Taco Flavored Zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon of your favorite taco seasoning
1 hot pepper (serrano), seeded and minced
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-inch shells. Brush with oil; set aside. Chop zucchini pulp.
Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. You may also bake the stuffed zucchini in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.
Epazote has a sharp, herbal flavor, reminiscent of oregano and fennel with minty, pine notes. It is commonly found in Mexican cooking.
1/2 pound skirt steak or flank steak pounded thin
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried epazote
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow glass dish. Cut the steak into 4 pieces and pound them to an even thin thickness. Marinate beef in the refrigerator, 2 hours to overnight.
Preheat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Grill beef over direct heat until firm and pink in the center, 2 minutes per side. Remove steak to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
1/4 of a large head of savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Place the dressing ingredients in a serving bowl and mix well. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion. Thoroughly combine and refrigerate covered for several hours.
Steak dinners are special and you don’t need to go to a steakhouse to get a great steak dinner. Easy to do at home. Choosing a cut of steak may seem an intimidating task as there are so many to choose from. When choosing your cut, it should be moist rather than dry or slimy. Look for firm, fine-grained meat with a light marbling of fat – without this the steak will be dry once cooked. Any fat on the edges of the steak should be creamy-colored and the meat should be deep burgundy in color, not bright red. Rib-eyes, strip steaks, top sirloin steaks and T-bone steaks are familiar and delicious; you can’t go wrong with any of them. My choice and just the right size for a special dinner are New York strip steaks also called Delmonico steaks. The biggest mistake cooks make when grilling steak is that they overcook it. I prefer organic, grass-fed meat and that type of steak is very easy to overcook. Grass-fed beef cooks much more quickly than regular beef. To make these steaks delicious – use a marinade and follow the directions for the cooking time below. If you cook regular beef, the steaks will need a few more minutes on the grill than grass-fed beef. All you need then are some great side dishes. Dinner party a success!
Marinated Grass-Fed Steak
Six 1-inch-thick top loin (New York strip/Delmonico) bone-in, organic, grass-fed (8 to 10 oz. each) steaks, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
8 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
For the marinade:
In a medium bowl, mix the oil with the soy sauce, the Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, half of the thyme and garlic.
Put the steaks in a large dish and coat them with the marinade mixture.
Cover the bowl and marinate the steaks in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
Sprinkle the steaks with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 4 teaspoons pepper.
Clean and oil the grill grates. Heat one burner to medium high and the second burner to medium low.
While the grill heats, let the steaks rest at room temperature.
Place the steaks over the hotter part of the fire.
Cook, covered, 2 minutes per side. If the steaks are thinner then only grill for 1 minutes per side.
Using an instant meat thermometer, check the temperature of the meat.
If it is 120-125 degrees F, remove the steaks to a serving plate.
If the temperature is lower than 120 degrees F, move the steaks to the low heat burner.
Continue to grill until the temperature reaches 120 degrees F.
Transfer the steaks to a large serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining thyme and let rest five minutes before serving.
4 pounds red-skinned potatoes
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley and chives
Place the potatoes, unpeeled, in a large saucepan with salted water to cover.
Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, peel them. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
(The recipe can be prepared ahead to this point. Drizzle the potatoes with a little olive oil, cover and refrigerate until ready to saute.)
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold potatoes in one layer. When oil is quite hot, add potatoes.
Cook over high heat, shaking skillet and stirring gently, until lightly browned. Turn potatoes with a spatula.
Cook for a few minutes more until light brown.
Add butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss and blend well. Sprinkle with parsley and chives. Serve immediately.
Stuffed Grilled Zucchini
Start the zucchini on the low heat side of the grill about 5 minutes before you put the steaks on the grill.
3 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped deli sliced pepper rings
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in.ch thick shells. Brush with oil; set aside.
Chop the zucchini pulp.
In a large skillet, saute the zucchini pulp, celery and onion in oil. Add garlic and tomato; cook 1 minute longer.
Add the dried bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped pepper rings, parsley and salt. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells.
Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until zucchini is tender and the top of the stuffing begins to brown.
remove the cooked zucchini to a serving dish. cover with foil until the steaks are ready to be served.
Weather here in the South is perfect grilling weather and perfect for dining out on the patio. We have guests for dinner and grilling steak with plenty of Mediterranean flavors is my choice for the menu. When I grill steak, I often make extra so that the leftovers can be used for a salad or Mexican dishes.
When I cook beef, I prefer grass-fed organic meat. As such the cooking technique is a little different. The steak benefits from being brushed with olive oil and cooked a much shorter time than regular beef. Using these tips makes for a delicious grilled steak.
