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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: kale

It is cold this week in the South- really cold. Here are a few of my warming recipes for the week.

Spicy Olive Tapenade

This recipe is a delicious side to a bowl of soup.

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups kalamata olives, pitted
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Crostini or crackers for serving

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor combine the tapenade ingredients and pulse until well combined. Place in a serving bowl.

Serve at room temperature over crostini or crackers.

Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients

6 oz small pasta
2 tablespoons olive Oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 28-oz container chopped or diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth or water
Two 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil herbs, cut into ribbons
Crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan for garnish

Directions

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, and set aside.

In a large Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onions, celery and carrots over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender.

Add the garlic, bay leaf and oregano. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth and cannellini beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cover the pot with a lid but leave on a slant. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and heat until warmed through. Stir in the fresh basil and remove from the heat.

Transfer to serving bowls and top with crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp

Ingredients

Shrimp

6 thin slices prosciutto
18 large shrimp (16-20 size), peeled and deveined (tail on or off)
Salt and pepper

Garlic Butter Sauce

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

On a cutting board, cut each slice of prosciutto into three long strips. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the body of a piece of shrimp, and lay it seam-side-down on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and prosciutto.

Brush with garlic butter sauce over onto all the sides of each shrimp. Season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and opaque and the prosciutto is slightly crispy. Brush with more garlic butter and serve.

Tuscan Kale and Rutabaga Mash

Tuscan kale goes by many names: lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, black-leaf kale and Tuscan kale. It is common in Tuscany, and in Italian it’s called cavolo nero (literally: “black cabbage”). It’s leaves are more tender and flavorful than other types, sweeter and less bitter.and easier to cook than curly leaf kale.
In Italy, rutabagas are often roasted with other vegetables and served with a balsamic dressing.

Tuscan Kale

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, washed and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Rutabaga

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

To prepare the kale:

Place the chopped kale leaves in a deep skillet and heat, using just the water that remains on the leaves to provide moisture.

Cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the leaves in a colander and add the garlic, salt and olive oil to the skillet. Toss the kale in the oil for 1-2 minutes and remove from the heat.

To prepare the rutabaga:

Put the rutabaga chunks in a large saucepan and cover with water.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes or until very tender.

Drain and let them dry in a colander. Place them back in the pot and mash the rutabagas with the butter, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper.

Stir in the cooked kale.

Tender Meatloaf

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground pork
2 cups prepared pasta sauce
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
1 small onion, minced
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup very finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 slices partially cooked bacon, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Put the mixture into a greased loaf pan. Smooth the top. (I use a meatloaf pan and the fat drips into the lower pan.)

Bake uncovered for 1 hour 30 minutes. Check the center with a meat thermometer. Cooked meatloaf temperature should be 160+.

Take the pan out of the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

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Over the past week and a half, I cooked several meals that yielded plenty of leftovers. My plan was to create some new ways to use these leftovers and this post is the result of that planning. The chicken breasts were really an economical buy because they yielded 3 different meals. The same with the pot roast. There was also plenty of kale remaining to make a hearty soup and the leftover stuffing makes a great breakfast hash.

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Chicken Divan Redo

Roasted chicken recipe: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/11/14/dinners-in-the-oven/

2 servings

  • 6 leftover roasted broccoli floret spears
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved lemon broth from the roasted chicken or use chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup well-chilled half & half
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Italian fontina cheese
  • 4 leftover roasted chicken slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Directions

In a heavy saucepan combine the broth and flour. Stir until the flour is absorbed. Add the half & half and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and then simmer until thickened  

Stir in the cheese and season the sauce with salt and pepper, if needed. Heat until the cheese is melted.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange the broccoli in two individual baking dishes or in a 2-quart gratin dish and pour half the sauce over it.

Arrange the chicken on top of the broccoli, pour the remaining sauce over it. Sprinkle the top with of each dish with one tablespoon of the breadcrumbs and sprinkle each with paprika.

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Cut two pieces of foil just large enough to cover the dishes. Coat the foil with cooking spray and use that side to cover the dishes. Bake the covered dishes for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake  until the top is golden and bubbling, about 15 minutes.

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Individual Shepherd’s’ Pie

I had served the pot roast with mashed potatoes and made extra potatoes so I would have some leftover.

