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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Bacon

Fresh asparagus stalks are firm, straight and smooth. They should be a rich green color with a small amount of white at the bottom of the spear. A dull green hue and wrinkles in the stems are an indication of old age. Also look for asparagus that stand up straight–the stalks should not be limp. The asparagus tips should be tightly closed and compact. If possible, buy asparagus that are standing in a shallow bin filled with a small amount of water which keeps the base of the stem from getting dry. There are endless ways to prepare asparagus and here is one of mine.

Asparagus and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2 servings

Ingredients

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halve, about 6 oz each
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 slices prosciutto
10 very thin asparagus spears, trimmed – divided
4 large, thin slices provolone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with a cover (or you may use foil) or use individual baking dishes.

Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet until very thin. Brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place two slices of cheese on top of the chicken. Place a prosciutto slice on top of the cheese. Place 5 spears asparagus down the center of the chicken. Repeat with the other chicken breast and roll the chicken around the asparagus to make two compact rolls. Place the rolls seam side down in the prepared baking dish and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cover the dish and return the baking dish to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F. Sprinkle the chicken rolls with fresh chopped herbs before serving.

Sautéed Beet Greens

See Monday’s recipe for Marinated Beets. The beet greens from that recipe are used here.

Ingredients

2 bunches beet greens, stems removed and leaves cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Optional garnishes crumbled bacon or feta cheese

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the greens and cook until tender. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and top with optional garnishes, if desired.

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Select beets that are heavy for their size and show no surface nicks or cuts. If they’re sold with their tops on, the greens are always a good indicator of freshness as they show wilting very quickly. So, buy beets that have very crisp leaves attached. Save the leaves and cook them for a side dish, as I did in the Stuffed Chicken Rolls for later in the week. I will post that recipe on Friday.

Marinated Roasted Beet Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

Two bunches (6) medium-sized beets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ cup sliced red onions
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Wash and trim the beets so the stems and roots are about ½-inch long.
Place the beets onto a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil on a baking sheet, sprinkle the beets with salt and pepper, add the garlic slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Close the package tightly and place in the oven for about an hour or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.

Cool the beets before peeling.
Cut the beets into thick slices and place in a serving bowl.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
Marinate the beets for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, before adding a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Pan Seared Fish Fillets with Tomato Bacon Sauce

Ingredients:

4 (12 ounces) thin fish fillets
1 large Florida tomato, diced
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine, plus extra for garnish
1 garlic clove, grated
1 small shallot, finely minced
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Lightly season the fillets with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
Preheat a skillet just large enough to fit the fillets over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the seasoned fillets skin side up in the sauté pan. Cook each fillet for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and completely cooked throughout the thickest part of the fillet. Remove the cooked fillets from the pan and place on a plate.

Add the tomatoes, shallot, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the tomato mixture until the tomatoes start to wilt and release their juices. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vegetable stock. Quickly bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Return the fish to the skillet just to warm the fillets. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sautéed Baby Zucchini

Scallions (green onions) are also in season in the spring. Look for crisp, bright-green stalks and a firm white base. Avoid stalks with any slimy, wet tops.
Young zucchini are in season where I live. If they are not available in your area, substitute another vegetable, such as green beans.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 young zucchini
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Directions

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut each in half crosswise to make 8 pieces.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and place the zucchini cut side down in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic and scallions over the zucchini. Let cook for 7- 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle with oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat and serve.


 

T-bone steaks have two distinct pieces of meat on it, which cook at different rates: the leaner tenderloin and the fattier strip. The key to perfectly grilling a T-bone is to start cooking it with lower heat and then finish it over high heat. Grass-fed beef cooks more quickly than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef requires 30% less cooking time so watch your thermometer and don’t leave your steaks unattended.

Wedge Salad

This retro salad is making a comeback.

4 servings

Ingredients

Blue Cheese Dressing

Whisk together in a small bowl:

1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Fold in 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Salad

Cut 4 oz. thick bacon into 1″ thick pieces.
Cook in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until crisp, 5–7 minutes.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Cut 1 small head of iceberg lettuce into 4 wedges; place on individual salad plates and spoon some of the dressing over the wedges.
Top each with some diced bacon, diced red onion, diced tomato and more crumbled blue cheese. Then sprinkle each with chopped chives.

