Category Archives: Health Friendly

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Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer

This Caponata eggplant appetizer originates from Sicily and is very popular.  Serve it with bread or crackers as your holiday guests arrive.

Caponata
Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer

Easy to make and if you follow my jam recipes for canning you can enjoy Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer all year long.  Just keep the jars in the pantry, once opened refrigerate them.

Caponata mixture
Caponata mixture

Ingredients;
4 cups cubed fresh eggplant, with the skin on
4 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
2 med onions, chopped
3-4 ribs of celery, cubed
1/4 cup capers, drained
2/3 cup pitted olives, green Sicilian are preferred
1 TBLS red wine vinegar
3-4 leaves sliced fresh basil
1 cup plum tomatoes, canned and rough chopped with their juice

These are my favorite brand of tomatoes. They are from Italy and have no additives
These are my favorite brand of tomatoes. They are from Italy and have no additives

Directions;
Heat the oil in a pan large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Saute the celery and onion until nearly soft but not brown. Add the eggplant a saute a few minutes more. Add all the other ingredients and simmer on low uncovered for about 45 minutes until the excess juices are nearly gone. Serve at room temperature. It can be store in the refrigerator for about 4 days. You can also can at this point with the mixture hot and going into hot boiled mason jars.
Serve with a crusty Italian or French bread.

Vegetable Appetizer Platter

I made this Vegetable Appetizer Platter to pick on before a family meal or its great to serve while guests arrive for a holiday get together.

Vegetable Appetizer Platter
Vegetable Appetizer Platter

It contains; Stuffed Zucchini, Stuffed Mushrooms and fried Yellow Squash. The zucchini and mushroom recipes are listed in the pantry. Below is the fried squash recipe.

Ingredients;
1/2 cup or so combination vegetable oil and olive oil
2 yellow squash, sliced 1/4″ slices
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 TBLS grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
dash of garlic powder, not salt

Directions;
In a large non stick frying pan heat the oil to med/hot.
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder and cheese in a 1 gallon bag. Egg wash the squash and place it in the bag. Shake the bag until the squash is coated. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel and serve warm. Serve as is or dip in your fav dressing.

Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi

This pasta dish is Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi.
That is the Italian broccoli known as di raperapi, or rapini.
This vegetarian dish is so delicious and nutritious.

Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi
Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi

Quick to make and serves a crowd or take along as I did today to a party.

Ingredients;
6 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 ” slices
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli di rapi, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 LB tagliatelle (white or green or mixed) cooked according to the pkg directions
6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced
salt & crushed red pepper flakes

Directions;
Broccoli; I like to use only the small stems, leaves and flowered part. Chop and steam the broccoli di rapi until tender. If frozen just steam 1 cup, set aside.
Begin cooking the pasta.
In a large skillet heat the oil and add the zucchini and broccoli di rapi and saute for about 5 minutes until soft but not mushy. Add the garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Drain the pasta keeping one cup of the water and combine with the zucchini/broccoli mixture and half of the basil and toss. Add the reserved pasta water if it appears to be dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining basil, Parmesan and serve.

Mushrooms Sauteed with Marsala

This Mushrooms Sauteed with Marsala recipe is a great side dish.
I love it with steak, but it goes well with poultry too.

sauteed mushrooms
Mushrooms Sauteed with Marsala

16oz pkg of fresh mushrooms, button or any type you like
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 TBLS butter **
Dash of pepper

Clean the mushrooms. I say that because I like to rinse them and brush with a soft mushroom brush. I just can’t get over the grown in substance and not wash them. Some people like to just dust them off.

cleaned mushrooms
cleaned mushrooms

Slice them or leave them whole. Place the butter in a saute pan large enough to loosely fit the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms on a fairly high heat until the juices come out and then absorb again. Add the Marsala wine and saute for a minute or two as the wine sizzles and deglazes the pan. Add pepper to taste and serve warm.

