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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Healthy Italian Cooking

You may have family or friends visiting for the holidays who follow special diets. If you plan ahead and with just a few ingredients changes, many of the Thanksgiving recipes can be adapted to meet the needs of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and low carb diets. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Everyone.

Vegan Gravy (or Regular or Gluten-Free)

Kitchen Bouquet is a browning sauce that you can find in the grocery store next to the A1 and Worcestershire Sauce. It helps to add a brown color to the gravy. There are several brands of browning sauce available, but I use this one. Since 2006 this vegan sauce has been gluten-free. It is made from a base of carrots, cabbage, turnips, parsnips, celery and onion.

You can use this same recipe for everyone by make a second batch and using chicken broth in the second batch for regular diets. To make this gravy Gluten-Free, use gluten-free cornstarch to thicken the gravy. Gluten-free gravy also works for low carb dieters.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
2 heaping tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet, optional

Directions

Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Cook until the mushrooms are soft and brown, and most of their liquid is evaporated.

Stir in the flour with a whisk and reduce heat to low. Cook for another minute or two.

Slowly add the vegetable broth while whisking to reduce clumps. Then add in the salt, pepper and thyme and whisk again.

Stir in the Kitchen Bouquet, if using.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to stir until it reaches the desired thickness, about 5-10 minutes.

Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing

To make this recipe gluten-free use cornbread instead of Italian bread in the recipe. The gluten-free cornbread recipe is below.

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 dried poultry seasoning
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, 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 just beginning to brown, 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.

Gluten-Free Cornbread

This can be made several days ahead.

Ingredients

2 cups (264 g) coarsely ground yellow cornmeal (gluten-free)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg at room temperature, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
4 tablespoons honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square or round pan, and set it aside.

In a large bowl, place the cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and whisk to combine well.

In separate bowl, mix the egg, butter, buttermilk and honey, and whisk to combine well.

Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top, golden brown around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely and cut up into cubes.

Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing

Ingredients

3 cups sourdough wheat bread (made without dairy or eggs) cut into cubes
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
1 leek white part only, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large rib celery finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
Chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until all moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Add sage and continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms are well browned, about 5 minutes longer.

Add leek, celery, garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add parsley, and chopped pecans.

Add stock to the bread cubes and fold in the cooked vegetables until evenly mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Transfer mixture to a greased baking dish cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake with the turkey until hot throughout, about 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and crisp on top, about 10 minutes longer.

Vegan Stuffed Squash

Serve this dish instead of turkey for your vegan or vegetarian dinners.

To make this recipe for non-vegans, add a ½ cup of cooked lean ground pork to the stuffing.

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.

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

Roast the squash for about 30 minutes.

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 20 minutes.

Easy Vegan or Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

The pumpkin filling can be used for either pie.

Ingredients

Pat-in-the-Pan Vegan Crust

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

Vegan Pie Filling Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. 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 a 9 inch 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.

Pat-in-the-Pan Gluten-Free Crust

1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil (or alternative oil)
5 tablespoons cold milk (or cold plant milk)

Gluten-Free Pie Crust Directions

Mix together the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl.

Blend oil and milk together in a separate bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine.

Place dough into a 9 inch pie plate and press the dough firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.

Place the pie crust in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
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 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 golden brown and the filling should still be set.

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

Low-Carb Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

Crust

2¼ cups almond flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar substitute (1:1 with sugar)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg at room temperature, beaten

Filling

2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 1:1 sugar substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs at room temperature, beaten

Directions

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix together all the crust ingredients until a dough forms.

Press the dough into 9-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the beaten eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla, spices and sweetener. Mix well.

Add the heavy cream until fully combined.

Pour into pie crust and bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick (or knife) inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

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Shrimp Scampi

Be sure to purchase US wild caught shrimp for this dish.

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
14 -16 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

Heat the butter and oil in a saute pan.

Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine, salt, black pepper, red pepper and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook 2–3 minutes or until lightly pink. Turn the shrimp over and cook for another minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Mushroom Risotto

(2 large side-dish portions)

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 cup mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan over medium-low heat, to keep warm.

Drizzle the olive oil over the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot, and place it over medium heat. Add the butter and allow to melt.

Add the garlic, onion and mushrooms and sauté until all are soft.

Add the Arborio rice and mix to coat with oil, allowing to cook for about one minute.

Ladle 1 cup of chicken stock over the rice, stirring until it is absorbed by the rice.

Continue adding chicken stock and stirring until the risotto is creamy and the rice grains are al dente – soft but a bit firm on the inside.

