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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

Inviting friends over for dinner does not have to be a scary experience. With a little planning and the right kinds of recipes, it can be very manageable. On a recent evening, I entertained six of my friends for dinner and a relaxing evening. Here is my game plan.
Choose recipes that you can cook or do most of the preparation for in advance.
The main dish I served can be done the day before, refrigerated overnight and reheated while you and your guests enjoy an easy appetizer and cocktails. I have included my make ahead tips in the recipes below.

Mixed Olives, Sliced Havarti Cheese and Breadsticks. Chilled Prosecco

Italian Mixed Green Salad with Pistachios, Dried Raspberries and Gorgonzola Cheese

6 servings

Make Ahead Tip: The greens can be washed a day ahead or early in the morning, dried in a spinner and placed in a salad serving bowl. Place a paper towel on top of the greens, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Slice the tomatoes and onions, place in a storage container, drizzle a little dressing over them, cover and refrigerate.

Ingredients

1 heart of romaine lettuce
1 head red/green leaf lettuce
10 radicchio leaves, torn into small pieces
¼ of a red onion, diced
1 pint sliced miniature colored tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
¼ cup dried raspberries
Italian vinaigrette

Directions

To the washed greens in the salad bowl, add the nuts and raspberries. Pour some dressing over the ingredients and mix well.

Place some of the greens on 6 individual salad dishes, top with some of the marinated tomatoes and onions and top the tomatoes with a one inch square of cheese. Serve immediately.

Swiss Steak

Swiss steak is meat, usually beef, prepared by braising in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes, mushroom sauce, or some other sauce, either on a stove or in an oven. In England and in some parts of the United States, especially the South, it is also called smothered steak. The dish does not cone from Switzerland, as the name suggests, but from the technique of tenderizing by pounding called “swissing”

6 or more servings

Make Ahead Tip: This dish benefits from being prepared a day or two in advance. Once finished it has finished cooking, pour into a shallow, ovenproof casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate. Take the casserole out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve it. Let the casserole come to room temperature for one hour. Then, reheat in a 325 degree oven for one hour. (The dish can reheat while you and your guests are enjoying appetizers and cocktails.)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
16 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
All-purpose flour
3 pounds boneless round steak, 3/4-1/2 inch thick
4 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (brown gravy coloring)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cut the round steak into serving size pieces and place between pieces of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to about 1/4 inch thick.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add some of the meat and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Repeat with remaining oil, butter and meat.

Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook until the onion is softened and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and Kitchen Bouquet. Stir in ¼ cup all-purpose flour and mix until the flour dissolves. Add the beef broth.

If the broth doesn’t cover the meat, add a little water. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed into the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the browned meat back to the pot,

Cover the pot and bake for 3 hours or until tender. Remove the meat to a shallow ovenproof casserole. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate.

Take the casserole out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve it. Let the casserole come to room temperature for one hour.

Then, reheat, covered, in a 325 degree oven for one hour.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Make Ahead Tip: The potatoes can be baked a day before or early in the morning of the day of your dinner party. Then can be filled, covered and refrigerated until close to serving time. Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour. Then reheat in the oven with the casserole, uncovered, for one hour.

6 servings

Ingredients

2 large russet potatoes about 14 -16 oz each, scrubbed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Paprika and chopped chives for garnish

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Gently scrub potatoes, but do not peel. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to escape while the potatoes bake. Wrap in heavy-duty foil.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when lightly squeezed.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half; scoop out the inside, leaving a thin shell.

In mixing bowl, mash the potatoes. Add the butter, salt and pepper; mix until the potatoes are light and fluffy.

Stir in the cream and cheddar cheese. Fill the potato shells and place them in a baking dish.

Sprinkle with paprika and chives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour.

Then reheat in the oven, along with the Swiss Steak casserole, uncovered, for one hour.

To serve: cut each potato boat in half (to make 8 pieces) Serve one half to each guest. There will be 2 second helping.

