Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: January 2019

Makes 18 rolls

Ingredients

18 large outer savoy cabbage leaves, frozen and thawed
(Freezing makes it easier to roll wilted leaves and eliminates the boiling step.)
Stuffing Ingredients
1 lb lean organic ground pork
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon Italian pork sausage seasoning or use a combination of fennel and Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups cooked orzo, rice or cauliflower rice

Marinara Sauce, recipe below
Spaghetti Squash, recipe below

Directions

Combine the filling ingredients (pork through orzo) in a large mixing bowl.
To assemble the cabbage rolls:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Oil a 9×13 inch baking pan.
Place the cabbage leaves on a kitchen towel. Cut about 1-inch of the hard core on the stem off.

Use about 1/3 cup of filling for large leaves and about 1/4 cup for smaller leaves.
Place the filling on the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll the leaf up to make a tight packet.

As you complete them, place each roll, seam side down, into the prepared baking dish. Continue until all the filling is used up.

Pour 2 cups of marinara sauce on top of the rolls and spread the sauce to cover all the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 1 ½ hours or until the rolls are tender.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
One 6 oz can tomato paste
6 cups chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan. Add the onion and seasonings. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir and cook one minute. Fill the tomato paste can with water and pour into the sauce ingredients. Add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a soft boil, lower the heat, partially cover the pan and let the sauce simmer until thickened, about an hour.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

The squash can bake in the oven along with the cabbage rolls.

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeds removed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


Place the squash cut-side-down into an oiled 9×13 inch baking and bake 45 minutes until it is easily pierced with a knife. Don’t overcook the squash. It should be tender but the strands should still have some chew to them so they have the same texture as spaghetti.
When the squash is done, turn the halves so that the cut-side is facing up and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Run a fork through the flesh to separate the “spaghetti-like” strands. Turn into a serving bowl and toss the strands with olive oil, salt, pepper, sage, and Parmesan cheese.

Serve the cabbage rolls with the spaghetti squash.


This dinner is a good example of how I like to use leftovers to create a few new dinners. The creamed spinach was leftover from my Steakhouse dinner and extra broccoli rabe will be used to make a pasta dish later in the week.

Creamy Stuffed Chicken Breasts

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large boneless chicken breast (10-12 oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Paprika

Filling
1 cup leftover creamed spinach from the Steakhouse post. See recipe.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breast on a cutting board and with a sharp knife cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise. Pound the two halves covered in plastic wrap until evenly thin. Sprinkle each with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Spoon the creamed spinach mixture evenly over each chicken breast half. Roll up the breasts carefully so the filling doesn’t ooze out. Secure with toothpicks.

Place them in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top of each chicken roll with paprika and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and registers 160 degrees F on a digital meat thermometer.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed, tough stalks peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions

Wash and cut the broccoli rabe into two-inch lengths.


Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large Dutch oven and season it generously with kosher salt.
Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, until tender. Drain, and pat dry. Heat the olive oil in the same Dutch Oven over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté, tossing or turning it with tongs, until tender, about 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with shavings of Parmesan cheese. Serve with the lemon wedges alongside.


I recently watched an episode of The Kitchen on the Food Network where they prepared Reverse Seared Ribeye. The technique seemed to make sense so I decided to give it a try.
While this method does take longer to prepare than just grilling the steak, the outcome ensures the meat is cooked to your likeness. The steaks also tasted very good.

Reverse Seared Ribeye Steaks

Ingredients

Two 1 inch thick bone-in ribeye steaks, at room temperature
Coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
Season all sides of the rib-eyes liberally with salt and pepper. Place on a wire rack-lined baking sheet. Bake until the desired internal temperature is reached, 105 degrees F for rare, 115 for medium rare and 125 for medium, 45-60 minutes. When the ribeyes come out of the oven, tent loosely with aluminum foil while preheating the skillet.


Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then sear the steaks on the first side for about a minute. Turn the steaks over and add the butter to the skillet. Once the butter has melted, continue to cook the steaks, continuously basting with the melted butter, until seared on the second side, about 30 seconds. Sear the fat cap on the sides of the steaks 30 seconds more.