This will take about 15-20 minutes. Before serving, stir in Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Baked Zucchini with Parmesan

2 servings

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini, washed and trimmed
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut each half in half again lengthwise. Then cut each piece in half crosswise for a total of 8 pieces.

Arrange the zucchini in an ovenproof dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Lightly brush with the olive oil.

Season with the salt and pepper. Mix the Parmesan and garlic together; then sprinkle over the zucchini.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the zucchini are tender and the cheese is browned.


The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel on the east; and the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on the south. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria. This series continues with the country of Lebanon.

Stretching along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon’s length is almost three times its width. As it stretches from north to south, the width of its terrain becomes narrower. Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate characterized by a long, semi-hot, and dry summer, and a cold, rainy and snowy winter.

The country’s role in the region was shaped by trade. Lebanon is named “the pearl of the middle east.” It serves as a link between the Mediterranean world and India and East Asia. The merchants of the region exported oil, grain, textiles, metalwork, and pottery through the port cities to Western markets.

Lebanon was heavily forested in ancient and medieval times, and its timber, especially cedar, was exported for building and shipbuilding. Although Lebanon’s diverse and abundant plant and animal life suffered a heavy toll during the country’s lengthy civil war, the post-civil war period was marked by the rise of fledgling environmental groups and movements that worked toward the creation of protected areas and parks in Lebanon’s ecological areas.

Lebanon has a heterogeneous society composed of numerous ethnic and religious groups. Ethnically, the Lebanese compose a mixture Phoenicians, Greeks, Armenians and Arabs.

Meat kebab, falafel, baba ghanoush, muhammara, hummus, sambusak, rice, tahini, kibbeh ,pita. Halal food. Lebanese cuisine.

The cuisine of Lebanon is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. It includes an abundance of grains, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten, it is usually lamb.

Many dishes in the Lebanese cuisine can be traced back thousands of years to eras of Roman and Phoenician rule. More recently, Lebanese cuisine was influenced by the different foreign civilizations that held power. From 1516 to 1918, the Ottoman Turks controlled Lebanon and introduced a variety of foods that have become staples in the Lebanese diet, such as cooking with lamb. After the Ottomans were defeated in World War I (1914–1918), France took control of Lebanon until 1943, when the country achieved its independence. The French introduced foods such as flan, a caramel custard dessert dating back to the 16th century AD, and croissants.

Most often foods are grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil and vegetables are often eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. Herbs and spices are used in large quantities. Like most Mediterranean countries, much of what the Lebanese eat is dictated by the seasons and what is available. In Lebanon, very rarely are drinks served without being accompanied by food. Similar to the tapas of Spain and aperitivo of Italy, mezze is an array of small dishes placed before the guests. Mezze may be as simple as raw or pickled vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj and bread, or it may become an entire meal consisting of grilled marinated seafood, skewered meats, a variety of cooked and raw salads and an arrangement of desserts.

Salads may include tabbouleh, fattoush and kebbeh. Patties such as the Sambusac and stuffed grape leaves are often included. Family cuisine offers also a range of dishes, such as stews, which can be cooked in many forms depending on the ingredients used and are usually served with meat and rice vermicelli. Lebanese flat bread, called pita, is a staple at every Lebanese meal and can be used in place of a fork. Although simple fresh fruits are often served towards the end of a Lebanese meal, there are also desserts, such as baklava. Although baklava is the most internationally known dessert, there is a great variety of Lebanese desserts.

Lebanese Dishes To Make At Home

Pita Bread

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading/forming
2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1⁄2 cup of warm water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the salt in 1 cup of warm water. Add the flour and turn the mixer on.

Slowly add the yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix until the dough combines (it will be sticky), about 2 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place on a lightly greased sheet pan. Coat lightly with oil.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 (5 oz.) pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Cover the balls with plastic wrap, being careful not to let the plastic wrap stick to the balls (you can do this by placing coffee mugs or short glasses on the sheet pan). Let the balls proof for 15 minutes.

Lightly dust one piece of dough at a time on both sides with flour.

Push the dough out with your fingers in a circular motion to create a disk that is approximately 5″ in diameter and 1⁄2″ thick.

Using a lightly floured rolling-pin, roll the dough in a clockwise motion to get it to 7″ in diameter and 1⁄8″ thick.

Transfer the dough to an inverted lightly floured sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 3 minutes.

