Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: eggs



Yellow Watermelon



Crenshaw Melon



July has an abundance of vegetables and fruits available, so I try to incorporate as many as I can into my weekly menu. I made a few dinners last week that utilize these seasonal fruits and vegetables and I hope you like them as much as we did.

Veggie Packed Frittata


Serve with a mixed green salad and some hot biscuits.

Serves 8


  • 1 lb parboiled potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 links pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced thin
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Half of a small onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
  • 6 asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese


Heat an oven broiler.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sliced sausage, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and onion until the vegetables are soft, 3–4 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until wilted, about 1 minute.


Stir in the sliced potatoes and salt and pepper. Stir in half the basil and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese on top and place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until set and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil before serving.

Summer Melon Salad with Grilled BBQ Shrimp


Last week my CSA had melons aplenty. I received two Crenshaw and one yellow watermelon. So I came up with a few recipes to make. The melon salad is in this post and next week, I will share the melon soup recipe I made. When you make the salad try to use two different types of melon for contrast. I also like the balance of the tangy grilled shrimp with the sweetness of the fruit salad. I also served this salad dinner with some homemade cornbread. See the recipe for Cheddar Cornbread here.

For the salad

  • 4 cups Crenshaw melon, peeled and seeds removed
  • 4 cups yellow watermelon, peeled and seeds removed.
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, toasted

For the shrimp

  • 12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup Peach BBQ sauce, see recipe here
  • Lemon quarters for garnish

Basil Honey Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a blender. Set aside in a serving bowl.


For the melon salad

In a mixing bowl combine the two types of melon with the grapes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, mix the melon and grape mixture with the toasted pecans and a little of the basil dressing. Serve additional dressing with the salad.

For the grilled shrimp

Prepare an outdoor grill for medium hot heat or heat an indoor stove-top grill.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers and brush them lightly with BBQ sauce. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill directly over the heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn the skewers and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take care not to overcook. Remove them to a plate and serve with lemon quarters, the melon salad and cornbread.

Stuffed Zucchini with Fresh Basil Pesto Spaghetti


Basil is so plentiful this time of year, so I try to think of different ways to use it in my summertime cooking. Of course, freezing basil pesto for the winter months is also another option. It is also a great addition to salad dressing and omelets, as in the recipes above.

2 servings

For the eggplant

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 link pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon dried Italian bread crumbs
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

For the spaghetti

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto, see recipe here
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Cut a thin slice off the top of each zucchini. With a small spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) remove most of the flesh from the zucchini without cutting into the outside. Chop the cut slice and the flesh.


Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped zucchini, chopped sausage and the garlic. Saute until the zucchini is completely cooked and has lost its moisture.

Add the onion, bell pepper and tomatoes, cook until soft. Add enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together, about 2 tablespoons.


Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and fill the hollowed out zucchini shells with the mixture.

Place the stuffed zucchini in a small baking dish. (The zucchini can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated until baking time.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil.  Pour about 1 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and the zucchini shells are tender.

For the spaghetti

While the zucchini are baking, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.

Return the drained pasta to the cooking pot and add the pesto with a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce a bit.

Add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Mix well and serve alongside the stuffed zucchini.


Here are some suggestions on how to use July’s bounty to create delicious, seasonal meals. You may have noticed that in a few recent salad recipes, I have not cooked the corn before adding it to the salad. Corn, this year, has been plentiful and sweet and I found the salads taste better if the corn is uncooked. The dressing permeates the corn and it tastes quite fresh. Figs and Pecans are also in season here where I live, in fact, the figs are from a friend’s tree. If figs are not available in your area now, you can save this recipe until they are. Peppers and tomatoes are plentiful now and melons are at their peak.

Cold  Salad Plate For 2


Cantaloupe Rounds Filled with Tuna Salad


Cut 2 rounds from a the center of a ripe, peeled cantaloupe and remove the seeds. Center the rounds on 2 dinner plates.

Mix the tuna salad:

Combine one 6.4 oz package of tuna, ¼ cup diced onion, ¼ cup diced celery, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and ½ cup mayonnaise.. Place half the tuna salad in each cantaloupe round.

Make the deviled eggs:

Cut 3 hard-boiled eggs in half. Remove the yolks to a small bowl and mash them. Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion and 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery.

