Fall vegetables are starting to appear in the markets – lots of different types of squash, beets, cauliflower and cabbage are typical at this time. Hot Dogs or Franks say fall and hot dogs can fit into a healthy diet, if you read the label to make sure you are getting the right type. Check for high sodium and sugar levels in the nutrient list. Ideally, one hot dog should have less than 100 calories, no more than 6 grams of fat (and no more than one-third of that as saturated fat), and no more than 300-400 grams of sodium.
I like to purchase Applegate Farms Uncured Organic Beef Hot Dogs. They contain beef, spices and that’s about it. These hot dogs are free of nitrates and have only 70 calories, 6 grams of fat and 330 mg of sodium. Yes, they taste good and yes, they taste like a hot dog. So when the hot dog craving happens choose wisely. I like to skip the bun and prefer the way they taste cooked in sauerkraut.
Cauliflower fritters are a great way to use up any leftover cauliflower. This recipe makes a delicious side dish.
Franks and Sauerkraut Saute
Serve with your favorite pumpernickel or rye bread.
4 uncured (nitrate free), natural/organic all beef hot dogs
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped red or white onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
Heat a deep skillet with a cover over medium heat.
Melt the butter, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and paprika, cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the sauerkraut and caraway, simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
Add the hot dogs and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes more.
2 cups cooked cauliflower florets
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup green onions or shallots, minced
3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or almond flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Sour cream for serving
In a shallow mixing bowl mash or finely chop the cooked cauliflower. Squeeze out any moisture. Add egg, flour, cheese and spices.
Place a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Place four 1/4 cup fritter mixture in the pan and cook 3 minutes per side.
Don’t turn the fritters until the bottoms are well cooked. Drain on paper towels.
Repeat with the remaining fritters and add more oil if needed. Serve with a little sour cream on top of each fritter.
Old Fashioned Baked Beans
I make a big pot of these beans and freeze them in 1 to 2 cup containers, so they are handy for a quick meal. Of course, you can use canned beans but homemade tastes so much better.
1 pound navy beans
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 pieces thick bacon
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup Dijon country mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Rinse beans in a colander under water to remove any stones or impurities.
Place the rinsed beans in a large pot or bowl and fill with water to completely cover the beans.
Set aside, loosely covered, on the kitchen counter, overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Cook the bacon in an ovenproof Dutch Oven. When crisp, remove to a paper towel to cool and, then, cut into small pieces.
Drain the beans and place in the Dutch Oven with the onions and the garlic. Mix well.
Add all the remaining ingredients, including the chopped bacon and stir until all contents are well mixed.
Add enough water to cover the beans, about 3 cups, depending on the size of your pot.
Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 4-5 hours – stirring several times during the baking period.
Remove the lid after 3 hours and continue baking for the next hour – to allow the liquid to evaporate into a thick sauce.
Add the kosher salt. Taste the beans and add more salt, if needed.
We have salmon for dinner on a regular basis because we like and appreciate that it is a healthy food option. I am not a fan of cooking something the same way all the time, so I am always trying new ways to prepare this fish. I experimented with some different spices and seasoning, added nuts and came up with the recipe below. We really liked this version. We are also trying to incorporate more seasonal vegetables in our meals and trying to prepare them in healthier ways. Oven baked zucchini fries were delicious and turned out crispy with the Parmesan coating. Spaghetti Squash is in season and makes a delicious side dish with Italian flavors.
2 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
Seafood seasoning ( such as Old Bay)
4 tablespoons finely chopped raw pecans
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
Thaw salmon overnight in the refrigerator, if it is frozen.
At least 30 minutes before you plan to cook, take the salmon out of the refrigerator.
Coat a small baking dish with olive oil cooking spray, place the fish in this dish and let the fish come to room temperature.
Sprinkle the fish lightly with the seafood seasoning.
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to reach a 425F/220C temperature a half hour before you plan to cook.
Mix together the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise in a small bowl and use a rubber scraper to spread it over the surface of the salmon.
Press the pecans onto the top of the fish with a little pressure so they stick to the topping.
Roast the salmon for about 15 minutes. (Don’t overcook; the fish will continue to cook for a few minutes when you take it out of the oven.)
Zucchini Parmesan Oven Fries
2 medium zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cut each zucchini in half and each half into quarters.
Place the zucchini in a plastic zip-lock bag and add a little salt. Seal and shake the bag to coat the zucchini pieces.
Place them on paper towels to drain for several hours. Reserve the plastic bag.
Oil a large baking sheet with sides. Use the same oven temperature as the salmon.
Place the egg in a shallow dish and the Parmesan cheese in the bag that held the zucchini quarters.
Dip the zucchini in the egg and place in the bag with the cheese. Shake the bag and place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with all the zucchini.
