Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

 

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How to get back on track:

Have Breakfast

Not only does it reset your body by getting your metabolism going, but it also helps you set the tone mentally for a regular eating day.

Hydrate

Water helps you feel full, so you won’t be as tempted to carry your overeating into the next day.

Squeeze in Some Exercise

It will make you  feel so much better.

Have a Filling Salad for Lunch

The water in the veggies will help hydrate you and keep you feeling full until dinner.

Cook Dinner at Home

Go for clean foods, like a piece of broiled fish with roasted veggies and a whole grain like quinoa or barley. They’ll give you the nutrients you need and you won’t be hungry.Choose lean cuts of meat and avoid oversized portions. A serving of protein should be no more than 3 ounces (85 grams) — or about the size of a deck of cards — and should take up no more than one-fourth of your plate. Vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate. Whole grains make up the rest. Try a few meatless meals each week for added health benefits.

A few really tasty recipes follow to get you started.

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Roasted Vegetable Crepes

Crepes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces softened reduced fat cream cheese

Directions

To prepare the crepes:

Place flour in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk and water until smooth. Whisk

in eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter and salt. Let stand 10 minutes. (This allows the flour to absorb the liquid.)

Heat an 8 or 9 inch crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly brush the pan with some of the remaining melted butter.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into the center of the pan. Quickly tilt in all directions. (Batter should lightly cover the bottom of the pan.) Cook 30 seconds. Lift edge with a spatula to check doneness. Shake and jerk the pan by its handle to loosen the crepe. Turn crepe over and  cook 15 to 20 seconds. Second side will be spotty brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter and melted butter. Makes 10 crepes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare the filling:

Makes about 3 cups.

Place zucchini, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, thyme and pepper. Roast 30 minutes or until tender.

Spread 2 tablespoons of cream cheese on half of each crepe. Top with about 1/3 cup roasted vegetables. Fold in half, then in half again. Serve with a green salad.

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Winter Vegetable Stew 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large red onion, cut crosswise into 1/3 inch thick rounds
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red skinned or yellow gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips–peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • Flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to a casserole dish.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add potatoes and butternut squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to the roasting pan. Repeat the cooking process using another tablespoon of oil and the acorn squash and parsnips.

Add the broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer over high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the broth over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and add the marjoram. Cover and cook the vegetables in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until just tender when pierced. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve with a slice of crusty country bread.

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Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or mashed
  • One 14-ounce loaf Italian bread, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a colander, toss the eggplant and zucchini with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain well and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.

In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the garlic. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic-infused oil.

Tear the bread into 2-inch pieces and line the bottom of the baking dish with the bread, fitting the pieces tightly together. Drizzle the bread with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and sprinkle the bread with half of the basil leaves.

In a medium bowl, toss the eggplant and zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes over the bread, overlapping them as necessary. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining garlic oil.

Bake the gratin for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown and the bottom of the bread is golden brown. Remove the vegetable gratin from the oven and let stand until cooled slightly, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining basil, cut into serving pieces.

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Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

4 servings

Directions

  • 4 medium bell peppers
  • 1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup drained, canned whole Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought tomato sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Slice off the stem end of peppers and remove and discard seeds and membranes. Submerge the peppers in a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes; drain.

Brown ground beef and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drain on paper towels.

Return meat mixture to the skillet. Add tomatoes, breaking them into pieces with a spoon, and cook until the liquid evaporates. Remove meat mixture from heat; stir in wild rice, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning.

Spoon 1/2-cup portions of the mixture into the peppers; sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and cheese.

Place peppers in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon tomato sauce over peppers and return to oven until heated.

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Broccoli Swiss Quiche

6 servings

Easy Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Quiche Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces reduced fat milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions for making the crust:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Into 8 or 9 inch Quiche pan or pie plate, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Combine the oil and milk in a measuring cup and pour over the flour mixture.

Mix with fork till all the flour is dampened.

Press dough evenly against the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Crimp edges.

Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until the pastry is set and dry.

Remove the pie plate from the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Directions for the Quiche Filling:

In a mixing bowl whip eggs with a wire whisk and stir in the broccoli, shredded Swiss cheese, milk, garlic, onion, salt and pepper; stir until blended.

