Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: July 2012

To parody the song from the Broadway show, Annie Get Your Gun, “Anything you can do with veal, I can do better with turkey”

Menu 1

Roman-Style Saltimbocca

turkeycutlets1

This traditional Roman dish is classically made with veal but can also be made with turkey.

Serves 4

Ingredients        

  • 4 boneless turkey cutlets (about 4 ounces each)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto
  • 8 sage leaves, more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Lemon wedges     

Directions:

Sprinkle each cutlet lightly with salt and pepper. Top with a slice of prosciutto and a sage leaf.
Place cutlets between 2 sheets of parchment, waxed paper or plastic wrap. With a mallet or rolling-pin, gently pound cutlets to an even 1/4-inch thickness, pounding the prosciutto and sage into the cutlets.

Spread the flour on a shallow plate and dip the cutlets in it, lightly coating both sides.
Heat a tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large pan. When the butter begins to foam, add the cutlets to the pan, prosciutto side down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.
Add wine to the hot pan and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce by half, then add the chicken broth and reduce again.
Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in remaining tablespoon of butter. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, then pour over the reserved cutlets. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes; reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Ladle 3⁄4 cup pasta water into skillet; bring to a boil. Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet; spread it evenly.

Sprinkle the Pecorino Romano cheese over pasta; toss vigorously to combine until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta without clumping, about 2 minutes, adding some pasta water if necessary. Transfer to serving bowl.

Garlic Green Beans

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) toasted almonds,
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the green beans. Boil for four minutes, then drain and dry on a kitchen towel.

Mix together the parsley, lemon zest and almonds in a small bowl. Heat the oil over medium heat in the same pan used for the green beans and add the garlic. As soon as it begins to sizzle, stir in the beans. Toss for about a minute until the beans are coated with oil and cooked garlic, then stir in the parsley mixture. Stir for a minute, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the beans to a platter or serving dish, scrape the almond mixture remaining in the pan over the top and serve.

Menu 2

Sautéed Scaloppine with Tomato Vinaigrette

turkeycutlets4

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless turkey cutlets, about 6 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • 1 cup Tomato Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Directions:

1. Prepare the Tomato Vinaigrette. Keep the vinaigrette warm.
2. Lay the turkey between two pieces of waxed paper, and flatten each cutlet with the flat end of a mallet until thin.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet until hot. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge it in flour. Sauté the turkey over high heat, about 1 minute on each side. Remove to a warm platter and serve, topped with the vinaigrette.

Tomato Vinaigrette                                                                                                                                                                   

Makes 2 Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz.)Pomi strained tomatoes 
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil or dill
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the tomatoes, vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the mixture to a thick consistency, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, place the sauce in a glass container and cool over ice.
Place the mustard and lemon juice in a food processor. With the machine running, add the basil and olive oil. Add the cooled tomato mixture and puree until smooth.
The vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Fennel Layered with Potatoes and Bread Crumbs

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed (3/4 to 1 lb. after trimming)
  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano  or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as possible, about an 1/8 inch thick. Put the sliced potatoes in a large bowl of cold water to keep them from browning.

Cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Slice the fennel crosswise as thinly as possible, about an 1/8 inch thick. You should have about 4 cups.

In a another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and garlic. Mix well with your hands, making sure the garlic is evenly distributed.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Without draining the potatoes, use your hands to lift out about one-third of the slices and arrange them in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them slightly. (The water clinging to them will generate steam as they bake and you will need less oil in this dish.)

Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a couple of grinds of the pepper. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Top the potatoes with half of the sliced fennel, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the fennel with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture, and 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Repeat this layering process, ending with a top layer of potatoes. Season the top layer with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and some more pepper. Mix the remaining breadcrumb mixture with the final 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes (be sure the aluminum foil is sealed tightly all around the baking dish, or there won’t be enough steam to cook the potatoes).

Uncover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

Quick Broiled Asparagus

While the fennel potato casserole is resting, cook the asparagus in the broiler as described below.

Directions:

Take 1 bunch of asparagus and cut off the tough ends. Wash lightly and let dry completely.

Place asparagus on a cookie sheet or the bottom of a broiler pan.

Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Move oven rack to the top and turn broiler on low. Cook for 5-10 minutes depending on thickness.

Menu 3

Turkey Cutlets with Mozzarella and Roasted Red Peppers

turkey-cutlets

Servings: 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Ingredients

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) turkey breast cutlets (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 3/4 pound Fettuccine or cooked rice

Directions

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Season turkey with chopped sage, salt, and pepper. Cook turkey in pan 2 1/2 minutes per side. Arrange peppers and cheese on top of turkey and pour Marsala and broth to pan. Place the lid on the pan and cook 45 seconds or until cheese is melted. Using a slotted spoon, remove turkey cutlets to a plate and keep warm.

Let Marsala mixture boil about 1 1/2 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup. Take pan off of heat and whisk in butter.  Place turkey cutlets over pasta on serving plates and spoon sauce over turkey.  Sprinkle with chopped sage.

Tip: to roast pepper:

Seed red bell pepper and cut into quarters. Lay pepper quarters, flesh side down on a foil covered baking sheet; broil 10 minutes or until skin is black. Put peppers in a plastic bag and let rest, sealed for 10 minutes; peel off skin.

Crispy Parmesan Broccoli

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound broccoli, rinsed, dried, and cut into flat sided small pieces
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup Panko Lemon Pepper Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and cheese.

Put the broccoli in a large bowl, add the egg substitute and toss with your hands to coat.

Sprinkle in the bread crumb and cheese mixture and toss to combine.

Transfer to a baking sheet, flat side down,  and roast for 12 minutes.

Menu 4

Turkey Osso Bucco

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 turkey thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2  celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Pat the turkey with paper towels to dry and ensure even browning. Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Dredge the turkey in the flour to coat.
In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the turkey thighs in a single layer, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook until brown on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the turkey to a bowl and reserve.
In the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season vegetables with salt. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Return the turkey to the pan. Add enough chicken broth to come 2/3 up the sides of the turkey. Add the herb sprigs and bay leaves to the broth mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Braise until the turkey is fork-tender about 2 hours, turning the turkey after 1 hour.

Easy Parmesan Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced 
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat the broth and water ( total 6 cups) in a pot and keep warm.
In a heavy Dutch oven pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil and cook the shallot over medium heat until it is translucent.
Add the rice and stir to coat.
Add the wine, and cook over medium heat until the wine is almost absorbed.
Reduce the heat to medium low, and add 5 cups of the hot liquid.
Cook for 18 minutes stirring just twice during this period or until the rice is just al dente.
Add 1/2 cup of broth and stir constantly for 3 minutes until the rice is creamy, adding remaining broth if risotto isn’t loose enough.
To finish the dish add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, remaining butter and  salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.

Green Peas

Defrost 1 package of frozen green peas but leave them in the plastic bag that encloses them.  Heat in the microwave on high in the bag for 3 minutes.  Pour into a serving bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and fresh cracked black pepper.

Menu 5

Braised Turkey Roulade with Pancetta, Shallots, and Porcini Sauce                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Serves 8   

This recipe can be cut in half to make 4 servings.  However, this is a good choice for an entrée when entertaining an would want to make the full amount.              

Ingredients

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 1/2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (about 9 slices), divided
  • 2 cups chopped shallots (about 10 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 (1 1/4-pound) skinless, boneless turkey breast halves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (Wondra flour works well for sauces)

Directions

Combine 2 cups boiling water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl; cover and let stand for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Drain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving soaking liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Coarsely chop 1 pancetta slice. Add chopped pancetta to pan; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 3/4 cups shallots, 2 teaspoons rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook for 7 minutes or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved mushrooms. Cool slightly.

Slice 1 turkey breast half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open halves, laying turkey breast flat (like a book).
Place plastic wrap over turkey breast; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Spread half of shallot mixture over turkey breast; roll up jelly roll fashion, starting with long sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange 4 pancetta slices evenly on top of turkey roll. Secure at 2-inch intervals with twine.
Repeat procedure with remaining turkey breast half, shallot mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 4 pancetta slices.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add turkey rolls to the pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, turning after 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots, carrot, celery, and wine to pan. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Stir in reserved porcini liquid and remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons rosemary. Cover and bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 160°. Remove turkey rolls from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Cut each roll crosswise into 12 slices.

Strain cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Combine 1/4 cup water and flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Return remaining cooking liquid to pan; add flour mixture and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly. Serve sauce with turkey slices.