** replace the butter with olive oil to make this more heath friendly.

Grilled Veal Chops

A good cut of veal is very light pink. It doesn’t matter if you buy the rib or loin cut. Whichever you prefer. Pictured is rib cut Grilled Veal chops.

Grilled Veal chops
Grilled Veal chops

Grill/broil on high to searing the outside, keeping it pink inside. Please do not over cook it or you will find it dry and tough.

Ingredients;
2 to 4 veal chops, about 1″-1.5″ thick, loin or rib cut
2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
1 TSP Bell’s Seasoning (the yellow box with the turkey on it)
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and mashed
I have an herb garden so if you have any, a few leaves of each; sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary

Veal chop
Veal chop

Directions;
Place all the ingredients in a freezer bag and let marinate for 2-24 hours refrigerated.
Place on a hot grill and sear the meat on both sides. Baste once with the marinade. Cook until the center is pink about 155-160 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Broccoli Patties

My Mom would make these broccoli patties with leftover broccoli. It’s a great nutritious and easy side dish. Something different to do with broccoli and so tasty. Be creative and change the cheese to cheddar, change the bread crumbs to plain and add your own spice selection if you like.

Broccoli patties
Broccoli patties

Ingredients;
1 large head fresh broccoli or 1LB bag frozen chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 TBLS butter
1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
1 TSP garlic powder (not salt)
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions;
Wash and cut up the broccoli into small pieces. Steam, do not boil in water until very soft.
In a large bowl mix together the broccoli, butter and cheese.  Then add all the other ingredients, except the oil. Mix thoroughly and form into 4 inch or so patties. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the patties on each side until very lightly brown. Serve warm.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is nutritious and can be a good substitute for pasta. By itself roasted spaghetti squash does not have much flavor so its important to use a sauce with it that has an abundance of flavor.
I like to make something similar to a Puttanesca sauce.
Rich with olives, capers, tomatoes and herbs.

Roasted spaghetti squash
Roasted spaghetti squash

Ingredients;
1 whole spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/2 med onion, chopped fine
2 TSP anchovy paste
1/2 TSP hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in juice or 6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup pitted mixed Kalamata & Italian green ( not Spanish)olives, sliced in half
2  TBLS drained capers
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions;
Preheat the oven to 375.
Drizzle a little of the olive oil on the cut side of the squash.
Bake the squash in a roasting pan cut side down for about 45-55 minutes, unit a knife inserts easily. Set aside.
In a heavy fry pan place the oil and cook the onion, garlic, anchovy paste and red pepper for 2-3 minutes while stirring.  Pulse chop the tomatoes and their juice in a food processor or blender.  Add to the frying pan and stir.  Add the balance of ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.  Scrap the squash out of its skin and add it to the frying pan tomato mixture. Toss to mix.
Lightly grate Parmesan cheese over the top and serve.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary
Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary is a great brunch beverage with or without alcohol. Tasty and many variations. Make it as spicy as you like.
Here is my favorite recipe.

4 cups tomato juice (I prefer Sacramento)
2 celery stalks with leaves and extra for garnish
4-5 dashes of Tabasco sauce, adjust to your taste
1 TSP prepared horseradish, adjust to your taste
1/2 TSP celery salt
1 TBLS grated onion, Vidalia if it’s available
1 TBLS Worcester sauce
1 cup vodka (optional)
the juice of one whole lemon, extra for garnish
Spanish stuffed olives for garnish
Rub the rim of the glass with lemon and dip into a spicy dry seasoning such as Prudhommes Magic or Emerils spices, optional

Place all ingredients, except the garnish, into a blender and puree.
Pour into a tall glass with ice and garnish as desired.

Broccoli Cranberry Slaw

This Broccoli Cranberry Slaw is a great summertime side dish. It easily compliments many dishes. Many supermarkets have the slaw mix already shredded and bagged, ready to go.

