Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Breakfast

Ricotta Cheesecake

Makes one 8-inch square cheesecake, to serve 12

Cheesecake Ingredients

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar substitute ( I use monk fruit)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs
Zest of 1 orange

Blueberry Topping
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (10 oz)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons low carb sugar substitute
2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder mixed with 2 teaspoons water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and orange zest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until set. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Cover. Refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled with the blueberry topping.

Directions for making the topping:
Put the blueberries, water, lemon juice, and sweetener into a small saucepan or pot and simmer over medium heat until the blueberries swell up and are cooked through. This will take a little longer for fresh blueberries. Add the cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened. Cover and chill.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 banana
11/2 cups + 1 tablespoon almond flour
3 eggs
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup low carb sugar substitute
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts plus 15 walnut halves

.Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mash the banana with a fork.
Process the eggs together with the mashed banana and the melted butter with a hand
blender or hand mixer to a smooth dough.
Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl. Pour into the bowl with the egg and banana
mixture and stir well.
Add the chopped walnuts and fold into the batter.

Line an 8-inch bread/loaf pan with baking paper/parchment with the paper extending over the ends of the pan. Coat lightly with cooking spray. Pour in the bread dough into the pan and place the walnut halves in five rows across the top of the dough.
Bake the bread for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Check the bread after 30 minutes. If the top is brown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the low-carb banana bread from burning.
Let the banana bread cool and then lift out with the aid of the parchment paper. Cool completely before slicing.


 

Sprouted grain bread is made from whole grains that have begun to sprout, or germinate.
The sprouting process offers several nutrition benefits, compared to bread made from unsprouted grain flours. Sprouting changes the nutritional profile of the grains, making their nutrients more readily available and possibly easier to digest. Sprouted grain bread is lower in carbs and calories and has less of an impact on blood sugar compared to other types of bread.


Sprouted grains are higher in several nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene. In addition, sprouting decreases antinutrients, making the nutrients in the grains more readily available to your body. Sprouted grains are higher in antioxidants, which help protect against chronic diseases. Eating sprouted grain bread is an easy way to increase your consumption of these powerful compounds.

Homemade Sprouted Wheat Bread

Adapted from a King Arthur recipe

Ingredients

1 cup lukewarm water
1 large egg
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
2 1/2 cups sprouted wheat flour
1/4 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup any mixed nuts and seeds, (I used 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, and 1 tablespoon bagel seasoning seeds)

Directions

Stir all the dry ingredients together with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until combined. Add the water, egg, and butter. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb most of the water, which will make the dough less sticky and somewhat easier to knead.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 4 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy, about 2 hours.
Line a long bread basket or a round bowl with parchment.
Place the dough on a lightly greased work surface, and shape it into a log (for a long loaf) or oval or round (for a round loaf).
Place the dough in the proofing pan, cover, and allow it to rise until the dough increases by about one-third, about 1 1/2 hours.

Begin preheating the oven and a covered oblong clay baker or round clay baker or Dutch oven to 500F 30 minutes before baking.
Use the parchment to move the raised dough from the proofing basket to the stone baker.

Cover the baker and bake at 500F for 20 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 450F and bake the bread covered for 7 minutes.
Then bake the bread uncovered at 450F for 7 minutes more.
The final internal temperature of the bread should be around 205F. Remove the bread from the baker to a wire cooling rack.

Avocado Toast With Over Easy Eggs

2 servings

Ingredients

4 thin slices sprouted wheat bread, toasted
1 avocado, mashed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Mash the avocado in a small bowl with a fork and add the lemon juice. Spread onto the slices of toasted bread. Sprinkle with a little salt.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil on a medium. Once hot, carefully crack the eggs, one at a time, into the oil and fry for 2 minutes or until the yolk is set. With a wide spatula, carefully turn the eggs over and cook for 1 minute.

Transfer the eggs to the top of the avocado covered toast then top with salt and pepper, to taste.


Potato-Crusted Quiche

The Roasted Root Vegetable recipe can be found here.

Ingredients

4 cups shredded russet potatoes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half-and-half
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
3 cups diced leftover roasted root vegetables
1 cup shredded Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Gently press the shredded potatoes between paper towels to dry them as best as possible.
In a 10-inch glass pie plate melt the butter in the microwave or the hot oven. Toss the potatoes with the melted butter in the pan. Add salt to taste. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.

Sprinkle the bacon and half the cheese on the bottom of the crust.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, and diced roasted vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over the crust and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and then in the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts, diced
2 carrots with green tops, diced including the tops
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
The top of one fennel bulb with fronds, diced (save the bulb for another recipe)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 lbs fresh plum tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
A few dashes of hot sauce

Directions

I freeze the tomatoes and then defrost them overnight. The skins slip off easily. Or you can
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the tomatoes to the boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, or until skins loosen. Carefully remove tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon. Set aside until tomatoes are cool enough to handle; carefully slip off the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy Durch Oven over medium-high heat; add the garlic, leeks, carrots, fennel, celery and sauté 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped tomatoes.


Add the broth and honey. Simmer for 15 minutes. Use a handheld stick blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add the hot sauce and serve with a slice of quiche.


Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Dough

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste

Glaze

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To Make the Dough:

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.

Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.

Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

To Make the Filling:

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

Assembly:

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.

Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.

Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly-roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.

Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1-inch intervals.

Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.

Baking:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Wrap well and freeze until the day before Christmas. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight.

On Christmas Morning

To make the glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or red cherries, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before serving.


Italian Meatloaf

12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium sweet onions, diced
2 jarred roasted red peppers cut in small dice
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
2 pounds ground beef
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
Fresh mozzarella cheese slices, about 6
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges
Olive oil
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute 1 minute and then add the onions and saute until just soft. Let cool.

