Meat Lover’s Pizza Dip

So, I heard there’s a big football game coming up pretty soon. And y’all know me, any excuse to make & eat party food. This pizza dip would be great for a Super Bowl party (or any party), for after school snacking, or you can go crazy and eat it for dinner (which is exactly what my husband did one night recently.) It can be a low-carb alternative to traditional pizza, depending on what you eat it with.

Meat Lovers Pizza Dip

You can also add whatever pizza toppings you like. I made this a ‘Meat Lover’s’ version, full of (turkey) pepperoni, seasoned ground beef, and bacon. Sausage and Canadian Bacon would have been good too.

Meatza Pizza Dip

This is a cheesy, creamy dip, that is good with tortilla chips, corn chips, pita chips, toasted French bread, bread sticks, and the list goes on. I wasn’t a big fan of the pretzels used in the above pic however. They turned a little soft & I didn’t like the texture. Of course, the dip is also good eaten with a spoon!

Pizza Dip

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Recipe adapted from Belle of the Kitchen and my Pizza Casserole

As you can see, the amounts and ingredients are very versatile. Anything you like on pizza will probably work well in this dip. Feel free to add more or less meat, cheese, and spices.

Will you be watching the Super Bowl? Thought about what food you will be serving? That is the most important part, right?
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) Little Miss DexterousThe Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife (Sunday) My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies

Lasagna with Italian Sausage {#sponsored}

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sargento. All opinions are 100% mine.

With the holidays upon us, lots of people are probably thinking of ham, turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. At least that is the traditional fare in my house. However, over the years I have heard several people say that their traditional meal includes lasagna. I have a friend who will visit her parents and her in-laws on Thanksgiving, so she has turkey, ham, etc at lunch, but for dinner, her mother-in-law prepares lasagna and some different dishes that incorporates their family’s heritage. I think that is a pretty neat idea.

Since I’ve been thinking about lasagna non-stop, I decided it was time to make it. I had homemade Italian turkey sausage in the freezer, so I decided to use that for the meat sauce, but you could use ground beef, ground turkey, or skip the meat all together. You could use roasted vegetables, as well. I added a little kale in with the meat, but just a little, and chopped very fine because my kids can spot something green in their food a mile away. When they asked what the flecks of green were, I told them they were herbs. No, I don’t advocate lying to your children, but, well, I will lie to mine if it means getting some vegetables in them. (And technically, there are herbs in there.) Of course, the most important component of lasagna, in my opinion, is the CHEESE. Mo’ cheese is mo’betta in my house.

My plan was to pick up mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan but then I saw the Sargento Chef Blends Shredded 6 Cheese Italian and I thought, YES! It’s a blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina, Romano and Asiago. Why limit myself?! I also used sliced Provolone and shredded Parmesan. What can I say, I really like cheese.

Lasagna takes some time and isn’t exactly ‘quick and easy’, but it is definitely worth it. I would also say this was Holiday worthy as well!

Lasagna with Italian Sausage

  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (I used homemade Italian turkey sausage)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kale, stem removed, finely chopped (desired amount, optional)
  • 1 jar (approx 24 oz.) or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese if you prefer)
  • 1 cup Sargento Artisan Blends Shredded Parmesan Cheese, divided
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9-12 lasagna noodles (depending on pan size, mine held 9)
  • 8 oz. Sargento Chef Blends Shredded 6 Italian Cheese
  • 6 slices of Sargento Provolone (or 12 if using the Ultra Thin sliced)
  • olive oil (for drizzling bottom of pan)
  1. Prepare meat sauce by browning ground meat on medium high heat (if not using Italian sausage, then season meat with salt and pepper, to taste) with the onion, garlic, and kale (if using). Once meat is cooked through and onions are tender, drain any fat and add the spaghetti sauce and crushed red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, Italian seasoning and salt. Set aside.
  3. Boil lasagna noodles per instructions on box for al dente.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  5. Arrange 3 to 4 lasagna noodles in bottom of pan, side by side (mine held 3).
  6. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over noodles.
  7. Top cheese mixture with 1/3 of the meat sauce.
  8. Top meat sauce with 1/4 of the Shredded 6 Cheese Italian cheese.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 two more times.
  10. After the last layer is complete, place the 6 slices of Provolone cheese on top along with remaining Parmesan.
  11. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbly (40-45 minutes). Then remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbling.
  12. Let lasagna cool for 15-20 minutes before serving (if you can wait that long, we couldn’t!)