Broccoli cranberry slaw
Broccoli cranberry slaw

Ingredients;
2 cups shredded broccoli stems
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 TSP celery seeds
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1-2 TBLS milk

Directions;
Combine the ingredients together with one tablespoon of milk. Mix thoroughly.
Add the second tablespoon of milk if you like it a little less creamy.
Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.

Classic Chicken Salad

This Classic Chicken Salad recipe has minimal ingredients allowing the chicken flavor to be the focus. Serve it over salad greens, on bread or stuffed in an avocado or a hollowed tomato!
If you like you can add sliced almonds, walnuts, grapes or anything else.

Classic chicken salad
Classic chicken salad

Ingredients;
2 cups cooked chicken, skin removed, cubed or shredded, any mix of white or dark meat (for quick and easy  buy a roasted chicken)
1/2 cup celery, rough or finely chopped
1 TBLS onion or scallion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup mayo, use depends on your preference
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions;
Mix the chicken with all other ingredients.
Chill and serve.

Stuffed Zucchini

This stuffed zucchini recipe can be made with many different ingredients.

Stuffed zucchini
Stuffed zucchini

I used mushrooms, onion, tomato and bread crumbs. Just about anything can be used; peppers of any kind, sausage, ham, beef, olives, capers etc…..

Stuffed zucchini mix
Stuffed zucchini mix

Ingredients;

4 long thin zucchini
2 TBLS butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a small onion, chopped
4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 plum tomato, chopped
dash of garlic powder, not salt
Salt & pepper to taste
1 TBLS grated Romano cheese
2 TBLS bread crumbs, any kind you like

Directions;
Preheat oven to 350.
Wash the zucchini thoroughly. Leaving the stem in tact make a “V” shaped  cut in them and remove the cut zucchini.  Use a small melon baller to make a canal in the zucchini.

hollowed out zucchini
hollowed out zucchini

Chop the removed zucchini and add it to the stuffing. In a frying pan add the butter/oil and the onion.  Saute for a few minutes and then add all the other ingredients, except the bread crumbs.  Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes or so. If you use salty ingredients you might not want to add salt. Add the bread crumbs, this will tighten up the stuffing from being too watery. Stuff the cooked mixture into the zucchini canal as pictured.  Place in a covered baking dish and bake for about  30 minutes or until the zucchini are soft but not falling over and mushy.

If you have extra mushrooms and stuffing make stuffed mushrooms with it…

 

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

An assortment of tomatoes are in abundance in the summer months.
This Heirloom tomato recipe mixes all types of tomatoes.
I bought these from the local farmers market picked at their peak of flavor.

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Heirloom Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Fresh mozzarella is key also. It’s from my local market but the store brand BelGioioso is good too.

ingredients for Heirloom Tomato Mozzarella Salad

1 LB fresh mozzarella
1 LB Heirloom tomatoes, mixed types
2 TBLS extra virgin oil oil
4-6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
A bottle of Balsamic glaze, check the label to be sure it doesn’t have corn syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Mix and assemble in a dish. Pour the olive oil over them and add the salt and pepper. Decorate with the Balsamic glaze and the basil. Serve just slightly chilled with a good crusty slice of Italian bread.
Add a glass of wine and opera music and you could drift off into Italy!!

Tomato Tart

It seems like all the garden tomatoes come out at one time. This Tomato Tart recipe is a great way to use many of them. I served it as an appetizer.
Be sure to use Roma or plum type tomatoes. Regular slicing tomatoes have too much water in them.

