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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: sweet potatoes

I recently roasted root vegetables for dinner and had extra cooked spinach on hand, so rather than reheat the vegetables, I came up with a new way to serve them. The two new dishes complimented pan seared beef tenderloin steaks very well.

Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 large beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup leftover garlic sautéed spinach
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil

Directions

Cut off a thin slice from the tops of the tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds and center flesh with a small serrated spoon. Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with a little salt and turn them over on a paper towel to drain for 30 minutes.
Divide the spinach in half and fill the center of the tomatoes. Top the spinach with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a small baking dish and place the filled tomatoes in the dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetable Puree

Ingredients

2 cups leftover roasted root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips)
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Place the roasted vegetables in the processor. Pulse until completely pureed. Add the cream to make a smooth mixture. Place the pureed vegetables in a microwave safe bowl, top with the butter and heat on high for several minutes until the vegetables are hot. Sprinkle on the chives and serve.

Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce

Ingredients

2- 6 oz. filet mignon steaks, about 1-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme
1 cup Cabernet wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Heat a skillet and add 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle the steaks with salt & pepper. Cook filets until desired doneness,4- 5 minutes per side (depending on thickness) for medium-rare.
Remove the steaks to serving plates
Add shallots, cook 1 min, add wine and herbs. Boil for several minutes until reduced. Stir in butter. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.

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Parmesan Crusted Fish Fillets

Ingredients

10-12 oz white fish fillets
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Lemon quarters

Directions

Combine the egg, cream and Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the fish fillets lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a skillet.
Coat the fish in the batter and add to the hot butter in the skillet. Cook until golden on the bottom side and turn over to cook the second side until golden. Serve with lemon quarters.

Coleslaw

Ingredients

1/4 of a large savoy cabbage, sliced thin
2 scallions, finely minced
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, sour cream and vinegar using a whisk.
Add the shredded cabbage and scallions, stir gently to mix.
Refrigerate, covered, for several hours before serving.

Sweet Potato Waffle Fries

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes (about 1 lb./500 g total)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them in half crosswise. Using a crinkle cutter or a mandoline fitted with the waffle cut blade, thinly slice the potatoes into waffle-cut rounds about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick according to the manufacturer’s instructions, rotating the sweet potato 90 degrees between each cut.

Spread the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss the sweet potatoes to coat evenly, the spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake until the potatoes are crisp and golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and serve hot.


 

WINTER MOOD — PALETTE KNIFE Oil Painting On Canvas By Leonid Afremov

WINTER MOOD — Oil Painting On Canvas By Leonid Afremov

It’s January and cold outside with temperatures that will be that way for a few days, even here in the South. To give the house a warm feeling, I bake bread. And, of course, the smell is so enticing.

Below are three bread recipes that are sure to warm you up.

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Cranberry Sweet Potato Muffins

12-15 muffins

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cold mashed sweet potatoes (without added butter or milk)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
Chopped pecans
Cinnamon-sugar

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk, sweet potatoes and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the cranberries.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of chopped pecans and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

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Bake at 375°F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in muffins comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread

This is a large volume dough and if you do not have a heavy-duty large capacity mixer, you will have to make the dough by hand or cut the ingredients in half to make one loaf.

2 loaves

Ingredients

4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (120° to 130°)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, sugar and yeast.

Beat in the warm water, pumpkin, applesauce and oil just until moistened.

Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining all-purpose flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic,about 6-8 minutes or knead in your mixer.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into an 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle and brush with the softened butter to within 1/2 in. of edges.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over both doughs. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the short side and pinch seam to seal.

Place seam side down in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

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Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

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Sourdough Ciabatta

This is a great bread to serve with your favorite soup.

2 large loaves

Ingredients

2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 cups unbleached All-Purpose flour

Directions

Mix the yeast with the flour.

In an electric mixer bowl combine the milk, olive oil and salt with the paddle attachment. Stir in the flour, a cup at a time, until you have a dough the consistency of drop-cookie batter.

Switch to the dough hook and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and satiny.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let the dough rise, undisturbed, about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough gently and divide it into two pieces.