Flip the bread over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Place a second piece of parchment paper on top of the bread and cover with a damp towel. Let the bread sit for 10 minutes, or until cooled.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

When ready to serve, lightly brush the pitas with the remaining olive oil and grill for 1-1 1⁄2 minutes on each side.

It should be warm but still pliable. Cut the bread into wedges and serve.

Labaneh

Thick, tart, and creamy yogurt-like cheese, is eaten with olive oil, pita bread and za’atar.

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 cups whole milk
1 cup plain yogurt
Kosher salt, to taste
Olive oil, for serving

Directions

Bring milk to a boil in a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan fitted with a deep-fry thermometer.

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool until the thermometer reads 118°F.

Transfer 1 cup of the milk to a bowl; whisk in yogurt until combined.

Add yogurt mixture to the saucepan and whisk until smooth; cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (ideally 70°F-75°F) until thickened, 6-8 hours.

Line a fine-mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth; set over a bowl. Transfer yogurt to the strainer; let drain at least 8 hours or overnight.

Transfer to a serving dish. Season with salt and drizzle with oil. Add olives and za’atar, if desired.

Spiced Chicken And Tomato Kebabs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup plain yogurt
1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons crushed saffron
1 teaspoon ground coriander
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 plum tomatoes, cored
Ground sumac, to garnish
2 limes, halved
Pita, for serving

Directions

Stir together the yogurt, juice, oil, zest, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron, coriander, garlic and onions in a large bowl; add chicken and toss to coat.

Chill for 4 hours.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, heat a gas grill to medium-high or a heat broiler to high.

Skewer chicken on 4 metal skewers and skewer tomatoes lengthwise on another skewer.

Grill chicken and tomatoes, turning often, until the tomatoes are soft and charred, about 7 minutes, and the chicken is cooked through and slightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle skewers with sumac; serve with limes and pita.

Garlicky Lentil Salad

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils, rinsed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Bring lentils and 3 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in an 8” skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft, 7–8 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the remaining oil, lemon juice, cumin and allspice. Pour the garlic mixture over the lentils.

Add parsley. mint and season the lentils with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve lentils at room temperature.


I have special menus for the dinners that I like to cook during the holiday season. This post is one of them and in the weeks to come, I will share some of my other holiday menus.

Beef Tenderloin

What size tenderloin should you cook? I always figure a half-pound of boneless meat per person. If any of it is leftover, that is just fine but like a good Italian, we have to make sure we have enough food for everyone. For the recipe below, I used a 3 lb. beef tenderloin. I usually buy them when they are on sale and save them for special occasions. It is my favorite cut of beef. Recently, I bought 2 and cut each in half and froze each half separately. The cooking directions are the same no matter what size tenderloin you cook because the width of the meat determines the cooking time. Since a tenderloin is very lean, it benefits from having a sauce served with it.

Ingredients

6 servings

Beef

3 lb beef tenderloin (size will depend on how many people you are serving)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
Olive oil

Wine Sauce

6 tablespoons butter
½ cup shallots (3 medium)
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth

Mushroom Caps

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spray a metal roasting pan with olive oil cooking spray.

I use a metal pan for this dish so that it can go on the top of the stove to make a sauce after the beef is finished roasting.

Tie the beef with kitchen string and place the roasting pan.

Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle coarse salt and cracked pepper evenly all over the meat. Add the mushroom caps to the pan.

Roast the beef for 30 minutes for medium-rare (25 minutes for rare and 35 minutes for medium).

Remove the pan from the oven, place the meat and mushrooms on a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Allow the beef to rest for 10 minutes.

To make the wine sauce:

Place the empty pan on the stove top over low heat.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan and add the shallots; cook about 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Add wine; cook about 4 minutes until reduced slightly. Stir in the  broth. Heat to boiling.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cook about 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup.

Whisk in remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, with wire. Pour into a serving bowl.

Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

Potato Gnocchi

6 servings

Ingredients

2 medium baking potatoes, cooked and peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 cups 00 (Italian) flour or all-purpose flour

Butter Sage Sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large fresh sage leaves, cut into slivers
Salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Dice the cooked potatoes and place them in an electric mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment mash the potatoes. Add the salt and pepper.

Mix the egg and ricotta together in a small mixing bowl. Add to the potatoes in the mixer along with the flour.

Mix until thoroughly combined and the dough comes together.

Place the dough on a floured board and knead a few minutes until smooth. Divide in half. This recipe usually comes out to weigh about 2 lbs.

Wrap one half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is time to cut the gnocchi.