Add a little sprinkle of salt, ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.

Mix well and use the fillings to stuff the egg whites. Arrange on the salad plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Add sliced fresh tomatoes to the salad plate and serve with warmed cornbread or rolls.

Corn Salsa



  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Chopped parsley
  • Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips, see recipe below


Mix the corn, green pepper, jalapeno, tomato and red onion in a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, the lime juice, honey and salt. Mix well.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to marinate. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with tortilla chips.

Chili-Lime Tortilla Chips

IMG_0002 (2)

Lay corn tortillas out on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with chili powder. Cut the corn tortillas into fourths.


Bake at 400 degrees F until crispy, about 15 minutes. Once they come out of the oven, squeeze more lime juice over them. Serve with the corn salsa.

 Summer Chicken Salad

IMG_0006 (2)


  • 8-9 oz boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ sweet onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon lemon Juice
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans, toasted
  • Parsley for garnish


I like to poach chicken in broth for salads. Place 2 cups of water with a salt free chicken bouillon packet in a medium saucepan. Add a little salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and add the chicken. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.

Cool in the broth. Drain the chicken and dice. Save the broth for when you need chicken broth for a recipe.

Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients, except the pecans. Chill.

To serve:

By hand, break half of the pecans into pieces and stir into the salad. Arrange the salad on a serving plate and decorate with the remaining pecans and garnish with parsley.

Corn Cakes


Makes 9-10 cakes


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Roasted tomato salsa, recipe below


Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and add the milk, egg, honey and cooled melted butter.

Whisk together the wet ingredients, then incorporate the dry ingredients (do not over mix). Mix in the corn and cheese.


IMG_0013 (2)

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop heaping ¼-cup portions of the batter into the skillet and cook until golden brown and the cakes are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Serve the corn cakes topped with Roasted Tomato Salsa.

Roasted Tomato Salsa



  • 8 oven roasted tomatoes, finely chopped, see recipe
  • 1 jalapeño chili, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar


Mix the ingredients together and allow to rest at room temperature until serving time for the flavors to blend.

Fresh Fig Tart


Serves 8


  • One 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • 1 pound fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup apple jelly, heated
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch tart pan.

Place the figs in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon juice; toss gently to combine.

Spread the warm jelly over the pastry.


Arrange the figs in a circular pattern on the jam covered pastry. Sprinkle with pecans.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the fruit juices bubble and the crust is browned. Cool before cutting.


Winter, spring, summer and fall each offer their own unique fruits and vegetables for distinct seasonal flavor. The recipes below can be adapted by whatever ingredients are in season without changing the recipe. In the summer you can make the quiche and fish packets with summer squash, corn and/or peppers. In the fall, use kale, butternut squash and/or Brussels sprouts. In the winter, use broccoli, cauliflower and/or celery.

Easy Quiche



1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature or make this easy, healthy 9″ no-roll pie crust.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons oil: (canola, vegetable, olive, peanut, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup cold water


Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.

Whisk together the oil and water in a measuring cup and then pour over the dry ingredients.

Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.

Pat the dough across the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass helps smooth the bottom.

Crimp the edge or flatten with the tines of a fork.

Follow directions below for completing the quiche.

Quiche Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups of sliced seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus or spinach for spring, zucchini and corn for summer, etc.
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated cheese (Swiss, Parmesan, Asiago, Cheddar or a combination)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or half & half


For the crust:

After shaping the pie crust in the pan, prebake the crust for 10 minutes at 425°F.

When you take the pie shell out of the oven, turn the heat down to 375°F.

For an asparagus filling:

While the pie crust bakes, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal.

Set aside 12 asparagus tips.

Beat together the eggs, salt, flour and buttermilk or half & half.

Pour ¼ cup of the egg mixture onto the bottom of the prebaked crust to seal it.

Over that, arrange the asparagus pieces and chives.

Sprinkle the cheese over the asparagus. Pour the remainder of the egg mixture over the vegetables.

Arrange the asparagus tips, in spoke fashion, around the outside edge of the quiche.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the custard is firm and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Fish Fillets Baked with Spring Vegetables


Use any vegetables and herbs that are in season with the fish.

