Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: tomatoes

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Rooting for your team is fun, but thinking about what you eat while watching the game and the commercials is just as important. According to USA Today, the Super Bowl is “only second behind Thanksgiving for the average amount of calories consumed in a day.”

Super Bowl day is prime time for forgetting about eating healthy. From high-fat dips to buffalo wings, it is an endless array of food, food, food and more food. Part of the fun, though, is to be able to snack during the game.

Revamp your old favorites by making them healthier and introducing a few new ideas into your menu. You’ll be able to root for your team without going overboard on fat, calories and salt.

Here are some ideas for doing just that:

The standard bowls of potato chips, tortilla chips and high-fat dips don’t deserve a place in your healthy lineup of snacks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy chips and dip.

  • Skip creamy artichoke and spinach dips in favor of hummus, which pairs well with baked pita chips.
  • Mash fresh avocados with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and lime juice for a potassium-rich guacamole that pairs well with baked tortilla chips.
  • Puree low-sodium canned beans with olive oil and garlic powder for a dip rich in fiber and protein.
  • Make a healthy ranch dip using low-fat sour cream and a reduced-sodium packet of ranch dip powder.
  • Create a visually appealing layered dip with low-sodium mashed beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, low-fat sour cream and reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

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Set out fruit and vegetable platters on your snack table. Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories but also supply potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and fiber. You will be surprised at how guests reach for these snacks.

  • Arrange grapes, berries, melon, apples and oranges on a plate and serve them with flavored low-fat yogurt for dipping.
  • Make colorful vegetable kebabs by threading pieces of bell pepper, mushrooms, red onion and zucchini onto skewers.

Hot dogs, sausages and fried hot wings are common additions to a Super Bowl snack buffet, but they contain too much saturated fat and salt to be nutritious.

  • Replace the fried wings with baked versions instead. Brush fresh chicken wings with a low-sodium sauce and bake them until they’re cooked through. Serve them with a low-fat ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
  • Replace the wings with chicken tenders as an even healthier alternative.
  • Roast a turkey breast ahead of time, cut it into thick slices and serve it with whole-wheat bread and sandwich fixings.
  • If you can’t pass up the hot dogs and sausages, look for reduced-fat and low-sodium varieties to keep the snack as healthy as possible.

Cut a small slit in several large jalapenos and stuff the cavities with low-fat cream cheese. Close the slit in the jalapenos using toothpicks. Dip the peppers in beaten egg and then roll them in finely crushed bread crumbs. Bake the peppers until they are golden brown for a healthier take on traditional jalapeno poppers.

Air-popped popcorn seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, cinnamon or Parmesan cheese is a snack high in fiber.

Make sweet potato fries. Cut raw sweet potatoes into wedges or strips, drizzle them with olive oil and roast them until they are golden brown and soft. Season the fries with garlic powder and black pepper or sprinkle them with cinnamon for a sweet version.

Make a batch of chili and serve it in baked tortilla cups and low-fat cheddar cheese for a snack high in fiber and protein.

Here are some of my favorites:

Roasted Eggplant Spread

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Makes 1½ Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Toasted sesame seed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Place eggplant on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly charred and very tender, 20–25 minutes; let cool slightly. Chop eggplant (skin and all) until almost a paste.

Mix eggplant in a medium bowl with garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Top with sesame seeds and serve with pita bread or baked pita chips.

Easy Red Pepper Hummus

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Serve with pita chips.

Ingredients

  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained

Directions

With the processor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and mince. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, salt and lemon juice; process until mixture is smooth.

Add roasted peppers and process until peppers are finely chopped. Transfer hummus to serving bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead.) Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For homemade pita chips:

Cut 8 whole-wheat pita breads into triangles. Place pita triangles on large baking sheets and spray the surface with olive oil cooking spray. Season each with garlic salt. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in a 400 degree F oven, until golden brown and crisp.

Fresh Salsa

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Serve with baked tortilla chips

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Put all ingredients into a serving bowl, toss well. Chill in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving..

Baked Tortilla Chips

Ingredients

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges.

Arrange the wedges in a single layer on non-stick baking sheets. Lightly spray the chips with oil and sprinkle with chili powder, salt and pepper.

Bake the chips until lightly browned and crisp, 15 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Steak Tapas

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Makes 18

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless New York Strip Steak (or steak of choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 large plum tomatoes (1/2 cup), seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
  • 2 teaspoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 18 baguette slices (3/4 of a large French baguette)

Directions

Season steaks with salt and pepper.