Form the loaves into torpedo shapes, and place each loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With a serrated knife, make three slashes in the tops of the loaves, each 1/2-inch deep.

Cover with a damp towel.

Let the loaves rise until they look puffy. This should take approximately 30 minutes. While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 425°F.

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Brush or spray the loaves with water; a plant mister is good for this job. Bake for 10 minutes, spraying the loaves with water two more times.

Lower the oven to 375°F and bake for an additional 25 minutes.


fallflavorsheadWhat flavors do you associate with fall? For me the ones that immediately come to mind are apple cider, cinnamon, caramel, ginger, cranberry, pumpkin and nut flavors. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate these flavors into your cooking.

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Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

Put the potatoes, apple cider and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring once, until the potatoes are tender (25-30 minutes).

Mash the potatoes with the cider until it is smooth. Add the butter and the pepper and heat just until the butter melts. Garnish with parsley.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Cheese Pie

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Crust

  • 1/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter

Directions

For the crust:

Place the crust ingredients, except the butter, in a food processor or blender and process until totally ground, but not powdery. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the crumbs for a topping.

Rub a little soft butter on the inside of a 9″ pie pan at least 1 1/2″ deep; use a deep-dish pan, if you have one.

If your pie pan isn’t at least 1 1/2″ deep, substitute a 9″ square pan.

Pour the crumbs into the pan, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Place the pan on a baking sheet, to make it easy to handle once you’ve added the filling.

For the filling:

Beat together with an electric mixer the ricotta, mascarpone, pumpkin, honey, eggs and pumpkin pie spice.

Continue to beat until creamy.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the center of the cheese pie springs back to the touch.

Chill in the refrigerator prior to serving.

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Apple Bars

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted or cinnamon chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; set aside.

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir in the apples and nuts.

Add the egg mixture to the well in the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick).

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely.

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Pear Crisp

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups thinly sliced pears
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Topping

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the sliced fruit with the granulated sugar and place in the prepared baking dish.

For the topping:

In a medium bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden.

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Cranberry Pecan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup sweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).

Coat an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oats, applesauce and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine them.

Mix in the cranberries and pecans. It should have a consistency a little thicker than pancake batter.

Pour the dough into the loaf pan.

Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the loaf’s center comes out dry or an instant read thermometer registers 190 degrees F at the center of the loaf.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool before slicing.

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november

A new month as turned the corner and you will start to find less of the warm weather foods and more of the items that grow well in cooler weather at your market. The produce that seemed most abundant to me at the market this week were carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, leeks and broccoli. Here are a few ideas on how to serve them.

Sweet Potatoes

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Purchase sweet potatoes that are a uniform in size so that they cook evenly.
Scrub them under water and dry them with a paper towel.
Spray or rub them with oil.
Use a metal fork to poke a few holes in each potato. (This keeps them from exploding when they cook. Don’t do this too far ahead of baking or the fork holes will oxidize and turn dark.)
Put them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 50-60 minutes, until soft.

Toppings:

Cheese: shredded cheddar/jack, crumbled feta, grated Parmesan, ricotta.
Fresh herbs and seasonings: chopped fresh basil, cilantro, oregano, chives or dill.
Meats: chili, taco meat, fajita chicken or beef, pulled pork, bacon, chopped ham, salami, mini meatballs.
Vegetables: chopped scallions or red onions; steamed broccoli, green beans, snow peas or asparagus; grilled corn; chili beans; chopped fresh tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes; sauteed spinach, mushrooms or onions; roasted red peppers; jalapenos; thawed frozen peas; chopped avocado or guacamole; coleslaw
Sauces & dressings: salsa; barbecue sauce; gravy; nacho sauce; ranch salad dressing;  peanut sauce, marinara sauce; pesto.
Sweets: brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
Toasted Nuts: sunflower seeds, pepitas, pecans, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts.

Tuna, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 pears – cored and diced
  • 6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 12 ounces tuna, packed in water, drained
  • ½ cup peeled, grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

For the dressing: blend the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, tuna, carrots and onions. Pour dressing over the salad and toss, Sprinkle with pecans and serve the salad with a slice of the carrot bread (recipe below).

