Portobello Personal Pizzas

When don’t you have a craving for pizza?  The fact is, most of us will save pizza for Friday movie nights, a party or some other excuse to indulge our endless craving for dough, cheese, sauce and goodies.  Trying to get in shape for an upcoming vacation has me rethinking recipes and finding ways to have my favorites without sacrificing too much.  That’s where this alliterative recipe comes in – you’re going to love it!

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PORTOBELLO PERSONAL PIZZAS

Ingredients

  • 2 Portobello Mushroom Caps
  • 2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Dry Italian Seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Pizza Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Diced Red Onion
  • 8 Slices Pepperoni or Turkey Pepperoni
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove gills from mushrooms with a spoon.  Wash and dry them thoroughly.
  • Place mushrooms on a baking stone or sheet.  Drizzle each with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on size and thickness of your mushrooms.  They should darken and shrink some, but still be slightly firm to the touch.
  • Remove from oven and pat dry with a paper towel.  They release a lot of water in the initial baking and you don’t want soggy pizzas!
  • Spread each cap with half of the pizza sauce.  You can use marinara or any other jar sauced here as long as it is thick and not watery.
  • Top each cap with onions, then pepperoni and finally cheese.
  • Place in the oven and bake an additional 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly brown and bubbly.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.

You almost don’t miss the crust on these easy pizzas.  The good news is that your topping choices are endless – sausage, peppers, olives, etc.  As long as you like mushrooms, you’ll be thrilled with an alternative to heavy pizza that saves you both carbs and calories.  It’s also great for gluten-free friends if you watch your sauce ingredients.  Try some at home and let me know what you create.  Dig in!

Veggie Pizza

What a great Memorial Day weekend we had!  Perfect weather, swimming, grilling and fantastic food from friends and family made it a great three days.  One of the many dishes I made for one of the celebrations was veggie pizza.  A soft-baked crust, creamy ranch spread and fresh cut veggies, and a little optional bacon, make this a tasty grab-and-go snack.

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VEGGIE PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 2 Rolls Crescent Sheets
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Cup Broccoli Florets, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 6 Strips Crispy Bacon, Chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Spread crescent sheets on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake according to package instructions and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and ranch dressing mix until smooth.
  • Spread mixture evenly over baked crescent crust.
  • Top the mixture evenly, and all the way to the edge, with each of the toppings.
  • Finish pizza by sprinkling bacon on top.  Of course, this is completely optional if you would rather it be meat-free.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve.  Do not make this a day ahead as the crust will get  soggy if it sits too long.

This recipe is delicious and versatile.  The crust and spread make a great base for any seasonal vegetables.  Think about using crispy radish slices or a variety of peppers.  Utilize your herb garden and sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives on as well.  I hope you give it a try and share any of your ideas with me.  Dig in!

White Pizza Dip

Everyone loves a good hot dip for a party.  Among the buffalo dips and spinach artichoke dips of the world it’s nice to bring something different to a party.  This white pizza dip was introduced to us by our friend Mindy and we’ve been making it ever since!  It’s perfect for a mini crock, but can be doubled for a larger slow cooker and a bigger crowd.  Either way, I know this will quickly become a favorite for you and your friends.

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WHITE PIZZA DIP

Ingredients

  • 16 Ounces Sour Cream
  • 8 Ounces Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Packet Garlic & Herb Dry Soup Mix
  • 30-40 Slices Pepperoni
  • 1 Large Loaf Italian Bread

Instructions

  • In a mini slow cooker, mix sour cream, ricotta, mozzarella and soup mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Cut pepperoni slices into quarters or eighth, depending on preference, and mix into sour cream mixture.
  • Plug in cooker and allow to heat for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Cut bread into bite-size pieces and arrange in a bowl to serve.

White pizza dip is tangy and a little spicy depending on the amount of pepperoni you put in it.  Like a lot of my recipes, you can easily update it with flavors of your choice.  Go with a meatless version and add sautéed mushrooms and green peppers instead.  Try adding 8 ounces of cooked crumbled spicy Italian sausage or even ground beef and diced chopped and seeded tomatoes.  I’d like to hear what you try and what worked well.  I’m sure you’ll quickly find your favorite combination.  Dig in!!