Tomato tart
Tomato tart

Ingredients;
One 16oz pkg frozen Phyllo dough (use one of the two rolls in the pkg) defrosted according to the box directions
6-8 Ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thin
6-8 Basil leaves, sliced thin
1 TSP Dried Oregano
1 TSP Garlic powder (not salt)
1 TBLS Dried or fresh Parsley, minced
2/3 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBLS Butter, melted
3 TBLS Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Parchment paper

Directions;
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Mix the butter and oil together. Unroll the phyllo dough and one sheet at a time brush the first 4 sheets with the butter/oil mixture stacking them on top of each other on the parchment paper lined pan. Keep a damp paper towel over the unused phyllo dough while you are putting together the sheets. Sprinkle the 5th sheet with about one third of the oregano, basil, garlic powder, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Repeat brushing each layer of dough and repeat the sprinkle of spices when about 2 sheets remain. On the top/last sheet repeat the butter/oil and place the tomatoes over the entire dough area. Sprinkle with the remaining spices and cheese.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until the dough is lightly brown and the middle of the underside of the tart is a little firm. Cool slightly before cutting into squares to serve.

Green Beans with Tomato and Potatoes

This is a green bean with tomato and potato one pan wonder.
Quick and fresh vegetables all together. Great for a family meal.

Green bean with tomato and potatoes
Green bean with tomato and potatoes

Ingredients;
1 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 LB fresh green beans, tips cut off
5 Plum tomatoes, rough diced
4 small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
2-3 fresh basil leaves, rough cut
Salt & pepper

Directions;
In a saute pan large enough to cover and hold all the ingredients. Saute the garlic in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook 4 minutes. Add the green beans and potatoes, stir and cover on a low simmer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and add salt & pepper to taste.

Stuffed Artichokes

A fresh stuffed artichoke is intimidating to some, not only how to eat them but also how to cook them. Hopefully I will explain and picture the basics so you will try both. There are a few ways to cook artichokes. This one is stuffed.

Stuffed artichokes
Stuffed artichokes

Another is Roman style which steams them whole with lemon and oil, not stuffed.
They are truly a gourmet delight when prepared properly.
You can also use a crock pot for this recipe.

Ingredients;
2 large fresh artichokes(the leaves will be tightly closed when fresh)
1 1/2 cups of Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 TBLS parsley, minced
2 TSP garlic powder, not salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions;
Mix the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder and cheese together, set aside.

Stuffed artichokes
prepping artichokes
Stuffed artichokes
snipped artichokes

Wash the artichokes and cut off the stem at the base of the leaves (peel the stem and add it to the pot for cooking)and enough of the top to cut off the pointed ends of the first row of top leaves. Then with kitchen scissors trim just the tops of all the leaves. Rinse the inside leaves pulling them open while running them under water. Set the artichoke upright and sprinkle inside all the leaves and top with the bread crumb mixture. I use a grapefruit spoon as pictured, but any type will do.

Stuffed artichokes
Stuffed artichokes preparation

Place the artichokes in a pot and pour some of the olive oil over each one. Fill the pot about 1/4 up the sides of the artichokes with water. Cover and simmer on low for 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size of the artichoke. At this point you could use a crock pot.
They are done when the middle leaves pull out easily. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a lemon wedge if you like.
You eat them by pulling the leaves off and placing them in your mouth and scrapping the leave with your teeth as you pull them out of your mouth. Once all the leaves are off there is a center with a fuzzy top. Peel away the fuzz and what is left is called the heart. It is and well as the stem completely eatable and so tasty.

Guacamole Dip

This fresh guacamole dip is easy and so nutritious. Great for company or a snack for the kids. Adjust the spiciness to your liking. You can use my short cut salsa or chop your own plum tomatoes, garlic, onion and cilantro.

Guacamole
Guacamole

Ingredients;
4 x avocados, firm but giving when pressed
1 fresh lime
1/2 cup fresh store made salsa, any style/flavor you like
Tabasco sauce
Tortillas, any variety of corn; white, yellow or blue

Directions;
Slice the avocados in half lengthwise using the knife up against the pit from one side to the other . Holding each side twist and the avocado will come part easily. Do a chop motion with the knife into the pit and turn the knife and the pit will come out. Spoon or slice out the avocado flesh into a bowl. You can leave the flesh chunky or mashed, its your choice. Cut the lime in half and squeeze all the juice over the avocado. Add the salsa and mix. Use as much or as little of the Tabasco as you like. Serve immediately. Guacamole even with the lime juice in it will brown if left out too long. So make it just before you want to use it. Serve with fresh tortillas if you can get them or lightly salted super market type.