Assembling the Quiche:

Pour into baked pastry crust. Place the tomato slices on top of Quiche mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until Quiche tests done in center. Protect pastry crust with foil at the end of the cooking time to prevent over browning.

Cool on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

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Ring in the New Year in Style

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Pan-Seared Salmon with Linguine

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Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Four 5 ounce pieces of fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, thawed and dried
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup finely chopped, pitted green olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Pepperoncini peppers
  • Cooked Linguine

Directions

Sprinkle salmon with salt. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add salmon. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish or until fish just flakes when tested with a fork, turning once. Transfer to a serving platter. Cover; keep warm.

For the pesto:

Add remaining oil to the skillet. Add onion and dried tomatoes; cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cherry tomatoes, olives, basil, and crushed red pepper. Stir to heat through. Season to taste with salt.

Spoon tomato mixture over salmon. Top with additional fresh basil and serve with cooked pasta and pepperoncini peppers.

Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce

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Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 pound domestic duck
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 small orange, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, cut up
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur
  • ¼ cup mild-flavor molasses
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups blackberries

Directions
Adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse duck body cavity; pat dry. Rub cavity with the 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place orange, celery, onion, and thyme in cavity. Skewer neck skin to back; tie legs to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Brush duck with the 2 tablespoons orange liqueur.

Place duck, breast side down, on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Add the hot water to the roasting pan. Place in lower third of oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

Carefully remove roasting pan from oven; drain fat.* Turn duck, breast side up. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes more or until drumsticks move easily in their sockets (165 degrees F). Juices may still appear pink.

Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan whisk together orange peel, orange juice, brown sugar, the 1/4 cup orange liqueur, the molasses, ginger, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened and syrupy. Stir in 2 cups blackberries. Use a potato masher or fork to coarsely mash berries. Cover and set aside.

Transfer duck to a cutting board; let stand for 15 minutes. Discard stuffing mixture. Using kitchen shears, cut duck in half lengthwise. Cut each half between the breast and the thigh into 2 pieces. Drain fat from roasting pan. Arrange duck quarters in pan. Pour blackberry sauce over the duck. Return to oven. Roast in the 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes.

Transfer duck pieces to a serving platter. Pour any juices in the roasting pan over the duck pieces.

Chicken Roll-Ups

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Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Garlic-herb cheese, see recipe below
  • 1 ounce baby arugula or baby spinach (about 1 cup packed)
  • ¾ cup jarred roasted red sweet peppers, drained well and chopped
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup purchased or homemade pesto

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken breast halves between pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each to 1/4-inch thickness.

Season one side of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Spread each breast with the herb cheese to the edges. Top with arugula, peppers, and green onion.

Press down on toppings, then roll up tightly, starting from a short end; secure with toothpicks. Brush pesto over rolls. Transfer to an oiled 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center (170 degrees F). Let stand 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks and slice crosswise to serve.

GARLIC HERB CHEESE

Stir 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed and 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed, into 3 ounces of cream cheese.

Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter

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Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Four 8 ounce fresh or frozen lobster tails
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup butter, plus extra for serving

Directions

Thaw lobster tails, if frozen. Preheat broiler. Butterfly the lobster tails by cutting through the center of the hard top shells and meat. Spread the halves of tails apart. Place lobster tails, meat side up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.

In a small skillet cook garlic, orange peel, and chili powder in butter over medium heat about 30 seconds or until garlic is tender. Brush mixture over lobster meat.

Broil 4 inches from heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque. Serve with extra melted butter.

Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak

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Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon), cut about 3/4 inch thick
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 4 tablespoons finely shallots
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream (no substitutes for this dish)
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; reduce heat to medium. Cook steaks about 3 minutes per side or until medium rare (145 degrees F). Transfer steaks to a platter. Cover with foil; let stand for 5 minutes while preparing sauce.

Add wine, beef broth and shallots to the hot skillet. Using a whisk, stir and scrape up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced.. Lower heat to medium low.

Stir in cream; stir in the remaining tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until butter is melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the evenly sauce over steaks and serve immediately.

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Quick and easy appetizers are a must for the holiday season. You don’t need to spend a lot of time preparing appetizers for your guests in order to get some great tasting snacks to serve at a holiday get-together. Keep simple ingredients on hand that you can quickly pull together for an appetizer. Below you will find some suggestions for quick but delicious appetizers.

