Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: apples

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That mound of apples and that mound of pears looked so beautiful at the market, so who could resist bringing them home. Now what to do with all this delicious fruit before it goes bad?

Here are a few ideas.

Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Makes 12 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups Self-Rising Flour (flour that contains baking powder and salt)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 2 apples, peeled, in 1/2″ pieces
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • Topping: milk and cinnamon sugar

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and apple pie spice.

Work in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender just until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and applesauce.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all the mixture holds together.

Line two  baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle flour on the work surface.

Scrape the dough onto the floured surface and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

Stir together the coarse sugar and cinnamon. Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with the topping.

Using a bench knife, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

Carefully place each wedge on the parchment lined pans, at least a 1 inch  apart.

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Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Rotate the pans after 10 minutes.

Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days.

Apple Crunch Bagels

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Ingredients

Bagels

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cups bread flour  
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar  
  • 1 teaspoon salt  
  • 1 tablespoon apple pie spice  
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 medium apples

Topping

  • 1 egg 
  • 1/4 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

In a medium saucepan, warm cider and butter just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine two cups of bread flour, the brown sugar, the cooled cider mixture, salt, apple pie spice, apples and yeast with the paddle attachment on medium speed.

Keeping the mixer on medium, add the remaining bread flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough comes together and is just barely sticky.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and “knead” the dough for about 6 minutes or until the dough is elastic.

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Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Cover 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Punch the dough down and separate into 12 equal sized balls. on a well floured surface.

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Roll and stretch one ball into an 8 inch-long rope and don’t taper ends.

Wrap the rope around your fingers, overlapping the ends by 2 inches, to create a ring. Pinch the ends together.

Once the bagels are shaped, place them on a kitchen towel to rise for another 10 minutes.

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil and heat the oven to 425 degrees F

To prepare the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, spice mix, salt and butter in a small bowl and mix until it is crumbly. Beat the egg with one teaspoon of water.

When the water comes to a boil, drop 4 bagels in at a time and boil for about 30 seconds per side. Remove with a slotted spoon to a kitchen towel.

After boiling, place the bagels on the parchment covered pans and brush with the egg mixture. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the bagels.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the bagels are golden brown, rotating the pans after 12 minutes.

Pear & Celery Salad

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe pears, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 large leaves romaine lettuce, shredded

Directions

Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper.

Divide the lettuce leaves among 4 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Pork Chops with Pear & Ginger Sauce

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2 servings

Ingredients

  • Two 4-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/2 inch thick, trimmed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium ripe pear, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 shallot, trimmed and sliced

Directions

Season the pork with salt and pepper and coat in the cornstarch. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the pork and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Add the sliced shallots and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and honey; stir to dissolve. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring.

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Add the pears and ginger. Cook, uncovered, stirring the pears occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pan; turn to coat with the sauce and heat through. Serve with a side of roasted acorn squash.

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img_0008No Yeast Required Cinnamon Rolls

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Ingredients

Makes 16 small or 8 large rolls

Cinnamon Filling:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft

Dough:

  • 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour (all-purpose flour mixed with baking powder and salt)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided

Frosting

  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl, then mix with a fork until well blended.

In a another, larger bowl, combine the self-rising flour, sugar and baking soda.

Whisk together the buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter in a separate bowl, then pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Stir together until the dough just comes together (do not overmix.)

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Knead slightly with your hands until the dough forms into a ball, then slice it in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 12×8 inch rectangle.

Spread half the filling mixture into the center, leaving 1/4″ of the dough clear on all 4 sides, then roll up jelly roll style.. Pinch together the seam and roll into an 8 inch log.

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Cut into 8 one inch slices. Repeat with the other dough half and place the rolls in a greased 13×9 inch pan.

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Note: If you like larger rolls cut each roll in 4 (about 2 inches each) and place in a smaller baking dish and cook for 10 minutes longer.

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Brush the cinnamon rolls with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until creamy. Drizzle onto hot cinnamon rolls and spread evenly.

Quick Pumpkin Bread

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Grease and flour a 9×5 inch baking pan.

Whisk the flours, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice mix in a large bowl. Mix the pumpkin, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil in another bowl until well blended.

Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Add the pecans and mix.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for ten minutes.

Turn the bread over onto another rack to cool completely.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream (or yogurt)

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Garnish with candied lemon peel, if desired

Directions

Coat a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick vegetable spray

Preheat the oven to 350°F).

In a large bowl of an electric mixer or a food processor, beat together the sugar, butter, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice, mixing well. Add the buttermilk, mix.

Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl; add to the sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream, mixing just until incorporated. Do not overmix.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out dry. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the cake to a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and spread over the cooled loaf. When the frosting is set, garnish with candied lemon peel.

Morning Apple Cake

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8 servings

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Beat the eggs and the 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract.

Combine flour and cornstarch and fold into the cake batter. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Layer the apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the cake. Combine the cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar in a cup and sprinkle over the apples.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a knife or metal skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Cool on a wire rack.

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september

Apples

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Apple Pecan Pancakes

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Makes about 10 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Vegetable oil

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, butter or oil and buttermilk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and then add in the cider. Stir until just incorporated and a few lumps remain.

Jovina Cooks Italian

Stir in the apples and pecans. Let the mixture rest while the griddle heats.Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and brush with vegetable oil.

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Pour the batter onto the griddle by 1/4 cupfuls. Cook pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes, then turn carefully and cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer.

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Brush the pan with oil as needed.

Note: If you want to keep the first batches of pancakes warm while you cook the others, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and place cooked pancakes on an ovenproof platter while working with subsequent batches.

Cauliflower

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Pasta with Oven Roasted Cauliflower Sauce

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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • One head of cauliflower, cored and cut into tiny florets
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz thin slices prosciutto di parma (about 8-9 slices) chopped
  • 1 lb dried cavatappi pasta
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

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Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

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Pour the  olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet and add the garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and mix well.Add the cauliflower florets, grape tomato halves and the chopped prosciutto.

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Mix well with a large spatula and spread out in a single layer. Roast, stirring once, for 20 minutes. Add the chopped sage and continue to roast for 10 minutes more.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Boil the pasta until al dente, 9 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the roasted cauliflower mixture and enough pasta water to moisten. Heat the mixture and then add the cheese.

Pour onto a pasta serving platter and garnish with additional sage leaves for serving.

Cabbage

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Apple and Horseradish-Glazed Salmon with Braised Cabbage

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Add some baked sweet potatoes to the complete this dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick), skinned
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine apple jelly, chives, horseradish, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk.

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Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add salmon skin side up, and cook 3 minutes.

Turn salmon over; brush with half of the apple mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Brush with remaining apple mixture and serve.

Braised Cabbage

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ head green cabbage, cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 2 leeks
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish with grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a skillet, over medium, heat the butter and when melted, add the leeks and cabbage.

Stir and let the leeks and cabbage wilt and soften. Add the salt and lemon juice; then stir in the cream. Reduce heat to low and let the cabbage braise for about five minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a serving dish. Grate some cheese over the cabbage before serving.

Tomatoes

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Homemade Pizza with Tomatoes and Ricotta Cheese

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 8 large vine ripe tomato slices, 1/4-inch thick, each cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil

Directions

Place the tomato slices on paper towels for about 30 minutes to reduce their moisture.

Adjust the oven rack to the bottom position; preheat to 450°F.

Coat a pizza pan with olive oil and press the dough with your fingers to the edges of the pan

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Brush the dough with olive oil and spread the ricotta over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place the tomato slices evenly on top of the ricotta and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper.

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Bake the pizza on the lower shelf of the oven until the tomatoes have softened and the cheese begins to brown around the edges, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle with basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with oil and return the pizza to the oven for 5 minutes more. Let set 5 minutes before slicing.

French Beans

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Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

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French beans are smaller and younger than common green beans and have a softer pod.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2/3 cup blanched almond slivers, toasted
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add shallots to the green beans in the serving bowl, along with the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the toasted almonds and toss gently.

Garnish with lemon quarters and serve.


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Beef brisket is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat that requires a long cooking time at a low temperature, but the wait is worth it. Beef brisket is a cut from the breast section and sold boneless. Because brisket is a tough cut of meat, it’s best when braised (that is, simmered in a small amount of liquid), either in the oven, in a slow cooker or on the stove top.

Two different cuts of brisket are available. Unless the recipe specifies one or the other, either may be used in recipes calling for boneless beef brisket:

  • Beef Brisket Flat Half (also called thin cut, flat cut, first cut, or center cut). With its minimal fat, this cut is generally the more expensive of the two.
  • Beef Brisket Point Half (also called front cut, point cut, thick cut, or nose cut). This cut is the less expensive and has more fat and flavor than the flat cut.