Rice With Cheese

 4 servings.

Ingredients: 

  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly coarsely ground cracked black pepper.

 Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt, just as you would to cook pasta. Add rice and stir. When water returns to a boil, lower heat and cook rice until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain in a fine mesh colander or line your colander with cheesecloth if the wholes in your colander are large enough for the rice to fit through.

2. Put butter in the same pan and turn heat to medium. When butter melts and just begins to turn brown, add rice and toss together. Stir in Fontina cheese, the Parmesan, along with freshly ground cracked pepper.

Parmesan Broiled Tomatoes

8 servings

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat the broiler.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Halve the tomatoes crosswise (through the equator, not from stem to bottom). Place the tomatoes flesh-side up on the prepared pan and brush the tops with the olive oil. Season the top of each tomato with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine the Parmesan cheese and garlic and mix well to combine. Sprinkle the mixture on the top of each tomato.

Broil 5 to 7 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and tomatoes soften. Sprinkle the parsley over top just before serving.


Italian Ricotta Cookies are a traditional cookie that can be made anytime of the year. Unlike biscotti, ricotta cookies are moist and more cakelike than a hard or crunchy biscuit. Ricotta cookies are made with butter, sugar, flour and eggs. These ingredients are blended together with flavorings such as vanilla, orange or lemon. Spoonfuls of the mixture are dropped onto cookie sheets for baking. They are glazed and can be decorated to fit any holiday season. I can recall these cookies were often on hand in my grandmother’s and my aunts’ houses. Immediately, they would greet you with, “have a cookie”, the minute you got there.

I chose this cookie recipe to show readers how a recipe can be made over into a healthy dessert.  It is a simple cookie to make, yet very delicious and appealing.  The key is in swapping out saturated fat, too much sugar and processed ingredients for more healthful choices. The substitutions I usually make for ingredients in most of my baking recipes include an alternative sugar, whole grain flour, less saturated fat and egg substitutes.  You will find these substitutions work just fine in this cookie recipe.

Smart Balance in place of butter; egg substitute in place of whole eggs; skim ricotta cheese

Light sugar (half regular sugar and half Stevia). Eagle all purpose flour (part white flour and part whole wheat flour).

A standard recipe for Italian Ricotta Cookies comes from Good Housekeeping Magazine and similar recipes can be found from Italian Food Forever and Giada De Laurentiis.

Ricotta-Cheese Cookies

From Good Housekeeping

The ricotta cheese in these Italian-style cookies keeps them moist, and the recipe yields a large batch, which is great since the baked cookies freeze so well.

Yields: about 6 dozen cookies
Total Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Oven Temp: 350

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt

Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. At medium speed, beat in ricotta, vanilla, and eggs until well combined.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; beat until dough forms.
Drop dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until cookies are very lightly golden (cookies will be soft). With pancake turner, remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
When cookies are cool, prepare icing: In small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. With small metal spatula or knife, spread icing on cookies; sprinkle with sugar crystals. Set cookies aside to allow icing to dry completely, about 1 hour.

Here is my makeover version and it comes with a guarantee that this cookie tastes just like the original – just ask my husband!

Makeover Italian Ricotta Cookies

I think the lemon flavor adds to the cookies appeal but you can use vanilla or orange flavoring instead.

Makes 4-5 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar alternative ( that is half regular sugar and half Stevia, such as Domino Light)
  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance butter blend, softened
  • 15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
  • Juice from half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
  • 4 cups Eagle Ultra Grain brand all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Grated zest from half a lemon

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice from half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Grated zest from half a lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and Smart Balance with an electric mixer at low speed until blended. Raise speed to high and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Beat in the ricotta, juice from half the lemon ( 2 tablespoons), half of the lemon zest and the egg substitute at medium speed until well blended.

Reduce speed to low and mix in flour, baking powder, and salt until dough forms.

Beat ingredients until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Place a level tablespoon of dough, 2 inches apart, onto parchment lined cookie sheets, 12 to a sheet.

Drop by level tablespoon on parchment covered baking sheets.

Bake until a light golden color (they will be soft), about 15 minutes. Rotate baking sheets halfway through the baking time.

Cookies are done after 15 minutes.

With a spatula, transfer cookies to a cooling rack; repeat with remaining dough.

The top of the cookies will be light and the bottom will be brown.

While cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze.

Glaze

In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, lemon zest, water, lemon juice until smooth and thin.  Add a little more water if the glaze is too thick.

With a pastry brush spread glaze on the top of the cookies.

Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze.

Let cookies dry completely and make sure the glaze has hardened before storing.  If it is hot where you live, you may want to store these cookies in the refrigerator.


A common question today is : “What should I eat to be healthy?”

Here are some “tried-and-true” meal planning tips:

  • Entree. Here’s where you can put the dietary guidelines to work for you. Plan on fish twice a week and at least one meatless meal. You’re almost half-way done. For the remaining meals, plan one that’s fast and easy to cook, one big family-type meal and one meal based on leftovers. Remember that a serving of meat is only about the size of a deck of cards. The rest of the plate will be filled with other good things.
  • Vegetables. Begin to fill in vegetables according to the entree. Look for colorful ones and plan some variety throughout the week. Get out of the rut of the too familiar rotation of cooked peas, corn and green beans. How about sugar snap peas, broccoli or beets? Instead of the same old iceberg lettuce, how about spinach, tomato slices or shredded carrots?
  • Whole grains. Think of all the options: brown rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread or rolls, couscous, barley, and kasha You can cook whole grains ahead and use leftovers the next day — especially in soups and salads.
  • Fruit. It’s not just for dessert anymore. Fruit can be a topping, a salad, a sauce, stuffed into chicken, and grilled or broiled on skewers. Think frozen bananas, grapes or berries for those hot nights.
  • Beverage. Water is perfect. Other good choices include low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice and a glass of wine or beer.
The following menus are formed around stuffed chicken breasts because chicken is a good dinner choice due to its versatility and popularity. The menus show you how to build a meal around this delicious entree.  I would, however, encourage you, if at all possible, to buy organic chickenChicken is one of the best places to spend your organic dollars, according to a 2006 “Consumer Reports” study. If you’re resolved to eat a healthier diet, consider the benefits of organic chicken and add it to your shopping list.
Yesterday’s health news is another reason to look for organic chicken in your supermarket. A growing number of medical researchers say more than 8 million women are at risk of difficult-to-treat bladder infections because superbugs – resistant to antibiotics and growing in chickens – are being transmitted to humans in the form of E. coli.  The Food and Drug Administration says 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are fed to livestock and even healthy chicken to protect them from disease in cramped quarters. It also helps the chickens grow bigger and faster. http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/superbug-dangers-chicken-linked-8-million-risk-women-122809803–abc-news-health.html.
While health news recommendations can be confusing from report to report, it is standard industry practice to regularly use antibiotics in livestock production.  It is important for consumers to be aware of what goes into the production of their foods, so they can make wise purchase decisions.
Look for this label to be certain you are purchasing organic chicken:

Menu 1

Two-Cheese Stuffed Chicken

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 cup part-skim, shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 boneless, skinless medium chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Directions:
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes and garlic. Add spinach, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes until spinach is soft. Remove from heat.
3. Let mixture cool slightly; stir in Mozzarella and Parmesan.
4. Heat oven to 375°F.
5. Beginning in the center of the thicker end of the breast, insert a small knife horizontally, stopping about 1 inch from the opposite end. Open incision to create a wide pocket and pack 1/4 of the filling mixture into each breast.
6. Season chicken with Italian seasoning blend and place in 13″x 9″x 2″ baking dish.
7. Pour broth over chicken. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
8. Keep warm until served.

Brown Rice Pilaf With Hazelnuts                                                                                                                               

4 Servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) coarsely chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Alternate: Replace the hazelnuts with walnuts, pine nuts, or pecans.

Directions:

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom liquid evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and nuts and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, thyme, and lemon peel. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. For best results, avoid stirring the rice while it cooks. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Radicchio Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pounds radicchio, cut in 1-inch shreds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Put the fruit in a small bowl and pour the vinegar over them. Let soak for 15 minutes. Pour the fruit and vinegar over the shredded radicchio in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt. Toss well to coat the salad with the dressing.