Serves 4


  • 1/4 of a fennel bulb, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into matchstick-size strips
  • 4 fish fillets, 4 ounces each and 1 inch thick, patted dry
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 thin slices of lemon
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Cut eight 15-inch-long sheets of cooking parchment or aluminum foil.


Divide the fennel, carrot and leek equally on each of four of the parchment sheets. Place the fish on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.

Top each fish fillet with 1 tablespoon of chives and a slice of lemon. Top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each piece of fish.

Place one of the remaining four sheets of parchment on top of each fish fillet.IMG_0004

Fold all the edges toward the center and fold several times to seal securely. Transfer the packets to a large rimmed baking sheet.

(The packets can be made up to 6 hours in advance. Refrigerate until baking time.)


Bake for 12-15 minutes. Using the tines of a fork, carefully open a packet away from you (to prevent steam burns). If the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, carefully open the remaining packets and serve.

If the fish isn’t cooked enough, reclose the open packet and bake for 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve the fish and vegetables in the packets.


Eating seasonally means buying produce that can be grown locally, in their natural weather and climate conditions. Less energy and less transit time means a cheaper price tag. Eating seasonally also means that every few month or two, we’re trying something new, and that’s a good thing for our taste buds and our health.

Looking for seasonal food ideas or some new spring recipes? Now’s the time for fresh vegetable soups; crunchy green salads using fennel, peas, parsley, asparagus and new potatoes. Rhubarb and berries are in season for some delicious desserts.


Here is a handy interactive chart to see what produce is in season in your area.

Breakfast or Lunch Crostata


This is a great brunch recipe, also.


  • 1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • I tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2/3 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Roma (plum) tomato, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in 7-8 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers; saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, cream cheese and chives.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped spinach for the topping and stir the remaining spinach, salt and pepper into the eggs.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and allow to cook, over medium heat, just until the eggs are set. Remove the skillet from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.


Unroll the pie crust and place it in the center of the prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula, slide the omelet onto the center of the crust. Sprinkle the cheeses over the filling.

Fold the edge of the crust over the filling forming pleats as you go around the filling, press down slightly.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with reserved spinach and the diced tomatoes.

Blueberry Cinnamon Banana Bread



  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana, about 2 medium
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries


  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, mashed bananas, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl.

Stir flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake about 1 hour, or until browned and crackly on the top and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Braised Spring Vegetables


These vegetables look beautiful served on this Tuscan platter given to me by my friend, Nancy. This is a terrific way to cook vegetables. They taste fantastic after simmering in olive oil.

Serves 4-6.


  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) carrots, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) medium potatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, trimmed, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1 lemon, cut into eight wedges, de-seeded
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig


Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet (with a cover) and heat over medium-low heat. Layer the vegetables in the order of how long they cook.

On the bottom place the potatoes in one layer, followed by the fennel and then the carrots.


Add salt to the pan; reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the vegetables after 10 minutes.

Add the asparagus, scallions, black pepper, half of the lemon wedges and the thyme to the pan. Cook just until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 10 minutes more; avoid overcooking.


Remove the pan from the heat and remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

Note: save the oil and any leftover vegetables to add to pasta for another meal. See recipe below.

Spring Pasta Salad


This pasta salad is delicious for lunch.


  • 12 oz orecchiette or small shell pasta
  • Leftover spring braised vegetables, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Leftover olive oil from the spring braised vegetables
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, chopped


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well.

Whisk together the leftover oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add pasta, leftover vegetables, celery, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature or chilled; refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Italian Style Asparagus Soup


Servings: 4-6


  • 2 ¼ lbs asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Truffle oil or olive oil


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and set them aside. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the pot, along with the stock, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low.

Simmer for about 45-60 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Turn off the heat.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth and return the soup to a simmer. Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for a few minutes until tender-crisp.

Stir in the lemon juice, basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil before serving.


Tradition is important in the Italian-American culture. Second only to Christmas Eve in the way of Italian-American traditions, Easter is a big holiday and, as such, it is centered around food—as most Italian-American celebrations are. From Easter breads and ricotta pies to roasted lamb and asparagus, there are numerous dishes on the Italian American table. Here are some recipes for just a few of them.

