Perfect Basil Pesto (THM S)

Wondering what to do with that beautiful, blooming (overflowing?) basil? Pesto is one of my favorite ways to preserve fresh basil. It uses a TON of fresh basil at once, and pesto can be used in a myriad of ways.

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Sunday Bolognese (THM S)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

Bolognese is basically an Italian meat sauce. It has a different flavor than traditional marinara, and usually has some vegetables in it as well. I call this my “Sunday Sauce” because you can make it on Sunday, and it tastes just as good (or better!) on Friday.

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This sauce comes together in one, big pot on your stove top, and it’s low-maintenance (lots of simmering, not a ton of stirring).

When I make Bolonese, I always make extra for freezing. It’s perfect with Dreamfields Noodles, spiralized squash/zucchini, eggplant steaks, Lazy Lasagne (Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook page 140), or any other Italian fare you can dream up. My kids love this sauce, and will eat anything I put with it.

Start with 1 1/2 – 2lbs ground beef. I used 85% lean, but you can go for whichever variety your family likes best. Sauté it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and some dried basil. When the meat begins to brown, start breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. When the meat is mostly cooked, add the shallots, garlic, celery, grated carrot, and onions. I use a fine hand grater to get small strings of grated carrot. The best thing about using a hand grater, as opposed to a box grater, is that you can hover it over the pot and grate straight down into it. No extra step of transferring it from the cutting board to the pot. Plus, when it’s cut that small there’s no need for peeling.

When the vegetables begin to soften, de-glaze the pan with one heaping cup of red wine. Don’t fall for the “cooking wine” tricks here – you want to use something dry, bold in flavor, and that you would enjoy drinking. If you don’t enjoy the taste of it uncooked, then you really won’t like it once it’s reduced and concentrated. I used a Côtes du Rhône because I still had some left over from my Coq Au Vin, and it was just enough for this recipe. The Côtes du Rhône gave my sauce a bold, deep flavor, and I highly suggest it if you can find it in your grocery store. (I found mine at Costco for around $10).

Finally, add the whole can of crushed tomatoes with their juice and a touch more salt and pepper. Place the lid on your pan, and let it simmer on medium heat for about 10-12 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue simmering until sauce is reduced and thickened.

Turn off the heat, taste and adjust for seasoning, then add one large handful of fresh chopped parsley.

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What you end up with is a bold, hearty, sauce that’s slightly fruity from the red wine. It’s perfect to use right away, or you can cool and package it up for Italian night later in the week (all it will need is some heat). Like I said earlier, this sauce only gets better with time, so there are no disappointing leftovers here.

Sunday Bolognese (THM S)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2lbs ground beef (I used grassfed 85% lean)
  • 1 heaping cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced (leafy greens included)
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1 large handful chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Start by browning the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Season with garlic powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Add the onions, shallots, garlic, celery, grated carrot, and a touch more salt and pepper. Continue sautéing until onions begin to get soft, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. De-glaze the pan with the red wine, then add the crushed tomatoes and a little more salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid and continue simmering another 10 minutes, until sauce is thickened and slightly reduced.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the parsley, taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately, or cool and store until future use.

Low Carb Chicken and Spinach White Pizza (THM S)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

Pizza night is always my kids’ favorite night. To be honest, it’s my favorite night too! When you can get a quality pizza thrown together and baked in about half an hour, how could you not love it?

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White pizza is a fun change-up from regular pizza, and helps keep the carbs down since there’s no sauce involved.

The crust of the pizza is fathead pizza dough, which is mozzarella cheese (the bagged kind is usually best), cream cheese, egg, and fine almond flour. In my pre-THM days, I used to make my own pizza crust, and I am SO GLAD there’s an easier method that’s actually better for you. No waiting around for the dough to rise, and it comes together in about 5 minutes.

Start the dough by combining the mozzarella and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl, and heat for about 1 minute at a time until the cheese is fully melted.

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Stir it together, it should be hot and stringy. Add the fine almond flour, and stir again. Adding the flour before the egg allows the mixture to cool slightly so that the egg won’t cook as you add it to the dough.

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Add the egg, and stir until it’s fully incorporated. It takes some muscle work, just so you know. When it’s fully mixed, the dough should like like the photo on the right, below.

Next, place your dough onto a 10-12-in round pizza pan lined with parchment, and with slightly damp hands begin to press it out.

Dab the surface with a fork to keep it from puffing up too much while baking.