Menu 2

Chicken Breasts With Lemon and Basil Couscous

Stuffed Chicken Breast:

Ingredients:

  • 4  (about 1 1/4 pounds) medium skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
  • 1/4 cup (about half 4.4-ounce package) light garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese
  • 1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 8  whole fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Lemon and Basil Couscous:                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarse

Directions:

  1. Prepare Stuffed Breasts: With tip of knife, cut each chicken breast from a long side, keeping knife parallel to surface of breast, to form a deep pocket with as small an opening as possible.
  2. In small bowl, combine cheese, peppers, and basil. Spread 1/4 cheese mixture in each chicken pocket. Rub outside of chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare Lemon & Basil Couscous: In 2-quart saucepan, add oil, salt, pepper, and 1 1/3 cups water and bring to boiling over high heat; stir in couscous. Cover saucepan; remove from heat and let stand at least 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place chicken on grill over medium heat and cook 12 to 15 minutes or until juices run clear when thickest part of the breast is pierced with tip of knife, turning over once.
  5. To serve, add basil and lemon juice to couscous, and fluff with fork to mix well. Spoon couscous onto 4 dinner plates and arrange chicken on top.

Cherry Tomato Cucumber Salad


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup of chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or green onions
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Gently toss the tomatoes, cucumber, onions and oregano together. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over vegetables.
Serves 4.

Menu 3

Chicken Roll-Ups

   

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 11/4 lb chicken cutlets
  • 4 slices lean ham
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of Progresso Italian Panko crumbs  

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay cutlets on plastic wrap, pound until thin. Fold ham and cheese and half and lay over the chicken. You can add basil, rosemary  or any herb of choice.

Start at the narrowest end of cutlet and the roll up. Secure with a toothpick or be sure to lay them seam side down once breaded.

Dip pastry brush in extra virgin olive oil and brush on chicken rolls. Quickly put the entire chicken roll into bowl of Panko crumbs and use your hand or a spoon to press crumbs firmly onto chicken roll.

Transfer the rolled cutlets to a  greased baking dish. Then, using a teaspoon, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over each chicken roll.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in the middle of the oven. In the last few minutes switch your oven to “broil” and move your baking dish to the rack closest to heating element. In 1-2 minutes, the high heat will brown up the crumbs.

Broccoli with Orecchiette                                                                                                                                                                         

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) or small shells, whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch (about 1 1/2 pounds) broccoli stalks, peeled and trimmed, stalks and florets, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Set pasta aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; saute until golden, stirring to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli and reserved cooking liquid; cook, stirring, until broccoli is tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Add reserved pasta to pan, and toss well to coat. Transfer to four serving bowls; drizzle each with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and garnish each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Menu 4

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 6 oz low fat softened cream cheese
  • 12 sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices Proscuitto

Directions:

In a skillet, saute mushrooms in oil until browned on medium heat stirring often to avoid burning. Add shallots and cook for an additional minute. Mix with cream cheese.

Divide the filling so that you have enough for 4 breasts. Put filling in the middle and roll tucking in the side ends so that you will not have the filling spill out later.

Do the same with the rest of the chicken pieces.

At this point wrap with prosciutto ham to encase the roll. Place in a greased baking dish and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz spaghetti, whole grain
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 small zucchini (about 1 lb total), sliced 1/4 in. thick
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°F.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon of the oil.

In a large bowl toss the zucchini, garlic, red pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the Parmesan cheese toss to combine. Spread the zucchini mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the zucchini mixture, parsley and lemon zest.

Menu 5

Chicken Roulade with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Preserved Lemon or lemon zest
  • 12 pitted Kalamata ripe olives, drained and divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Directions:

1. Combine breadcrumbs, 4 tablespoons capers, 1 tablespoon Preserved Lemons, 6 olives, and garlic in a food processor or blender, and pulse 10 times or until the mixture is coarsely chopped.

2. Place each breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Divide breadcrumb mixture into 4 equal portions; spread 1 portion on each breast half, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the outside edges. Roll up each breast half, jelly-roll fashion, starting with short side. Secure with wooden picks or twine.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Add wine; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 1 minute), stirring often. Add remaining 2 tablespoons capers, 1 cup water, broth, juice, raisins, and turmeric. Quarter the remaining 6 olives. Add to pan; bring to a boil. Add chicken to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, turning chicken after 10 minutes. Serve chicken with sauce.

Roasted Red Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 12 small red potatoes cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash® Garlic and Herb Blend, divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Toss potatoes with olive oil and 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Blend in a bowl. Turn into a greased baking dish.

Roast in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven for 30 minutes.

Increase heat to 450°F. Sprinkle with remaining Mrs. Dash Blend and continue to roast for 5 – 10 minutes or until tender and browned. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.


Sauteed Fresh Green Beans 

In skillet with cover, add 1 small shallot sliced, 1 small garlic clove, minced, 1 cup low sodium chicken broth and 1 lb. trimmed fresh green beans.  Sprinkle with a little salt & pepper. Bring to boiling, lower heat to simmer, cover pan and cook until beans are tender.

Warm weather doesn’t mean you put comforting foods like soup on the back burner. There are a variety of soups that are hearty, healthy, and refreshing. Summer soups are especially great for vegetarians, since they usually don’t involve any meat (you can substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock in any recipe). Two brands of store bought vegetable broth, I find full of flavor are Imagine and Pacific.

Soups are very easy to digest and a large pot of soup is a very affordable way to feed a family or a group of people. Soup stretches a little meat a long way.

Soup is easy to make and it is a complete one-pot meal with minimal effort and minimal clean up.
It is a quick meal for any time of the day. Simply heat and eat. Soup is also an easy lunch to take to work.

Here are some suggestions to try and they are probably soups you have eaten in the past.
1) Gazpacho
Gazpacho is a chunky vegetable soup popular in Spain. You can make it with tomato, which is the most common, or with radishes or watermelon.
2) Sweet Fruit Soups
Using yogurt, you can create a chilled melon soup or a strawberry orange soup. Using lemon juice and sparkling wine, you can create sparkling pineapple soup.
3) Vegetable soups
Avocados, potatoes, spinach, carrots, asparagus, and fennel can all be the star ingredient of a summer soup. Many can be chilled and served that way.

The abundance of summer local vegetables are perfect for soups and are a delicious way to use up this bounty. Whether you’re using fruits, vegetables, or a combination of both, you’re likely to come across some interesting flavors you haven’t experienced before. Spicing your summer soups up with cayenne, cinnamon, pepper, and garlic will add to the number of unique combinations you have available to enjoy.

Following are some summertime soup recipes that you might not have had before.

Golden Summer Squash & Corn Soup      

4 servings, scant 1 cup each

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 medium summer squash, (about 1 pound), diced
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme or oregano, divided
  • 1- 14-15 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, (from 1 large ear; see Tip)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add squash and 1 teaspoon herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash starts to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add broth and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the squash is soft and mostly translucent, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Return the soup to the pan and stir in corn. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat; stir in lemon juice. Serve garnished with the remaining 2 teaspoons herbs and cheese.

Tip: To remove corn from the cob, stand an uncooked ear of corn on its stem end in a shallow bowl and slice the kernels off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. If making a soup, after cutting off the kernels, you can reverse the knife and use the dull side to press down the length of the ear to push out the rest of the corn and its milk.

Cold Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until almost smooth, or until desired consistency is reached.
Transfer to a large saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
This quick and easy tomato soup is delicious hot or cold. Makes four servings.

Meatball and Zucchini Soup

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-32 oz carton low sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons long grain rice
  • 3/4 pound zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • Meatballs, recipe below
Directions:
 

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil and brown meatballs on all sides. Add onion, oregano, broth, and rice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until rice is tender (about 25 minutes).Add zucchini and cook, uncovered, until just tender (4 to 6 minutes). Season to taste with salt and serve.

Meatballs

  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground lean beef or turkey or chicken
  • fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

In a medium bowl, beat egg. Mix in salt, garlic, pepper, and bread crumbs. Lightly mix in meat. Shape into 3/4-inch meatballs.

Fresh Summer Minestrone

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 pound new or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 small carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from about 1 medium ear of corn)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 ounces spinach leaves, trimmed and sliced into thin strips (2 cups)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mixed minced herbs such as basil, marjoram or oregano, thyme and flat-leaf parsley
  • dash of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Bring 3 cups water to boil. in a saucepan or kettle

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beans and boiling water; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.

