Smoky Eggplant Dip with Pita Chips
One Italian eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon tahini paste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Za’atar dry spice, for garnish
8 large pita rounds, cut into triangles
2 tablespoons za’atar dry spice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Split the eggplant in half through the stem and score the flesh. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplant on a very hot grill pan or outdoor grill until the skins are wrinkled and black and the flesh side is charred.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut off the tops and scoop the flesh from the skin into a processor bowl.
Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper and puree until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse again to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of .za’atar.
To make pita chips.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the pita triangles on two rimmed cookie sheets. Combine the za’atar spice mix and extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl or jar and drizzle over the pita. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy.
Grilled Stuffed Yellow Squash
2 large yellow squash
1 garlic clove, grated
2 scallions, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato oil (from the jar)
5 sage leaves, minced
1/4 cup jarred deli pepper rings, minced
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon, scoop out the squash flesh, leaving about a ¼ inch thick shell. Chop the squash flesh.
In a small skillet heat the sun-dried tomato oil over low heat. Add the garlic, scallions, and celery and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the squash flesh and saute until the squash is completely cooked and soft. Add the sage, sun-dried tomatoes and pepper rings, Stir and remove the pan from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
Fill the squash boats evenly with the stuffing.
Heat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. Turn the heat down to medium and place the squash boats on the grill, close the lid and grill for about 15 minutes until the shells are softened and the top of the stuffing is beginning to brown.
Swiss Chard Quiche
You will need a 10-inch glass pie pan that is 2 inches deep.
Ingredients for Press in the Pan Pie Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or For Low Carb or Gluten-free Crust: 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar or low carb sugar substitute
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for the Filling
One large bunch of Swiss Chard
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 whole scallions (green onions) diced
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
6 large egg
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Wash the chard and remove the stems. Save the stems for soup. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces. Heat the one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add the chard leaves. Cook just until wilted. Season with salt & pepper. Set the pan aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Coat a deep dish 10-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Place the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in the pie pan. Mix with a fork. Combine the vegetable oil and water in a measuring cup. Pour over the flour mixture in the pie plate. With the fork incorporate all oil mixture into the flour until it is completely moit=st. With your hands, press the mixture across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
Prebake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add the cream.
Remove the pie pan from the oven and place the scallions on the bottom crust. Top with 1 cup of the cheddar followed by the wilted chard. Pour the egg mixture over the chard and sprinkle the top with the remaining one cup of shredded cheddar.
Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before cutting.
Noodles with Grilled Italian Sausage
1/2 lb spicy Italian Sausage
Olive oil spray
2 oz thin spaghetti
1 zucchini, about 8 oz
1 yellow squash, about 8 oz
2 cups homemade marinara sauce
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Prepare an outdoor grill with an area for indirect heat. Coat the sausage with olive oil cooking spray. Place the sausage over indirect heat and cook until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes. Remove to a plate and cut into two-inch pieces
Using a spiralizer to make noodles with the zucchini and squash. Place on paper towels to remove the moisture.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain.
Combine the marinara sauce and grilled sausage in a saucepan and heat.
To assemble: In the pot that the spaghetti was cooked, place half of the hot marinara sauce. Add the vegetable noodles and spaghetti. Stir gently and heat.
Divide the noodles into two pasta bowls, top with sausage and remaining sauce. Garnish with cheese and serve immediately
Myths And Traditions About Hot Cross Buns According To The Smithsonian:
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten during Lent, especially in the week leading up to Easter. Marked with an icing cross on top, they’ve been a holiday staple in many countries for centuries. (Versions of the hot cross bun even appeared in ancient Greece.) Given the bun’s long history, legends and superstitions have developed over time.
Here are a few:
Some believe the hot cross bun originated in St Alban’s, where Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Alban’s Abbey, developed a recipe called an”Alban Bun” and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday.
In 1592, during the reign of Elizabeth I, it was forbidden to sell spiced bread, except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. If you violated the decree then you had to give all of your bread to the poor.
English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy during the subsequent year. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all loaves of bread turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.
Another tradition encourages keeping a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.
If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwrecks.
They also expel bad spirits. Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits.
Those who share a hot cross bun are said to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old Irish rhyme captures this lore, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”
I certainly wish my version of Hot Cross Buns brings you good luck!
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 cups bread flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons.wheat gluten
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
Powdered sugar icing, recipe below
Combine the flour, wheat gluten, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Add the sourdough starter, milk, butter, and vanilla. Mix together until a dough forms. Add the raisins, and mix into the dough.
