Sponsored Post: THE ART OF CHEESE WITH CASTELLO AGED HAVARTI
Castello Aged Havarti is a creamy, finely textured cheese made from traditional methods dating back over 130 years, when Hanne Nielsen first made Havarti cheese. Castello Aged Havarti is allowed to mature for at least 12 months to encourage a unique and rich flavor. Castello Aged Havarti is the perfect cheese for your cheese board. The taste and flavor standout. As a snack, it is delicious with nuts, fruit and wine.
We are in the midst of the holiday season and I love this time of year with all the fun things there are to do. You only need a few really good ingredients to create festive and delicious holiday food. Go for a mix of shapes and colors and your guests will love how beautiful everything looks.
While overindulgence is often the hallmark of holiday celebrations, your guests will appreciate party food that is nourishing and healthful as well as appealing. I like to arrange an appetizer tray with a mix of foods that can meet different dietary choices: vegetarian, gluten-free, low-calorie, etc.
Whether you want to host a few friends or have a big, open-to-all affair, the best way to make sure your guests enjoy themselves is to enjoy the party yourself—a relaxed, unruffled host makes guests feel welcome and at ease. With this in mind, do a little preparation ahead of time.
At a recent get-together at my home, I arranged appetizer trays filled with Castello Aged Havarti Cheese cubes at room temperature, homemade crackers, Prosciutto di Parma wrapped pears, mixed green olives, Mission figs/roasted red peppers/Castello cheese kabobs and homemade cranberry sauce for topping Castello cheese squares. What remained after the party were just a few crackers – everything else – gone. I had many compliments on the food and my friends loved the Castello cheese and asked where they could buy it.
Here are my recipes for you to recreate for your next party. I guarantee they will be a big hit.
Sweet Potato Crackers
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup of sweet potato puree (from 1 cooked sweet potato)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Roast the sweet potato in a 400 degree F oven for about 45-50 minutes; then let it cool, remove the skin and purée using a hand blender until smooth. You will need 1 cup of sweet potato purée for this recipe; use any leftover potato for another use. Set the purée aside.
Place the flour, baking powder, rosemary, paprika and salt in the bowl of a processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until is the size of small peas. Add the sweet potato puree and honey. Pulse until a dough forms.
Roll the dough into a ball and divide it into 4 pieces. For easier rolling, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for a 1/2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets. Use the paper to roll out the dough.
Roll the dough 1/4″ thick and cut into 2″ squares, using a pizza, pastry wheel, a bench knife or a plain knife. Prick each cracker with a fork.
Lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Separate the crackers a bit, leaving about 1/4″ between them, so they crisp evenly. If you’re not using parchment, transfer the crackers to the baking sheet, leaving about 1/4″ between them.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. You will need to bake a second batch after the first finishes baking.
Bake the crackers for 12 to 16 minutes, until their edges are starting to brown. Switch pans after 10 minutes.
Remove the pans from the oven and slide the parchment onto the kitchen counter. Repeat baking with the second batch of crackers.
Store cooled crackers in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic.
Castello Aged Havarti Cheese/Mission Figs/Roasted Red Pepper Kabobs
- 7 oz block of Castello Aged Havarti Cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Mission figs, cut in half
- Roasted Red Peppers, jarred, drained and cut into one inch cubes
Drain the peppers on paper towels. On each toothpick skewer one piece of cheese, one fig half and one piece of red pepper. Repeat until all the cheese cubes are used.
Arrange the kabobs on an attractive serving platter.
Prosciutto di Parma Wrapped Pears
- 2 pears, each cut into 8 wedges and cored
- 8 thin slices (4 oz.) prosciutto di parma, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- Pinch of kosher salt
Wrap each pear wedge with a half slice of prosciutto and set on a serving plate. Combine the oil, vinegar and salt. Drizzle over the pears.
Gluten-Free Almond Poppy Seed Crackers
- 1 3/4 cups Almond Meal Flour (Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur are brands I use)
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- Cracked pepper
- Dried Italian seasoning
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets. Use the paper to roll out the dough.
Mix together the almond meal flour, olive oil and beaten egg whites. This will make a crumbly mix that shapes quickly into a ball.
Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each into a rough square.
Roll out one piece of dough at a time, keeping the piece you’re not working with covered to prevent drying.
Roll out on the parchment cut for the pan.
