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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: strawberries

 

I make freezer jams because they are easy to make, don’t need packaged pectin and last a long time in the freezer. The secret ingredient is lemon. Lemon has natural pectin in it, but it needs sugar to gel. I also use a natural sugar substitute because we try not to eat sugary foods and it works just fine in the jam.

Freezer Blueberry Jam

Ingredients

4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Mix blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a large saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and reduced by about half, about 30 minutes. Using a potato masher crush the berries several times during the cooking process. Pour the jam into clean freezer jars. Cool to room temperature. Store the jam in the freezer. When ready to use a jar, place in the refrigerator overnight.

Strawberry Preserves

Preserves are cooked the same way jam is, however, the only difference is that the fruit in preserves is cut into chunks, whereas with jam, the fruit is crushed. The texture of preserves is not as stiff as jelly or jam. It is easy to spread and makes a great topping for ice cream or pancakes.

Ingredients

1 quart of strawberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 long strip of lemon zest

Directions

Fill 4-pint jars with boiling water and place the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you make the preserves.

Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves. Cut them in half and place the berries in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil and stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes or a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the heat. Empty pint jars and remove the lids from the water.

Fill the jars with the preserves and place the lids on the jars. Cool for a few hours at room temperature. Store the jars in the refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze them for future use.

Fig Jam

Makes about 2 ½ cups

Ingredients

1 lemon
1 orange
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 whole thyme sprigs
2 pounds ripe fresh figs, stemmed and quartered

Directions

Remove the strips of rind from the lemon and the orange using a vegetable peeler, avoiding the white pith. Combine the rind strips and the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan or large Dutch oven.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to medium; and cook 50 minutes or until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. (If testing with a candy thermometer, it should read 220°F.) Discard the thyme and citrus strips.

Pour into refrigerator or freezer storage jars. Store in the refrigerator for several months or the freezer for up to six months.

Blackberry Jam

For 2 1/2 pints

Ingredients

3 pounds ripe blackberries
2 cups sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot. The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove seeds before proceeding with the recipe. For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.
Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled
When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Easy Homemade Peach Jam

4 cups

Ingredients

4 cups (1 kg) fresh peaches, pureed
2 cups (400 grams) white sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Using a sharp knife, peel the peaches and remove the pits. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. You can do this in batches.
Pour the peach puree in a large and deep pot and add the sugar and one tablespoon of the lemon juice. Bring to a light boil and cook for about 20-25 minutes stirring very frequently. The jam will be ready when it reaches 221 °F/105 °C or when it’s thick enough when dropped onto a cold plate. Add the rest of the lemon juice, stir, and remove the pot from the heat.

Transfer the hot jam into pasteurized jars, making sure not to fill them all the way to the rim. Using thick gloves or a towel, secure the lids, invert the jars upside-down, and let them cool. Refrigerate or freeze.

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Fresh Fruit Ice Cream

The vodka helps to keep the ice cream from getting icy.

I used strawberries for these recipes.

Ingredients

2 pounds fresh in-season fruit (strawberries, peaches, etc), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can (13.5 ounces) full fat coconut cream
½ cup powdered sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons vodka
1 teaspoon orange extract

Directions

Pour the heavy cream, coconut cream, sugar, vodka, and orange extract into a deep mixing bowl.
Process the mixture with an immersion blender until thoroughly combined and the mixture thickens. Stir in the sliced fruit.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours to overnight to let the flavors develop.
Whisk the mixture and pour into a large loaf pan, cover and place into the freezer.

After about an hour, stir the mixture.
Return it to the freezer until frozen solid.
Let the ice cream sit on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Creamsicles

6 popsicles

Ingredients

4 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup (8-9 oz) fresh strawberries finely chopped

Directions

Place cream cheese, cream, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the chopped strawberries. and process
until the berries are incorporated.

Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze at least 4 hours. To unmold, run under hot tap water for 20 to 30 seconds, and then twist the stick to gently to release.


Grilled Asian Chicken Thighs with Citrus Salsa

2 servings

Ingredients

4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs

Marinade

2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon Korean hot sauce (gochujang) or your favorite Asian hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Citrus Salsa

Half a navel orange
One red grapefruit
Zest of ½ a lemon
Zest of half an orange
1 large spring onion or 2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pinch of salt

Directions

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag and add the chicken thighs.

