Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tuscan Kale

Tuscan Kale

Spinach

Spinach

Rapini

Rapini

Greens

The fall is the best time to buy greens from a grocery market or farmers’ market. Some leafy greens cook very quickly. Spinach is the best example. But others, like kale, are more hearty and need a longer time to cook. Dark green, leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Is is good idea to include them in your recipes, often. Here are some of my favorite ways to cook them.

Kale

Lacinato kale (called cavolo nero, literally “black cabbage”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone and ribollita. It is also readily available in my market.

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Tuscan Kale, Roasted Chicken and Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 large bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1″ strips
  • Simple Lemon sauce, recipe below

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts in a medium baking dish, drizzle with the 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning. Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

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Place the kale in a large pot, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, minced garlic and simmer over very low heat until the kale is wilted completely.

Continue to cook until the kale and onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the kale on a serving platter, top with the roasted chicken and serve the lemon sauce on the side.

Simple Savory Lemon Cream Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ up. white wine
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or other herbs

Directions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet, add the flour and whisk for about a minute. Add the milk and wine. Remove the pan from the heat and add the seasonings, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Return the pan to the heat and whisk until thick and creamy, about another minute or two. Pour over vegetables, chicken or fish.

Rapini (Broccoli rabe)

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Pasta With Greens and Ricotta Cheese

Paccheri a type of pasta in the shape of a very large tube that originated from Campania and Calabria, Italy. They are generally smooth, but there is also a ribbed version, paccheri millerighe.

They can be served stuffed or with just a sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 2 bunches greens, such as chard, kale or broccoli raab (rapini), washed well and cut into 2 inch lengths.
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano Pecorino
  • 1 pound paccheri, pappardelle or orecchiette pasta

Directions

Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over very low heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt it generously and add the greens. After the water returns to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes until the greens are tender.

Using a deep-fry skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the rapini to the skillet. Toss in the hot pan for about a minute, just until the greens are lightly coated with oil and fragrant with garlic.

Season with salt and pepper.

Do not drain the hot water in the pot, as you’ll use it to cook the pasta.

Place the ricotta in a large pasta bowl.

Bring the water for the pasta back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta into the ricotta and stir together.

Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the ricotta. Add the grated Parmesan and toss with the ricotta and greens. Serve at once.

 

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Spinach

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Spinach and Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed well
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
  • Half of a medium onion sliced
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a pizza pan.

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and add the garlic and onions. Cook until the onion is tender. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts.

Season with salt and pepper. Set the skillet aside.

Press the pizza dough to the edges of the pan.

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Top the dough with the sliced mozzarella and spread the ricotta over the mozzarella. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly over the ricotta and sprinkle with feta.

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Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.


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Bologna is a province and city in the Emilia-Romagna region in northwestern Italy. Bologna is of great importance as a road and rail system for central and southern Italy. Until World War I the city was chiefly dependent upon agriculture based on the surrounding fertile plain. Although still an important agricultural market and food-processing area, Bologna also has developed into an important industrial center that manufactures agricultural machinery, electric motors, motorcycles, railway equipment, chemicals and shoes. Ferrari S.P.A. was created in Maranello, a town 20 minutes from Bologna. Lamborghini and Ducati motorcycles are also from this area. Every year the convention center in Bologna hosts the Motor show, one of Europe’s most important motor exhibitions showcasing the world’s fastest cars and bikes.

Garisenda and Asinelli leaning towers. Bologna, Italy

Garisenda and Asinelli leaning towers. Bologna, Italy

The arcaded streets of the central part of the city still preserve a medieval aspect, characterized by the leaning Asinelli and Garisenda towers. Among numerous medieval palaces (palazzi) the most notable are the Palazzi Comunale (town hall) and Podestà Mercanzia (chamber of commerce). The Palazzo Bevilacqua with a magnificent inner courtyard is one of the finest in Bologna. The first thing you may notice is that most of the city is built under porticoes, which are covered walkways. This is very convenient when you are stuck in the frequent rain or snow, but it can seem a bit dark. The reason they are so common is because they were primarily offered as a tax incentive to estate developers because it was considered a service to the town.

Decorated old portico with columns in Bologna, Italy

Decorated old portico with columns in Bologna, Italy

The university in Bologna is one of the oldest and most famous in Europe, dating from the 11th century. Originally the campus had no fixed location; lectures were generally held in the great halls of convents until the Archiginnasio Palace was erected. Today, the student population of 100,000+ dominates the city and everywhere you turn you’ll catch young people walking arm in arm down the streets.

