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Recipe: Summer Salad – Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Panzanella

If you are looking for an authentic, traditional panzanella salad, you’d be better off with this one from Giada De Laurentis. But if you want something equally delicious,  that can be made in about 4 minutes, I’m your girl! There is no toasting of the bread, no seeding or peeling of tomatoes, or other fussy steps.

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A bounty of tomatoes from Common Hands Farm

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Elegant, Easy Holiday Menu with Spanish flair

Recipe: Stuffed Dates

This is a RARE recipe that does not include any spices!  But it was soooo delicious, as part of our Christmas Eve dinner this year,  that I had to share it with you.

dates with chaource

I am sure that as long as there have been dates, people have been stuffing them. When planning the dinner menu, I thought I remembered seeing dates stuffed with almonds, somewhere in my travels. Turns out,  dates stuffed with blue cheese, with or without almonds and bacon, are a classic Spanish dish.

Since I was already serving almonds, I decided to skip them in this dish. Bacon is not a hugely popular ingredient in my family (if you can believe it), so I 86’d that, too.

That left only the blue cheese to deal with. Instinctively, I knew how these two foods would work together. Dates are very dense, intensely sweet with a lingering taste of honey in your mouth. I needed something that would cut through that sweetness and give a sharp, delicious contrast.

“Chaource” cheese is what came to mind! Not a blue, at all, but I knew it would work. Chaource is a cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy, ash-coated rind. It is one of the oddest cheese I’ve encountered, the reason being that it completely changes in character during ripening.

Rory-Hillsdale

Rory Chase of The Amazing Real Live Food Co at my booth at the Hillsdale Farmers Market in 2013 ~ educating customers on his cheeses

I use “Moonlight Chaource” from The Amazing Real Live Food Co in Pine Plains NY, and I also re-sell it at my farmers markets, so I’ve eaten quite a bit of it over the years.

When it is younger, it is quite firm, almost crumbly in the center, and the rind remains white with grey speckles of ash.  As it ages, the interior turns creamy melty gooey, like a ripe Camembert, and the rind darkens somewhat.

che_amz_chaource_zI prefer Chaource at this ripe stage. It is pungent, sharp, creamy, and the taste lingers in your mouth for hours. I knew this was the right pairing for my Medjool dates — and it was!chaseholm-farms-16

Recipe:

Slit each date and remove the pit.
Insert about 1/2 tsp of Chaource into the date.
You can pop the completed dates under a broiler for 1-2 minutes, on a cookie sheet, but you don’t have to (I didn’t).

Recipe: “Gobble Me Up” Turkey Meatball Soup with Pastina

I enjoy coming up with new ways to use a common seasoning.  Curry over bananas,  Southwestern spice over popcorn, salt and pepper in chocolate bark — these are a few of my creations. The latest one was inspired by Thanksgiving, just a few weeks ago, and a desire to use my “Gobble Me Up”  seasoning for something besides stuffing.

Sage Turkey Meatball soup

Turkey seemed like the perfect vehicle since it echoes the Thanksgiving roots of this recipe. From there, it was easy to fill in the gaps and create this warming, easy soup that just happens to be very low-fat. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: “Magical Fish”

Magical Fish recipe at HLM cropped

When talking about “healthy eating”, fish comes up in the conversation almost every time.  Why?

Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits. White-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats. Since the human body can’t make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish are an important part of the diet. Also, fish are low in the “bad” fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids. — source:  EDF Seafood Selector

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Recipe: Portabella, Polenta & Peppers

We all do it — we make crazy combination dishes, using what we find in the fridge then throwing in a little of this,  a little of that. Once in a while, though, magic happens, and the dish turns out so surprisingly delicious that we scramble to write it down.

Polenta stir fry 2

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Recipe: Bread, rolls, pizza, oh my!

I have learned how to bake bread… and I feel like I have just invented fire. Yeah, I am Wonder Woman.

You have no idea how proud (and surprised) I am at this accomplishment! Why did I think that making bread was beyond my capabilities?

basil bread rolls

Basil whole wheat rolls with Viva Italia and parmesan

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Recipe: Light & Easy Seafood Chowder

Goodness sake,  it’s April 19th and it still doesn’t feel like Spring yet!  I’m still in “warm and filling” mode, for my weekly soup creations.

When I was deciding what to make this week, an old favorite came to mind:  this intensely flavorful chowder that gets all steamy and fragrant, but that’s super easy to make. If that’s not enough, it’s a LOT lighter than most chowders — no butter, flour or cream.

Fish Chowder cropped

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Recipe: Spicy Grilled Cod

You’ve heard that fish can be a valuable part of a healthy diet. It’s naturally low-fat, high in protein, and easy on the calories (depending on how you prepare it). The health benefits read like an alphabet: fish can help to prevent asthma, fuel your brain, stave off some cancers, lower your risk of dementia, and more.

Grilled fish

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Recipe: Stuffed Manicotti with Spicy Turkey Sausage

It’s darn cold around here, these days, so I thought that a nice, hearty lasagna would be just the thing to warm me up. Any excuse to fire up the oven, you know? But lasagna can be a lot of work… so I decided to make some stuffed manicotti instead (doesn’t it actually LOOK just like lasagna?).

Stuffed Manicotti

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