Mediterranean Steak Bowls, Gluten-Free

Mediterranean Steak Bowls, Gluten-Free

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

I was looking in my freezer to see what I could make for dinner without having to go the market. I found 2 small NY strip steaks that I defrosted for Gary to grill on the barbeque. I had most of the other ingredients for this delicious and healthy dinner. The best part...it's served all in one bowl. You can make this with what you have on hand, including chicken, beef, or lamb for the protein. The yogurt dressing is wonderful and blends all the flavors together. I could eat this dish every night of the week...it's that good. Give it a try.

Ingredients

For the Bowls:

  • 1 lb. NY strip steak (may substitute with flank steak, sirloin steak, chicken breast or lamb)
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder (to season steak)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped to your size liking (about 12 cups)
  • 1 large cucumber, quartered & cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely sliced or chopped
  • 1-pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 cup hummus (I used Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus & added 1 clove finely minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled fetta cheese
  • lemon wedges (optional)

For the Yogurt Dressing:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Cabot Greek whole milk yogurt)
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp fresh mint, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried mint)

Directions

For the Dressing:

  1. In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together.  Place in the fridge until ready to use. This dressing can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

For the Bowls:

  1. Preheat the grill to high heat (approximately 450ºF).
  2. Pat the steak with paper towels until dry. Brush steaks with EVOO then sprinkle with salt, pepper & a little garlic powder.
  3. When the grill is hot enough, place the steak on the grill for 3 minutes then flip and grill an additional 3 minutes for medium-rare or until an instant-read thermometer reads 140ºF.  Grill longer for thicker steak. Our steaks were about 1-inch thick before grilling.
  4. Remove steak from the grill and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Slice thin against the grain.
  5. While the steak is resting, divide the chopped lettuce between 4 bowls. Top with sliced steak, red onions, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese.
  6. Spoon yogurt dressing on top and garnish with optional lemon wedges.

Notes: In place of slicing the red onion thin, you can cut them into 1-inch pieces & place on skewers with the tomatoes. Grill for about 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally until tomatoes start to blister & onions are softened.

Recipe adapted from Jessica Beacom.

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Barbara’s Berry Cream Pie🥈

Barbara's Berry Cream Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

If you ever paid a visit to Briermere Farms in Riverhead, Long Island then you know about their delicious pies. My favorite is their boysenberry! The tartness of the berries blending with the fluffy sweet cream filling is the perfect combination. Not being a pie maker I never heard of National Pie Day, which is celebrated every January 23rd. So, when the director of our Fitness Center sent a community-wide announcement about a pie contest to celebrate the event, I was intrigued. I decided to give it a try and make that boysenberry cream pie. I couldn't get fresh boysenberries here in NC so I decided to use fresh raspberries, blackberries, and canned boysenberries calling it Berry Cream Pie! I was thrilled with how it turned out. My husband Gary loves it and I'm happy to say my pie took 2nd Place 🥈 (Teresa's pie took 1st place🥇)

Ingredients

  1. 1 Sour Cream blind-baked pie crust
  2. 9-inch Pyrex pie dish

Berry Topping:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 can boysenberries, reserve 3 Tablespoons of juice then drain well
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Filling:

  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 (8 ounces) package full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Stir in the fruit, reserved boysenberry juice, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, pour heavy cream into the bowl. Beat on medium until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl.
  4. Replace the whisk attachment with a paddle attachment on the stand mixer. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla into the stand mixer bowl and beat until well combined, approximately 2 minutes.
  5. Fold in the whipped cream and sour cream until evenly incorporated.
  6. Spread cream filling into your blind-baked, cooled pie crust. Top with the cooled berry topping and place some fresh berries on top. Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Notes: You could also add strawberries & blueberries or whatever berries you love.