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Bologna is considered the culinary capital of Italy and it isn’t nicknamed – Bologna la grassa – which means “Bologna the fat” for nothing. The market in the city center is one of the largest in Europe and has a huge array of fresh cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy and baked goods.  

Local specialties include:

Tortellini in brodo – Meat tortellini in a broth

Bologna is no doubt synonymous with tortellini. Legend has it that their shape takes inspiration from Venus’ navel. The recipe for authentic tortellini was registered with Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce in 1974. The dough is made with flour and eggs, while the filling contains pork loin, raw ham, mortadella di Bologna, Parmesan cheese, eggs and nutmeg. To enhance their taste, tortellini is eaten in a broth of capon or hen. It is a typical winter dish that the Bolognesi have for their Sunday lunches.

Tagliatelle al ragu – pasta with meat sauce

Lucrezia Borgia seems to have been the inspiration for the hand-made pasta, tagliatelle. Legend has it that Maestro Zeferino invented them for her wedding upon seeing her blonde braids. Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce guards the recipe of tagliatelle, along with its measurement rule: tagliatelle should be 8 mm wide when cooked. Their thickness has not been defined, although experts say it should be between 6 and 8 tenth of a millimeter.

The official ragu recipe also rests with Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce since 1982, but with ragù there is a lot of leeway. If you ask Bolognese women, you will find there are many individual variations, and they seem to be very secretive about them also. The most important ingredient is minced beef and the tomato based sauce must cook for hours. Ragù goes well with many types of pasta, but especially with tagliatelle and lasagna; never ever eat it with spaghetti though – the Bolognesi consider it an insult!

Lasagna Verde alla Bolognese – Lasagna composed of green spinach pasta sheets with meat ragu and a cream bechamel sauce
Mortadella – Pink colored Italian sausage often served in sandwiches or before meals
Bollito – Boiled beef
Zuppa Inglese – A colorful dessert of cake and cream
Mascarpone – A very creamy and sweet cheese dessert

Cook Bologna’s Famous Pasta Recipes At Home

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Tagliatelle al Ragu

by Mario Batali

Ingredients

Ragu

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup onions, chopped small
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped small
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, ground
  • 1 pound veal
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • Tagliatelle, recipe follows
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Tagliatelle Pasta

  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

Directions

Ragu

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, add the olive oil and butter and heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook until very soft and beginning to caramelize. Mix together all of the meats.

Add the meats to the pan and begin to brown. When the meat begins changing color and releasing its own liquids, add the milk.

Cook until the milk is almost totally evaporated–it should just be moist around the edges of the meat, about 15 minutes. Add the wine.

Add the tomato paste and stir well. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 hours.

To make the pasta:

Roll out the pasta dough to the thinnest setting on a pasta machine. Cut into strips that are 4-inches wide and 8 inches long.

Starting with the 4-inch side, loosely roll the pasta into a tube that is about 4-inches long and 2 1/2-inches wide. Cut the open side into 1/4-inch wide strips.

Unroll the pasta and place in small bundles.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt to the water and return to a boil. Add the tagliatelle and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the tagliatelle and add to the Bolognese sauce.

Thin with a little pasta water, if necessary. Toss for 1 minute. Immediately serve in warm pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tagliatelle

Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil.

Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits.

Lightly flour the board again and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.

Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Roll or shape as described above.

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Tortellini en Brodo

by Mario Batali

Ingredients

  • 6 cups brodo, recipe follows
  • 1 1/4 pounds tortellini, recipe follows
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Brodo

  • 1 pound beef scraps
  • 1 pound beef or veal bones
  • 1 pound beef tongue, cut into 4 or 5 pieces
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) stewing hen, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
  • 10 to 12 quarts cold water
  • Salt and pepper

Tortellini

Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces ground turkey
  • 4 ounces ground veal
  • 4 ounces ground pork shoulder
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, finely diced
  • 4 ounces mortadella, finely diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Pasta:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Bring the brodo to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the tortellini are floating to the top of the pot.

Ladle equal portions of tortellini into 4 warmed pasta bowls. Ladle the hot broth on top of the tortellini and top with grated Parmigiano.

Brodo:

Place the beef, bones, tongue, chicken pieces, onion, carrot, and celery in a large soup pot, cover with the water and bring almost to a boil, very slowly.