Place the pan in the oven 10 minutes before the salmon will need to go in the oven.
Bake 10 minutes and turn the squash over when you place the salmon in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes more or until they are crispy.
Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio
Spaghetti squash makes an excellent substitute for thin noodles. It is best to cook the squash earlier in the day or the day before.
1 spaghetti squash, about 3 lbs.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and halve the squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half.
Arrange the squash in a baking dish, cut sides down. Pour 1 cup of water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Run a fork through the flesh to separate the spaghetti like strands. Turn them into a storage container.
When ready to cook:
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
When the garlic turns golden, remove it from the pan and discard.
Add the spaghetti squash and toss in the oil. Add crushed red chili flakes, black pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Eggs are one of my favorite foods. I like them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are also many ways to prepare them, so don’t get stuck in the scrambled or sunny-side up preparation. Below are some of my innovative and tasty ways to make eggs. And, if you are adventuresome, give them a try.
Tomato & Egg Breakfast Skillet
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 large (3 small) plum tomatoes, chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, slivered
Fresh ground pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes).
Add chopped tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until they the juice has cooked off–about 4-5 minutes.
Make 4 wells in the tomato mixture with a spoon and pour a cracked egg into each well. Add a grind or two of fresh pepper.
Cover the pan with a glass lid, and simmer until the egg whites are firm and the yolks are starting to set (about 2 minutes).
Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese, and cover again until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with fresh basil and spoon on to individual plates.
Spinach Egg Muffins
6 large eggs
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
10 oz package frozen spinach, defrosted
3 thin scallions, white and light green sections, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar/Monterey cheese mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Squeeze the spinach to remove the water.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together until frothy. Add in the cheese.
Add the spinach, scallions and bacon and mix until combined.
Divide the mixture evenly among the 6 jumbo muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Bake for 40 minutes until muffins are firm and golden.
Baked Avocado Egg Cups
Ingredients for each serving:
Half an Avocados
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings – chopped tomato or chopped onion and bell peppers
Cut the avocados in half. Take out the seed.
Scoop out about a 1 teaspoon of the flesh from each avocado half where the pit had been.
Season with salt and pepper. Place each avocado half in a small baking dish.
Crack an egg into the avocado opening and season with more salt and pepper.
Bake at 425-degrees for 10 minutes and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the egg.
Continue to bake for 18-20 minutes until the egg is done to your liking.
Sprinkle with additional toppings, if desired.
Do you ever entertain at lunchtime? Every once in a while, it is fun to ask friends over for a special lunch on a weekend. There are so many good things you can make for this meal while keeping it simple, delicious and mostly made ahead to allow you time with your friends.Finish the lunch menu with a platter of delicious fruit and that is all you really need.
Mini Carrot Muffins
Make these muffins well in advance and keep in the freezer. Heat in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes before serving.
1/1/2 cups all-purpose
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shredded carrots
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons low-fat or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place the beaten egg, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, oil and butter in a large mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly.
In a large measuring cup or medium mixing bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.
Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in carrots and pecans.
Divide batter evenly among 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. A cookie scoop works well for this.
Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.cool five minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tomatoes Stuffed With Shrimp Salad
The shrimp salad can be prepared the day before you are having lunch. Cook the shrimp and place in a covered container. Make the dressing and store it in the refrigerator. The next morning, combine the shrimp and dressing and store in the refrigerator until is time to serve. Then fill the tomatoes just before serving.
1 pound large shrimp (21-25)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon good white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel, remove the tails and devein the shrimp.
Place them in a baking dish with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.
Spread the shrimp out in one layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.
To make the dressing.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
When the shrimp are cool, add them to the dressing and toss. Add the dill, capers, and vegetables and toss well.
Cover and chill until serving time.
Hollow out the tomatoes and fill with the shrimp salad and serve.
Summertime Corn Chowder
The chowder can be made weeks in advance and defrosted overnight. I keep several soups in the freezer for just such occasions.
For the corn stock ingredients
12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed and set aside for the chowder)
2 chive stalks
2 stems fresh parsley
2 stems fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Put corn cobs, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cold water to cover in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and measure the broth.
If you do not have 6 cups add water to make the 6 cups. Set aside the broth.
For the chowder ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 carrots, diced
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup half-and-half or evaporated canned milk
6 cups corn stock or vegetable broth if you don’t make the corn stock
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.
Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the 6 cups corn stock, chili powder and the thyme.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.
Take the pot off the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender.
Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.
Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.
Eggplant is probably my family’s favorite vegetable and it is certainly a major food in Italian cuisine. It is versatile and can be prepared healthy or anyway you like it. I prefer to bake the eggplant slices instead of frying them and then I can use them in any number of ways: parmesan, lasagna, “meatballs” or as below – rollatini. This dish is delicious as a main entrée or as an appetizer. Grilled Italian sausage is an excellent side dish as are the green beans.