Recipe adapted from South Your Mouth


Look at all that cheese! Can you see why I’m a fan of Sargento Shredded Cheese? Well, not just the shredded, we use the sliced all the time too. We love Swiss, Provolone, and Cheddar on our sandwiches. If you love cheese too, then check out Sargento on Pinterest. There are lots of recipes available!

Also, Sargento currently has a recipe contest going on. Head to Sargento on Facebook to find out all the details and enter to win! You have to submit an original recipe and photo of a dish featuring a Sargento Shredded Natural Cheese variety, plus an explanation of why using real, fresh-tasting ingredients like Sargento Shredded Natural Cheese matters to you. The Facebook recipe contest winner will receive $2,000 toward kitchen supplies and ingredients for the perfect holiday meal, plus a year’s supply of Sargento Shredded Natural Cheese. Sounds good to me!

I’m curious, what do your traditional Holiday meals include?

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Super Bowl Round-Up

If some of you are like me and just now digging out from the snow, you may be heading to the grocery store to stock up on supplies for the game tomorrow. I may not know who’s playing, but I have my Super Bowl menu pretty much figured out – priorities.

(Pictured, left to right)
and if you like any of those, you may also like:
Chicken BBQ in the Crockpot
-OR-
“Cheater” Chili (super quick and easy, 3 ingredients!)
and just a suggestion, but the best chips ever (IMO)
Let’s not forget the dessert!
Chicago Mix (for the sweet and salty lover – just sub out the candy corn for your favorite candy!)
Looking for something simple and low fat? The 2-Ingredient Angel Food Cake is the ticket.
Or, need something low carb?
These Cinnamon Crunchies will satisfy the low-carber’s sweet tooth!
You can also turn almost anything you have on hand into a delicious flatbread or pizza…just stock up on some Stonefire Flatbreads. They are delicious!
{Disclosure} I was sent samples to try, and there will definitely be more of these in my future. Expect some recipe posts soon!
You can also keep things neat and tidy by having Stonefire Pita Bread ready for filling at your Super Bowl gathering. That way, when people jump up and down, the contents won’t go flying everywhere 🙂 Yep, always thinking over here. ha!
Have a great weekend!

Pizza Puffs & Cookbook Review + GIVEAWAY!

One of my favorite food bloggers is Nicole of Prevention RD. I’ve been reading her blog for years now, and she has inspired me to try many new things…like tofu! Yes, my family wasn’t thrilled with that, but I discovered tofu isn’t so bad 🙂 We share the desire to take our favorite foods and lighten them up, and that healthy eating can be delicious! I was very excited for her when she announced she was writing a cookbook, and I was even more excited when I was contacted by the publisher to review the book! Not only that, they are offering a free copy to one of you!!

You know when you start looking over a cookbook, and immediately start bookmarking pages that it’s a good one. One of the first recipes in the book is for Pizza Puffs, and I knew they had to be made immediately. My kids and I love all things pizza!

Pizza Puffs from Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking Cookbook

3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup fat free milk
1 egg, lightly beaten (I used Egg Beaters since I was out of eggs)
4 oz. (1 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
34 slices turkey pepperoni, quartered (I used about 20)
1/2 cup pizza sauce (homemade or store-bought; I used this easy version)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and oregano; whisk in milk and egg. Stir in mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand 10 minutes.
Stir batter, and divide among mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes.
Warm pizza sauce, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Sprinkle puffs with remaining 1 tablespoon basil. (I omitted) Serve puffs with pizza sauce for dipping. (if desired, my kids didn’t want sauce.)
Yield:
24 pizza puffs
Nutrition Information (per pizza puff):
38 calories; 1.4 g fat; 14 mg cholesterol; 123 mg sodium; 3.5 g carbohydrate; 0.1 g fiber; 3.0 g protein (stats per book)
*using the above stats, I calculated these as 1 Weight Watchers Point Plus (per puff)!
These made a great portable meal for the kids the other evening when we they had an insane schedule and had to actually eat dinner between volleyball games. I preferred them at room temp, so they will be great to pack for lunches at school, to have as appetizers, you name it! (When hot they are puffy and airy with melty cheese; when cooled they are more dense like actual pizza bites – they are good both ways!)
The cookbook is like Nicole’s blog, it has a wide variety of recipes with amazing pictures of each dish. The next on my list to make is the Greek Orzo and the Chocolate Dutch Baby. I’ve also already made Oven Fried Pickles from the book! It’s also the perfect time of year to try the Lightened-Apple Crisp, and the Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze looks absolutely amazing!
So who’s interested in Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking Cookbook with 100 Light and Delicious Recipes?! Just enter via the rafflecopter form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure – As stated in the post, I was given a copy of the cookbook for review. All opinions are my own.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I know I have had a lot of sponsored posts as of late, and not as many recipes, but things have been a little crazy around here.  My 5 year old has been sick for over 2 weeks now, and I just haven’t had the time to do  the blog planning, menu planning, or cooking that I had been doing before.  My little one had been dealing with allergies, and was getting along pretty well, but then got a virus that went straight to his chest and caused  the worst asthma flare-up he has ever had.  We ended up in the ER for the first time ever.  Can I just say…NOT. FUN. As he was trying to get over all that, he has gotten a sinus infection on top of it. AND ‘pink eye’…in both eyes. He is really having a hard time, and his poor little immune system can’t take much more! So, say a little prayer for his health, and my sanity. He was up and down all night last night due to the fever and discomfort. Needless to say, mama is tired!  It’s days like this when I love the ease (and comfort!) of a casserole.

