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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Sea Bass For Dinner

Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass With Lemon Sauce

2 servings

Ingredients

1 lemon halved, seeds removed
2 (6-7ounces each) Chilean Sea Bass fillets skin removed, each cut in half
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or oregano

Directions

Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add lemon cut-side down. Coat fish in flour that has been mixed with salt and pepper. When the lemon just begins to brown, about 3 minutes, push them to one side of the skillet and add oil and fish. Cook until fish is browned and just opaque in the center, about 4 minutes per side, lowering heat if lemons and fish brown too quickly. Transfer fish and lemon to a serving plate.

Place the skillet over low heat and add shallot. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook for 1 minute. Squeeze 2 lemon halves through a strainer into the skillet. Remove from heat and swirl in butter. Stir in thyme and pour the sauce over the fish.

Italian Farro

Ingredients

1 cup pearled farro
1 cup fresh apple cider
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
Olive oil

Directions

Place the farro, apple cider, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the farro is tender. Drain the farro and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Discard the bay leaves.
Stir in the herbs and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Sauteed Spinach

Ingredients

2-10 oz packages frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium and let the spinach cook slowly until tender and silky., about 15 minutes.

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Soft Beef and Cheese Tacos For Dinner

Soft Beef and Cheese Tacos

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15-oz.) jar salsa (I used Tostitos Chunky Salsa Medium)
2 cups fresh corn
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
½ cup of water
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 medium flour tortillas, warmed
Sliced pickled jalapenos and sour cream, for serving

Directions

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook onion in oil until soft, 5 minutes. Add beef and cook until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes more, then add salsa, corn, taco seasoning, and water. Simmer until reduced and thickened about 15 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.


Spoon mixture into warm flour tortilla and top with cheese. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Top with jalapenos and sour cream and fold in half. Serve with a green salad with a store-bought or homemade ranch dressing. Recipe below.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
Pinch of onion powder
Pinch of paprika
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, chopped herbs, onion powder, paprika, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Mix until well combined then cover and place into a refrigerator for at least 30 before serving so the flavors have time to mingle.

Cooking Thick Pork Chops

This method I learned for cooking thick pork chops and put into practice makes delicious tender and juicy thick cut pork chops.

Make a simple brine:
I adapted a recipe from The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells.
The recipe makes enough for 4 regular pork chops or 2 thick ribeye chops.

Ingredients

4 cups ice-cold water
1/4 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Directions

Stir together the water, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Place pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.

Ribeye Pork Chops

4 servings: One 16 oz chop was enough for my husband and me for one dinner. I made both with the recipe below and saved the other for a second dinner. See below.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 thick bone-in pork ribeye chops (2 ribs on each chop; 16 oz ounces each), brined
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground pepper
8 sprigs sage
2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high. Season pork chops all over (including the fat cap) with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until the bottom sides are golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook on the other side about 1 minute before turning again. Don’t forget the sides of the chops.

Repeat this process, turning every minute until chops are deep golden brown on all sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 138°F, about 8–10 minutes (total cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops).

Remove the pan from the heat and add the sage, garlic, and butter, smashing garlic into butter. Return pan to the heat, tilt skillet and spoon foaming butter and drippings over the pork chops several rimes, making sure to baste the fat cap as well as the rib. Transfer pork chops to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes (or until the pork registers 145°F).

Thinly slice the meat and transfer to a serving platter or cut the pork between the ribs and serve whole with any juices from the cutting board spooned over the top.

Serve with your favorite sides. The first night I cut one pork rib in half and served Eggplant Parmesan and Sauteed Spinach with the chop. I wrapped the second chop in foil and refrigerated it for later in the week.

Later in the week, I cut the second rib chop in half and brushed it with Chili-Ginger Sauce/Marinade. I placed the cut chop under the broiler to glaze the pork on both sides. Use storebought of my recipe below:

Chili-Ginger Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or hot pepper sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil, stirring, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

I served the glazed pork over my recipe for Asian Stir Fry Vegetables and Noodles. See recipe. 

 

Retro Steak Dinner

Steak Diane

2 servings

Ingredients

2 boneless Filet Mignon steaks, each 6 oz and 1½ inches thick, fat trimmed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced into thin strips
4 oz sliced mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or cremini
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brandy (Cognac)
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Directions

Gently flatten the steaks to about ½ inch thick. Season both sides of the steaks with pepper and salt.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add the steaks and cook 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add butter, shallots, and mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring, until golden brown and the mushrooms are beginning to release their juices, about 3 minutes. Add brandy and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Combine flour and broth, add the pan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced about 5 minutes.


Whisk in mustard and cream, and cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to low. Return the steaks to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Turn to coat with the sauce and cook until heated through about 1 minute. Place each steak on an individual plate, top with the sauce and sprinkle with chives.

The potatoes and asparagus can roast in the oven together, while you prepare the steak.