Add potato and carrot; continue to cook, covered, until beans are tender, about 40 minutes more.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 30 seconds; drain, peel, seed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

When beans are tender, add tomato, corn, peas and spinach; simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with herbs and extra pepper.

Chicken & Barley Soup          

Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large bone-in chicken breast (10-12 ounces), skin removed, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup trimmed and diagonally sliced asparagus (¼ inch thick)
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1 strip orange zest (1/2 by 2 inches)

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 4 minutes. Grate or finely chop 1 clove garlic; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, chicken and barley. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon. Return the broth to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, shred the chicken or cut into bite-size pieces; discard the bone.

3. When the barley is done, add the chicken, tomatoes,, asparagus, peas, salt and a grinding of pepper; return to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more.

4. Coarsely chop the remaining garlic clove. Gather basil, orange zest and the garlic and finely chop together. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle each serving with a generous pinch of the basil mixture.

Seafood Chowder                                                                                                                 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound white fish ( ex. haddock, cod, grouper), cut into small pieces
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp, cut into thirds
  • 1 1/2 cups water or fish stock or clam broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 pound peeled, diced Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons flour (Wondra is good for sauces)
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Chopped parsley and basil

Directions:

Heat oil in a soup pot and add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook gently. Add the garlic, potato, corn and coat in the fat.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir well, simply stir Wondra into the cold broth and whisk into the soup.
Gradually add the fish stock, stirring all the time until flour is dissolved. Cook at a simmer for about 25 minutes.
Add the fish and shrimp and cook for 5 mins.
Warm the milk and butter  in a glass measuring cup in the microwave and pour very slowly into the soup when the potatoes are soft. Top each bowl with some chopped herbs.


The blogging community honors its writers by having bloggers nominate other bloggers for The Very Inspirational Blogger Award.

I have been given this distinction by a talented artist and blogger, Wendie Donabie.                                                                                                                                                                          

To achieve the award a blogger needs to:

  1. Display the award logo somewhere on the blog.
  2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated them.
  3. State 7 things about oneself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
  5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the requirements of the award.

1. Post Award


2. Thank you to Wendie Donabie who has nominated me for The Very Inspirational Blogger Award.
http://blueheronwrites.com/2012/07/10/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

 Who is BlueHeronWrites?

Wendie Donabie says, she is BlueHeronWrites, a fiction writer, poet and emerging artist whose goal is to inspire, entertain and touch the soul of those who read her words and view her paintings. The Great Blue Heron is her favorite bird. It is a symbol of contemplation, vigilance, divine wisdom, and inner quietness; all attributes needed when pursuing dreams.
Why she wants to write:
‘As a young child I dreamed of writing for a living but life choices took me along another career path – actually a couple of paths. I have no regrets; I’ve experienced a rich and fulfilling life. Yet within me a longing still exists to express myself creatively. Today there are no excuses; I have the time, the place and lots to share.”
Why she creates paintings:
“For me,” she says, “the creative process starts with an inspiration. It might be a fleeting image or thought or be sparked by something I’ve read or overheard. I love taking photographs of nature and these too serve to stimulate my Muse. My hope is that my paintings will draw the viewer in and touch his/her spirit in some way.”
Check out some of Wendie’s beautiful paintings, http://blueheronwrites.com/a-few-seasonal-paintings/

3. Seven Things About Me:

1. I have the time to write a blog, since I am retired from the education profession,
2. I had thought about a cookbook but the times have changed and the internet if the future.
3. I love to spend time with my three children and five grandchildren.
4. I have always liked to cook but I have improved my skills overtime.
5. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, on the Coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
6. I learned you can learn new things as you age, in my case, the art of using blogging software.
7. I appreciate the arts, all of them, painting, writing, sculpture, movies, music and theater.

4. Nominate 15 bloggers and provide links:

1.  http://karenpavonesfoodforthought.com/
Karen Pavone is a writer, artist, and photographer who lives in Novato, California with her husband Matt, and two children. She is a passionate advocate for sustainable farming and the SLOW food movement. Food For Thought is dedicated to shining a spotlight on farmers, chefs, bakers, cheese-makers and others in Marin and Sonoma Counties who are producing quality food from farm to table. Karen also writes a popular food blog,

2.  http://ouritaliantable.wordpress.com/
We have similar backgrounds and love to write about italian food. Michele says, We grew up in an Italian family in New Jersey with deep roots in Sicilia (Santo Stefano di Camastra) and Le Marche (Senigallia).She says she inherited a love of cooking from her  mother, Josie, who was always whipping up Italian feasts for our neighborhood and family.  Homemade gnocchi, ravioli, passatelli were staples in our house and luckily she passed on her cooking skills to her children.

3.  http://www.lindasitaliantable.com/
The foundation for Linda’s Italian Table is what she learned daily from watching my mother and father create magic in the kitchen fashioning doughs, pastas, and making rich sauces without rigid recipes. It was there that sausage, stuffed breads, seafood delicacies and pastries of all kinds became the bounty from which wonderful meals originated that would sometimes last for hours. My mother called it “peasant food” as she thought if reflected simplicity. In my memory, it was more like “food of the gods” – aromatic and seductive with every bite. I learned at an early age that the best meals were always at home…

4.  http://chefchloe.com/latest-news.html
A lifelong vegetarian and vegan for more than six years, Chloe aims to bring delicious, meat-free dishes to the mainstream. Her decadent desserts and savory entrees prove that vegan cooking offers healthy choices without sacrificing flavor.

5.  http://foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.com/
Over the last couple of years, her blog has evolved into a format of sharing step-by-step photos on how I made a recipe.  She hopes her instructions will inspire someone to try one of her recipes– and that it will give them the confidence to do it. Most of my German recipes were taught to me, by my “Mutti”.

6.  http://sluuggo.com/
Sluggo says, “The only thing I love more than playing with gadgets is food. Whether it’s soul food, Hawaiian fusion, or just a simple late night snack I love it all. I love searching out new culinary treats and the people who create them. It’s not just the food itself it’s the stories and people behind it that have led me on a never-ending but delicious sojourn. With nothing but a fork and a laptop I am seeking out that next great bite.”

7.  http://www.thehopelesshousewife.com/
Television’s “Hopeless Housewife” Erika Monroe-Williams has been cooking most of her life, beginning at an early age helping her mother in the kitchen. Erika recalls most every night being an occasion at the dinner table as a child and has tried to bring that same spirit to her own dinner table as an adult with her family- but not without hiccups along the way. Erika is now hoping to share her secrets with everyone who has felt as hopeless as she has felt in the kitchen at one time or another.

8.  http://www.agirlforalltime.com/
Explore the world of A Girl for All Time®, a series of award-winning dolls, novels and keepsake books that bring the past to life with cool fashions, exciting stories and original activities to share with friends and family. Winner ‘Best Doll 2011’ and ‘100 of the Best Educational Toys’, this uniquely British brand encourages creative play for girls 6+.

9.  http://whatagirleats.com/
Cynthia says, Why a blog? Why not? It seems to me that a blog is the 21st century equivalent to a journal or diary, which I wrote in religiously throughout high school and college. The only difference is that with a blog(with any luck), people might actually read it!

10. http://www.thegingerbreadroad.blogspot.com/
I’m a twenty-something economics graduate from LSE, blogging in my spare time. I was raised mostly in Britain but recently made a radical decision, undoubtedly the culmination of a quarter-life crisis, to return to the city in which I lived as a child. I’m currently living and working in Istanbul, where I enjoy having my own kitchen, petting stray cats, taking the ferry home, and staring out at the sea while compulsively theorizing about the future. I cook and bake as a hobby, and a very amateur hobby at that. Therefore, this blog should not be taken as a guide to anything but rather a diary of my culinary experiences.

11. http://www.simplyvicky.com/
Victoria says, “ I started this blog as a collection of all things I love in the home, in and out of the kitchen, and out and about in the fashion world. I’m a serious food enthusiast, fashion aficionado, thrift shopper, home DIY-er, and puppy lover.”

12. http://marysnest.com/
Here I share stories of my bumpy transformation from practicing law to perfecting homemaking (see below),  along with stories about my food adventures inside and outside the kitchen with my family, friends, and our constant companion…our sweet dog…as we live, love, and eat…in the Texas Hill Country!

13. http://danieljmarsh.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/murder-swarming-and-too-many-queens/
I am a beekeeper based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK. I am relatively new to beekeeping with 2010 being the first year that I have had my own hives set up. This blog follows my experiences as a new beekeeper, in both words and pictures, and hopefully proves to be of use to other beekeepers or to those considering starting up as well as entertaining or educational for those who are just interested in bees or enjoy seeing me get stung!

