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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: November 2018

Italian Macaroni & Cheese

Serve with meatballs and a green mixed lettuce salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

10 oz small pasta, penne or macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 plump garlic cloves, grated
1 (28-ounce) can plus 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in juice
1/4 teaspoon honey
Salt to taste
A couple of fresh basil sprigs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

To make the tomato sauce.

Pulse the chopped tomatoes in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or pass through the medium blade of a food mill. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, wide nonstick skillet or saucepan and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute and add the tomatoes and their juice, the honey, salt, oregano and basil sprigs. Stir and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the basil sprigs and add freshly ground pepper. Measure out 4 cups of sauce and save the remaining for another recipe.

Combine the ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and then stir into the 4 cups of sauce to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

To make the pasta:

Heat a large pot of water to boiling.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and oil a 2-quart baking or gratin dish with olive oil.
When the water for the pasta comes to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and cook the pasta for a minute or two less than the instructions on the package indicate. It should still be a little underdone as it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomato-cheese sauce and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated.

Transfer the pasta to the baking dish. Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned about 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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Neapolitan Meatballs

Makes 12 large meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
New York Style Pizza Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using your hands. combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the sauce, in a large mixing bowl. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and coat the foil with olive oil cooking spray. Form the meatball mixture into large meatballs. Use a ½ cup measure. You should be able to make 12 large meatballs.

Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the meatballs over. Bake for 15 minutes more. Place the meatballs in the pot of pizza sauce and simmer for one hour.

For the Parmigiana:
For 2 servings
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Sub Rolls, warmed and sliced lengthwise

Directions

Preheat the broiler.
Place the split sub rolls on a baking sheet.
Place 2-3 cooked meatballs in each sub roll. Spoon a little of the sauce over each meatball.
Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded mozzarella over the meatballs
Place the pan under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Serve with a garden salad.

New York-Style Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 (6-inch) sprigs fresh basil with leaves attached
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute

Directions

Process tomatoes and their juice through a food mill, or pulse in food processor until pureed, or puree with a hand blender. Puree should not be completely smooth but should have no chunks. Set tomatoes aside.

Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil sprigs, onion halves, and honey. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to the lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Discard onions and basil stems. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Sicilian Style Codfish Cakes

Makes 8-10 cakes

Ingredients

1 pound fresh cod fish fillets, poached (see directions below)
1 pound potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Cook the potatoes in salted water and mash with the olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese, chopped onion, garlic, 1 egg, the flaked codfish, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the fish mixture into eight equal portions, then, with floured hands form each into a flat cake, about 3-inch rounds; 1/2 inch thick.

Beat the egg with the water. Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden
Drain on paper towels and serve with a remoulade or tzatziki sauce.

Poached Cod Fish

3 cups cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium bay leaf
A large branch of fresh thyme
3 chive stalks
Salt and pepper
1 lb cod fillets
1/2 medium lemon, sliced paper-thin
3 fresh parsley sprigs, stems trimmed and coarsely chopped

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the fish in a large, shallow-sided pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low until liquid is at a simmer. Add fish in a single layer, making sure it is completely covered with liquid. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
Poach until the cod flesh is opaque and flakes easily (the internal temperature should be 175ºF).

Low Carb Codfish Cakes

Makes 4 cakes

For this version, I made mashed cauliflower and mixed it with butter and sour cream for a previous dinner side. I reserved a ½ cup of the mixture for the codfish cakes.

Ingredients

Cakes

1 lb poached cod fillets
1/2 cup leftover mashed cauliflower mixed with sour cream
1/2 medium shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Coating

Arrowroot powder
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup store-bought Low Carb panko bread crumbs or homemade, recipe below
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making low carb fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Add the leftover cauliflower, chopped shallots, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, flaked codfish, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours.

Divide the fish mixture into four equal portions, then, with arrowroot powder floured hands form each into a flat cake.

Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg mixture and then into the low carb breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden.
Drain on paper towel and serve with the tzatziki sauce.

Low Carb Panko Crumbs

I buy low carb bread, such as Smart Buns, and turn them into homemade croutons or panko crumbs.
Slice the bread into cubes.
Place cubes on a sheet pan and toast, in a single layer in a 350 F degree oven. Store the croutons in a zip-top bag in the freezer.

To make breadcrumbs: Place the toasted cubes in a food processor and pulse to create course breadcrumbs.
Store the remainder in an air-tight, zip-seal bag in the freezer.

Tzatziki Topping (cucumber yogurt sauce)

Mix 1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt with ¼ of a cucumber (seeds removed, grated and squeezed to remove extra liquid), 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped dill.

Spiralized Carrot & Beet Salad

Servings 4-6 servings

Ingredients

2 carrots spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant carrot spirals, defrosted
2 beets spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant beet spirals, defrosted
1/2 of a shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
A generous handful of chopped parsley

Dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
A couple of dashes of hot sauce

Directions

Peel and spiralize the carrots and beets or defrost the frozen spirals in a colander and dry on paper towels.


Cut the spirals into shorter strands for the salad and place in large salad bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the shallots, chives, parsley, and almonds.
In a separate small bowl whisk together lemon and olive oil with a couple dashes of hot sauce.
Pour dressing over veggies and mix well. Serve with the codfish cakes.


Every few weeks I like to try a new cuisine, This week it is French.

French Onion Soup

8 servings

Ingredients

3 large sweet onions, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
64 ounces (8 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 tablespoons freshly grated/shredded parmesan cheese
16 slices thin swiss cheese
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
8 (1-ounce) slices French bread,1/2-inch thick, toasted

Directions

Cut onions in half, then thinly slice.
In a large soup pot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat and add the onions.
Saute onions for about 20 minutes, until limp and golden brown in color.


