Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hearty Minestrone

Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

I have had more requests for this recipe than any other recipe in my collection. It is delicious! I often make a number of large batches when tomatoes and zucchini are plentiful from my garden, then freeze it for quick entertaining in the winter. 

1 lb. bulk Sweet Italian sausage*
2 c. sliced celery
1 c. chopped onion
6 c. chopped zucchini
1 (28-oz.) can tomatoes, undrained, cut up
1½ c. chopped green pepper
1½ t. Italian seasoning
1½ t. salt
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. sugar
½ t. dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced or ¼ t. garlic powder
2 c. chopped Swiss chard (optional)
1 (16-oz.) can chicken broth (optional)

In a large saucepan, brown the sausage. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel to drain, reserving 1 T. of drippings. Sauté celery and onion in drippings for 5 min. Add sausage and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 min. or until the vegetables are tender. Add Swiss chard, if desired and heat.  Add 1 16-oz. can of chicken broth if a less hearty soup is desired.

*Note: I use sweet Italian sausage. Do not substitute – this is the secret to the great flavor in this recipe!!
Yield: 9 servings

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sesame Broccoli

Source: Adapted from Everyday Food magazine, June 2009

1 lb. broccoli florets
2 T. olive oil
1 T. soy sauce
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. sesame seeds, toasted

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss broccoli with olive oil.  Roast at 450 degrees until browned, about 20 minutes.  Toss with soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame seeds.

Serves 4

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Watermelon Summer Salad

How's this for the unexpected?!  Yumm!!!

Source:  Clare F.,

3/4 c. halved, thinly sliced red onion
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 qts. seeded, cubed watermelon
3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c. pitted black olive halves
1 c. chopped fresh mint
2 T. olive oil

Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice.  The acid of the lime will mellow the flavor of the raw onion.  Let stand 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, onions with lime juice, and mint.  Drizzle olive oil over it all, and toss to blend.

Optional:  Serve in hollowed out watermelon shell.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta and Herbs

I was searching for a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms on line, and came across the fantastic blog bell'alimento, featuring Italian-inspired recipes with absolutely fabulous photography.  Be sure to take a look the photos of her squash blossoms - so inspiring....  The reason they are such a delicacy is that blossoms are very perishable; they shouldn't be picked until just before using.  So, just another reason to grow your own food!  :) 
My adventurous eight-year-old nephew loved these.  I'm so grateful that he's an emerging foodie and can celebrate the joy of eating with me!

Source: bell'

 6 medium squash blossoms - washed, cleaned and trimmed
2 c. Ricotta, room temperature
1 T. flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped fine
2 large eggs, beaten
1 c. flour, or enough to dredge
vegetable or olive oil - enough to fry
salt & pepper

Place a few inches of oil (enough to submerge blossoms) into a deep-sided pot or fry machine and heat to 350 degrees.

Place the Ricotta and herbs into a small bowl and mix well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer into a pastry bag or zip lock bag and set aside.

Set up your dredging station by placing the beaten eggs into a small bowl and the flour into a separate bowl.  Set aside.

Wash and clean the squash blossoms and gently pat them dry.  GENTLY pull back the tops of the blossoms, insert the pastry bag and GENTLY squeeze enough of the Ricotta mixture in to fill the blossom without bursting it.  GENTLY twist the tops of the blossoms to seal.  Continue until all blossoms are filled.

Dredge the blossoms into the egg mixture and then coat with the flour.  Tap off any excess flour.  Continue until all blossoms are dredged.

Place blossoms into the heated oil and cook until golden (this will only take a few minutes).  When golden, transfer blossoms to a plated lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.  Season them lightly with salt while they're still warm. 

Best when eaten warm.


Pizza Frittata

If it wasn't for the egg base, you'd think you were eating pizza!  Yumm....

Source:  Adapted from Everyday Food magazine, Oct. 2004

1 T. plus 4 t. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
6 large eggs
coarse sea salt
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz.), divided
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 c. (14.5 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice, or 2 c. fresh tomatoes, cut
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 10" ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat 2 t. oil over medium heat.  Cook onion and mushrooms, stirring often, until soft, about 5 min.  Cool completely.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, 3/4 t. sea salt, and 2 T. water.  Stir in onion, mushrooms and 3/4 c. mozzarella.