I have seen a version of this recipe from numerous sources on Pinterest, and the first time I made it, I followed the directions and used raw chicken in the casserole…letting it all cook at one time.  The flavor was really good, but the casserole had a lot of “liquid” in it.  All I could think of is…’ewwww, chicken juice!’  The idea of my casserole floating in chicken fat just kind of grossed me out. However, I love Chicken Parmesan and decided to give the casserole another shot, but pre-cooking my chicken.
This is definitely my preferred method. Yes, it is an extra step, but it eliminates all the extra liquid.  I actually cooked my chicken in the crock pot, so all I had to do was shred the chicken when I was ready to prepare my casserole. However, I think I would prefer chunks of chicken in this, so next time I will just boil it. (I know, I’m picky right?!)
Chicken Parmesan Casserole

adapted from: Emily Bites

2 lbs cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (shredded or cubed)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 cups favorite pasta sauce 
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 oz Parmesan cheese, divided (I didn’t actually measure this, I just sprinkled some on!)
3.5-5 oz bag of croutons, roughly crushed (I used a garlic and cheese flavor)


*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
*Spread the cubed chicken across the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish (lightly sprayed with cooking spray) in a single layer. 
*Sprinkle the garlic, red pepper flakes and basil evenly over the chicken. 
*Top chicken with the pasta sauce in an even layer.
*Sprinkle 1 cup of the Mozzarella and one ounce of the Parmesan evenly across the top. 
*Add the crushed croutons, then remaining cheese.
*Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 mins or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.


I am linking this recipe up at (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaHolly’s Stamping AddictionThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!, Huckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxBlessed with GraceLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew Life (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My TimeCherished Handmade Treasures  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee’s(Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryMummy DealsOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home (Saturday) Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ Stuff (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet Confessions 

Yay! This recipe has been featured at Nap Time Creations and the Weekend Potluck!

nap-time creations

Low Carb Pizza Crust (that you can pick up, hold and fold!)

I’m not a newbie to low carb, and I’ve experimented with different low carb pizza crusts before. There was the egg and cream cheese crust and a previous cauliflower pizza crust attempt. The cauliflower crust had potential, so I decided to give it another try after I saw ‘The Secret to Perfect Cauliflower Pizza Crust‘ by The Detoxinista.  The key, she said, was to really squeeze all the liquid from the cauliflower before mixing your other ingredients.  I gave it a try.

Tip: Make your crust thicker than you think you need bc it will flatten out quite a bit once cooked (because of the moisture drying out.)  Once you bake your crust, add toppings and bake a few more minutes.
We had a little meat lover’s action going on.
But check it out!  Low carb pizza that you can pick up, hold, and fold, just like regular pizza!  Pretty cool.
It is also pretty tasty.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to add more spices to the crust.  The cauliflower has a little natural sweetness to it once baked, so I think adding more spices would help.