Coat the chicken in the marinade then seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 6-8 hours.

To make the salsa: Using a grapefruit knife, remove the fruit segments over a colander placed over a bowl. Let the fruit drain. Use the juice for another recipe.

Combine the fruit segments with the remaining salsa ingredients. Set aside while the chicken cooks.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Drain the chicken and discard the marinade in the bag. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down on the hot grill, and cook them for 7-8 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over with tongs to avoid piercing them and letting the juices run out. Cook the thighs for another 7-8 minutes.

Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are cooked when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the chicken to a platter and place the Citrus Salsa on the side of the chicken.

Spring Strawberry Salad with Warm Mozzarella Cheese

2 servings

Dressing

1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey, according to taste
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad

3 ounces leaf lettuce
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 pound cooked asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths

Mozzarella Cheese

2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, each cut ½ inch thick
1 oz chopped pecans
1 large egg white, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Purée the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until needed.

For the cheese: Dip each cheese slice into the egg wash and then into the chopped pecans, pressing on the nuts to help them stick to the cheese.

Place the slices on a baking rack set on a sheet pan or large plate and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Arrange the greens, strawberries, and asparagus on Individual salad plates,

Heat the butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chilled cheese slices and cook until softened but not melting, about 2 minutes.

With a wide spatula carefully turn the cheese slices over. If some of the nuts fall off, just scoop them up and place them back on the cheese

Place a cheese slice on top of each salad. If any nuts fall off into the pan, just sprinkle them on the salad. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve.

Grilled Asian Flavored Scallops

2 servings

Ingredients

½ lb medium sea scallops
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Allow the scallops to marinate for 15 minutes.

Skewer the scallops on soaked wooden or metal skewers and cook on a preheated indoor grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes per side.

They should be slightly firm, Serve with the Spring Vegetable Stir-fry.

Spring Vegetable Stir-fry

Stir Fry Sauce

1/3 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned (unsweetened) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or a low-carb sweetener
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper

Stir-fry Vegetables

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small head baby bok choy, sliced into 1-inch strips
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the halves, with the cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until you can poke the squash easily with a fork.

Let cool until you can handle it safely. Then scrape the insides of one half of the cooked squash with a fork to shred the squash into strands and place on a plate.

Reserve the remaining squash for another recipe.

Prepare the stir-fry sauce.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and broccoli and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.

Then stir in the bok choy and bean sprouts; cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add the stir-fry sauce and then stir in the cooked spaghetti squash and red pepper flakes.

To serve: Sprinkle the vegetable stir-fry with the cashews and serve.


 

Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but its culinary use is very much like a fruit. Traditional rhubarb has thick, green stalks while hothouse rhubarb has thinner stalks with bright red and pink colors. The brighter the color, the more tart the flavor seems to be. If you’ve ever wondered why rhubarb seems to be paired with strawberries all the time, it’s because the sweetness of the strawberries helps to balance out rhubarb’s tart flavor.

Rhubarb comes into season in April, peaks in April and May, and is available through summer. When choosing rhubarb, look for firm, crisp stalks, and shiny skins. Avoid stalks that are limp with blemishes and split ends. Look for small leaves, which indicate a younger plant, but don’t eat them — the leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic.

Remove the leaves from the rhubarb stalks before you store them. Don’t cut the stalks until you are ready to use them, or the rhubarb will dry out. Uncut stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week when sealed in a plastic bag. If you want to cut the stalks in advance, you can freeze them in an airtight bag or container.

Cut the stalks into whatever size pieces you need for a recipe. For desserts, this is usually between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch. Avoid cooking rhubarb in aluminum, iron, or copper pans because the acidity of the rhubarb will react with these metals, leading to discoloration of your cookware. Instead, choose pans that are made of enameled cast iron, anodized aluminum, non-stick coated aluminum, or glass.

Rhubarb is good in pies, crisps, and cobblers. We also like it mixed with strawberries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

Makes 16 servings

I like baking bar recipes in a 7×11 glass baking dish because bars seem to cook more evenly. You may also use a 9-inch or an 8-inch baking pan and adjust the baking time. This recipe is easy to adapt to special diets.

