It’s January and cold outside with temperatures that will be that way for a few days, even here in the South. To give the house a warm feeling, I bake bread. And, of course, the smell is so enticing.
Below are three bread recipes that are sure to warm you up.
Cranberry Sweet Potato Muffins
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cold mashed sweet potatoes (without added butter or milk)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk, sweet potatoes and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the cranberries.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of chopped pecans and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake at 375°F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in muffins comes out clean.
Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm.
Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread
This is a large volume dough and if you do not have a heavy-duty large capacity mixer, you will have to make the dough by hand or cut the ingredients in half to make one loaf.
4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (120° to 130°)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, sugar and yeast.
Beat in the warm water, pumpkin, applesauce and oil just until moistened.
Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining all-purpose flour to form a firm dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic,about 6-8 minutes or knead in your mixer.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into an 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle and brush with the softened butter to within 1/2 in. of edges.
Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over both doughs. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the short side and pinch seam to seal.
Place seam side down in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
This is a great bread to serve with your favorite soup.
2 large loaves
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 cups unbleached All-Purpose flour
Mix the yeast with the flour.
In an electric mixer bowl combine the milk, olive oil and salt with the paddle attachment. Stir in the flour, a cup at a time, until you have a dough the consistency of drop-cookie batter.
Switch to the dough hook and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and satiny.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let the dough rise, undisturbed, about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough gently and divide it into two pieces.
Form the loaves into torpedo shapes, and place each loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With a serrated knife, make three slashes in the tops of the loaves, each 1/2-inch deep.
Cover with a damp towel.
Let the loaves rise until they look puffy. This should take approximately 30 minutes. While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Brush or spray the loaves with water; a plant mister is good for this job. Bake for 10 minutes, spraying the loaves with water two more times.
Lower the oven to 375°F and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
This is the time of year for parties and getting together with friends and relatives to celebrate the New Year. It is also a time for festive foods. If you are asked to bring a dish to the party, you may be thinking about what you can bring. Below you will find the recipes for some of my favorite take along dishes.
2 (one pound) pizza dough balls, at room temperature
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced capicola
12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup marinara sauce
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle.
Spread half the marinara sauce over the dough.
Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
Layer half the meat over the cheese on the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
Roll the dough up into a log and brush the seam edges with beaten egg.
Leaving the seam at the bottom and pinching the ends closed, place the roll on one of the baking sheets. Cut five small slits in the top of the log.
Complete the other roll in the same manner.
Brush the rolls with the beaten egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 10 minutes before slicing.
I usually prepare 4-1 pound eggplants at once and freeze them, individually, for future use.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
1 pound eggplant, peeled
1/2 to 3/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.
Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.
Place the egg substitute in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg substitute mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.
If you are not going to assemble the eggplant dish at this time, wrap each batch of eggplant in aluminum foil with foil sheets between the layers and place it in a ziplock freezer bag.
Store in the freezer until you need it. Defrost a package overnight in the refrigerator, when you want to make the casserole.
To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2 ½ cups Marinara sauce (see recipe below)
1-8 ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package of breaded and baked eggplant
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly.
Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the package of cheese.
Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Here is the recipe for Marinara Sauce.
3 garlic gloves, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute vegetables
Add 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot
Add 4-26 to 28 oz. containers of chopped Italian tomatoes
Simmer for 1 hour.
Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper and dried thyme.
Simmer for another hour or until the sauce has thickened.
Taste the sauce to see if it is very acidic. If it is, add a teaspoon of honey or agave syrup.
Measure out 2 ½ cups of sauce for the recipe above and freeze the remaining sauce.
Oven Barbecued Brisket
Time: About 4 hours
Salt and pepper
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
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.
Yield: 10 or more servings.
My friend, Andy, recently gave me a cookbook titled, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger. The author’s name was familiar to me because I have been cooking from her book, Red, White, and Greens: The Italian Way with Vegetables, for a long time. You can also check out a column she wrote for The Atlantic Monthly by visiting this site: http://www.theatlantic.com/author/faith-willinger/
In the Adventures book, Faith takes readers to country markets and busy city shops, to wineries in rural villages, to kitchens in restaurants and into private homes where her friends share their recipes – real Italian recipes.