Reduce the heat to simmer before the mixture boils and allow to cook for 4 hours, skimming off the foam and any excess fat that rises to the surface.

After 4 hours, remove from the heat, strain the liquid twice, first through a conical sieve and second through cheesecloth and allow to cool.

Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.

Pasta:

Filling:

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed, large saucepan, heat the butter and oil until it foams and subsides.

Add the turkey, veal and pork shoulder and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is well-browned and begins to release some of its juices.

Add the prosciutto and mortadella and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place in a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the egg and the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add at least 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and mix again.

Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pasta Dough:

Mound 3 cups of flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour; add the eggs and oil.

Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well.

As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape.

The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments, if the dough is too sticky.

Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes.

The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust the board with flour when necessary.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll the pasta into sheets using a pasta machine.

For the desired pasta sheet thickness, gradually pass the dough through the settings starting with the widest and continuing to the number 9 setting.

With a pasta cutter or a knife, cut the pasta into 1 1/2-inch squares. Place 3/4 teaspoon of filling in the center of each square.

Fold into triangles, press out any air around the filling and press to seal the edges. Bring the points of the long side together to form a ring,and seal between your fingers.

Set the tortellini aside on a sheet pan, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve for later assembly.

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Lasagna Verde alla Bolognese

by Mario Batali

Ingredients

  • Ragu Bolognese recipe from above

Lasagna al Forno

  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 6 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed very dry and chopped very fine
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for dusting the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Besciamella

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

Directions

Make the ragu as directed from above and set aside.

For the lasagna al forno:

Combine the eggs and spinach. Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the egg and spinach mixture and the olive oil.

Using a fork, beat together the spinach, eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits.

Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.

Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and roll each out to the thinnest setting on a pasta rolling machine.

Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Set up an ice bath next to the stove top. Cut the pasta into 20 (5-inch) squares and drop into the boiling water.

Cook 1 minute, until tender. Drain well and refresh in the ice bath. Drain on towels and set aside.

For the besciamella:

In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk in separate pan until just about to boil. Add milk to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil.

Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

For assembly:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a baking pan, assemble the lasagna, beginning with a layer of ragu, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano, a layer of pasta, a layer of bechamel, a layer of ragu, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano etc. until all the sauce and pasta are used up.

The top layer should be pasta with bechamel over it. Top the lasagna with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until the edges are browned and the sauces are bubbling.

Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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You may recall that I posted recipes over the past few weeks for Butternut Squash Gratin and Braised Steak. Naturally we had plenty leftover, so I created a few new ways to use the leftovers other than just heating them up again.

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 12 sage leaves, sliced

Directions

Combine the butternut squash gratin, ricotta, egg and salt together in a large bowl. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well with your hands.

Add the remaining flour — the dough should be sticky, but pliable enough to shape into a large log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.

To make the gnocchi:

Spread some flour on a large work surface and cut the dough log into four equal pieces.Take one piece and cut it in half.

Roll the piece of dough into a snake about 1/2 inch thick, then cut it into 1 inch pieces..

Dust the gnocchi with a little flour and push the tines of a fork into one side of the dumpling. Place the gnocchi on a waxed paper tray dusted with flour and cover with a dry kitchen towel.

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To cook the gnocchi

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add enough salt to it so that the water tastes salty. Place a pasta bowl close to the stove

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they rise to the top of the boiling water. You may have to do this in batches, so as not to crowd the pan.

Remove the gnocchi with a spider allowing the water to drain and place the gnocchi in the bowl. Continue until all the gnocchi are cooked.

To make the sauce

Heat the butter and sage together in a small skillet. Pour the melted butter over the cooked gnocchi, add the cheese and mix well. Garnish with black pepper and serve immediately.

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Butternut Squash Turnovers

Makes 4 pastries

Dough

1 sheet of cold frozen phyllo dough, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight

Filling

  • 1 cup butternut squash gratin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the butternut squash, onion, garlic, sage, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Roll the pastry into a 12 inch square on a floured board. Cut the pastry sheet into four equal squares.

Spoon 1/4 cup of the squash mixture into the center of each square and brush the edges with beaten egg. Fold diagonally in half and press the edges with a fork to seal.

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With a wide spatula, place the turnovers on a parchment covered baking pan. Brush the turnovers with beaten egg.


Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the turnovers are puffy and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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Quick Beef Pot Pie

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl.

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Fit one pastry into a 9 inch pie plate. Pour the filling into the pie pastry. Cover with the second pastry and flute the edges. Make several slits in the top crust.