Add the beef broth and thyme and heat to boiling, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the sherry and salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the oven to broil.
Place soup crocks (the number will depend on servings) in a baking pan and ladle onion soup evenly among the soup crocks filling each ¾ quarters of the way.
Add one tablespoon of grated cheese to each crock and stir gently.
Place a slice of toasted bread and two slices of swiss cheese on top of each bread slice.
Carefully transport the baking pan with the crocks to the broiler and broil the crocks until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Serve the crocks on separate plates.

Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

8 medium bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons dry white wine
6 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

Remove the chicken skin or leave on depending on personal preference.
Place the chicken thighs on a cutting board, skin side up, and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Turn them over and sprinkle them with one more teaspoon of salt.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large (11 to 12-inch) skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan in one layer, skin side down. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes without moving, until the skin is golden brown. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs and sprinkle with the Herbs de Provence.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan,, moving some of the onions under the chicken, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes more, stirring the onions occasionally, until the thighs are cooked to 155 to 160 degrees and the onions are brown. Transfer the chicken (not the onions) to a plate and allow to rest uncovered while you make the sauce. If the onions aren’t browned, cook them for another minute.
Add the wine and Dijon mustard and stir over low heat for one minute. Add the sour cream and heavy cream and stir for one minute. Return the chicken, skin side up, and the juices to the skillet and reheat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with the braised cabbage.

White Wine Braised Savoy Cabbage

4 servings

Ingredients

1 small head of Savoy cabbage, about 1 pound
2 large shallots, sliced thin
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 slice bacon
1/2 cup white wine
4 oz unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Cut the cabbage in quarters, remove the core and cut the cabbage into thin slices
Sauté the bacon in a deep skillet.
When done, remove and drain on a paper towel.
Add the cabbage and stir-fry briefly.
Add the wine and thyme, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Add applesauce and butter, stir and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Crumble bacon and add to the cabbage. Stir well and serve.


Simple Pot Roast

I served the pot roast with mashed potatoes and leftover spinach.

Ingredients

One (2-3-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour
Olive oil
4 carrots, each cut in 3 or 4 pieces
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with salt & pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear on all sides of the meat until browned. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook over medium heat until tender but not browned. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and seasonings. Put the roast back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and. place it in the oven for 60 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 250 degrees F, add the carrots to the pot and cook for an additional 2 hours.

Remove the roast to a cutting board and carrots to a serving plate. Use an immersion blender to puree the broth until smooth. Slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.


One of the fastest developing trends in cooking this year has been the use of spiralized veggies. Regardless of the season or the recipe, the spiralizer has given cooks a way to substitute pasta or carb-heavy noodles with fresh squash, beets, and other root vegetables. Green Giant has launched an entire line of frozen spiralized veggies with four different varieties—zucchini, butternut squash, beets, and carrots without any additives—only the vegetable itself. Supermarkets also sell spiralized vegetables in their produce sections.


I find the frozen variety very useful because they are readily available and unlike the fresh veggies, they don’t spoil quickly. I experimented with these frozen veggies and learned not to follow the package directions for microwaving or boiling. Instead, I defrost the veggies, dry them on a kitchen towel and saute them or add them to a sauce. They turn out great – not at all soggy and they retain a fresh taste. Try the recipe below and you will be surprised.

Butternut Squash Pasta

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1 vegetable bouillon cube or ¼ teaspoon vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Two 12 oz packages frozen butternut squash spirals
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, chopped and parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

Defrost the frozen butternut squash in a colander early in the day you plan to cook. Transfer the squash to a kitchen towel to dry.

In a saucepan, saute the onion, mushrooms, fresh oregano and garlic in the olive oil. Add tomatoes, bouillon, and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the cream and butternut squash spirals and simmer for a few minutes until the squash and cream are hot.
Top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with the grilled sausage.

Grilled Italian Sausage

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs. Italian Rope Sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Brush the sausage with olive oil.

Heat the outdoor grill on high and then turn the burners off on one side of the grill or place coals on one side of a charcoal grill.
Lower heat is better and will prevent the meat from drying out. Oil the grill grates.
Keep the entire link whole – don’t cut it up or poke holes in it.

Coil the link over the indirect heat side of the grill and close the grill lid. After 15 minutes turn the sausage link over.
Use tongs to turn the links. Don’t pierce the link’s skin or the juices will flow out and cause the sausage to be dry. Cook for 15 minutes more.

Check with a meat thermometer for 160 degrees F internal temperature to be sure the sausage is cooked all the way through. If not, continue to cook until the temperature is reached.

Note: to cook on a stovetop grill, heat the pan, lower the heat to low and oil the pan. Cook the sausage for about the same time as above or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.


No-Fuss Butternut Squash Soup

I am not a fan of peeling butternut squash but I do like the vegetable. Very happy to have found it pureed and frozen at my local market. It is a perfect time saver for soup.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash
32 oz container vegetable broth
4 oz container unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Herbs for garnish, such as sage

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven except the cream. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with fresh herbs.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp

2 servings

Ingredients

8 large shrimp (16-20 per pound)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 garlic, minced
2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and devein the shrimp. Butterfly the shrimp by making a slit along the back side, taking care not to slice all the way through the body. Coat a baking dish with nonstick spray and arrange the shrimp in a single layer.
Melt the butter in a microwave dish and set aside.

Combine the garlic, green onion, celery, bell pepper, herbs and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Carefully fold in the mayonnaise and crab meat.

Spoon even portions of the crab mixture over each of the butterflied shrimp. Using your fingers, gently mold each portion of stuffing around the shrimp. Pour the melted butter evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Garlicky Sautéed Greens

2-3 servings

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Heat the garlic and oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to the empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return to them to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture.when hot, transfer to a serving bowl.



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