14. http://www.bloggymoms.com/
Bloggy Moms is a community for all women. A community where women and moms in social media gather to learn more and share their knowledge about the blogosphere and social media world. Our members are trendsetters, influencers and savvy.
At Bloggy Moms they share their posts, the newest technology and the latest trends. Bloggy Moms is a place to find support, resources and connections while supporting each other.
Discussions on Bloggy Moms range from parenting, blog platforms, social media, technology, motherhood, the latest networking trends and much more.

15. http://cookinginstilettos.com/
Thanks to the tutelage of some great shows on Food Network, the Cooking Channel and PBS as well as some fabulous blogs and great cookbooks (including my Bampa’s), I can often be found immersed in all things culinary during my spare time. I also love to throw soirees from time to time and nothing feels better to me than to gather friends and family and celebrate life.

Thank you very much Wendie for the honor.


Oven-baked pasta has a long history that goes back to the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when pasticci, timballi, and other forms of baked pasta were often served at the large banquets in the palaces of nobles. Pasta al forno was an opportunity for the chef to show off his creativity and inventiveness. Eventually, the dish was adopted all over Italy—its success no doubt due to its infinite versatility. Today, it’s still a staple dish of southern Italy, where it is usually prepared on Sundays, religious holidays, and special occasions.

In Italy, the great variety in preparations of pasta al forno depends not only on what you have in your refrigerator or pantry, but also on regional traditions and approaches. For instance, in northern Italy, butter, pork fat, or even bone marrow are used for sautéing ingredients or in preparing the ragù (meat sauce); while in the southern regions, olive oil is predominantly used. Southern-style baked pastas are often based on vegetables—such as roasted or grilled eggplant; peppers or zucchini; sautéed or steamed peas; spinach or chard; broccoli or broccoli rabe; or cauliflower. Often local cured meats—such as sopressata, prosciutto, or sausages—are added. Sometimes tiny meatballs or even sliced hard-boiled eggs are used. Cheeses—such as caciocavallo, scamorza, provola, and mozzarella—are layered inside to melt or form a crusty top.

Most Italian-Americans know about the classic dishes called Manicotti and Cannelloni. They are featured in most Italian restaurants across the country. But to some extent, many aren’t able to describe the difference between the two. The names for these pasta dishes are often interchanged without thinking about how the dish is formed.

“Manicotti” means “small muffs”, and was originally made using crepes rolled around a savory ricotta and grated cheese filling. These can be topped with either a basic tomato sauce for a light first course, or with Ragu (meat sauce) and topped with mozzarella before baking in a hot oven. They are most often made with dried pasta tubes for stuffing that need to be boiled first. The name Manicotti is not found in Italy, as any dish made with crepes rolled around a sweet or savory filling is simply called “crespelle”.

In America many Italians use a pasta dough for Manicotti instead of crepes.  I was brought up with the pasta version and it is probably because my relatives came from southern Italy, while the crepe version probably originated in northern Italian.

Cannelloni means “large reeds”, and are made exclusively from fresh, hand-rolled pasta filled in any variety of ways. One of the most popular is a roasted pork or veal stuffing with vegetables, ground together and stuffed inside the fresh pasta sheets, topped with a Bechamel sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano. This is a typical northern Italian version, featured in the Florence and Reggio-Emilia provinces.

My interpretation of the two is that they are both made with fresh pasta dough (one that would also be used for lasagna) but the fillings and sauce are quite different.  Manicotti is covered with a tomato sauce while Cannelloni is covered with a Bechamel sauce. I also do not care to use the dried pasta tubes for Manicotti sold in the supermarket, as they are not very tender and they are difficult to fill. I prefer to make fresh pasta dough for Lasagna, Manicotti and Cannelloni. I use the same pasta recipe for all three dishes. Dried pasta shells, however, are perfectly fine for Stuffed Shells.    

I have included recipes for the homemade pasta and the different fillings with healthier ingredients than are often used in preparing these dishes.

Homemade Manicotti

For the Pasta:

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose or Italian (00) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of water
  • a dash of salt


For the Filling:

  • 1 pound container of skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pound of shredded skim milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 box of frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To Complete the Dish:

Directions:

To make the filling:

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

To make the dough:

Mix the flour, egg, salt and water together in the large bowl of a processor.  Process until the dough forms a ball. Coat lightly with olive oil and allow it to rest covered for 30 minutes.

After the pasta dough has rested roll out sheets with a pasta roller to a thickness you can just about see your hand through. With the roller, about the 5th. or 6th. setting for thickness.

Place the sheets on a pastry board and cut into 4″ x 6″ rectangles. You should get 12 of them.

Cook in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and put into a bowl of cold water. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Take a dish towel and spread it on the counter. Place a pasta rectangle on top of the towel so that the long side is facing you. Place 1/3 cup of filling along the edge of the pasta. Moisten the other edge of the pasta with a wet finger. Gently roll the pasta around the filling making a tube (jelly roll style using the towel to help).

Oil a casserole dish large enough to hold the manicotti and ladle some tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.

Place the filled manicotti in the casserole dish and repeat until all the pasta is filled.

Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the filled manicotti. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and put in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes removing the foil the last 20 minutes of baking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Chicken Cannelloni

Follow directions for making the pasta noodles in the recipe above for Manicotti.

Filling:

  • 12 ounces cooked chicken breast
  • 10 ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cannelloni:

12 sheets fresh noodles, 4  x 6 inches, cooked in boiling water for 4 minutes
Bechamel Sauce, recipe below
3 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
fresh diced tomatoes, and basil or Italian parsley (optional)

Directions:

Dice the chicken breast into 1/2-inch pieces and place into a large mixing bowl. Add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, pepper and salt, and mix thoroughly.
Arrange pre-cooked pasta sheets on kitchen towels and place two or three rounded tablespoons of filling mixture down the center of each pasta sheet and carefully roll pasta tightly around the filling.

Place the rolled cannelloni, side by side, into a greased ovenproof shallow baking dish.

Pour sauce over cannelloni covering completely.
Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over top of sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Optional: garnish with fresh diced tomatoes, and basil or Italian parsley.

Olive Oil Béchamel

The milk should be cold or at room temperature. If the liquid is too hot, the roux won’t have time to properly disperse in the liquid before the mixture comes to a boil; this is what causes sauces to lump.
The main thing to watch for here is scorching. Stir often with a rubber spatula, especially at the bottom and edges of the pan, so that the mixture doesn’t stick and begin to burn. If it does, immediately pour the sauce into another pot and continue to cook over very low heat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons flour (Wondra works well since it dissolves quickly)
  • 4 cups skim or 1 percent milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground white or black pepper

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot or onion, and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in flour (if you use all purpose flour), and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. The paste should have the texture of wet sand.

If you use Wondra flour, skip the step of adding it to the shallot mixture and just whisk it into the cold milk.

Whisk in the milk all at once, and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low, and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Stuffed Shells

Quick Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2- 28-ounce containers Pomi strained tomatoes

Filling:

  • 1 pound container skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup grated skim milk mozzarella
  • 1/2 box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

25-30 jumbo dried pasta shells

Oil two 13 x 9-inch baking pans, or equivalent. Set aside.

Directions:

Bring a big pot of water to boiling , and preheat your oven to 350 F.

To make the sauce:

Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

To make the filling:

Combine the ricotta, egg, spinach and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until combined, then stir in the mozzarella. Set aside.

Cook the shells according to package instructions in well-salted water – until al dente. If you overcook the shells, they will tear as you attempt to fill them. Drain, place on kitchen towels so they do not stick together and let cool long enough to handle with your hands.

Spread 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of each prepared pan. Fill each shell about halfway with ricotta filling, and arrange in a single layer in the pan. If you have extra filling, you can divide evenly and add it to the filled shells.

Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 – 6.


Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

Created on the South Side of Chicago in the Italian neighborhoods around the now defunct Stockyards, the classic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich is a unique, drippy, messy variation on the French Dip Sandwich. It is available in hundreds of places around the city but rarely found outside of Chicago. The exact origin is unknown, but the sandwich was probably created by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s as they rose from poverty and were able to afford beef for roasting.