Roll the dough 1/4″ thick and cut into 2″ squares with a pizza, pastry wheel, a bench knife or a plain knife. Prick each cracker with a fork.
If you’ve rolled out the dough on parchment, simply lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Separate the crackers a bit, leaving about 1/4″ between them, so they crisp evenly.
If you’re not using parchment, transfer the crackers to a baking sheet, leaving about 1/4″ between them.
Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
Bake the crackers for 12 to 16 minutes, until their edges begin to brown. Switch pans after 10 minutes.
Remove them from the oven, cool right on the pan and then move to an airtight container to keep crisp and fresh.
Port Wine Cranberry Sauced Havarti
This appetizer is great with the Almond Crackers.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups port wine
- 2 packages fresh cranberries
- 4 long strips orange zest
- 7 oz block of Castello Aged Havarti Cheese, room temperature
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and port wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the wine has reduced slightly, about 4 minutes.
Add the cranberries and the orange zest. Simmer until the cranberries soften and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the zest.
Set aside to cool for a few several minutes. Place the cheese in an attractive serving dish and spoon the warm sauce over the cheese.
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy lies in the north of the country, sharing a border with Switzerland. Lombardy’s northern borders are formed by the Lepontine, Rhaetian and Orobic Alps. It also includes the major Italian lakes: Varese, lseo, Como and the northern part of Lake Garda. The regional capital is Milano. Other important cities are: Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Lecco, Lodi, Varese, Sondrio, Pavia, Cremona and Mantova.
Take a tour of Lombardy through the video below.
The mountain peaks welcome ski and snowboard enthusiasts to internationally-famous ski destinations, like the Camonica Valley and Valtellina. In summertime, the area offers mountain climbing, as well as rafting, trekking and mountain biking, while the Stelvio Glacier offers skiers the challenge and adventure of its slopes, even in the warmest months. Visitors can tour the vineyard-covered terraces and hills, stopping off at wineries and local producers to taste the well-known local specialties.
While the terrain of northern Lombardy can be harsh and sometimes unforgiving, water from snow on the mountains refreshes many of the streams and rivers branching out into other parts of the region, as well as other parts of Italy. Freshwater fish like trout, perch and whitefish are abundant. The mountains tend to shelter the southern parts of the region, which allows for milder and more ideal growing conditions further down into the Po River Basin.
Rice grows well here, so it’s no surprise that risotto dishes find their way onto almost every table. The cattle industry is healthy, providing shanks for the well-known dish, ossobuco. Agri d’ Valtorta, Bagoss, Bitto, Branzi, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Provolone Valpadana are just a few of the many excellent cheeses crafted in Lombardy. Peppers, greens, lettuce, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and tomatoes are all abundant harvests. Lombardy is also the home of the Christmas favorite, panettone (a rich bread made with candied fruits, citrus and raisins). Stews, soups, heavily sauced polenta, hearty filled ravioli and slow-braised meat dishes are all-around favorites.
Recipes From Lombardy
Makes: 6 servings
- 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2½ cups carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 cups hot chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat until melted. Add sage and cook until fragrant. Remove and discard sage. Remove sage butter from heat and set aside.
Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent. This process is known as tostatura or toasting.
Add wine, stirring, until it is mostly absorbed, then add 1 cup of broth and the saffron. Simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Continue adding broth in ½ cupfuls, stirring often, and allowing each addition to mostly evaporate before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still slightly firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy (you will have broth left over).
Stir in the remaining 3½ tablespoons butter, reserved sage butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt to taste.
Add an additional cup of broth, stir to combine, and serve “all’onda” (a “wavy” or wet-style risotto) immediately.
Skillet Perch with Lemon and Capers
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 1/2 cups each: flour, fine cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pounds lake perch fillets, skinned
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup capers, drained
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
Combine the eggs and milk in another medium bowl. Drench fillets in egg-milk mixture; shake off excess. Coat fillets evenly with seasoned flour; shake to remove excess flour.
Meanwhile, heat large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to cover skillet bottom. Place perch, one by one, in the pan cooking until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn fillets and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove to paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining fillets.
For sauce, discard oil from the skillet. Add lemon juice and capers to the skillet; cook about 1 minute or just until bubbles appear. Add chives, salt and pepper to taste. Place fillets on a serving plate. Top with the lemon sauce and lemon slices.
