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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Lunch

Ripe avocados are typically a dark, almost black color with hints of green when they’re ripe. If you want to use the avocado as soon as you get home, choose one that is dark. If you plan to use one in a couple of days, select one that’s more green. If an avocado looks ripe, you should still feel it to test its ripeness. Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel overly soft or mushy. Store whole, ripe avocados in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Sandwich

You can vary this sandwich by replacing the tomatoes with smoked salmon or adding bacon or a sausage patty.

For each serving:

1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice sourdough, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, toasted
Half an avocado pitted and skin removed
4 thin slices of a plum tomato
1 slice American cheese

Directions

Heat the butter in a small skillet. Add the egg and cook over easy or the way you like to cook eggs.

Place a slice of toast on a small foil-lined pan.

Mash the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado over the slice of toast. Place the tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the cooked egg.

Place the cheese on top of the egg and place the sandwich under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt. Remove and serve immediately.

Avocado Boats

2 servings

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
Lettuce, optional

Directions

Loosen the avocado flesh with a spoon by running the spoon around the shell. Do not remove the avocado from the shell.

Place a ½ cup of chicken salad on one avocado half. Garnish with chives or bacon. Repeat with the second half of avocado. Place on a lettuce leaf, if desired.

Chicken Salad

Ingredients

For the cooking the chicken

2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 small onion, halved,
1 clove garlic, cut in half
The tops of the celery stalk that will be used in the salad
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water

Ingredients for making the salad

4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced tops used for cooking the chicken
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and remaining ingredients for cooking the chicken.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.

Drain the chicken over a bowl and save the broth for another recipe. Cool the chicken breasts. Discard the cooking vegetables. Dice the chicken.

Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill covered in the refrigerator for several hours.

Cobb Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

2 grilled chicken breasts or 2 cups chicken salad (recipe above)
4 slices bacon
Lettuce, chopped (4 cups)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and sliced or cherry tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 hard-boiled eggs
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Directions

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in 4 large eggs into the water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes.

Drain off the hot water and add ice cubes and cold water to the pot.

Once the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.

Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Cut the avocado into slices.

Arrange the lettuce on two individual salad plates.

Place the chicken salad (or sliced chicken) on one area of the lettuce, the tomatoes on another followed by the eggs and avocado as you go around the plate.

Place the blue cheese in the center of the plate. Break the bacon into large pieces and place on the salad plates.

Sprinkle with chives and serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth. Stir in chives, blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper.

Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Lunch Menu

Iced Tea
Deviled Eggs
Stuffed Mini Peppers
Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Salad
Spinach Triangles with Tzatziki Sauce
Bread Sticks, Pickles
Dessert: Almond Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Cream

Iced Tea

Republic of Tea: 1 Peach Ginger Iced Tea Bag and 4 Naturally Sweet Tea Bags
Slices of Lemon, Lime and Oranges
Prepare the tea according to package instructions. Pour into a serving pitcher and chill.
To serve: Pour into tall glasses, add ice cubes and fruit slices before serving.

Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Salad

Ingredients

Tuna Marinade

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus lemon wedges for serving)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic—grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 lb tuna fillet, one inch thick

For the Salad

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup bottled roasted red peppers , drained and chopped
5 Kalamata (brine-cured) black olives , pitted and chopped
1 large celery rib , chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Italian parsley , chopped
1 teaspoon celery seed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons toasted pignoli (pine nuts) or basil for garnish

Directions

To grill the tuna:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place the tuna in a glass dish and pour the marinade over the fish. Chill for one hour.

Cook the tuna on a hot grill for about 10 minutes or cooked through, turning and brushing regularly with the marinade.

Cool the tuna and wrap in plastic. When cold, flake the tuna.

To make the tuna salad:

Whisk together lemon juice and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add the flaked tuna and the remaining ingredients and combine. Season with pepper. Chill until serving time. Garnish with toasted pine nuts just before serving.

Stuffed Mini Peppers

Ingredients

16 mini sweet peppers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
3/4 cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large rimmed baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the peppers in half so they will lay flat. Lay the peppers on the baking sheet, cut side up. Season the insides of the peppers with salt and pepper.

Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, anchovy paste, onion, celery. herbs, cayenne pepper and the lemon zest together in a bowl. Toss thoroughly.

Fill the peppers with a little of this mixture and then drizzle the olive oil over the peppers. (If you are making these ahead of time, just cover with some plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them.)

Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and the breadcrumb mixture is golden.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a serving platter and chill. Sprinkle chives over the eggs and serve.

Spinach Triangles

Let the package of filo dough sit in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Any remaining dough can be kept in the refrigerator well wrapped in plastic for four weeks or it can go back into the freezer.

Makes about 16 triangles

Ingredients

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 scallions (green onions), minced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
48 sheets filo dough, thawed
Olive oil
Tzatziki, recipe below

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach with the scallions, parsley, dill, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth.
Keep the filo dough not being used, covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying, while you work on the triangles.

Spread one sheet of the dough on a cutting board and brush with some olive oil. Place a second sheet of dough on top and brush with oil. Repeat with a third sheet.

Cut the layered filo in half lengthwise. Place one tablespoon of filling about 1″ from the corner of each strip. Fold one corner of fillo diagonally across to the opposite edge to form a triangle.

Brush lightly with oil. Continue to fold the triangle onto itself. Brush the outside of the triangle with oil and place the triangles seam side down on parchment covered cookie sheets at least 1” apart.Repeat until all the filling is used up.

Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Rolls can be made ahead and reheated just before party time.

Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, finely chopped
1/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the chopped cucumber in a fine mesh colander and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Place the colander over a bowl and let the cucumbers drain for one hour.

Turn the cucumbers over on paper towels. Squeeze all the water out.

Combine the cucumber and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Almond Flour Sponge Cake

Cake

4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for the pan

For the strawberry topping:

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1-2 teaspoons sugar (or more, depending on how sweet your strawberries are)

For the whipped cream:

1 pint heavy cream, well chilled
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan with oil. Swirl the oil in the pan and make sure it goes up the sides.

Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of the sugar listed in the ingredients onto the bottom of the pan.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Scrape the beaten egg whites into another bowl and set aside.

In the mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the almond extract until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients — flour, baking powder and salt — and add to the egg yolk mixture. Stir together to form a thick dough.

Fold in the egg whites, 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating them fully between each addition. The final addition should result in a smooth, fluffy batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides, then turn the cake out onto a serving plate.

Allow the cake to cool fully before topping with strawberries and cream.

For the strawberry topping:

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside to allow the juices to release.

For the whipped cream:

Place the bowl and whisk attachment for your stand mixer or a metal or glass bowl and beaters for your hand mixer in the refrigerator or freezer until they are cold.

Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl, and beat on medium-high to high-speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Chill until ready to serve.


Our favorite bagels are not from a bagel shop but homemade. In my part of the world, there are no bagel shops. You can buy a bagel at the supermarket or at the airport, but no bagel shop where you can go pick out your favorite dozen. So I make my own. I make several different flavors, such as pumpernickel or cinnamon, at different times, but these are our favorite. They are especially good with smoked salmon and red onion.

Sourdough Bagels

Ingredients

4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup sourdough starter
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
Olive oil for the bowl
Everything bagel topping

Directions

Combine the flour, yeast, salt, onion powder and garlic powder in the large bowl of an electric mixer.

With the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.

Combine the sourdough starter, warm water and honey in a large measuring cup and pour into the flour mixture in the electric mixer bowl.

Mix the dough with the paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 10 minutes. With a spatula, scrape the dough from the bottom of the bowl to the top.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest 5 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to knead the dough with the dough hook for 10 minutes. This procedure helps the dough to develop the gluten that bagels need.

Oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning it several times to coat in the oil. Cover and let rise, about 2 hours.

Place the dough on a floured board. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. I use a scale to measure.

On the floured board gently roll the one piece of sough into an 8 inch length and join the ends together to form a ring. Place on a floured kitchen towel. Repeat until all the bagels are formed. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a Dutch Oven or other large pot three-quarters of the way with water. Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar and bring to a boil.

Place 3 bagels in the boiling water and let cook for one minute. With a spider or large spoon turn the bagels over in the water and cook for one minute. Remove the bagels to a dry kitchen towel.