No one knows for sure who invented the sandwich, but the recipe was popularized by Pasquale Scala, a South Side butcher and sausage maker. During the Depression food was scarce and Scala’s thinly sliced roast beef on a bun with gravy and fried peppers took off. Today, beef sandwiches are a staple at Italian weddings, funerals, parties, political fundraisers and luncheons and Scala’s Original still supplies hundreds of restaurants and Italian Beef Stands with the raw ingredients.

Italian Beef is made by slowly roasting lean beef in a pan filled with seasoned beef-based stock. Some folks call it gravy, but in most Chicago Italian households gravy is a term reserved for tomato sauces. Others call it au jus or “juice” for short. Then it is sliced paper-thin, soaked in the juice for a few minutes and layered generously, dripping wet, onto sections of Italian bread loaves, sliced lengthwise. According to Allen Kelson, former restaurant critic for Chicago Magazine and now a restaurant consultant, it is important that the bread has “wet strength”. The meat is topped with sautéed green bell pepper slices, Pepperoncini and Giardiniera, which is usually a spicy hot blend of chopped Serrano peppers, carrots, cauliflower florets, celery, olives, herbs, salt & pepper, packed in oil and vinegar. Finally juice is spooned over the toppings, making the bread wet and chewy.

12 servings

Ingredients:

Pot Roast:

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Sprigs fresh thyme

Pepper Topping:

  • 1  medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1  medium green pepper, julienned
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 16  ounces sliced or whole pepperoncinis                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • 2  (1-pound) loaves hearty Italian bread, cut into halves lengthwise

Directions:

For the Pot Roast:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position of the oven. Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke.

Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished. Add in the stock and thyme and bring to a simmer. Place the roast back into the pot with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven.

Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the juices in the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks, add to bowl with pan juices and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the Peppers:
Increase the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Toss the pepper strips with the oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich:  Spoon some juice directly onto the bread. Get it very wet. Then layer the beef generously and spoon on more juice. Top it with bell pepper,  Giardiniera and Pepperoncini.

Italian Subs – New York Restaurant Style

“This is a classic Italian sub sandwich with three kinds of meat and provolone cheese. The kind you get in a mom and pop pizza restaurant.

8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
2 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced very thin
1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound sliced hot Capacola
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced Prosciutto
1/2 pound sliced Provolone Cheese
4 submarine rolls, split
1 cup Pepperoncini, sliced to fit sandwich


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes and oregano. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Spread the submarine rolls open, and layer the Capacola, Salami, Prosciutto, and Provolone Cheese evenly on each roll. Top with some of the salad, and as many Pepperoncini pepper slices as desired. Close the rolls and serve.

Pepper and Egg Sandwich

Since the 1950′s, and possibly earlier, the “pepper ‘n egg” sandwich has been a popular lunch for Italian American families. When I was a child, my mother would pack a pepper and egg sandwich for my school lunch box. I can remember some of my school mates, saying, “EWW – what is that….” I just shrugged because it tasted yummy. As an adult, I make pepper and egg sandwiches regularly. I introduced them to my Irish husband long ago and it is still one of his favorite sandwiches.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf Italian bread or rolls

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat then add olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the onion and peppers, regulating the heat so the onions don’t burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Stir to combine with the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set.
Slice the bread lengthwise without cutting all the way through. When the eggs are done, gently slide them onto the bread to make a sandwich and cut the loaf into four portions.

Open-Face Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Four large 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian peasant bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 8 slices 1 inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 large basil leaves, torn
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Light a grill. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Top the eggplant with the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese just begins to melt, 1-2 minutes. Transfer 2 eggplant slices onto each slice of bread, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

The muffufletta sandwich’s nickname is simply “muff.” These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is considered as much a signature sandwich of New Orleans as the Po’ Boy Sandwich. It is an Italian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese and Italian ham. They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature. Imagine a sandwich that is almost as round as a Frisbee and so wide that it is hard to bite into.
Ingredients:
  • 1 round loaf Italian bread, 10-inches in diameter
  • Olive Salad (see recipe below)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces salami, thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Italian ham (Proscuitto), thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Directions:
Make Olive Salad.
Cut bread in half crosswise and scoop out about half of the soft dough from top and bottom pieces (this is to provide more room for the sandwich ingredients). Brush the inside bottom of loaf with olive oil or juice from the Olive Salad marinade.
Layer salami, Italian ham and Provolone cheese on the bottom piece.
Top with as much Olive Salad as will fit without spilling out. Add top of loaf and press down slightly. Slice in quarters or sixths and serve at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the appetite.

Olive Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives 
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimiento 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 anchovy fillet, mashed 
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh oregano leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and then allow the flavors to mingle for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Italian Meatball Sub

Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related the following information:
“My grandfather came to this country in 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti’s Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crusty roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a  layer of cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).”
Angela continued,”My mother often told me about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine.” She remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time. She related that “when grandfather went to see the Holland I in 1927, the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he said, ‘It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.’ From that day on, he called his sandwich the ‘submarine.’ People came from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs.”

Ooey-Gooey Meatball Submarine Sandwich. Photo by Sarah_Jayne

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly toast rolls.
  2. Sprinkle both cheeses in the bottom of the rolls, holding back about 2 tablespoons for the top of the rolls.
  3. Place the meatballs down the centre of the roll and ladle hot Marinara sauce on top.
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoonful of reserved shredded cheese and the Parmesan cheese over top. Sprinkle some dried oregano and basil the over top.
  5. Put meatball sub in an oven-safe dish and return to oven for a couple of minutes to heat through and melt the cheeses. Cool for a minute before digging in and you may need a large napkin. 

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  • Our animals are never given antibiotics. Healthy animals don’t need medicine. Instead, we give them space, fresh air, and a healthy diet, which we’re certain beats the alternative.
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  • Our animals are never given hormones or artificial growth promotants. They grow at their natural rate.
  • All of our products are made with natural and organic ingredients. If you aren’t familiar with a particular ingredient, email us and we’ll tell you what it is.
  • Our products are all minimally processed, allowing for a wholesome texture and taste.
  • Our products never contain artificial nitrates or nitrites. Instead, we use celery juice and sea salt to preserve our products the natural and old fashioned way.
  • Our deli meat, hot dogs, burgers, and bacon are gluten and casein free.
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Genoa Salami

Soppressata

Capacola

Pancetta

Proscuitto

Pepperoni


Ciro’s Italian Village, Washington, D.C. (1930)
Photo courtesy of Bill Walsh, copy editor at The Washington Post.

In the early 1900’s the Italian Immigrants who came to America lacked a common language and a common interpretation of “Italian cuisine.”  In Italy they had  been sharecroppers and tenant farmers and had become accustomed to living on the foods they grew on their land. While there was no single style of cooking that typified the newly-arrived Italian, one foodstuff that all Italian immigrants had in common was pasta made from soft wheat flour, water, and salt. At the time, semolina pasta made with durum wheat (as we know it today), was a staple for only the Italian upper classes, however, that would change once the newcomers found housing and steady incomes in America.

As they began to form communities in America, the Calabrese settled with other Calabrese; Sicilians with other Sicilians, etc. They cooked the dishes they remembered from Italy, whenever possible, with ingredients close to those they knew from home. These Italian neighborhoods became the ‘Little Italy’ communities in the major cities of the United States. Among the better known are the North End in Boston, North Beach in San Francisco, The Hill in St. Louis, the Bella Vista neighborhood in Philadelphia, Federal Hill in Providence, and the Little Italy quarters of Chicago, Baltimore, and New York.

Commercial pasta production—on a mom-and-pop level—began with the first waves of immigrants. Many set up shops, some in the front parlors of their apartments, to sell their homemade products to neighbors.

Although many worked as laborers and longshoremen, Italians found that even with a $10.00 weekly wage, one could enjoy the semolina pasta and salume (cured meats) they had been unable to afford back home. Tenement living may have been crowded and unpleasant, but semolina pasta—even simply dressed with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes—gave them a sense of liberation from the oppressive poverty they had known in Italy.  (Source: Almost Italian: A Cookbook & History of Italian Food in America by Skip Lombardi and Holly Chase.)