Lobster and Shrimp Fra Diavolo

This spicy Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo dish is classic coastal southern Italian. You can adjust the spiciness to your liking. You can also use other shellfish if you like. Serve as is or over your favorite long style pasta, like linguine or over cooked rice.

Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo
Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo

Ingredients;
2 lobster tails cut in half length wise, any size from 3oz-6oz each
1LB raw shelled and deveined shrimp, I like 16-20 count size
2 cups plum tomatoes, roughly cut
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TSP red pepper flakes
1 TSP parsely, chopped

Directions;
In a large deep frying pan saute the garlic in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, red pepper and 1/2 the basil. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
Add the shell fish and simmer for about 5 minutes turning the shell fish until the shrimp flesh is pink and the lobster meat is white and firm, but not too long so that it gets rubbery.
Place in a serving dish as is or over pasta/rice.
Sprinkle with the remaining basil leaves.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara di Zucchini

Carbonara is a legendary Roman pasta dish. This version, Spaghetti alla Carbonara di Zucchini,  includes sauteed zucchini and is meatless, but every bit as delicious as the bacon version..

Spaghetti alla carbonara do zucchini
Spaghetti alla carbonara do zucchini

Ingredients;
6 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1LB small zucchini, cut into 1/4 ” slices
2 Xlarge eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 LB spaghetti cooked according to the box directions
6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced
salt & pepper

Directions;
In a large skillet heat the oil and add the garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini saute for about 15 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic. Set aside. Whisk the eggs with the Parmesan cheese until blended. Drain the pasta serving one cup of the water and combine with egg mixture tossing it to coat. Add the zucchini mixture and half of the basil and toss. Add the served pasta water if too dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve.

Maine Style Lobster Bake

Some of the best tasting lobster is from Maine and the northeastern states. The waters up there are so cold even through the summer months that it has a profound effect on the lobster meat taste. SOOO sweet and succulent, even without dipping in butter. Try my Maine Style lobster bake combo but don’t hesitate to put your own together; adding clams, mussels or shrimp into the mix.
In Maine its common to also serve this meal with a big square cut of blueberry cake. See my recipe for Blueberry Muffin/Cake.

Maine style Lobster bake

Maine style Lobster bake

Ingredients;
4 x 1.25-1.5LB Maine style lobsters alive and kicking
1/2 LB unsalted butter
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 Kielbasa sausage ring, cut into 4 pieces
4 ears of fresh corn
4 baking potatoes
Sour cream & chives for topping the potatoes
4 lobster cracking utensils
4 picks if you have them. The nut cracking sets work well for this too.
4 seafood forks if you have them

Directions;
Wash the potatoes and either wrap them in foil or oil them and dust with kosher salt and bake until tender about 1 to 1.5 hours at 375.
Place the butter in a pot and heat gently then cool it a bit and spoon off the solids, making clarified butter. Don’t worry if you don’t spoon it all off, its still just as good. Keep the pot on warm until you are ready to use the butter.
Peel and clean the corn and place it in a covered microwaveable dish with about 1″ of water. Microwave for about 7-8 minutes when the lobsters are just about half done.
In a large covered pot big enough to fit the lobsters place about 3 ” of water. Bring to a boil and add the kielbasa and top with the lobsters. Cover them and watch the pot because it will foam up and spill over so you’ll have to remove the lid every so often. Boil/steam them for about 12 mins until the lobsters are completely red and the meat inside will turn from translucent to white and firm but not rubbery. DO NOT over cook the lobsters or the meat will be like trying to eat rubber bands. If in doubt better to under cook than over cook. You can test the lobsters by sticking a fork into the under belly at the top of the tail where it meets the body and slightly pull it apart. If the meat is white they are done.
Place a in a large plate or serving platter; a lobster, lemon wedge, ear of corn, baked potato topped with sour cream, chives or whatever you like, a piece of kielbasa and a cup of melted butter.

