Archive for May, 2012

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza with Bacon and Leeks

Jessica Fisher from Life As Mom shares one of her favorite pizza recipes that mixes mushrooms with other bold flavors for a veritable party on a pizza. As a busy mom to six young children, aged tot to teen, she loves the recipe because it’s simple to prepare and a meal that the whole family enjoys. 

In our family, we work hard – and play hard. The kids know that Monday through Saturday are days when we work hard at school and chores. On Friday afternoon, however, once we’ve cleaned and vacuumed and put away those school books, we’re ready for a weekend of rest and relaxation.

The kids know that they can expect a number of things come Friday evening:

1. Papa is off for two days (read: fun and adventure are theirs for the taking.)

2. The video games can be fired up.

3. A Friday night movie is selected.

4. Pizza is on the menu.

Pizza is a Friday night ritual at our house, making for a simple and tasty meal that everyone loves. I have several techniques to ensure that the meal is easy.

1.      Use premade dough.

Whether I make my favorite pizza dough recipe and freeze it in advance, or have a batch of “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes” dough waiting in the fridge, having the dough premade makes the meal quick to prepare as well as less messy than making dough on the spot. You can also buy pizza dough from your local pizzeria or grocery store.

2.      Buy cheese pre-shredded.

I purchase five pound bags of mozzarella from Costco and then divide it into smaller portions. I store these bags in the freezer for pizza nights. The cheese thaws quickly, and again, there’s less mess since I’m not shredding the cheese on pizza night.

3.      Make mini pizzas.

Preparing small serving pizzas allows for each family member to have what they like. It also allows us to experiment with different toppings.

4.      Go big if you want.

That said, preparing a big pizza is quicker and brings people together – literally.

My favorite pizzas always include mushrooms. This recipe is chockfull of flavor. Bacon, mushrooms, goat cheese, and leeks have a veritable party on a pizza. Serve a green salad on the side and you’ve got the perfect start to your weekend.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza with Bacon and Leeks

Makes two 12-inch pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced leeks
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Two 12-inch pizza crusts
  • 1/2 cup favorite sauce
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste, optional

Directions:

In a skillet over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, but not overly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Add the leeks and garlic to the bacon drippings in the skillet. Cook on medium heat for about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the leeks are very tender and the mushrooms have given up their liquid and start to brown slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Prepare your favorite pizza dough on a two 12-inch pizza pans. Divide the sauce over the crusts. Divide the mushroom mixture over the two pies. Sprinkle with cheeses and bacon and season to taste with crushed red pepper, if using.

Give Mom a Tasty Surprise

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to thank mom for all the wonderful things she does. Mom kisses foreheads and checks temperatures; she drives to soccer and school; she’s supportive even when stern. She is supporter #1. Let’s face it – mom is the best!

The greatest part of Mother’s Day is being able to show her appreciation by giving her a simple gift from the heart – like breakfast-in-bed. Kids can easily help and the whole family can work together to make mom smile. The Mushroom Scramble Mug recipe says thank you, is super simple and is ready in only seven minutes!

Mushroom Scramble Mug

Ingredients

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 slice fat-free American cheese, torn in strips
  • 1 tomato or red pepper, diced (optional)
  • Whole wheat English muffin (optional)

Directions: Lightly spray the inside of a microwaveable mug with non-stick cooking spray, place mushrooms in mug and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and microwave for 1 minute. Let rest 30 seconds and drain any excess liquid.

Add whole egg and egg white to mug and mix well with a fork. Add cheese and tomato or red pepper (if desired) and microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Let rest 30 seconds to allow eggs to finish cooking. Enjoy in the mug or on a toasted whole wheat English muffin.

How will you surprise mom this Mother’s Day?

Being a Role Model for Good Health

As a parent, you want to instill healthy lifestyle habits in your children early on. Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D. suggests some great tips for helping yourself and your children to good health.

Moms encourage their children to finish their milk, eat their veggies, and stay away from too many cookies and chips.

If you’re a mother, it may seem like your admonitions to eat better fall on deaf ears, but research and personal experience say otherwise. As it turns out, mothers possess the power of persuasion in more ways than one, especially when it comes to influencing what their daughters eat.

My mother often jokes that my grandmother, who arrived in the U.S. from Italy at the age of 17, was the original dietitian in the family. “Nana” didn’t have all the scientific facts and figures about food that I often spout to my children, but she did have the right idea about preparing balanced meals. She passed that knowledge on to her daughter.

My mother worked full-time outside of the home, yet resisted the temptation to serve us processed foods for meals and snacks. She was raised on the idea that a balance of colors on the plate made for a healthier meal. In a way, she was right: brightly colored vegetables, such as carrots, contain different beneficial compounds than paler produce, such as mushrooms, yet both vegetables are equally good for you.

Don’t get me wrong: We didn’t eat perfectly. My family’s love of bread and desserts (my brothers, parents, and I often overate), created weight control challenges for all of us.