Pizza Rustica


Also, called Easter Pie. There are as many recipes for this dish as there are Italians. Most pies contain ricotta cheese, eggs and some type of Italian meat. Italian Americans love to make this pie for their family members.  I remember vividly, my father visiting his family at Easter time and coming home with pies made for him by his sisters and sisters-in-law. It twas a bit overwhelming.

Pastry Crust

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons icy water as needed


Put the flour and salt into a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to mix the dry ingredients.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and drop them onto the flour and pulse the machine in short bursts about 10 times. The mixture should be crumbly.

Put in the eggs and pulse a few times to mix the eggs into the dry ingredients.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water on top of the dough. Pulse 6 times for just a second or two. The dough should resemble cottage cheese. Pick up some dough and press it together. If it doesn’t hold together, add another teaspoon of water until it does.

Scrape the dough onto a floured board and knead together just to form a smooth, tight dough.

Form a flat disc and wrap the dough in plastic. Refrigerate for a few hours before using.


  • 32 oz. ricotta, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut in a ½ inch dice
  • 4 oz diced Prosciutto di Parma
  • 4 oz sopressata cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 cooked sweet Italian sausage link (4 oz.) cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with one tablespoon of water)


In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Pecorino, pepper and eggs.

Add the mozzarella, prosciutto, sopressata and sausage and mix well into the cheese mixture.

To Assemble the Pizza Rustica

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch deep dish pie pan.

Cut off 1/3 of the dough and set aside.

With a rolling-pin, roll out the remaining pastry dough to about 15 inches in diameter. It should be about 1/8 inch thick.

Flour the board and top of the dough to avoid the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in the pan and pat the dough to cover the bottom and sides. If the dough breaks just patch it.

Pour in the ricotta mixture.

Tap the pan on the board to ensure the filling settles.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round. (You can also cut the dough for the top into lattice strips.)

Place the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal, then crimp the dough edges decoratively.

Brush the egg wash over the entire pastry top. Bake on the bottom shelf until the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour.

Let stand 15 minutes. Release the pan sides and transfer the pizza to a platter. Cut into wedges and serve.


Spring Minestrone


4 servings


  • 12 ounces ground chicken
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 6 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup orzo or ditalini or other small pasta
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch rounds of peeled carrots
  • 1 cup (packed) baby spinach
  • Chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix chicken, bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl.

Form into 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs (I uses a melon ball scoop). Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the meatballs on the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the sliced leek to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil.

Stir in pasta and carrots;turn heat to low and simmer about 8 minutes.

Add meatballs; simmer until pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes.

Add spinach and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; stir until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional Parmesan, if desired.

Spinach Lasagna


For the white sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • Salt & Pepper


In a medium saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Stir in flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream and bring mixture to a boil, whisking until thick and smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer sauce over low heat, whisking occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened. Transfer sauce to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap.

Cheese Filling


  • 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • 1 lb.mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • White sauce, recipe above
  • 12parboiled spinach lasagna noodles


Mix the ricotta with the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Completing the Lasagna

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.

Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.

Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce.

Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle the top with extra parsley for color.

Italian Baked Ham



  • 3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 jar fig jam
  • 1 large ham (8 to 10-pounds bone-in, spiral cut or 4- to 5-pound boneless)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil.

Set the ham on the rack and rub the ham with the rosemary mixture. Season with salt and pepper and cover with foil.

In a small pot, heat the fig jam with a couple of tablespoons of water.

Bake the ham for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and glaze the ham with the fig jam.

Continue brushing the ham with the glaze every 15-20 minutes with a pastry brush, for another hour or until heated through.

If the ham starts to get too brown, loosely cover it with foil. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Easter Lamb Cake



  • 1 pkg store-bought chocolate or vanilla cake mix
  • 1 cup water (use 1/4 cup less than the package directions-my cake mix calls for 1 1/4 cups of water)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Whipped Cream Frosting, recipe below
  • 1 lamb mold


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the lamb mold by coating it with vegetable oil. Let sit for a few minutes then wipe clean with a paper towel.

Then grease (use a solid shortening) and flour the lamb mold, making sure to get all the creases.

Place the front of the mold on a baking sheet.

Prepare the cake batter according to the cake mix directions.

Fill the mold to the top for the front of the cake, do not fill the back side of the mold.