Grilled T-Bone Steak With Onion Rings

For great tasting beef, start with a steak rub.

Rub Ingredients

2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

Steak

4 tablespoons butter
4 (16 ounces) t-bone steaks, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grates.
Stir the salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, coriander, and turmeric together in a small bowl.
Rub the steaks on all sides with the seasoning mixture.

Directions

Set up an outdoor grill for direct and indirect heat. Oil the grill grates.
Arrange steaks on the cooler side of the grill with tenderloins (the smaller medallions of meat) positioned farthest from the coals. Cook steaks, turning once (but always keeping tenderloin farthest from the coals), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the coolest part of the strip (the larger section of meat) registers 115°F/46°C and the tenderloin registers 110°F/43°C for medium-rare, about 10 minutes total for grass-fed beef.
Transfer steaks to the hot side of the grill and cook, turning, until seared on both sides, about 2 minutes on each side for grass-fed beef.
An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 125-130 degrees F. Place the steaks on a serving platter and top each with a tablespoon of butter.

Let rest 10 minutes, then serve.

Oven-Baked Onion Rings

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large yellow onion – ends trimmed off, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups panko breadcrumbs, or more if needed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Place the onion rings in a bowl of ice-cold water before coating.
Whisk eggs with cream in a bowl until thoroughly combined; season egg mixture with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Place flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Place panko crumbs in a separate bowl.
Work with one or two at a time, shaking off excess water then toss into a bag of flour mix.

Place onion rings into a large resealable plastic bag. Add flour, salt, and black pepper; seal bag and shake until the onion rings are well coated with flour.
Place flour-coated onion rings into the egg mixture, a few at a time, and toss lightly with tongs until coated. Place rings into panko crumbs and gently shake the bowl to toss the crumbs with the onion rings until rings are coated with crumbs.
Transfer coated onion rings to a large baking sheet; spray rings lightly with cooking spray.
Bake in the preheated oven until the onion rings are tender and crumbs are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.


Artist Pete Rumney

It has been very cold the past few weeks in most of the country, including the south. Warm casseroles and spicy dishes can warm you up but you don’t have to turn to macaroni and cheese for that to happen. Combining healthy foods with lots of flavor can do it for you. Try these recipes for a start.

Escarole and Italian Sausage Casserole

I save the ends of the parmesan cheese in a bag in the freezer and use them to flavor soups and stews.

Serve with crusty Italian bread.

6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound escarole, approximately 2 heads
6 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped onion
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 lb cheese and parsley Italian sausage (or regular Italian sausage), sliced into half-inch pieces
1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
Parmesan cheese rind
Fresh black pepper

Directions

Remove the outer leaves of escarole if damaged or discolored. Cut off the stem ends, wash the leaves twice in abundant cold water and drain. Cut the leaves into two-inch lengths.

In a large Dutch Oven, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until golden but not brown. Add the escarole, salt and red pepper.

Cover and cook over moderate heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the escarole to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onion, fennel bulb and sausage to the pan; cook until the sausage is browned, stirring frequently.

Add the broth, Parmesan rind, escarole and beans.

Cover; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Beef Burgundy

Like other stews, Beef Burgundy, tastes best when made ahead so the flavors have time to mingle. Serve with noodles, rice, mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash.

Roasted carrots make a nice side dish.

Ingredients

1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and black pepper
5 slices bacon, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour or arrowroot powder
1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 lb mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1-2 cups beef broth
2 cloves garlic head, crushed
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

Directions

Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until the bacon is lightly browned on both sides.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. Break into smaller pieces.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Add the butter to the pan and melt.

In batches, in single layers, sear the beef in the hot pan for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.

Remove the seared cubes with a slotted spoon to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Add onions the garlic to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour or arrowroot over the onions and stir until no dry flour remains. Whisk in the wine, tomato paste and anchovy paste until combined.

