Tag Archives: cheese

Turkey, Brie, and Cranberry Chutney Quesadillas

Looking for an easy and healthy Thanksgiving leftover recipe? Check out this Turkey, Brie, and Cranberry Chutney Quesadillas recipe at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Matzo Lasagna

For Passover, Matzo Lasagna from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Brie and Chive Fondue

Enjoying Brie and Chive Fondue at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Goat Cheese in Infused Olive Oil

Goat Cheese in Infused Olive Oil at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comMy son, Nathan, came home from school the other day asking me if I had a goat cheese and fig pizza recipe on my blog. Seems he has a teacher who grows figs in her yard and she needed some ideas. Nathan told her about the goat cheese and fig pizza made with Udi’s Gluten Free pizza crusts I'd made for dinner a few times, and thought I'd a posted recipe for it. However, while I had recipes for Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Baby Greens and Balsamic Reduction and Caramelized Onion & Fig Mini Pizzas, I didn’t have one that combined the two. That is until now, thanks to my friend, Holly Clegg.

I love figs and can usually find fresh ones here in Georgia when they’re in season or dried ones when they’re not. However, if you’re having a tough time finding any sort of figs, you can substitute dates or even dried plums.

Find more of Holly’s trim& TERRIFIC® recipes at hollyclegg.com and The Healthy Cooking Blog. Don’t forget to check out Holly’s new cookbook, KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence, too!

Gourmet Aphrodisiacs this Valentine’s Day

If you are looking for just the right subtly sweet and savory dish with gourmet appeal yet quick and easy – then look no further than my delightful Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza. Did you know that figs are considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac? From the “Food for the Mood” chapter in Holly Clegg's trim&TERRIFIC Too Hot in the Kitchen: Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age, this is the go-to cookbook for a fun-filled Valentine’s Day gift! Filled with recipes for romance, aphrodisiac ingredients, and enticing words like, “A good marriage is like a good wine, it gets better with age.”

Turn up the heat this Valentine’s Day and you’ll definitely sizzle in your kitchen!

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza

Figs, considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac, turn pizza into an alluring palate pleasing masterpiece.


  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 (12-ounce) thin pizza crust
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 4 ounces figs, sliced in thirds
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, optional


  1. In small nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and sauté onion, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until start to turn golden. Add sugar and continue cooking until caramel color. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven 450°F. On pizza crust, spread remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover with orange marmalade. Arrange cooled onions, figs, prosciutto, goat cheese and mozzarella on crust.
  3. Sprinkle with rosemary, if desired. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust crisp.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: Makes 8 servings
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 281
  • Calories from Fat: 96 (34%)
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 279mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 38g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 16mg

Dietary Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1/2 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat

Recipe and photo used with permission of the author.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Two dishes in one: Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds and Polenta and Ham Casserole

Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boar's Head. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of my go to meals when I can’t think of anything else to make is polenta. The great thing about polenta is that you can keep a couple of tubes of it in the pantry since it’s shelf stable. My favorite way to cook it is to sauté slices in a pan, cover them with warm spaghetti sauce, and add a little parmesan cheese on top. However, this recipe for Lower Sodium Ham & Polenta Rounds from Boar’s Head bakes the polenta rounds, which seems so much healthier!

Inspired, I created these Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds using Boar's Head lower sodium deli meats and cheeses. In addition, I created a Polenta and Ham Casserole using leftover lower sodium ham and provolone from the first dish. The ingredients shown below are for making both dishes. If you just want to make the Pizza Rounds, halve the recipe and use leftover ham and provolone in quiche or omelets.

The Pizza Rounds make wonderful party appetizers as well as a main dish. They’re a little messy to eat with your hands – and you have to wait for the rounds to cool down a bit. Even so, my nine-year-old daughter managed just fine. Her verdict – “Oh Mom, these are so good that I can’t stop eating them!” – as she ate her third Polenta and Ham Pizza Round!

While I had used Boar’s Head products before for sandwiches, I had never cooked with them and was impressed with the results. Check out their website to learn which of their products are gluten free, lower sodium, and on the Feingold Association list.

Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds

Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds and Polenta and Ham Casserole


  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (18 ounce) rolls of polenta, cut into 32 rounds
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 slices Boar’s Head Black Forest Brand 25% Lower Sodium Smoked Ham
  • 1 (8-ounce) package Boar’s Head 42% Lower Sodium Provolone Cheese (or 16 slices)


For Polenta Ham Pizza Rounds:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Carefully slice polenta. Keep best slices for the pizza rounds. Broken and funky rounds will be used in the casserole.
  4. Carefully slice polenta. Keep best slices for the pizza rounds. Broken and funky rounds will be used in the casserole.
  5. Spray a large oven safe dish or cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place 16 polenta rounds on dish, 1/2 to 1 inch apart.
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut ham and cheese. I used a flower shaped one that was just slightly bigger than the polenta rounds. If you run short on ham, overlap two smaller pieces of ham. Then carefully cut it with your cookie cutter. Since the ham will be under the cheese, no one will really notice that you’ve had to “make due.”
  7. Spoon a large dollop of the tomato mixture on to the polenta round – just enough to almost cover the polenta.
  8. Carefully place ham and cheese slices on top and top with a piece of tomato from the leftover tomato mixture.
  9. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes until cheese is melted.
  10. Remove from oven and place pizza rounds on a platter to serve as appetizers. Or serve two to four rounds per person as a main dish along with a vegetable or salad.

