Mmm mmm Meatballs!

Happy Sunday everyone! I know…. I haven’t posted something in so long. I’m sorry! I know it’s an awful excuse, but the holidays definitely have me in a whirlwind this year!

I’m happy to say that I did finally have a spare second to whip up a FABULOUS batch of my lean, yet super flavorful Turkey Spinach Meatballs. Everyone know I love Italian food, well meatballs are right up there at the top of my list.

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Because I’m really not a beef person, I tend to take a lighter twist on meatballs whenever I make them. My meat of choice is usually ground chicken or turkey, but feel free to play around with and meat combinations you like for this recipe. If you do, I can’t guarantee the same texture of cook time, but I’m always a fan of experimenting so please share your results if you do make any changes!

These meatballs are flavored with basic Italian flavors that I love: a blend of warm and aromatic herbs, salty parmesan cheese, garlic, and black pepper. Because I like to throw veggies into a dish whenever possible (hey, I need to get my husband to eat them somehow!), I added a little spinach to add an additional layer of flavor and a pretty little spec of color!

Don’t let the recipe fool you, these meatballs are just as decadent in my eyes as your grandmas favorite homemade recipe. They are just a little leaner, a little lighter, and a little more basic when it comes to recipe difficulty.

I hope you try my fabulous Turkey Spinach Meatballs! Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 15-18 meatballs, depending on size

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (or one handful)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Italian herb seasoning mix
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add the ground turkey, 1 whole egg, the spinach, and your seasonings (black pepper, herbs, and garlic powder). Pulse or place on low until your spinach is chopped and well incorporated. You may have to stop and mix a few times to assure it’s fully chopped.

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Remove your mixture from the food processor and mix in your bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. I tend to just use my hands (it’s easier), so if you do the same don’t think you did something wrong if the mixture is extra wet and sticky! It is supposed to be that way! If you are concerned about the meatballs being too wet, feel free to add another tablespoon or so of breadcrumbs, but be careful! The moisture is what keeps them from getting too dense.

Once you have combined all of your ingredients, roll golf-ball size (may alter the way you like!) meatballs and place on a lightly greased baking sheet about 1-1.5 inches apart. Again, they will be sticky, but you should be able to form a ball.

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Bake your meatballs at 350 for 15 minutes, turning over about halfway through to assure both sides brown. While your meatballs are in the oven, warm your favorite sauce on medium-low. Once your meatballs have been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the heat and add to your sauce. Cover with lid and let simmer for ~10-15 minutes before adding your favorite pasta or serving on their own (these can definitely be a star on their own!) with a little sprinkle of cheese and some extra sauce! Enjoy!

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Lighter Lasagna

Ugh pasta…. Talk about the ultimate comfort food for me. While a big bowl of Alfredo with gooey cheese and lots of noodles looks and sound fantastic, I know it’s probably going to cost me at least 700-1000 (if not more) calories for a very tiny portion. While most restaurants really know how to make pasta taste delicious, comforting, and decedant, they typically don’t do so well with the nutrition portion. If I’m planning on have any sides with my pasta or going back for seconds, this bowl just got a lot less appealing and I got a lot more grumpy.

Solution: create a lighter, lower-calorie version of what sits in front of me. Now… Don’t get me wrong. I am all about indulgences in moderation, BUT, we all know what are weaknesses are and where we tend to give in and yes…. My name is Chelsea and I cannot say no to pasta or control my portions.

When an Italian themed potluck came around at work, I was thrilled and excited to try out my newest recipe for lighter spinach lasagna. While the cheese and the garlicky goodness are still in full force, 1/12 of this lasagna will only cost you about 170-200 calories. Aside from the calorie cut, the veggies and whole wheat noodles also add a little healthy twist.

Add a little piece of protiein on the side and maybe another helping of veggies and you have one deliecious, yet balanced, meal. I hope you try this easy, simple, cheesy little delight!

Ingredients:

  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles, boiled and cooked until tender
  • 3/4-1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • About 2-3 cups of raw spinach leaves
  • 2 medium sized, plump Roma tomatoes: sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 can Bertolli light Alfreddo sauce (May use another but nutrition facts may slightly differ)
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • About 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (can omit if you’d like)

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Pre-heat to 350 degrees.

Add a think layer of sauce to coat the bottom of your baking dish (mine was medium sized with just enough room to fir the 3 lasagna noodles perfectly). Layer: 3 cooked lasagna noodles, sauce, spinach, cheese, sprinkle of black pepper and garlic powder 2 times. For your last layer, place your remaining 3 noodles on top, your remaining sauce, and place sliced tomatoes sporadically on top. Top with a little extra mozzarella, the grated parm, and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Bake in the oven uncovered for about 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and the top has started to get a little golden. Allow at least 10-15 minutes to cool before serving.