There are so many ways to prepare this cut of beef, but the recipe below is one of our favorites. I like to serve it with homemade baked beans and coleslaw. The brisket tastes even better if made the day before. Slice the cooled, cooked beef and place it in a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the sliced beef and cover the dish with foil. Refrigerate the dish overnight and reheat the next day in a 350 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. Leftover brisket also makes a great sandwich.

BBQ Brisket

This recipe requires advance preparation.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb beef brisket
  • 3 tablespoons brisket rub, recipe below
  • Barbecue Sauce, recipe below
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Cooking spray

Brisket Rub

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

For the rub:

Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar. You will need 3 tablespoons for this recipe and the rest can be saved for other uses.

To make the BBQ sauce:

Whisk all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl with a cover and refrigerate until ready to cook the brisket

Place the brisket in a dish and coat all sides with 3 tablespoons of the rub. Cover the dish and refrigerate the brisket overnight.

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The next day, bring the brisket and BBQ sauce to room temperature. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Spray a roasting pan with cooking spray. Place the brisket in the pan. Pour the BBQ sauce over the brisket. Pour the beef broth around the bottom of the pan. Cover the dish tightly with foil.

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Bake for two hours and remove the baking dish from the oven and turn the brisket over. Cover with the foil and bake for 2 more hours.

Uncover the baking dish and continue to bake the brisket for one hour or until very tender.

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Let the brisket rest for 15 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain and serve with the sauce.

Homemade Baked Beans

Baked Beans

For this recipe, the beans do not have to be soaked overnight. Check the sell by date to be sure the beans are not old. Old beans do not cook evenly and tend to be tough, so the cooking time is much longer.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried navy beans, washed and drained
  • 3 slices thick bacon
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Directions

Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Cook the bacon until crisp in a Dutch Oven. Remove the bacon to a paper towel and when cool, break into small pieces. Set aside

Cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat until tender. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add mustard and garlic powders, honey, molasses and ketchup. Stir well.

Add the beans and cooked bacon and stir until coated in the sauce. Add the water, return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil.

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Cover the pan and place in the oven. Cook for about six hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water, if necessary, to keep the beans barely covered.

After five hours remove the cover and add the salt and vinegar. Stir until blended.

Cook the beans for an additional hour or until the sauce is thick and the beans are tender.

Apple Fennel Coleslaw

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12 servings

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Gala or Fuji apple, peeled and grated

Salad

  • 3 cups very thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 3 cups very thinly sliced savoy cabbage
  • 3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and shredded
  • 2  green onions, thinly sliced

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, honey or agave, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the grated apple and mix well.

To the same bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, fennel and green onions, tossing until well combined. Chill until serving time.

Later in the week you can use some of the leftover brisket to make sandwiches. Here is an easy recipe to make homemade rolls to make those sandwiches extra special.

sourdough rolls

Easy Homemade Sourdough Sandwich Buns

8 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 ¼ cups bread flour
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • Cooking Spray

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and pliable. This dough does not come together in a ball.

Push the dough to one side of the bowl and coat the bowl with cooking spray. Push the dough to the other side of the bowl and coat that side of the bowl.

Push the dough back and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the dough evenly in a greased hamburger pan – use about ¼ cup of the dough in each of 8 bun cups.

Let rise covered for one hour. Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes until golden. Switch the pans halfway through the baking time. Cool on a wire rack.


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Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert. You just have to choose carefully. High fat ingredients contain saturated fat and they can cause higher cholesterol levels in the body. Desserts and sweets don’t have the nutritional value that other foods do, but if you stick with healthier recipes and less-frequent, reasonable portions, desserts can fit into your healthy eating plan. Make fruit a part of your dessert menu as much as possible, whether it is the dessert itself or is part of a recipe. Although fruit is high in carbohydrates, it’s also filled with vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you crave something more, try adding fruit to sugar-free gelatin or mixing up a quick fruit salad. You will be amazed at how delicious these healthy dessert recipes taste.

dessert1

Almond Brown Rice Pudding

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped slivered almonds

Directions

Place dates in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them. Let soak 15 minutes, then transfer dates and water to a blender and puree until smooth to make a date syrup.

Bring rice and almond milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the almond milk, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Stir date syrup, raisins, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon and almonds into the cooked rice and serve warm or cold.

dessert2

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates (6 ounces whole dates)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine peanuts and oats in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 25 times to create a coarse meal. Add cocoa and salt and pulse a few more times to combine.

Put pumpkin purée and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the peanut butter and pumpkin are incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes.

Add vanilla and dates and mix until combined, about 1 minute. On low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until completely combined, forming a dense dough.