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Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Pasta

I prefer to saute the vegetables separately, so that they do not overcook before adding them to the sauce.

3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 oz short pasta, like rotini or penne
  • 12 large shrimp (16-21 size)
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts, sliced thin
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 teaspoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of butter, add the leeks and garlic and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the leeks and garlic to a bowl and set aside.

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Add another teaspoon of butter to the skillet, add the diced zucchini and cook until tender, about 3-4

minutes. Remove the zucchini from the skillet and add it to the bowl with the leeks.

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Add another teaspoon of butter to the skillet, add the tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes.

Remove the tomatoes from the skillet and add them to the bowl with the leeks and zucchini.

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Add the remaining teaspoon of butter to the skillet, add the shrimp and saute them just until they turn pink, turning them over once, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and Italian seasoning.

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Bring to a simmer. Add the cooked vegetables and heat gently.

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When the water boils, cook the pasta al dente. Drain and add it to the skillet with the shrimp mixture.

Add the grated cheese and stir gently. Serve immediately

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Carrot and Spice Quick Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, beating well. Beat in the milk, egg, vanilla and orange extracts.

Stir in the carrots and walnuts.

Add the reserved dry ingredients. Mix well.

Spoon the batter into 2 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.


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Are you concerned about how much food we waste? I know I am and a good way to stop the waste is to come up with ways to use leftovers that are not boring. Another way to not be wasteful, is to keep track of your food purchases that you keep in the refrigerator and the pantry. The bell peppers that looked so beautiful at the market won’t look that way when you find them in the back of the refrigerator vegetable bin two weeks later.

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Recently, I roasted a pan of winter root vegetables and served them with slices of leftover turkey meatloaf. You can see the recipe for the Apple, Sage and Turkey Meatloaf on the post link:

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/01/05/healthy-weeknight-meat-entrees/

The meatloaf and the roasted vegetables went very well together. Of course, there were plenty of roasted vegetables leftover and I decided to make a Roasted Vegetable Galette with the leftover vegetables for another meal later in the week.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 4 medium golden beets peeled and quartered
  • 6 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 2 bunches fresh carrots, tops removed and cut into thirds
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, core removed and cut into eighths
  • 6 large cauliflower florets cut from one head
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Several thyme stalks and sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix together the oil and honey on a large baking sheet with sides. Add the vegetables and garlic and mix until all the vegetables are coated in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and distribute the herbs evenly over the vegetables.

Bake for an hour or until the vegetables are tender and browned. Stir the vegetables after about 30 minutes to prevent sticking.

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Roasted Vegetable Galette

Tip: Make 2 Galettes – one for dinner and one to freeze. The extra Galette will come in handy on a night you do not feel like cooking. All it needs is a salad. I made a cucumber salad to go with our dinner and it was just right.

One Galette serves 4

Ingredients

  • Two prepared 9 inch pastry rounds
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 6 cups diced roasted root vegetables, divided

To assemble the Galettes:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place parchment paper on two large baking sheets with sides.

Place one pastry round on each baking sheet.

Place 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese in the center of each pastry round and top each with 3 cups of the diced roasted vegetables, leaving a 1 ½ inch pastry border.

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Brush the uncovered pastry with water.

Fold the border up and over the filling to form a rim, pleating as you go. See photo above.

Bake the Galettes until the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm.

Wrap the second Galette in heavy duty foil, place in a freezer ziplock bag and freeze.

When you are ready to use the second Galette, place the foil wrapped Galette on a baking sheet in a 400 degree F oven and heat for about 45 minutes. Open the foil and expose the top of the Galette during the last 15 minutes of baking.

cucumber salad 1

Dilled Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup Greek low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill, finely chopped or 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar

Directions

Halve cucumbers lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces.

Toss the cucumbers with 2 teaspoons salt and place them in a colander set over a bowl. Let stand 15 minutes.

In a medium serving bowl, combine the yogurt, dill, vinegar, agave and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Remove the cucumbers from the colander and pat dry with paper towels. Add to the bowl with the yogurt dressing; toss to combine. Chill until serving time.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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