These are very filling. I have found that half of a large potato is sufficient for most guests.

Green Beans with Ginger and Lemon Zest

Make Ahead Tip: Blanch the beans in boiling water the day before or early in the morning on the day you are serving them. Place them in a storage container and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover and refrigerate.

6 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
3 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Directions

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, cover the pan and steam the beans until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Add the salt and pepper and pour into a serving dish.

Pear Frangipane Tart

This pastry should be made early in the day of your dinner party. It cannot be made a day ahead because it will lose its crispness.

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 sheet frozen Puff Pastry
3 firm-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears
Egg white

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 12×12 inch rectangle.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.(I use an attractive baking pan that can also be used for serving.) Prick pastry with a fork.

Build up the sides slightly by folding in about 1/2 inch of the pastry on the edges. Brush edges with egg white.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar with the almond flour and all-purpose flour. Set aside.

Beat together the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer at moderately high-speed until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the flavored extracts.

Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture just until combined.

Spread frangipane filling evenly over the tart shell.

Peel, halve and core pears, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively on filling.

Brush the pears with the egg white.

Bake until the pears are golden and frangipane is puffed up around the pears and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Cool tart completely in pan on rack, then slide parchment out from under the tart. Leave at room temperature until serving time.

Garnish with frozen yogurt or whipped cream, if desired.

 

 

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Italian Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Take advantage of the lower prices for red bell peppers this month. There are so many different ways to fill them and they make a delicious entrée for dinner.

For each 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large red bell pepper
1/2 cup Tomato Sausage Sauce, recipe below
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F Coat a small baking dish or ramekin with olive oil cooking spray.

Slice the bell pepper in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds.

Place pepper halves in the prepared baking dish and bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.

Remove the peppers from oven.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the salt and Parmesan cheese.

Fill each pepper half with ¼ cup of the tomato sausage sauce.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the meat sauce in each pepper cup.

Pour an additional 2 tablespoons of sausage sauce on top of the ricotta cheese in each pepper half.

Top each pepper with 2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese.

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes.

Tomato Sausage Sauce

You will only need a small portion of this sauce for the stuffed pepper recipe, depending on how many peppers you make. Leftover sauce can be used in a number of other dishes.

Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage, casing removed (You could also use ground meat of your choice.)
¼ of a large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
26-28 oz container chopped Italian tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Place the oil in a large non-stick sauce pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage, onion, garlic and sea salt.

Cook until the sausage is brown. Drain off any grease in the pan.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Asian Meatball Soup

I prefer to use chicken for the meatballs in this recipe, so they are not heavy. I also like to use almond flour in Asian meatballs instead of all- purpose flour or breadcrumbs because I think the almond flour compliments Asian flavors much better. Asian cabbages are also in season during this month and they make a delicious option in your recipes.\

For the meatballs

1 lb organic ground chicken or ground meat of your choice
1 egg
2/3 cup almond flour/bread crumbs/all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
Pinch salt

For the broth

1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the vegetables

3 cups fresh bean sprouts
3 cups thinly sliced Napa or Bok Choy cabbage
1/2 cup radish sticks
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

To make the meatballs:

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a small cookie scoop, form into 24 bite-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet covered with foil and coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

\To make the soup:

In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil, garlic and ginger for about 1 minute or until sizzling. Add the chicken broth, water, soy sauce, fish sauce, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the vegetables and meatballs. Stir well. Bring back to a simmer and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes

Roasted Pumpkin

Have you ever thought of pumpkin as a savory side dish. I hadn’t either until I saw an article that suggested pumpkin was a fall squash that deserved more than being a pie. And they were right. It is delicious. Do not use a large decorative pumpkin. Instead use a sugar/cooking pumpkin between 2 and 3 lbs and your favorite spices.

Ingredients

2-3 lb fresh (cooking, sugar, pie) pumpkin, peeled & seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic powder or regular garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds.

