Jan 272013

I was out for dinner with some of my friends on Friday night, and we an amazing portobello mushroom appetizer.  I realized I hadn’t actually had mushrooms, or made anything with mushrooms in ages, and that app reminded me how much I love them.  Well, they make a BIG comeback in this post.  My usual go to pizza topping now becomes the pizza itself.  These are super easy to make, healthy, can have any topping combo imaginable and can be either an adorable appetizer at a party or dinner any night of the week.  Can you tell I’m excited about these?

The process took only about 30 minutes from start to finish.  After cleaning and removing the gills from the mushroom, I brushed them with garlic oil and baked for 10 minutes.  Then I added some sauce, low fat cheese, and toppings and popped them back in for a a few more minutes.  Topped with a little fresh basil, parm, and red pepper flakes and these were totally perfect.  I have to be honest, they’re not the same as pizza (no crispy crust), but they have all the flavors, plus the rich meatiness of the portobello.  I foresee myself making these again and again for a quick dinner, and maybe even cut into fourths as a super bowl appetizer!

Nutrition highlights:  I’m always a big supporter of making pizza at home.  That way you can control exactly what goes into it–low fat cheese instead of the greasy stuff that requires lots of napkin blotting, healthy vegetable and meat toppings instead, etc.  Also, if you’re trying to cut back on carbs, this is a great recipe for you.  You can make them totally vegetarian if you want (the margarita version I made with tomato and basil is) or you can add low fat meats like the chicken italian sausage I used on the other one.  The portobello itself also provides lots of selenium and B2, and are said to be great for our immune systems (which this time of year, can’t hurt a bit).  

Portobello Pizzas


  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • Pizza sauce
  • Part skim low moisture shredded mozzarella (you could also use any other cheeses you like)
  • Toppings: I did fresh tomato and basil on one, chicken sausage, green pepper, and onion on the other.  Any toppings work!
  • Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, etc for that last touch
1. Preheat oven to 375.  Clean mushrooms with a damp papertowel or mushroom brush.  Using a spoon, gently scrape out the gills from the inside of the cap (they can be bitter, but are fine to eat if you want to keep them).  Remove any remaining stem.  
2.  Mix olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Rub both sides of the mushrooms with the mixture and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake cup side up for 10 minutes.
3.  Take the mushrooms out of the oven and turn the temperature up to 450.  They have probably released some liquid at this point so try to dry them off with paper towel as much as possible.  
4.  Spread inside with a little tomato sauce, top with shredded cheese, and toppings.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes.  Then turn oven to broiler setting and broil for 1-2 minutes so cheese can get bubbly and brown.  
5.  Let cool 5-10 minutes.  Serve whole with a nice salad for dinner or cut into fourths and serve as an appetizer at your next party!!


Jul 272012

Nothing says summer to me like good tomatoes.  My mom grows the BEST tomatoes every summer and growing up I would eat them straight off the vine because they were that sweet.  Since I can’t be at home to enjoy them this year, I found a close second to mom’s…baby heirlooms at the farmers market.  I wanted to find a recipe that showcased the tomatoes without overpowering it and I found just that.  These Herbed Ricotta and Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Balsamic Reduction will be my new go to summer appetizer…and trust me, they will impress your guests.

There’s a little bit of prep work involved in making these, but once you make your 4 components (toasted or grilled bread, herbed ricotta, chopped tomatoes, and balsamic reduction) building the crostini’s are super easy.  I can’t even pinpoint what it was that made these so ridiculously good…maybe the garlic and herbs in the ricotta, maybe the freshness of the tomatoes, the sweetness of the balsamic, or even just how beautiful and colorful they looked.  Well whatever it was made these one of my favorite recipes I’ve made in a while and I highly recommend it!