In skillet, heat 1 T. oil over medium heat.  Add egg mixture; reduce heat to low, and cook until beginning to set around the edges, about 3 min.  Transfer to oven; bake until set, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 t. oil in a large skillet over low heat.  Cook garlic until soft, 2 min.  Add tomatoes, basil and 1/4 t. sea salt; simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon, 5 minutes.

Spoon sauce over frittata; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. cheese.  Return to oven; cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Skillet Sausage & Cabbage

Probably one of the things I miss the most after switching to healthy eating is sausage.  I LOVE sausage....  But, I just discovered that the farmer down the road sells pork products from pigs that are fed things I can sleep at night over, so I have been happy to make some of my previous recipes that call for pork again.  :)  This is one of my favorite cabbage recipes.  In this case, I used half the amount of sausage that the recipe called for to keep my meat consumption down as well as save some money.  The flavor in this recipe is best with kielbasa, but I managed nicely with some simple pork sausage plus garlic for seasoning.

Source:  Southern Living, January 2001

1 (16-oz.) pkg kielbasa sausage, cut into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
6 c. coarsely  chopped cabbage
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 t. caraway seeds
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Saute sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until browned; drain on paper towels.
Add onion and bell pepper to skillet; saute 2-3 min.  Add cabbage and cook, stirring often, 8 min.  Add sausage, broth and remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 min. or until cabbage is tender.  Serve immediately.
Yield:  4 servings

Zucchini Fritters

Pretty and healthful!

Source:  Martha Stewart Living magazine

2 medium zucchini (about 8 oz. each), trimmed
1 medium onion
1/2 c. (1 oz.) grated Pecorino Romano cheese 
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 t. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 t. coarse sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
plain yogurt and apricot jam, for serving

Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grated, then squeeze dry in a clean paper towel-lined kitchen towel.  Repeat with onion.

Mix together zucchini, onion and cheese, flour and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in eggs just before frying.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, coat skillet with 1-2 T. oil.  Scoop mounds (2 T. each) of the zucchini mixture into skillet; flatten slightly using a spatula.  Cook until golden brown and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side.

Transfer fritters to paper-towel lined plates to drain.  Serve with dollops of plain yogurt and apricot jam.

Yield:  approximately 20 fritters

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup

Gardening friends were kind enough to share some of their extra home-grown cantaloupes with me, thus the opportunity to try out some more cantaloupe recipes!  In place of the sour cream, I used my homemade yogurt that had been strained overnight in a coffee filter, resulting in a product very similar to sour cream.  Since I used dairy products from grass-fed cows, this was yummy and healthy!

Source:  Tea Cozy Cooking cookbook

3 c. cubed, peeled and de-seeded cantaloupe
1/2 c. sour cream, plus dollop for garnish
1 1-1/2 c. heavy cream (to thin to desired consistency)
1 T. sugar, or to taste
1/2 t. cinnamon, or to taste
garnish:  fresh mint springs

Combine all ingredients and puree in food processor, blender or with hand-held blender until smooth.  Cover and chill.  Serve soup when thoroughly chilled.  Garnish with dollop of sour cream and a spring of fresh mint.

Yields:  4 1/2 cups

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roasted Squash with Walnut-Parsley Pesto

I think I prefer my favorite parsley pesto recipe I discovered several years ago over this recipe, but it was still very good.  The lemon flavor complements the squash nicely, and the walnuts are much more economical  (not to mention local!) than pricey pine nuts.

Source:  Adapted from Everyday Food magazine, July/August 2011

Walnut-Parsley Pesto

1 c. tightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/3 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1/2 oz. (1/4 c.) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/4 t. finely grated lemon zest
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse parsley, walnuts, garlic, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice until combined, about 10 seconds.  With machine running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream and process until a paste forms.  Season pesto with coarse salt and ground pepper.

Roasted Squash

2 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 3/4" wedges

Place squash on rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Roast at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

Bruschetta with Tomato Topping

Absolutely fabulous with freshly baked French bread!