Grill steaks, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350°F to 400°F) about 8 to 10 minutes on each side.

Broiling Directions

Place steak on the rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 5 inches from heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side.

Let cool and thinly slice.

Combine basil, rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor. Scrap into a medium bowl. Stir in fresh tomatoes, onion and blue cheese.

Arrange baguette slices on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with steak; spoon tomato mixture evenly over the bread slices.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bread is lightly toasted.

Fennel and Prosciutto Flatbread

Photo Editor: Paden Reich, Art Director: Bob Perino, Prop Stylist: Buffy Hargett Miller, Food Stylist: Erin Merhar. Food: Hot Brown Bites, Cheese Ball, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Flatbreads, Shrimp dip, Trout crostini.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Italian fontina cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove pizza dough from the refrigerator and let stand covered, at room temperature, 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Trim and discard the root ends of the fennel bulbs. Trim the stalks from the bulbs and chop fronds to equal 2 teaspoons.

Thinly slice fennel bulbs lengthwise and place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme and oregano.

Bake at for 35 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Cook prosciutto in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp. Break prosciutto into large pieces.

Turn the pizza dough out on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 17 x 13 inch rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick).

Place the dough rectangle on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) baking sheet. Brush the dough with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven. Turn on the broiler.

Top the baked crust with fontina cheese, fennel slices and prosciutto. Broil 1 minute. Sprinkle with dried crushed red pepper, reserved chopped fennel fronds and the coarse sea salt.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cut into small squares and serve.

Mediterranean Chicken Kabobs

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Ingredients

  • Small (6 inch) flat metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 x 1 x 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Place the chicken in a large nonreactive mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons each of the mint, cilantro and parsley, salt, cumin, turmeric and pepper. Stir to mix. Stir in the oil.

Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 hour.

Thread the chicken onto skewers so that the flat side of the chicken will be exposed to the fire.

Set up a grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high. Or preheat the broiler.

When ready to cook, oil the grill grate or oil the broiler pan.

Arrange the chicken kabobs on the grill or under the broiler. Cook until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes per side.

Place the kabobs on a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of mint, cilantro and parsley.

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Cuneo (Italian) or Coni (French) is a province in the southwest section of the Piedmont region of Italy. The province has an interesting history. Nicknamed the town of seven sieges, it still retains the organization plan of a military town. It was once surrounded by massive walls, had large squares and contained magnificent palaces for wealthy aristocrats.

Originating in the 12th century, it was first built as a fortified town. Its location, in a naturally strategic position protecting the roads to France through the Tenda and Maddalena passes, made it a natural choice to be used as a military location. The French eventually demolished the walls and you can tell where the old walls were, as they are now the main streets in the province. During World War II, Cuneo was one of the main sites in the country of partisan resistance against the German occupation of Italy.

Pedestrian crossing and big plaza at city center under cloudy sky at rainy day in Cuneo, Italy.

Pedestrian crossing and big plaza at city center in Cuneo, Italy.

Sections of this province were part of France until 1947. Cuneo borders the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur on the west, the province of Turin on the north, the province of Asti to the east and Liguria to the south. It is also known as the Provincia Granda (the big province) because it is the third largest province in Italy and the largest one in the Piedmont region. It is also the capital of the province. This has created problems in the past for inhabitants in the eastern sections of the province, who are frustrated by the long trip to Cuneo every time they have business with the provincial government. The issue of dividing the province into two has been brought up several times.

Chianale (Cuneo, Val Varaita, Piedmont, Italy), old typical mountain village in the Italian ALps at summer

Chianale (Cuneo, Val Varaita, Piedmont, Italy), an old mountain village in the Italian ALps at summer

The province’s beautiful landscapes offer great variety that include valleys, hills and wildlife reserves. Some 75% of the area is mountainous. The Maritime Alps Natural Park with its high-altitude lakes and the Rio Martino Cave with its spectacular waterfall are distinctive sites in the province. Italy’s first forestry commission was established by the local government of Cuneo.

The economy is primarily based on the agricultural produce of the area, especially the wine industry.  Engineering, paper products, metallurgy, rubber and cattle also play an integral role in its local financial system.

The Tour de France travels through here, as well.  The Italian leg of the Tour often goes from Digne-les-Bains in France to Prato Nevoso in Piedmont, followed by a rest day in Cuneo.  From there, bikers head on to Jausiers in France.