Add the bay leaves, mushrooms and thyme to the pan.

Add the beef and bacon and enough beef broth to come almost to the top of the beef.

Place the pan, uncovered, into the oven and cook until the meat is tender, 3 ½-4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding broth, if needed, to keep the meat half-submerged in liquid.

Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stew can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Huevos Rancheros

Just a note here that this recipe is my version and not an authentic Mexican Huevos recipe.

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups jarred salsa
2 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
2 tortillas
1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions

Prepare the tortillas:

Heat the oven to 150° F. Place a pan large enough to fit the tortillas in the oven to heat.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium high, coating the pan with the oil.

One by one heat the tortillas in the pan, a minute or two on each side, until they are heated through, softened and pockets of air bubble up inside of them.

Then, remove them to the pan in the oven to keep warm while you cook the sauce and the eggs.

Make the sauce:

Heat the oil in the same skillet and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until tender. Add the salsa, tomatoes, chipotle and roasted red peppers.

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Return the heat to medium, so that the sauce is bubbling slightly.

Crack 4 eggs into the sauce in the skillet, cover and cook for about 4 minutes until the egg are almost firm.

Uncover the pan and sprinkle each egg with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover the pan and cook for another minute to let the cheese melt and to finish cooking the eggs.

To serve:

Place a tortilla on a serving plate. With a large spoon place two eggs and half the sauce on top. Repeat with the second tortilla and eggs. Serve immediately.


 

Around the world, people eat certain foods thought to symbolize good fortune when the new year arrives. Here are a few recipes guaranteed to make you feel lucky.

Happy New Year.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pork, thanks to its rich fat content, symbolizes wealth and prosperity.

12 servings

Dry Rub:

3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 (5 to 7 pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt

Mustard Barbecue Sauce:

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register at least 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it falls apart.

While the pork is roasting, make the mustard sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready for it.

When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 20 minutes. While the pork is still warm, you want to “pull” the meat. Use 2 forks: 1 to steady the meat and the other to “pull” shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour half of the sauce over. Stir well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.

To serve, spoon pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and top with some of the mustard sauce.

Black-Eyed Peas

Legumes including beans, peas and lentils are symbolic of money. Their small, seed like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked. In Italy, it is customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight. In the Southern United States, it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas in a dish called hoppin’ john.

Ingredients

4 cups shelled black-eyed peas
2 ounces bacon
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth, plus extra if needed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel plate and reserve for later.

Add the onion and celery to the hot bacon fat and cook until tender. Add the peas and saute for a minute or two.

Add the thyme and 2 cups of chicken broth or just enough to cover the peas by about 1 inch. Add more if the peas are not covered.

Bring to a low boil and add the sugar and stir well.

Scoop off any foam that forms and discard it.

Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, let simmer for about 25 minutes.

Add the pepper and salt, stir well and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.

Taste the peas for tenderness, they should be tender after this amount of time but not mushy. Drain.

Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.

Southern Winter Greens 

Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money and are symbolic of an economic fortune.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 pounds mixed winter greens such as collards, mustard greens or kale
6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch sticks
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or to taste
Salt and pepper

Directions

Discard stems and center ribs from the greens, then coarsely chop leaves.

Cook bacon in a wide 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown but not crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pour off the fat from the pot and wipe clean.

Heat the butter in the pot over medium-low heat until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, then stir in the greens, 1 handful at a time, letting each handful wilt before adding more. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring, until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in bacon, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffed Flounder

The Chinese word for “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance,” one of the many reasons fish has become a go-to good luck food. In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it’s believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty—as herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles that of coins, a good omen for future fortune.

Ingredients

1 lb flounder fillets
1 pkg (10 oz) fresh spinach or a 10 oz package frozen, thawed and drained
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
1/4 cup diced scallions
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season

Directions

Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and scallions and saute for a minute or two.

Add spinach to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the feta and Parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each piece of fish.

Roll fish around stuffing. Place fish seam side down into an oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil Sprinkle fish with oregano and paprika.