Asparagi al Forno (Classic Roasted Asparagus)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
- 2 bunches asparagus (40 asparagus), woody ends trimmed
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with olive oil.
Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the tips facing in the same direction (this will make serving easier later).
Pour the water into the baking sheet.
Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano.
Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top and still slightly crisp. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6
The Traditional Recipe for Panettone
- 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons softened butter, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Make the sponge:
Place 1 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons apricot jam and 1 teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 3 hours.
Make the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sponge, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon yeast. Use the hook attachment to knead the dough until the mixture is smooth and stretchy, about 3-5 minutes.
Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Return the dough to the mixer and add salt, vanilla, lemon and orange flavoring, honey and 1 teaspoon yeast. Knead for 1 minute.
Add 3 egg yolks and knead until incorporated. Add the 12 tablespoons of softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Knead until dough is soft, shiny and very stretchy, about 5 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Combine the chopped raisins, cherries and pecans with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add them to the dough and knead briefly, until just mixed in.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place dough inside of a 6 inch diameter panettone mold, or use a clean, buttered coffee can lined with parchment paper (you can also use a baking dish). Make a small cross in the top of the dough with scissors.
Let dough rise in a warm place until triple in size, which may take several hours since the dough is cold from the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Place the panettone in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Bake the panettone for about 1 hour, until it has risen high and springs back a little when pressed on top (like a muffin).
Let the panettone cool in the pan on a rack.
Make the icing (optional): Melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk into 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle icing decoratively over the top of the panettone.
Store panettone wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.
Note: Traditional Italian panettones are made with a special flavoring called “fiori de sicila”, which you can purchase at gourmet stores and online. Use in place of the lemon and orange extract.
How did finger foods come about? Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor. Even before the law took effect in 1920, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, which outlawed the sale of “intoxicating beverages”—defined as any drink containing 0.5 percent or more of alcohol.
Of course, no amount of legislation could transform all Americans into teetotalers; instead, Prohibition simply drove alcohol consumption underground. Millions of people in small towns and large cities imbibed at secret taverns and bars called speakeasies. Many were drab, makeshift saloons in basements or tenements located in shabby parts of town. Some, however, were fine restaurants in their own right, including New York City’s swanky 21 Club, which featured two bars, a dance floor, dining rooms on two levels and underground passageways leading to a secret wine cellar.
To help soak up the booze and drive up sales, some enterprising speakeasy proprietors began offering more than just popular cocktails of the day. Rather than heavy meals, customers were offered assorted bite-sized canapés to snack.
It was also during this period that the custom of hosting cocktail parties at home became fashionable. The rise of these parties led to the popularization of an increasingly wide array of finger foods. Hosts paraded out such popular foods as lobster canapés, caviar rolls, crab meat cocktails, shrimp patties, oyster toast, jellied anchovy molds, radish roses, devilled eggs and savory cheese balls. Sweet selections included fruit cocktail cups topped with powdered sugar or marshmallows.
Even after the 1933 repeal of the 18th Amendment, the practice of serving finger foods at restaurants, bars and cocktail parties lived on and quickly became a popular American culinary tradition. Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book,” contained many finger food recipes and became widely used in the United States throughout the 1920s.
Care to whip up some Prohibition-era finger foods at your next holiday gathering? Try the easy recipes below.
Mini Appetizer Pizzas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound prepared pizza dough
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (5 ounces)
- 1/2 cup pitted olives, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup jarred or frozen and thawed artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes (chili)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat each of two rimmed baking sheets with olive oil. Divide prepared pizza dough into 32 equal pieces.
On a lightly floured work surface, press each piece into a 2-inch round with the palm of your hand. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, turning once to coat lightly in oil.
Season with salt and pepper. Divide mozzarella, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts among rounds. Sprinkle with red-pepper flakes.
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and dough is crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes.
- 2 cups assorted unpitted olives, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 thin orange slices
- 3 thin lemon slices
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
- Red-pepper flakes (chili)
In a medium saucepan, combine olives, olive oil, orange slices, lemon slices and fresh thyme. Season to taste with crushed red-pepper flakes.
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer olives, fruit and herbs to a serving dish; reserve oil for salads.