Source:  adapted from Gooseberry Patch Celebrate Winter Cookbook

8-oz. loaf French bread (baguette)
olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/8 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/3 c. purple onion, chopped
3 T. fresh basil or oregano, chopped
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cut bread into 1/2"-thick slices; brush both sides lightly with olive oil.  Place in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in a 425 degree oven about 5 minutes, or until crisp and light brown, turning once.   Rub with cut garlic.

Combine all remaining ingredients except cheese to make tomato topping.  Spread each slice with tomato topping and sprinkle with cheese.  Return to oven and bake 2-3 minutes longer, or until cheese melts.

Roasted Tomato Sauce (for pizza)

Can't wait to make some pizza and try it out.  I like the fact that you don't have to peel the tomatoes, thus saving time and labor as well as getting the nutritional benefit of the skins!

Source:  Adapted from Country Living Magazine, September 2011

2 1/2 lbs. plum tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t. coarse sea salt
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
2 t. fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9x13" baking pan, toss together tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, oil, salt and crushed red pepper.  Roast for 1 hour.  Remove pan from oven and fold basil and oregano into vegetables.  Cook for 30 minutes more.  Cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend vegetables until pureed.  Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze or can.

Yields:  3 cups

Cantaloupe Smoothie

Does it get any easier or more healthful than this?!


1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 lb. (about 2 c.) chopped cantaloupe (from a 1 1/2 lb. cantaloupe)

Combine yogurt and cantaloupe in a blender; blend until smooth.  Chill in an airtight container, and use within one day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Source:  Everyday Food magazine, July/August 2011

2 medium zucchini
2 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded and diced small
1/4 t. chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 t. while vinegar
5 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into 1" pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.  Halve zucchini lenghwise and scrape out seeds.  Place cut side up, on sheet and season with coarse sea salt and ground pepper.  In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, oregano and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.  Top zucchini with tomato mixture.  Bake until zucchini is tender, about 20 minuted.

Heat broiler with rack in top position.  Top zucchini with mozzarella.  Broil until cheese is brown and bubbling, 1-2 min.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grains & Fruit Summer Salad

This salad is a bit unusual, but I couldn't resist trying it since it called for cantaloupe and yellow cherry tomatoes, both of which I had on hand, as well as plenty of basil.  I substituted red onion for the green onions.  I skipped the blueberries since fresh ones are no longer in season in our area.  The zucchini works nicely raw as long as it is cut into very, very thin slices or ribbons.

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine, June 2011

1 c. lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 c. cooked grains (quinoa, wild rice, and/or brown rice)
1/2 c. sliced green onions
4 c. mixed salad greens (torn Bibb lettuce and/or spring mix)
2 c. blueberries
1 c. cantaloupe cubes
1 c. yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise in narrow ribbons
1/2 c. walnut pieces, toasted
4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked (optional)
1/3 c. snipped or shredded fresh herbs (dill, basil and/or mint)

For basil dressing, in a blender or small food processor combine the 1 c. basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed; set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together cooked grains and green onions.  Stir in about 2 T. of the basil dressing to coat.

For the salad, line a large bowl with greens.  Top greens with grains mixture, blueberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, walnuts, and salmon.  Drizzle with half the remaining basil dressing; toss gently.  Sprinkle with fresh herbs.  Pass remaining dressing. 

Makes 8 side-dish or 4 main-dish servings.

Peaches + Basil + Red Onion

I saved the very last peach from my neighbor's bounty for this lovely recipe.

Source:  Martha Stewart Living magazine, June 2011

3 peaches, sliced 1/2" thick
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/3 c. fresh basil, leaves torn if large
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 t. coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Toss first 6 ingredients together.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 4

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Zucchini Mock Crabcakes

These freeze nicely.  I usually make a bunch when zucchini is plentiful, then freeze them individually for later use.

Source:  Chambersburg Brethren in Christ Church Cookbook

2 c. shredded zucchini
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c. dry bread crumbs
1 t. Old Bay seasoning (or less, to taste)
1/4 t. pepper
1 T. mayonnaise

Mix ingredients well.  Form into cakes.  Heat oil in nonstick skillet; cook until light brown and set.