Place the steaks on a serving platter and spoon the pan juices over the steaks, Slice the meat and serve.

Creamed Spinach

Save 1 cup of the creamed spinach for stuffed chicken breasts. Recipe next week.

Ingredients

Two 10 ounces frozen spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Defrost frozen spinach overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave until warmed through, usually about 6-7 minutes.
Heat a saucepan on the stove to medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the spinach and let some of the water evaporate. Season the spinach with salt and pepper to taste and mix together.


Add cream cheese and stir together until cream cheese is melted.
Add sour cream and mix together. Turn the heat to low. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until the creamed spinach thickens. Serve immediately.

Homemade Onion Rings

Cornflakes and a hot sheet pan are the secrets to the crispness of these onion rings.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cornflakes
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, sliced crosswise and broken into rings (discard small center rings)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a food processor, pulse the cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form, then transfer to a medium bowl.
In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper.
Dip onion rings in egg mixture (letting excess drip off) and dredge in cornflake mixture; place on a large plate.
Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and heat 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil.
Arrange onion rings on the baking sheet. Bake, turning once until onion rings are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Season with salt.

Sautéed Mushroom Caps With Herbs

Servings: 2 as a side dish

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb cremini mushroom
1 clove garlic grated
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

Directions

Remove the mushroom stems and save for another use. In a skillet over medium heat, add butter and oil. Once the oil is hot, add mushrooms in a single layer, cut-side-down. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute until bottoms are browned (4-5 min), then turn them over and cook until browned on the second side.
Add the lemon juice and herbs. Stir mushrooms and cook another 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve.


Serve with Focaccia Bread and a Winter Salad. Recipes below.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cups seafood stock or clam juice
1 teaspoon seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 lb firm boneless fish fillets (such as halibut, cod, red snapper, sea bass, grouper), cut into small cubes
8 oz medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails removed and cut in half
8 oz sea scallops, halved
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir into the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until tender. Remove the cover and the salt, pepper, chili flakes, seafood seasoning, thyme, and tomatoes. Sir well.

Add the fish cubes, Cook stirring the mixture gently for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook for 2 minutes more or until the seafood is cooked. Add the cream, parsley, and remaining tablespoon butter, heating gently until the butter is incorporated. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve in large individual pasta bowls.

Winter Salad

Radishes are in season where I live and this week they came in jumbo sizes.

Ingredients

Dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad
4 cups arugula, washed well and dried
4 jumbo radishes or 8 small radishes (8 ounces), sliced thin

Directions

In a medium salad bowl, whisk together mustard and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 day.) Add arugula and radishes to bowl, and toss to coat. Serve salad immediately.

Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and black pepper, for sprinkling
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle or oval on a sheet of parchment paper. Place the dough and the parchment on a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle the dough with the garlic and rosemary. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.


Entertaining at lunchtime can be relaxing and informal for the host. If you have friends that are on special diets, a lunchtime menu can be an easy way to meet their needs and guests, not on a special diet will be happy with your menu, Here are two recipes that work well for everyone.

Bacon Swiss Quiche (Gluten-Free and Low Carb)

Press in the Pie Pan Crust
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 teaspoon sweetener (sugar substitute such as monk fruit)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
Filling
5 slices bacon
2 scallions, finely chopped
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese, divided

Directions

For the pie crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, sweetener, and salt. Stir in melted butter until dough comes together and resembles coarse crumbs.
Turn out into a glass or ceramic 9-inch pie plate. Press firmly with fingers into the bottom and up the side of the pie pan. Use a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to even out the bottom.

To prebake the unfilled crust: 
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and bake the crust 10 minutes. Cool slightly before filling.

To prepare the filling:
Turn the oven up to 375 degrees F.
Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy and remove to a paper towel to drain. Break into small pieces.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the chopped scallions to the skillet and cook until softened about 2 minutes.

Beat the eggs and cream together in a large measuring cup or a bowl.
Place 1 cup of the shredded cheese on the prebaked pie crust. Top with the crumbled bacon and cooked scallions. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet.