Cut each half into 1″ thick slices

Place the oil on a baking sheet with sides.

Add the pumpkin slices and sprinkle the seasonings over the pumpkin.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and tinged brown at the edges.

Turning the slices over halfway through the cooking time.

Pan-cooked Broccoli Rabe with Italian Sausage

Ingredients

1 pound/bunch broccoli rabe
1 pound thin Italian sausage made with parsley and Pecorino cheese (or luganega), cut into 3-inch lengths
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and flattened with a large knife
Salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup (or as needed) water

Directions

Cut off the tough ends and stalks of the broccoli stems.

Wash the trimmed broccoli rabe in a sink filled with cold water, swishing the stems gently to remove all dirt from between the leaves.

Let the leaves sit a minute or two undisturbed to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom of the sink, then lift the broccoli rabe from the water with your hands and drain in a colander.

Place the broccoli in a deep skillet and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and cook the broccoli until tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain and place on a kitchen towel to dry. Wipe out the skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.

Add the sausage and cook, turning as necessary, until caramelized on all sides and no trace of pink remains in the center, about 8 minutes for thin sausage or longer for thicker sausages.

Remove the sausages to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.

Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the garlic to the oil. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 1 minute.

Carefully lay the broccoli rabe into the oil, season lightly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Stir and toss to distribute the seasonings.

Pour 1/4 cup water into the skillet and bring to a boil.

Cover the skillet tightly and cook, lifting the lid to turn the stalks occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is tender and the water evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Return the sausages to the skillet and heat until warmed through. Serve the sausages and broccoli rabe on a serving platter with crusty Italian bread.


It is that time of year! Sports and more sports. We love to invite friends over to watch some of our favorite teams and small bite appetizers are the best foods to have on hand. Folks love them. Here are a few of our big hits.

Asian Meatballs

To make this ahead: cook the meatballs and prepare the sauce separately. Refrigerate separately until serving time. Then reheat the sauce, add the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are hot. Pour into a serving bowl.

For the Meatballs

1 lb organic ground chicken or pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup almond flour
1 egg
Peanut oil

For the Sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon Gochujang (red chili paste)
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

To make the meatballs:

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

Using a cookie scoop form into 21-22 one inch balls and saute in peanut oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

To make the sauce:

Combine the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces, chili paste, water, sugar and arrowroot in a small saucepan. Reserve the scallions.

Whisk until combined and bring to a boil.

Simmer for five minutes until thickened.

To serve:

Add the cooked meatballs and scallions to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Heat for a few minutes. Pour into a shallow serving dish.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and bake before serving.

Ingredients

15 large mushrooms cleaned and stems removed

Spinach filling

1 scallion, minced
1 small garlic, grated
1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3 ounces feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning or dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil

Directions

Hollow out the mushrooms and reserve the mushroom stems for another use.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a glass baking dish and put the dish in the oven while the oven preheats.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stuff the caps with the filling and place in the hot prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.Place on a serving platter.

If the Mushrooms have been in the refrigerator, bring them to room temperature for an hour before cooking.

They may need to be baked a little longer.

Mini Crab Puffs with Remoulade Sauce

The crab puffs can be baked ahead, refrigerated and reheated just before game time.

Ingredients

1/2 pound fresh crab meat
2 tablespoons minced bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 scallion, minced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crab seasoning (recommended Old Bay)
2 tablespoons almond flour or all purpose flour

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the crab in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then fold in the crab meat.

Cover the bowl and chill the mixture until ready to bake.

Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and, using a cookie scoop, fill 15 openings to the top of the muffin cup with the crab mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -20 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden brown.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and remove to a serving platter.

Serve with

Remoulade Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving dish. Whisk until completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

 


I have been fascinated by the spiralizer vegetable craze. So I bought an inexpensive spiralizer to try my hand at making zucchini noodles to see what all the fuss is about. I read the tips that came with the gadget and watched a video, so I would get it right. This little spiralizer did an excellent job and I had no difficulty operating it.

