Meatloaf- It’s What’s For Dinner!

Meatloaf is hearty fare and it’s a classic from my childhood that I have been enjoying lately with a local twist.  Using humanely raised, organic beef, lamb and bacon from farms in Dalton and Cummington, MA, eggs from Hinsdale and cream from High Lawn Farm this is as local as meatloaf gets!  I replaced the traditional bread crumbs with ground flax so this recipe is gluten and carbohydrate free.  Served with a side of greens, like slow cooked collards and perhaps a bowl of broth, this meal will be sure to warm you up and keep you going.  When I made this recipe we were having friends over for dinner and I wanted to be sure to have enough for left over meatloaf sandwiches.   I added an extra pound of ground beef to my basic meatloaf recipe and it just barely fit in my glass baking dish.  This will serve 6-8 people or 4 people for dinner, twice.  And if you have time, this recipe is great for meatballs too!

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground lamb (or pork)

1/2 pound bacon, half of it minced and half reserved in strips.

1/2 cup cream or milk

3 Tablespoons ground flax

1 extra-large farm egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1/2 small white onion, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder or hot pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika, smokey, mild or hot, whatever you’ve got!

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley

Ready to bake in about 15 minutes.

Ready to bake after just 15 minutes of prep time!

Method:

Pre heat oven to 350

Beat the egg into the milk and flax, add all of the other ingredients and mix well in a large bowl.

Shape into a loaf in a glass baking dish, make sure there is some room on all four sides.

Lay the remaining strips of bacon on top.

Bake at 350 for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours, until it’s firm and reads 160 degrees in the center!

Take it out, let it rest for about 15 minutes, transfer to a plate and serve.

Dinner four times two in about fifteen minutes plus baking time!

Dinner x 2 in about fifteen minutes plus baking time!

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Salsa Verde, Italian Style

This recipe for Italian salsa verde — not to be confused with the spicy Mexican sauce of the same name — comes from the Food section of the Miami Herald.  Salsa Verde is bright with herbs and deeply flavored with olive oil, garlic, capers, lemon, and sometimes anchovies.  It’s full of flavor and packs a ton of nutrition from pathogen fighting herbs.

There’s no long simmering or blending required. You simply whisk the ingredients together until you reach the consistency of a loose pesto.  This sauce is versatile: add it to a salad, use as a dip, top fish or meat after cooking or grilling.

Here are some tips:

• When zesting a lemon, avoid the bitter white pith beneath. The zest brightens the flavor of the sauce. A Microplane zester is an excellent tool for the job.

• Feel free to vary proportions. I tend to use less oil for a thicker consistency when I serve salsa verde alongside roasted meats and grilled vegetables, and more oil with fish or chicken.  Here’s the recipe along with a serving suggestion: wild caught salmon!

Fancy restaurant food is even better when it's easy to make at home!

Fancy restaurant food is even better when it’s easy to make at home!

Crispy Salmon with Salsa Verde

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 salmon fillets (about 2 pounds total), skin removed
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 lemon wedges, for garnish

Procedure:

Mix the herbs with the capers, garlic, lemon zest and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over high heat in a large nonstick pan. Cook salmon in a single layer until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn, season with salt and pepper, and cook other side until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir lemon juice into herb mixture. To serve, place a salmon fillet on each plate and top with the sauce. Serve garnished with lemon wedges. Makes 6 servings.

Source: Adapted from “Wine Country Cooking” by Joanne Weir (Time-Life $27.50).

Per serving: 341 calories (68 percent from fat), 25.6 g fat (5 g saturated, 11.2 g monounsaturated), 67 mg cholesterol, 25.4 g protein, 1.4 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g fiber, 203 mg sodium.

Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-author of “Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.”

Sicilian Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin

I found this recipe on the New York Times web site and was excited to try cooking cauliflower a new way.  When Dana and I arrived for Sunday dinner at my parents house last week this cauliflower and olive dish was just coming out of the oven!  It was yummy but we all agreed: more cheese, smaller olives.  So I have changed the recipe just a bit based on how the original recipe turned out.

Goes well with red wine!

Goes well with pork roast from Holiday Farms : – )

Ingredients:

  • 1 generous head green or white cauliflower (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 imported oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut in half or chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • note: The Romano is delicious but because it’s lower in fat it doesn’t get nice and gooey when it melts.  Use half mozzarella with a really flavorful Romano or use 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar instead.