Add the egg mixture and top with the remaining shredded cheese.
Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf in the oven and bake the quiche for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

No-Fuss Butternut Squash Soup

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash or 4-15 oz cans organic 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.


Grilled Chicken Tenders

Ingredients

1 lb chicken tenders
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (or use 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme,
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.)
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Greek seasoning and water in a plastic ziplock bag.
Place the chicken tenders in the bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat the meat really well, Place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Preheat a stovetop grill pan to medium-high heat. You may also use a broiler.
Grill the tenders, turning them every 2-3 minutes until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Spoon some of the Greek salad onto serving dishes and top each serving with some of the grilled chicken tenders.

Greek Salad

Serve with warmed pita bread.

Dressing

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Salad

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 small bell pepper, diced
1/4 of a red onion, sliced
Half English cucumber, sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
12 kalamata olives,
4 pepperoncini peppers
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Pour all the dressing ingredients into a large jar and shake well.
Place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors.
Combine the Greek salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss. Add more dressing if desired.


Oven Roasted Baby Back Ribs

Serve with a salad or your favorite green vegetable.

6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup homemade BBQ sauce, recipe below
2 slabs baby back ribs

Rub

2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 tablespoon brown sugar or brown sugar substitute

Directions

Combine the rub ingredients in a small dish.
Prepare the ribs by removing the silver skin or scoring it between the bones on the underside of the ribs.
Place the ribs in a baking dish and coat the sides of the ribs with the rub.
Allow the ribs to sit for at least 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Roast the ribs, meat side up, covered, in the oven for 3 hours.
Remove the ribs from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees.


Slather the tops of the ribs with the BBQ sauce..
Return the ribs, uncovered, to the oven and roast for an additional 45 minutes.

Barbecue Baked Black Soybeans

Why I like using black soybeans:

Black soybeans are great substitutes for higher-carb beans, such as black, navy, and pinto beans. They don’t taste as soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but rather more like regular black beans. You can substitute them in dishes that call for black beans, such as baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, and 4-Bean Salad.

Nutritionally, black soybeans are free of fat and a good source of protein. They are low in net carbohydrates (the number of carbohydrates per serving minus the grams of fiber) and high in protein, fiber, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin. Half a cup of canned black soybeans has 1 gram net carbs plus 7 grams of fiber (8 grams of total carbohydrate), 11 grams of protein, and 120 calories.

The black variety is higher in some phytonutrients, including antioxidants. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell. Similar to blueberries and raspberries, the dark exterior of the black soybean contains antioxidants that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules.

Cooking Black Soybeans

Ingredients

2 cups dried black soybeans
2 teaspoons salt, divided
Water
1 small onion, halved
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid their getting mushy, it is best to soak overnight and cook the dried beans in salted water. You will use the same water measurements called for in recipes using regular beans, but you will add salt to the soaking and cooking water. For two cups of dry black soybeans, soak overnight in 8 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt.
The next day, drain the beans and place in a large saucepan. Add six cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, the oil, garlic, and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pan and cook the beans until tender about 2 hours.

For the Baked Beans

Ingredients

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups homemade BBQ sauce, recipe below
4 cups cooked black soybeans or canned, rinsed and drained
2 slices of cooked bacon

Directions

Sauté the finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add beans and 1 cup of the barbecue sauce. Pour into a baking dish. Top with the bacon. Bake the beans in a 300 degree F oven for 2 hours.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

4 cups low sugar ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle adobo sauce
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for about an hour.

Cooking and Serving Tips

If you’d like your sauce on the spicier side, increase the adobo sauce by 1/2 teaspoon increments.
Make sure to stir frequently, about once every 15 minutes, while the BBQ sauce is cooking. This will help better incorporate the flavors and ensure that the sauce is evenly cooked throughout.
Let the sauce cool before transferring to a storage container. A mason jar is a good option. Whatever you use, make sure it’s airtight. You can store your sauce in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze it for several months.



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