’s what we did!

Spicy Beef and Zucchini Pasta
Yields 4 servings

3/4 pound (12 oz) short pasta, such as rotini or rigatoni
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 green and/or red bell peppers, chopped
1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with chiles, including juices
2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, for topping

  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium.  Add onion, peppers and garlic and cook until onion is translucent and peppers are soft (about 5 minutes).
  3. Increase heat to medium high, add beef and break it up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until no longer pink.  Add chili powder and cumin, and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add zucchini and cook until tender.  Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook until mixture is thickened and heated through. 
  5. Divide pasta among 4 bowls, top with meat sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

Adapted from Everyday Food

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach - made in less than 30 minutes!

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach

(Photos updated 2/23/2012)

As the weather turns cooler, we find ourselves gravitating toward soups, chili, baked pasta, all of those warm comfort foods. I have had a vision for this tortellini soup for quite a while, but simply have not had an opportunity to execute it. Until now…

Filled with healthy vegetables and hearty tortellini, Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach is the perfect comfort food for a crisp fall day, or any day for that matter.  And guess what?  It can be made in under 30 minutes!  Had I realized that, this soup would have been made long ago.

I put a range of 4 to 6 cups for the broth, so you can adjust to your preference. I like my soup on the chunkier side, so 4 cups of broth yielded the perfect consistency for me. I also used frozen spinach, which worked really well.   I recommend using both low sodium broth and tomatoes, so you can control the sodium by adding salt to taste.

As a great weeknight dinner, or a quick any time meal, we are looking forward to enjoying this soup all fall/winter long, and I hope you will too!

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach
 
Yields: 3 to 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 to 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes, including juices
  • 9-10 ounces tortellini (fresh or frozen), any variety
  • 1½ teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen spinach, chopped (if frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess moisture)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic, and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add broth and tomatoes. Turn heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
  4. Within the last minute of cooking the tortellini, stir in Italian herb seasoning, crushed red pepper and spinach. Taste, and add salt and pepper seasoning, as desired.
  5. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with Parmesan cheese.

 

Adapted from Food Network

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Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella

The first time I made this pasta, I was a little underwhelmed. It was good, but not great. While I love pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and chickpeas, there was something that just wasn’t doing it for me. However, I was not willing to give up on this recipe so easily. It had all the potential to be something fantastic, just clearly needed a little tweaking. 

First, I decided to marinate the tomatoes and mozzarella in the vinaigrette while I cooked the pasta. I also added some garlic for good measure. It then became obvious. While thyme may offer a unique flavor, it was just not right in this dish. What goes best with tomatoes and mozzarella is…basil! Nothing beats classic caprese-inspired flavors. 

As I hoped, with just a few changes, this dish became something extraordinary. It was simple, delicious and very easy to make. We enjoyed this pasta warm as an entree, but it would also be excellent served as a pasta salad. This quick and easy pasta has definitely landed a spot in our weeknight dinner rotation!

Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Yields 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

12 ounces pasta (any shape short pasta, any flavor; I used whole wheat & flax rotini)
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Coarse salt and ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic and basil.  Add tomatoes and mozzarella and toss until combined.  Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions.   Add chickpeas to pot for the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture and return to pot.
  3. Add tomato mixture to pasta.  Toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce to coat the pasta (you may not need all of the water). 
  4. Season with salt and pepper, as desired and toss to combined.  Serve, garnished with basil leaves, if desired.
Adapted from Everyday Food
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Tomato Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese

After taking a bite of this frittata, my husband sat for a minute and then said ‘Goat cheese is great, when done in the right way.’  Uh oh…and while I couldn’t agree more, I do know he’s not as fond of goat cheese as I am.  Fortunately he followed that up by saying ‘This way was definitely the right way!’ and quickly cleaned his plate!

Goat cheese is definitely an ingredient that makes a statement.  Too much can ruin a dish.  Just the right amount can take an ordinary dish and make it extraordinary.

So is the case with this frittata.  Goat cheese is the perfect complement to liven up the sauteed vegetables and eggs.  I reduced the amount of goat cheese from the original recipe, as I found it a bit overpowering.  I was a little generous when measuring the leeks because I love the subtle flavor and beautiful color.  Since I had large grape tomatoes, I halved them, and they still burst with each bite.  Beating the egg whites gives this frittata a souffle-like quality that just melts in your mouth. 

The result is an exquisit blast of flavors in a light and airy frittata.   

Tomato and Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese
Yields 4 servings

3 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/4 cups sliced leeks
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
6 egg whites
4 egg yolks
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium. Add leeks ; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Cover; cook 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.
  2. In another bowl, beat 6 egg whites with salt and pepper to stiff peaks. Whisk in 4 egg yolks.
  3. Heat skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add eggs; sprinkle with vegetables and goat cheese. Cook over medium until sides are dry, 3 minutes. Transfer to oven; bake until eggs are set, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from Everyday Food