Procedure:

1. Break up the cauliflower into small florets while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and drop in the cauliflower. Boil 5 minutes while you fill a bowl with ice and water. Transfer the cauliflower to the ice water, let sit for a couple of minutes, then drain and place on clean tea towels.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and add a pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant and translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

3. Place the cauliflower in the baking dish and add the onion and olive mixture, the remaining olive oil, the parsley and half the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir together well. Spread out in the dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: Serves 6

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Advance preparation: The cauliflower can be cooked and refrigerated for up to three days. The dish can be prepared through Step 2 several hours before assembling the gratin. Hold on top of the stove or in the refrigerator.

Nutritional information per serving: 177 calories; 13 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 9 milligrams cholesterol; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 377 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 7 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

Cauliflower Pizza: A New Take On Veggie Pie

I was skeptical about this idea of using cauliflower as the base for a pizza crust.  Then, a former coaching client sent me the recipe she had used, telling me I would love it.  Since she and I have shared a bunch of recipes I decided it was time to see what I was missing out on:

Does this look like a vegetable to you?

Does this look like a vegetable to you?

The recipe I was sent is this one, from the site Eating Bird Food, which is all about how healthy foods can and should be delicious, I couldn’t agree more!  I took the recipe and made it double, with minor changes:

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cheese- use your favorite- mozzarella is great, we had some goat Gouda so I used that.
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons each basil and oregano

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven and pizza stone, if you have one, to 400° F
  2. Prep a 12 inch round baking tray- you can grease the tray or use parchment paper.
  3. Remove the stems and leaves from your cauliflower and chop the florets into chunks. Add to a food processor (I used my Cuisinart) and pulse just until the texture is similar to rice. If you don’t have a food processor or Vitamix, you can grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater or chop it.
  4. Sauté cauliflower “rice” in a non-stick skillet (I used our large cast iron pan) over medium heat and cook until translucent, approximately 10-12 minutes.   Mine did not get very translucent but it did get cooked somewhat which is the whole point.
  5. In a bowl combine all remaining ingredients, starting with the eggs so you can whip them up.  Then add the cauliflower and mix well to combine.
  6. Spread dough out evenly over greased tray or parchment paper – about ¼ to ⅓ of an inch thick. The pizza should be about 12  inches in diameter.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden, crispy on the edges and cooked through the middle.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven.
  9. Top with sauce and toppings.  Add whatever you like best, you’ll be eating this pizza with a fork so go for it: sautéed onions, mushrooms, fresh chopped veggies, pesto, cheese, fresh herbs, etc.
  10. Broil the pizza for 5 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to cool for 2-3 minutes then cut and serve immediately.

I topped our pizza with one crumbled Italian sausage, sautéed onions, hot pepper flakes, more oregano and basil and just a bit of grated Romano sheep cheese.  I thought we had pesto in the freezer (wishful thinking!)  which would have been perfect for the sauce.  I could have made pesto out of garlic, olive oil, salt and some of the collard greens we had but didn’t think ahead enough.  It turned out really well even without the green and I am already thinking about what to make next time!

If you want pizza you can eat with your hands, try the flax crust I posted earlier and be sure to let us know what your favorite toppings are!

Mushroom Stir-Fry: Mark Bittman Style

Once again I have been carving out time to work on my book of recipes based on this blog.  Yesterday I was adding to a section on mushrooms and reminding myself of how incredibly beneficial they are to those of us working hard to regain our healthy balance.  Here is a great article on how mold, fungus and other beneficial organisms are very good for us, and no, they definitely don’t make Candida worse!

I found the following recipe for a mushroom based meal in the Sunday Times Magazine, it’s by Mark Bittman, taken from his cookbook, “How To Cook Everything” which is as handy as the title suggests.  This recipe is all about mushrooms: dried and fresh they make for a filling and healthy vegetarian meal.  You can add any protein you like: cubes of fried tofu or baked chicken or make the recipe as is, it’s simple and should take less than half an hour to make.

