Make a large piece of meat (beef roast, chicken, or pork roast) one day a week and you will have lots of easy meals during the week. Last week I made a baked ham (recipe) that had been in my freezer for a few months. Having these leftovers made for some easy meals.
Ham Omelet For Breakfast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 large eggs
4 small red potatoes, cooked and diced
1 cup diced Italian light green frying peppers
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup diced cooked baked ham
3 slices American cheese, broken into pieces
Position rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat the broiler.
Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Heat oil and butter in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and potatoes; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ham; cook, stirring, until the ham is hot.
Pour the eggs over the vegetable ham mixture and cook, lifting the edges of the omelet so uncooked egg can flow underneath until the bottom is light golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top, transfer the pan to the oven and broil until the eggs are set, 6 to 8 minutes. Let rest for about 3 minutes before cutting. Serve hot or warm.
Ham And Potato Soup For Lunch
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large onion diced
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
4 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups cooked ham, diced (add more if desired)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups ham broth, see recipe below
3 cups of milk
1 teaspoon of salt (adjust to your taste)
Fresh cracked black pepper
For the ham broth
Simmer the ham bone in a stockpot filled with enough water to cover the bone halfway.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover with a lid, and let simmer until the meat clinging to the bone begins to shred. (about 1 hour).
Discard the hambone.
For the soup
Heat the butter in the stockpot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery until beginning to soften (about 4 minutes).
Add the potatoes, cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
Mix the flour through the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the ham stock, mixing all ingredients together, and making sure the flour is completely dissolved. Cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are ‘just’ fork-tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low, add the milk and stir over the heat until thickened (about 5 minutes). Using a hand blender, process the soup until partially pureed. Leave a few chunks here and there. Stir in the chopped ham and heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot.
Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders For Dinner
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
1 cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
¼ cup of vegetable oil
6 chicken tenders
Pound the tenders between plastic wrap to ¼ inch thick
Mix the oil into the panko crumbs until combined.
Dip each tender in the egg and then the panko. Place on a plate. Sprinkle the tenders lightly with salt. (Can be refrigerated at this point until ready to cook.)
Set the air-fryer temperature to 350 degrees F and preheat the oven (takes about 10 minutes).
Remove the air-fryer basket and coat with cooking spray. Place the tenders in the basket – don’t do more than 6 at one time. Repeat the process if you have more.
Bake 6 minutes. Turn the tenders over and bake 6 more minutes. Remove to a serving platter.
Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes
4 medium tomatoes
4 teaspoons panko crumbs
10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper
Heat oil in a small saucepan and add garlic; cook 1 minute
Add spinach and heat.
Make a well in the center of the spinach and add the cream.
Heat and stir until cheese is dissolved throughout the spinach. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut a thin slice off the top of the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Salt the inside of the tomatoes and turn upside down on a plate lined with a paper towel to extract juices, about 15 minutes.
Stuff the tomatoes with the spinach filling, Sprinkle with the top of each tomato with Parmesan cheese and panko crumbs. Place the tomatoes in a greased baking dish just large enough to hold the four tomatoes. Bake until the filling is hot and the tops are light brown, about 20 minutes.
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.
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
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.
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
- 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
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
For each sandwich
- One 3-4 inch square of Eggplant Parmesan
- Recipe for Eggplant Parmesan: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/05/18/what-to-cook-this-week/
- One slice mozzarella cheese, cut to fit the sandwich
- 1 ciabatta roll, sliced in half
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.
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
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the cream, tomato paste and hot sauce. Gradually fold in the cooled shrimp mixture.
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.
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.
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:
Marinara Baked Eggs
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 4 eggs
- Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional
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.
Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve crusty bread on the side.
- 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)
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.
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.
Pizza Stuffed Potatoes
- 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
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.
Italian Style Pot Roast
- 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
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.
Marinara Poached Chicken
Serve this dish with cooked pasta, mashed potatoes or couscous.
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Salt & Pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil for garnish
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.
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.
Cheese Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
- 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
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.
Cinnamon French Toast
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 slices hearty sandwich bread
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
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.