Bake at 400 degrees F uncovered for 30 minutes.

Fettuccine in Lemon Sauce

In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles on New Year’s Day.because they signify. The noodles must not be broken or shortened during the cooking process.

Ingredients

1 pound fettuccine
1 clove garlic, grated
2 lemons (zest of 1 lemon, juice of 2 lemons)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

Directions

Place the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente.

Place the grated garlic in a warm pasta serving bowl. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil while whisking.

Whisk until the ingredients have emulsified and add the cheese. Drain the spaghetti and add to the serving bowl. Mix the pasta with the lemon sauce to coat evenly.

Sprinkle the pasta dish with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.


Hear are some of my favorite dinners for entertaining friends over the holidays. The underlined entrees can be accessed by clicking the word.

Oven Barbecued Brisket

Serve with baked potatoes and green peas.

Cooking Time: About 4 hours

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole beef brisket, about 5 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup dry red wine or beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven that can later be covered over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes.

When it is hot, add the oil, swirl it around, then add the beef.

Sear the meat for about 5 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper; when nicely browned, remove from pot to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes (if the meat is very lean you might need to add a little oil).

Add all remaining ingredients, stir and cook for about a minute. Return the meat to pot, nestling it in sauce.

Cover the pan, put it in oven, and cook until the meat is tender, at least 3 hours and probably closer to 4. Turn the meat over several times during the baking process.

When the brisket is done, you can refrigerate it in its liquid for 1 to 2 days and reheat before serving.

Pasta Carbonara

Serve with a Green Mixed Leaf Salad.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced guanciale, pancetta or bacon (about 1/4 pound)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or other long, thin pasta
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, or more to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

In a medium skillet, combine the olive oil and pork/bacon and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

Add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of water before the draining pasta.

Beat eggs in a large warmed pasta serving bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan and the bacon and its juices. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with egg mixture.

Add a little of the pasta cooking water to moisten. Season with plenty of black pepper, and serve.

Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Serve with Meatballs and a salad.

Serves 6

Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili) flakes
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Half a sweet onion, finely diced
Two 26-28 ounce containers finely chopped Italian tomatoes

Filling

2 lbs (32 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup grated mozzarella
½ cup chopped parsley
24 jumbo dried pasta shells

Directions

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

Bring a big pot of water to boiling and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the sauce:

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

To make the filling:

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

To make the pasta:

Cook the shells according to package instructions in well-salted water – until barely al dente. Don’t overcook the shells or they will tear as you attempt to fill them. Drain and let cool on kitchen towels until you can handle them with your hands.

Spread 1/3 of the sauce across the bottom of each prepared pan. Fill each shell with ricotta filling, and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover for the final 15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through and the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Herb-Crusted Pork Roast

Serve with roasted acorn squash and creamed spinach.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

One 3 pound top loin, bone-in pork roast, fat trimmed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt
¼ cup minced herbs (I used sage, rosemary, tarragon, oregano and basil)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Pat the pork loin dry with paper towels. Place the roast on a platter or in a baking dish. Rub the roast with the olive oil and press the herbs and salt onto all the sides of the roast.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours). Bring to room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place the roast on a rack that has been placed inside a roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the roast over and baste with 1/4 cup of the wine.

Return the roast to the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°F. Cook for 60-75 minutes longer, turning the roast and basting it with wine every 20 minutes; reserve 1/4 cup of wine for the sauce.

Check the roast after it has been cooking for 60 minutes. Place a meat thermometer in the roast to determine if it has reached 150 -155 degrees F.

If not, continue cooking until the temperature is reached.

Transfer the roast to a platter and pour the pan juices into a measuring cup.

Place the roasting pan over moderate heat on the stove-top; when it starts to sizzle, add the reserved 1/4 cup wine and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up the drippings from the bottom of the pan.

Add to the pan juices in the measuring cup; let the fat rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Skim off the fat and season the sauce with black pepper.

Carve the roast into thin slices and arrange the meat on a platter. Serve the pan juices on the side.