Dried Shiitake mushrooms will keep in your pantry long term and add tons of flavor and nutrition to so many dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces dried mushrooms, preferably shiitakes
  • 2 cups broccoli florets and stems, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms like button, cremini, shiitake, sliced (a variety is nice)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional as a thickener, it does NOT add a significant amount of carbohydrates.
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 3/4 cup mushroom-soaking liquid
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions

Procedure:

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in 3 cups very hot water until soft, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. (Dried shiitake are much tougher than other varieties and should be soaked in boiled water.) When they are tender, remove the dried mushrooms from the liquid with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid; slice or chop if the pieces are large.
2. Meanwhile, set a pot of water to boil for the broccoli. Cook the broccoli for 2 minutes in the boiling water, then drain.
3. Put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat; add the oil and swirl it around, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds; add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms when they’re ready, and allow them to cook down 2 or 3 minutes before adding the carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender but not at all mushy, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the broccoli during the last five minutes of cooking.
4. If you like, dissolve the cornstarch in the tamari to thicken it; stir into the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Add the crushed red pepper if you’re using it, and pour in the soaking liquid. Stir the mixture, and scrape the bottom of the pan, then turn off the heat; the liquid should be mostly absorbed. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.
YIELD
4 to 6 servings

The original recipe can be found here.

Jamaican Jerk Veggie Curry with Mahi Mahi

And now for some on the fly leftover Jamaican jerk ‘curry’ with whatever is in the vegetable crisper…

1/3 of a quart ball jar of leftover Jerk sauce. 1/3- 1/2 can of coconut milk. Purple cabbage from the garden, roughly chopped. A small handful of carrots from my Dad’s garden and a few thick slices of onion.

Turn the heat to medium, mix and simmer with a lid on for 3-4 minutes. Add the thickest part of some chopped kale, simmer for 3-4 minutes more with the lid on.

Add the rest of the chopped kale. Put the lid back on and simmer til it’s done.

Add some toasted (or raw) coconut flakes and serve with….

baked Jerk Mahi Mahi, leftover carrot ginger soup and hot ginger tea, yum!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara was a staple meal when I first moved to New York City and was living on 13th street.  Back then I made this dish with pasta, less than farm fresh eggs and tempeh bacon.  My diet has certainly changed a lot since then!  Spaghetti squash is a really versatile winter vegetable that I now use in place of noodles in soups and in place of wheat pasta.  Wheat, according to the new book Wheat Belly by William Davis, is an ingredient most Americans would be better off with out.  According to his book, wheat, even the organic kind, as grown in the US since the 1980’s is has been so genetically modified from it’s original form that it can not grow in the wild on it’s own and contains a protein entirely unfamiliar to our digestive systems. This so called ‘wheat’ that is used in almost every imaginable food product is nothing like it’s healthy, civilization sustaining ancestor. No wonder so many Americans are being diagnosed with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease!  Wheat also acts as an opiate, the more you eat the more of a high you experience and so, the more wheat you crave, creating a viscous cycle of addictive over eating.  Try skipping all wheat for a week or two and see if you notice a difference in how much you eat and how you feel energy and mood wise.  Here’s a great recipe to get you started: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara!

Ingredients:

One medium spaghetti squash, baked at 350 til it’s done.  Here is a post I wrote with further instructions on baking this type of squash.

2-4 slices of happy bacon

small bunch of Parsley, chopped

1-2 large farm eggs, whipped with an equal amount of….

grated Romano or Parmesean cheese

The number of eggs and the amount of cheese you use should be determined by the amount of cooked squash you have.

Warming the cooked squash in the bacon fat with cooked bacon pieces.

For the squash: I like to chop it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibers, oil the inside and bake the halves skin side up at 350 for about 30-45 minutes.  I know they are done when given a push, the skin gives a little.  Also, when I try to fork out the spaghetti like strands, they should come out without much effort. Be careful not to over cook this squash, the strands will lose their slightly crunchy, mildly sweet individuality and turn into a mushy mass.

Once your squash is baked and cooled enough for you to remove the strands you can start cooking the bacon.  You will be using one pan for this meal so once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and add your squash to re-heat it.

Add your greated cheese to the whipped eggs and then add this mixture to the pan, stirring quickly off the heat.  If there isn’t enough heat in the squash to cook the sauce you can put it back on a low flame and keep stirring til the sauce thickens.

Add lots of chopped parsley, the bacon pieces and eat immediately!