Place the rutabaga wedges in cold water. This helps them stay crisp during roasting.

Whisk together the basil, parsley, and eggs in a small bowl, and then add the salt and black pepper. Combine the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Thoroughly combine the beef and sausage, egg mixture, breadcrumb mixture, the Worcestershire, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil together in a large bowl using your hands, making sure not to overmix.

Shape the mixture into a loaf on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Place the rutabaga wedges around the meatloaf. Sprinkle them with oregano, salt, pepper. and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for approximately 60-70 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Top the meatloaf with the marinara sauce making sure to spread it evenly over the top and place the mozzarella slices on top of the sauce. Return to the oven until the cheese melts. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the rutabaga wedges and kale in the side.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale

Lacinato kale or, in Italian and often in English, cavolo nero is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. This kale has longer spear-like leaves with a pebbled appearance and a dark, mottled green color. Its flavor is earthy and less bitter than regular kale.

Ingredients

2 large bunches Tuscan kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 small lemon

Directions

Use your hands to pull the kale leaves from their stems. Coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse them, but do not dry.
Heat the oil in large, wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute (do not let the garlic brown).

Add the kale a few handfuls at a time, stirring after each addition until all of the kale is added. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and serve.


Jumbo Blueberry Muffins

Makes 6 muffins

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour (lightly scoop, don’t pack down)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Chopped walnuts and coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Spray a jumbo 6-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until combined. Add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and whisk.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together with a spatula. Avoid over mixing. Fold in the blueberries.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Top with a sprinkle of walnuts and coarse sugar.

Bake at 425 F degrees for 5 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F degrees and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and a cake tester comes out clean when placed into the center of the muffins.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool.

Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well for up to 3 months.

Easy Pecan Sticky Buns

Ingredients

Sticky Syrup
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup large pecan halves

Dough
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup heavy cream

Cinnamon Filling
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Lightly grease a glass 9″ round cake pan or pie pan.

To make the syrup:

Melt the butter in the glass pan in the microwave. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup.

Stir well and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place the pecan halves over the syrup in a single layer.

To make the dough:

Stir together the flour and cream to make a smooth dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.

Gently roll the dough into a 12″ x 8″ rectangle.

To make the cinnamon filling:

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans in a small mixing bowl.

Spread the softened butter over the entire surface of the dough.

Roll the dough into a log. Position it so the seam is facing down.

Slice the log into 10 pieces, and place them in the prepared pan.

Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until they’re bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Remove the buns from the oven, and immediately turn them out onto a serving plate.

Scrape any leftover syrup from the pan onto the buns.

To serve later, cool completely, then wrap well and store at room temperature for up to a couple of days.

Reheat in a 325-degree F oven. Freeze for longer storage.

Adapted from a King Arthur recipe.


Apple Flavored Baked Doughnuts With Maple Glaze

Makes 10

Doughnuts

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Glaze

1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans.

Beat together the oil, eggs, sugars, applesauce, apple butter, orange juice, vanilla, apple pie spice, salt, and baking powder until smooth.

Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

Fill 10 of the wells of the doughnut pans to the rim; using a scant 1/3 cup of batter in each well.

If you have a little dough left add a little to each of the doughnuts.

Bake the doughnuts for 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

After about 5 minutes, remove the donuts from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Allow the doughnuts to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze:

Mix together all of the glaze ingredients, stirring until smooth.

Place waxed paper under the racks holding the donuts.

Spread the doughnuts with glaze (or dip tops in the glaze); return to the rack until the glaze is set.


As I mentioned on Friday that this has been a good season for peppers, my CSA share has yielded quite a few different varieties. Here are some of the ways I have used them.

Italian Peppers and Eggs

This recipe is a traditional Italian dish served at lunch with crispy Italian bread.

Ingredients

8 large organic free-range eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced
16 Italian sweet (banana) frying peppers
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Slice peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the stem and seeds, Cut each half into 1-inch pieces

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté chili, garlic and onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes

Add frying peppers and sauté until they begin to soften and wilt, about 5 minutes

Beat eggs, lower heat and add beaten eggs to the pan with onion and peppers

Let set in pan, then cook gently, occasionally folding eggs over, until firm

Add salt and pepper to taste

Pickled Sweet Cherry Peppers

These pickled peppers make a delicious appetizer stuffed with salami and provolone cheese slices.

For each one quart jar, you will need:

10-15 small sweet cherry peppers
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1½ cups white wine vinegar
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons white sugar or sugar substitute

Directions

Wash and dry the peppers and put them in a glass quart jar. Peel the garlic clove, cut it in half and add it to the cherry peppers along with the black peppercorns and the bay leaf.
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil and let it cook for 1 minute. Remove the liquid mixture from the heat and immediately pour over the peppers.
Let the contents of the jar cool completely at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 1 week. The peppers will be ready for eating after 1 week and will store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Pickled Jalapeno Pepper Slices

The number of jalapenos will depend on how large they are and what size jar you use. I love having these on hand for Mexican recipes. I used 3 jelly jars and about 16 peppers.

Ingredients

15-20 large jalapeños
1 cup apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar)
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons honey or liquid sugar substitute
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Wear gloves to protect your fingers and remove the stem on each pepper. Slice the peppers into thin circles. Combine the prepared peppers and smashed garlic in jelly sized glass jars.
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, honey, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sweetener into the liquid. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the liquid over the peppers. Use a butter knife to push down the peppers so they all fit and there aren’t any hidden air pockets.
Let the pickles cool to room temperature in the jar, then screw on the lid and refrigerate the pickles for several days before using. They are best when fresh but keep well for several months.



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