Pot roast recipe: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/11/11/how-to-keep-beef-recipes-healthy/

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced leftover pot roast and gravy
  • 2 carrots, diced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

Directions

Combine the pot roast, peas and carrots in a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture in half and place it in two individual ovenproof dishes.

Spread half of the potatoes over the mixture in one dish and spread the remaining potatoes over the mixture in the second dish.

(You can even fix this earlier in the day and refrigerate until dinner time.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the casseroles for about 30 minutes or until the potato topping is golden brown.

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Caesar Salad with Leftover Roasted Chicken

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken cut into cubes
  • 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup croutons, see recipe below
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper for garnish

Dressing

  • 1 anchovy, finely chopped or use anchovy paste
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise made with olive oil, if available
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Add the anchovy, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce to a bowl and whisk together.

Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup of olive oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified.

Place the chopped lettuce in a bowl and toss it with the dressing, cubed chicken and croutons. Top the salad with extra cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Croutons

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cubed bread
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In mixing bowl combine the bread cubes and olive oil. Toss well to coat.

Pour the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Spread them into a single layer.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to prevent burning.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

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Kale and Lima Bean Soup

I used homemade cooked dried baby lima beans for this soup, but you can use canned white beans, if you choose.

Kale recipe link

 

 

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Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 10 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth or homemade broth
  • 4 cups packed chopped fresh kale or 2 cups leftover cooked kale
  • 1 large fresh tomato, diced
  • 4 cups home cooked dried baby lima beans or canned no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained
  • 3 large carrots, cut into coins
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning; cook 2 minutes longer.

Add broth, kale, tomatoes and beans and heat thoroughly. Serve hot with grated cheese and Italian bread.

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Easy Hash and Eggs

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups of leftover Italian bread and sausage stuffing, (see link above from Dinner’s In The Oven)
  • 4 large eggs

Directions

In a medium skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the butter.

Add the stuffing, flatten with a spatula and cook until light golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Gently turn the stuffing over and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

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

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


Tuscan Kale

Tuscan Kale

Spinach

Spinach

Rapini

Rapini

Greens

The fall is the best time to buy greens from a grocery market or farmers’ market. Some leafy greens cook very quickly. Spinach is the best example. But others, like kale, are more hearty and need a longer time to cook. Dark green, leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Is is good idea to include them in your recipes, often. Here are some of my favorite ways to cook them.

Kale

Lacinato kale (called cavolo nero, literally “black cabbage”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone and ribollita. It is also readily available in my market.

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Tuscan Kale, Roasted Chicken and Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 large bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1″ strips
  • Simple Lemon sauce, recipe below

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts in a medium baking dish, drizzle with the 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning. Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

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Place the kale in a large pot, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, minced garlic and simmer over very low heat until the kale is wilted completely.

Continue to cook until the kale and onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the kale on a serving platter, top with the roasted chicken and serve the lemon sauce on the side.

Simple Savory Lemon Cream Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ up. white wine
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or other herbs

Directions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet, add the flour and whisk for about a minute. Add the milk and wine. Remove the pan from the heat and add the seasonings, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Return the pan to the heat and whisk until thick and creamy, about another minute or two. Pour over vegetables, chicken or fish.

Rapini (Broccoli rabe)

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Pasta With Greens and Ricotta Cheese

Paccheri a type of pasta in the shape of a very large tube that originated from Campania and Calabria, Italy. They are generally smooth, but there is also a ribbed version, paccheri millerighe.

They can be served stuffed or with just a sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 2 bunches greens, such as chard, kale or broccoli raab (rapini), washed well and cut into 2 inch lengths.
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano Pecorino
  • 1 pound paccheri, pappardelle or orecchiette pasta

Directions

Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over very low heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt it generously and add the greens. After the water returns to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes until the greens are tender.

Using a deep-fry skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the rapini to the skillet. Toss in the hot pan for about a minute, just until the greens are lightly coated with oil and fragrant with garlic.

Season with salt and pepper.

Do not drain the hot water in the pot, as you’ll use it to cook the pasta.

Place the ricotta in a large pasta bowl.

Bring the water for the pasta back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta into the ricotta and stir together.

Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the ricotta. Add the grated Parmesan and toss with the ricotta and greens. Serve at once.

 

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Spinach

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Spinach and Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed well
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
  • Half of a medium onion sliced
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a pizza pan.

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and add the garlic and onions. Cook until the onion is tender. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts.

Season with salt and pepper. Set the skillet aside.