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Next, combine the butter, dried parsley, granulated garlic, a pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter), and some pepper. Use a silicone brush and brush the crust (not the edges yet) with the seasoned butter.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. This helps ensure that you have a cooked, crispy crust at the end.

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Next, pile on the toppings: diced chicken, shallots, garlic, cheese, spinach, and crumbled bacon.

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Now brush that buttery garlic mixture onto the outer crust, and dust the whole thing with some grated parmesan cheese.

Now bake that baby for another 10-12 minutes, until hot and bubbly Flavortown (Any Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives fans out there?!) deliciousness.

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THAT is a thing of beauty.

Crispy and slightly salty on the edges from that parmesan. Cheesy, flavorful, fresh, and meaty toppings – delivery ain’t got nothin’ on this, baby!

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My favorite pizza finisher is a pinch of red pepper flakes for an extra kick. Serve this bad boy with a big, green salad (with homemade ranch, perhaps?) and call it a wonderful night.

Chicken & Spinach White Pizza (THM S)

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

    For the dough:
  • 1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c fine almond flour
  • pinch of salt
  • Toppings:
  • 1 heaping cup cooked diced chicken
  • 2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • about 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and ringed of its water
  • additional 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the dough, combine the mozzarella and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute at a time until cheeses are fully melted, hot, and stringy.
  3. Add the almond flour and salt.
  4. Add the egg.
  5. Press the dough into a 10-inch round pizza pan, lined with parchment, and perforate with a fork.
  6. Melt the butter and stir in the parsley, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper. Brush the crust (not the outer edge yet) with the butter, and bake for 10 minutes at 375.
  7. Remove the crust, and spread the rest (reserving the parmesan for the end) of the toppings all over the top of the pizza.
  8. Brush the outer crust with the butter mixture, then dust the whole pie with grated parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake at 375 for another 10-12 minutes, or until browned, hot, and bubbly.
  10. Cut and serve!

Low Carb Parmesan Garlic Biscuits (THM S)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

As I was making my zucc-ghetti and meatballs last week, I was really itching for a dunker. You know, something you can pull apart and use to scoop up spaghetti sauce remnants. Don’t pretend like you don’t do it. Everyone does.

I didn’t want to crossover, so I decided to whip up some garlic biscuits.

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The gluten free flour base I used was a mix of fine almond flour and coconut flour. If you have THM Baking Blend, you can also use that in place of the almond flour.

The best thing about this recipe is how easy it is. It comes together in one bowl, and the ingredients are pretty straight forward. (I don’t know about you, but I personally love recipes that are easy to make, and don’t require my entire pantry.)

Start by combining all the ingredients except the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk the eggs together before adding them to the rest of your ingredients, and combine using a fork or pastry cutter, if you have it. The mixture should be homogeneous and easy-to-form. (Not too dry!)

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The dough should stick together without feeling dry or crumbly.

Form the dough into palm-sized domes with your hands, and place it into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place the dough about 1/2 inch apart, as they will puff/spread a little.

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Brush the tops with some melted butter, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.

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Puffy, soft, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

You can brush the tops with a little more melted butter after baking, if you wish. It helps keep them moist.

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Low Carb Parmesan Garlic Biscuits (THM S)

  • Servings: Makes 6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine all ingredients except eggs in a medium-sized bowl, and begin to cut together. Add the beaten eggs and continue cutting until the fully mixed. The mixture should stick together without feeling dry or crumbly.
  3. Form the dough into palm-sized domes and place in a 10-inch cast iron skillet about 1/2 an inch apart.
  4. Brush the tops with melted butter, and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, and apply more melted butter to the tops (if you wish). Serve immediately (while they last!).

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One Pot Chicken Cacciatore (THM E)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

Chicken cacciatore is one of my husband’s favorite meals, and it occurred to me recently that I almost never make this dish. Besides this time, I think I’ve made it one other time in the 10 years we’ve been together. Madness! I know.

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If you haven’t had chicken cacciatore before, it’s basically a rustic Italian chicken stew with vegetables and tomatoes. This stew came together in about an hour. The chicken was perfectly tender, the sauce was rich and flavorful, and the veggies were wonderfully stewed.

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I just picked up a new dutch oven yesterday, and I have no idea how I survived without one. Seriously! This big, heavy pot holds your meal, cooks it perfectly, and the clean up couldn’t be easier. With it being enameled cast iron, I know the temperature will hold and stay fairly constant throughout the cooking process.

