Pasta with Red Sauce

The kosher link up for this month is “The One Food You Would Want If Stranded On An Island” (see below!)  It was actually not hardpasta 2 for me to pick the recipe.  My favorite food is easily Italian – pizza, pasta, ziti, lasagna.  I love it all!  The best part of Italian food is the red sauce.  I don’t know what it is about this sauce – the garlic, the tomatoes, the basil.  I am not sure but it is a combination that I love and crave.  It is also nice in that it is so, so easy to prepare.  Once I realized how simple it is to make this sauce I never went back to  jarred sauce (many have a lot of sugar, salt and/or preservatives).  That and my husband grew up in Brooklyn and eating jarred sauce is blasphemy.  Hopefully, once you try the recipe you will feel the same.

Being that I make this once a week I try to make it as healthy as possible and change it up.  I will use a high fiber/high protein pasta, a whole grain pasta or a vegetable fortified pasta.  I will make it with meatballs or add ground meat, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, or anything else I have in the fridge.  It is a great base sauce and is also delicious on its own.

The parsley is optional and if I do not have it in the house I will skip it.  I do think it adds a really nice freshness to the dish.  If you are going to use the parsley you will just want to be sure that it is very finely chopped.  I am more careful these days about using canned tomatoes because of BPA in the lining and have found some really nice tomato products in cartons.  All the more reason to eat this sauce often :-)

 

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Yield: 4-8 servings

 

1 box of pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 large garlic cloves, chopped (but still chunky)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

26 ounces of crushed tomatoes

5-6 large basil leaves, torn plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

In a large skillet add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Sauté over medium heat until the garlic has softened, but not browned about 2-3 minutes.

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Stir in the tomatoes and basil.  Season with salt and cracked pepper.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

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Cook the pasta in a pot of heavily salted boiling water according to the package directions, or to al dente.  Drain pasta.

Toss the pasta with the sauce.  Garnish with torn basil leaves and chopped parsley.

pasta 3

 

 

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Filed under Pareve, Pasta, Vegetarian

Pomegranate and Candied Pecan Salad

The theme for the kosher link up this month is “Pomegranate” (see below!) I admit I was not quite sure what I would come up with2014-09-14 17.04.32 for a pomegranate dish, but being that I have not posted for quite some time I was determined to write a decent recipe featuring the pomegranate. I think I have accomplished my goal! This salad is sweet, savory and full of flavor. It is also super easy and versatile.

For those of you not familiar with this ruby red fruit I encourage you to try it out. There are many health benefits of eating pomegranates as they are rich in antioxidants. Nowadays, you can find the juice in any grocery store, usually in the produce section.  If you are eating the seeds as opposed to the juice there is much less sugar and more fiber. Some people do not like the thought of actually crunching on seeds, but I love to add different textures to my food. The other aspect that normally keeps people away from eating pomegranate seeds is the fact that they are not so easy to get out of the fruit. There are several ways to get them out. I gently squeeze and tap them out of the membrane once it is cut in half. There are actually you-tube videos on how to do this!

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) is right around the corner. Pomegranates are often featured on the table during this holiday. This salad would be a lovely starter to a festival meal. It is also a really nice fall salad for any other day.

The ingredients are pretty basic, but you can really add whatever you like. If you are doing dairy, then crumbled goat cheese would be wonderful in this. To go along with the fall theme you could roast some butternut squash pieces and add them in as well. I love the butter lettuce because it is so tender, but you could also use romaine. Pecans are the epitome of fall which is why I picked them for this salad, but you could substitute any nut you like. The possibilities are endless! My favorite part of the salad is the different textures as well as the sweet and savory flavors. This will be one of my fall salad go-to’s in the future for sure!

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 8-10 Minutes

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Non stick cooking spray

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

5 – 6 oz pecan halves2014-09-14 16.59.03

1 pomegranate worth of seeds

1 head butter lettuce, washed and spun dry

1 can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed and chopped into rounds

4 scallions, chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons pomegranate juice

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

In a microwave safe bowl heat up the water for one minute. If you do not have a microwave you can do this on the stove. You want the water to be hot, but not boiling. Add the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved and then add the pecans.  Coat the pecans with the sugar water.

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Coat a foil lined baking sheet with non stick cooking spray. Pour the pecans on to the sheet in one layer. Cook the pecans on the top oven rack until they are fragrant and toasted, about seven to eight minutes.   Remove from the oven to cool and set aside.

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To make the dressing pour the vinegar, pomegranate juice, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and ground pepper into a bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Pom dressing

Place the butter lettuce in a large bowl or on individual plates.  Scatter the scallions, hearts of palm and pomegranate seeds over the lettuce. Add the cooled pecans and drizzle the dressing over the salad right before serving.