Switch to the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth — about 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the top. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double — about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place in a greased 13×9 inch baking dish.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until double — about 30 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven 400°F for 20 minutes or cooked in the center and golden brown in color.
Cool on wire rack. Be sure the buns are completely cool before adding the frosting or the frosting will melt over the buns.
Powdered Sugar Icing
Combine the following ingredients to make a thick frosting.
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
With a spoon, drizzle icing in a cross pattern over each bun.
Cacciatore means “hunter’s style.” This dish developed in central Italy and is considered a country-style dish in which chicken pieces are simmered together with tomatoes. The dish originated in the Renaissance period (1450-1600) when the only people who could afford to enjoy poultry and the sport of hunting. Tomatoes were added after the explorers brought them to Europe from the Americas and the original dish was made with pheasant or rabbit. This dish became a staple in Italian-American homes and there are many ways to make this dish. My grandmother and my mother made it often and I continue the tradition a bit differently. Hope you like my version.
Serve with a mixed green salad.
One 4 lb organic chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided)
1/3 cup all-purpose, low carb or gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (26-oz.) container Pomi brand finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb cooked thin spaghetti or zucchini noodles
Cut the chicken into 8 pieces (cut breasts in half). Save the wings and backbone for soup.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a large plate. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the flour in a ziplock bag. Place a few pieces of chicken in the bag with the flour, seal and shake the bag until the chicken is coated. Remove the coated chicken pieces to the plate. Continue until all the chicken pieces are floured.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat for several minutes. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until shimmering. Add a layer of chicken and brown on both sides. Remove the browned chicken to the plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and brown the remainder of the chicken. Remove to the plate.
Add the vegetables to the pot; reduce the heat to low and sauté until the vegetables are softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, remaining salt and pepper and the browned chicken pieces to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is very tender. Serve with thin spaghetti.
Italian Country Bread
2 teaspoons SAF (instant) yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the warm water in an electric mixing bowl. Add honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the 4 cups of flour and salt and mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour.
Using the paddle attachment on number 2 speed, mix the dough until a dough forms that holds together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is soft but supple.
Shape the dough into a ball. Spray the mixer bowl with olive oil cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 60 minutes.
Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 9 or 10-inch pan or shallow dish. Turn the dough out onto the parchment pan or dish. Gently shape the dough into a round and cover with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes or more.
At the same time put a covered Cloche pan or Dutch Oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Do not grease or spray the Cloche pan or Dutch Oven. Baking in a cloche pan is similar to a mini hearth oven.
After the dough has risen for 30 minutes and the oven temperature is at 500 degrees F, open the oven and take the lid off the cloche pan.
USE A THICK POTHOLDER BECAUSE THE LID IS VERY HOT!
Transfer the dough while on the parchment to the bottom of the hot cloche pan. Cover with the cloche lid.
Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and remove the cloche lid.
Bake 15 minutes more, or until bread is crusty and brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place the bread on a wire cooling rack.
Most major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adopt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases. Why? Because the Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — along with the addition of olive oil and a glass of red wine — and other components that characterize the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean region. Be sure to add it to your diet on a regular basis.
Oven Baked Fish
2 cod, haddock or salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove finely grated
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and chopped
8 green olives, sliced
2 sprigs fresh oregano sprigs
Sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Make the fresh bread crumbs from several slices of bread by processing in a food processor
Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Coat the bottom of a small baking dish large enough to hold the fish in a single layer with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Place the cod in the dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the tomatoes, olives, garlic and oregano leaves on top of the fish.
Combine the crumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and use a spoon to sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the fish and vegetables.
Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fish is cooked about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Lemon Rice Pilaf
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice (uncooked)
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 large lemon to yield 1 teaspoon zest + 3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add garlic and onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender.
Add rice, stir and cook about 2 minutes. Add broth, salt, and water. Place lid on, bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to low.
Cook for 12 minutes or until the water is evaporated. Remove the saucepan from stove and rest for 10 minutes with the lid on.
Remove the lid. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and black pepper to taste. Stir well and serve.
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot. finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained or equivalent fresh
1-ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Saute the garlic and shallot in the butter in a medium saucepan. Mix in the spinach and cook on low heat, covered about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.
Add the cream cheese, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese to the saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the cream cheese is melted. Whisk until smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the spinach mixture and mix well. Reheat over low until the spinach is hot. Serve immediately.