- 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 cup dried Black Mission figs, stemmed
- 12 ounces pancetta, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Bring vinegar, water, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cloves to a boil in a small saucepan. Add figs, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, to bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Transfer figs to a cutting board using a slotted spoon; cut in half. Wrap a pancetta strip around each half. Transfer, seam side down, to a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake until pancetta is browned, about 30 minutes. Secure each with a toothpick. Serve warm.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups grated cheddar (1/2 pound)
- 1 pound bulk pork, chicken or turkey sausage
- 1/2 large yellow onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and baking powder. Add cheddar and toss to coat. Add sausage, onion and butter.
With your hands, mix until well combined and roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls, 1/2 inch apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until balls are golden and cooked through, 25 minutes. Serve warm.
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- Coarse salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Pour olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven until the oil is hot, 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, cayenne pepper, and cumin seed. Season with salt and toss to combine. Place chickpea mixture on hot baking sheet and spread in a single layer.
Bake until chickpeas are crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and let cool slightly. Serve warm.
- 8 slices (1/4 inch thick) baguette
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 jar (6 1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make crostini: Brush baguette slices on both sides with a total of 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and bake, turning over once, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool.
Meanwhile, make topping: Finely chop artichokes, and combine in a bowl with Parmesan, parsley, and remaining tablespoon oil.
Dividing evenly, spoon topping on crostini and garnish with additional Parmesan, if desired.
Shrimp Salad Canapes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- Thin crackers, for serving
Bring water, wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add half the shrimp, and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a plate, and let cool. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in creme fraiche. Fold in shallot, chives and shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 4 hours). Serve on crackers.
The best winter recipes will warm you up inside and out, will warm your home and make your house smell fantastic.
Soups, stews, casseroles and chili are very versatile dishes. Not really in the mood to cook after a long day at work? Let your crock pot do the work for you. There are lots of crock pot recipes out there for stews, roasts, chicken, chili and more.
Even if your recipe doesn’t call for it, it’s easy to add or substitute any veggie or lean meat that you have in the refrigerator. These types of recipes usually make a lot of servings. You can always freeze leftovers in individual containers, so you’ll have a quick, pre-portioned meal for another day.
Below are five dinners guaranteed to help you warm up.
Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Polenta
This dish is perfect for a cold winter night and is a complete meal all in one bowl.
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from a 14-ounce can)
- 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/3 cups polenta or coarse/ medium cornmeal
- Grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccoli rabe for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Cut into 2-inch lengths.
In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage links and cook, turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut into slices.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine; bring to a simmer. Add the sausage slices, tomatoes, broth, thyme and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, parsley and pepper to the sauce; bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the polenta in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until very thick, about 20 minutes. Serve in individual pasta bowls and pour the sausage/broccoli sauce over the top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Winter Fish Chowder
Serve with some delicious crusty bread.
- 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 dozen mussels, scrubbed
- 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 slices of bacon, finely diced
- 1 celery rib, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 ounces white fish fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with the water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over moderately high heat until they open, 3 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Add the clams to the saucepan, cover and cook. As the clams open, transfer them to the bowl. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels and clams from their shells and coarsely chop them.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the bacon to the pan and cook over moderate heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Add the celery and the remaining onion and garlic. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, then gradually whisk in the potato cooking water. Bring to a boil, whisking, and cook until thickened slightly.
Add the potatoes and the half and half and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and fish and simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the fish is just cooked, 3 minutes. Add the mussels and clams and pour in their reserved cooking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom; stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley. Serve the chowder in bowls.
A salad is all that is needed to complete this meal.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 16 – ounce package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion, divided
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in marinara sauce; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground beef, ¼ cup chopped onion, egg, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder and fennel seeds. Shape meat mixture into 24 equal balls, about 1 inch round.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and the remaining onion; cook about 7 minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to the bowl with the gnocchi.
In the same large skillet heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F), turning occasionally. Transfer meatballs to the bowl with the gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.
Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Tuscan Kale and White Bean Stew
A meatless option.
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered (2 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bunches kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)
- 1 15.5-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan and the 2 teaspoons of olive oil in small bowl. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter in large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms; increase heat to medium-high. Stir, cover pan, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Uncover the pan, add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, or until wilted.
Add beans, broth and 3/4 cup water. Cover, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by about three-quarters. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
Heat broiler to high. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over stew and broil 3 minutes, or until topping is golden.
Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Serve with a vegetable side dish for a complete meal.
- 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/4 inch
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices prosciutto, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 ¼ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add prosciutto and cook until crisp. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Add spinach to the skillet and stir until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer wilted spinach to the bowl with the prosciutto. Add cream cheese, Parmesan and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir until thoroughly combined..
Divide spinach mixture evenly among the chicken breasts and spread over the surface. Roll up chicken, dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Place chicken rolls seam side down in the prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon on marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken rolls 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese melts.
Today is Monday and you may be tired of heating up the turkey leftovers by now. There’s lots of ideas out there for using up the turkey but what about that leftover stuffing, veggies or cranberry sauce? Here are some easy ways to use them up.
Leftover cranberry sauce and turkey make a great lunchtime turnover
Turkey Cranberry Turnovers
Makes 8 turnovers
- 1 cup cooked turkey breast, diced into small cubes
- 1 box (15 oz/425 g) frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted
- 2/3 cup Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) chopped onion
- 3/4 – 1 cup Cranberry Sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)
Flour the surface you will be working on. Roll one of the pastry sheets lightly to make the sheet an even thickness. Cut the sheet into 4 equal squares. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.
Divide the turkey, cranberry sauce, onion and cheese equally among each pastry dough square.
Fold one corner of the square over to the opposite end (to make a triangle) and seal the edges with your fingers, pressing the pastry to merge the two edges. Use a fork and press the edges to further seal the turnovers.
Place the turnovers on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and puffed.
Leftover mashed potatoes make delicious potato pancakes for breakfast or as a side dish.
Crispy Mashed Potato Cakes
- 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Sour cream, for serving
Combine potatoes, eggs, cornstarch and garlic powder in a bowl. Form into 4 patties (about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture patted into 3 inch circles that are 1/2″ thick).
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the bottom is browned and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully turn the patties over and cook the second side until brown and crisp, 3-4 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with sour cream, if desired.
I make bread stuffing with Italian sausage and the leftovers are delicious in a frittata for a quick weeknight dinner.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups leftover sausage stuffing
- 1 cup shredded Italian fontina cheese
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Add the stuffing to the pan and warm through.
Sprinkle with the grated fontina cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 tablespoon of parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the egg mixture over the stuffing and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Carefully transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.
Bake until the eggs are set and the sides have puffed up a little bit and the cheese is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Let rest before cutting.
Sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley.
Turn those leftover sweet potatoes into delicious waffles.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup leftover sweet potatoes, mashed
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for brushing the waffle iron
- Maple syrup, for serving
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place a wire rack on a baking pan and place in the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour through allspice).
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, sweet potatoes, eggs and vanilla until combined. Stir sweet-potato mixture into flour mixture until combined. Stir in melted butter until just blended – some lumps will remain.
Heat a waffle iron to medium-high and lightly brush the grids with melted butter. Ladle about 1/2 cup batter into the center of the iron (grids should be full but not overflowing), close and cook until the iron stops steaming and waffles are golden brown, about 4 minutes (or make according to your manufacturer’s instructions).
Transfer waffles to the wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup.
Turn those leftover Thanksgiving vegetables into soup.
Turkey Leftover Vegetable Soup
- 8 cups turkey or chicken broth
- 1 turkey carcass, all meat removed
- 1 carrot, halved lengthwise, plus 1 carrot, minced
- 1 whole stalk celery, plus 1 stalk, minced
- 1 onion, halved, plus 1 onion, minced
- 2 bay leaves, divided
- 2-3 cups leftover turkey meat, diced into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups leftover cooked Thanksgiving side vegetables ( Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, etc)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Put the broth, turkey bones, carrot halves, celery stalk, onion halves and 1 bay leaf in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, about 1 1/2 hours.
Before straining the broth, remove the large bones and carcass with tongs. Strain the broth through a sieve covered with wet cheesecloth. Discard the solids and set broth aside.
In a large soup pot, heat the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced carrots, celery and onions. Cook over medium-low heat until softened, 7 or 8 minutes.
Dice the leftover Thanksgiving vegetables. Add the sage to the soup pot along with the reserved turkey broth and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. When simmering, add the diced leftover vegetables and diced turkey meat to the soup. Bring it back up to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover. Allow to sit and steam for about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.