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.


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All summer long, I save the bones from grilled steak and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Come the fall I have plenty of bones to make a rich homemade beef stock.

The stock can be used for soup or freeze it in smaller containers to use over several months, whenever you need beef broth for a recipe.

Rich Brown Beef Stock

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Ingredients

  • 4-6 pounds beef  bones
  • Beef seasoning ( I use Penzey’s)
  • Half a sweet onion
  • Handful of celery tops
  • 1 whole large carrots, halved
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 large garlic clove, unpeeled and halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bones in a baking dish and sprinkle them with beef seasoning. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

If using uncooked bones increase the baking time to an hour. The bones should be nicely browned.

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Place the browned bones in a large Dutch Oven. Add the remaining ingredients and cover all with water. Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered for 3-4 hours.

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Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Reserve some of the broth for the soup and discard the bones and vegetables.

Beef, Mushroom and Barley Soup

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Ingredients

Olive oil cooking spray

  • 1 ½ lbs beef stew meat, trimmed and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and add the diced beef; cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Add the leek, carrot and garlic. Saute 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add broth, water, thyme, pepper and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Add the mushrooms and barley; cook another 45 minutes or until the beef and barley are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the parsley.


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Fall is here and comfort foods are perfect for dinner. This meal is high on the list of favorites in my family. Years ago, I got the idea of combining potatoes with greens for more nutrition and who would have thought the children loved mashed potatoes prepared this way.

Tip: set aside one cup of the diced cooked potatoes and one cup of the roasted carrots to use in a beef pot pie later in the week. There is plenty of braised steak for leftovers.

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Braised Steak

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sirloin or round steak
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms

Directions

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl.

Cut the steak into serving-size portions about 1/4 inch thick. Press the flour into the steak pieces with your hand. Reserve any flour that is left.

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In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Brown the steak pieces thoroughly on all sides and set aside the browned pieces on a plate.

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Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the same skillet and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Stir in any remaining flour and mix until thoroughly absorbed.

Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Return the browned steak to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet.

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Simmer on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl.

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Mashed Potatoes With Spinach or Kale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (1 large bunch) spinach or kale
  • 1 cup milk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan. Add the garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan partially and cook the potatoes until very tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain off the water, return the potatoes and garlic to the pan, cover tightly and let steam over very low heat for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a food mill. Add the olive oil.

While the potatoes are cooking bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the spinach or kale.

Cook the spinach for 4 minutes, kale for 6 minutes (after the water returns to the boil), until the leaves are tender but still bright green. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Chop fine.

Set the pan with the potatoes over low heat. Stir the chopped spinach into the hot mashed potatoes, add the milk and gently stir. Add salt to taste and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot.

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Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated orange peel
  • Sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange carrots in single layer in a baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and orange peel; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.

Cover the dish tightly with foil. Roast until crisp-tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer carrots and any juices to a serving platter. Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.

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Easy Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold milk or buttermilk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter just until crumbs are the size of large peas.

Add the milk and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl.

Scoop the dough onto a well-floured surface and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Roll or pat the dough into an 8 inch rectangle about ½ inch thick.

Cut biscuits with a sharp knife into 2 inch squares.

Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the biscuits for 10 to 14 minutes or until they’re a light golden brown.

Remove them from the oven and serve hot.


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I have been making spaghetti sauce this way for many, many years. It is my standard, perfected for my family, from the way my grandmother and mother make spaghetti sauce.

I have made variations of the recipe numerous times but always come back to this for an authentic Italian American sauce, especially when my children visit. This is what they expect.

This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce with lots of meat. You will have enough leftovers to freeze for at least two more meals.

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Meatball Ingredients

(I use a combination of fresh bread and dried breadcrumbs to keep the mixture moist.)

  • 2 slices sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1 pound ground lean pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
  • ½ cup dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Sauce Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 large basil sprig
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Four 28-ounce containers Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs spicy Italian sausage

Pasta

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Directions

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To make the meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat the foil with olive oil spray.

In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk until the milk is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, gently mix the ground meats with the soaked bread, onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning.

Add enough dried bread crumbs to just hold the mixture together, about ½ cup. Add the fresh parsley.

Form the meat mixture into golf ball–size meatballs and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes or until brown all over, turning them over halfway through the baking time.

To make the sauce:

In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sausage and brown on all sides; then remove to a plate.

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Add the remaining oil and saute the onion until tender. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two.