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Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizza

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For me, summertime and Portobello mushrooms go together wonderfully. They are light and airy, yet still provide a robust, meaty flavor that I love. They are also very versatile. From chopped, sautéed, and used in pasta dishes, to grilled and used as a burger alternative, Portobello mushrooms can be jazzed up and changed around to your liking.

This recipe is for my Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment with little room for an actual grille outside so I used my George Forman, but an outdoor gas or coal grille would have been my first choice for preparing the mushrooms!

Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Portobello mushroom; cleaned well and patted dry (you will need to pat them a few times… they soak up water!); remove center stems (without breaking your mushroom!)
  • 4 Tbsp. roasted garlic marinara or tomato sauce (I used Trader Joes Roasted Garlic Marinara); depending on how large your mushrooms are, the sauce amount will vary
  • 2-3 Tbsp. shredded, fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 small Roma tomato
  • 6-8 spinach leaves depending on how large they are
  • dried thyme
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once your mushrooms have been cleaned, dried, and de-stemmed, place them on the grille for about 3-4 minutes (this was on my George Foreman where they were pressed, if on a normal grille, do about 2-3 minutes on each side; you may want to brush with a little olive oil as well to avoid sticking on a normal grille). Slice your Roma tomatoes to make about 1/2-1 cm thick rounds. You will need 6 slices total, so if your tomato is extra small you may need to use a second. A full-sized vine ripe or steak tomato may be used instead, just use one slice as it should take up about the same size as 3 Roma rounds. Once your mushrooms have been grilled, place them on a baking dish, lined with foil and sprayed with a little cooking spray. The stem side of the mushroom should be facing up. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of sauce onto each mushroom cap. One top of the sauce, place a few spinach leaves to cover the sauce. Press them down gently so that they flatten out. Place 3 tomato slices on top of the spinach. Season with a pinch of dried thyme, dried basil, a little black pepper, and garlic powder. Once each mushroom has been seasoned, top each one with out 1 Tbsp. of shredded, fine parmesan cheese. If you would like your mushrooms a bit cheesier, go ahead an add a little more cheese! The parmesan cheese adds a salty taste, so there is no need to add extra salt. Place the mushrooms into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and starting to get a little golden brown on the edges. Enjoy your mushrooms with a side salad or a little pasta of your choice! Enjoy!

 

 


Baked Pasta With Spicy Chicken Sausage

So I have started to embrace adding a little meat back into my diet, which my boyfriend seems quite happy about, so I decided to make him dinner this past week and tap into my old Italian cooking styles. I have already talked about pasta Sundays when I was little with my family, but the other thing, that mainly my dad loved having, was sausage and peppers. I myself am a fan of chicken sausage. Besides it being a little lighter and leaner, I think it packs a really great taste, especially when you really utilizes the spices that it has already been flavored with. For this dish, I used a spicy Italian chicken sausage. Because of this, I seasoned my pasta side and veggies with chili powder, read pepper flakes, and black pepper to really up the spicy kick. Here is the recipe for a combo of 2 of my favorite childhood dishes: baked cheesy pasta and sausage and peppers. Remember, Italian dishes can sometimes get a bad wrap for being calorie heavy, so making a few alterations such as using low-fat cheese, smaller portions of cheese, adding veggies to your dish, or using leaner cuts of meat (like chicken!) can help lighten up some of your Italian favorites!

Baked Pasta With Spicy Chicken Sausage

Ingredients:
– 2 cups whole wheat pasta
– 3 links spicy Italian lean chicken sausage
– 1/4 cup chopped onions
– 1/3 cup finely chopped red pepper
– 1 – 1 1/2 cups mushroom marinara sauce (I purchased mine from Kroger, it is the Simply Balanced brand; you can use whatever sauce is your favorite!)
– 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese ( half goes into pasta mixture, save half for top)
– spices: chili powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder
– 1 Tbsp canola oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Boil your pasta as directed, but undercook about 1-2 minutes. Finely chop your onions and peppers. Sauté in a little canola oil, seasoning with garlic powder, chili powder, and black pepper. You want your veggies to be fairly soft (should take 5-7minutes). Once your veggies have softened, chop your sausage into about 1/2 in pieces and add to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add in your pasta sauce. Cover with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid and allow sauce to simmer for another 5 minutes. Add in your cooked pasta and stir, lowering your heat to a low flame. Add in a little crushed red pepper and another pinch of black pepper. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese into your pasta and sausage mixture, and stir to incorporate.

Grease a small baking dish with a little cooking spray, and add your pasta mixture, spreading out evenly. Top your pasta with the last bit of mozzarella cheese, and cover with tin foil. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. This makes about 4 servings. Enjoy!

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