For Polenta Ham Casserole:

  1. Coat the inside of a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Layer half of the “less perfect” polenta rounds on the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover with half the remaining tomato mixture.
  3. Layer the rest of the polenta rounds. Cover with the rest of the tomato mixture.
  4. Chop up remaining pieces of ham and cheese and liberally sprinkle on top of casserole until evenly spread.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes until cheese has melted and starts to brown a little. Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: Many!
  • Serving size: Don't go crazy!

Making Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds

The Polenta and Ham Casserole is a very cheesy dish. If you’re worried about too much fat and calories, use less cheese and save the remaining pieces for chef salad, omelets or a quiche. In addition, you can health up this dish by adding chopped up broccoli, squash, zucchini and/or cauliflower to the layer below the ham and cheese. It’s a great way to sneak in some healthy veggies into your family’s dinner!

Polenta and Ham Casserole

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Prosciutto Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

When I entertain during the holidays, I try to mix up healthy appetizers along with small but delicious indulgences. I also believe that if you’re going to treat yourself, it’s healthier to have a few small bites than a big plate of something that’s not so good for you.

That’s why I’m sharing this fun party appetizer recipe from Prosciutto di Parma. Instead of using dough, this recipe uses the prosciutto to form the cups to serve the goat cheese mousse in – a really cool and unique idea that's totally gluten free!

You could cut a few fat calories by using a low fat goat cheese and no fat milk. You could also experiment with other herbs that would go well with prosciutto, like basil.

If you don’t have a piping bag, make your own by filling a ziploc sandwich bag with the cheese mixture, making a small diagonal cut at one corner, and squeezing it out the open corner.

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse


  • 6 slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • 3.5 ounces plain goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut Prosciutto di Parma slices in half crosswise. Press a half slice of prosciutto into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine goat cheese with milk and chopped chives until creamy.
  4. Remove Prosciutto di Parma cups from the oven and let cool.
  5. Pipe or spoon the goat cheese mousse into cooled Parma cups, filling each with about a tablespoon of mousse.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Makes 12 cups
  • Serving size: 1 cup

Recipe and photo supplied by Parma and used with permission.

Easy Peasy Caprese Appetizer

Easy Peasy Caprese at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Homemade Queso Fresco #secretrecipeclub

queso-frescoWhen we moved to Georgia, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have access to Mexican foodstuffs like locally made corn tortillas or Mexican cheese. How wrong I was! There’s a large Hispanic population here in Athens, GA and you can find all types of Hispanic food – including special cuts of meat like carne picada – right at WalMart, Krogers and Publix. So even though I’ve moved to the South I can still enjoy the dishes I  loved when I was growing up in Southern California like carne asada and Fish Veracruz since it’s easy to find all the ingredients like Queso Fresco, the Mexican version of feta.

However, when I saw Andrea Kruse of Adventures in All Things Food’s recipe for Queso Fresco for my Secret Recipe Club post, I had a light bulb moment. I didn’t have to go to the store – I could make my own at home! My family and I have made mozzarella before, which is easy. But making Queso Fresco is even easier – all you need is milk, kosher salt, vinegar and some cheese cloth.

Let’s talk about milk

The nice thing about making cheese at home is that you can choose the type of milk that you want – organic, non-organic, sourced from a local dairy, or just the regular stuff from the store. Traditionally, Queso Fresco is made from raw cow’s milk. Here in the US, it’s made from pasteurized milk. I used pasteurized organic whole milk, but you can use whatever you like.However, you do want to avoid ultra pasteurized milk, which will not curdle during the cheese making process.

Also, I had wondered about using low fat or skim milk. Since all the recipes I’ve looked up use whole milk, I stuck with that.

What kind of salt and vinegar?

Most recipes I see on the internet for Queso Fresco use kosher salt. However, the types of vinegar vary. Some use white distilled vinegar, others use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar. Others use rennet or lemon juice to curdle the milk. I used white distilled vinegar since I felt it wouldn’t add any negative flavors to the cheese.

Draining and pressing the cheese

I used a double layer of cheese cloth when I made my Queso Fresco. However, the cheese stuck to the cloth and some was left behind when I peeled it away from the cheese. Next time I make this, I’ll use thin muslin tea towels instead.

As far as pressing the cheese, the easiest thing to do is to gather the sides of your cheese cloth and make your Queso Fresco into a mound or disc shape. Another option is to use a large can to make a cheese press like this one.

Also, you’ll end up with around 2 1/2 cups of whey. You can use it in smoothies or instead of water in soups, bread dough, or savory dishes.

Curds and whey draining the cheese

Queso Fresco


  • 1 quart whole cow’s milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar


  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the milk over medium heat. Add in the kosher salt.
  2. Bring the milk up to just barely a simmer, when it will start to foam up (around 190 degrees F). Make sure that the milk doesn’t burn by stirring frequently and keeping an eye on it. When it has a steady simmer and threatens to boil over, remove the pan from the burner.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and stir. The milk should curdle and separate immediately. If not, add another tablespoon of vinegar. Stir gently so you don’t break the curds.
  4. Line a colander with doubled cheese cloth or a thin dish towel. Place colander in the sink or in a large pan. Drain off the cheese.
  5. Take up the corners of your cloth and gently squeeze out the whey. For a drier cheese, you can place a weighted plate on top of the cheese cloth and press out excess moisture. (I tried to remove as much whey as possible since I have a food sensitivity to it.)
  6. Cheese will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Enjoy it sliced or crumbled on salad, fish or vegetables or Mexican inspired dishes.

More from the Secret Recipe Club!

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