Additionally, Willinger introduces the reader to the people of Italy: the grocers who stock homemade artisan cheeses and salumi, winemakers, Tuscan bakers, butchers and chocolatiers. Each entry is followed by a recipe. The recipes include some classic Italian dishes that will be familiar, but most are as authentic and original as the people Ms. Willinger profiles in the book. Actually these profiles are one of the best features in the book.
Even if you’re practiced in making Italian food, there’s still much to learn from Ms. Willinger. She includes information on the most important ingredients, explaining such things as why certain dry pastas are superior to others, what goes into making Italy’s best cheeses, how to select the best olive oils and what distinguishes an artisanal ricotta from another more ordinary one.
The book can also function as a guidebook for travelers because she includes web sites, hours of operation and contact information that make arranging a personal visit easy.
Here are a few recipes from the book for you to try. The book is divided into three major areas of Italy: Northern and Central Italy; Tuscany and Southern Italy and the Islands.
From Chapter 1 – Northern and Central Italy
Willinger adapted this recipe from Walter Bolzonella’s recipe, a barman of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice.
For the peach puree:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound ripe white peaches
- 2 teaspoons sugar
For the drinks:
- A few raspberries, if desired, for color
- 1 bottle Prosecco sparkling wine
Put the water and lemon juice in a bowl. Peel, pit and slice the peaches. Immerse them in the acidulated water, so they don’t discolor and macerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 6 hours.
Drain the peaches, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons of the liquid. In a food processor or blender, puree the peaches with the sugar and reserved liquid. Use more sugar if the peaches are very tart
but this is not a sweet drink. If the peaches don’t have pink veins (which lend a Bellini its rosy hue), add a few raspberries to the mixture before pureeing.
Transfer the mixture to a jar or bottle and chill thoroughly.
Pour cold peach puree into a pitcher. Add one bottle of chilled Prosecco sparkling wine and stir gently. Pour into glasses and drink at once.
- 3 egg yolks at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons Moscato d’Asti wine
- Butter or hazelnut cookies or fresh fruit or berries
Place the ingredients in a 1 ½-2 quart pot (use a copper or stainless steel bowl with a rounded bottom, holding the bowl with a pot holder)
Begin beating at high-speed with a mixer until foamy. Place the pot over medium heat and continue beating. Mixture will grow greatly in volume and thicken. Remove the pot from the heat when the mixture feels warm and continue beating.
Place back over the heat, beating the whole time, removing the pot from the heat when it seems to be heating up too much. Practice makes perfect.
The zabaione will be thick and foamy, warm but not hot to the touch. Serve in individual glass serving bowls with butter or hazelnut cookies on the side. Or over berries or sliced fresh soft ripe fruit like peaches or mango.
Chapter 2 – Tuscany
Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
- 1 cup ricotta, fresh, if possible, or sheep’s milk ricotta
- 12-16 fresh zucchini flowers
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
If your ricotta is watery, drain it in a sieve to remove excess whey. Soak the zucchini flowers in cool water, then gently spin-dry in a salad spinner. Removing the stamens is unnecessary.
Pack the ricotta into a pastry bag — I use a disposable one and simply cut the tip off the end. Insert the end of the pastry bag into the zucchini flowers and pipe one or two spoonfuls of ricotta into each.
Drizzle one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Place the stuffed flowers in the skillet in a single layer and the place pan over the highest heat.
When the pan heats and the oil begins to sizzle, cover and cook for four to six minutes or until the flowers are hot, steamed by the moisture of the ricotta.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with pepper and salt, minced basil, and the remaining extra virgin olive oil.