If you choose, you can also coat the eggplant slices in egg and breadcrumbs and bake as described below. If you want less carbs, leave out the crumbs.
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into very thin slices, to get about 14-15 slices
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups prepared marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and place them on a large baking sheet.
Roast (or broil) in a 400-degree F oven for 20 minutes, turning the eggplant slices halfway through cooking.
Place on paper towels to cool.
For the filling:
Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella, egg, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.
When the eggplant has cooled about 10 minutes, place about 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture on each slice.
Spread it over the eggplant slice and then roll up into a cylinder. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.
Coat the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Place the eggplant rolls in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the eggplant rolls. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Let rest a few minutes before serving.
Grilled Italian Sausage
1 ½ lbs Italian pork sausage
Heat an outdoor grill for both direct and indirect cooking. Oil the grill grates.
Brush the sausage lightly with olive oil.
Place the sausage on the indirect side of the grill and close the cover.
Cook for 15 minutes and turn the sausage over. Cook for 15 more minutes. Slice and serve.
Skillet Green Beans
1 pound green beans, washed, trimmed and cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, smashed flat with the side of a knife
A little coarse salt
1/4 cup water
Black pepper to taste
Heat the skillet on medium and add the oil.
Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or until lightly golden, stirring.
Add the beans, turn a few times to coat well with the oil. Sprinkle with salt.
Stir in the water. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Cover and cook 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are slightly wilted but still crunchy.
Uncover and increase the heat to high.
Cook 2 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are cooked but still bright green.
Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Add black pepper and transfer to a serving dish.
Making a BBQ dinner for friends is a great way to entertain, especially if the weather cooperates. I enjoy having guests for dinner and I usually plan my menu with dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. That way I am able to spend time with friends rather than doing a lot of food preparations while they are visiting.
You may have noticed that more and more of your friends are following different diets. Some are only eating low carb foods, others are on a Paleo diet, some are diabetic, others vegetarian and some vegan. It is a good idea to check with your friends to see what they can eat. I am always open to planning variations of what I am making to accommodate their diets. In this case a few friends are following a vegan diet, so instead of 8 beef burgers, four are beef and four are made from oats and beans. These vegan burgers are great on the grill, hold up perfectly and do not fall apart. Just be sure your grill is well oiled. The rest of the menu works for everyone.
For 4 servings
20 oz (1 ¼ lbs grass-fed organic ground steak for burgers
Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
1 large sweet onion, cut into 4 ½ inch thick slices
Olive oil cooking spray
4 wheat burger buns
Shape the meat into four equal patties, about 5 oz each.
Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.
Coat the onion slices on both sides with cooking spray
Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place the burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for a total of 8 minutes.
Place the onion slices on the grill and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, turn them over with a wide spatula and cook the second side for a total of about 4 minutes.
Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls and top with a grilled onion slice.
Serve with ketchup and your favorite burger condiments.
Vegan Bean and Oat Burgers
For 4 servings
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup dry pinto beans
1/4 cup dry red or black beans
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 medium carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for grilling
Grilled Onion slices
4 wheat burger buns
Ketchup or other condiments
Soak the beans overnight in water to cover and cook the next day for 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
Place the oats in the bowl of the processor and process until finely ground.
Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Remove the mixture from the processor and shape into four patties. Cover with plastic wrap.
Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before grilling.
Brush the patties with olive oil and place on an oiled grill.
Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place on toasted buns and add a grilled onion slice. Serve with ketchup or other condiments.
Whole-Wheat Burger Buns
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flours, yeast, salt, wheat gluten and baking soda.
Add the warm water, honey and oil. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together around the paddle.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on low until the dough is smooth but slightly sticky.
Place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat all over with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 2 hours until the dough has risen.
Punch down the dough and divide into 6 smooth balls
Place the buns on a lightly greased and floured baking sheet, a few inches apart or in a greased burger baking pan.
Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers, and let the buns rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the buns in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove to a rack and allow the buns to cool.
Zucchini Fennel Salad
1 large zucchini, sliced very thin
Half red onion, sliced very thin
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
12 Italian green olives, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
In a large serving bowl, combine the zucchini, onion, olives and fennel.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well.
Pour over the zucchini mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for several hours until chilled before serving.
4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (about 8 medium peaches)
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on the sweetness of the peaches
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 – 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, combine the fruit and the agave nectar. Spread the mixture evenly in an 8×8-inch baking pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Stir the oil into the topping mix with a fork until you get a crumbly mixture forms.
Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit in the baking pan.
Bake for 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden.