Category Archives: Italian Food

Pesto sauce

Here is the quick recipe for home made Pesto Sauce.

Preparation Time:10 minutes
Serving: 1/2 cup
Cooking Level: Very Easy

RECIPE TYPES:AO = Anti-Oxidant
DF = Dairy Free
GF = Gluten Free
HF = High Fiber
HP = High Protein
LS = Low Sugar
V = Vegan

Ingredients

3 Cloves of garlic optional

3 cups of fresh basil leaves washed and dried

1 and 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts

1/4 tsp salt and crushed black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup parmesan grated cheese

Preparation

1. Mix everything together in a blender or food processor until
 smooth.

 2. Store it in a refrigerator in air tight container. I prefer to make pesto sauce in summer time. When basil is in abundance and fresh. Also, I use basil sauce as sandwich spread and add red ,white and pesto sauces to my pasta.
3. I make vegetable sandwich using cream cheese, pesto sauce, cucumber,  lettuce, tomato and bread of choice. This is quick fix to any dull lunch.

Please try to make it at home and give your valuable suggestions or comments!!

Kumato tomatoes Bruschetta

Prep time:  5 minutes
Bake time:   10-12 minutes

cooking level : very easy
Recipe Type AO = Anti-Oxidant ,
                        V = Vegan
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

2 kumato tomato chopped
one small red onion chopped
2tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
one bunch fresh basil washed and chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
one french baguette

  1. sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  2. Directions:
Kumato  tomatoes  are truly exceptional. Try it and you will experience authentic tomato flavor. It has a mild clean flavor and once sliced, it then ripens to a dark brown skin with a sweet spicy aroma, ideal for salads. Here is a quick recipe of Bruschetta . I am sure You will enjoy this.
  1. Mix everything in a bowl. set aside for ten minutes.
  2. Cut the french baguette into oblong shape.
  3. Spoon the mixture on top of bread. Leave the juice on side otherwise bread will get soggy.
  4. Toast the bread in toaster oven for 5-7 minutes till it is golden brown.
  5. Enjoy!

                                                                                    
                     
                                                             

    Spring Salad

    Fresh Spring Salad

    Spring is the season when fresh fruits are in abundance, and so it is with my great pleasure that I share my favorite spring salad..A meal is not fulfilling without it. Recently I made a salad with romaine lettuce. This recipe is a simple recipe of just five ingredients.

    Ingredients

    • Fresh washed and cut strawberries
    • Fresh pears, washed and cubed
    • Crushed almonds
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Italian vinaigrette dressing

    Mix all of these together and toss a dash of the dressing and enjoy!

    Vegetable Lasagna

     

    This recipe of vegetable lasagna is always a hit with my family and friends.  It requires a bit of planning and grocery shopping, but it makes a hearty, healthy dinner that even your teenager will tolerate.  If you’re short on time, prepare it in advance and heat it up later.

    Preparation Time: About an hour
    Serves: 7-9 pieces

    Ingredients:

    9-10 Lasagna Noodles
    1 Package/Ounces Frozen Spinach, thawed & drained
    1 Medium Red Onion, chopped
    1 Red & Green Bell Pepper, chopped
    Salt & Pepper to taste
    Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
    1 Tsp Oregano
    Basil leaves, fresh & chopped
    8 Ounces Ricotta Cheese
    1/2 Slab Firm Tofu, crumbled
    24 or 2 Ounces/Jars Pasta Sauce
         (I buy vegetables sauce &
    tomato garlic sauce)
    2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
    1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

    Directions:

    1. Boil the pasta with a touch of salt. Drain, add cold water and set aside.
    2. In a mixing bowl, add bell pepper, onion, spinach, crumbled tofu, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Mix it well and set aside.
    3. Cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish with a layer of sauce.
    4. Add a layer of noodles.
    5. Spread the mixture from the bowl over the noodles. Try to pack the mixture firmly and evenly.
    6. In the same way, add a second layer on top of the other. Then add another layer of noodles. Cover it with sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
    7. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
    8. Broil for 5 minutes.
    9. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

     

    Tips: Other vegetables can be added like broccoli, mushrooms, carrots and corn. Sauté the vegetables for five minutes before adding them to the mixture. Sometimes I open a can of black beans, rinse and add to the mixture, also. To speed up preparation time, pre-cooked pasta can be used.