So many more options become possible in March. Here, on the Gulf Coast, strawberries are in season and they are beautiful. They taste wonderful in a smoothie. I look forward to this time of year, so I can purchase artichokes because we love them stuffed. Asparagus make delicious salads and so does fennel. And, broccoli rabe is at its best in the spring, so look for it at your market.
Italian Seasoned Fresh Bread Crumbs
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 slices of regular, low carb or gluten-free bread), crusts removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Tear the bread slices into pieces. Process into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
4 large artichokes, trimmed
2 cups Italian seasoned “bread” crumbs (see recipe above)
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cut off the stems so the artichokes will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves.
Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Wash the artichokes and turn them cut side-down to drain.
Rub the cut parts with a little lemon juice. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest to make room for stuffing and set aside.
Heat the oven to 425° F and place a small stock pot or tea kettle with water on the stove to boil.
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese and red pepper flakes.
Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing.
Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. Be sure to get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.
Transfer the stuffed artichokes to a baking dish just large enough to hold the artichokes upright.. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish.
Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil. Pour boiling water from the kettle or pot to fill the dish about an inch high.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes.
Once tender, uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown.
Place each artichoke in an individual bowl and pour some of the broth in the baking dish over the artichokes before serving.
Spring Asparagus Salad
Variations: add cooked beets or crispy bacon to the salad.
1 bunch fresh, thin asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Bibb Lettuce cups
Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Trim and discard the tough woody asparagus ends.
Carefully place the asparagus spears in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the vegetable is bright green and tender but not soft.
Drain and place the asparagus in a large dish filled with ice water.Let the asparagus cool in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the asparagus to a kitchen towel to dry. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and then place them on a platter or individual salad plates lined with lettuce.
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended, to form a vinaigrette.
Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and then sprinkle the chopped egg on top.
Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.
Easy Strawberry Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Sweetener of choice to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.
Fennel Walnut Chicken Salad
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 halves, cooked and diced
1/2 of a fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
In a large bowl, toss the chicken cubes with the lemon juice, garlic powder, fennel, fennel seeds, black pepper and walnuts until combined.
Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste the salad and see if you would like to add salt.
Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Broccoli Rabe Parmigiano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz cooked pasta, optional
Cut off about one inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stalks. Wash the broccoli very well. Cut into two-inch lengths.
In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds.
Add broccoli rabe, broth, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is crisp-tender.
Add the salt, black pepper and grated cheese. Mix well and cover the pan. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before serving. This sauce is delicious served over pasta.
If you are trying to eat more Mediterranean type meals, then this lunch will be very satisfying, indeed. It has all the flavors of the Mediterranean. along with being good for you and tasting absolutely delicious. This recipe comes together quickly and can be increased or decreased to suit your needs. This is good eating.
Greek Style Chicken Sandwiches
1 lb chicken tenderloins (fingers) about 6
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
3 mini Pita breads, warmed
Tzatziki Sauce, see recipe below
1/4 cup Feta cheese
In a zip-lock plastic bag combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, garlic, oregano and Greek seasoning. Shake well to combine and add the chicken.
Seal the bag and refrigerate for about 3 hours.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and pour the chicken and marinade into the skillet. Sprinkle the chicken lightly with sea salt.
Turn the heat down slightly and cook the chicken in the marinade for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken tenders over about half way through the cooking time.
Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the chicken to cool down.
To make each sandwich:
Place a mini pita on a sandwich plate and top with a few leaves of lettuce.
Place 2 chicken tenders on top, sprinkle the chicken with some feta cheese and then add a few tablespoons of Tzatziki Sauce.
Serve Greek olives on the side.
1 large cucumber
3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (not low-fat)
2 scallions (green onions), minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Peel and seed the cucumber. Grate the cucumber on a box grater onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.
Place the yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add the grated cucumber to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator several hours before serving.
Grilled Lamb Chops For Dinner
4 loin lamb chops
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced.
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Place all the ingredients in a ziplock bag and place the bag in the refrigerator for several hours.
Bring to room temperature before cooking.
Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.
Place the lamb on the grill and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove to a serving platter and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
8 large mushroom caps, stems removed
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place 2-3 slices of firm bread in the processor and pulse until crumbs form. Combine the crumbs the remaining filling ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Stuff the caps with the mixture and place them in a small, oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake the mushrooms for 20 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown.
Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto
1 bunch thin asparagus spears (about 20-21 spears)
10 very thin slices Prosciutto de Palma
Coarse black pepper
Bundle 4 asparagus together and wrap each in two slices of prosciutto. Place the bundles on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle the prosciutto wrapped spears with olive oil and black pepper. Roast in a 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.