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Tomato Pesto Flatbread

8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup tomato pasta sauce or pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough to a large square about 12 inches long and 12 inches wide; place on a cookie sheet. Spread pizza sauce evenly over the dough; top with olives and cheese. Use a teaspoon to drop dots of basil pesto over the pizza. Sprinkle with pepper flakes.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into 3 inch squares and serve immediately.

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Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 16 large button or cremini mushrooms, each about 2-inches in diameter
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs or gluten free panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove mushroom stems from the caps and finely chop the stems. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Brush some of the butter over the mushroom caps; place cap side down on a rimmed baking sheet.

Add chopped stems, onion and garlic to the remaining butter in the skillet; sauté until golden brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in salt and pepper

Mix the cheese with bread crumbs and parsley in a medium bowl. Add stem mixture; mix well. Mound into mushroom caps, pressing down to use all the crumb mixture.

Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.

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Saucy Cream Cheese Appetizer

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons hot or medium salsa
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Whole grain or multi-grain crackers

Directions

Cut the block of cream cheese in half crosswise. Place on two small glass or microwave safe serving plates. Place plates in a microwave oven and cook at high power 15 seconds (or let stand at room temperature until slightly softened).

Spoon chutney over one brick; top with almonds.

Spoon salsa over the other brick; top with cilantro.

Serve as a spread with the crackers on an attractive cheese board.

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Blue Cheese Puffs

2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 1⁄4 cup butter
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine milk, water, butter and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Add flour all at once; reduce heat to medium and stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it pulls away from the sides of the pan. Continue stirring for several minutes over low heat, and then remove the pan from heat.

The dough will be thick, smooth and shiny and should not be brown. Beat in 1 egg at a time, beating very well after each addition. Fold in the blue cheese and black pepper with a spatula.

Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip (or use a heavy plastic bag with a 1/2 –inch cut from one corner.) Pipe dough into 1-1/2-inch mounds, approximately the volume of a heaping tablespoon, onto parchment-lined baking sheets or cookie sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. Rotate the pans on the oven racks; reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature on the same day they are made.

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Turkey Meatballs with Mustard Dip

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 slice bread, torn into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray

Dip

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard

Directions

Place torn bread in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer bread crumbs to a large bowl and add milk; set aside until bread is completely soaked.

Place onion, red bell pepper and garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped; stir into bread mixture.

Add turkey, egg, parsley, 1 tablespoon mustard, salt and pepper to the bread crumb mixture and mix well.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Shape turkey mixture into 1-inch balls; arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Let meatballs stand for 5 minutes.

Mix yogurt, mayonnaise and the 4 teaspoons mustard together in a bowl; serve alongside meatballs.


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Once you determine your holiday main course, the next decision focuses on side dishes to accompany your meal. As we sift through family favorites and long forgotten recipe books, we mentally calculate how long each dish will take to prepare and do we have enough oven, stove and refrigerator space to cook and store everything. Delicious side dishes do not need to be complicated or expensive. In fact, with a little planning, most side dishes can be made with 5 or 6 common ingredients and prepared in a short amount of time.

Choose recipes that call for in season fruits and vegetables. These generally cost less than out of season produce. Winter favorites include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rapini, collard greens, spinach, fennel, cabbage, sweet potato, squash, yams, parsnips, kale, spinach, pomegranates, pears, clementine oranges, cranberries and apples. This way your side dishes will taste fresh.

Don’t select side dish recipes that require an oven, if you are also roasting meat at the same time. If oven space is limited, choose recipes that can be prepared on the stove top.

Create dishes that mix red, green, yellow and orange-colored fruits or vegetables to form a medley of vibrant colors. You don’t need lots of ingredients to create delicious side dishes. You need ingredients that combine well together and offer a variety of flavors such as sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Try adding fruit to bitter greens for an interesting taste sensation, or spicy chilies to sweet squash. Often, one or two different spices or herbs are all you need to bring out the flavors in your dish. If you plan to have several side dishes available, try to select dishes that are different from one another in flavor, texture and overall presentation. Create one sweet, one spicy, one sour. Your guests will love the variety.

All these side dishes will be good accompaniments for the main dishes from Monday’s post.

