Skinny Spinach Meatballs

Spinach is one of those things that I hated when I was younger, but I kind of love it now. Although it has to be fresh spinach (not frozen), and it has to actually be IN something. I can’t just eat it by itself. It has to be in Lasagna, stuffed inside of chicken, or in a meatball! I love a good meatball, but not all meatballs are waist-friendly. I’m trying to eat less processed foods, and I’m also trying to watch  my fat intake.  I came across a recipe for Skinny Spinach Meatballs from Skinnytaste. I’ve made a few recipes from that site before, so I knew this would probably be a good one. As usual I made a few changes which are show below. If you’re looking for a flavorful meatball, this is the one for you!

[Adapted from this Skinnytaste recipe]

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil; divided
  • 1 bag of Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 2 slices whole wheat Weight Watchers bread (or any lite bread)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 jars of your favorite sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • freshly cracked pepper

 INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Chop up your baby spinach into smaller pieces; set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add in 1 minced garlic clove and don’t let it burn. Add in your spinach and toss around with tongs until it’s completely wilted and cooked down. Put the spinach and garlic in a bowl and set aside.

Wet bread with water then mash up with your hands. Add to large bowl and combine with ground turkey, spinach, egg, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper.

Mix all ingredients well until thoroughly combined. I used a medium cookie scoop to get the right amount of meat for each ball.  Roll into little meatballs and set them on a plate.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil on low heat. When oil is hot add half of the meatballs (if your pan will allow) and  cook on low. Make sure you flip them so they brown on all sides. Once all sides are browned, remove them from the pan and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the other half of the meatballs.

Place the baking sheet full of meatball into the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes. This will assure that they’ve cooked all the way through. It also gives you enough time to get your sauce ready.  Pour your 2 jars of sauce in a large saucepan over low heat. Add in your balsamic vinegar, oregano and freshly cracked pepper.

Once they are done, drop meatballs into the sauce and let them sit in the sauce for about 15 minutes or so.

Serve with your favorite pasta, or you can even eat them on a long roll!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I had quite a few Tomatoes from my CSA box. Every week I’d get more and more tomatoes. I just didn’t know what to do with them all.  They were all a beautiful shade of red, but you can only eat so many Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella salads before you go crazy!  So I decided to make a Roasted Tomato Sauce out of them. I had a bunch of onions, garlic and fresh oregano from my CSA also, so it worked out quite well.

There are so many different things you can do with tomato sauce. It’s so versatile. We chose to have this sauce on some pasta, but it works so well for pizza, chicken, etc. Adjust the ingredients as you see fit – some people don’t like sweet sauces, some do. I love sweet sauce! So add in more brown sugar if you please!

 

  • 8 large tomatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • salt
  • pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, and lay them skin side down. Cut up the onions and smash the garlic and put them on the baking sheet with the tomatoes, making sure it’s all in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the fresh oregano.

Single layer on baking sheet

Up close and personal

Roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You want the edges of the tomatoes and onion to start getting brown. Carefully put everything in a blender (Vitamix!!)  or food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Fresh out of the oven

Transfer the pureed contents to your favorite Le Creuset dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add in the red wine, brown sugar, and dash of balsamic vinegar. Stir. Add in the can of tomato paste and stir until all of the lumps are out.

Let simmer

The tomato paste should thicken it up a bit. Turn the heat down to low. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano and let the sauce simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite pasta, or use on some homemade pizza!

 

 

Pizza Dough with Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos

We were in Hurricane Irene’s path this past weekend, so everything was closed. So that meant it was a weekend spent at home, which is very rare. We’re usually out and about doing something, somewhere. So I decided to take advantage of the time spent at home. Since I knew that no local places would be delivering pizza, I figured it would be a good day to make some Homemade Pizza Dough! I always feel like I accomplished so much when I make my own dough. Silly, I know.

I have a stand-by dough that I make, but I wanted to try something different. I came across a Pizza Dough  recipe from Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, hosts of Cooking Channel’s show Extra Virgin. I had a chance to meet them at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival back in February and they are very nice! I’ve never made any of their recipes, so I figured this would be the perfect one to try!

 

  • 1  (.25-ounce) package dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup bread flour. Mix well and let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Yeast, lukewarm water & 1/2 cup flour

Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and there should be bubbles

Whisk together the remaining 3 1/2 cups bread flour and salt in another bowl so it will be evenly distributed.

Once the yeast mixture is nice and bubbly and looks like foamy beer (like the above picture), add 3/4 cup cold water and olive oil. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on and add the flour in increments.

Mix the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough starts creeping up the dough hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another hour.