Let’s start with the chicken. I used 1 pound each of chicken breasts and thighs for this meal. I know, thighs are typically a no-no for an E meal. However, the 1 pound of thighs only contains about 16g of fat and this recipe feeds about 8 people (maybe more), so you’re well within the limits of fat for an E.

For vegetables, I used onions, garlic, red bell peppers, diced tomatoes, and capers. If capers are unfamiliar to you, they are delicious little olive-like, briny pearls. They have a taste and texture similar to olives, but they don’t have any fat.

I seasoned the stew using dried oregano, white wine (something dry, like this pinot grigio), chicken stock, fresh parsley, and basil. The stewed tomatoes I used were also seasoned with basil, garlic, and oregano, for a deep, herbal base.

At the end, I tossed in the capers and a handful of fresh parsley, then served with a few leaves of fresh basil.

You have a couple of E-friendly choices for serving up this stew: over brown rice, plan-approved pasta, or cooked quinoa. Or you can skip all those and serve it as is, with some crusty sourdough for dipping ^_~. I chose to serve it over rice, which my kids love, and it helps stretch the meal a little further. My husband enjoyed it as a stew without the rice, and BOY did he love it. He ate some the first night I made it, and then the following afternoon for lunch. He made sure to tell me each time he ate it that this recipe was a definite keeper. [SCORE!]

The beauty about cooking with dutch ovens is you can take this straight from the oven/burner right over  to the table for serving. Tada!

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Get. In. My. Belly.

Serve this up as a quick weeknight meal with leftovers for lunch, or as an impressive, crowd-pleasing holiday dinner.

One Pot Chicken Cacciatore (THM E)

  • Servings: 8+
  • Time: 1 hour, 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 2lbs boneless skinless chicken, breasts only or 1lb breasts and 1lb thighs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, or coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, oregano, and basil with juice
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • handful fresh parsley
  • torn basil leaves for serving
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat with the butter.
  2. In two batches, brown the chicken pieces on both sides. (You’re not looking to cook them completely.) Remove the chicken to a plate.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper, and saute for 5-6 minutes until onions start to become translucent.
  4. Add the dried oregano, then de-glaze the pan with the wine (using your spoon to pick up the bits off the bottom of the pan). Reduce the wine for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes with juice, chicken stock, and the browned chicken pieces (with any juice from the plate). Cover and simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes.
  6. After simmering 30 minutes covered, take the lid off and simmer about another 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about 1/3.
  7. Turn off the heat. Add the drained capers, fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with your choice of rice, pasta, quinoa, or bread, and sprinkle with torn fresh basil.

Zucc-ghetti and Stuffed Meatballs

I’m in love with my spiralizer. It makes low-carb life so easy and tasty.

My toddler loves helping me make “noodles,” and sometimes she even eats them.

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Zucc-ghetti and Stuffed Meatballs (THM S)

  • 1-lb ground beef (I used 85/15)
  • 1 Tsp dried minced onion
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c shredded Asiago cheese (Parmesan is also fine)
  • 2 sticks mozzarella string cheese
  • 2 small zucchini
  • your favorite jarred (no sugar added) or homemade marinara
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

For the meatballs, add the ground beef, minced onion, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, egg, Asiago, salt and pepper to a small bowl and mix with your hands until just combined. Careful not to over-mix! The meatballs will be tough if you work the meat too much.

Cut the string cheese into small medallions.

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Take a tablespoon of the meat mixture into your hand, take one medallion of cheese and press it into the center. Cover with about another tablespoon of the meat mixture and set into a foil-lined pan or cast iron skillet.

Once you get through all the meatballs, bake the meatballs at 375 for about  10 minutes.

Spiralize the zucchini, thick or thin, however you like it.

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Begin heating the marinara sauce through in a medium sauce pan over low heat.

After the meatballs have cooked for 10 minutes, take them out and transfer them into the sauce to finish cooking, about another 5 minutes.

You can leave the  noodles raw and allow the hot marinara to cook them slightly, or you can lightly saute them in a little butter with salt and pepper until just tender.

Zucchini hold a LOT of water, so be aware of that when you’re cooking – be careful not to add liquid to it or coat it in too much EVOO/butter. If you have the time or desire, you can lightly press the noodles between paper towels to try and remove some water before serving.

YUM.

I also served mine with a side Caesar salad – croutons included! It was a mix of romaine and spinach, topped with crumbled cooked bacon, Parmesan whisps (crunchy “crackers” made with just cheese), and a sprinkle of Asiago cheese.