Some tips I picked up:

Spiralizers work best with straight vegetables, so you may have to trim them or cut them in half.

In order to get long spirals, the vegetable should be at least an inch and a half in diameter.

After washing the produce cut one end off and keep one end uncut to use to grip the vegetable.

Zucchini is a watery vegetable. After you spiralize the zucchini, dry them off with a paper towel. I made the spirals in the morning and let them sit on a double thickness of paper towels until it was time to cook. They were nice and dry and could be cooked al dente.

I gave some thought to what would work well for a topping over zucchini noodles and decided on an Alfredo sauce with shrimp. You could also use chicken. This is a whole new food world to explore.

Shrimp Alfredo Over Zucchini Noodles

For 2-3 servings

Alfredo Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Chopped parsley for a garnish

Shrimp
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
1 pound large shrimp (16-20) peeled, deveined, no tails
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Zucchini Noodles
3 medium zucchini, about 7 inches long and about 2 inches wide
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Cut the base end off the zucchini and use the other end to hold while the zucchini turns in the gadget. Place the zoodles on a double thick layer of paper towels to dry.

Alfredo Sauce
In a medium saucepan melt the butter then add the grated garlic and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.

Add all of the other ingredients except for the Parmesan cheese and  parsley.

Whisk vigorously until the cream cheese melts and the sauce is smooth.

Add the Parmesan cheese and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until it is melted and just starts to thicken.

Stir often until smooth, then remove from the heat, covered, until the shrimp are cooked.

Zucchini Noodles
In a large skillet, heat the butter and then add the zucchini noodles, Toss for 2-3 minutes.

Taste the noodles to determine consistency – should be “al dente”.

Place the zoodles on a platter and pour one small scoop of Alfredo sauce over them and set aside.

Shrimp
In same skillet that the zucchini was cooked in, melt the butter and add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

Sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.

Salt and pepper the shrimp and then add them to the garlic butter and cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Add a small scoop of sauce to the pan and swirl the shrimp in the sauce. Pour over the zoodles on the platter.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and extra Parmesan. Pour the extra sauce into a small serving dish and serve alongside the platter.

A tomato salad was a nice side for this dish.

 


Zucchini Fritters

These fritters are also delicious with a sunny-side egg on top for a great lunch.

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 large eggs
2 medium scallions, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Olive Oil for frying

Directions

Chop the zucchini into very small pieces. For this dish, I prefer chopped zucchini as opposed to grated for a better taste.

Put the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt.

Mix the zucchini gently to distribute the salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Turn the zucchini out onto paper towels.

Squeeze the zucchini in the paper towels to rid them of moisture and place into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and scallion to the zucchini and mix together.

In a small bowl, add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir together. Add them to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.

Heat a medium to large pan over medium – high heat. Pour in enough oil to completely cover the bottom surface of the pan.

When little bubbles appear, the oil is hot enough.

Stir the zucchini mixture again and use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up the batter and then level it off.

Pour the batter into the pan and gently push it into a flat pancake shape with the back of a metal spatula.

Cook for three minutes adjusting the heat up or down as needed, then turn, cooking for another three minutes.

Add more oil to the pan as needed to prevent sticking. Drain the zucchini fritters on a paper towel before serving.

Roasted Fennel and Leeks

This side goes so well with oven baked or grilled fish or chicken. Fennel bulb, which looks like a cross between an onion and the base of a celery bunch, has a sweet, anise-like flavor which mellows when roasted.

Ingredients

2 fennel bulbs, sliced into eighths, fronds reserved
2 large leeks, light green and white part only, cut into thin rounds
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Zest of one lemon and 1 teaspoon juice

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine the fennel, leek, garlic, oil, salt and pepper to taste in a shallow roasting pan; toss to coat fennel evenly.

Roast the fennel mixture, stirring midway through cooking, until softened, nicely browned and caramelized, about 40 minutes.