 Cauliflower Pizza Crust 

adapted from The Detoxinista – my changes in italics
{makes 1 large crust}

4 cups raw cauliflower ‘rice’*
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
pinch of salt

*pulse cauliflower in a blender or food processor to achieve a rice-like consistency

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Cook your cauliflower ‘rice’ by boiling about an inch of water in a large pot.  Add the cauliflower, and cover. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, then drain with a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Place your drained cauliflower ‘rice’ on a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, and squeeze all the water out! This is the key to having a crust that will hold together! Be careful, the cauliflower and water is hot, but squeeze it good (rubber gloves are handy for this step!)
  4. In a large bowl, mix your strained rice with the beaten egg, cheese, and spices. Mix well.
  5. Press the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed aluminum foil (mine still stuck to the foil a little, but not bad) into your desired pizza shape. Keep it about 1/3 to 1/2 inch in thickness.
  6. Bake crust for 35-40 mins in preheated oven. The crust should be firm and golden brown when done.
  7. Remove crust from oven and add toppings of choice.  I used pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, Canadian bacon, and real bacon bits, and cheese, of course!  Return the pizza to the oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
 **There are excellent step by step pics in the original post.

 

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

I am generally not a huge fan of baked spaghetti.  It seems like when I have made it in the past, it was always  kind of dry, or ‘paste-y’ if that makes since.  However, when I saw this Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti over at Plain Chicken, I thought I would give it a try.  I am so glad I did!  It was the best baked spaghetti I have ever had!  I was pleasantly surprised, and I will definitely be making this again.  I made just a few changes to the original recipe (in italics).

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

12 oz spaghetti *I used Barilla Plus – a higher protein pasta w/a lower glycemic index
1 (28 ounce) jars prepared spaghetti sauce
1 lb lean ground beef *I omitted & added turkey pepperoni instead
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces cream cheese *I used fat free
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated *I used a little extra 🙂

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Cook spaghetti according to directions on packet.  Drain and place cooked spaghetti in bowl.  Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning and minced garlic.  Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated. 

Add pepperoni to spaghetti sauce.

Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.  Spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Put spaghetti on top of sauce and top with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Verdict? The end result is a warm, creamy, cheesy plate of yumminess!  

I’m linking up today with Simple Living and Eating, Just Us Four; Bacon Time with Hungry, Hungry, Hypo; Six Sisters’ Stuff, Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Simply Sweet Home, Rattlebridge Farm, Miss Information, Foodie Friends Friday, Close to Home, Mommy’s Sweet Confessions, Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Panzanella Salad

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of salads, but I am all about some bread.  So, give me a bread salad and I’m pretty happy.  Of course, ‘bread salad’ sounds boring, so we’ll call it by it’s Italian name….Panzanella Salad.  That makes it sound all fancy….except I white-trashed it up by adding bacon bits. (so now it’s sorta a BLT-nella salad, but let’s not get technical.)

As you can see, I went a little heavy on the bread! I also added spinach and arugula. (ok, AND bacon)  What can I say? I’m not Italian.

Panzanella Salad (or BLT salad)

loosely adapted from A Foodie Affair
  • 4 cups stale (1 to 3 day-old bread) Italian-style bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes*
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced  I used cherry tomatoes and cut them in half
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 whole roasted red peppers in the jar I omitted b/c I forgot to pick some up at the store
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow peppers I used green pepper since that is what I had on hand
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted  I omitted b/c I hate olives
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  I used Asiago since that is what I had
  • Peppered bacon bits (optional)
  • Spinach & Arugula (optional)
*I bought my bread from the clearance bakery items at Wal-Mart & I think my cubes were closer to 1″ than 1/2!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer; drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to lightly coat cubes. Dry in oven approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Make dressing with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar. I used an envelope of Good Seasons salad dressing based on A Foodie Affair‘s recommendation.
  3. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green peppers, basil, coarse salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently to coat; let stand for at least a half-hour.
  4. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving and bring the salad to room temperature. Before serving, add bread cubes and sprinkle with Asiago cheese and bacon if using! Add salad dressing and serve on a bed of spinach and arugula if desired.

The salad was delish, whatever name you want to give my version!

And let’s not forget…today is SEPTEMBER 11th.  I don’t care how long it has been…the very thought of what happened on 9/11 sends chills down my arms, gives me a heavy heart, and makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time.  I did not know anyone who lost their life during the attacks of 9/11, but I mourn for them. I remember them. And I cherish their memories and give thanks to all the heroes of that day.
I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
MAY GOD BLESS THE USA!
 

I’m linking up today with Naptime Creations, Mandy’s Recipe Box, It’s a Blog Party, All the Small Stuff, 33 Shades of Green, Blessed with Grace