The majority of the region’s winemaking (about 90%) takes place in the southern part of the Piedmont region in Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria. The best-known wines from the area include Barolo and Barbaresco. They are made from the Nebbiolo grape. The Piedmont region is located in the foothills of the Alps forming its border with France and Switzerland. In addition to the vast mountainous terrain, the Po Valley consumes a large area of the region. The valley and the mountains contribute to the area’s noted fog cover which aides in the ripening of the Nebbiolo grape (which gets it name from the word nebbia meaning “fog”).

Although the winemaking regions of Piedmont and Bordeaux (France) are very close in latitude, only the summertime temperatures are similar: the Piedmont wine region has a colder, continental winter climate and significantly lower rainfall due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps. Vineyards are typically planted on hillsides with warmer south-facing slopes.

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One of the most commonly used meat in the local cuisine is veal. It is the main feature of festivals, such as the Fiera del Bue Grasso, which attracts thousands of visitors in December each year. The province of Cuneo also produces Italy’s only pork-free sausage. Pig farming, however, provides the ingredient for the famous Cuneo raw ham, which also has a well-known cooked variety.

Il Grande Fritto Misto” (the Great Mixed Fry), one of the most characteristic dishes of the Cuneo region, is made with veal and pork, to which vegetables, semolina and fruit are added. Provincial meat products also include: Morozzo capon, Sambuco lamb and Langa lamb; Piedmontese blond chicken and Saluzzo white chicken. Famous products include the Alba White Truffle, Castelmagno, Raschera, Bra and Murazzano, Toma Piemontese, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola Are cheeses, which are all produced in the province.

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The cultivation and processing of chestnuts, both brown and white varieties, is a heritage of the area’s mountain tradition. They are used in pastry making and as an ingredient in other dishes. Hazelnuts are grown in the hills and form the main ingredient of Torrone di Alba and the region’s very famous glacè chestnuts and hazelnut cakes. “Alba torrone” (nougat); “paste di meliga” (cornflour cookies), which are also known as “Batiaje” because they are often made for baptisms and “baci di Cherasco” (hazelnut chocolates) are well-known desserts.

If you have a sweet tooth, Cuneo can help satisfy your cravings. The town’s specialty is Cuneesi al rhum, chocolates with a rum-based filling. The most widely known brand is Arione, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway.

Risotto with Hazelnuts and Castelmagno Cheese

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Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 14 oz (400g) risotto rice  (carnaroli)
  • 3 ½ oz (100g) hazelnuts
  • 3 ⅛ oz (90g) Castelmagno cheese, diced
  • 1 ¾ oz (50g) butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ¼ cups (1 liter) hot broth (vegetable or meat)
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree F oven for about ten minutes. Cool and rub the skins off with a kitchen towel. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a deep saucepan and cook the onion until tender.

Add the rice and rosemary. Toast the rice for a minute then add the white wine.

When the wine has evaporated completely add a ladle of hot broth and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the broth is absorbed.

Continue adding the broth until it is all absorbed. Halfway through cooking add half of Castelmagno cheese and half of the hazelnuts.

When the rice is cooked, add salt and pepper to taste and the remaining the remaining cheese.

Garnish the dish with the remaining hazelnuts and serve.

Meatballs Cuneo Style

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Directions

In a bowl combine the veal, grated apple, egg and salt. With wet hands form small meatballs. Coat each one in flour and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and brown the meatballs evenly, then add the wine. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Peperonata

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped canned Italian tomatoes
  • 6 bell peppers (3 red and 3 yellow) seeded and cut into ½ inch size strips
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • Salt
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, jalapeno and bell peppers and cook briefly. Add the red wine and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, another 10 to 15 minutes. Check frequently toward the end of the cooking time, so the peppers do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the herbs and taste for salt and heat through, about 2 minutes. Serve warm as a side dish.

Bunet di Cuneo (Baked Chocolate Pudding)

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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) Amaretti cookie crumbs
  • 3 cups (750 ml) milk

Directions

Put the 1/3 cup sugar and water in a heavy skillet over a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until the mixture is a syrup and the color of honey.

Remove from the heat and pour the syrup into a 9 inch loaf pan. Swirl the liquid in the pan around to coat all the edges.

Beat together the eggs and 1 cup sugar.

Add the cocoa and Amaretti cookie crumbs. Stir well.

Add the milk, stirring gently but thoroughly.

Pour into the loaf pan and set in a larger baking pan with at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of boiling water.

Bake at 400° F (200° C) for 1 hour.

Cool to room temperature before chilling overnight.

To serve, slide a knife around the outer edges and invert onto a platter. Cut into thick slices to serve.