Roasted Baby Potatoes

Ingredients

12 oz small potatoes, peeled
1 teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons panko crumbs
1 tablespoon parmesan, finely grated
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Dash of paprika

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Slice the potatoes in half and boil them for 7-10 minutes or until fork-tender but not cooked all the way through. Remove from the water and place on paper towels to remove excess water. Place the potatoes in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste.
Combine the panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, and paprika together in a bowl until well combined. Sprinkle the panko mixture on top of the potatoes evenly. Place into the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Roasted Pencil-thin Asparagus

Ingredients

1 bunch pencil-thin asparagus
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Directions

Wash and trim off 1″ from the bottom. Place the asparagus on a large, rimmed baking sheet; add salt, pepper, and oil. Toss with your hands. Spread out into a single layer and sprinkle with almonds.
Bake in a 400-degree F oven for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

Rustic Italian

Italian Sausage Eggplant Bolognese Sauce

Serve this sauce over your favorite pasta. I used pappardelle because the wide noodles hold the sauce.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

1 lb hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 (26-ounce) container Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
12 ounces uncooked pappardelle, rigatoni, bucatini or spaghetti
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add crumbled sausage and diced eggplant; cook until lightly browned.
Add onion, carrots, celery, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits. Add beef broth, tomatoes,1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crushed red pepper flakes, basil, and cream. Heat until warm.
Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to the cooking water. Drain and add the pasta to the pot of sauce. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Place pasta in individual pasta serving bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts For Dinner

Stuffed Chicken Breasts Over Creamed Spinach

Both the chicken and butternut squash can roast in the oven together.

2 servings

Chicken
2 ounces onion/chive flavored cream cheese spread
1-ounce Italian fontina cheese, cut into 4 sticks
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Kitchen twine

Spinach
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 large shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 ounces cream cheese cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the chicken
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Lay the breasts on a cutting board. Using a sharp boning knife, cut a pocket in the thickest part of each breast.

Spread half the filling into each pocket. Tuck the tip of each breast under and secure with one long piece of butcher twine tied into a cross, making sure to seal the pocket hole with the twine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate chicken for 1 hour to firm up.

Place a tablespoon of butter, cut in half on top of each chicken breast.
Bake in the preheated oven until chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 30-40 minutes

For the spinach
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.
Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes; add garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shallot softens.
Stir in cream cheese and cream; cook, stirring, until cream cheese is melted and smooth.
Stir in spinach; add cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Spread half of the creamed spinach on two individual serving plates. Place a cooked chicken breast on top of each portion.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. Slice off the ends of the squash, and then cut it in half width-wise. Cut the round bottom piece in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Carefully cut the squash into spears. Thoroughly blot moisture away with paper towels, and place in a plastic ziplock bag with the salt, pepper, paprika, and oil. Shake well.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and then place the spears flat on the pan.
Bake in the oven 20 minutes, and then carefully turn the spears over. Continue to bake until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, about 20 minutes longer.

Still Cooking From The Farm

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

I used a leftover cooked steak. If you do not have any on hand, cook a small steak and slice it to use in this recipe.

Ingredients

1 large green bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 large onion, sliced
4 ounces of packaged sliced mushrooms
6 ounces cooked steak, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 slices provolone cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place pepper halves on a rimmed baking sheet or in individual ramekins. Bake until tender but still able to hold their shape, about 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they’re softened and release their juices, about 5 minutes more. Add steak, Italian seasoning, pepper and salt; cook, stirring, until the steak is hot through, 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in Worcestershire.
Preheat broiler to high. Divide the filling between the pepper halves and top each with a folded slice of cheese. Broil 5 inches from the heat until the cheese is melted and lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes.

Oven Sweet Potato Fries

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into thin wedges
2 teaspoons of olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potato wedges with oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and cayenne pepper in a ziplock bag. Spread the wedges out on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until browned and tender about 20 minutes total.


Eggplant Lasagna

Sugo di Pomodoro

Soffritto
1 carrot
Half a medium sweet onion
1 celery stalk
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
Two 26 oz containers finely chopped Italian tomatoes (Pomi)
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste

Eggplant Layer
4 small eggplants (each about 6-7 oz)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
¾ cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
Olive oil

Cheese Layer
3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh herbs )parsley and basil)
16 oz mozzarella, sliced thin

Directions

For the soffritto
With a sharp knife, finely chop or mince the onions, carrots, and celery. Try to cut the vegetables with uniform sizes to ensure even cooking.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and the soffritto. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté the vegetables, stirring often, until they have absorbed most of the olive oil and are tender. Stir in the garlic and stir.

For the sauce
Add in the tomatoes and remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot partially with the lid. Bring the tomato sauce to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring often.

For the eggplant
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the eggplants and slice into very thin slices. Place all the sliced eggplants in a ziplock plastic bag. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and shake the bag. Coat 3 sheet pans with olive oil cooking spray. Arrange eggplant slices on the pan. Sprinkle eggplant on each pan with ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and ¼ cup of seasoned panko crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over the eggplant on all three pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the eggplant slices are lightly brown. Switch pans around in the oven after 15 minutes.

For the cheese layer
In a large mixing bowl combine the beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to assemble the casserole.
Slice the mozzarella cheese.

To assemble the Eggplant Lasagna
Spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Add ⅓ of the eggplant slices. Place ⅓ of the sliced mozzarella on top of the eggplant slices and then spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella/eggplant layer. Add another ⅓ layer of eggplant slices and spread 1 cup of tomato sauce over the eggplant/ Add ⅓ of the mozzarella slices and the remaining ricotta mixture. Add the remaining eggplant slices topped with 1 cup of the tomato sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.


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