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Add the tomato paste. Fill the empty paste can with water and add to the sauce pot. Stir and let cook for a few minutes until dissolved.

Add the crushed red pepper, tomatoes and the herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderately low heat until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

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Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer the browned meatballs and sausage to the tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce is very thick, about 3-4 hours.

To make the pasta:

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

Pour in 2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup of cheese. Toss until the pasta is well coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the pasta to large shallow bowls.

Spoon the meatballs, sausage and some of the remaining tomato sauce over the spaghetti. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and serve.

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For me, store-bought sandwich bread lacks good flavor and texture and usually contains way too many preservatives. The recipes in this post are easy to make and will reward you with great tasting bread for sandwiches and toast. Most ingredients are easy to find, however the ingredients for the rye bread include rye and pumpernickel flour. If you cannot find pumpernickel flour, use all rye flour in the recipe. I also use a flavoring made by the King Arthur flour company called deli rye flavor. If you do not have access to this ingredient, just substitute dried onion.

To always have fresh bread available, I slice each loaf in 1/2 inch slices and place them in a freezer ziplock bag. Bread slices can be removed, a slice at a time, and they defrost within a half hour. This is so handy.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sourdough starter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain bread improver or vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, mixing until a shaggy dough forms.

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Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes. (this step helps the gluten develop.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough until fairly smooth and slightly sticky.

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Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise until almost doubled, about 90 minutes.

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Gently fold the dough over a few times on a lightly floured work surface.

Shape it into an 8″ log, and place it in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Cover the loaf and let it rise until it’s crowned 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 60 to 90 minutes.

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Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers 205°F to 210°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, let it sit in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool.

Seeded Rye Sandwich Bread

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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpernickel flour
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Deli Rye Flavor or dried onion
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, mixing until a shaggy dough forms.

Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes. (this step helps the gluten develop.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough until fairly smooth and slightly sticky.

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Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and shape it into an oval.

Place the dough in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, tent it with lightly greased plastic wrap and set it aside until doubled in bulk and risen 1 inch over the lip of the pan, about 1 hour.

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Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and tests done (the interior of the loaf will read 190°F on an instant-read thermometer).

Remove the bread from the oven, remove it from the pan, and cool completely on a rack.
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October Moon by Ron Jones

October Moon by Ron Jones

At times, it is just the thing to slow down and have a nice leisurely dinner with your partner. No TV, no phone – just a nice glass of wine, conversation and a delicious dinner to relax after a busy work week.

Stuffed Chicken Rolls

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 thin chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup cooked spinach, chopped
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine the Italian breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese in one bowl and the egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water in another.

Combine the remaining grated Parmesan cheese, the shredded mozzarella, spinach (make sure you squeeze it dry) and ricotta cheese in a small bowl.

Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and spread half of the spinach cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and place seam side down on the work surface.

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Dip chicken rolls in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet. Brown chicken on all sides and place the skillet in the oven.

Bake the chicken rolls for about 15 minutes or until an instant read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven and the chicken rolls from the pan to a serving plate.

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Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 6 ounces spaghetti

Directions

Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Drain.

Cook shallot in the olive oil in a small pot over medium high heat until soft, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes, pepper and salt to taste. Stir to mix.

Tomatoes should get warm, but not cooked, about 2-3 minutes.Add basil and oregano.

Mix the tomatoes with the cooked spaghetti and serve under the chicken rolls.

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Romaine Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, cut into rings
  • 10 Italian olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Divide the lettuce between two salad plates and top each plate with rings of red onion and 5 olives.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over the greens and serve.

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Toasted Coconut Custard Pie

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup honey, agave nectar, pure maple syrup or granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted finely shredded coconut, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 prebaked Pie Crust, cooled

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the honey, butter, vanilla and 2 cups of the almond milk.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of almond milk with the cornstarch. Slowly add this mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly over medium high heat.

Continue whisking until the custard begins to thicken.

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The custard will need to come to a full boil in order to thicken properly. You’ll know when the custard is ready because it will become the consistency of pudding.

Remove the pan from the stove and whisk in the salt, 3/4 cup of the shredded coconut and the coconut extract into the vanilla custard.

Allow the custard to cool to room temperature before spooning into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted coconut.

Refrigerate until chilled, about 2-3 hours. 

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Looking for some new ideas for sides for dinner? Here are a few recipes that my family likes.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup Italian fontina cheese, diced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • White pepper, to taste

Directions

Steam or stir fry the  broccoli until crisp tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour, mustard powder and salt to taste.