I didn’t follow the rest of the recipe – I wish I had a wood-fired pizza oven, lol!  So here’s what I did…

I decided to make two pizzas. I did one in a larger pizza pan that had holes in it so the air can circulate and make the dough crispy. I did the other pizza in a smaller pan that was more for a deep dish type of pizza (not quite like Pizzeria Uno’s though).

First: Thinner Crust

Thinner crust pizza

Add some Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella and a little Sharp Provolone

Close up of all of that Cheese…yum!

Baked at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes

Second: Thicker Crust

Thicker crust pizza

Add Sauce, Mozzarella, Sharp Provolone and BACON!

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes

I really enjoy this Pizza. I thought the dough was very good. Instead of regular salt I add in Sarah’s Tuscan Sea Salt (this stuff is my favorite!) and it gives it extra flavor. I coated the bowl in Garlic Olive Oil and that gives it a little extra garlic punch as well. So be sure to play around with the pizza dough recipe! Add in whatever seasonings you want (fresh garlic, oregano, parsley, etc) and you can even switch up the liquid. I LOVE using beer in place of water in pizza dough. It gives it a really good flavor. Try it sometime!

Lasagna Rolls

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved Lasagna. I mean really…who doesn’t?! The ingredients can be changed up to suit anyone’s needs. If you love meat, add meat into it. If you’re a vegetarian, add a bunch of vegetables in there. It’s a very versatile dish, and it always tastes so good!  I’ve seen a number of different recipes for Lasagna Rolls, but there was always something I didn’t like about it.  So I decided to just change up my own Lasagna recipe and turn them into Lasagna Rolls.

I knew that if I put the turkey sausage inside of the Lasagna Roll that it would more than likely all slip out.  So I added the turkey sausage in with the spaghetti sauce.  The additional of the spinach in with the ricotta mixture gave it so much flavor and it was definitely what took it to the next level.

 

  • 1 lb of sweet turkey sausage
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, grated; divided
  • 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked & drained; lay on a cookie sheet
  • large jar of spaghetti sauce (or homemade)

 

In a skillet, cook turkey sausage until meat is no longer pink; drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

Cook sausage until it’s no longer pink

 

Once it’s done, drain on a paper towel

Heat up the spaghetti sauce in a saucepan. Once the turkey sausage is drained, add it into the sauce and combine. Cook on low while you get the rest of the dish together.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 4 cloves of grated garlic, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, oregano, a few sprinkles of salt and a dash of pepper.

Combine ricotta, garlic, parmesan, mozzarella, oregano, salt & pepper

Wash out the skillet you cooked the turkey sausage in and dry it thoroughly. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Add in the spinach. It will cook down a lot. Once it’s almost done, add in the 2 cloves of grated garlic and cook while stirring constantly until the garlic is mixed in. Stir the spinach into the ricotta cheese mixture thoroughly.

Mix the spinach into the ricotta cheese mixture

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Add a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom.

Lay out a noodle. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture on the noodle. Fold over the top, and then fold over the bottom. Place the Lasagna Roll seam side down on top of the spaghetti sauce. Repeat this process with the other noodles. Top with remaining sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Fresh out of the oven

5 Ingredient Friday: Parmesan Orzo

*sauce is not included in recipe

This week’s 5 Ingredient Friday is something that I love to make: Orzo. It goes with so many different dishes and you can change up ingredients to fit your meal. If you need something to go with a Greek dish, add in some kalamata olives, lemon juice & zest, etc. If you need something to go with a steak, add in green scallions, dried cherries, and pecans. This specific dish is just something that I came up with when I wanted a pasta-like side dish to go with Chicken Parmesan, but didn’t want anything too heavy. Orzo is a type of pasta that is made in the shape of a grain of rice. I love how it’s so light and fluffy. There’s so much you can do with Orzo. Here’s my favorite recipe…

Ingredients

  • Orzo (as much as you want to make)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation

Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil and stir in the orzo; return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 9-11 minutes; drain.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan (or skillet) over medium heat. Cook the onion for a few minutes until it’s translucent. Stir in the garlic and let it cook for about a minute or so.

Stir in your cooked Orzo and mix until everything is incorporated. Add in your grated Parmesan Cheese; stirring until it melts. Taste it for flavor, and add in salt & pepper as you see fit.

*The sauce in the picture above was not included in the recipe. I was trying to use up the extra sauce so that’s why it’s on there :)

So as you see this is a very easy recipe that can be changed up at any time. I love to do Orzo with sweet onions, garlic, lemon juice & zest, and fresh parsley when serving white fish such as Flounder or Tilapia. The possibilities are endless!

Share your favorite Orzo recipes!