     

    ENJOY!

    Serving Size is 1/4-1/2 piece.

     

    Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! I love to hear from my readers!
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    This Week’s Healthy Tip

    The Health Benefits of Lasagna

    From livestrong.com:

    Prostate

    No lasagna is complete without generous portions of tomato sauce. Tomato sauce and other tomato products are rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Antioxidants are special compounds in food that shield your body’s cells from harm. A diet rich in tomato products reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer, reports Edward Giovannucci of Harvard University. A paper published in the January 2002 issue of the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” found that consuming at least two servings of tomato sauce per week slashed prostate cancer risk by more than 25 percent.

    Calcium

    The cheese that often tops vegetable lasagna is loaded with dietary calcium. Regularly consuming calcium-rich dairy products significantly reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. However, cheese can be high in total calories and saturated fat. Choose fat-free or reduced fat cheese that contains the same amount of calcium with less fat and calories.

    Veggies

    The eggplant, spinach or tomatoes that you put in your vegetable lasagna are a boon to your health. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables significantly reduces your risk of contracting chronic diseases like cancer, stroke and diabetes, the Harvard School of Public Health reports.

    Whole Grains

    Choosing whole wheat pasta to use as your vegetable lasagna base will make the dish much healthier than if you decided to use refined grains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are loaded with dietary fiber. The dietary fiber in whole grains shields your heart from heart disease, MayoClinic.com reports. Check the ingredients list on the package to make sure that your whole grain pasta choice is really whole wheat. The first ingredient listed should be “whole wheat” or “100 percent whole wheat.”

    Tiramisu

    Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert and is a favorite all over Europe.  It instantly brings a smile to everyone’s face. Two of my favorite places to go for this dessert is California Pizza Kitchen and Olive Garden where I first developed a taste for it after I moved to the states. So then I had to make one for myself. Everyone loved it. There are probably thousands of different recipes out there, but here is one that is quick, simple and delicious.

    Ingredients:

    1    Package Italian Ladyfingers (approximately 17 oz.)
    1    Package Vanilla Instant Pudding
    3    Cups Milk
    2    Cups Coffee
    (2 cup water, 3 tsp instant coffee & 2 tsp sugar)
    1    Package Mascarpone (approximately 8 oz.)
    (available in whip cream section in grocery store)
    5    TBsp Sugar
    5    Eggs
    (Substitute: Large Vanilla instant pudding packet)
    2    TBsp Whip cream / Original Cool Whip
    Hershey Cocoa, natural unsweetened

    Second Layer Garnish Ingredients: 

    1    Package Vanilla Instant Pudding
    2    TBsp Sugar
    2    TBsp Whip Cream
    1    Stick Butter
    3    Tsp Cool Whip
    2 1/2 Cups Milk
    Hershey Cocoa, natural unsweetened

    How to Prepare:

    1. In a bowl, mix 3 cups of milk and vanilla instant pudding mix. Set aside.
    2. To make Coffee, heat 2 cups of water with coffee and sugar. Set aside.
    3. Mix Mascaropone with vanilla pudding mixture.
    4. Dip just the half of the lady fingers in coffee and keep in a dish upside down (coffee dip side up).
    5. Lay all of the lady fingers over a tray.
    6. Now cover the lady fingers with pudding and mascarpone mixture.
    7. Now we are ready for second layer on top of it.

    Second Layer Garnish: 

    1. Mix butter, whip cream, sugar and vanilla instant pudding.
    2. Mix 3 teaspoons of cool whip into pudding mixture.
    3. Add 2 1/2 cups milk to pudding mixture. 
    4. Cover lady fingers with pudding mixture.
    5. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top and cool.
    6. Refrigerate it over night at least 5-6 hours.
    7. Enjoy!


    Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! I love to hear from my readers!

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    This Week’s Healthy Tip


    The Health Benefits of Cocoa

     
    Enhances mood: The regular consumption of pure cocoa uplifts mood and also keeps an individual more active. It improves ones life by giving energy to their muscles and by improving glucose metabolism. The mood elevating effect of cocoa is due to the presence of phenylethylamine.
    Depression and Stress relief: Cocoa is a powerful anti depressant and hence gives relief from stress and depression. Cocoa has no significant side effects. Many medications are used for treating depression but they have side effects. So now you would have understood which one is better. The Polyphenolic extract obtained from non-roasted cocoa contains plenty of flavonoids that makes cocoa, a great anti-depressant.
    Reduces disease risk: Those who consume cocoa regularly have less than 10% chances of having strokes, heart failure, cancer and diabetes. Diabetic patients can take sugar free dark chocolate so that they can prevent any adverse effect on insulin levels.
    Improves blood flow: Cocoa consumption is highly recommended by many physicians because it has high levels of epicatechin which improves blood flow.
    Lowers high blood pressure: Have you ever wondered why the people who live near San Blas Island off the coast of Panama have never complained about high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases? Well, this is because of the amazing health benefits of cocoa (their daily cocoa consumption is around 3 – 4 cups). The flavonoids in cocoa brings down the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
    Fights Aging and Skin Problems: Who wants to get old? Definitely, nobody; thus you should immediately start taking cocoa since it helps fight aging with its high-flavanol content. In the recent times cocoa has become so popular in skin and beauty industry due its effective benefits. Cocoa contains flavanols that helps vascular tissues to relax which improves blood vessel function and also give a glow to the skin. Cocoa is effective in treating skin damages, dark spots, acne and other skin problems. It even has anti-cancer properties that can help to prevent skin cancer.
    Improves digestion – Prevents Constipation: Cocoa is quite helpful in improving digestion and relieving constipation. The rich amount of magnesium present in cocoa keeps the bowel movements normal and also promotes digestion. You can take magnesium supplements but why to go for that when tasty dark chocolates are available.
    Other Benefits: Cocoa is very helpful for feeding mothers since it helps increase breast milk. It helps to regulate the inflammatory / immune responses in blood vessel walls.

    5 Minute Tomato & Basil Bruschetta


    This is a good recipe for when you don’t have a lot in the kitchen and don’t want to spend too much time cooking and cleaning, but also want something easy and healthy. You do need to have tomatoes and fresh basil, so it works best in Spring & Summer when both of those items are usually stocked one’s garden or kitchen.  


    Cooking Preparation Time: 5 Minutes

    Cooking Difficulty Level: Easy

    Ingredients:


    4     Slices French/Sourdough Bread
    2    Tomatoes
    2    Leaves Basil, Fresh
    Olive Oil
    1    Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
    Salt/Garlic Salt to Taste
    2    TBsp Parmesan Reggiano or
    Peccorino Romano Cheese

    How to Prepare:
    1. Take the 4 slices of bread and spray with Olive Oil from a mister or a spray can (available at Trader Joe’s) on both sides.
    2. Then very lightly sprinkle bread with garlic salt on one side.
    3. Pop all four slices (if they fit) in the toaster for the longest length available on your toaster, you may have to experiment to get the toast to your liking.  
    4. While the bread is toasting, slice your tomatoes.  The Campari variety available at Costco are great, or any heirlooms available at most grocery stores if you don’t have any from your own tomato plants.  If they’re smaller, you’ll only need a few slices for each slice of bread.
    5. Then pick some fresh basil leaves and chop lengthwise.  You can chop smaller if you like.  
    6. Once the toast is done, arrange on a plate and place your slices of tomato on the bread and then the basil on top. 
    7. You can drizzle a little smokey olive oil on top also. 
    8. You can add salt and pepper if you like, though if you added the garlic salt to the toast in the beginning, you likely won’t need more salt, or you can add it now instead.
    9. Pour a little balsamic into a tiny ramekin, and then use a spoon to lightly sprinkle over the tomatoes and basil.  
    10. Finally, you can add cheese, Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, grated with a microplane zester over the top.
    11. If you’re fancy, you can roast and spread garlic cloves on the bread beforehand.