Spinach Mac & Cheese
Serve with fresh fruit.
Makes 8 servings.
- 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
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.
Ham and Cheese Calzones
Serve with vegetable sticks.
- 1 pound package refrigerated pizza dough (for 1 crust)
- 1/4 cup mild mustard
- 8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
- 8 ounces sliced deli ham
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.
- 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
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
- 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
Whisk together all the ingredients and chill.
Spaghetti with Basil Pesto
This dish is second to pizza in our house.
- 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
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.
- 1 pound of your favorite pizza dough
- 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
- Pizza sauce, recipe below
- Dried oregano and fresh basil
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
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.
Want your children to be healthy – start with healthier food.
Providing healthy food in school and at home and educating children, parents and school staff about the importance of good nutrition and exercise definitely leads to improved the health.
At home, try to serve healthy meals and have healthy snacks available, such as apples, yogurt, whole grain cereals and cut-up fresh veggies in the refrigerator.
If your child’s school does not offer physical activity and nutrition education programs, contact the principal or the school board to find out if changes can be made to these programs. Check the lunch program for healthy options for your child and if, you are not satisfied with what they offer, give your child a lunch to take to school. At the same time, try to get the school to offer healthy options for those who want them.
The good news is that as long as you provide a wide variety of nourishing foods, your child’s diet will balance out over time. Here are some healthy foods that are as good for you and your children as they taste.
A perfect finger food for tiny eaters, blueberries usually go on to become life-long favorites. They are packed with vitamin C for immune health and fiber that can help keep kids regular. Berries of all kinds may help combat allergies, as well
Fresh blueberries are always a favorite with children. Add them to smoothies, pancakes, muffins, desserts and even salads.
The darker the bean, the more nutritious it is, elevating black beans to the top of the superfood list. Their protein and fiber content help balance blood sugar and provide growing bodies with long-lasting energy. One cup of black beans also supplies about 20% of your child’s iron needs for the day.
Black beans can be added to chili, pureed into a dip with garlic, tomatoes and herbs or mixed with scrambled eggs.
Eggs provide high-quality nutrition at an affordable price and are a great source of choline, an often overlooked but essential nutrient for brain and nervous system development. They’re also high in protein and are a good dietary source of vitamin D.
Since eggs can be added to virtually any baked good, chances are your kids are already enjoying them. Look for muffin and pancake recipes using several eggs, and experiment with omelets and frittatas. Popular combinations include: zucchini and basil, onions and potatoes, and tomato, mozzarella and ham.
Spinach is another highly nutritious food and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K for optimal immunity and bone health. It’s also high in iron, several B vitamins and boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties making it a winner for heart and eye health.
If your child likes the flavor of pesto, replace half of the basil in the recipe with fresh spinach. Use as a sandwich spread, pizza topping or pasta sauce. Frozen chopped spinach is perfect for adding to meatballs or meatloaf.
Keep on trying different foods Don’t assume that your kids will never like something, if they’ve tried it once and dismissed it. Tastes change over time.
After School Snacks
Apple Snack Wedges
- 2 medium apples
1 cup Rice Chex (or other healthy crispy cereal), crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Core apples; cut each into six wedges. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a small shallow bowl, combine the cereal and brown sugar. Spread cut sides of the apples with peanut butter; roll in cereal mixture. Serve immediately.
Strawberry Mango Smoothie
- 1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1-1/2 cups halved fresh strawberries
1 medium mango, peeled and chopped
4 to 6 ice cubes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
In a blender, combine all ingredients; cover and process for 30-45 seconds or until smooth. Stir if necessary. Pour into chilled glasses; serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
Peanut Butter Granola Mini Bars
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- 1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, honey, egg, oil and vanilla until blended. Combine the oats, brown sugar and salt; add to the peanut butter mixture and mix well.
Stir in the dried fruit and chips. (Batter will be sticky.)
Press into a 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars.
Lunch Box Ideas
- 1/4 cup hummus
1 whole wheat tortilla (8 inches), at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 carrot, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
Spread hummus over the tortilla; top with spinach. Place chicken, carrot and red pepper strips in a row near the center of the tortilla; roll up tightly. If desired, cut crosswise into slices. Wrap securely or pack in an airtight container; and refrigerate until serving. Yield: 1 serving.