Repeat this procedure for the remaining babels.

Top some of the bagels with an everything bagel topping, if desired.

Place the boiled bagels on parchment lined cookie sheets Six bagels to a sheet.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans after half the baking time has elapsed. Remove the pans from the oven and place the bagels on a cooling rack.

Bagels freeze well, so I store them there and defrost them overnight when I want to serve the,

Some great toppings for your homemade bagels:

Cream cheese with chives and scallions. Add slices of cucumber for a lunch treat.
Cream cheese, slices of smoked salmon and slices of red onion.
Eggs Over Easy with slices of cheese and cooked bacon.
Tuna or Turkey Melt

What is your favorite bagel topping?


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Now that summer is here in my part of the world, the swimming pool is in full swing. I know that it is probably not summer hot in May where you live, but here is it about 85-86 degrees every day. The 90s will be here next month. This time of year, I like to invite friends over for swimming and either lunch or a BBQ supper. Lunch is a good idea because it can be served easily poolside and most of the food preparation can be done in advance. Seasonal soups are always a big hit with my friends. I usually like to prepare a sandwich or a salad that complements the soup. Here are some of my ideas for lunch that you can make for your family or for guests.

Corn Chowder

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish

Directions

Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.

Add 3 cups of the corn, the vegetable broth, chili powder and the thyme. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender. Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.

Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.

Serve in individual soup bowls with any or all of the garnishes.

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

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For each sandwich

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Place the eggplant on the bottom half of a ciabatta roll. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and the roll top.

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Wrap the sandwich in foil and place on a baking tray. Bake the sandwich for 15 minutes or until hot and the cheese has melted.

Cut the sandwich in two and serve with Tuscan peppers and olives.

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 6 oz can  tomato paste
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish

Directions

Combine the  first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in salt and pepper and the cream. Return the pot to low heat and warm the soup. Do not boil.

Serve in individual soup bowls with basil for a garnish.

Shrimp Pie

IMG_0022

Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated or frozen deep dish pie crust, at room temperature
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ cups fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay (seafood) seasoning
  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1⁄2 cups grated cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese
  • Hot sauce, a few dashes

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fit the pastry into a 9 inch pie pan coated with cooking spray and flute the edges. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Cook the shallots in the butter for 1-2 minutes over moderate heat until tender, but not browned.

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Add the shrimp and stir gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the seafood seasoning.

Add the wine, raise the heat and boil for a minute. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the roasted red peppers.

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Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the cream, tomato paste and hot sauce. Gradually fold in the cooled shrimp mixture.

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Spread 1 cup of the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust.

Pour the shrimp mixture into the pastry shell and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

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Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pie has puffed and browned on the top.

Cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

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Folklore states that cooks aboard Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after the Spaniards introduced the tomato from America to Europe. The original recipe was resistant to spoilage due to the high acid content of the tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented. Historically, the first Italian cookbook to include tomato sauce was Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward), written by Italian chef, Antonio Latini, and was published in two volumes in 1692 and 1694. This early tomato sauce was more like a modern tomato salsa.

Today, the sauce is usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs and onions. Its many variations can include the addition of capers, olives and spices and it is occasionally sweetened with a dash of red wine. This sauce is widely used in Italian-American cuisine, which has greatly diverged from its Old World origins.

Keep your freezer or pantry stocked and you’ll always be minutes away from a great, easy meal. Visit this link for my homemade marinara recipe or use your favorite brand.

For Breakfast or Lunch:

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Marinara Baked Eggs

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 4 eggs
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Warm marinara sauce; pour 1/4 cup into each of four lightly greased 6-ounce ramekins.

Top each with 1 egg. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the egg white is set and the yolk is thickened.

To serve:

Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve crusty bread on the side.

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Italian Stew

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 ¼ pounds uncooked ground turkey breast
  • Four ½ inch slices of Italian bread, toasted (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

Directions

In a 3 1/2 to 4-quart saucepan, heat oil and add ground turkey. Cook until brown.

Add mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Pour marinara sauce over all. Cover and cook on low-heat for 1 hour.

To serve:

Heat the broiler

Pour stew into 4 individual ovenproof bowls. Top with a slice of bread and sprinkle each with mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.

