Pizza and Fries: Guilty Pleasures Re-Made

As a kid, I always loved pizza and french fries.  That’s probably explanation why I was a chubba growing up.  French fries were side dish staple to any kid’s meal, my favorite being McDonald’s.  As for pizza, well, let’s just say that even my 14-year old self could put away a couple of decent sized slices.

Nowadays, I no longer eat fast food and pizza is a fleeting indulgence, eaten sparingly and in small amounts.  So how do I satisfy even the worst junk food cravings?   I make my own.

I spend a lot of my time scouring the Hungry Girl website and cookbooks for healthy ways to make over my favorite foods.  She has a zillion pizza recipes and a few takes on fries as well, all without the guilt (and tighter pants) that come from the originals.  Last week, when boyfriend and I wanted pizza and fries but I didn’t want take out, I pulled out HG’s book and went to work.

Butternut squash fries are by far one of my most favorite recipes ever.  It’s not really a recipe, even, just a few simple ingredients and your oven set at a high temp.  Butternut squash has a similar starchy quality to potatoes without being loaded with calories.  I like to buy b-nut squash halves that are already peeled and de-seeded because it’s easier, but if you want to have a knife fight with a whole one, I wish you the best of luck.

Now, onto the pizza… Portobello mushrooms have always been high on my list of favorite foods but is something I don’t eat all that often.  I have no explanation for this.  Nevertheless, they are the “crust”, if you will, to my pizza and along with a few other things, I think the meaty texture and taste of the ‘shroom makes it even better than its traditional counterparts.  Try it if you don’t believe me.  Oh, and these babies are so low in fat and calories, that Stephen and I ate 2 each.  You can’t beat that.

Butternut Squash Fries
From Hungry Girl

1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Carefully cut your squash into fry shapes (you could also use a crinkle cutter like this one…) and sprinkle with salt. 

Lay slice on a paper towel and let some of the moisture release out of it, about 5 minutes.  Then, blot the fry shapes with dry paper towel to make sure all of the extra moisture is out (this will help them crisp in the oven.)

Lay on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through until squash is cooked through.  Sometimes, to get them extra crispy, I turn the broil onto high and let them roast an extra 4-5 minutes (Watch them carefully so they don’t burn!)

Serve with ketchup or any other favorite condiment!

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas
Adapted from Hungry Girl

4 large portobello mushrooms caps
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes (with basil if you can find it)
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
4 light string cheese
Turkey pepperoni (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove mushroom stems, chop and set aside. Place mushroom caps on baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, round side down. Bake 8 minutes or until softened.

Meanwhile, tear each string cheese into shreds and roughly chop. Set aside.

Remove sheet from oven but leave the oven on. Blot excess liquid (there will be quite a bit) from caps and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix crushed tomatoes, garlic and onion powder. Equally distribute between mushroom caps and spread until smooth & even. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the sauce layer followed by mushroom cap pieces and turkey peps if desired.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted.

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