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Kate Hackett Ceramics

Kate Hackett Ceramics

There are many motivations for sticking with a healthy diet. Eating more of the good stuff (and less of the junk) can help you prevent cancer, extend your lifespan, protect your heart and manage your weight. But one thing we don’t always remember is that your diet affects not just your weight, but your body from the inside to the outside. Your body transforms the foods you eat into the cells that make up your hair, nails, skin and bones, along with your brain, heart and joints. You literally are what you eat.

Add lean meats and beans to your diet to help keep your body in hormone balance and prevent hair loss. B-vitamins from leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and carrots also support cell growth for healthy hair.

Essential fatty acids (named “essential” because your body cannot make them) help you grow brain cells and stay sharp, so feed your brain with regular doses of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.

The antioxidants for brain health also help the eyes, so include foods with lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants, found in spinach, collard greens and kale, protect the retina from macular degeneration.

Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, spinach and soybeans are all good sources of dietary calcium.

Boost your vitamin C intake with fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries, oranges, pineapple, cauliflower and green peppers to keep your joints healthy.

Fiber is also essential. Whole grains, especially oats and bran, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can help you get your daily 20-35 grams of fiber.

Maintain disease-free and healthy looking skin with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This antioxidant is more powerful than vitamins C and E and protects your skin cells from damage and many of the elements it’s exposed to each day. ALA can be found in spinach, broccoli and beef. Vitamins C, E, K, and A, as well as B-vitamins, are also important for nourished skin. Enjoying a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you reach the recommended amounts.

Winter comfort foods can be good for you. Sweet potatoes are filled with vitamin A and anything filled with green vegetables will give you a vitamin C boost. Switching up some ingredients for healthier ones in your favorite casserole dishes can improve a recipe’s nutrition. Also, be careful about the amount of cheese, bread and cream in a recipe.

The next time you look forward to making a comforting dish, try out one of the healthy recipes below instead of your usual go-to casserole. Another bonus is that all of the recipes below are between 300 and 350 calories per serving. That leaves some room for a healthy dessert.

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Meatballs and Bean Casserole

6 servings

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground meat (pork, beef, chicken, turkey or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 finely minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil for the baking pan

Casserole

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (2 medium)
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery (1 stalk)
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 2 ½ cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (marinara sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • Two 15 ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion tops

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a rimmed cookie sheet.

To make the meatballs:

Mix all the ingredients, except the oil,  together in a large bowl. With wet hands form into 12 equal sized meatballs. (Use an ice cream scoop to make them uniform in size.)

Place the meatballs on the prepared pan and bake the meatballs in the oven for about 25 minutes.

In a large Dutch Oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add green beans. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato sauce and oregano. Stir in beans and meatballs.

Cover the pan and transfer the mixture to the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes. Uncover. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until heated through. Sprinkle with green onion tops just before serving.

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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • ¼ cup fat-free milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces uncooked ground turkey breast or a mix of white and dark meat or lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely diced zucchini (1 medium)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (2 medium)
  • ½ cup frozen yellow corn
  • ¼ cup water
  • One 8 ounce can low salt tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, cook sweet potatoes and garlic, covered, in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain.

Mash the sweet potatoes and gradually add milk and salt, mashing the potato mixture to make a light and fluffy mixture. Cover and keep warm.

In a large skillet cook turkey or beef and onion over medium heat until meat is brown, stirring to break up the meat as it cooks. Drain, if needed.

Stir in zucchini, carrots, corn and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper to the meat mixture; heat through.

Spoon mixture into a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish, spreading evenly. Spoon mashed potato mixture on top of the pie mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until heated through.

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White Bean and Kale Casserole

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded kale (stems removed)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • Two 19 ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan cook kale in a small amount of boiling water for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain well in a colander.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook for 4 minutes or until tender.

In a large bowl combine cooked kale, onion mixture, beans, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, the oregano, garlic and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons bread crumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle over the bean mixture.

Sprinkle with diced prosciutto.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until heated through and the prosciutto is crispy.

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Vegetable Pasta Bake

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 ½ cups cauliflower florets (1/2 medium head)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 12 ounces spinach, stems removed, leaves torn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large Dutch Oven, cook pasta al dente according to package directions; add cauliflower during the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery; cook just until carrots are tender. Add spinach; cook just until wilted. Stir in pasta mixture and peas.

For the cheese sauce:

In a small saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk all at once; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; add cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until melted.

Stir sauce into pasta and vegetables.

Transfer to a 2 1/2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 5 minutes more.