Lunch on a Stick
- Cheddar or Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
Whole wheat bread slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
Sliced deli ham and/or turkey, cut into 1-inch strips
Seedless red or green grapes
- Wooden skewers (5 to 6 inches
Cut cheese into 1/4-inch slices. Thread a skewer with 1 piece of cheese, bread, ham or turkey, tomato, lettuce and grape. Repeat the order again on the skewer. Make 3 more skewers.
Let children be creative and place their favorite healthy ingredients on a skewer. Yield: 4 servings.
Bean Dip & Chips
- 1/4 cup fat-free canned refried beans
1 tablespoon salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 minced scallion
- 1 ounceh ealthy tortilla chips, (about 10)
Combine refried beans, salsa, cilantro and scallion (if using) in a bowl. Serve with tortilla chips.
Healthy Dinner Options
Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup Italian seasoned panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Marinara sauce
Place butter in a shallow bowl.
Combine the panko crumbs, cheese, garlic powder and salt in another shallow bowl.
Dip chicken in butter, then roll in crumbs.
Place in a single layer on two 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pans.
Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Serve with marinara sauce, if desired.
Pizza Meatloaf Cups
These are great to reheat for a quick dinner on soccer night.
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces each) shredded mozzarella cheese
- Additional pizza sauce
In a large bowl, combine the egg, pizza sauce, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
Divide among 12 greased muffin cups; press onto the bottom and up the sides. Fill the center with cheese.
Bake at 375° F for 15-18 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
Serve with additional pizza sauce, if desired. Or cool, place in freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.
To use frozen pizza cups: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Heat on a microwave-safe plate on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 1 dozen.
- 2 medium carrots
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups part skim milk ricotta cheese,
2 cups (16 oz) shredded part skim milk mozzarella cheese, divided
3 oz grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
- 8 oz lasagna noodles, no boil
Chop carrots, green pepper and onion.
In a skillet, saute the vegetables in oil. Stir in the 2 cups of marinara sauce to heat it through.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and egg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread 1 cup sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish coated with olive oil cooking spray.
Layer 1/2 each, uncooked lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, sauce,. Repeat layering, and top with remaining cheese.
Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
- 88 Unexpected Snacks Under 100 Calories (greatist.com)
Eating a healthful lunch can help control blood glucose, hunger and weight. Lunch is a chance to keep you full until dinner and fit in some important food groups. Get more mileage out of your lunch by including fiber from whole grains and protein from low-fat dairy products and other lean protein sources.
Build a Balanced Lunch
Studies show people who tote their meals with them weigh less, eat more healthfully and spend less money.
When compiling your midday meal, remember this simple formula, even at home: whole grain + dairy/protein +vegetables = healthy lunch.
Include whole grains for the starch portion of your meal. You’ll get hearty satisfaction from grains with all their fiber and nutrients intact. This will be your main carbohydrate source.
The dairy/protein digests more slowly than carbohydrates, helping you feel satisfied and adding staying power to your lunch. Vegetables add color, flavor and antioxidants to your meal.
If you love sandwiches, use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas and wraps. Choose lean fillings like sliced eggs, tuna fish, cheese or lean meats. Then add interest to your sandwiches with assorted greens, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, onions, pickled peppers and tomatoes.
But sandwiches are far from your only option when you’re brown-bagging it. Last night’s dinner, anything you enjoy at home can, be packed up and eaten for lunch. In fact, you might want to make extra food for dinner, so you’ll have leftovers to bring for lunch. Leftovers are the perfect food to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to insure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious.
For example, pack the leftovers from last night’s casserole into a reusable container that can be microwaved at the office. Add some carrot, celery and pepper strips for a hearty and satisfying lunch. To take this idea a bit further, try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, chicken noodle soup or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.
Keep it cold. For safety’s sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack.
Pasta Lover’s Lunch Salad. Make the salad with lean meat or fish, some cubed or shredded cheese (for protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition and use whole wheat or whole-grain pasta. Toss everything together with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. Pack into individual lunch containers.