Grilled Steak with Balsamic Glaze
Sliced Tomatoes with Italian dressing and basil
Grilled Ribeye Steak
1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for the steaks
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups arugula
Parmesan cheese, shaved
Simmer the balsamic vinegar in a small skillet over low heat until thickened. Add the shallots, 1/4 cup oil and crushed red pepper. Return to a simmer and remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the parsley, capers and thyme.
Rub both sides of steaks with olive oil. Combine the minced garlic, paprika, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the steaks. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Prepare an outdoor barbecue for medium-high heat. Brush the grill rack with oil.
Grill the steaks until cooked to your desired degree of doneness, but they are best if cooked for about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Line a serving plate or individual plates with arugula and place the cooked steaks on top. Spoon the glaze over the steaks and arugula. Sprinkle with the shaved cheese and serve.
For conscious carnivores who like beef, the best option — for your health and for the environment — is meat from pastured cattle raised on grass from start to finish. They’re rich in good fats and managed in a sustainable way. And if you use the meat as a supporting player, rather than the main attraction, you can serve more people while spending less.
For good tasting grass-fed beef, the key is to limit the exposure to high heat so that the meat juices, in limited supply, do not escape, which is what happens over extended cooking times. Keep the steak over the hottest part of the grill for no more than 3½ minutes per side.
While your grill preheats, or about 30 minutes in advance, take the steaks out the refrigerator to take off some of the chill. Use a paper towel to pat them dry on both sides and season them well with kosher salt.
Oil the grill and place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill. Set your timer for 3 minutes for rare or 3½ minutes if you like medium-rare. Use tongs to turn the steak and reset the timer for 3 to 3½ minutes. If you have a digital instant-read thermometer, check the temperature during the last 30 seconds of cooking. For rare, remove the meat at 125 degrees, for medium-rare 130 degrees. Let the steak rest for five minutes before serving.
Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup oil, and crushed red pepper; return to simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers, and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Rub both sides of steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon vinaigrette over each steak.
Stuffed Grilled Zucchini
- 4 medium zucchini
- 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 T chopped celery
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 chopped plum tomato
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4-inch in the shells. Brush with 2 teaspoons oil; set aside. Chop the zucchini pulp.
In a large skillet, saute pulp, celery and onion in remaining oil. Add garlic and tomato; cook 1 minute longer. Add panko crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, basil and salt. Spoon mixture into the zucchini shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
- 2 lbs new potatoes, halved
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Place the potatoes, chicken stock, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and place them in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of basil. Toss well and garnish with the remaining chopped basil.
- 2-10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons ⅓ less fat cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Salt and pepper
Heat oil in small saucepan and add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Add spinach and heat.
Make a well in the center of the spinach and add the milk and cream cheese.
Heat and stir until cheese is dissolved throughout spinach. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Carrot, Olive and Feta Salad
- 2 pounds medium carrots, trimmed, peeled and chopped
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for roasting
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
- 6 ounces feta cheese, chopped
Mix carrots with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Spread onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast for 30-35 minutes in a 350°F oven until tender. The cooking time will vary according to the thickness of the carrots. Be careful not to overcook.
In a small bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.
Once the roasted carrots are cooled to room temperature, mix together the carrots, olives, feta, and olive oil mixture and place on a serving platter.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
How to Make Healthy Food Choices In Your Busy Life
You already know how important it is to make healthy food choices for you and your family, but how can you fit the best choices into your busy life?
You’ll be pleased to discover that a hectic life doesn’t mean that every meal has to be fast food on the run! Sometimes it’s difficult to make healthy changes, but with a little planning and know-how, it can be done.
Here are some strategies to help you and your family make healthy choices:
1. Avoid temptation. It’s so easy to walk into the store with good intent, but walk out with bags full of unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, our wills are weak, especially if we’ve trained ourselves over the years to buy junk foods.
Never shop when you’re hungry. This way you won’t pick out unhealthy choices because they look good at the moment.
Get rid of the unhealthy foods in your home. If they aren’t around, you won’t be tempted to eat them.
Think of healthier alternatives to your family’s favorite unhealthy foods. Rather than high calorie chips, try trail mixes or whole grain crackers. Low calorie puddings or frozen yogurts are better alternatives to higher fat ice creams.
2. Eat fast and healthy meals at home. When you’re tired at the end of the day and you realize you still have to feed the family, it’s easy to go to a fast food chain and bring home dinner. It may save some time, but it won’t save your health – or your pocket book!
The great thing is that there are many easy, fast, and healthy foods you can make at home. This takes some planning, but you’ll be more satisfied, save money, and be healthier as well.
Look online for quick and easy recipes made with all natural ingredients. Many recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less and only have 5 ingredients. Taking the time to do some recipe research will save your sanity in the long run. (Don’t forget; there are many such recipes on this blog.) Then once you find a “hit” with the family, store the recipe in a book or on your computer.