While my mother struggled with her weight, she never strayed from serving healthy, balanced meals. That’s noteworthy, since moms who constantly diet influence their daughters to think about dieting, possibly leading to disordered eating.

As the mother of three girls, I can see how strongly daughters identify with their moms, and how actions speak louder than words. I’m like my mother in that I am nearly militant about family meals. We eat together as often as possible.

 

 

The meal may be as simple as take-out pizza, salad, and fruit. That’s okay, because family meals need not be elaborate to be effective: Studies show that the more often you eat together, the greater the chance of consuming fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, such as milk, and fewer soft drinks.

Being a mom is no small feat. You serve as a role model for healthy eating and an active, healthy lifestyle, and you support your child in doing the same. Mothering can be exhausting, but it’s important to remember you don’t need to feed your family perfectly every day. Do the best you can and you’ll be paying it forward by passing on the healthiest lifestyle possible to your children, and beyond.

Here are tips for helping yourself and your child to good health:

  • Eat the healthy foods and drink the beverages (water, low-fat milk, and 100% juices) that you want your children to consume. For example, research shows a mom’s own milk drinking habit is linked to more milk and fewer sugary drinks in her child’s diet.
  • Make every effort to have family meals at home and serve as a healthy role model. Keep those meals full of enjoyment and free of criticism.
  • Exercise together (take a walk, bike ride or do yard work) and exercise independently to serve as active role models.
  • Avoid pressure or restrictive feeding practices at mealtime. Pressuring, cajoling, and threatening will not get kids to favor healthier foods in the long run, and the opposite may occur.
  • Engage in healthy lifestyle changes to address a healthy weight, rather than restrictive, unhealthy diets.

 

How do you encourage your children to lead a healthy lifestyle?

 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mushroom Tacos

Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a Celebration of Mexican heritage and pride observed nationwide with food and fiestas!

I’ve always loved this holiday, especially since one of my lifelong friends hosts an annual Cinco de Mayo party to celebrate her heritage and pride. Her father was born and raised in Mexico and brings rich cultural traditions to the party even adding some American flair, like stuffing a colorful piñata with candy. He prepares the most delicious chicken enchiladas topped with Chihuahua cheese, guacamole, fresh flower tortillas and Spanish rice. The music of the Mariachi band is always playing in the background.

This year I still plan to celebrate in-style (with my sombrero, of course!) – but I’ve decided to bring a lighter meal option to the table that will taste just as great with half the fat and calories. By substituting the creamy chicken enchiladas with mushroom tacos, I will be able to enjoy a fresh tasting Skinny Girl Margarita with my meal!

Mushroom Tacos with Salsa Verde (Makes 8 servings)

Taco Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • ¼ lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • ¾ lb. white button mushrooms
  • ¾ lb. crimini mushrooms
  • 2 cups julienne of sweet onions
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 4 Tbsp. ground chile pepper
  • Salt and pepper if necessary
  • Lime juice to taste
  • 8 Corn Tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 4 Tbsp. Cotija Cheese, grated

Avocado Salsa Verde Ingredients:

  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut in ½-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup diced tomato
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • ½ Tsp. seeded and minced Serrano chili
  • ½ Tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 Tsp. sugar

Directions:

  1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place ground beef in pan and cook; season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Chop mushrooms to approximately the size and texture of ground beef and sauté in a separate pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Combine mushrooms and meat and set aside.
  3. Heat sauté pan used for ground beef over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the mushroom/beef mixture and ground chili pepper. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lime juice.
  4. To serve, toss shredded cabbage with salt, pepper, lime juice and cilantro. Place 2 tablespoons of shredded cabbage on a tortilla, and top with 2 tablespoons of mushroom and beef mixture. Top with a generous tablespoon of avocado salsa, and sprinkle with Cotija cheese to taste.

 To make Avocado Salsa Verde: Combine all salsa ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For more great ideas, check out the Huffington Post slideshow: Cinco de Mayo Recipes: 10 Simple Nutrition Tricks For a Healthier Fiesta.

Mushroom Bucatini

The Mushroom Makeover – Meaty mushrooms lend themselves perfectly to rich sauces and stews and maintain their chewy texture when stirred into rich red sauces, like this Mushroom Bucatini recipe by Kelsey of The Naptime Chef.

Last winter I added a handful of chopped mushrooms to Bolognese for added flavor and texture. Just last week, I added them to my favorite bucatini recipe. They crisped up beautifully with the pancetta and added a rich underlying umami flavor to the fiery tomato-based sauce.

This simple dinner has always been a family favorite and with its mushroom makeover, we came to love it even more. Not only do the mushrooms deepen the flavor, they also add a delicious chewy texture alongside the crispy pancetta. With a sprinkle of Parmesan it is the perfect weeknight meal.

 

Mushroom Bucatini

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound linguine
  • 5 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • ¾ cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and mushrooms and sauté until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.

3. Add the onion and cook until translucent. About 6 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds.

4. Pour in the tomatoes with their juices and add the salt and pepper. Add the reserved pancetta back to the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat until sauce is thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir the drained pasta into the finished sauce, toss well, and serve!