Scoop up tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press down on the balls with the back of a fork first in one direction and then in the other to form a checkerboard design on each cookie.

Bake until the cookies are firm and dried, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place cooled cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 1 week.

dessert3

Carrot-Almond Cake

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided, plus more for the pan
  • 3 cups grated carrots, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, make the crumb topping by combining 1 cup carrots, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1 1/2 cups almond flour and the 1 cup all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a second large bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla, eggs, remaining 3/4 cup sugar and remaining oil. Add flour mixture to the large bowl and whisk again until incorporated; fold in the remaining 2 cups carrots.

Transfer to the prepared pan and scatter crumb topping over the top. Bake until the cake springs back in the middle when pressed, and is deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes.

Set aside to let cool until warm, then remove from the pan and transfer to a plate, discarding the parchment paper. Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

dessert4

Sweet Potato Apple Pie

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 (9 to 9 1/2-inch) unbaked pie shell
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake about 1 hour or until very tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Line pastry shell with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the lower rack of the oven about 15 minutes or until just starting to set. Remove the weights and continue to bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Meanwhile, peel sweet potatoes and transfer flesh to the bowl of a food processor. Discard skins. Process until potatoes are puréed. Transfer 1 1/4 cups purée to a large bowl. Add milk, sugar, flour, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and whisk until combined and smooth.

Layer apple slices in concentric circles in the bottom of the cooled crust. Pour sweet potato filling into the crust over the apples. Bake about 50 minutes or until just set in the center of the pie.

Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Serve or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

dessert5

Pear Crumble

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 medium pears, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Frozen vanilla yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine oats, flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix with a fork until combined. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture begins to form clumps.

In a large bowl toss the pears with the water, lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Transfer pear mixture to a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly over the pears.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the pears are tender. If desired, serve warm with frozen yogurt.

Tip
To make individual servings, prepare as above, except divide the pear mixture among six 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins. Sprinkle with oat mixture and bake about 35 minutes or until the pears are tender. Serve as above.


12996122

Lean meats are packed with nutrients like B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and B6), which help the body’s metabolism, aid in red blood cell formation and play a vital role in our nervous system; iron, found particularly in red meat, helps maintain energy and carry oxygen through the bloodstream (and is especially important for teenage girls and women in their child-bearing years); magnesium, which is vital for building bones; and zinc, which is essential for our immune system.

Eating lean beef, lamb, pork, and poultry can be part of a reasonable weight management program that also includes generous amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

While skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets may qualify as your best bets,  red meat can be healthy if kept lean, eaten in small portions and in moderation. For the leanest ground beef, look for ground round, followed by ground sirloin, ground chuck and then regular ground beef (but aim for at least 90 to 95 percent lean, which contains about 5 grams of total fat per serving). Other lean options include:

  • Beef cuts with “loin” or “round” in the name (top round, round tip, top sirloin, bottom round, top loin and tenderloin)
  • Pork products with “loin” or “leg” in the name (tenderloin, top loin roast, top loin chop, center loin chop, sirloin roast and loin rib chop)
  • Lamb cuts with loin chop, arm chop and fore shanks in the name.

meat1

Parmesan Chicken

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 4 (1/4 lb) boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Olive oil for brushing chicken

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pound chicken lightly between sheets of plastic wrap to an even thickness.

With a pastry brush, lightly brush chicken with olive oil.

In resealable plastic bag, combine cheese, crumbs and all seasonings; shake well.

Transfer mixture to plate; dip each chicken breast in cheese mixture, turning to coat all sides.

Arrange on a nonstick baking sheet coated with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes.

meat2

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

4 servings

MARINADE

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

PORK

  • 1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Place the pork in a large zip-top plastic bag, add 1/3 cup of the marinade and seal. Refrigerate remaining marinade for later use. Toss bag gently to coat. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

Remove pork from marinade; discard the marinade in the bag. Tie kitchen string around the pork tenderloin in 3 places. Put the pork in a small roasting pan coated with cooking spray.

Roast the pork for 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat reaches 145 degrees. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Sprinkle pork with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cut into slices and serve.

meat3

Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Butter

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon olive Oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • Cooking Spray

Gorgonzola butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Directions

Make the Gorgonzola butter by mixing together the butter and cheese. Set aside in a serving ramekin.

Rub the olive oil and crushed garlic over the meat, season with salt and pepper and set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat an indoor grill pan on high heat and spray with cooking Spray. Or heat the broiler and spray the broiler pan with cooking spray

Cook the steak 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until cooked to the desired degree. Let the meat stand five minutes before slicing.