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Pizza Casserole

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 yellow, red and/or green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 fully cooked chicken sausage links, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb package pizza dough
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic; cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, sliced sausage, half of the Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to the mixture in the skillet. Bring to boiling; boil gently, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.

Place pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a knife or pastry wheel, cut pizza dough into 16 strips.

Remove skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Arrange pizza dough strips  on top of the casserole in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle with remaining Italian seasoning. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


pastacover

Believe it or not, it is possible to eat and cook healthy with pasta. When prepared appropriately, pasta has many positive benefits in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and it can satisfy numerous dietary needs. Pasta is a great vehicle for enjoying other healthy foods that improve your diet as well, such as healthy proteins and vegetables.

The most important thing to remember about pasta is that when you prepare it at home, you have complete control over making sure it was cooked in a healthy manner.

Some tips on how to keep your pasta recipes healthy:

Pay Attention to Portions

First, we nearly always cook too much pasta. The USDA recommends 2 ounces of dry pasta per person, which works out to about 1 cup of cooked pasta per person.

Add Healthy Ingredients

Add sautéed  broccoli, peppers, spinach or sweet onions to your plain cooked pasta and mix in a tablespoon of olive oil for a delicious side dish with your meal. Add garlic, herbs and grated Parmesan cheese for flavor.

Always Use Olive Oil

Avoid saturating the pasta in rich, thick and high-calories fats. This is obvious for Italians, but always try to use olive oil, an unsaturated fat, which assists with the absorption of vitamins.

Choose Lean Proteins

Add drained and rinsed beans, such as cannellini beans or chickpeas, along with the sauce. Other healthy protein options include lean pork loin, grass-fed beef, fish, ground turkey and chicken or lean turkey sausage.

pasta1

Spicy Puttanesca

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 ounces green olives, such as Castelvetrano (Italian green olives), pitted and chopped (1/2 cup) plus extra for garnishing
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
  • One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the olives, capers, anchovies, jalapeno and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until sizzling. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and the almonds and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 3 cups of the pasta cooking water.

Add the spaghetti and the reserved cooking water to the sauce in the skillet and cook until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the parsley, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice and serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with additional olives, if desired.

pasta3

Linguine with Scallops

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper (chili) flakes

Directions

Toast the pine nuts in a large dry skillet until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the same skillet over moderately high heat until very hot. Season the scallops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and put them in the skillet.

Sear until brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and sear until brown on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the scallops to a bowl and cut them into quarters.

In the same pan, heat the remaining oil over moderate heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the red-pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the scallops and the pine nuts.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the skillet with the remaining 4 tablespoons of parsley. Toss well and serve.

pasta2

Rigatoni with Red Peppers and Spinach

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Directions

Cook rigatoni according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return pasta to the pot to keep warm.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Stir in onion, peppers and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally.

After 5 minutes, add spinach and continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender and the spinach is wilted, about 5 more minutes.

Add vegetables, reserved pasta water and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese to the cooked pasta and gently toss to combine.

Place in a serving bowl and top with basil and remaining Parmesan cheese.

pasta4

Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Capers

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup soft bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed, plus extra for garnish
  • One 1 1/2 pound head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (5 to 6 cups)
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions

Bring a 5- to 6-quart pot of salted water to boiling. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, except cook for 2 minutes less than the time given on the package for al dente. Drain spaghetti and return to the large pot.

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Add breadcrumbs to the hot oil; cook about 3 minutes or until crumbs are crisp and golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 clove of the minced garlic; cook and stir until garlic is tender. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the lemon peel and set aside.

In the same large skillet heat the remaining the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt; cook about 3 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 teaspoon thyme and the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add cauliflower, broth and capers; cover and cook about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Stir in lemon juice and pepper.

Add cauliflower mixture to the cooked spaghetti. Cook about 5 minutes more or until spaghetti is al dente. Divide spaghetti mixture among six shallow serving bowls. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Garnish with additional snipped fresh thyme.

pasta5

Chicken, Green Beans and Pesto Pasta

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • 8 oz thin green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup of homemade or good quality prepared pesto
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Trim fat from the chicken breasts. If very thick, slice in half lengthwise to create two thin cutlets. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until melted.  Add in the chicken and sauté until browned on each side and almost cooked through – about 3 minutes per side. Place chicken on a cutting board and slice into one inch pieces and set aside.

Add the white wine to the pan and simmer for a few minutes to deglaze. Lower the heat. Add in the stock and simmer for a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and allow to simmer until cooked through.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Add the green beans to the pasta pan for the final 6 minutes of cooking time.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta and green beans.