2014-09-14 17.03.01

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Greek Crustless Quiche

Quiche is one of my favorite recipes.  It is incredibly versatile and easy to make.  Just change up the cheese and the veggies and IMG_0584you can have a new creation at any time.  My version is loaded with vegetables and low-fat cottage cheese and only three eggs and one egg white in the entire recipe.  Taking the crust off the quiche is another trick to cut down calories and fat.  The base is so delicious and flavorful that you will not miss the crust at all.  Traditional quiche recipes use a full fat crust, a dozen eggs and heavy cream.  My recipe is a lot more health conscious so there is no need to feel guilty eating this any day of the week.

The kosher link up for this month is a dairy dish in honor of Shavuot (see below!)  This is a Jewish holiday where it is customary to not eat meat.  Unlike other Jewish holidays filled with chicken soup and brisket, this holiday is known for blintzes, cheese cake and other dairy delights.  This quiche is perfect for Shavuot, and truly any other time of the year.

I often make this on a Sunday and then cut it up into six individual servings.  I wrap each piece in plastic wrap and then put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.  Just defrost a piece in the microwave for a healthy breakfast any day of the week.  It can also be served with a side salad, whole grain toast or veggie sausage for a great breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner.

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 – 55 minutes

Yields: 6 – 8 servings

 

 

Nonstick cooking spray

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small zucchini, diced

1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

½ pint grape tomatoes

3 large eggs and 2 egg whites

8 ounces of crumbled low fat feta cheese

8 ounces of part skim mozzarella cheese

12 ounces low fat cottage cheese

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sauté the onion and zucchini over medium heat until softened in the olive oil, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with a pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper.  Let cool.

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Defrost the spinach and squeeze out all excess water.  It is important that all the water is taken out of the spinach otherwise the quiche will not be right consistency.

In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese and cheese. Add the onion, zucchini and spinach and mix well.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Coat a 7 x 11 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Add the mixture to the dish and make sure it is in a smooth layer going to all edges of the pan.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes. The top should be golden and firm.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving in order for the quiche to set.

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Easy Baked Ziti

Today is the end of Passover 2014. For those of you who are not aware, Jewish people are not supposed to eat anything that is IMG_0541leavened (called chametz) during Passover.  No bread, no pizza, no bagels, no pasta – no fun!  It is a nice holiday and I can appreciate the traditions, but anything that takes me away from my favorite foods for eight days is tough.  The kosher link up for this month is chametzfest – the celebration of getting to eat chametz again (see below!)  Since I have been a young child my tradition is to eat Italian food once Passover has ended.  Pizza and/or pasta is always on the menu.  For that reason I decided to share one of my favorite pasta recipes – baked ziti.

This recipe is great in that it is quick, easy and feeds a ton of people!  It can be easily doubled to feed two tons of people.  Using a jarred sauce saves time, although you can always make your own.  I use part-skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses to make the dish a little bit lighter.  Since the ricotta is seasoned so beautifully you never miss the full fat version.  I use a foil backing pan so clean up is a cinch.  It is good enough to serve for company and a nice treat for a family dinner.  Leftovers are delicious the next day or day after.  You can also make this the day before you plan to serve it, put it in the refrigerator and then bake before eating.

Whenever I make this I get a lot of compliments and requests for the recipe.  Serve the ziti with a salad and some garlic bread and you have a great Italian meal – one that is good enough to celebrate the end of Passover :-)

 

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Yield: 6 – 10 servings

 

1 (16 ounce) box of ziti

1 (26 ounce) jar of your favorite marinara sauce, or you can make your own

1 (16 ounce) bag of shredded mozzarella cheese (I use part skim)

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

1 (15 ounce) container of ricotta cheese (to make it lighter you can use part skim)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the pasta in a pot of heavily salted boiling water according to the package directions, or to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking combine ricotta cheese with garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well.

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Drain pasta into a colander. In a deep baking dish or foil pan place a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish. Create a layer of pasta using approximately a third of the ziti. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the pasta then add one third of the mozzarella cheese. Add a thin layer of the sauce. Repeat one more time.

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For final layer add one third of the pasta, a layer of sauce and one third of the mozzarella and all of the Parmesan cheese to the top.

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Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The cheese should be completely melted and bubbling on top

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Meyer Lemon Martini

The kosher link up for this month is cocktails (see below!)  I was excited when I heard that this would be the theme as I do enjoy a IMG_0500good cocktail!  I then realized that I have never posted a drink recipe on this blog.  Well, it is high time that I do so!  I picked this martini because it was the first cocktail that I created on my own and it is delicious!

This recipe came about as many of my recipes do – totally on the fly.  I was having my sister and brother-in-law over for dinner.  I had prepared a fabulous meal and felt that I needed to serve a fabulous cocktail.  I had just picked up some meyer lemons from the store so I had them on hand, and I always have a bottle of vodka in my freezer :-)  I put the two together and it was perfection – the the perfect balance of tart and sweet and very refreshing!