 

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Teresa’s Banana Cream Bourbon-Caramel Pie 🥇

Teresa's Banana Cream Bourbon-Caramel Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Moderate

I always loved to bake & as a young bride baked many pies, cakes & desserts. I always chose the more difficult recipes as I loved the challenge. Since I hadn't made any pies for many years I almost backed out of our first community pie contest that Barbara so graciously entered us in. Let's just say I owed her, but that's a story for another time! My inspiration for this pie comes from a dessert our Dad used to make on some weekends while we were growing up. It was a delicious banana pudding & wafer dessert that he or Mom probably saw on the box of wafers or Jello pudding box. Wherever it came from we loved it. I'm excited to say my Banana Cream Bourbon Caramel pie took 1st place. {Barbara was sorry she talked me out of backing out because her berry cream pie took 2nd place!} 🤣🤣

Ingredients

  • 1  Sour Cream blind-baked pie crust recipe
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 9-inch Pyrex pie pan

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 Whipped Cream Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Bourbon Caramel Sauce :

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  1.  In a medium saucepan bring milk and cream to a simmer.
  2.  In a large bowl whisk sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt.
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time; whisk until smooth (mixture will be very thick).
  4. Whisking constantly, gradually add the milk mixture to the yolk mixture.
  5. Return to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until thick, 2-3 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a blender and add butter and vanilla. Purée until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  7. Transfer puréed mixture to a medium bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the vanilla cream pastry mixture. This will prevent a film from forming.
  8. Chill at least 2 hours or until set. This mixture can be made 1 or 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator until assembling the pie.
  9. Toast a handful of chopped walnuts in a small skillet until the aroma is released. Then add a tablespoon + of the caramel sauce and toss. Remove from heat and set aside to use as garnish.

Whipped Cream Topping:

  1. With an electric mixture, beat 1/2 cup cream and powdered sugar together until medium-stiff peaks form. Cover and chill.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan stir sugar, bourbon, corn syrup, and 1 Tablespoon of water over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase heat and bring to a boil without stirring, cook, occasionally swirling saucepot until sugar is a deep amber color, 6-8 minutes. (you can use a wet pastry brush to push down the sides).
  3. Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, butter, and salt. Let cool for about 5-6 minutes then whisk in vanilla. Let cool and set aside until ready to drizzle over pie at room temperature.
  4. Spread 1/4 cup vanilla pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the pastry crust.
  5. Slice bananas into 1/4 inch rounds and layer over the pastry cream. Top with 1½ cups vanilla pastry cream.  Arrange the remaining banana slices over the top. Top the bananas with the remaining pastry cream.  Garnish with whipped cream and caramelized walnuts. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.

 

 

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Sour Cream Pie Crust

Sour Cream Pie Crust

  • Servings: 2 pie crusts
  • Difficulty: Easy

This recipe makes enough dough for 1 double-crust or 2, 9-inch single crusts. After testing so many crust recipes we found this recipe to be the most buttery, flakiest texture and best tasting in a homemade crust. We loved it so much we used it when we recently entered a local pie baking contest. We took 1st & 2nd place so we can assure you this crust is a winner! 😋

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream (do NOT use light sour cream)
  • 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon heavy cream, beaten together for the egg wash

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut butter into cubes and let sit in a warm spot for a couple of minutes after removing from the fridge.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar.
  4. Mix the cubes of butter over & into the flour, using your clean hands.  Squish the flour and butter together with your thumbs, fingers, and knuckles, making sure the butter coats all of the flour. Work the butter into the dough until you have what resembles a coarse meal with some flattened chunks of butter (Ok to have different size butter chunks). Using a fork, add the sour cream to the flour mixture & combine.
  5. Gather the pastry dough into a large ball. Divide the ball in half forming 2 disks.
  6. Work the dough until there are no cracks.  Don’t worry about overworking the dough. as this dough is different than typical pie dough.
  7. Sprinkle both sides of disks with a little flour than tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Once the dough is wrapped in plastic look for any cracks in the dough. You can smooth the dough and the edges with your warm hands to close any cracks. Chill both disks in the refrigerator for an hour or up to a day ahead.
  8. Remove the dough from the fridge, let sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature, to become easier to roll out.  If it still feels too stiff to roll out, hold your hands around the edges to soften.
  9. To roll out, sprinkle a little flour on a clean, flat surface along with the top of the dough. As you roll the dough, check to make sure the bottom is not sticking. If it is, lift it up & sprinkle a little more flour.
  10. Roll out to 12 to 14 inches wide, to an even thickness (approximately 3/16 inches)
  11. Place the dough gently in an ungreased, 9-inch glass pie pan.
  12. For a pre-baked pie crust, as we used in our banana cream bourbon caramel pie or berry cream pie, you will need to Blind-bake first. (Instructions below)

Blind-baking this pie crust

This recipe has more fat in it than a regular crust, which can cause the sides to slump. Having said that, we have successfully pre-baked this crust by layering extra dough on the edges of the pie rim, freezing the crust for at least 30 minutes first, lining it with non-stick heavy-duty foil then filling it with rice and baked it at 350ºF for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil and rice. Lightly brush with egg wash and place pie back in the oven. Bake until golden brown, approximately 30-40 minutes. Barbara used the extra pie dough to make a braiding all around the rim.,  Place the braiding or cutouts using egg wash to adhere to pie edge.  Teresa used 1-inch flower cookie cutters to make a flower rim.