Nutritional highlights:  By using thinly sliced multigrain baguette in this recipe, I add fiber and healthy whole grains.  Tomatoes are an amazing source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and you get the most of it when they’re in their peak season (aka, now).  Ricotta is naturally one of the lower fat cheeses out there–only 50 calories and 4 g of fat per ounce compared with 116 calories and 10 g of fat in cheddar cheese.  By adding lots of fresh herbs and garlic, a little goes a long way on these crostini.  Overall this appetizer is a healthy addition to your summer party and you will not regret making them!

Herbed Ricotta and Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Balsamic Reduction

adapted from Authentic Suburban Gourmet
Makes approximately 14 

Multigrain or whole wheat baguette, cut into 14 thin
1 C. Ricotta cheese
3 T. Chives, diced small
3 T. Basil, chiffonade 
2 T. Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced 
Salt and pepper
1 C. Small heirloom tomatoes cut in half
½ C. Balsamic vinegar

Brush or spary each slice of baguette with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake, broil, or grill until golden brown. Let cool.

In a bowl add the ricotta, chives, basil, olive oil and garlic and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and taste for additional seasonings.  Cut your tomatoes, place in another bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside.

In a small sauté pan add the balsamic vinegar and heat over medium high heat. Reduce the mixture for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to watch carefully. You will want it to resemble a syrup consistency. Let cool. 

To assemble, add about one tablespoon of the ricotta mixture to the top of the toasted baguette slices. Top with about 5 to 6 of the tomato halves. Drizzle with a bit of the reduced balsamic and garnish with additional basil if you’d like. Serve and enjoy!

May 162012

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know by now that pizza is my favorite food.  It’s not even a contest.  You’d think that a future nutritionist would try to pick something a little more vegetabely as a favorite food, but then I’d be lying.  Reasons I love pizza include but are not limited to:
1) Most varieties involve cheese.  And I love cheese.
2) There are endless possible combinations…veggies, meats, cheeses, crusts, sauces.  
3) Even though it can be considered a junk food, with whole wheat crust, low fat cheese, and healthy toppings, you don’t even have to feel guilty eating it.  
So I never miss an opportunity to try and interesting pizza recipe, so when I saw this Fig and Arugula pizza in bon apetit last month, I knew I had to try it.  

This one is a perfect appetizer to impress guests.  It has a fig/marsala reduction sauce, goat cheese, and is topped with a light salad of arugula and pear slices.  It’s a great sweet/savory combo and has so many great textural elements between the crisp crust, soft figs, creamy goat cheese, juicy pears, and crunch arugula (woahhh adjectives). 

Nutritional Highlights:  As far as pizza’s go, this one is moderately healthy.  The crust is whole wheat (yay fiber and whole grains) and I rolled it out as thin as possible so we’re not carbo loading here.  The sauce is made up of dried figs and marsala, and although dried figs have a pretty high sugar content, they’re also high in fiber, Vitamins ( K, B6, and thiamin) and minerals (copper and manganese).  The salad on top is super healthy too.  When compared to iceberg, Arugula contains about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron as the same amount of iceberg lettuce.  Pears have lots of fiber, and vitamin C and K.  As far as cheese goes, goat cheese is lower in fat and calories than many other hard cheeses, and on this pizza we only use a small amount.  So overall, this pizza is pretty darn good for you!

Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula
adapted from bon apetit


  • 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 pear, cored, thinly sliced
  • whole wheat pizza dough (I used trader joe’s brand, but you can also make your own if you’re less lazy than I am!)
  • Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add figs, Marsala, and rosemary. Increase heat. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often and adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until figs are soft and jam measures 1 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Preheat oven to 450°. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a very thin 10″ rounds. Cover with a kitchen towel. 
  • Place 1 dough round on each of 2 baking sheets (or use your pre heated pizza stone if you have one). Bake for 3–4 minutes to partially cook. Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Spread 3–4 Tbsp. fig jam over each crust; scatter 2 oz. goat cheese over each. Bake in batches until crust is crisp, 4–5 minutes. 
  • Toss arugula, pear, and remaining 1 tsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Top pizzas with salad.