You can also skip the bread and just top the hot stew with mozzarella cheese.

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Pizza Stuffed Potatoes

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup pre-cooked additions, such as chopped bell pepper, chopped mushrooms, crumbled Italian sausage or chopped ham
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sliced olives, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Scrub  potatoes thoroughly with a brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork and rub with olive oil. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender.

Split each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh of each potato, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Place in a baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

In a bowl mash scooped-out potato flesh; add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 cup desired fillings and 2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning.

Spoon 1/4 cup marinara sauce into the bottom of each shell; divide the potato mixture evenly among the shells. Sprinkle each potato half with 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake about 15 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with sliced olives, if desired.

For Dinner:

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Italian Style Pot Roast

4 servings

Ingredients

  • One 3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 3 medium carrots, cut in 2-inch lengths (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges (1 cup)
  • 3 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups hot cooked penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Trim fat from the meat.

In a small bowl, combine garlic salt, fennel seed and pepper; rub into the roast on all sides.

In a 5-quart Dutch Oven heat oil and brown the roast on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Place the fennel, carrot and onion in the bottom of the pot and and place the roast on top.

Pour the marinara sauce over the roast  Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat, then place a large piece of foil over the pot and cover tightly with the lid; transfer the pot to the oven.

Cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes until fully tender and a meat fork or sharp knife easily slips in and out of the meat, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Toss the cooked pasta with parsley and place on a serving platter. Slice the roast. Place the sliced pot roast slices and vegetables on the plate with the pasta.

Pour the sauce over all and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve.

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Marinara Poached Chicken

Serve this dish with cooked pasta, mashed potatoes or couscous.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil for garnish

Directions

Pour marinara sauce into a large, deep skillet with a cover; warm over medium heat.

Sprinkle skinless, boneless chicken breast halves with salt and ground black pepper. Add to the skillet and turn to coat in the sauce.

Heat just until beginning to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and a meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese and basil before serving.


kidscover

This time of year I have many visitors and they often include my grandchildren. It is easy enough to plan meals that appeal to the grown-ups but not always so easy to prepare foods the children like to eat. Of course pizza is the number one favorite.

Here are some recipes that I have found that the young ones like and ask for again and again. These are delicious recipes with fats kept low and healthy ingredients added where they will be accepted.

Breakfast

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Cheese Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, plus extra if needed

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, lemon juice and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and syrupy, about 5 to 6 minutes; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar and a pinch of salt.

In a second bowl, whisk together the cottage cheese, milk and eggs. Add the cottage cheese mixture to the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. In batches, drop large spoonfuls (about 1/4 cup each) of the batter into the skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear in the center.

Turn the pancakes and cook 1 minute more; repeat with the remaining batter and add additional oil if needed.

Serve with the blueberry sauce.

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Cinnamon French Toast

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 slices hearty sandwich bread
  • Vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • 1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Combine sauce ingredients and refrigerate until serving time.

Beat eggs, yogurt and cinnamon in a wide shallow dish until blended.

Cut each slice of bread into 3 sections. Soak the bread pieces in the egg mixture, turning once.

Coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with vegetable oil; heat over medium heat until hot.

Place as many bread pieces as will fit in the skillet or on the griddle and cook over medium to medium-low heat until golden brown and no visible liquid remains, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Repeat with any remaining bread pieces. Serve toast with dipping sauce.

Lunch

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Spinach Mac & Cheese

Serve with fresh fruit.

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar
  • 3 oz. Velveeta Light cheese, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Boil macaroni two minutes less than the package directions.

While pasta cooks, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl. Pour remaining 1 1/2 cups milk into a large saucepan and heat over low. Once milk is slightly warmed, turn heat to medium-low and add flour and milk mixture, stirring constantly until thick. Reduce heat slightly and add butter, cheeses and salt. Cook until smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach.

Drain macaroni, then combine with the cheese mixture, stirring thoroughly.

Divide macaroni mixture among eight small ovenproof dishes. Place baking dishes on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs lightly and evenly on the top and bake 25 to 30 minutes.

kids4

Ham and Cheese Calzones

Serve with vegetable sticks.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound package refrigerated pizza dough (for 1 crust)
  • 1/4 cup mild mustard
  • 8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 8 ounces sliced deli ham

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Line a baking sheet with foil; lightly grease the foil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat the dough into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut dough in half crosswise and lengthwise to make 4 rectangles.