NOTE: If you’re freezing this dough for future use, wrap again, this time with aluminum foil and freeze (leave in the fridge overnight to thaw before using).

Recipe adapted from Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.

 

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National Pie Day Celebration

All across America, January 23rd is National Pie Day and Brunswick Forest hosted their very first Pie Baking Contest to celebrate this national event!

Teresa & I are not known for making pies but I thought we should enter this local contest to challenge ourselves. Teresa even wanted to back out the day before the contest…she just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to replicate a berry cream pie that Briermere Farms in Riverhead, Long Island is famous for. I had so many wonderful memories of their cream pies that I had to give it a try. Teresa, on the other hand, had no clue what she wanted to bake. She loved our father’s banana pudding dessert as a young girl so after I convinced her not to withdraw from the contest she decided she would make a banana cream pie reminiscent of that flavor only kicking it up a notch.

There were a total of 14 entries that were judged by professionals in the food industry. I am thrilled to announce Teresa’s Banana Cream Bourbon-Caramel Pie took first place…I took second place with my Berry Cream Pie (I should have let her back out!) LOL

We tested so many pie crust recipes and got the best consistency using a sour cream pie crust recipe from Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.  It worked great for blind baking both of our crusts. This recipe gives you the most buttery, flakiest texture that we ever tasted in a homemade crust. It certainly is a winner!

Click on the links below for the crust and winning pie recipes.

Teresa’s Banana Cream Bourbon-Caramel Pie

Barbara’s Berry Cream Pie

 

                                                                    Sour Cream Pie Crust    

 

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Fish Fillet Roll-ups with Stewed Tomatoes

Fish Fillet Roll-ups with Stewed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

Who knew our Mom was cooking the Mediterranean Diet style long before it was ever acknowledged to be such a healthy way of eating? She used to prepare flounder fillets this way in order to disguise the fish so we would eat it. She was really onto something as we thought it tasted like pizza! I guess she fooled us alright...we loved it! Our local fish market was out of flounder but the cod looked great & was on sale so we adapted Mom's recipe using the fresh cod. If fresh fish isn't available where you live, by all means, use frozen and make sure you defrost it thoroughly & remove any bones before preparing. If your little ones don't like fish try telling them they're 'pizza style roll-ups' and give them a try. We won't tell!

Ingredients

  • 2½ – 3 lbs white fish fillets (cod or flounder) fresh or frozen & thawed
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs (or gluten-free bread crumbs if gluten is an issue)
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano plus more for topping
  • 1 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons or more Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • EVOO to drizzle over fillets & casserole dish
  • 2 cans Stewed tomatoes with juice
  • large toothpicks to seal fillets while baking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels.
  3. Drizzle a little EVOO over each fillet. Rub the minced garlic on each fillet then sprinkle all seasonings starting with salt, pepper, oregano, bread crumbs, and grated cheese.
  4. In a 2 quart casserole, drizzle a small amount of EVOO on the bottom of the dish. Roll-up each fillet and place in casserole.
  5. Pour the stewed tomatoes over the fish roll-ups then place a large toothpick into each fillet to prevent them from opening. Sprinkle additional oregano, salt & pepper on top of the stewed tomatoes.
  6. Place in preheated oven and bake at 400ºF until fish flakes, about 20-25 minutes. Remember, these fillets are rolled up so they will take longer to flake.
  7. Remove from casserole and plate with your favorite salad and vegetable.