Etruscan Grape Tart
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
- ¾ cups warm water
- 3 tablespoons Chianti — drink the rest with dinner
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 ½ – 2 ¾ cups soft wheat flour (Italian “00” or White Lily flour)
- ¼ cup Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Around 1 ¾ pounds wine, Concord, or red Grace grapes
- 6 tablespoons sugar
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, wine and honey in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or until bubbles form. Stir in ¾ cup flour — it doesn’t have to be smooth because lumps will dissolve. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
Add the olive oil, salt and 1 ½ cups flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary so it isn’t sticky. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 ½ hours.
Punch the dough down and divide into two pieces. Roll each piece out to a rough 10 by 16-inch rectangle. Place one rectangle on parchment paper on a cookie sheet (or use a nonstick cookie sheet), scatter the dough with half the grapes and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar.
Use the second rectangle of dough to cover the bottom layer. Sprinkle the remaining grapes on the dough, gently press the grapes into the dough, and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until dark brown. Remove from the pan while still warm and spoon excess juice over the tart. Serve at room temperature.
From Chapter 3 – Southern Italy
Spaghetti with Walnuts and Anchovies
Serves 4 to 6
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 whole salt-cured anchovies, filleted, or 4–6 canned anchovy fillets
- 3–4 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
- Chili pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- Coarse sea salt
- 14–16 ounces spaghetti
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the garlic over low heat until it barely begins to color. Add the anchovy fillets and, with a wooden spoon, mash them until they dissolve into the oil. Add the walnuts, chili pepper and parsley; stir to combine and remove from heat.
Bring 5 to 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add about 3 tablespoons of sea salt, then add the spaghetti and cook until it offers considerable resistance to the tooth, approximately three-quarters of the package-recommended cooking time. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the starchy pasta cooking water.
Add the spaghetti to the sauce in the skillet along with 1/2 cup reserved pasta-cooking water, and cook over high heat, stirring with a wooden fork, until the pasta is cooked al dente, adding a little more pasta water as the sauce dries.
Sweet & Sour Lemon Sauce
Use as a sauce for fish.
For the candied zest:
- 2 Meyer lemons
- 1 orange
- 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup wildflower honey
- 1 cup sugar
Peel the zest from the lemons in strips, leaving 1/4-inch pulp attached to the zest. Peel the orange the same way.
Put the zests in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons salt; add 1 cup water and weight down with a small plate to keep zests submerged for 1 to 2 hours. Rinse and drain.
Bring 10 cups of water to a rolling boil, Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of salt and the zests and when the water returns to a rolling boil, remove from heat and let zests cool completely in the salted water. Drain zests.
Combine the honey, sugar and 2 1/4 cups of fresh water in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Add the drained zest and cook over lowest heat, less than a simmer, for 40 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let zest cool in the syrup overnight. The next day, bring the syrup back to a simmer, lower the heat and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
Repeat the process one more time, cooking zest on the lowest heat for 30 minutes. Store zest in its syrup in a jar.
For the sauce:
- 3 1/2 Meyer lemons
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tablespoon minced celery
- Fine sea salt
- White pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped candied lemon zest
Trim three lemons with a knife, cutting the rind away down to the pulp. Section the lemon into wedges, cutting between the white connective membranes.
Squeeze the juice from the remains of the lemons into a measuring cup and add the wedges. You should have about 1/2 cup.
Squeeze the juice from the remaining 1/2 lemon and add it to the wedges. In a small saucepan, add the oil and saute the garlic and celery over medium heat until the celery barely begins to color.
Add the lemon wedges and juice and cook, mashing the mixture with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is pulpy. Remove the garlic. Season the lemon mixture with salt and white pepper.
If the sauce is too tart, add a spoonful or two of syrup from the candied zest. Transfer lemon mixture to a blender and add candied zest. Blend until smooth.
Over the past week and a half, I cooked several meals that yielded plenty of leftovers. My plan was to create some new ways to use these leftovers and this post is the result of that planning. The chicken breasts were really an economical buy because they yielded 3 different meals. The same with the pot roast. There was also plenty of kale remaining to make a hearty soup and the leftover stuffing makes a great breakfast hash.