** make this more health friendly and omit the butter and use fat free sour cream.

Chicken Parmigiana

This Chicken Parmigiana is very easy to make and once the sauce is ready it only takes 30 minutes to prepare. Serve it alone, with pasta or on Italian bread as a sandwich. You can also change the cutlets to veal, it’s the same process for cooking. But be sure to buy a good quality veal otherwise they will be tough.

Chicken parmigiana
Chicken parmigiana

Make my Marinara sauce or use sauce left over from a Traditional Sunday sauce that had meat in it. The flavors work well with either.
If you really are pressed for time then use the best quality jarred sauce, like Barilla.

Ingredients;
6 Chicken breast cutlets or veal, pounded thin
2 eggs, beaten
1/1/2 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 TSP of each; dried parsley, dried basil and garlic powder(not salt)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups Tomato sauce from the above selection
1/2 cup canola oil mixed with half olive oil

Directions;
Preheat the oven to 350.
Mix the parsley, basil, garlic powder and about 2 TBLS of the Parmesan cheese together and set aside. Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Dip the cutlets into the beaten egg and then into the bread crumb mixture coating them on both sides. Place the cutlets in the frying pan so they have some room between them and fry until lightly brown. Unless you have a very large frying pan (then use all the oil) you will probably need to do this twice. Add the left over oil to the pan and let it heat in between frying more cutlets. Place the cooked cutlets on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. In a large baking pan place a few TBLS of sauce and then top it with a cutlet. Repeat this until all cutlets are in the pan. Place a few more TBLS of sauce on top of each cutlet and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and spread the mozzarella cheese over that. Cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 15-20 mins or until the cheese is melted and sauce is just slightly bubbling.

 

**to make this health friendly use half the Parmesan cheese and use part skim mozzarella cheese.

Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

Instead of serving only butter with your dinner bread, try using my olive oil dipping sauce. This one is Italian style. But you can mix any herbs you like. If you have left over don’t throw it away. Use it to marinate boneless chicken or fish.

Olive oil dipping sauce
Olive oil dipping sauce

Ingredients;
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 clove mashed fresh garlic
1 TSP of each; dried basil, grated cheese such as Parmesan and dried parsley
Dash of each; dried oregano, red pepper flakes

Mix together at least an hour before serving.
Serve with a crusty warm bread.

Split Pea Soup with Ham

I always make this Split Pea Soup after a holiday when I served ham. The ham bone gives so much flavor to the soup and the pieces of ham get shredded off to compliment the peas. You can use a sliced ham steak or something similar if you don’t have a ham bone. Finished with a little light cream gives this soup a full body taste. Make extra as it freezes very well. Serve with croutons on top if you like.

Split pea soup
Split pea soup

Ingredients:
1 LB bag of dried green split peas, rinsed
2 stalks of celery, minced fine (I use my processor)
2-3 carrots, minced fine
2 med onions, minced fine
2 bay leaves
32oz unsalted or low sodium chicken stock
2 cups of water
Ham bone with some ham left on it or a ham steak
pepper to taste ( add salt at the end after tasting, sometimes the ham has plenty)
Finish with a 1/2 cup light or heavy cream

Directions:
In a large stock pot or crock pot, rinse and drain the peas. Add all the ingredients except the cream and bring to a boil. Stir and lower to a simmer covered for about 2 hours then uncover until the peas are soft and the soup begins to thicken. Stir in the cream at the very end and simmer just a few minutes and serve.