Add lemon zest and juice; toss to coat. Place in a serving dish; garnish with a few fennel fronds.

Jicama French Fries

Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is an edible root vegetable native to Mexico that many people describe as being a cross between an apple and a turnip. Low in calories but rich in fiber, jicama is considered a superfood along with kale, acai berries and quinoa.

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

1 medium jicama
1/2 teaspoon salt for boiling
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil or oil of choice, plus more if frying

Directions

Combine the spices and seasonings in a small bowl.

Peel the jicama and slice into french fry pieces.

Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sea salt into a wide deep skillet of water. Bring to a boil.

Add the jicama and when the water returns to a boil, cook the jicama fries for 10 minutes.

Drain in a colander. Place the fries on paper towels to dry.

You can prepare these in either of two ways.

Pour oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat until hot and add the jicama fries.

As each side turns brown, turn the fries until they are brown on all sides. Remove to paper towels to drain.

OR

Turn the oven to 425°F and when the temperature is reached, place the jicama fries in a large shallow dish.

Coat with the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and then with the spice mixture.

Spread the fries onto an oiled baking pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning halfway through baking time, until the fries are crisp.

Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

This salad goes very well with grilled lamb chops or grilled fish.

Ingredients

2 medium cucumbers, peeled
½ teaspoon sea salt

Dressing

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ of a sweet onion, finely chopped
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cut the peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.

Cut each half into ½ inch thick slices (half moons). Place in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently to evenly distribute the salt.

Let the cucumbers drain while you make the dressing.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a storage bowl with a cover.

Place the salted cucumbers on several thicknesses of paper towels and squeeze gently to rid them of extra moisture.

Add them to the dressing and mix well. Cover the bowl and chill several hours before serving.


Fall weather makes you think casseroles. I like casseroles to be a little unique and not weighed down with heavy cream sauces. I also like to take advantage of some of the fall vegetables and use them in my preparation. Making a meat stuffing that can work for both recipes saves a bit of time. These dishes can be done ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking. They also hold up well in the freezer. So plan ahead.

All Purpose Meat Stuffing for Vegetables

Ingredients

1 lb organic lean ground beef
1 lb organic lean ground pork
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Mexican flavoring, recipe below
Italian flavoring, recipe below

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, the heat oil. Add the beef and pork. Cook until brown.

Drain the meat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper to the skillet; season with salt.

Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the meat and mix well. Place half of the stuffing in another bowl.

Mexican Zucchini Casserole

I saw a video on Facebook from Delish that made zucchini enchiladas and decided to create my own, easy version with more vegetables and a homemade red enchilada sauce.

Ingredients

Half of the meat stuffing recipe from above
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cups red enchilada sauce, recipe below
2 cups Shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese blend, divided
2 large, long zucchini, halved lengthwise
Sour cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Oil a 7×11 inch baking dish

For the Mexican stuffing:

Add the cumin and chili powder to the meat and stir until combined. Stir until incorporated. Set aside.

For the casserole:

On a cutting board, with a sharp knife cut thin lengthwise slices of zucchini.

Place a layer of zucchini slices in the bottom of the dish, about 5 slices per layer, overlapping the slices slightly.

Spoon half of the meat mixture over the zucchini slices. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the first layer, then sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese.

Repeat with another layer of zucchini and beef mixture.

Spoon remaining enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until bubbly and hot.

Serve with sour cream for a garnish.

Red Enchilada Sauce For Mexican Zucchini Casserole

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 whole dried chipotle chile peppers
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon honey or other sweetener
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 bay leaf

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan with a lid. Stir well.

Bring to a low boil, lower the heat to a simmer and place the lid slightly ajar on the pot.

Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally until reduced and thickened. Remove the dried chipotle peppers and bay leaf.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. If the sauce is a little bitter, add just a touch more sweetener. It will help balance the flavors.

Set aside until ready to assemble the casserole.