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Perfection. ^_^

Eggplant Parmesan on a Budget

Eggplant’s a great vegetable to use pretty much any time of the year. It stays relatively cheap on produce price, and the texture is beefy enough to make you and your family feel filled on a hearty vegetable. After doing the math on this recipe start to finish, it’s about as cheap as it gets to feed a crowd (granted, I was only cooking for 2.5 but that makes for great freezer leftovers!).  With a few make-ahead items like the homemade bread crumbs, which I’m about to show you, and marinara sauce it really brought down the total cost of my meal (which could have fed a family of 4 easily).

Homemade Bread Crumbs

  • Leftover bread, any variety (I used white and wheat sandwich bread)
  • Italian seasoning, if using

First, stick your bread slices into your food processor. They don’t have to be stale, baked, or anything – just throw what you have in there.

Start pulsing until your bread begins to break down. When you have manageable crumbles, give it one or two big whirls to get it to the fine texture you want.

Pile it onto a large baking sheet in as thin of a layer as you can get (no oil, no seasoning at this point), then bake at 300 for about 10-12 minutes.

I gave mine a stir to break them up a little after the first 1o minutes and put them back in for another 3 minutes. They don’t get much darker after being baked, but they should feel crunchy and dry to the touch.

For this recipe I used about 6 slices of bread (2 pieces were dinky end pieces, so I count those as 2 for 1 normal piece) from a loaf that was originally $1, which got me about 2 1/2 cups of crumbs.

Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups bread crumbs (Mine were plain and I added Italian seasoning. If your’s are already seasoned, leave out the seasoning)
  • 1 Tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups Homemade Marinara Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese (I’ll explain why I used this, I know it’s a little weird)
  • S&P (salt & pepper)
  • Oil for frying (I used olive, but canola or whatever you have on hand is fine)

Start out by cleaning and slicing your eggplant. Cut both ends off and slice it into about 1/4” thick rounds.

Begin heating your oil in the pan on medium heat, just do a light coating for the entire bottom. Warning* eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge, so you’ll have to keep adding oil as the pan dries out. To keep it from soaking up too much, keep your coating in the pan light.

Set up your breading station – 1 shallow pan with the beaten egg and a splash of water and another pan or plate with the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, & S&P.

Coat the eggplant slices lightly in egg, then bread crumbs, and line them on a baking sheet until you’re ready to drop them in the pan.

When you have a few slices ready to go, drop them in your hot pan. Unless you’re using a large skillet, don’t have any more than about 3 slices in your pan at a time. Otherwise, the pan gets too crowded and the slices won’t brown evenly. The browning process only takes 2-3 minutes on each side.

After they’ve browned, line them into your baking dish (I overlapped mine, so it’s fine if you do too).

Coat the slices lightly with marinara as you layer the cooked eggplant.

Cover first with Parmesan, then with Monterrey Jack.

OK, the reason I used Monterrey Jack is a little convoluted. I wanted Mozzarella for this recipe, and when I visited Kroger, they didn’t have Mozzarella in the size block I wanted (only an 8oz block instead of 16oz, and both were on sale for the same price – why wouldn’t I want the 16oz?). So they kindly allowed me to buy the 24-oz size of Monterrey Jack for the same price as the 8 or 16-oz Mozzarella (which ended up saving me $2.19 – HUGE). In the end, Monterrey Jack is so mild and melty I really wasn’t missing the Mozzarella anyway.

You could bake at 350 for about 20 minutes if you like. Since my casserole stayed pretty hot, I just decided to broil it on low until the cheese was hot and bubbly. I had my dish on the 3rd row from the top of the oven so that I didn’t run the risk of burning anything (which happens sometimes with my broiler luck).

Mmm…hot, bubbly, stringy cheese – come to momma!

Final Tally on My Eggplant Parmesan

  • Homemade bread crumbs = $0.30
  • Homemade marinara sauce = $1.33
  • Cheese = $0.17 (MJ = $0.12, Parm = $0.05)
  • Egg = $0.10
  • Eggplant = ~ $0.40 (It was on sale for $0.69/lb and I bought 2 for $0.67- 1 large and 1 small. I only ended up using the large for this recipe)

Total = $2.30 – AMAZING! This recipe could absolutely feed a family of 4 (a serving size being 4-5 eggplant slices per person).  Can’t get Eggplant Parm in any Italian restaurant for under $8, I’ll tell you that right now!