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Chunky Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Heat a pan with a lid or cover on medium; add diced onion and garlic; simmer until onions have turned slightly transparent (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile chop sweet potatoes into approximately 1 x 1 x 1 inch/cm chunks; add to the pan when the onions are ready, as well as the salt and cover the pan.

Allow potatoes to cook covered, for 20-30 minutes on medium heat until the potatoes are soft. Uncover and mix every 5-10 minutes in between. Add rosemary, cumin and cinnamon to the pan 10 minutes after adding potatoes.

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Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Broccoli Rabe
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, lightly smashed, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh plum (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, seeded & cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or Italian parsley, chopped

Directions

Wash broccoli rabe and dry on paper towels. Remove the large tough leaves, leaving just the tender leaves and flower buds.  Cut off and discard the lower part of the stems, leaving the broccoli about 8-inches long and slice into 3 or 4-inch lengths.

Add olive oil and garlic cloves to a large heavy frying pan. Over low heat, slowly sauté garlic until golden on all sides. This can take about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli rabe to the pan, tossing to coat with garlic and oil. Add tomatoes and toss for a minute or so to remove excess water from the tomatoes. Add chicken stock and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add lemon juice, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, salt & pepper.Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary.

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Italian Rice & Savoy Cabbage

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) Vialone Nano or other short-grained rice, e.g. Arborio
  • 1 pound (450 g) Savoy cabbage
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (40 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • Salt & white pepper to taste
  • 4 cups (1 liter) beef broth, stock, or water, simmering
  • ¾ cup crushed Italian tomatoes

Directions

Strip off and discard any blemished outer leaves the cabbage may have. Separate the rest, rinse them and shred them.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot and sauté the chopped onion and celery. Add the cabbage leaves and continue cooking, stirring them about with a spoon, until they have wilted. Add a cup of hot broth to the pot, cover and simmer over a low flame for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice, add the remaining hot broth and crushed tomatoes, add seasoning and simmer until the rice reaches the al dente stage and the broth is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes.

Stir the cheese into the rice and check the seasoning.

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Leeks & Spinach Saute

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium leeks, white and lightest green parts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a large pinch
  • 4 cups (packed) washed and stemmed fresh spinach leaves, torn into smaller pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

Trim the ends from the leeks. Slice the leeks across into thin rings (about 1/8-inch thick), discarding any woody stem in the center. Put the sliced leeks in a bowl and cover them with tepid water. Swish them around a bit and let them sit. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and transfer to a colander. Drain and rinse the sand from the bowl, return the leeks to the bowl and cover again with tepid water. Lift, drain and repeat one more time, leaving the leeks in the water with the last wash.

Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Lift the leeks out of the water and add them to the pan with whatever water is clinging to them. Season with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are limp and all of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are very lightly golden brown, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt and fold or gently stir them in with the leeks until they are wilted, about 1 minute. Add the fresh thyme and the cream and remove the pan from the heat.

Gently stir until the cream is mostly absorbed into the dish and the thyme is well-distributed. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Taste for salt and serve.

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Creamy Fettuccine With Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini or shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half or light cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat, add salt and the spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Prior to draining the pasta reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter melts add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper to taste; sauté 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid. Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until the liquid evaporates.

Remove the pan the from heat.  Add the hot cooked pasta, half & half and cheese to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until needed for moistness and continue to toss. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

I-wish-you-a-Merry-Christmas-Message


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It’s the holidays and you want to invite friends over but don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen, then pasta is just right for such an occasion. Most people like pasta and it can become an elegant company meal with the right ingredients.

The menu can come together quickly by adding a simple appetizer, such as cheese and crackers or a light soup. Add a salad, some bread and cookies and the meal is done. Don’t forget the wine.

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Sausage Stuffed Shells

This dish can be assembled early in the day and refrigerated. Take the dish out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 24 dried jumbo shell macaroni
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cremini mushrooms
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 ½ cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought tomato pasta sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Minced fennel leaves for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and place the shells on clean kitchen towels.

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

In a large skillet cook mushrooms, chopped fennel and bell pepper in hot oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetables to the ricotta mixture.

Add sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat and add the cooked sausage to the vegetable ricotta mixture. Stir well.

Fill the cooked macaroni shells with the ricotta, vegetable and sausage mixture.

Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish, spreading evenly. Arrange shells on top of the sauce. Drizzle shells with remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake, covered about 30 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with fennel leaves.

pastadinner2

Shrimp and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • One 12 ounce jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb penne or ziti pasta

Directions

Rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and place in a large pasta serving bowl.

In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or just until onion is tender.

Add shrimp and crushed red pepper; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add roasted peppers and wine. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 2 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cream. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Stir in basil. Add shrimp mixture and cheese to hot cooked pasta; toss gently to combine.

pastadinner3

Meat Stuffed Manicotti

6 servings

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (1 large)
  • ½ cup finely chopped carrot (1 medium)
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery (1 stalk)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 26 to 28 oz containers of Italian crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Manicotti

Ingredients

  • 12 dried manicotti shells
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 3 cups Marinara Sauce
  • Fresh basil for garnish

Directions

For the Marinara Sauce:

In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender but not brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, water, wine, parsley, basil, Italian seasoning, sugar, crushed red pepper, bay leaves, salt and black pepper.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes or until sauce thickens stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaves.

For the Manicotti:

Cook manicotti for 2 minutes less than the package directs; drain. Place manicotti in a single layer on a sheet of greased foil.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the onion, bell pepper, egg and pesto. Add ground meat; mix well.

Divide mixture into 12 portions. Shape each portion into a 5-inch log. Push a log into each cooked manicotti shell; arrange the shells in an ungreased 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Pour Marinara Sauce over filled manicotti.

Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until the cheeses are melted. Garnish with fresh basil.

pastadinner4

Artichoke Lasagna

8 servings

Ingredients

  • One 9 oz package of frozen and thawed artichoke hearts or 15 cooked baby artichokes
  • 9 dried lasagna noodles
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 15 ounce carton ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook lasagna noodles al dente; drain and place the noodles on clean kitchen towels.

Place the defrosted artichoke hearts on paper towels and cut each in half.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add artichokes, pine nuts and half of the garlic. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the artichokes are tender, stirring frequently. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Do not clean out the pan.

Stir in ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the basil, the egg and salt into the mixing bowl with the artichokes..

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine broth and flour.

In the large saucepan used to cook the artichokes, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic; cook and stir until garlic is tender but not brown. Stir in flour mixture and half-and-half. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup basil.

In a small bowl, combine mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

To assemble the lasagna:

Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of an ungreased 3-quart shallow baking dish. Layer three of the cooked noodles in the dish. Spread with one-third of the artichoke mixture and one-third of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture. Repeat layering noodles, artichoke mixture, sauce and mozzarella mixture two more times.

Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes until edges are bubbly and top is lightly browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

pastadinner5

Seafood Linguine

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces linguine or spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 28-ounce can diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 18 littleneck or small cherrystone clams, scrubbed
  • 12 ounces sea scallops, muscle removed
  • 12 ounces grouper, tilapia or other flaky white fish, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 6 ounces calamari, cut into thin rings
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, plus more for garnish

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and place in a large pasta serving bowl.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 1 minute.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes, wine,chili flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Add clams, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in scallops, calamari, fish and marjoram. Cover and cook until the scallops and fish are cooked through and the clams have opened, 3 to 5 minutes more. (Discard any clams that don’t open.)

Spoon the sauce and clams over the pasta and sprinkle with additional marjoram.


The Piazza Barberini menorah designed by Galia Raccah and engineer Daniel Raccah is an architectural marvel weighing 6,878 pounds and standing at 22.5 feet. (Photos: Francesca Di Majo, public relations office of Rome)

The Piazza Barberini menorah designed by Galia Raccah and engineer Daniel Raccah is an architectural marvel weighing 6,878 pounds and standing at 22.5 feet. (Photos: Francesca Di Majo, public relations office of Rome)

Hanukkah (also Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights. The word Hanukkah means rededication (hanu kan). Today, the celebration honors the hard-fought victory for freedom. It is an eight-day holiday. The first night usually includes a big family dinner and after dinner the family gathers to light the menorah candles. Blessings and songs are part of the ceremony.

Given its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah has taken on holiday importance in the United States and in many other countries where Christmas has been commercialized. It is traditional to exchange gifts with friends and relatives on each night of Hanukkah. With over thirty-thousand Jews calling Italy home, it isn’t surprising that Hanukkah is celebrated just as passionately as Christmas.