Following the First World War, pasta was an inexpensive choice at a time when food prices were rising in America. Recipes for spaghetti and tomato sauce started turning up in women’s magazines. American millers found a new use for flour, the consumption of which had decreased as the population moved to cities and began eating  more varied diets, which were not based on bread. The millers sponsored “eat more wheat” campaigns in the early 1920s and promoted macaroni. Pasta makers began using durum wheat, which they advertised as being higher in protein than soft wheat (it is, but not by much). Campbell’s, Heinz and other manufacturers brought out canned macaroni with tomato sauce, joining Franco-American, which in the 1890s had begun to sell canned spaghetti, stressing that it used a French recipe. Cooking pasta long enough to can it safely, institutionalized what was already a long-established practice, one for which Italians still deride Americans—over cooking pasta.  

Semolina Flour

It became acceptable and fashionable  to promote Italian food, even if the pasta was mush and the tomato sauce was full of sugar and salt. One typical recipe for tomato sauce omitted garlic and consisted of canned tomato soup with Worcestershire sauce added. In 1927 Kraft began marketing grated “Parmesan” cheese in a cardboard container with a perforated top and suggested that the cheese be served as a topping for spaghetti with tomato sauce. Spaghetti sales outnumbered those of egg noodles and ran a strong second in popularity to elbow macaroni, called simply macaroni, which was already conventional in salads.

spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

The promotional efforts worked and annual per capita consumption of pasta went from near zero in 1920 to 3¾  pounds by the end of the decade (as compared with fifty pounds in Italy). Restaurants accounted for much of this rise. Cafeterias, which became extremely popular in the twenties, served a great deal of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Italians all over the country opened “spaghetti houses” that served spaghetti and meatballs (purely an Italian American creation) to blue-collar workers. By the end of the twenties Italian restaurants had become the most popular ethnic restaurants in American cities, a lead they now hold nationwide. The Depression made spaghetti less an option than a necessity, and spaghetti and meatballs began appearing regularly on millions of American tables. ( Source: July 1986 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE)

In the mood for some real Italian spaghetti, try these recipes:

Spaghetti with Sausage and Simple Tomato Sauce                                                                                                                

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces hot Italian pork or turkey sausage links
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 (28-ounce) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Arrange sausage on a small baking sheet. Broil sausage 5 minutes on each side. Remove pan from oven (do not turn broiler off). Cut sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil sausage slices 2 minutes on each side or until browned.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
4. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crushed red pepper and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes or until slightly thick. Add sausage and cooked pasta to pan; toss well. Top with fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Sautéed Chicken with Pesto Spaghetti                                                                                                     

4 Servings

Ingredients:

Directions:

1. Make the pesto if using homemade.
2. Trim the chicken breasts. If very thick, slice in half lengthwise to create two thin cutlets. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
3. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat until melted.  Add in the chicken and sauté until browned on each side and almost cooked through – about 3 – 5 minutes per side. (Do not move them until you are ready to turn them – let them caramelize.) Place chicken on a plate and set aside.
4. 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.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and allow to simmer until cooked through.
5. Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pasta pot.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions until ‘al dente’. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain pasta.
6. Return pasta to the pot in which it was cooked.  Remove chicken from the sauté pan to a plate. Pour the sauce from the sautéed chicken over the pasta.  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.
7. Arrange the pasta on a warmed serving plate.  Arrange the chicken over the pasta and top with the reserved pesto.

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Scallops, and Clams                                                                                                 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 pound fresh clams, scrubbed and rinsed well 
  • 1/2 pound. fresh scallops, cut small
  • 1/2 pound fresh raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Directions:

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and sweat the garlic and chili for a few minutes until soft. Add the wine to the pan. Tap the clams on the work surface and discard any that do not close.  Add the clams and scallops to the pan and continue to sweat, taking care that the garlic and chili do not burn. As soon as the clams open (discard any that do not), remove the clams and scallops to a plate and set aside. Add the shrimp to the same pan and saute over medium-high heat for a few minutes until they turn lightly pink. Return the clams and scallops to the pan.  Season with salt and a little black pepper, and toss briefly to heat through.
2.  Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce with a tiny amount of the cooking water (just enough to keep the pasta moist). Stir well, transfer to a large serving bowl or individual pasta bowls, and sprinkle with lots of chopped parsley.

Note
How to clean clams:
Scrub the clams well under cold running water to wash away any grit. Put the clams in a large bowl of salted water making sure they are well covered with water (but do not cover the bowl). Soak in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or even overnight – any grit or sand will be left behind in the bottom of the bowl when you remove the clams. Pick out the clams by hand and rinse in plenty of fresh cold water.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti With Artichokes And Ricotta                                                                                                       

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and as soon as it starts to sizzle, add the artichokes and lemon juice. Add 1/4 cup water, cover the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, whisk the ricotta, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of hot pasta water together in a large pasta bowl until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley.

Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the pasta. Add it to the pasta bowl with the ricotta and toss to coat the pasta. If necessary, add a little hot pasta water to attain a creamy consistency. Add the artichokes and toss again. Serve immediately with generous amounts of grated Parmesan.

Spaghetti With Fresh Veggies                                                                                                                     

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 16 thin stalks fresh asparagus (or any fresh green vegetable in season)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 medium plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and chopped (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter*
  • 3/4 pound of spaghetti 
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fat free half

Directions:

Trim asparagus. Remove tips; set aside. Bias-slice asparagus stalks into 1 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add asparagus stalks, wine, and salt. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add asparagus tips; cook uncovered, for 1 minutes. Add butter; stir till melted.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta. Return to pan and toss with asparagus mixture, half and half and basil.

Note: The butter is used in this recipe to bind the sauce. Margarine might not be an effective substitute.


Summertime and the living is supposed to be easy. That’s why the secret ingredient for a perfect summer day is simplicity: Sleep in, have breakfast on the porch, go hiking or biking and pack a picnic lunch. In the afternoon the neighborhood pool offers a chance to cool off. Dinner needs to be quick—put the main course on the grill along with vegetables from the local farmer’s market or make the side dishes below that are fast, healthy and easy to prepare.

Sauteed Zucchini, Peppers and Tomatoes                                                                                       

Serve this with grilled meat or fish.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Quarter zucchini lengthwise; cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers; cut into 3/4-inch squares.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Citrus-Herb Grilled Vegetables                                                                                                                                     

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 small zucchini, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 2 small yellow squash, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into quarters, each held together with a skewer
  • 1 small eggplant, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine oil, salt, garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, pepper, lemon zest and juice. Put zucchini, squash, bell peppers and onion in a large ziplock bag and pour in half of marinade. Seal bag and shake to coat vegetables. Let stand for 3 hours at room temperature. Put eggplant and mushrooms in a separate ziplock bag, add remaining marinade, seal and shake to coat vegetables. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.  

2.To plan ahead: prepare the marinades and vegetables as described and refrigerate the bags overnight.  Follow grilling directions below.

3. Preheat grill to medium. When heated, oil grates. Place onions, bell peppers and eggplant on grill and cook for 10 minutes. Add zucchini, squash and mushrooms to grill and cook all vegetables about 15 minutes longer, turning halfway through.

4. Cut vegetables into smaller sizes for serving, if desired. Arrange on a platter and serve warm, or cover and chill to serve cold.

Salad Greens with Pears, Fennel and Walnuts                                                                                                            

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Divide the salad greens onto 6 plates. Scatter the fennel and pear slices over the greens. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Add black pepper, to taste.

Tangy Triple-Bean Salad                                                                                                          

12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (9-10 oz) frozen lima beans
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (19 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 Serrano chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped

Directions:

1. Prepare lima beans according to package directions. Transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside to cool.

2. For dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir in lima beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, carrots and the chile.. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer salad to a serving bowl. Stir in basil.

Fast Italian Cucumber Salad                                                                                                                          

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes (about 1-1/2 cups chopped)

  • 1 large red onion, diced

  • 2 cucumbers, diced

    Italian Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Directions:

Whisk Italian Dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Add vegetables and stir.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Can be kept in the refrigerator for several days.

Tomato and Mozzarella Burger                                                                                                                            

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ripe tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves picked

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 450° F.  Slice a thin piece from the bottom of each tomato so the tomatoes sit upright. Slice each in half horizontally.
2. Arrange the tomato halves, cut-side up, on a foil-lined shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
3. Drizzle the tomatoes with the oil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Scatter the garlic over the tomatoes.
4. Roast until softened and warmed through, about 15 minutes. (Under ripe tomatoes may take 5 to 15 minutes longer.)
5. Meanwhile, cut the mozzarella into six ½-inch-thick slices. Using a spatula, sandwich each slice between 2 hot tomato halves. (The heat will melt the cheese slightly.)
6. Drizzle the tomatoes with any juices that collected in the roasting pan and serve with the basil.