Chicken Divan Redo
Roasted chicken recipe: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/11/14/dinners-in-the-oven/
- 6 leftover roasted broccoli floret spears
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups reserved lemon broth from the roasted chicken or use chicken broth
- 1/4 cup well-chilled half & half
- 1/4 cup freshly shredded Italian fontina cheese
- 4 leftover roasted chicken slices
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
In a heavy saucepan combine the broth and flour. Stir until the flour is absorbed. Add the half & half and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and then simmer until thickened
Stir in the cheese and season the sauce with salt and pepper, if needed. Heat until the cheese is melted.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange the broccoli in two individual baking dishes or in a 2-quart gratin dish and pour half the sauce over it.
Arrange the chicken on top of the broccoli, pour the remaining sauce over it. Sprinkle the top with of each dish with one tablespoon of the breadcrumbs and sprinkle each with paprika.
Cut two pieces of foil just large enough to cover the dishes. Coat the foil with cooking spray and use that side to cover the dishes. Bake the covered dishes for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is golden and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
I had served the pot roast with mashed potatoes and made extra potatoes so I would have some leftover.
- 2 cups diced leftover pot roast and gravy
- 2 carrots, diced carrots
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
Combine the pot roast, peas and carrots in a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture in half and place it in two individual ovenproof dishes.
Spread half of the potatoes over the mixture in one dish and spread the remaining potatoes over the mixture in the second dish.
(You can even fix this earlier in the day and refrigerate until dinner time.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the casseroles for about 30 minutes or until the potato topping is golden brown.
Caesar Salad with Leftover Roasted Chicken
- 2 cups chicken cut into cubes
- 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, washed and finely chopped
- 1 cup croutons, see recipe below
- Grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper for garnish
- 1 anchovy, finely chopped or use anchovy paste
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise made with olive oil, if available
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Add the anchovy, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce to a bowl and whisk together.
Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup of olive oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified.
Place the chopped lettuce in a bowl and toss it with the dressing, cubed chicken and croutons. Top the salad with extra cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
- 2 cups cubed bread
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In mixing bowl combine the bread cubes and olive oil. Toss well to coat.
Pour the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Spread them into a single layer.
Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to prevent burning.
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
Kale and Lima Bean Soup
I used homemade cooked dried baby lima beans for this soup, but you can use canned white beans, if you choose.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 10 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth or homemade broth
- 4 cups packed chopped fresh kale or 2 cups leftover cooked kale
- 1 large fresh tomato, diced
- 4 cups home cooked dried baby lima beans or canned no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained
- 3 large carrots, cut into coins
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning; cook 2 minutes longer.
Add broth, kale, tomatoes and beans and heat thoroughly. Serve hot with grated cheese and Italian bread.
Easy Hash and Eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups of leftover Italian bread and sausage stuffing, (see link above from Dinner’s In The Oven)
- 4 large eggs
In a medium skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the butter.
Add the stuffing, flatten with a spatula and cook until light golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Gently turn the stuffing over and cook for 3-4 minutes more.
With a large spoon make four round holes in the stuffing mixture. Crack eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl and gently pour into each hole in the stuffing.
Cover the pan and cook the eggs to your likeness or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Serve immediately.
This is a perfect dinner to have on a lazy weekend when you don’t feel like doing much or there is a great game on TV in the afternoon. This dinner is easy to fix in the morning and put it into the refrigerator until it is time to bake. Another advantage is that all the dishes go into the oven and bake together – so no extra pots or last-minute cooking.
Normally, I make recipes for two servings, but there are some things I like to double up on for extra meals and leftover creations. Chicken and salmon are often two of those ingredients. In this post I am doubling up on the amount to chicken and stuffing, so I can use the extra for other meals and the stuffing can be divided into smaller portions and frozen to serve at another time, You will see later in the week how I use up some of my leftovers.
Roasted Chicken Breasts
If you like dark meat chicken by all means substitute chicken leg quarters.