No festivities are complete without delicious treats and the Jewish communities celebrate with a fried feast. Fried Chicken, fried eggplant, latkes (potato pancakes) and sweet fried dough fritters are all part of an Italian Hanukkah meal.

Italian Hanukkah Specialties

hanukkaheggplant

Melanzane alla Giudia (Jewish-Style Eggplant)

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Cut the eggplant into quarters lengthwise. Cut out the seeds and much of the flesh, leaving about ½-inch along the skin. Cut the eggplant into bite sized pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Add the eggplant and stir to coat in oil. Cook, partially covered and stirring often, until tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

hanukkahcheese

Fried Cheese with Tomato Sauce

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and saute over high heat until transparent, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, add sugar and saute until tomatoes are very soft, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cool. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Cheese

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, finely diced
  • 6 eggs, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 sprigs parsley, stems removed
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup flour
  • Oil for frying

Directions

Melt mozzarella in a double boiler set over, but not touching, simmering water. Pour the cheese into the large mixing bowl of an electric mixer and beat in 2 eggs.

Add 1/4 cup bread crumbs, oregano, one clove of the garlic and salt. Mix well.

Press cheese mixture into 8-inch square glass dish. Cover and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Lightly beat remaining 4 eggs in bowl. Blend in vermouth. Set aside.

In a processor or blender, process remaining bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and remaining garlic. Set aside.

Cut cheese mixture into 1 1/2-inch squares (about 15 pieces). Dip each into flour, then egg mixture and finally into bread crumb mixture to coat evenly.

Place on paper towels and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees F in heavy skillet or deep fryer. Fry cheese pieces, a few at a time, until evenly golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute.

Drain on paper towels. Serve at once with the tomato sauce.

hanukkahchicken

Fried Chicken Cutlets, Italian-Jewish Style

This is an adaptation of “Pollo Fritto per Chanuka”, a recipe from Edda Servi Machlin’s, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, (Dodd, Mead & Co.)  This is a traditional Hanukkah dish in Italy.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges or tomato sauce for serving

Directions

Combine the salt, nutmeg, garlic salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chicken cutlets evenly on both sides with the mixture.

Place the cutlets in a shallow bowl or container. Mix the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small measuring cup and pour over the cutlets, lifting them to make sure that the liquid reaches all surfaces.

Cover and let the chicken marinate for an hour or place in the refrigerator for up to several hours. Move the cutlets around once in a while to insure evenness of seasoning.

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pan. Place the flour and beaten eggs in separate pie plates or shallow bowls.

Coat the cutlets in flour and then in the beaten egg.  Fry in the hot oil over moderately high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Serve immediately or place in a preheated 400-degree F oven with the door slightly open (broiler-style) for up to 10 minutes, in order to keep warm and crisp. Serve with lemon wedges or tomato sauce.

hanukkahpolenta

Polenta Squares

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Marinated grape tomatoes, optional

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Add polenta slowly, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until polenta comes away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While still hot, spread polenta about 1-inch thick onto an oiled baking pan. Cool, cover and refrigerate until cold and firm, several hours or overnight.

Cut polenta into 2 inch squares and transfer to a large platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet and brown polenta, turning occasionally, until crispy on both sides, about 8 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining polenta, adding additional oil as needed. Serve immediately or reheat just before serving. Garnish with marinated grape tomatoes, if desired.

hanukkahricefritters

Sweet Rice Frittelle

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup medium-grain rice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Oil for frying
  • Granulated sugar for garnish

Directions

Mix rice and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the pan. As rice begins to cook, add 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and zest.

Cover the pan and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid and is reduced to a soft pudding, 20 minutes. Stir in butter and set aside to cool.

When the rice mixture cools, add egg yolks one at a time, then the vanilla and then the flour, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Heat oil in large saucepan to 360 to 375 degrees F.

Beat egg whites with dash of salt until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over them and continue beating until stiff.

Gently fold beaten egg whites into the rice mixture. (May be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to fry.)

Working in batches, drop batter by tablespoons into the hot oil and fry, turning once, until frittelle are crisp and brown, about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and roll in sugar while hot.


lunchcover
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.

lunch1

Mediterranean Pita

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

lunch2

Minestrone

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

lunch3

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

lunch4

Salmon Open-Faced Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

lunch5

Clementine Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

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

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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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