Wrap the other half in plastic and place in a freezer zip-lock bag. Freeze the dough for another time. This dough freezes well.

Defrost overnight in the refrigerator when you want to use it.

To shape the gnocchi:

Divide the dough into golf ball sized pieces, and roll each piece into a log about the thickness of your thumb on a lightly floured surface.

Cut into 1 inch pieces.

Take a fork and place it against one side of each gnocchi to make a fork design on each and continue with the remaining pieces.

Place the prepared gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Place the butter in a large microwave glass mixing bowl and heat in the microwave until melted.

To cook:

Carefully drop the gnocchi into salted boiling water and remove them with a wide spider or a slotted spoon immediately as they float to the surface.

Allow the water to drain back into the pot. Place the gnocchi in the bowl with the melted butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Add the cheese and sage. Mix carefully and serve.

Creamed Spinach

6  servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and pepper

Directions

In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes, until the onion softens.

Add the cream cheese, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Cook over medium heat until the cream cheese is melted.

Whisk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Squeeze all the water from the defrosted spinach and add to the cheese sauce.

Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Serve immediately.


Pot Roast, the ultimate comfort food, when leftover, makes a delicious pot pie. Here is the link to my pot roast recipe. Chicken is a favorite with me, so I have lots of quick and easy ways to fix it. Take advantage of all the fall vegetables in season and add them to your recipes whenever you can. I tried to do that in the recipes below.

Beef Pot Pie

2 servings

Ingredients

1 box of refrigerated (2) pie crusts, at room temperature

Filling
1 cup leftover pot roast gravy
1/2 cup leftover green beans, cut into one inch pieces or use frozen (defrosted)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup diced leftover pot roast
½ teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture between two individual baking dishes.

Unroll the pastry on a cutting board.

Cut a circle from the center of the pastry sheet to cover one of the individual baking dishes with a one inch overhang.

Place the circle on the baking dish. Repeat with the second baking dish and pastry.

Use the leftover pastry for decorations on top of the beef pie or to make cinnamon sugar rolls.

Seal the pastry to the edges of the baking dishes and flute. Cut slits in several places in the crust to allow steam to escape.

Cover a sheet pan with foil and place the baking dishes on top.

Bake 15 minutes. Cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning; bake 15 to 30 minutes longer or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Chicken Cacciatore Over Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

2 – 4 chicken cutlets (depending on how many servings you want), about 5 oz each
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the squash
1 spaghetti squash,about 2 lbs, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

For the squash:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a baking dish that is big enough to hold the squash halves with olive oil.

Place the squash, cut side down in the prepared dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

With a fork, scrape the squash strands into a large platter.

For the chicken:

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saute pan and brown the cutlets for 1-2 minutes per side to brown slightly. Remove to a plate and set aside.

For the sauce:

Add the mushrooms to the saute pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Add the sliced onions, peppers and celery to the pan and cook until soft; about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute or two.

Reduce the heat and add the marinara sauce, seasonings and herbs to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken cutlets. Simmer the cacciatore for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the bay leaf.

Warm the spaghetti squash in the microwave. Serve the chicken and sauce over the cooked spaghetti squash strands.

Stir Fried Cabbage With Smoked Sausages

Cornbread goes very well with this dish.

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
½ cup diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
8 oz natural fully cooked smoked sausage, hot dogs or kielbasa, thinly sliced on a bias
1 small head green cabbage
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Core the cabbage, then immerse the whole head in the boiling water until the outer leaves begin to loosen.

Remove cabbage from the water and carefully peel away as many outer leaves as will come off easily, usually 8 to 12 leaves are large enough for stuffing. Reserve those leaves for stuffing. Thinly slice the remaining cabbage.

In a large skillet over medium, heat the butter. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté until onion is soft.

Add the cabbage, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss to mix all ingredients together and coat the cabbage with butter and seasonings.

Cover the pan and cook the mixture until the cabbage is tender.

Add sliced sausage to the pan, cover the pan and cook over low heat until the sausage is hot and the cabbage becomes creamy.

Top with fresh parsley before serving.

Chicken Cutlets In Mushroom Sauce

2 Servings

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast, about 8 oz cut in half lengthwise
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, divided
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
One quarter of a medium onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

Season the chicken breasts with sea salt and black pepper on both sides.

In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, pan-sear the chicken breasts in 1 tablespoon butter.

Sear the chicken breasts on both sides until they are a golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.

Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate.

Using the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining butter and the minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the sliced onion and mushrooms. Saute for 3-4 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with chicken stock. Using a rubber spatula, scrape up any brown bits in the pan. Add Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low to simmer. Let simmer 2-3 minutes.