Press the pizza dough to the edges of the pan.

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Top the dough with the sliced mozzarella and spread the ricotta over the mozzarella. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly over the ricotta and sprinkle with feta.

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Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.


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Fall is here and comfort foods are perfect for dinner. This meal is high on the list of favorites in my family. Years ago, I got the idea of combining potatoes with greens for more nutrition and who would have thought the children loved mashed potatoes prepared this way.

Tip: set aside one cup of the diced cooked potatoes and one cup of the roasted carrots to use in a beef pot pie later in the week. There is plenty of braised steak for leftovers.

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Braised Steak

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sirloin or round steak
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms

Directions

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl.

Cut the steak into serving-size portions about 1/4 inch thick. Press the flour into the steak pieces with your hand. Reserve any flour that is left.

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In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Brown the steak pieces thoroughly on all sides and set aside the browned pieces on a plate.

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Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the same skillet and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Stir in any remaining flour and mix until thoroughly absorbed.

Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Return the browned steak to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet.

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Simmer on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl.

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Mashed Potatoes With Spinach or Kale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (1 large bunch) spinach or kale
  • 1 cup milk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan. Add the garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan partially and cook the potatoes until very tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain off the water, return the potatoes and garlic to the pan, cover tightly and let steam over very low heat for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a food mill. Add the olive oil.

While the potatoes are cooking bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the spinach or kale.

Cook the spinach for 4 minutes, kale for 6 minutes (after the water returns to the boil), until the leaves are tender but still bright green. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Chop fine.

Set the pan with the potatoes over low heat. Stir the chopped spinach into the hot mashed potatoes, add the milk and gently stir. Add salt to taste and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot.

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Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated orange peel
  • Sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange carrots in single layer in a baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and orange peel; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.

Cover the dish tightly with foil. Roast until crisp-tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer carrots and any juices to a serving platter. Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.

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Easy Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold milk or buttermilk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter just until crumbs are the size of large peas.

Add the milk and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl.

Scoop the dough onto a well-floured surface and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Roll or pat the dough into an 8 inch rectangle about ½ inch thick.

Cut biscuits with a sharp knife into 2 inch squares.

Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the biscuits for 10 to 14 minutes or until they’re a light golden brown.

Remove them from the oven and serve hot.


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Below is a dinner we had last week that makes use of “in season” produce: cabbage and Italian kale. It also demonstrates my frugal habits.

Italian Stuffed Cabbage

This dish goes well with mashed potatoes. I served Mashed Potatoes with Kale to make the dish a bit healthier, plus we like mashed potatoes mixed with greens. Swiss chard also works well. See the recipe below.

Makes 8 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cabbage

Meat Filling

  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dried Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup cubed mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sauce

  • 2 cups strained or crushed Italian tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili)
  • Half of a small onion, sliced thin

Directions

Prepare the cabbage:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Discard any discolored or broken outer cabbage leaves. Remove the cabbage core and carefully peel 8 large leaves off the head. Blanch leaves for 1 minute (half at time), until wilted and spread them out on kitchen towels so that they dry and cool.

I saved the rest of the cabbage for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

Make the filling:

Combine all the meat filling ingredients with a pinch or two of salt and black pepper.

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Make the cabbage rolls:

Form some of the meat filling mixture into a golf ball-sized rounds and place on the cooled cabbage leaves. Fold in the sides of the cabbage leaves and roll up jelly roll style wrapping the cabbage around the filling.. Repeat with the remaining leaves and mixture.

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Make the sauce:

In a casserole dish large enough to hold the cabbage rolls, combine the sauce ingredients.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the cabbage packages, arranging them carefully in the pan so that the stuffing remains intact. Cover the dish with foil a and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover the baking dish and continue to bake for 15 minutes more.

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Mashed Potatoes With Kale

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (1 large bunch) kale, either curly or cavolo nero, with the ribs removed and the leaves washed
  • 1-1/4 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan, add 1/2 tablespoon of salt and the garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover partially and cook until tender about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain off the water, return the potatoes with the garlic to the pan and mash with a potato masher.

While the potatoes are cooking bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the kale. Cook the kale for 4 to 6 minutes (after the water returns to the boil) until the leaves are tender but still bright green. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop into small pieces and add the olive oil.

Stir the chopped kale into the hot mashed potatoes along with the milk.  Add salt to taste and freshly ground pepper.