Place the back of the mold on the front and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake tests done. (Test with toothpick through a vent hole in the mold.)

Remove the mold from the oven, wait 10 minutes and remove the back of body mold.

Stand the cake up and gently remove the front of the mold. Have clean towels rolled up and ready to support the head of the cake, while placing a rolled up towel in back of the cake to support the that part also.

Place a dab of icing on a plate and stand the cake in an upright position. Frost and decorate with jelly beans, raisins, cherries, or chocolate chips for the eyes and nose.

(Best results cool cake in the refrigerator before frosting, this makes a firmer surface for the icing.)  Place green tinted coconut around the base of the lamb; add jelly beans and a colorful bow at the neck, if desired.

Whipped Cream Frosting

This is a great whipped cream recipe because it does not weep after it sits on the cake.


  • 1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream


Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a electric stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth.

While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

The key to motivation in the morning is to get out of a same-old-foods rut and kick-start the day with new, creative ideas. Taking just a few minutes to have something to eat can really make a difference to your day. You can incorporate a healthy breakfast into your everyday routine. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Mediterranean Breakfast Sandwich

4 servings


  • 4 multi-grain sandwich thins
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 thin slices
  • 4 tablespoons feta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Split sandwich thins; brush cut sides with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Place on baking sheet; toast in oven about 5 minutes or until edges are light brown and crisp.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and the rosemary over medium-high heat. Break eggs, one at a time, into the skillet.

Cook about 1 minute or until whites are set but yolks are still runny. Break yolks with a spatula. Turn eggs over and cook until the yolks are solid. Remove from the heat.

Place the bottom halves of the toasted sandwich thins on four serving plates. Divide spinach among sandwich thins. Top each with two of the tomato slices, an egg and 1 tablespoon of the feta cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining sandwich thin halves. Serve or wrap in foil for a to-go sandwich.


Homemade Oat Squares

Serve the oat squares in cereal bowls with low-fat milk.

6 servings


  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place oats in a food processor. Cover and process until finely ground.

Add oat bran, flour, brown sugar, almond butter, the water, honey, baking soda and salt.

Cover and process until combined.

Coat a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Press oat mixture firmly into the prepared baking pan. Cut mixture into one-inch squares with a sharp knife.

Bake about 30 minutes or until golden.

Turn off the oven; let oat squares dry in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.

Remove squares from the pan; break apart. Cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Breakfast Pitas

2 servings


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 3 ounces diced mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 green onion thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 whole wheat pita breads
  • 1 cup fresh chopped Roma tomatoes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for topping


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium skillet, heat oil. Add mushrooms and bell pepper; cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in green onion, garlic and black pepper. Divide mixture in half.

Place pitas on a parchment or foil covered baking sheet. Top each with the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and tomato.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.


Omelet Wraps

4 servings


  • 2 slices regular bacon or turkey bacon
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (2)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped, stemmed fresh kale or spinach leaves
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 10 inch high-fiber whole grain flour tortillas, warmed


Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook bacon in the skillet until crisp. Remove to a paper towel, cool and chop; set aside.

Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and green onions; cook about 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add kale or spinach; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the kale begins to wilt.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, cottage cheese, Italian seasoning, black pepper and chopped bacon. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables in skillet.

Cook over medium heat. As mixture sets, run a spatula around the edges of skillet, lifting egg mixture so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking and lifting edges just until the egg mixture is set.

Slide egg mixture from the skillet onto a cutting board; cut into quarters.

For each wrap, place one egg portion in the center of a tortilla. Fold in opposite sides; roll up. If desired, secure with wooden skewers or wrap in foil for a to-go breakfast.


Breakfast Fruit Parfaits

Prepare the granola in advance, so it is available for a quick breakfast assembly.

8 servings


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 cups regular rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup toasted unsalted nuts of your choice (I like sliced almonds)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cups cubed seasonal fruits, (in winter, use mangoes, kiwifruit, papayas, bananas and/or pineapple)
  • 2 cups lime, coconut or a favorite desired flavor of Greek yogurt
  • Additional nuts and coconut to sprinkle on the top


For granola:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly coat a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine oats, the 1/3 cup coconut and the nuts.