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 lemon, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 sweet onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4- bone in chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine the thyme, fennel seeds, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Distribute the lemon slices, the onion and garlic in a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken. Dry the chicken pieces well with paper towels.
Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush with oil and sprinkle with half of the herb mixture. Turn the chicken skin side up and brush it all over with oil and the remaining herb mixture.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan and roast for another 15 – 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155 to 160 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the oven, cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the chicken with the pan juices, cooked lemon and onion. Reserve remaining broth for leftovers.
Italian Bread & Sausage Stuffing
Reserve one-third of the stuffing for this meal and set aside the remaining stuffing for other meals. I assembled this recipe a few days ahead and set aside some for this meal.
- 8 cups Italian bread, like ciabatta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, diced
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 large ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaved
- 1 teaspoon. kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
Place the bread cubes into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and sausage. Cook until light brown, about 5 min. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl with the cubed bread.
In the same skillet, sauté the onions, celery and garlic until the onions are tender about 8 minutes.
Stir in the thyme, sage, salt and pepper, cook 1 minute and then add the mixture to the bread. Add the broth to the bread mixture; stir until well combined.
This stuffing can be baked at a range of oven temperatures, depending on what else you are cooking.
For this dinner, I put the stuffing in the oven with the chicken and let it bake for the same amount of time.
Place the stuffing in a casserole dish or baking pan and bake it covered until heated through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a crunchy top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes of baking.
Roasted Broccoli Florets
- 1 large head of broccoli
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. If baking this dish with the chicken, place the broccoli in the oven after the chicken has roasted for 30 minutes and you are going to add the wine.
Wash the broccoli and cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalk, leaving some of the stalk attached. Pull the florets apart. You don’t want the pieces too small.
Place the broccoli florets in a single layer in an oiled baking pan. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and red pepper flakes.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese.
The reason grass-fed meat is generally healthier for you is because it is lower in overall fat and saturated fat and it provides a higher amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed meat.
Opt for organic. The use of growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics is not allowed in certified organic beef production. Nor is feed made from animal by products..
Go for grass. Choose beef from cattle that were 100 percent “grass-fed”. ” These animals are raised on their natural diet of grass from birth to market and are not given antibiotics and hormones. Look for a grass-fed label from the American Grassfed Association.
Look at labels. Check for phrases like “Naturally Raised,” “No Hormones Added,” “Raised Without Antibiotics” and “Never Fed Animal Byproducts.”
Portion control: 5-6 oz of meat is more than adequate to satisfy. Serve vegetables and salad for menu balance.
Grass-fed meat requires less time to cook than grain-fed meat. Since it is generally leaner, with less fat to keep it moist, it will cook faster at the same level of heat. Grass-fed meat is best cooked medium rare to medium, or it will become tough. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part. At 135°F the meat is still rare. At 145°F to 155°F it will be medium. Above that the meat may lose its moisture and tenderness.
Let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking it to help redistribute the juices inside. Do not cut it immediately since the juices will spill out, leaving a drier texture. For the same reason, turn meat with a spatula or tongs rather than a fork.
Pan-Seared Steak Pizzaiola
- 2 rib-eye steaks (preferably grass-fed and organic) (about 12 oz. each and 1 inch thick), all fat removed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cut each steak in half lengthwise (to make four steaks) and pat them dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Place a 12-inch heavy frying pan over medium high heat and add the oil. When hot, place the steaks in the pan and sear until deeply browned on both sides and medium rare, 2 minutes per side (no more than that). Transfer the steak to a serving to a plate.
Add the onions and bell pepper to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re softened and but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Pour the wine into the pan. As it comes to a boil, deglaze the pan by stirring the bottom of the pan well with a wooden spoon. Add the steaks; pour in the marinara sauce and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
Sprinkle the mozzarella over the steaks, cover the pan and heat just until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Grilled Onion Burger
- 10 oz. grass-fed organic ground beef
- 1 teaspoon steak seasoning
- Half red onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 hamburger rolls
- Olive oil cooking spray
Divide the ground beef in half. Using a hamburger press form 2 burgers.