Add pasta and green beans to the skillet with the chicken. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pesto and add the remaining to the pasta. Stir to incorporate. If dry, add in as much pasta water as needed.

Arrange the pasta on a warmed serving plate and dot with the reserved pesto. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


fishcover

One of the best things about cooking seafood is its versatility — it can be grilled, broiled, poached, baked or cooked in a skillet. Seafood is actually one of the easiest ingredients to cook with and can be one of the fastest to prepare. Fish is also healthy.

Health studies show that eating fish at least once a week, especially cold-water species high in omega-3 fatty acids, reduces the risk of heart problems. Other research suggests that regularly eating omega-3–rich fish may prevent or relieve depression, joint problems, Alzheimer’s disease and several cancers. Even seafood low in omega-3s, like scallops and crab, are rich in other key nutrients.

Fish is delicate so it needs gentle techniques to make sure that it is tasty, cooked and yet retains all the benefits. Any way you choose to cook fish, remember that its flesh cooks quickly. The best way to cook fish and not lose its health benefits is to steam, bake, poach or grill the fish. Frying fish can cause fatty fish rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, to lose its beneficial oils; those oils get replaced with unhealthier oil in which the fish is fried. Evidence from Harvard researchers on a study of more than 4,700 older people indicates that eating fried fish or fried fish sandwiches was associated with a higher risk of stroke. Conversely, the study also found a direct relationship between consumption of broiled or baked fish and a reduced incidence of stroke.  When you bake fish, you can use herbs to accentuate the flavors. On the grill, the fire lends a smoky flavor to the flesh of the fish.

Following are some of my favorite fish recipes.

fish1

Garlicky Baked Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat 4 individual gratin dishes with cooking spray or a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Divide shrimp among dishes; set aside.

Combine breadcrumbs and the next 4 ingredients; stir in juice and oil.

Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over shrimp.

Place dishes on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until shrimp are done and breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

fish2

Baked Salmon with Red Wine and Honey

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces (skin left on)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 1/2 cup light red wine, such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish, drizzle olive oil and scatter thyme sprigs. Lay salmon on top of the thyme, skin side up. Arrange garlic cloves around salmon.

In a small bowl, whisk together red wine and honey and pour over salmon.

Bake 15-20 minutes and remove the dish from the oven. Peel off the salmon skin, if desired, and arrange fillets on a warm serving dish.

Pour dish juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Season sauce with salt and black pepper, spoon over the salmon and serve.

fish3

Panko-Crusted Catfish

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 6 drops hot sauce
  • 4 catfish fillets (about 6 ounces each) or any other thin white fish fillets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon blackened spice mix, see recipe below
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges (for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a shallow dish, mix milk and hot sauce. Add catfish, turn to coat well and marinate for 10 minutes.

In a pie plate, mix nuts, breadcrumbs and spices. Dip fillets into crumb mixture, pressing crumbs onto each fillet. Place fish on the prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over each fillet. Bake fish for 12-15 minutes until crispy, depending on thickness. Remove fish to a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Blackening Spice:
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

fish4

Spicy Rainbow Trout Fillets

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 ounce) rainbow trout fillets (1/2-inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Pat fillets dry and lightly brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle both sides evenly with Cajun seasoning.

Place skin side down on an oiled broiler pan. Broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 4-5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Arrange on a warmed serving platter and sprinkle with parsley and sliced green onion. Serve with lemon wedges.

Cajun Seasoning

Combine 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, chili powder and dry mustard.

fish5

Halibut Packets with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • One 6-ounce boneless, skinless halibut fillet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Parchment paper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange halibut in the middle of a 12 x 12-inch piece of parchment paper. Drizzle both sides of the fish with the oil.

Top with lemon and arrange tomatoes, artichoke hearts and parsley over the top and around the sides. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Fold up parchment like a package, making sure the seam is at the top to seal the ingredients inside; tuck under the ends.

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Place package on a plate and carefully open the parchment paper to release the steam before serving.

fishcartoon


 

healthyeatingcover

How to get back on track:

Have Breakfast

Not only does it reset your body by getting your metabolism going, but it also helps you set the tone mentally for a regular eating day.

Hydrate

Water helps you feel full, so you won’t be as tempted to carry your overeating into the next day.

Squeeze in Some Exercise

It will make you  feel so much better.

Have a Filling Salad for Lunch

The water in the veggies will help hydrate you and keep you feeling full until dinner.