 

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Pasta Fasùl (Pasta Fagioli)

Pasta Fasùl (Pasta Fagioli)

  • Servings: 6-8 as a main dish
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

Growing up in our Italian American household we could always count on one of our favorite meatless meals on a Friday night...Pasta Fasùl. Depending upon the region of Italy your family is from, you may know it as pasta fagioli or pasta fasùl (fazool). Our grandparents were from Naples and Sicily, which shared the same word for beans, fasùl. Technically this dish is a soup; however, we loved it best when most of the liquid dried up & was topped with lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Our Mom always made this with small or medium-sized pasta shells; however, you can use any small pasta in your pantry as we did tonight. This is a very rustic meal but can be dressed up with the addition of any vegetable you have on hand, i.e. spinach, carrots, zucchini or escarole. To complete this meal, serve with a side salad. Give it a try on those nights you're pressed for time and let us know how you and your family like it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. medium or small pasta shells or elbow pasta (we used ditalini as that’s what we had on hand)
  • 10 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 cans cannellini beans, do not rinse or drain the liquid
  • 1 cup prepared tomato sauce (preferably homemade or your favorite jar sauce)
  • 1 small can tomato paste plus same can filled with water to dilute
  • salt to taste
  • reserve at least 1 cup cooked pasta water
  • Pecorino Romano grated cheese for topping

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a Tablespoon of salt then add pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water then drain pasta & set aside in a large bowl.
  2. In a large, deep skillet on medium heat add EVOO. Add smashed garlic & sauté a minute or two but don’t burn.
  3. Add the 4 cans of cannellini beans and stir well until they begin to boil. Lower heat to medium-low and add 1 cup prepared sauce & small can of tomato paste with a small can of water. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if too thick. Combine well and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. If you prefer a soupier pasta fasùl just add more of the reserved pasta water until it’s the consistency you like.
  5. Let sit for 5-10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.
  6. Top with grated cheese & garnish with fresh basil or parsley (optional)

NOTE: To make this meal gluten-free, just substitute any small-sized gluten-free pasta in place of regular pasta.

This dish thickens as it sits so if you want a thinner sauce, add more liquid in step 3-4 while cooking.

 

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Meatless Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes & Pignoli, Gluten-Free

Meatless Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes & Pignoli, Gluten-Free

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

After our holiday baking was over, we had pignoli left over so we came up with this delicious, healthy recipe to kickstart 2020. Our first recipe for the new year is a meatless Mediterranean dish. In spite of our husbands' carnivore appetites, this meatless dish satisfied them both...we were in heaven! This recipe delivers an exciting depth of flavor with a wonderful blending of ingredients. We think you and your family will love it.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds zucchini and yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 pound gluten-free pasta (we used Le Veneziane gluten-Free Farfalle)
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

  1. After cutting the zucchini and summer squash, sprinkle with approximately 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels & wipe away residual salt. Set aside.
  2. While squash is draining, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, lower flame to simmer until ready to cook pasta.
  3. In a 12-inch non=stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO over high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add half the squash and cook until slightly charred, turning occasionally, approximately 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat if the skillet starts to overheat. Transfer to a large plate then repeat step 3 with the remaining half of squash and another tablespoon of EVOO. Transfer 2nd batch to plate and set aside.
  4. Bring water to full boil and add salt then the pasta. Cook according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of cooked pasta water.
  5. In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of EVOO. Add pignoli and toast lightly, then add red onion, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook approximately 1 minute until fragrant.
  6. Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup of pasta water) then return pasta to the pot. Add the squash, tomatoes, pignoli mixture, vinegar, basil, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of EVOO. Mix well to combine.
  7. Add enough reserved pasta water to keep moist consistency but not soupy. You may not need the whole cup. Lightly drizzle with EVOO and top with grated cheese.

 

Note:  If gluten is not an issue, use your favorite brand of pasta. If your family must have meat, feel free to add whatever they like. 

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Everyday Healthy Eating

H U R R A Y!  The holidays are over and it’s time to get down to some everyday simple &  healthy recipes!

After much research, we are focusing our recipes based on the Mediterranean Diet, which has been proven to be the best diet for cardiovascular and overall health, both physical and mental.

This style of eating is based on fresh vegetables, fruits, mostly whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs & spices, fish & seafood with less emphasis on red meat, and sweets.

We look forward to sharing with you some of the most exciting, flavorful & simple recipes.

Here’s to your health,

Teresa & Barbara

For guidelines on this style of eating, please refer to the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid link below.

MedDietPyramid_flyer[1]_0