Sprinkle with the steak seasoning and refrigerate until cooking time.
For the onions: heat the oil in a small skillet and add the sliced onions. Cook until tender and set aside while you grill the burgers.
I prefer to grill burgers instead of cooking them on top of the stove, so heat an outdoor grill to medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium.
Spray the burgers on both sides with cooking spray and place them on the grill. Cook 4 minutes and turn them over. Cook for another 4 minutes. Toast the rolls on the grill.
Serve the burgers on the toasted rolls and divide the cook ed onions between the two burgers. Add ketchup, if desired
Pot Roast with Onion Gravy and Mustard Sauce
For a leaner pot roast, choose a bottom round or rump roast. Chuck roast is a bit more tender, but fattier.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (4 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- One 3-pound (organic and grass-fed) rump or bottom round roast, trimmed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for the gravy
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for the gravy
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
To prepare pot roast:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 4-quart dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.. Add the beef; cook, turning from time to time, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove beef to a plate and reserve.
Add the onions; cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary and orange zest; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
Return the beef to the pot, nestling it among the onions. Add the wine to the skillet; bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a simmer.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F..
Cover the pot with a lid and transfer to the oven and bake until the beef is tender, 3 – 3 1/2 hours. Turn the meat several times during the cooking process.
To prepare the mustard sauce:
Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard and pepper in a small serving bowl. Reserve in the refrigerator until serving time.
To make the gravy:
Transfer the roast to a clean cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
Skim fat from the liquid in the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl; add to the liquid and cook, whisking, until the gravy thickens Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the meat and serve with the gravy and the mustard sauce.
The roast is delicious served with roasted carrots, parsnips and asparagus
Make Ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat the sliced pot roast with gravy in a skillet over medium-low heat. The mustard sauce can be covered and refrigerated separately for up to 2 days.
What flavors do you associate with fall? For me the ones that immediately come to mind are apple cider, cinnamon, caramel, ginger, cranberry, pumpkin and nut flavors. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate these flavors into your cooking.
Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 cup apple cider
- Parsley for garnish
Put the potatoes, apple cider and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring once, until the potatoes are tender (25-30 minutes).
Mash the potatoes with the cider until it is smooth. Add the butter and the pepper and heat just until the butter melts. Garnish with parsley.
Pumpkin Ricotta Cheese Pie
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/3 cup of honey
- 1 cup of pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
- 1/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup pecans
- Pinch of salt
For the crust:
Place the crust ingredients, except the butter, in a food processor or blender and process until totally ground, but not powdery. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the crumbs for a topping.
Rub a little soft butter on the inside of a 9″ pie pan at least 1 1/2″ deep; use a deep-dish pan, if you have one.
If your pie pan isn’t at least 1 1/2″ deep, substitute a 9″ square pan.
Pour the crumbs into the pan, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Place the pan on a baking sheet, to make it easy to handle once you’ve added the filling.
For the filling:
Beat together with an electric mixer the ricotta, mascarpone, pumpkin, honey, eggs and pumpkin pie spice.
Continue to beat until creamy.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust and sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the center of the cheese pie springs back to the touch.
Chill in the refrigerator prior to serving.
Makes 20 bars
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted or cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; set aside.
In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir in the apples and nuts.
Add the egg mixture to the well in the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick).
Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely.
- 5 cups thinly sliced pears
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix the sliced fruit with the granulated sugar and place in the prepared baking dish.
For the topping:
In a medium bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.
Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden.
Cranberry Pecan Bread
- 3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
- 1/2 cup sweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
Coat an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oats, applesauce and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine them.
Mix in the cranberries and pecans. It should have a consistency a little thicker than pancake batter.
Pour the dough into the loaf pan.
Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the loaf’s center comes out dry or an instant read thermometer registers 190 degrees F at the center of the loaf.
Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool before slicing.