In a small bowl combine honey, oil and brown sugar. Drizzle honey mixture over the oat mixture. Stir until the oats are coated. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring twice. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Spread the baked granola onto prepared baking sheet and cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

To make parfaits:

Place about 2 tablespoons of the cubed fruit in each of eight 6 to 8 ounce glasses. Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to each glass. Add 1 tablespoon of the granola to each glass. Repeat layers, but do not stir. If desired, top with additional coconut and nuts. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 4 hours.


Prepare granola as directed, except stir 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon into the honey mixture. Assemble parfaits as directed, except substitute chopped, peeled peaches and use peach or honey-flavored Greek yogurt.


Prepare granola as directed. For parfaits, substitute 1 1/2 cups mixed fresh berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or sliced strawberries) and omit the yogurt. In a medium mixing bowl place 12 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature, 3 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to make a soft consistency. Assemble as directed above, substituting the cheese mixture for the yogurt. Top with sliced almonds.


Prepare granola as directed. For parfaits, substitute 1 1/2 cups frozen and thawed sweet cherries and omit the yogurt. In a medium mixing bowl place 12 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature, 3 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to make a soft consistency. Assemble as directed above, substituting the cheese mixture for the yogurt. Top with sliced almonds.

With the holidays approaching and those sumptuous meals and desserts awaiting us, we may want to consider eating lighter in the weeks before the holidays. Earlier this week I gave you some ideas for dinner and, in today’s post, I am sharing some lighter and easy to make lunch recipes. This is a busy time of year, so you do not want recipes that are very involved or time consuming to make in the weeks leading up to the holidays.


Mediterranean Pita

2 servings


  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 heated pita halves


Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl, add the oregano and season with salt and pepper.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook eggs, stirring frequently, until just set, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in spinach and tomatoes.

Cook until the spinach wilts and the tomatoes are heated.

Place 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta in each warm pita half and divide the egg mixture between each pita half.



6 servings


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Two 14 ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • One 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup elbow macaroni or other short pasta
  • 6 cups coarsely torn, trimmed Swiss chard or 8 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • Fresh basil for garnish


In 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven cook onion in hot oil over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, water, beans, zucchini, carrots and garlic. Bring to boiling.

Add pasta and dried oregano. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 5 minutes.

Stir in Swiss chard. (If using spinach wait until you add the tomatoes.)

Simmer, uncovered, 5 to 7 minutes more or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes (and spinach if using in place of chard). Remove from the heat. Season with salt and black pepper. Garnish with fresh basil.


Warm Turkey, Pear and Cheese Salad

It you still have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, this salad it a good way to use some of it up.

4 servings


  • 1 pound leftover sliced turkey or thin turkey cutlets
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced thin
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, cut in half
  • 5 ounces arugula (8 cups) or your favorite salad greens
  • Salt and ground black pepper


Cut the turkey into eight pieces and brush each lightly with a ½ tablespoon of the honey mustard.

In a 12-inch skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Cook turkey cutlets or heat leftover turkey in an even layer in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Layer pears on top of the turkey; top each with a half-slice of cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and heat for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and pears are warm.

Divide arugula among serving dishes; top with turkey slices.

For the dressing:

Whisk remaining mustard and oil along with the vinegar. Drizzle dressing on each serving.


Salmon Open-Faced Sandwiches

4 servings


  • 4 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, thyme)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices of your favorite bread, lightly toasted (I like pumpernickel or rye)
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons large capers


Mix together the cream cheese and the herbs and season with pepper.

Spread mixture on each piece of toast and evenly top each with salmon, onion, capers and arugula.


Clementine Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Some markets sell loose pomegranate seeds in a cup as a time saver.

6 servings


  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups arugula or your favorite salad greens
  • 8 seedless clementines, peeled and broken into segments
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds


To remove pomegranate seeds:

Score an “X” in the top of a pomegranate. Break pomegranate apart into quarters. Working in a bowl of cool water, immerse each quarter; use your fingers to loosen the seeds from the white membrane. Discard peel and membrane. Drain seeds in a fine wire mesh colander. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours before using.

To prepare the dressing:

In a screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, poppy seeds, kosher salt and pepper. Cover and shake well.

In a large salad bowl toss dressing with arugula. Add clementine segments; gently toss. Sprinkle with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve.


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