Cut beef into thin slices across the grain and serve with Gorgonzola butter.

meat4

Lamb Chops with Parsley Garlic Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 thick lamb loin chops or 12 thin lamb loin chops
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned Japanese Panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Season lamb chops all over with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

Make the sauce by combining the Panko breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, remaining salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Spread the surface of each lamb chop with about 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard.

Press the breadcrumb mixture lightly onto the lamb chops on top of the mustard. Bake lamb chops until cooked to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium rare. Thick chops will take longer than thinner ones so adjust timing accordingly.

Remove chops from the oven and let rest on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before serving.

meat5

Apple, Sage and Turkey Meatloaf

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 apples, cored, peeled and grated
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2/3 cup Italian-style (seasoned) bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup no-sugar-added barbecue sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine apples, onion, bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes to soften bread crumbs. Add turkey, sage, egg, salt and pepper and mix until combined.

Turn the mixture onto the baking sheet. With water-moistened hands, shape the mixture into a loaf about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide.

Spread the top of the loaf with the barbecue sauce and bake until the meatloaf is lightly browned and cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should register 165°F), 50 to 60 minutes.

Let meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


IMG_0106

Need  some new ideas for using your Thanksgiving leftovers? Think breakfast.

I had apple cider leftover from basting the turkey on Thanksgiving, so one way to use up some leftover cider, is to make pancakes or muffins. I also had plenty of sweet potatoes, vegetables, Italian sausage stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce leftover, despite giving my guests take home containers. I don’t mind repeating Thanksgiving dinner one night, but not two. So the remaining leftovers need to become something else. Here are a few suggestions.

IMG_0104

Apple Cider Pancakes

Yield: 6 to 8 pancakes. This recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Self-Rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or peeled and chopped apple

Directions

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and pecans.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, cider and oil until foamy. Add to the flour mixture and mix until blended

Let the batter rest while the griddle or frying pan heats up. Brush the griddle lightly with vegetable oil.

Drop 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto the hot surface. Turn the pancakes over once bubbles have risen to the surface and cook the second side until golden brown.

IMG_0121

Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Muffins

Cooked butternut squash would also work well in this recipe.

Makes 12-15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin cups.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with 12-15 baking cups or spray the muffin pan well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the chopped hazelnuts with the granulated sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well incorporated, then fold in apple. Spoon batter into baking cups and sprinkle with hazelnuts and granulated sugar.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

IMG_0118

Cranberry Sauce Scones

I use orange zest in my cranberry sauce. If your recipe does not, then add a teaspoon of grated orange zest with the cranberry sauce.

12 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on the scones
  • ½ cup unsalted, cold butter, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, plus more for glazing
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup leftover homemade cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup half-and-half and the eggs, beating well. Add the cranberry sauce and almond extract. Stir well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently just to combine. Use your hands to press the dough into a rough ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter top. Press and knead the dough just until it comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the scones won’t be tender.

Divide the dough in half. Round each half into a 6″ circle. The circles should be about 3/4″ thick. Cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Transfer the scones with a metal spatula to the baking pans.

Pour a small amount of  half-and-half into a dish or measuring cup. Use a pastry brush to gently brush some half-and-half on the top of each scone and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.

Bake for 12 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

IMG_0115

Thanksgiving Stuffing Hash and Eggs

2 servings

Ingredients

Directions

In a medium skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the butter. Add the stuffing, flatten with a spatula and cook until light golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Gently turn the stuffing over and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

With a large spoon make four round holes in the stuffing mixture. Crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl and gently pour into each hole in the stuffing.

Cover the pan and cook the eggs to your likeness or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Serve immediately.

IMG_0119

Turkey Breakfast Sandwich

1 sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 bagel thin, lightly toasted
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 thin slices leftover turkey
  • 1 slice white American Cheese or your favorite cheese

Directions

Beat eggs with a dash of water, add chives, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Heat oil in a small skillet and pour in egg mixture. Cook until set and turn the egg over with a wide spatula to finish cooking.

Fold the egg in half and in half again. Place the turkey slices on top to heat for a minute or two. Place the cheese slice on top and let it warm.

Transfer to the toasted bagel.

'Oh, she's not a witch or anything -- she just served leftover turkey five days in a row.'

‘Oh, she’s not a witch or anything — she just served leftover turkey five days in a row.’

Helen was determined to get rid of her leftovers.

Helen was determined to get rid of her leftovers.

breakfastcartoon3



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