Spread mustard over each rectangle. Divide half of the cheese among the rectangles, placing cheese on one half of each rectangle.

Top with ham and then the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the dough with water.

For each calzone, fold dough over filling to the opposite edge, stretching slightly if necessary. Seal edges with the tines of a fork.

Place calzones on the prepared baking sheet. Prick tops to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Dinner

kids5

Chicken Fingers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound chicken breast tenders (fingers), about 8
  • 1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup  Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Olive oil cooking spray   

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a 9”x13” glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place chicken fingers in a shallow dish and pour the egg substitute over them.  Rotate and coat all the fingers.

Place bread crumbs in another shallow dish and dredge fingers in the crumbs.

Place coated chicken in the prepared baking dish in a single layer. Drizzle fingers with the olive oil.

Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.  Turn fingers over and bake 15 minutes more.

Serve with the ranch dip, if desired.

Healthy Ranch Dip

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Whisk together all the ingredients and chill.

kids7

Spaghetti with Basil Pesto

This dish is second to pizza in our house.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of basil leaves packed tightly in a measuring cup
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves, cut in pieces
  • 1/4 cup pignoli or walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of very good extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the garlic, nuts, salt and pepper in the processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil leaves and with the processor running, add the olive oil slowly.

Process until the mixture becomes a paste. Pour the sauce into a pasta serving bowl and set aside.

Cook 1 lb. of spaghetti in boiling salted water  until al dente. Just before you drain the pasta, remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside.

Add the drained pasta to the serving bowl with the pesto and add 2 tablespoons of butter, the pasta water and 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Garnish with freshly grated black pepper. Serve.

kids6

Homemade Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of your favorite pizza dough
  • 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza sauce, recipe below
  • Dried oregano and fresh basil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spread the dough to the edges of an oiled pizza pan.

Layer the sliced cheese on top of the dough.

Spread some pizza sauce on top.

Sprinkle with oregano.

Bake the pizza for about 20 minutes until lightly brown and crispy. Garnish with fresh basil.

5 Minute Pizza Sauce

  • One 28 oz. container diced Italian tomatoes 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, but before it takes on color, add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to high, and as soon as the sauce begins to bubble, turn the heat back down to medium low.

Season with salt and pepper. Add the red pepper flakes and the basil. Cook for another minute of two and remove from the heat.


shrimpcover

There are Gulf Shrimp, Farm Raised Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp, Imported Shrimp and Coldwater Shrimp. The flavor and texture of each type of shrimp are influenced by the waters they come from or are raised in, plus from what they eat or are fed. Wild shrimp feed on seaweed and crustaceans which gives them a more enriched flavor and thicker shells. The ability to swim freely also makes the meat firmer.

Shrimp are abundant in America, especially off the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards in inshore waters, wherever the bottom is sandy. Shrimp are in season from May to October and 95% of the shrimp caught come from the warm waters of the South Atlantic and Gulf states.

Fresh shrimp are highly perishable and should be eaten within 24 hours of purchase. Unless you live in the part of the country where you can actually buy “fresh” shrimp, it is best to buy frozen shrimp. All shrimp are frozen soon after they are caught, usually right on the fishing vessel. Those “fresh” shrimp in the store? They are previously frozen and thawed. The shelf life of thawed shrimp is only a couple of days, whereas shrimp stored in the freezer retain their quality for several weeks.

Avoid shrimp that smells of anything other than salt water. If there is any hint of the aroma of ammonia, it’s a sign they are way past their prime. Truly fresh shrimp will have almost translucent flesh. Do not buy shrimp with black spots or rings (unless it’s black tiger shrimp) as this indicates the meat is starting to break down.

shrimp6

In the United States, shrimp are sold by count. This is a rating of the size and weight of the shrimp. The count represents the number of shrimp in a pound for a given size category. If you are grilling or serving the shrimp as a main course, you probably want 21-25 or larger (16-20). If you are stir-frying or adding to a soup or pasta dish, you probably want a smaller shrimp (31-35 or 36-40).