Add heavy cream and allow to simmer 5-10 minutes to allow sauce to thicken. Mix in Parmesan cheese, sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the chicken back to the pan. Finish cooking the chicken in the sauce over low heat, for about 10 minutes.


Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

1 medium cooking pumpkin, about 3 ½ – 4 cups roasted pumpkin flesh
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped leeks
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups whole milk
1-2 teaspoons honey
Chopped chives for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet with sides.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Fill the pumpkin wells half way with water and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool and then scrape out the pumpkin into a bowl. Set aside,

Pour the olive oil into a Dutch Oven and heat over medium-high heat.

Add leeks, celery and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the pumpkin, broth, pepper, salt and spices. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Process with a hand immersion blender in the saucepan or transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. Return all of the pureed mixture to saucepan.

Stir in the milk and heat through, but do not boil. Stir in enough of the honey to sweeten the mixture to taste.

Serve warm garnished with chopped chives. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings.

Glazed Ham

Don’t forget to save the bone for soup.

Ingredients

6 lb ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (NOT spiral cut), shank end or butt end
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon country whole seed mustard

Directions

Heat the oven to 325° F.

Place the ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan.

Bake the ham for about 20 minutes per pound, about 2 hours for a 6 lb ham, or until an instant read meat thermometer registers at least 140° F (60° C), the safe minimum temperature for a fully cooked ham.

In a medium bowl whisk together the apricot preserves, brown sugar, apple cider, mustard and thyme.

About 30 minutes before the ham is done, spoon the glaze over the entire ham.

Cover the ham loosely with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Rutabaga Gratin

You can also put this dish in the oven with the ham at the lower temperature to cook the two dishes at the same time. Put the gratin in the oven when the ham has an hour and a half of cooking time remaining.

Servings: 6-8

ingredients

2 pound rutabaga (peeled, thinly sliced)
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Coat a 7×11 or an 8×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the sliced rutabaga in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.

Cook for 3 minutes in the boiling water, drain and set aside.

Combine the cream, garlic powder, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper with a whisk.

Pour one-third of the cream into the bottom of the baking dish.

Place a layer of rutabaga slices on top, followed by one-third of the cheese. Dot with one-third of the butter.

Continue to layer ending with a layer of cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Sautéed Green Cabbage Steaks

Ingredients

1 small head green cabbage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Celery seed for garnish

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Immerse the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water until the outer leaves begin to loosen.

Remove the cabbage from the water and drain. Cut the stem end off and carefully peel away as many outer leaves as will come off easily, usually 8 to 12 leaves will be large enough for stuffing. Reserve those leaves for another use.

Cut the remaining cabbage in half and cut two half-inch thick slices from the cabbage halves.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage steaks, sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the cabbage steaks over with a wide spatula, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes more.

Sprinkle lightly with celery seed and serve.


Cod Pomodoro

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Half of a small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, plus a few fennel fronds
Half of a small onion, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
Two 4-ounce skinless cod fillets
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat.

Add minced garlic, sliced fennel, onion and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add spices and cook, stirring, until spices are absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add marinara sauce to the skillet; bring to a simmer and cook to meld the flavors, about 5 minutes.

Season fish with salt and pepper and place the fillets in the sauce. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish.

Place the pan in the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the fish is firm when touched with a fork.

Remove the pan from the oven and top the fish with the mozzarella cheese. Return the pan to the oven until the cheese melts.

Serve the fish with the sauce.

Baked Eggplant Slices

Place the eggplant into the oven about ten minutes before you place the fish in the oven.

2 or more servings

1 small eggplant, peeled
1 large egg
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for the baking pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a baking pan with oil. Set aside.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg with 1 tablespoons water. In another shallow dish mix the Parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.

Cut the eggplant into thin slices. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off.

Dredge the slices in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down gently to coat well. Transfer the breaded slices to the baking pan.

Bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.

Turn the slices over and continue to bake until lightly browned on other side, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from the oven, serve plain or drizzle with a little marinara sauce, if desired.

Swiss Chard Sautéed with Garlic and Lemon

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2” pieces (about 12 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash Swiss chard well and place in a colander.

With some water clinging to the leaves, immediately transfer the washed chard to a large, deep skillet.

Cook the chard over low heat until almost wilted, 3-4 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing often, until completely softened, about 4-5 minutes.

Add lemon juice and cook, tossing, about 1 minute; adjust seasoning if needed. Serve.



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