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Ingredients

Half the meat stuffing from the recipe above
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups marinara sauce, recipe below
1 large cabbage

Directions

For the stuffing:

Add the egg, Italian seasoning and cheeses to the meat mixture. Add 1 cup marinara sauce and stir well. Set aside.

For the cabbage:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Discard any discolored or broken outer leaves and remove the cabbage core.

Carefully peel off 8 large leaves.

Blanch the cabbage leaves for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (a few at time), until wilted and spread them out on kitchen towels, so that they dry and cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and coat a deep casserole dish with cooking spray.

Make the cabbage rolls:

Lay cabbage leaves on the counter. Place a golf ball-sized round of meat mixture on each leaf.

Fold in the sides of the cabbage rolls and wrap cabbage leaf around the filling. Repeat with remaining leaves and mixture.

Place the cabbage rolls in the prepared dish. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the cabbage. Cover the dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for 5 minutes and serve.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup minced onion
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 – 26 oz containers chopped tomatoes without salt or sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onion. Cook over low until tender.

Add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with the lid ajar.

Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about two hours until thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

 


 

To make really good tasting chicken soup, you need a rich tasting broth. I usually start with the remains of a whole 4 lb chicken that I have either cooked on the grill or in the oven. Remove as much meat as you can, reserve 2-3 cups for the soup and use the remainder of the chicken meat for other dishes. To make the broth even richer, roast the chicken bones in the oven.

Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Spread the bones in a large roasting pan and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack and roast the bones until deeply brown, 45-60 minutes. Transfer the bones to a Dutch Oven or soup pot. Spoon the fat from the juices in the roasting pan and discard. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. When browned bits begin to sizzle, pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into the pot with the roasted bones.

Add the following:

2 scrubbed carrots, cut in half
1 onion quartered or 1 bunch of scallions
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 peppercorns
1 large bay leaf

Directions

Add these ingredients to the stockpot with the roasted bones and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours.

Remove and discard the large bones and vegetable pieces. Strain the stock in a fine mesh colander lined with a piece of cheesecloth.

Discard the vegetables and bones. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the souppot.

You can add more seasoning later depending on how you will use the stock. You now have a clear, flavorful stock to make some great soups.

Below are recipes for some of my favorite chicken soups:

Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

3 medium poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
1 cup sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
14 oz container chopped tomatoes, no sugar or salt added
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
2 cups okra, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
3 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
Toasted tortilla strips (see recipe below) and cheddar cheese for garnish

Directions

Roast the poblano peppers over a grill or under the broiler. Cool and remove the skin. Chop and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven and add the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper.

Cook over low heat until tender.

Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well. Add the chicken broth and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

Add the green beans,okra, plum tomatoes and diced poblano peppers.

Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked chicken and heat.

Serve with toasted tortilla strips and cheddar cheese as a topping for the soup.

Baked Tortilla Strips

8 corn tortillas (6 inch)

Heat the oven to 450°F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Cut each tortilla into thin strips; place in a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake about 6 minutes or until crisp but not brown; cool and use to add to the soup.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
6 cup homemade chicken broth, recipe above
2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup cooked noodles, optional
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)

Directions

Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.

Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot.

Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add cooked noodles, if using and extra cooked chicken, if desired.

Italian Escarole Bean Soup

Ingredients

½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups dried white beans (cannellini), soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cups chicken broth, recipe above
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 heads of escarole, washed and cut into small pieces
1 cup diced, cooked spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven and add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook until tender.

Add the Italian seasoning, the drained cannellini beans and the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cooked the beans for 30 minutes. Add the sausage, salt and escarole.

Let simmer until the escarole wilts. Ladle into soup bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.

Tortellini Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups water
4 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
6 oz fresh spinach or any seasonal greens
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Remove stems and wilted leaves on the greens. Wash well in several changes of cold water and chop.

In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the water, broth, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese rind and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until al dente, about 4 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain.

Add the spinach to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked tortellini.

Serve the soup sprinkled with grated Parmesan.



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