    Voila!  A fantastic and fresh little sandwich/bruschetta for lunch, snack or even a light dinner. Also great as appetizers.  


    Spaghetti with Zucchini, Walnuts & Raisins

    Photo from Real Simple
    This is a great recipe from RealSimple.com that is light and healthy for the Spring and Summer.  You could substitute dried cranberries for raisins and add lemon zest, as well, if you like.

    Cooking Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
    Cooking Time: 5 Minutes
    Cooking Difficulty Level: Easy

    Ingredients:

     
    1    Package Spaghetti
    3    TBsp Olive Oil
    1/2 Cup Walnuts, chopped
    4    Cloves Garlic, pressed or minced
    4-5 Small Zucchini, sliced in half, then chopped
    Salt
    Pepper
    1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese


    Directions:
    1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. 
    2. Drain and return pasta to the pot.
    3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. 
    4. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
    5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 1 minute.
    6. Add the zucchini and and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
    7. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the zucchini is just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
    8. Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta and toss to combine. 
    9. Sprinkle with the Parmesan before serving.

    Serving Size: 1/2 Serving

    Basil Dressing

    This recipe came to me from an old collection of recipes.  I thought it would be interesting to share with my friends.  I love basil and always like to cook with it.

    Ingredients:

    1/4 Cup Tarragon-flavored Wine Vinegar
    1/4 Cup Vegetable Juice
    2    TBsp Vegetable Oil
    1    Clove Garlic, minced
    1    TBsp Chopped Fresh Basil or 1 Tsp Dried Basil
    1/2 Tsp Paprika
    1/4 Tsp Salt-free Herb & Spice Blend
    1/8 Tsp Freshly Ground Pepper

    How to Prepare: 

    1. Combine all ingredients in a jar. 
    2. Cover jar tightly and shake vigorously.
    3. Chill.  
    4. Shake well before serving dressing over salad greens.

    It makes a little more than 1/2 cup.

    Enjoy with your favorite salad greens.

    Eggplant Parmesan My Way

    On a Sunday I decided to make an effort to create a recipe that was low in fat and calories. I am big fan of using up what’s in the refrigerator. This is what I found.
    Serves: 2 people
    Ingredients:

    2    Eggplants, fresh
    Dried Parsley
    Salt & Crushed Pepper
    Mexican Shredded Four Cheese
    1    Jar of store-bought Tomato & Garlic Sauce 
    Few Jalapeños, sliced
    Spray Can of Olive Oil

    How to Prepare:

    1. Wash eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch round or lengthwise slices.
    2. Sauté on medium heat for 7 minutes until tender.
    3. Sprinkle salt and pepper over eggplant and spray sparingly with olive oil.
    4. Move eggplant to a 9×11″ baking dish.
    5. Cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
    6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
    7. Serve with your choice of salad.
    Potential Variations:
    Eggplant slices can be deep fried with batter.  For a different method, I like to dip eggplant slices in a corn starch batter and then dip again into bread crumbs. Then I sauté the battered slices in a pan and follow the recipe to bake.
    I am very happy with the result and it is very light and low in calories and fat.
    Enjoy!

    Garlic Bread Spread

    Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

    Ingredients:

    1    Loaf Bread
    1    Whole Garlic, peeled
    Salt to Taste
    Parsley Flakes
    Black Pepper
    2    Tsp Parmesan Cheese
    1    Stick Butter, room temperature or melted
    Jalapeño, crushed (optional)

    How to Prepare:

    1. In a small chopper, blend all the ingredients together.
    2. Spread is ready and can be saved for few days.

    Tips:
    This is my favorite garlic bread. I use a different kind of bread every time.  Sourdough and wheat is my favorite.