Filling
2 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut sugar, a sugar substitute for baking or regular granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, cornstarch or 1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Crumb Crust
2 cups finely ground almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut sugar, a sugar substitute for baking or regular granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced

Directions

Make the filling first by combining the rhubarb, strawberries, water, lemon juice, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture boils. Cook until the fruit is very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and sprinkle with the xanthan gum and whisk quickly to combine. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator while you make the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 7×11 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Make the filling by combining the almond flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is cut into tiny pieces. Press half of the mixture (about 1 ½ cups) onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish and bake 15 minutes, or until the edges turn crispy and golden.

Spread the cooled filling over the baked bottom crust and sprinkle with the remaining almond flour mixture.

Press down lightly with the bottom of a measuring cup.

Bake 45 minutes, or until the topping is crispy and the filling is bubbly. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled before cutting into bars.

 


Italian Hazelnut Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta cheesecake is tops in our family and I have shared several versions with you over the years. This version is especially suited for a holiday or for when you have guests. It makes a beautiful presentation. It can also be adjusted for special diets.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar or equivalent sugar substitute for baking
3 tablespoons all-purpose or low carb or gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon hazelnut flavored syrup
Strawberry Sauce, recipe below

Directions

For the crust:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line the outside of an 8-inch springform pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Coat the inside of the springform pan with cooking spray.
Process the hazelnuts until finely ground in a food processor. Combine the hazelnut flour, butter, and cinnamon in the processor until the mixture is crumbly.
Pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, 10-12 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

For the cheesecake:

In the food processor fitted with a metal blade, process ricotta until very smooth. Add cream cheese; process until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, processing until incorporated. Add sugar or sugar substitute, flour, and hazelnut syrup. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour filling into cooled crust; smooth top.

Place the pan in a larger pan and add water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the turned off oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil and cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate. When well chilled, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, cut into wedges and serve with the Strawberry Sauce.

Quick Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon hazelnut flavored syrup

Directions

Combine the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish. Heat in the microwave for one minute. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve a little of the sauce over slices of the ricotta cheesecake.

Polish Easter Nut Bread

My mother-in-law made this bread every year for the holidays. I remember what it tasted like and that it took her several days to make this traditional bread. She also made about 8 loaves to share with the family. The recipe was in her head and never written down. I looked at a number of Polish recipes for Easter Nut Bread but none of them seemed to be like hers. Her version was round, not long like most photos I saw on the internet. So I created a version of this bread that tastes like hers but with a lot less work.

Dough Ingredients

This dough is very tender and delicious, not at all heavy or dense.

3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a few turns to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the butter cut into cubes and the egg, water, and cream. Mix until combined and the dough begins to stick together. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 7 minutes. It should be smooth and soft.

Put the dough in a large buttered bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.

While the dough is rising, prepare the walnut filling:

Ingredients

10 ounces walnuts
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the walnut filling:

Put the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.

By hand or in a mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Stir in one egg, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the ground walnuts and mix until incorporated. Set aside.

To make the pastry:

Place the risen dough on a lightly floured board and roll it into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle.

Spread the walnut filling evenly over the dough. From the long end, roll up the dough, pinching the ends to the sides to seal it. Pull the dough to a length of 25 inches and twist the roll into a circle. Place it on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.

Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it on the dough. Bake the walnut roll for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is a dark golden brown color and registers 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Let the walnut roll cool for 15 minutes and then slice it yo serve it warm. The pastry can also be reheated in a 350 degree F oven.


So many more options become possible in March. Here, on the Gulf Coast, strawberries are in season and they are beautiful. They taste wonderful in a smoothie. I look forward to this time of year, so I can purchase artichokes because we love them stuffed. Asparagus make delicious salads and so does fennel. And, broccoli rabe is at its best in the spring, so look for it at your market.

Stuffed Artichokes

Italian Seasoned Fresh Bread Crumbs

Ingredients

2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 slices of regular, low carb or gluten-free bread), crusts removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Tear the bread slices into pieces. Process into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.