**Omit the ham and lower the cream to make it truly health friendly

Stuffed Ricotta Shells

This  recipe for Stuffed Ricotta Shells is rich and creamy.

stuffed Ricotta shells
stuffed Ricotta shells

The recipe originates from the Lazio (Rome)region of Italy. It’s easy to make with a little patience and freezes well for a quick work night meal. There are many ways to stuff these; ricotta, meat sauce, sausage with herbs and bread crumb w/ bechamel sauce, etc…

Make my recipe for Marinara sauce

Ingredients;
12oz box Jumbo Shells (I like Barilla)
2 LB container of whole milk ricotta
Two 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBLS minced fresh parsley
ground pepper to taste

Directions;
Cook the jumbo shells for 9 minutes or according to the box for boiling and then baking. Drain and rinse in a colander with cool water. Be sure all the water is out of the inside of the shell. In a mixing bowl combine all the other ingredients, leaving out half the mozzarella. Put a heavy layer of marinara sauce in a covered baking dish. Open the shell with two fingers and spoon the cheese mixture into the shell until nearly full, about two tablespoons. Fold it closed. Place the stuffed shells next to each other and fill the baking dish. Pour a generous layer of sauce over the top of the shells and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

**use low or non fat cheese to make this more health friendly

Matzo Ball Soup

This Matzo ball soup is a Jewish classic dish. So good if you make the matzo balls, which are a dumpling, light and fluffy.
Start out with making my Chicken Soup recipe.
Serve with the chicken shredded, some of the veggies and fine egg noodles if you like, poured over the cooked matzo balls.

matzo ball soup
matzo ball soup

Ingredients;
Matzo Ball mixture;
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup Matzo meal
1/4 cup chicken fat called “schmaltz” or vegetable oil
3 TBLS club soda
11/4 TSP kosher salt

Directions;
Mix eggs, matzo meal, schmaltz or vegetable oil, club soda, and salt in a medium bowl (mixture will resemble wet sand; it will firm up as it rests). Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
Mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Scoop out 2-tablespoonful portions of the matzo ball mixture and, using wet hands, gently roll into balls.
Add matzo balls to water and reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer (too much bouncing around will break them up). COVER the pot and cook matzo balls until cooked through and starting to sink, 20–25 minutes. Covering the pot makes them more tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to bowls. Ladle chicken soup over the Matzo balls, top with dill, and season with pepper

** variation** you can add cooked thin egg noodles to the soup stock if you like too.

**use vegetable oil to make this health friendly.

Green Bean and Wax Bean Saute

This Green Bean and Wax Bean Saute makes a colorful easy side dish to any meal. If you can’t find fresh wax/yellow beans use frozen as a second choice.

french bean and wax bean saute
green bean and wax bean saute

For Christmas add a few thin slices of red bell pepper for extra holiday color.

1/2 LB fresh green beans, ends nipped off
1/2 LB fresh yellow wax beans, ends nipped off
3 slices of Pancetta (Italian non smoked bacon) minced fine
3 TBLS butter
2 TBLS virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper to taste

Steam the beans until just soft. Set aside. In fry pan add the Pancetta and saute until the fat begins to melt. Add the butter, oil and shallot. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and toss. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

**Omit the butter and reduce the pancetta to make this health friendly

Pasta Puttanesca

This Italian Puttanesca sauce was named for the “ladies of the evening”. It was fast to make in between clients!!
So flavorful and ready in 20 minutes.

puttanesca
puttanesca

Ingredients:

1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/2 med onion, chopped fine
2 TSP anchovy paste
1/2 TSP hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably Italian)
1/2 cup pitted mixed Kalamata & Italian green ( not Spanish)olives, sliced in half
2  TBLS drained capers
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

puttanesca sauce
puttanesca sauce

Directions:

I don’t add any additional salt to this recipe since the ingredients have a fair amount themselves.

In a heavy fry pan place the oil and cook the onion, garlic, anchovy paste and red pepper for 2-3 minutes while stirring.  Pulse chop the tomatoes and their juice in a food processor or blender.  Add to the frying pan and stir.  Add the balance of ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.  Follow the directions on the pasta box and boil the pasta as directed. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.
Lightly grate Parmesan cheese over the top.