With winter just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to warm up with recipes made with November’s seasonal ingredients. check the charts above for what is in season. You will find several recipes below that incorporate seasonal produce. Fruit choices start to diminish but November’s offerings of quince, pomegranate, pears and apples work in both sweet and savory dishes.

Low Carb Pumpkin Bread

This bread is also gluten-free.

I have a bread pan that measures 12 x 6.5 inches and I prefer to use this pan when baking quick breads. Baking quick breads can be tricky because they don’t always cook right in the middle and sometimes they come out too dry. This pan spreads the dough out more and makes good-looking serving slices.

Ingredients

3 cups finely ground almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup sugar or 1:1 sugar substitute
6 large eggs
15 oz can pureed pumpkin
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a second bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, eggs and pumpkin until smooth. Stir wet ingredients into dry.

Spray a 12×6.5 inch or a 9×5 inch or two 8×4 inch bread pans with cooking spray.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pan and sprinkle the top with the chopped nuts.

Use a rubber spatula to lightly press the nuts into the dough.

Bake the 12 inch pan for 45 minutes and the other pans for about an hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool the bread for ten minutes. Remove the bread to a rack to finish cooling.

Chicken Pot Roast

Serve this dish with noodles or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 small onion, diced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small carrot, diced
3-4 lb organic chicken
Salt and pepper
Chicken stock

Directions
Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat.

Add the garlic and vegetables and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaf.

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the pan (breast-side up) and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add enough stock to a reach a depth of 1 inch.

Cover the pan tightly with foil or a lid, then place the pot in the oven and roast for 1 ½ hours, basting occasionally with the pan juices.

Increase the oven temperature to 350°F, remove the lid and continue to bake for 20 minutes more, to allow the chicken to brown.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Remove the bay leaf.

With a hand-held immersion blender, puree the sauce and vegetables in the pot to create a sauce.

Adjust the seasoning and reheat the sauce. Slice the chicken and serve with the sauce.

Cauliflower Puree

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces Italian fontina cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Clean and trim the cauliflower, breaking it into medium-sized pieces.

Place in a microwave safe bowl with the cream and butter.

Microwave, uncovered, on high for six minutes.

Stir to coat the cauliflower with the cream/butter mixture. Microwave for another six minutes on high.

Remove from the microwave and put into a high-speed blender or food processor along with the cheese. Puree until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the cream and butter to your preference. Reheat just before serving.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops

4 Servings

Ingredients

Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops (about 1 ¼ lbs; 1/2-inch thick each)
4 slices bacon (not thick cut)
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper

Apple Cider Vinegar Sauce
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Directions

Let the pork chops come to temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.

Trim the fat off of the pork chops and wrap a piece of bacon around each one, securing it with several toothpicks.

Rub each chop with a 1/2 teaspoon of oil over both sides and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.

Add the pork chops on the side with the bacon, placing them right next to each other to keep them upright.

Cook for 1 minute per side until all the bacon is brown.

Place the pork chops flat in the pan to cook the top and bottom surfaces, 3-5 minutes per side depending on the thickness.

Remove the pork to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes or until they begin to soften.

Add the chicken broth and thyme to the pan and stir.

Add the vinegar to the pan and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.

Reduce the sauce by half and add the butter and brown sugar. Cook and stir until they are incorporated into the sauce.

Place the pork back in the back in the pan and heat for a few minutes, turning the pork over after a minute or two, so they can be coated in the sauce.

Seasoned Baked Rutabaga Fries

Ingredients

1 rutabaga, peeled and sliced into very thin “fries”
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 °F. Use a metal sheet pan and place it in the oven while the oven preheats.

In a large Ziploc bag, mix the cornstarch with the garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper and shake to combine.

Place the rutabaga fries in the bag and shake to evenly coat them. Add the oil and shake again.

Arrange the fries on the hot sheet pan so they are not touching.

Bake 15 minutes and turn the fries over. Bake another 10 minutes or until the fries are brown and crispy.

If the fries are getting too dark too fast, reduce the oven temperature to 400°F.)



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