3. When you cook, make large batches and freeze the leftovers. This way, you’ll already have meals in the freezer that you can just thaw, heat, and serve. No muss, no fuss! This is the opportune way to enjoy “fast” food at home.
4. Eat Slower. Since the brain takes about 20 minutes to get the signal that the stomach is full, if you eat too fast you’ll pack in a lot more food than you need. When you’re still thinking you’re hungry, it’s easy to make the wrong choices about food. If you slow down while you’re eating, you’ll eat less and you’ll still feel full.
5. Make dinner time a social experience. Dinner should be about enjoying your company and taking pleasure in the foods you’re eating.
Set a calming mood before sitting down for a meal. Avoid having the television on or eating as you’re rushing the kids out the door to another activity. Sitting calmly at the table will allow everyone to relax and enjoy their meal.
When you begin to look at mealtime as a social experience, it becomes easier to make the right choices about healthy foods. Suddenly you aren’t so worried about rushing through and making it quick.
Dinner becomes a great experience when you’re able to enjoy healthy foods together. Take time to eat as a family and enjoy a real conversation with each other. Talking will naturally slow down your eating pace, while also reconnecting you with your family members.
Healthy food choices are a possibility in your busy life if you take the time to plan ahead and make dinner time a priority in your home.
Grilled Sirloin Steak With Corn Salad
- 1 lb. boneless top sirloin steak
- 3 tablespoons low-fat vinaigrette Italian salad dressing
- 2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup cubed Havarti or Swiss cheese or cheese of choice
- Creamy Italian salad dressing, recipe below
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
Brush steak with vinaigrette salad dressing and let stand for 15 minutes. Heat grill.
In large bowl, combine corn, onions, pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese with creamy Italian salad dressing and toss to combine. Place greens on serving plate and top with corn salad.
Grill steak for 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Remove from grill and let stand for 5 minutes.
Slice thinly across the grain and place on top of corn salad. 4-6 servings
Low Fat Creamy Italian Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry white wine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients except sour cream until completely mixed.
Add sour cream and process just until mixed.
Fruit and Chicken Pilaf
Serve with roasted broccoli florets, see recipe post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/07/vegetables-on-the-side-no-butter-please/
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 6 oz. package quick cooking long grain and wild rice mix
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Heat olive oil in large skillet; add ground chicken and onions and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in water and seasoning packet from rice mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 14-19 minutes until rice is tender and mixture is hot. 4 servings
Italian Sausage Kale Soup
- 1-1/2 pounds Italian turkey sausage links, casings remove
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 cups chopped fresh kale
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 carton (32 ounces) low sodium chicken stock
- 1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain and wipe out pan; set sausage aside.Add olive oil and saute kale until wilted. Add garlic and, if desired, pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute. Add wine; cook 2 minutes longer.
Stir in the broth, beans, diced tomatoes, dried tomatoes, pepper and sausage mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until kale is tender.
Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts).
Linguine With Spicy Shrimp
- 3/4 pound linguine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp, tails removed
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- kosher salt
- 2 bunches watercress(or baby spinach leaves), torn (about 6 cups)
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, stopping just short of al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta. Wipe out the pot.
2. Heat the oil in the pasta pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta, watercress, lemon zest, and reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes.
You may see either bagged, larger-stemmed, or delicate hydroponically grown watercress in the grocery store. All work equally well in this recipe. Trim off any thick and woody stems before using.
Tuna Fish Cakes
Serve with Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, recipe below
- 15 oz.cooked tuna, (3-5 oz. cans or pouches) drained
- 1 large sweet potato, mashed with a little milk and olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- Plain Panko crumbs (enough to be able to shape the fish into cakes)
Put sweet potato in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender. Mash adding just enough milk and olive oil to moisten. Drain tuna well and add to mashed sweet potato.
Add in the scallions and sweet chili sauce. Mix together well.
Add enough breadcrumbs to make patties. Season with salt and pepper. Mold the mixture into 4 patties.
Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in frying pan and cook the fish cakes for 5 -7 minutes, turning only once, until hot and golden.
Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
4 servings, 1 cup each
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put green beans in the basket and steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Toss the green beans in a large bowl with oil, orange zest, salt, pepper and almonds.
- Make Your Own Salad Dressings and Sauces (everydayhealth.com)
- Tips To Have Healthy Food At Fast Food Restaurants (benefitsfromhealthyeating.wordpress.com)
- 15 Healthy and Cheap 5-Minute Dinners (wisebread.com)
- Cook Fast, Live Young: Meals to Make When You Don’t Have a Kitchen (savings.com)
- Make Ahead Meals Come To The Rescue (jovinacooksitalian.com)