Artichokes

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large artichokes, trimmed
Lemon juice
2 cups Italian seasoned “bread” crumbs (see recipe above)
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Boiling water

Directions

Cut off the stems so the artichokes will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves.

Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Wash the artichokes and turn them cut side-down to drain.

Rub the cut parts with a little lemon juice. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest to make room for stuffing and set aside.

Heat the oven to 425° F and place a small stock pot or tea kettle with water on the stove to boil.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese and red pepper flakes.

Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing.

Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. Be sure to get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.

Transfer the stuffed artichokes to a baking dish just large enough to hold the artichokes upright.. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish.

Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil. Pour boiling water from the kettle or pot to fill the dish about an inch high.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes.

Once tender, uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown.

Place each artichoke in an individual bowl and pour some of the broth in the baking dish over the artichokes before serving.

Spring Asparagus Salad

Serves 2

Variations: add cooked beets or crispy bacon to the salad.

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh, thin asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Bibb Lettuce cups

Directions

Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.

Trim and discard the tough woody asparagus ends.

Carefully place the asparagus spears in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the vegetable is bright green and tender but not soft.

Drain and place the asparagus in a large dish filled with ice water.Let the asparagus cool in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.

Transfer the asparagus to a kitchen towel to dry. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and then place them on a platter or individual salad plates lined with lettuce.

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended, to form a vinaigrette.

Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and then sprinkle the chopped egg on top.

Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.

Easy Strawberry Smoothie

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Sweetener of choice to taste

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.

Fennel Walnut Chicken Salad

Ingredients

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 halves, cooked and diced
1/2 of a fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt

Directions

In a large bowl, toss the chicken cubes with the lemon juice, garlic powder, fennel, fennel seeds, black pepper and walnuts until combined.

Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste the salad and see if you would like to add salt.

Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Broccoli Rabe Parmigiano

Serves 3

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz cooked pasta, optional

Directions

Cut off about one inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stalks. Wash the broccoli very well. Cut into two-inch lengths.

In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds.

Add broccoli rabe, broth, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is crisp-tender.

Add the salt, black pepper and grated cheese. Mix well and cover the pan. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before serving. This sauce is delicious served over pasta.


Chocolate Covered Peanuts

Coconut oil works well with chocolate because it will prevent the candy from softening, as butter or oil would do.

Makes about 18 clusters

Ingredients

2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
3 tablespoons powdered sugar or powdered sugar-free sweetener

Directions

Combine the chocolate, coconut oil and sugar in a microwaveable glass bowl or in a double boiler.

Melt the chocolate mixture in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted, stirring several times.

You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water.

Stir in the peanuts, completely covering them in chocolate. Using a 1 inch scoop or tablespoon drop the mixture into wax paper. Cool completely before serving

One-Layer Heart-Shaped Carrot Cake

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large room-temperature eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting:

4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream

To Make the Cake

Heat oven to 325 F. Cut parchment to fit heart pan (or 8 inch round cake pan) and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.

Measure flour and add to an electric mixer bowl along with the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, oil, eggs and vanilla.

Blend for 1 minute on low-speed.

Stir carrots and nuts into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from the pan to a serving plate.

For the frosting:

Place all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. With a hand mixer beat the ingredients until the cream forms stiff peaks.

Frost the top of the cake and refrigerate the cake until serving time.

Easy Frozen Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, well chilled
8 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles, garnish

Directions

In a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Pour the cream and vanilla into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.

Add sweetener to taste if you want. I did not because I think the chocolate makes it sweet enough

Continue beating on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

To test, turn off the mixer and lift the beaters. If the cream makes soft little peaks that flop over slightly, it is ready.

Add the warm chocolate to the cream and mix in slowly until incorporated.

Spoon into 4 dessert dishes. Chill in the refrigerator to serve as mousse or place in the freezer overnight to serve as frozen mousse.

Garnish with chocolate sprinkles before serving.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients

8 large strawberries with tops
6 oz good quality chocolate, chopped

Directions

Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry). Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or set out muffin paper cups.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. You may also microwave the mixture.

Dip the lower half of each strawberry into the chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip back into the saucepan.

Place on  the prepared cookie sheet or muffin paper cups.

Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm, or until ready to serve.

Store covered in refrigerator.



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