Protein Packed Pizza Casserole

I LOVE pizza- we all do ! The kids too! I wanted to make a pizza dish that they would love but that was packed with protein and veggies too! Yes it has carbs but with the carbs we have extra protein and that is better for all of us and makes me feel better about digging in on this too!

1 lb ground beef 

1 lb ground Italian pork sausage

1 red pepper

1 onion

2 C raw spinach

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 C of quinoa cooked in 2 cups of water (end result makes about 2 cups then)

2 cups of cooked elbow noodles

2 C Shredded cheese -mozzarella, parmesean, cheddar or a mixture

1 container of cottage cheese

½ Can of sliced olives (optional)

2 jars of lower sugar pizza sauce

Start by browning meat in a large skillet- while this is cooking chop up ALL of your vegetables- when meat is browned add in all the veggies and cook until tender add the pizza sauce and the stewed tomatoes(drained) to this.

You will need a large casserole dish – pour the meat and veggie sauce mixture in this along with the quinoa and the elbow noodles –stir up good then spread mixture so its all even through the baking dish ( I used a 9×13 in cake pan) top with container of cottage cheese first then finish topping with the shredded cheese and a few olives sprinkled on top–bake 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until top is golden…let set about 15 minute before serving….

Note: I could have just added the noodles but I added the quinoa because although it is a carb it has a protein benefit in it and I wanted to add something other than just a bunch of noodles to this- if you are gonna eat a carb – quinoa is the way to go–if it was just for me I would have left noodles out but the kids and Kev like the noodles 

ONE HEAPING cup or serving–1 red 1 green 1 blue 1 yellow  

Ok- you want to save your yellows–here is what I did as alternate:::

Stuffed Mushrooms or Peppers! 

Sliced in half and took seeds out of 2 large colored peppers and took stems off some small portabellas–filled them each with a little cottage cheese- and some of the meat and veggie sauce mixture topped with a little fresh Parmesan and one hot pepper and an olive- (I like heat–it revs the metabolism- you don’t have to add this but you can!) Place on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil- bake 375 for less than 20 minutes- 

Have one pepper (so two halves) and 2 mini mushrooms for the count of:

1 red :1 blue: 1 Green

 NOTE: I wanted to use large mushrooms but Aldi had none- so I used the small BUT now I decided these mini’s are a perfect appetizer for a holiday party!! BONUS!!

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