Mediterranean Pita Pocket. Fill a whole wheat pita with homemade or store-bought hummus, tabbouleh and sliced cooked chicken. All you need is a piece of fruit to round out the meal.
Fruit and Cheese Plate. Fill a divided plastic container with assorted cubes or slices of cheese and easy-to-eat fruit, such as apple and pear slices, grapes, berries or melon. Add some whole-wheat crackers to your lunch.
Everything Is Better on a Mini Bagel. Whole-wheat bagels are a wonderful foundation for sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or desk all morning. Start with two mini bagels. Add tuna, smoked salmon, oven baked turkey or roast beef. Top it off with cheese, fresh tomato, onion and Romaine lettuce. Two mini bagels can supply 6 grams of fiber to the meal.
Enjoy Lunch Salads. A plastic container can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. For a Cobb salad, fill it with spinach or chopped dark green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, shredded cheese, lean ham or turkey. Or toss in the ingredients for a chicken salad: dark salad greens, shredded chicken, shredded carrots, sliced green onion and toasted sliced almonds. Pack the dressing separately and add it to the salad just before eating.
Lunches at Home
Include more whole foods and choose lunch items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients (like calcium, protein and vitamin C). Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips and snacks, which have higher sodium, added sugar and saturated fat.
Spicy Poached Eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 large eggs
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cayenne and salt. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet with the onions and peppers and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make 5 hollows in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each hole. Cover and cook until the eggs set, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot with a small whole wheat roll.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained well
- 1 (9-inch) pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
Heat oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add spinach and stir until spinach is dry, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place pie crust in a 9-inch Quiche dish or pie pan. Press into the pan, sealing any cracks. Crimp the edges.
Mix flour with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over bottom of the crust, followed by the crumbled feta cheese. Top with spinach mixture.
Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Pour over spinach.
Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake about 50 minutes or until the top is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly. Cut in to wedges and serve.
Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Pound it to an even thinness between pieces of plastic wrap.
Place the chicken in a large, wide saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.
Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, basil and remaining salt and pepper. Toss and divide among individual plates.
Lunches For Work
Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to trim your budget. Most people think nothing of spending $10 or so for a restaurant lunch, but over the course of a month — or a year — the expense can really add up.
Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are healthier than foods from restaurants or fast food counters. When we eat out, we’re often faced with huge portions and fattening extras — like the french fries that routinely come with sandwiches. But when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.
Tuscan Tuna Wrap
- 4-5 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 2 whole-wheat wraps
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
Break up the tuna in a mixing bowl and mix in the parsley, lemon, oil, tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture between the wraps, top with spinach leaves and roll up. Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Pesto Turkey Sandwich
If you would like a little crunch in your sandwich, add a slice of cooked turkey bacon.
- 2 teaspoons prepared pesto
- 2 slices pumpernickel bread
- 2 ounces sliced turkey
- 2 romaine lettuce leaves
- 4 slices tomato
Spread pesto on the bread. Top 1 bread slice with turkey, lettuce, tomato and top with the remaining bread slice. Place in a large plastic sandwich bag.
Corn & Black Bean & Mango Salad
Make ahead salad to pack for lunch. Serve with healthy toasted corn tortillas.
- 2 1/4 cups frozen corn, defrosted and drained
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
- Lime wedges for garnish
Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, beans, cabbage, tomato, mango, parsley and onion; toss to coat. Sprinkle nuts on top. Refrigerate in lunch containers with a lime wedge.
- Quinoa salad (dashofcreativity.wordpress.com)
- Cabbage Pear Salad French Dressing (skinnyfiberblog.wordpress.com)
- lunchbox life: egg salad on whole grain bread (bungalowkitchen.wordpress.com)
- Tacos (thediabetickitchen.wordpress.com)
- Salad in a Jar (dolcendiana.wordpress.com)
- Black Bean and Avocado Salad (closetandkitchen.wordpress.com)
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad (beingmrsgardom.wordpress.com)
- Apple-Fennel Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette (cathweber.blogspot.com)