Category Archives: italian

Sourdough Pizza Crust

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I’ve turned to sourdough for most of my bread consumption. Its healthier to soak/sprout/sour grains and I really like the slight tang to sourdough. This pizza dough has a really nice crisp crust on the bottom but a soft and chewy upper. Dave and I agree its the best pizza crust we’ve ever had, homemade or from a restaurant. I’ve also found when sourdough is properly prepared, its so much more filling than unsoaked flour. There is also evidence that the wild yeast in sourdough is much healthier than commercial store bought yeast.

This makes one good sized thicker crust. You can bake them and store in the freezer for quick weeknight meals. Or prep in the morning and it will be risen by the time you get home from work.

Sourdough pizza crust

1 1/4 cup sourdough starter

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 Tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

cornmeal

Knead all ingredients with a dough hook for 5 minutes. Cover bowl and let rise about 4 hours. Roll into a circle and place on a cornmeal dusted pizza stone. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 3 or 4 hours. If you will be gone all day, forget the first rise and just let it rise on the pizza stone all day.

Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Brush with olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Top with sauce, cheese, and any meat or vegetables. Cook until cheese is bubbly, about 10 or so more minutes.

Cheesy Italian Polenta Bake

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I was searching the internet for a recipe with ground beef. I didn’t feel like the normal meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, or tacos. I wanted something new. I wanted to cook and experiment. I saw a recipe for a polenta lasagna and it inspired my creation.

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My version is much easier and healthier since its not completely doused in cheese (which can be looked at as a bad thing as well I guess, cheese is amazing!). But don’t worry it is still quite cheesy. I didn’t have a tube of polenta so I figured I’d make my own. I had never done it before but I have no clue why not. It is SO simple. Like probably the easiest thing I’ve ever made, no joke.

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Cheesy Italian Polenta Bake

Polenta:

3 cups water

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 tsp chopped garlic

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

1 TB butter

3 TB grated parmesan cheese

Meat mixture:

1 tsp olive oil

1 lb lean ground meat

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 tsp garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

2 cups frozen vegetables

1 cup drained diced tomatoes, pureed or premade pasta sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

First, make your polenta. Put all ingredients, besides butter and parmesan cheese, into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until thickened and pulls away from bottom of pan. Mine took about 10 minutes to finish. When its very thick, turn off heat and stir in butter and parmesan cheese. Done. See, SO easy and quick!

Spray an 8 X 8 baking dish and spread polenta evenly on the bottom. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. While that’s baking, prepare your meat mixture.

Place oil, meat, onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning in frying pan over medium heat. Cook until meat is cooked through and onion is tender. Add frozen veggies and heat until defrosted. I used peppers and green beans but broccoli and zuchini are always good with Italian as well. If you use fresh veggies, just throw them in the pan at the same time as the meat and onion. Stir sauce in meat mixture.

Take polenta out of oven. Top with meat mixture then top that with the mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for another 20 minutes.

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Top with more grated parmesan and enjoy!

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Italian is my favorite type of food but I can only eat pasta, sauce, and sausage so many times in a week. This was just as good, and the family agreed! This would also be a great gluten free Italian option. And for all you vegetarians, the original lasagna was actually made with a meat substitute but I think it has plenty of veggies and staying power on its own that you could just omit the meat.

I heated up the leftovers for myself for lunch the next day and gave Alyssa something else. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for me. Alyssa said it wasn’t fair I got to eat the leftovers so I ended up having to split them…

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 485

Fat: 22 g

Sodium: 688 mg (29%)

Carbohydrates: 34 g

Dietary Fiber: 5 g

Sugars: 4 g

Protein: 38 g

Meatballs from Santa

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Funny story… When I was 2 1/2, I asked Santa for “meatballs and a babydoll” for Christmas. Santa delivered with my favorite meatballs from a local Italian deli. When “Santa” went into the deli on Christmas Eve and explained his (her) need for the meatballs they thought it was so cute they gave them to us for free. I may be one of the only kids who have gotten meatballs in their stocking. I literally grew up on these meatballs. We ate at the deli often and always had a huge bag in our freezer for at home meals as well. Im not so sure how healthy they were, and I’m not so sure I want to know. Denial is a good place to be sometimes!

Well in order to get my red meat in this week, I made nothing other than italian meatballs. I try to eat red meat once a week for iron while breastfeeding. I try hard to get lots in from vegetarian sources as well but that’s not enough to help my lower than desired iron levels. I often make these with ground chicken or turkey as well.

Italian Meatballs:     makes 20 meatballs

1 pound ground beef (or chicken or turkey)

2 eggs

1/4 cup bread crumbs (I use Ezekiel sprouted bread)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1 tsp of pre-minced garlic)

1/2 tsp oregano

olive oil cooking spray

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. I only made a half batch when I took these pictures so I just mixed everything in the baggie my meat was in.

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Shape into balls. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Cook meatballs, turning frequently until all sides are browned. Turn to low and cook for another 10 minutes or until center is no longer pink.

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Don’t overcook. We don’t want a dry meatball. That’s one reason I like meatballs with red meat because they can be a little less cooked and its not dangerous like uncooked poultry.

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Serve them up with your favorite pasta dish.

My dinner was elbow macaroni and steamed Kale mixed with a garlic yogurt sauce, topped with 5 Italian meatballs. You could also make the meatballs ahead and freeze them to use for quick weeknight meals.

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Now that I think about it, I should have asked the Easter Bunny to make me these meatballs and leave them in my Easter basket. It worked for me once!