Cook Dinner at Home

Go for clean foods, like a piece of broiled fish with roasted veggies and a whole grain like quinoa or barley. They’ll give you the nutrients you need and you won’t be hungry.Choose lean cuts of meat and avoid oversized portions. A serving of protein should be no more than 3 ounces (85 grams) — or about the size of a deck of cards — and should take up no more than one-fourth of your plate. Vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate. Whole grains make up the rest. Try a few meatless meals each week for added health benefits.

A few really tasty recipes follow to get you started.

healthyeating1

Roasted Vegetable Crepes

Crepes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces softened reduced fat cream cheese

Directions

To prepare the crepes:

Place flour in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk and water until smooth. Whisk

in eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter and salt. Let stand 10 minutes. (This allows the flour to absorb the liquid.)

Heat an 8 or 9 inch crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly brush the pan with some of the remaining melted butter.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into the center of the pan. Quickly tilt in all directions. (Batter should lightly cover the bottom of the pan.) Cook 30 seconds. Lift edge with a spatula to check doneness. Shake and jerk the pan by its handle to loosen the crepe. Turn crepe over and  cook 15 to 20 seconds. Second side will be spotty brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter and melted butter. Makes 10 crepes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare the filling:

Makes about 3 cups.

Place zucchini, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, thyme and pepper. Roast 30 minutes or until tender.

Spread 2 tablespoons of cream cheese on half of each crepe. Top with about 1/3 cup roasted vegetables. Fold in half, then in half again. Serve with a green salad.

healthyeating2

Winter Vegetable Stew 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large red onion, cut crosswise into 1/3 inch thick rounds
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red skinned or yellow gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips–peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • Flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to a casserole dish.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add potatoes and butternut squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to the roasting pan. Repeat the cooking process using another tablespoon of oil and the acorn squash and parsnips.

Add the broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer over high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the broth over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and add the marjoram. Cover and cook the vegetables in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until just tender when pierced. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve with a slice of crusty country bread.

healthyeating3

Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or mashed
  • One 14-ounce loaf Italian bread, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a colander, toss the eggplant and zucchini with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain well and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.

In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the garlic. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic-infused oil.

Tear the bread into 2-inch pieces and line the bottom of the baking dish with the bread, fitting the pieces tightly together. Drizzle the bread with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and sprinkle the bread with half of the basil leaves.

In a medium bowl, toss the eggplant and zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes over the bread, overlapping them as necessary. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining garlic oil.

Bake the gratin for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown and the bottom of the bread is golden brown. Remove the vegetable gratin from the oven and let stand until cooled slightly, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining basil, cut into serving pieces.

healthyeating4

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

4 servings

Directions

  • 4 medium bell peppers
  • 1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup drained, canned whole Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought tomato sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Slice off the stem end of peppers and remove and discard seeds and membranes. Submerge the peppers in a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes; drain.

Brown ground beef and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drain on paper towels.

Return meat mixture to the skillet. Add tomatoes, breaking them into pieces with a spoon, and cook until the liquid evaporates. Remove meat mixture from heat; stir in wild rice, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning.

Spoon 1/2-cup portions of the mixture into the peppers; sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and cheese.

Place peppers in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon tomato sauce over peppers and return to oven until heated.

healthyeating5

Broccoli Swiss Quiche

6 servings

Easy Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Quiche Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces reduced fat milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions for making the crust:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Into 8 or 9 inch Quiche pan or pie plate, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Combine the oil and milk in a measuring cup and pour over the flour mixture.

Mix with fork till all the flour is dampened.

Press dough evenly against the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Crimp edges.

Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until the pastry is set and dry.

Remove the pie plate from the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Directions for the Quiche Filling:

In a mixing bowl whip eggs with a wire whisk and stir in the broccoli, shredded Swiss cheese, milk, garlic, onion, salt and pepper; stir until blended.

Assembling the Quiche:

Pour into baked pastry crust. Place the tomato slices on top of Quiche mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until Quiche tests done in center. Protect pastry crust with foil at the end of the cooking time to prevent over browning.

Cool on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

opinion1


sidedishescover

Once you determine your holiday main course, the next decision focuses on side dishes to accompany your meal. As we sift through family favorites and long forgotten recipe books, we mentally calculate how long each dish will take to prepare and do we have enough oven, stove and refrigerator space to cook and store everything. Delicious side dishes do not need to be complicated or expensive. In fact, with a little planning, most side dishes can be made with 5 or 6 common ingredients and prepared in a short amount of time.

