Category Archives: Italian

Italian Meatball Soup


2013 is here and I am determined to meal plan this year–both to save money and eat healthier.  In my meal planning I decided I would attempt one new recipe a week.  So this week, I tried Pioneer Woman‘s Italian Meatball Soup.  I love her recipe blog because she has step by step pictures to follow.  While I may not need those pictures, they are just more fun to follow!  She also thinks of out of box ideas that sound crazy but are good.  Lemon juice in meatballs? I wouldn’t have thought of that one!  But… amazing.  This recipe is filling, flavorful, and has that great hearty warmth that every winter day needs.


3/4 lb Ground Beef
3 T Fresh Parsley, Minced
1 Egg
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Black Pepper
1/2 t Ground Oregano
2 t Lemon Juice


3 T Coconut Oil
7 C Beef Stock
2 C Water
1/2 t Salt
2 T Tomato Paste
3/4 C Onion, Chopped
3/4 C Carrots, Chopped
3/4 C Celery, Chopped
1/2 lb Cabbage, Chopped
Grated Cheddar Cheese To Serve
2 Bay Leaves


Combine all meatball ingredients and mix well.  Shape into small balls and chill for 30 minutes.

After chilling, heat coconut oil over medium-low heat in a heavy pot.  Brown meatballs on the outside–don’t cook all the way through.  Remove meatballs to a plate.  To the pot, add stock, water, salt, tomato paste, and herbs.  Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Simmer 15 more minutes.  Remove bay leaves.

Add cabbage and meatballs. Bring to a boil, then simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated cheddar cheese sprinkled over the top.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman


Pizza Salad


My comfort food prior to going gluten/grain free was pizza, particularly a Papa John’s pizza dipped in cheese sauce.  Yummm!  I don’t think anything will measure up to a Papa John’s pizza but this dish does a great job of capturing the flavors of pizza.  We’ve now eaten this twice for dinner and have greatly enjoyed it.


Meat, could be a pepperoni slices, ground beef, or our favorite–turkey sausage
2 bell peppers, chopped or sliced
1 eggplant, diced
1 red onion, diced
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
Chili flakes, to taste
Olive oil
Black or green olives roughly chopped
Banana peppers, roughly chopped
Fresh basil, torn into small pieces
3 T pizza sauce
1 T red wine vinegar
Any other pizza-like topping  you’d like… the “pie” is the limit (Haha!)


Over medium-high heat, saute the meat until crispy.  Remove from the pan.  Add olive oil, peppers, onion, eggplant, and mushrooms to the pan.  Let all the ingredients cook until they’ve softened and caramelized.  Add the veggie mixture to the meat, along with the chili flakes, olives, banana peppers, and basil.

For the dressing, whisk pizza sauce, vinegar, and 1/4 c of olive oil together.  Drizzle over the pizza salad and toss to combine.  Serve the salad hot, but cold pizza salad is good too!

Avocado Caprese Salad


One of the best appetizers of the summer is a caprese salad.  Fresh basil… Ripe tomato… Avocado….

Avocado? Wait a second, isn’t that last ingredient mozzarella?

While I love the gooey yummy taste of mozzarella, my stomach does not.  I have been making caprese salads with only tomatoes and basil for years now, but at a party last month I heard of a great alternative for mozzarella cheese, avocado!  The creamy texture and calming taste of avocado fits in super well with the basil and tomato, so much so that you don’t miss the mozzarella.


1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, washed
1 ripe tomato, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste


Arrange the basil, tomato and basil leaves artistically on your platter.  Drip olive oil & balsamic vinegar across the tops of the veggies and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!!!


Chicken Parm Bake


One of the best Italian comfort foods… done healthy!


2 t olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
hot red pepper flakes to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 c marinara sauce
1/4 c chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded (I used cheddar instead)
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1/2 c almond meal


Using a casserole dish, put in the olive oil and crushed garlic-mix. Spice it up with red pepper flakes. Put chicken breasts in and then marinara sauce. Next, put fresh herbs-basil, and then layer 1/2 of each cheese. Sprinkle almond meal on top of the cheese. Then add the rest of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

* Note: I modified the chef’s original recipe to make it gluten free

Eggplant Crust Pizza


Pizza is one of our very favorite comfort foods. Before going totally gluten & grain free, we would always order a Papa Johns pizza after a particularly stressful and exhausting day. There’s just something amazing about the gooey cheese mixing with the marinara sauce on a thick crust. I think that pizza has been the hardest thing for me to give up. But, recently, thanks to a search on Pinterest I re-thought pizza crust. When we received an eggplant in our Abundant Harvest box, I knew it was time to try it out.


1 eggplant
1 bunch of fresh basil
2 C tomato sauce (I made my own, using this recipe)
1 C cooked turkey sausage cut into pieces (I used this recipe)
8 oz goat cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice Eggplant into 6 slices, arrange slices onto a baking sheet. Bake eggplant for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, make or heat up tomato sauce & warm sausage.

Remove eggplant slices from oven, preheat oven broiler. Evenly spoon tomato sauce over eggplant slices. Next place basil leaves on top of tomato sauce. Then sprinkle with goat cheese & sausage. Brown slices in broiler until cheese is melted.

–Jennifer Gunther

Verdict? Super yummy! It definitely met our comfort food pizza craving. Feel free to use ingredients that you have on hand.

"Spaghetti" Completely from Scratch!


Spaghetti Sauce:

8 Roma Tomatoes (could work with any kind), crushed
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1 t black pepper
1 t salt
1 T minced onion
1 T dried oregano
1 T garlic powder
1 t parsley
1 t white sugar (I used honey instead)
*I also threw in fresh rosemary & fresh thyme

First step: Crushing the tomatoes:
1. Bring large pot of water to boil–put in the tomatoes, about 45 seconds
2. Immediately put the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water, about 1 minute
3. This process makes the tomato skin peel right off–it was amazing
4. Cut the tomatoes in half.
5. Squeeze each tomato half into a bowl to get out the water. Use your finger or spoon to scoop out the seeds

Second step: The Sauce

In a large saucepan over low heat, combine tomatoes, and all rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 1 hour.


Third step: “Spaghetti”

You, of course, could use regular pasta, but I used spaghetti squash instead.

With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, pierce the squash in 4-5 places around its perimeter. Place in the microwave and cook on high power until tender when pushed with your fingers, 15-20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Cut the squash in half through the stem & remove the seeds. Scrape the flesh off the skin into a bowl, and discard the skin. Use he fork to shred the squash into strands.
–From Jillian Michaels

When the sauce and spaghetti squash are ready, combine. You’ve got yourself a delicious, 100% scratch plate of spaghetti! 🙂