Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Desserts

Ricotta Cheesecake

Makes one 8-inch square cheesecake, to serve 12

Cheesecake Ingredients

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

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

Banana Bread

Ingredients

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

.Directions

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

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


Cinnamon Cake

This cake can be made with gluten-free and low carb flours.

Makes 12 servings.

Ingredients

Cake Batter
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup room temperature unsalted butter, divided
1 cup granulated sugar or granulated sugar substitute

Topping
1/2 cup regular oats
1 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

For the cake batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large liquid measuring cup whisk eggs, vanilla, and sour cream until well combined.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar or sugar substitute until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and egg mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

 

For the topping:
In a processor, pulse oats, brown sugar or brown sugar substitute, pecans, remaining ½ cup butter and cinnamon until small clumps form.

To assemble the cake:
Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle one-third of the topping evenly over the batter.


Spoon the remaining batter over the topping spread it with a spatula to cover the topping.


Sprinkle evenly with the remaining topping. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool cake in the pan set over a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


 

Rainbow/Venetians/Neapolitan/Tri-Color Cookies

Ingredient

1- 8 ounce can almond paste
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
12-ounce jar apricot preserves
8 ounces semisweet chocolate

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dishes; line with waxed paper; spray the paper with cooking spray.
Break up the almond paste in an electric mixer bowl with a fork. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks and extract and beat with the mixer until fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in the flour and salt.
Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir into the almond mixture with a wooden spoon, using turning motion similar to folding.
Remove 1-1/2 cups batter; spread evenly into one of the prepared pans. Remove another 1-1/2 cups batter to small bowl; tint green with coloring. Spread into the second pan. Tint remaining 1-1/2 cups batter red. Spread in the remaining pan.
Bake 15 minutes or until edges are lightly golden; cake layers will each be 1/4 inch thick. Immediately remove cakes from the pans onto large wire racks. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Cool.


Place red layer on upturned jelly roll pan or large platter lined with foil. Heat preserves; strain. Spread half of the strained preserves over the red layer. Top with a white layer. Spread with remaining preserves. Cover with a green layer, top side up.
Cover with plastic wrap. Weigh down with a large wooden cutting board, heavy flat tray or large book. Refrigerate overnight.
Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler over hot water.

Trim off the uneven cake edges with a sharp knife. Frost the top layer with half of the melted chocolate. Let chocolate dry. Turn the rectangle over and frost with the remaining chocolate. Let the chocolate dry. Cut the cake crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. Makes about 6 dozen. Store in a container in the refrigerator. Cookies freeze well.

 


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Pignolo is a macaroon typical of Sicily, Italy. It is a very popular cookie in all of southern Italy, and in Sicilian communities in the United States. The cookie is a light golden color and studded with golden pine nuts (also called pignoli). Made with almond paste, the cookie is moist, soft and chewy beneath the pine nuts. This cookie is a popular Italian holiday treat, especially at Christmas.

Pine-nut (Pignoli) Macaroons

Use only almond paste, not marzipan or canned almond filling.

Makes 2 dozen. I usually double the recipe.

Ingredients

8-ounces almond paste, cut in small pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites, from 2 large eggs (Save the yolks for another recipe)
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pine nuts (pignoli)

Directions

Heat the oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer bowl beat almond paste, sugar, egg whites, and almond extract until smooth.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls of dough 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. One sheet should hold 12 cookies.

Place pignoli (pine nuts) evenly over the top to cover and then press them gently to adhere.

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Bake 20 minutes or until the tops feel firm and dry when lightly pressed. Rotate the pans in the oven after 10 minutes.

Gently pull the parchment paper with the cookies to the kitchen counter. Cool completely on the parchment paper.

Gently remove them to a cookie tin with a tight lid.

Store airtight at room temperature. Cookies are best eaten within 2 weeks. They can be frozen and defrost quickly.

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Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients

8 cups Italian bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced
2 large ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped sage
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth

Directions

Place the bread cubes into a very large bowl and set aside. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and the sausage.

Cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula, cook until light brown, about 5 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl of cubed bread.