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This time of year the weather can be quite unpredictable. A few days of nice, warm, sunny weather and them the cold comes roaring back. Those are the days when you want some warming comfort food again. Here are a few recipes to keep you comfy.

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Chicken Osso Bucco

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lb)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 8-oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 3 teaspoons lemon peel
  • 28 oz can Italian crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 16 oz dried linguine pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

In shallow bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Coat chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess flour.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the coated chicken and cook 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.

Place chicken in an ungreased 13 x 9 inch (3-quart) baking dish; set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic; cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of the Italian parsley, 2 teaspoons of the lemon peel, the tomatoes and chicken broth; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Pour tomato mixture over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake 45 to 50 minutes or a meat thermometer inserted in the chicken registers 165°F.

Cook pasta al dente and drain.

In a small skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add bread crumbs; cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown; remove from the heat.

Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon peel. Serve chicken over pasta and sprinkle with bread crumb mixture.

comfortfood3

Mushroom Broccoli Flatbread

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 oz package frozen broccoli florets, defrosted
  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 ½ cups (6 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a large (15 inch) cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Dry broccoli on paper towels.

Press pizza dough to the edges of the pan. Bake about 8 minutes or until light golden brown.

In a small bowl, mix the oil and garlic. Brush on the baked pizza crust. Top with mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, cheese and pepper flakes.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is melted. Cut into squares to serve.

comfortfood5

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Bake

8 servings

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ¼ cup butter plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups chopped fresh Tuscan kale (lacinato)
  • 28 oz can diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (2 cups)
  • ½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Directions

Heat the oven to 450°F. Line 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan with foil; lightly coat with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the olive oil until well blended. Spread on the prepared pan in a single layer.

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Bake 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the vegetables are tender and golden brown.

In a 4 to 5 quart Dutch oven, cook pasta al dente and drain. Return pasta to the pan.

In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, melt the 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat. Add flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper flakes; cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy. Gradually stir in milk; cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Coat a 13 x 9 inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

Stir roasted vegetables, sauce, kale, tomatoes and chickpeas into the cooked pasta in the Dutch oven until well blended.

Spoon half of the pasta mixture into the baking dish; sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat with remaining pasta mixture and remaining 1 cup cheese.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter uncovered on High about 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir in the bread crumbs until well blended.

Uncover the baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly onto the pasta mixture Bake 8-10 minutes or until the bread crumbs are light golden brown.

comfortfood6

Steak with Italian Mushroom Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 oz baby portabellas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 (1-inch thick) boneless steaks, such as NY strip or ribeye (1 1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato (marinara) sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Season steaks with salt. Place oil in the pan, then add the steaks and cook 3 minutes without turning.

Turn steaks and cook 5–6 minutes or until the steaks register 145°F (for medium rare) on a meat thermometer.

Remove the steaks from the pan; cover to keep warm. Add mushrooms, onions and pepper flakes to the pan; cook and stir 5 minutes.

Add stock and tomato sauce to the mushroom mixture. Reduce heat to low; simmer 4–5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until reduced by about one-half. Stir in parsley.

Slice steak; top with sauce and Parmesan cheese. Serve.

comfortfood2

Quick Bean and Italian Kale Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion,
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery,
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-½ cups water
  • 14.5 oz can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 15 oz can low sodium Great Northern beans, drained
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chopped Italian kale, stems removed
  • ½ cup dry small pasta shells, uncooked
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.

Add water, undrained tomatoes, beans and tomato sauce; stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil.

Add kale and pasta; stir. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the kale and pasta are tender, stirring occasionally. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

'I reduce my stress with comfort food. Now none of my clothes are comfortable.'

‘I reduce my stress with comfort food. Now none of my clothes are comfortable.’


Kate Hackett Ceramics

Kate Hackett Ceramics

There are many motivations for sticking with a healthy diet. Eating more of the good stuff (and less of the junk) can help you prevent cancer, extend your lifespan, protect your heart and manage your weight. But one thing we don’t always remember is that your diet affects not just your weight, but your body from the inside to the outside. Your body transforms the foods you eat into the cells that make up your hair, nails, skin and bones, along with your brain, heart and joints. You literally are what you eat.

Add lean meats and beans to your diet to help keep your body in hormone balance and prevent hair loss. B-vitamins from leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and carrots also support cell growth for healthy hair.

Essential fatty acids (named “essential” because your body cannot make them) help you grow brain cells and stay sharp, so feed your brain with regular doses of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.

The antioxidants for brain health also help the eyes, so include foods with lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants, found in spinach, collard greens and kale, protect the retina from macular degeneration.

Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, spinach and soybeans are all good sources of dietary calcium.

Boost your vitamin C intake with fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries, oranges, pineapple, cauliflower and green peppers to keep your joints healthy.

Fiber is also essential. Whole grains, especially oats and bran, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can help you get your daily 20-35 grams of fiber.

Maintain disease-free and healthy looking skin with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This antioxidant is more powerful than vitamins C and E and protects your skin cells from damage and many of the elements it’s exposed to each day. ALA can be found in spinach, broccoli and beef. Vitamins C, E, K, and A, as well as B-vitamins, are also important for nourished skin. Enjoying a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you reach the recommended amounts.

Winter comfort foods can be good for you. Sweet potatoes are filled with vitamin A and anything filled with green vegetables will give you a vitamin C boost. Switching up some ingredients for healthier ones in your favorite casserole dishes can improve a recipe’s nutrition. Also, be careful about the amount of cheese, bread and cream in a recipe.

The next time you look forward to making a comforting dish, try out one of the healthy recipes below instead of your usual go-to casserole. Another bonus is that all of the recipes below are between 300 and 350 calories per serving. That leaves some room for a healthy dessert.

casserole1

Meatballs and Bean Casserole

6 servings

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground meat (pork, beef, chicken, turkey or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 finely minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil for the baking pan

Casserole

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (2 medium)
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery (1 stalk)
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 2 ½ cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (marinara sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • Two 15 ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion tops

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a rimmed cookie sheet.

To make the meatballs:

Mix all the ingredients, except the oil,  together in a large bowl. With wet hands form into 12 equal sized meatballs. (Use an ice cream scoop to make them uniform in size.)

Place the meatballs on the prepared pan and bake the meatballs in the oven for about 25 minutes.

In a large Dutch Oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add green beans. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato sauce and oregano. Stir in beans and meatballs.

Cover the pan and transfer the mixture to the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes. Uncover. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until heated through. Sprinkle with green onion tops just before serving.

casserole3

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • ¼ cup fat-free milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces uncooked ground turkey breast or a mix of white and dark meat or lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely diced zucchini (1 medium)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (2 medium)
  • ½ cup frozen yellow corn
  • ¼ cup water
  • One 8 ounce can low salt tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, cook sweet potatoes and garlic, covered, in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain.

Mash the sweet potatoes and gradually add milk and salt, mashing the potato mixture to make a light and fluffy mixture. Cover and keep warm.

In a large skillet cook turkey or beef and onion over medium heat until meat is brown, stirring to break up the meat as it cooks. Drain, if needed.

Stir in zucchini, carrots, corn and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper to the meat mixture; heat through.

Spoon mixture into a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish, spreading evenly. Spoon mashed potato mixture on top of the pie mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until heated through.

casserole5

White Bean and Kale Casserole

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded kale (stems removed)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • Two 19 ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan cook kale in a small amount of boiling water for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain well in a colander.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook for 4 minutes or until tender.

In a large bowl combine cooked kale, onion mixture, beans, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, the oregano, garlic and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons bread crumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle over the bean mixture.

Sprinkle with diced prosciutto.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until heated through and the prosciutto is crispy.

casserole4

Vegetable Pasta Bake

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 ½ cups cauliflower florets (1/2 medium head)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 12 ounces spinach, stems removed, leaves torn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large Dutch Oven, cook pasta al dente according to package directions; add cauliflower during the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery; cook just until carrots are tender. Add spinach; cook just until wilted. Stir in pasta mixture and peas.

For the cheese sauce:

In a small saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk all at once; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; add cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until melted.

Stir sauce into pasta and vegetables.

Transfer to a 2 1/2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 5 minutes more.

casserole2

Pizza Casserole

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 yellow, red and/or green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 fully cooked chicken sausage links, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb package pizza dough
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic; cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, sliced sausage, half of the Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to the mixture in the skillet. Bring to boiling; boil gently, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.

Place pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a knife or pastry wheel, cut pizza dough into 16 strips.

Remove skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Arrange pizza dough strips  on top of the casserole in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle with remaining Italian seasoning. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.



NekesaAgola

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