Flatbread With Prosciutto, Cremini Mushrooms & Fontina

Let’s face it, we all hit our days when we’re tired and say “let’s just order a pizza”.  And I’m sure I’ve spent an uncomfortable amount of money with the likes of Jet’s, Papa John’s and the rest.  It’s awfully easy though to keep frozen dough or pre-made crusts at home and make your own without a ton of effort either.

This flatbread pizza was made with a crust we bought at our local farmers market from White Oak Valley Farm.  Using fresh summer squash and zucchini mixed with flour, eggs, mozzarella, garlic and herbs, they sell these fantastic pre-baked crusts that are perfect for light summer pizzas.  It’s not thick or heavy and won’t stand up to a ton of toppings, but it worked great here.  Give this recipe a try with naan bread, traditional crust or something to your liking.

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FLATBREAD WITH PROSCIUTTO, CREMINI MUSHROOMS & FONTINA

Ingredients

  • 1 12″ Pizza Crust or Flatbread
  • 1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 4 Thin Slices Prosciutto
  • 4 Cremini Mushrooms, Sliced Thinly
  • 3/4 Cup Freshly Grated Fontina Cheese
  • 6-7 Basil Leaves, Sliced or Torn

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place pizza crust on baking stone or cooking sheet.
  • Mix olive oil and garlic and brush over entire pizza crust.  Our crust is seasoned already, but I would salt and pepper here if mine was not.
  • Arrange mushrooms on pizza and then sprinkle cheese over entire pie.
  • Tear prosciutto piece in half and drop on pizza in small “piles”.  I baked the pizza with it on there, but I think it would actually be better to either put it on after baking or to crisp it in the oven and then sprinkle crumbles on the pizza for baking.
  • Bake in oven according to pizza crust directions.  Ours was only 15 minutes due to the thin crust.
  • Remove from oven and top with basil.

The crust and the technique may be different, but the recipe here is the combination of ingredients and the light topping vs. a heavy and greasy delivery pizza.  Let me know if you try this and what other combinations you come up with!

Forno Osteria + Bar – Cincinnati

Located just north of downtown Cincinnati in the Hyde Park area, Forno Osteria + Bar is a great find for refined, yet comfortable, Italian food.  The restaurant features a long curved bar and plenty of seating indoors and out in a rustic atmosphere with modern finishes.  It’s a beautiful place for an impromptu dinner or a special occasion.  Celebrating a birthday, we started with the Black Plum Fizz (plum shrub, St. Germain, prosecco) and a Limonata (blueberry-thyme syrup, vodka, comtratto bianco).  They were both refreshing and good examples of a small, but interesting cocktail menu.

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The menu has a good selection of modern Italian flair with starters, pastas, mains, sides and pizzas.  We always love a good meat and cheese starter and their Antipasto Italiano was perfect.  The house-made pickled vegetables gave the right amount of crunch and contrast to cut through the fatty deliciousness of the salumi and truffled mozzarella.  If you haven’t had a pickled caper berry before, you’re going to want to now!

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Although the entrees all looked amazing, we wanted to sample several things.  We settled on one of their signature pizzas made in a 900-degree oven.  Sausage and caramelized onion doesn’t sound like anything exciting, but I assure you it was!  The crust was perfect and crispy topped with a bright tomato sauce, mozzarella, house-made Italian sausage and caramelized onions.  It’s not your everyday pizza and it’s absolutely worth ordering!

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We had two sides that could have been my whole meal.  The Wild Mushroom and Mascarpone Risotto was rich, creamy and full of mushrooms.  It was earthy, perfectly al dente and a good portion for a side.  The Roman Style Artichokes were also worth ordering again.  Topped with prosciutto crudo and Italian parsley, we could have eaten multiple bowls of these!

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Our service was great – thanks Delia!  It’s not surprising that the owners of Via Vite, another one of my favorites in Cincinnati, have created this beautiful experience.  Chef Stefano Carne executed each dish perfectly and definitely has two new fans after last night!  Check out their menu at fornoosteriabar.com and make a reservation right away, you won’t be disappointed.