Gradually stir in milk, whisking over medium low heat until thickened. Add cheese, stirring until completely melted. Season to taste with white pepper.

Pour over steamed broccoli and serve at once.

Oven Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower

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Ingredients

  • 1 whole cauliflower head
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Cut the cauliflower into large florets.

Beat the eggs with the milk in a shallow dish.

Place the grated cheese in a shallow dish.

Place the flour in a plastic bag and add the salt and pepper.

Add the florets to the flour filled bag and give them a shake, rotating the bag until the florets are dusted with flour.

Dip each floret in egg and then in cheese and place on the prepared pan.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 23-30 minutes.

Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper

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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 oz.spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

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

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 a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Green Bean Salad

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Ingredients

Green Beans

  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Salad Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt to taste

Optional Additions

  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup sliced radishes

Directions

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt, pepper and green beans. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans until they are tender but very firm, 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Add the salad ingredients and any of the additional optional ingredients that you may wish to add. Toss well and chill before serving.

Italian Stuffed Baked Potato

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon plus one tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sliced basil plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the potatoes with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, place on a baking sheet and bake until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about one hour. Do not turn off the oven.

Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grinding of black pepper.

Cut the baked potatoes in half and remove most of the potato flesh from the shells. Mash the potato pulp and add the tomatoes, basil and ricotta. Mix well.

Add the mixture to the potato shells and return the stuffed potatoes to the oven and heat until the potato mixture is hot. Garnish with additional basil.

 


Pumpkins

pumpkintreats

When choosing a pumpkin at the market, look for soft spots, mold, wrinkles or open cuts that would indicate damage or early spoilage. Choose a pumpkin with a solidly attached stem. A green stem indicates a freshly harvested pumpkin. Choose pumpkins between 4 to 8 pounds and labeled “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” Some specific names are Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina (which are white), Cinderella and Fairy Tale. Pumpkins have a long shelf life and can keep for months at cool room temperature.

Pumpkin Puree

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds pie pumpkins

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut pumpkins into 5×5-inch pieces. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Arrange pieces in a single layer, skin sides up, in a foil-lined baking pan.

Cover with foil. Bake about 1 hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop pulp from rind. Place pulp in food processor or blender.

Cover and process or blend until smooth. Measure out what is needed for a recipe. Transfer remaining puree to an airtight container.

Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw frozen puree in the refrigerator.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Makes 12 – 15 depending on the size of your muffin tin.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup reduced fat milk or almond milk
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • Vanilla sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-15 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Combine the remaining (wet) ingredients in another bowl.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture until just moist. Fill the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).

Let rest for 10 minutes.Remove the muffins and cool on a wire rack.

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Apple Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin butter is a delicious addition to waffles, pancakes, banana bread, oatmeal or as a spread for toast. It also makes a great and healthy topping for ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups pumpkin puree or two 15-oz. cans pureed pumpkin
  • 1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

In 5-quart Dutch oven combine all ingredients except nuts. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, about an hour until thick. (If mixture spatters, reduce heat to medium-low). Remove from heat; cool.

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Ladle into jars or freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cover; store in refrigerator up to 1 week or freezer up to 6 months.

Acorn Squash

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Acorn squash can have orange, dark green, or tan skin. To pick a good-tasting one, press it all around to make sure it’s devoid of soft spots. Don’t refrigerate-just store the squash in an airy dry spot for up to 3 weeks.

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Roasted Acorn Squash Slices

Ingredients

  • 1 medium acorn squash (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven 350°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and membrane. Cut each half into 1/2-inch slices; discard ends.

Place slices in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the maple syrup. Dot with butter.

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Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

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Italian Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 large acorn squash, halved crosswise, seeds and fibers scooped out
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thin
  • 12 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of 1/4-inch cubes of lightly toasted sourdough bread
  • ¾ cup chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

Oven 400 degrees F.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice off the bottom of each squash half so that they stand flat, being careful not to cut into the flesh.

Place in a baking dish large enough to hold the squash halves and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, until no traces of pink remain, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the thyme, salt, pepper, bread cubes and chicken broth until well mixed.

Divide the stuffing mixture among the squash halves. Add enough water to the roasting pan to make a depth of about 1/4 inch. Cover the squash loosely with aluminum foil.

Roast for 45 minutes.Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until the squash is tender. Place 1 squash half on each of 6 plates, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

 



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