I love meyer lemons.  I only discovered them a few years ago from watching cooking shows (a favorite pass time before having IMG_0490kids!)  I had never noticed them in the store, but came upon them one day and decided to give them a try.  I use them for drinks, salad dressings, with fish and chicken.  I describe them as a cross between a tangerine and a lemon.  They are shaped like a lemon, but are more orange than yellow.  The taste is tart like a lemon, but slightly sweeter.  You can find them in most regular supermarkets or Whole Foods.  The only downside is that they are not always available all year long.   When you do see them in the produce section pick some up – you will not be sorry!

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup waterIMG_0482
1/4 cup sugar
6 meyer large lemons (if you cannot find them you can substitute 4 lemons and 2 tangerines)
3/4 cup vodka
2 sprigs fresh mint

Create a simple syrup by combing 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir the sugar until it is totally dissolved and remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely.

Juice the meyer lemons and place into a pitcher. Add the vodka, simple syrup, sprig of mint and stir.

If you are not serving the martini right away you can allow the drink to chill in the refrigerator. You can also pour it into a martini shaker with some ice and shake until frothy and ice cold right before serving. Garnish with a mint leaf.

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Spinach Artichoke Dip

I am doing something I have never done before on this blog.  I am posting a recipe that I have already posted once before.  The reason isSpinach Artichoke Dip Close 2 that the kosher link up for this month is Superbowl food (see below!).  There are two recipes that I think are essential for the big game, my game day chili and spinach artichoke dip.  Since I did the game day chili recipe last year for the Superbowl I decied that I would do the spinach and artichoke dip this year.  Plus it has been two years since I posted this last and there are a lot more readers on the blog now. This dish is so good and I want everyone to try it!

Who does not like spinach and artichoke dip? With tender artichokes surrounded by a hot, bubbly and creamy spinach mixture, what is not to love? Whenever I am at a restaurant and I see spinach and artichoke dip on the menu I HAVE to order it. My recipe is an attempt at re-creating the dip that I love, but making it a bit more health conscious. That way I don’t feel guilty making it for my family and friends all the time. It’s made with spinach and artichokes which are good for you, right?

I am not going to say this is a fat free recipe, but I did reduce some calories and fat. My version is made with low fat dairy products as opposed to full fat cheese, cream and mayonnaise which are the typical bases for the recipe. The best part is that there is absolutely no sacrifice to the flavor. I have made this many times for lots of different people and no one has ever been able to tell that this is made with reduced fat products. It is always a huge crowd pleaser and is great for game day or any other day!

You can make the dip a day ahead, keep it refrigerated and bake it before you want to serve it. It can be served with tortilla chips, pita chips, baguette slices or crudites for an even healthier alternative.

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

Yields: 6-8 servings

 

1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts packed in water (not oil)

8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

8 ounces low fat sour cream

2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise (not fat free)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely chopped (depending on how garlicky you like things)

Freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

 

Bring your cream cheese to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain artichokes and rinse. Finely chop and let dry. Defrost spinach and squeeze ALL excess liquid from the spinach.

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheeses and garlic in a large bowl. Add artichoke hearts, spinach, cracked pepper and stir until well combined.

Spray either a square 8 inch baking dish, or 9 inch round glass baking dish with cooking spray. Pour mixture into dish and bake until mixture is hot and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes.

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Chips - Rotated

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Edamame Salad

I want to start off by wishing everyone a happy new year!   ‘Tis the time for new year’s resolutions.  This year I made the same two resolutionsedamame salad 2 that I make every year – to loose weight and to eat healthy.  That is why my first posting of the year is a fabulous recipe that can help accomplish both of these goals.

This salad is colorful, delicious and good for you too!  It has lots of healthy veggies – red pepper (which has more vitamin C than an orange), lettuce, carrots and cucumber.  It also has protein with the edamame.  For those of you who are not familiar with edamame you really must try it.  I love it steamed or dry roasted as a snack or salad topper.  It is low in calories and fat, and provides lean protein as an added bonus.

Another great thing about this salad is that it is very easy and quick to prepare.  I use pre-washed lettuce as well as pre-shredded carrots to save on time.  You just have to do a little chopping, make a quick dressing and voila!  A pretty, healthy and delicious salad that is ready in no time.   This can be a nice starter salad or even a main course.  If you are serving it as a main course it would be great with some grilled chicken or salmon.  When you are trying to keep a new year’s resolution this is exactly the kind of food that can help you stick to it!

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 0 Minutes
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

5 oz. bag of mixed salad greens (I like a sweet butter lettuce mix for this recipe)
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, dicedIMG_0375
1/2 English cucumber, diced
4 scallions, chopped on a diagonal
1 cup shelled frozen edamame, defrosted
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Defrost the edamame (I usually defrost in the microwave for 2-3 minutes).

In a large bowl toss the lettuce, carrots, red pepper, cucumber and scallions. Pile the cooled edamame on top of the salad.

Combine the sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the sesame oil and sesame seeds and whisk some more. Slowly stream in the canola oil while whisking vigorously.

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Dress the salad right before serving.

edamame salad

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