Choose recipes that call for in season fruits and vegetables. These generally cost less than out of season produce. Winter favorites include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rapini, collard greens, spinach, fennel, cabbage, sweet potato, squash, yams, parsnips, kale, spinach, pomegranates, pears, clementine oranges, cranberries and apples. This way your side dishes will taste fresh.

Don’t select side dish recipes that require an oven, if you are also roasting meat at the same time. If oven space is limited, choose recipes that can be prepared on the stove top.

Create dishes that mix red, green, yellow and orange-colored fruits or vegetables to form a medley of vibrant colors. You don’t need lots of ingredients to create delicious side dishes. You need ingredients that combine well together and offer a variety of flavors such as sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Try adding fruit to bitter greens for an interesting taste sensation, or spicy chilies to sweet squash. Often, one or two different spices or herbs are all you need to bring out the flavors in your dish. If you plan to have several side dishes available, try to select dishes that are different from one another in flavor, texture and overall presentation. Create one sweet, one spicy, one sour. Your guests will love the variety.

All these side dishes will be good accompaniments for the main dishes from Monday’s post.

sidedishes1

Chunky Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Heat a pan with a lid or cover on medium; add diced onion and garlic; simmer until onions have turned slightly transparent (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile chop sweet potatoes into approximately 1 x 1 x 1 inch/cm chunks; add to the pan when the onions are ready, as well as the salt and cover the pan.

Allow potatoes to cook covered, for 20-30 minutes on medium heat until the potatoes are soft. Uncover and mix every 5-10 minutes in between. Add rosemary, cumin and cinnamon to the pan 10 minutes after adding potatoes.

sidedishes2

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Broccoli Rabe
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, lightly smashed, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh plum (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, seeded & cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or Italian parsley, chopped

Directions

Wash broccoli rabe and dry on paper towels. Remove the large tough leaves, leaving just the tender leaves and flower buds.  Cut off and discard the lower part of the stems, leaving the broccoli about 8-inches long and slice into 3 or 4-inch lengths.

Add olive oil and garlic cloves to a large heavy frying pan. Over low heat, slowly sauté garlic until golden on all sides. This can take about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli rabe to the pan, tossing to coat with garlic and oil. Add tomatoes and toss for a minute or so to remove excess water from the tomatoes. Add chicken stock and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add lemon juice, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, salt & pepper.Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary.

sidedishes3

Italian Rice & Savoy Cabbage

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) Vialone Nano or other short-grained rice, e.g. Arborio
  • 1 pound (450 g) Savoy cabbage
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (40 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • Salt & white pepper to taste
  • 4 cups (1 liter) beef broth, stock, or water, simmering
  • ¾ cup crushed Italian tomatoes

Directions

Strip off and discard any blemished outer leaves the cabbage may have. Separate the rest, rinse them and shred them.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot and sauté the chopped onion and celery. Add the cabbage leaves and continue cooking, stirring them about with a spoon, until they have wilted. Add a cup of hot broth to the pot, cover and simmer over a low flame for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice, add the remaining hot broth and crushed tomatoes, add seasoning and simmer until the rice reaches the al dente stage and the broth is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes.

Stir the cheese into the rice and check the seasoning.

sidedishes4

Leeks & Spinach Saute

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium leeks, white and lightest green parts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a large pinch
  • 4 cups (packed) washed and stemmed fresh spinach leaves, torn into smaller pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

Trim the ends from the leeks. Slice the leeks across into thin rings (about 1/8-inch thick), discarding any woody stem in the center. Put the sliced leeks in a bowl and cover them with tepid water. Swish them around a bit and let them sit. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and transfer to a colander. Drain and rinse the sand from the bowl, return the leeks to the bowl and cover again with tepid water. Lift, drain and repeat one more time, leaving the leeks in the water with the last wash.

Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Lift the leeks out of the water and add them to the pan with whatever water is clinging to them. Season with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are limp and all of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are very lightly golden brown, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt and fold or gently stir them in with the leeks until they are wilted, about 1 minute. Add the fresh thyme and the cream and remove the pan from the heat.

Gently stir until the cream is mostly absorbed into the dish and the thyme is well-distributed. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Taste for salt and serve.

sidedishes5

Creamy Fettuccine With Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini or shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half or light cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat, add salt and the spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Prior to draining the pasta reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter melts add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper to taste; sauté 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid. Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until the liquid evaporates.

Remove the pan the from heat.  Add the hot cooked pasta, half & half and cheese to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until needed for moistness and continue to toss. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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