Make it a meal: Serve the “burger” with arugula tossed with sliced fennel and radishes, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Italian Coleslaw                                                                                                                                                                       

4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 green pepper, cut into matchstick slivers
  • 1 red pepper, cut into matchstick slivers
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into matchstick slivers
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1-16 oz. bag coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt

Directions:

In a large bowl with a fitted lid, combine onion, peppers, fennel and cabbage. Add oil, vinegar, and remaining ingredients.  Put lid on and shake until everything is evenly combined. Salt to taste. Refrigerate and serve chilled.


Types of Scallops

There are three kinds of scallops that are consumed in the United States—sea scallops, bay scallops and calico scallops.

  • Sea scallops are relatively large, often 1½”-2” in diameter, and are often presented in beautifully seared platings of two or three.

  • Bay scallops are much smaller, although some aficionados find them to be sweeter than sea scallops.  Because of their small size, bay scallops are not the ideal scallop for searing but are excellent in stir-fries and even cooked as scampi to be served as a light pasta sauce.

  • Calico scallops are harvested off of the US Gulf and Southern Atlantic coasts. Unlike sea and bay scallops, their shells are tightly closed, and they must be steamed open before further preparation.  Although similar in shape, size and color to bay scallops, they are less sweet and less tender than their Northern cousins.

Characteristics of Scallops

Speaking of shape, size and color, the adductor muscle itself can range in color from pale ivory to beige.  Raw scallops are somewhat translucent and are generally round. Large sea scallops might be up to an inch thick and up to 2” in diameter, while bay and calico scallops, while shaped the same, are much smaller.

Calico-Scallops

Calico Scallops

Bay Scallops

How Are They Harvested?

Scallops are harvested in one of two ways—by trawling or by diving. Trawling is done by scraping the ocean floor and pulling up scallops (and whatever else is down there) without regard to maturity or to the damage possibly being done to the ocean floor.

A more environmentally friendly, albeit expensive, method of harvest is by diver and the scallops are known as “diver scallops.” A diver scallop is not another species of scallop, nor does it designate size.  Rather it describes the manner in which the scallops were harvested. Divers go down and choose mature scallops by hand, leaving behind immature scallops as well as leaving the ocean floor alone.  Since the ocean floor is not disturbed by the divers, diver scallops are usually less gritty than those harvested by bottom trawls.

Like shrimp, scallops are sold by count-per-pound.  Sea scallops might be marked at 10/20, meaning that between 10 and 20 scallops are in each pound. Of course, larger sea scallops tend to be the most expensive.  Another weight designation you might see is U/10 or U/15.  This means that it takes fewer than, or under, 10 (or 15) to make up a pound.  Here again, the larger the U number, the smaller the scallop.  Bay scallops, being smaller than sea scallops, generally fall in the 70/120 range.  

When purchasing scallops, make sure to buy from a reputable fishmonger and be sure to smell the scallops before purchase.  The scallops should smell clean and sweet and like the ocean.  If they have a strong fishy smell, do not buy them.

The muscles should be in one piece, so inspect them carefully.  If you see signs of the muscle fibers pulling apart, pass them by as this is a sign that the scallops are past their prime.  As mentioned before, dry pack scallops should feel slightly sticky but not be slimy.  If the rubbery side muscle has been left on the scallops, remove them.  

Sea Scallop

How To Store Fresh Scallops

Fresh scallops need to be stored at temperatures below 38F.  This is generally lower than most people keep their refrigerators, so you will have to make some adjustments.  An ideal set up for storing scallops is to have a shallow plastic container with holes in the bottom that is set in a deeper plastic container. Place ice in the shallow container and spread the scallops on the ice.  Cover everything with a damp paper towel, and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  Even with this care, make sure to use the scallops within a day or two.  Because they are so perishable, using them the same day you purchase them is ideal.

Cooking Scallops                                                                                                                                                                   

Scallops are a very lean protein, and as such, they can toughen very easily during cooking.  It is very important not to overcook scallops as they can go from succulent to rubber pretty quickly.  Don’t take your eyes off them when cooking and make sure that you remove them from the heat while they are still moist and plump.

Sautéing, broiling and grilling are all simple, dry heat methods by which you can cook large sea scallops to really showcase them.  Moist heat methods, including stir-fry with a sauce and simmering (as in soups, stews and risottos), are perfect for the small, sweet bay scallops.   

Scallop Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers and White Wine Vinaigrette

Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds calico or bay scallops
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 8 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce

Directions:

Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet and saute scallops for 2 to 3 minutes or until the scallops have a nice sear on each side. Add garlic to the pan and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove the scallops and garlic from the pan, and place in a large, heat-resistant bowl. Toss tomato halves and cucumber with the warm scallops.

In a small bowl combine the extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and the shallots. Whisk until well blended. Pour dressing over warm scallop mixture, tossing to coat. Adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle chopped oregano and parsley over the salad, and toss to coat.
Arrange two lettuce leaves on each salad plate. Divide the scallop salad among the 4 plates, on top of the lettuce. 

Parmesan Breaded Scallops With Lemon Garnish

Ingredients

  • 20 large sea scallops (about 1 1/4 lbs) 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Coating:

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/3 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley 
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

Directions:
Combine the coating ingredients on a plate & mix with your fingers.
Wash scallops & remove the small, tough side muscle.

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels & place this in a small bowl.
Add the olive oil & mix to coat.

Dip the scallops in the coating, turning to cover evenly.
Gently press the crumbs onto the scallops.
Place the scallops in a single layer on a clean plate.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the crumbs.

Garnish:
Finely chop the parsley and lemon zest and mix together.
Add the olive oil and lemon juice.

Grease a grill tray that fits over the grill grates generously with oil.
Place the scallops on the grill tray 1-2 inches apart and grill over direct medium heat until just opaque in the center, about 8 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time.
Treat them carefully when turning.
Remove from the grill, place a little of the garnish onto each scallop and serve warm.

Spaghetti with Scallops, Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 12 fresh basil leaves

Directions:

1. Fill a pot to cook the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
2. Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop them. Peel the garlic clove and finely chop it.
3. Put the garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cook   until the liquid the tomatoes release has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. While the tomatoes are cooking, cut the scallops into ¼-inch dice.
5. When the tomatoes are ready, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
6. Shred the basil leaves and add them to the pan with the tomatoes. Raise the heat to high and add the scallops. Cook until the scallops are done, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
7. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, and serve. 

bayscallops

Bay Scallops with Mushrooms, Peppers and Italian Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil, divided
  • 3 sweet Italian sausages
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into l-inch cubes
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into l-inch cubes
  • 18 white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 pounds fresh bay scallops
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Pour 1 teaspoon oil into a small saute pan, heat and spread oil, add the sausages, and cook until they are lightly browned and cooked through. Drain the sausages on paper towels. Set aside and keep warm.  Slice each sausage on the bias into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. To the pan add 1 teaspoon oil and add the peppers and mushrooms. Saute quickly for several minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Remove from the pan and add to sausage.
  3. In the same pan, add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil  and heat on high. Saute the scallops for several minutes until just lightly browned. Do not overcook. Add the remaining garlic and the sausage, peppers and mushrooms, and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice, remove from heat, and add the butter and parsley.  Serve with crusty bread.

Grilled Scallops with Lemon Risotto                                                                                                                                   

Serves 4
hawaii805210373AR_b
Herb-Rubbed Grilled Scallops
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 large sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon wedges, for garnish
  • 4 Skewers

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the tarragon, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, pepper and oil. Add the scallops and toss to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate 2 to 10 hours.
Oil a ridged stove-top griddle or outdoor grill and preheat it. Season the scallops lightly with salt and thread 3 on each skewer, and grill about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until slightly firm. Remove and set aside.

lemon-risotto-rs-1177902-l

Lemon Risotto

  • 1 large leek, white part only, well washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups low-sodium broth, chicken or vegetable
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley

Directions:

  1. Sweat the leek in 2 teaspoons of butter over low heat in a tightly covered straight-sided saute pan for 6 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add the rice and raise the heat to medium, stirring often for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of stock, season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Add the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition. When all of the liquid is absorbed, add the zest and continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the rice is al dente.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper, add the chives or parsley, stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter until it melts and serve hot.

Serve with cooked spinach or asparagus.

scallops



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