The terms “shrimp” and “prawns” can be confusing. In many restaurants, larger shrimp are referred to as “prawns,” while smaller shrimp are called “shrimp.” However, both shrimp and prawns can come from saltwater or freshwater and there is no absolute standard for measuring their size. Scientists say there are no real differences.

Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in America, with close to 1 1/2 billion pounds sold per year. I know it is my first choice and here are some of my favorite recipes:

As An Appetizer

shrimp4

Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large shrimp (16-20 per pound), shelled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the garlic, Italian seasoning and bell pepper.

In a skillet, sauté the shrimp in the oil over moderately high heat, turning the shrimp once, until just barely pink. Add the lemon juice and parsley and toss gently. Garnish with lemon wedges.

In A Sandwich

shrimp3

Oven Fried Shrimp Sandwich

4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 4 – 6 inch lengths of baguette, split in half
  • Olive oil
  • 2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco (hot) sauce, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten to mix
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, shelled
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 tomato, cut into thin slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Put the bread, cut-side up, on a baking pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard and Tabasco sauce.

To prepare the shrimp:

Oil another baking pan and place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk and the egg. In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the salt, black pepper and cayenne.

Dip the shrimp into the flour, then into the egg mixture and then into the bread crumbs. Place on a plate until all the shrimp are breaded.

Transfer the shrimp to the preheated baking pan Bake the shrimp for 12-15 minutes until nicely browned, turning them over halfway through baking.

Place the bread in the oven with the shrimp after you turn the shrimp over and bake the pieces of baguette until they are lightly crisp, about 5 minutes.

Spread the sauce on both sides of the bread and add lettuce, tomato and shrimp.

In A Salad

shrimp1

Grilled Shrimp Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 small heads Boston lettuce or any tender lettuce (about 1/2 pound in all), torn into bite-size pieces

Directions

In a blender, combine the anchovies, garlic and lemon zest. Pulse to chop. Add the mint, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan. Oil the grill or pan. Cook the shrimp until they just turn pink. Large shrimp will need about three minutes per side.

Transfer the shrimp to a medium glass bowl and toss with half the dressing.

Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl and toss with the remaining dressing.

Put the greens on individual serving plates; top with the grilled shrimp.

As A First Course

shrimp2

Spaghettini with Shrimp, Tomatoes and Spicy Crumbs

Serves 6-8 as a first course

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and scored on the bottoms with an X
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup coarse bread crumbs (about 2 ounces), made from stale bread
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded basil
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Put the plum tomatoes in a small baking dish and drizzle with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Roast for about 20 minutes, just until the skins loosen and the tomatoes are barely softened. Let cool slightly, then peel the tomatoes and finely chop or mash them in the baking dish.

Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the lemon zest, a large pinch of crushed red pepper and season with salt. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl.

In the skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Season the shrimp with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper and add them to the skillet.

Cook over high heat, tossing once or twice, until pink, about 1 1/2 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Return the pasta to the pot and add the shrimp, basil and reserved pasta cooking water and cook, tossing, until the pasta is coated in a light sauce and the shrimp are evenly distributed.

Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls and scatter the cherry tomatoes all around. Top each with tomato sauce and bread crumbs.

As A Main Course

shrimp5

Stuffed Shrimp Oreganata

Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp (16-20 per pound) 
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine 
  • 2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs 
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail intact.

To butterfly them: make a slit along the back side, taking care not to slice all the way through the body.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick olive oil spray and arrange the shrimp in a single layer.

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add garlic and sauté until soft and just beginning to turn golden – do not brown. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Mix well.

Spoon even portions of the breadcrumb mixture over each of the butterflied shrimp in the baking pan. Using your fingers, gently mold each portion of stuffing around the shrimp.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink.

While the shrimp are cooking, heat the minced garlic and olive oil in a saute pan until the garlic turns light brown, add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the white wine and heat until almost dry; add the chicken stock and basil.

Heat the sauce for 3 minutes and place onto the bottom of a large platter. Place Shrimp Oreganata on top of the tomatoes sauce.

Quarter the lemon into 4 pieces and serve with the shrimp.



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