In the fat left in the pan, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic until the onions are soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the thyme, sage, salt, and peppers, cook 1 minute and, then, add the mixture to the cubed bread.

Add the broth to the bread mixture; stir until well combined.

Place the stuffing in a large baking dish and bake in the oven for the last hour that the turkey cooks.

Pumpkin Pie

Pat-in-the-Pan Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a 9-inch pie plate. Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients.

Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides.

A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the top.

Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Filling Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add all the pie filling ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake for about 60 minutes.

The crust should be light golden brown and the filling should be set.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely before loosely covering and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set overnight.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Directions for preparing the squash:

Cut a thin slice off from the top & bottom of one acorn squash (just enough to leave a flat edge, so the squash can stand up on both ends).

Cut the squash in half, horizontally, so you have two bowl shapes. Scoop out the membranes and seeds and discard them.

Place the squash in a greased baking dish cut-side up. Brush the inside with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the squash halves for 30 minutes.

Squash Filling

Combine the following:

2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons diced celery
1/4 cup diced, peeled pear
1/4 cup diced, peeled apple
2 tablespoons fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup cooked brown rice

Place the filling mixture in the partially cooked squash halves. Place the filled squash in the oven and bake 30 minutes.

Cipollini Onions

Cipollini means little onion in Italian.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cipollini onions, trimmed and peeled
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onions, stem side down, and cook until lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue browning on the opposite side, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Add vinegar and honey; cook, until slightly syrupy, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme, and garlic; bring to a boil. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until onions are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

1 large head of broccoli
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash the broccoli and cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalk, leaving some of the stalk attached. Pull the florets apart. You don’t want the pieces too small.

Place the broccoli florets in a single layer in an oiled baking pan. Toss the garlic and broccoli together and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Toss and serve.


Roasted Cauliflower With Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

1 large head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Pull all the leaves off of the cauliflower and use a paring knife to remove enough of the core to let the cauliflower sit flat. Don’t take out too much though. You don’t want the head to break into florets but you want it to stay in one piece.

Put 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a deep baking dish and rub it around. Add the head of cauliflower, cut side down. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub it in a bit. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until a skewer pokes into it very very easily.

Make cheese sauce according to directions below. Pour cheese sauce over the cauliflower and serve.

Cheese Sauce For Vegetables

ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Stir over medium-low heat until all the cheese is melted. Remove pan from the heat immediately.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Pinch of cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Wash and dry the potatoes. Poke about 3-4 holes on each side with a fork. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake 50 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Allow potatoes to rest for 5 minutes before cutting open.

Combine the melted butter, maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon. Drizzle over the cut portions of the sweet potatoes and serve.

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash
32 oz container vegetable broth
4 oz container unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Herbs for garnish, such as sage

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven except the cream. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with fresh herbs.

Apple Rosemary Tart

Ingredients

One 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (do not substitute dried instead use 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar; reserve.

Peel and core the apples. Slice them into ¼ inch-thick slices. (You should have about 3 cups.)

Place the apples in a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the rosemary or cinnamon.

Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the reserved flour/sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border uncovered.

Arrange the apples evenly over the flour mixture. Fold the edges of the dough over the apples. Moisten your fingers lightly with water and gently press the creases so that they hold together.

Dot the apples with the butter.

Bake the tart for about 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, the apples are tender and the juices syrupy.

Cover the tart with foil halfway through the cooking time, if the crust is browning too rapidly.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then slide the tart onto a serving platter. Just before serving, sift the confectioners’ sugar evenly over the crust.


Jumbo Blueberry Muffins

Makes 6 muffins

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

Bake at 425 F degrees for 5 minutes.

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

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

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

Easy Pecan Sticky Buns

Ingredients

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

Dough
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup heavy cream

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

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

To make the syrup:

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

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

To make the dough:

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

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

To make the cinnamon filling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scrape any leftover syrup from the pan onto the buns.

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

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

Adapted from a King Arthur recipe.


Apple Flavored Baked Doughnuts With Maple Glaze

Makes 10

Doughnuts

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

Glaze

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

Directions

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

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

Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

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

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

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

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

Allow the doughnuts to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze:

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

Place waxed paper under the racks holding the donuts.

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



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