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!
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
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remove from casserole and plate with your favorite salad and vegetable.
Lightly oil fillets & add minced garlic
top with stewed tomatoes
insert toothpick into each fish roll-up
Serve with salad & vegetable
Fish roll-up plated & ready to eat
Enjoy your first bite!
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Before Barbara retired from the corporate world she would always ask the President of the company what his wife made the night before for dinner. Hal would come into work the next day and heat up his lunch. You cannot believe the wonderful aromas wafting through the entire office. It made everyone hungry! He told me to ask Lynda, his wife and I did. She was kind enough to send me and the entire office handwritten recipes of her chicken dishes as chicken was the only 'meat' her family would eat. She learned to make chicken many different ways and they were all delicious. Thank you Lynda for sharing them with us, you are the best!😋
4-6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in (you can also use chicken breasts in place of thighs)
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 tsp all-purpose flour
14-ounces can/jar artichoke hearts, drained and halved
salt & pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
2 sweet onions, cut in half then sliced
2 cans sliced mushrooms
Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic, & basil
In a large skillet heat the EVOO and 1 Tablespoon butter. When melted and hot, add the chicken, skin side up & fry for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Toss the onions in the lemon juice and add to skillet. Gently fry, stirring for 3-4 minutes until just beginning to soften.
Return the chicken to the skillet. Pour in the white wine vinegar and chicken stock, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from skillet, reserving the cooking juices and keep warm. Bring juices to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining butter to the skillet and add the flour. Stir well until flour in blended & smooth and juices start to thicken. Lower heat to a simmer.
Adjust seasoning to taste if needed.
Stir in the artichoke hearts and mushrooms then cook about 2-3 minutes
Plate the chicken then pour sauce over each one with some artichoke hearts and mushrooms.
Pan Seared Loin Pork Chops with Sauerkraut & Onions
We found some delicious looking loin pork chops at Costco that were about 1-inch thick and we thought we would bring you this basic recipe that is quick to make & produces the juiciest pork chops that are Mmmm Good!😋
8 thick loin pork chops (bone-in, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick)
2 Tablespoons butter
salt & pepper to taste
1 large sweet onion, chopped
pinch of caraway seeds
Rub a drizzle of EVOO on each side of pork chop, then sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic powder to your taste.
Preheat large skillet with 2 Tablespoons butter & 1 Tablespoon EVOO. Sauté onions until golden.
Add sauerkraut & caraway seeds then continue to cook until juice is absorbed. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Raise skillet heat to high in order to produce a nice sear on the pork chops. When skillet is hot enough lower heat to medium-high & add pork chops, don’t crowd them and don’t move them until ready to flip over. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Once browned, flip over and continue to cook another 4-5 minutes on medium-high. When pork chops are done, remove from skillet & arrange on a platter. Cover with foil until sauerkraut is done.
Put the sauerkraut & onion mixture back into the hot skillet. Add 1 pat of butter. Heat for 3 minutes & stir regularly until hot. Place sauerkraut & onions in center of platter then place pork chops all around. Garnish with parsley, rosemary or thyme and serve.
Fennel Sausage, Peppers & Onions in Spaghetti Squash Boats
Today was the day to use up the spaghetti squash that was sitting on the counter for 2 weeks. We were remembering the zucchini or eggplant boats we used to make many moons ago & decided this was perfect for the spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is always a big hit with Jack & Gary. We had all the ingredients on hand so it was a no brainer. It's really delicious and satisfying.
2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out
1 lb chopped bulk pork
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
2 extra-large cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fennel seeds
EVVO to drizzle over squash
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 Tablespoon garlic powder for squash
salt & pepper to taste
2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inches pieces (we had 1 orange & 1 yellow on hand)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
Drizzle some EVOO over each half of squash then rub entire squash interior surface.
Sprinkle each half with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder.
Place each squash half face down on sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes depending, on squash size. Don’t over bake… squash skin should be tender but firm to touch.
While the squash is baking, brown the sausage meat & fennel. Once browned, add the salt & pepper, onions, minced garlic, and sliced peppers. Sauté until soft and golden. Keep warm.
When squash is done, remove from oven and let cool.
Once the squash is cooled take 2 forks to shred the squash, being careful not to cut through the skin. Spoon sausage mixture on top of each half.
Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and return to oven until cheese melts.
Top with grated cheese and serve hot.
Note: We served this dish with sautéd Kale and garlic along with an arugula & baby spinach salad with a homemade lemon/balsamic vinaigrette.
Growing up in our Catholic Italian home, our family honored the tradition of not eating meat on Friday's. Most Friday's we ate fish but at least twice a month we ate the Escarole & Beans. Mom would cook this escarole (pronounced Scadahl) dish the same way her mother, Grandma Florence, did during the depression era. Grandma had 7 children to feed and this meal was inexpensive, healthy, full of protein and delicious.
3 large heads of escarole
3 15-ounce cans Progresso cannellini beans
3½ quarts chicken broth
11 cloves of garlic, peeled & smashed and whole
1 tsp salt (omit if salt sensitive)
1/4 cup EVOO
dash of pepper to taste
grated Pecorino Romano for topping
Fill an 8-quart pot halfway up with chicken broth, add 3 smashed garlic cloves and bring to a boil.
Add escarole to boiling broth and boil for approximately 40 minutes or until the escarole and broth have reduced by 2/3 and the green color changes to more of an olive green.
Heat EVOO in a large saucepan and saute 8 cloves of smashed garlic until they just start to turn yellow. Do not burn.
Add cannellini beans to garlic and oil. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer on low for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. When done shut heat and keep covered.
Once escarole and broth are reduced by 2/3 pour the cannellini beans into the escarole pot and mix well.
Place a lengthwise slice of day-old Italian bread in a pasta bowl. Pour a few ladles of escarole & beans with the liquid over the bread, letting the liquid soak into the bread.
Top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.
Note: Our husbands both liked adding sliced Italian Sweet Sausage, as they are true carnivores!
March 19th has always been a special day of celebration for our family for that’s the day we celebrate the Feast of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph). This feast honors Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and earthly father to Jesus. Considered by Sicilians as the Patron Saint of their region, St. Joseph is said to have saved Sicily’s residents during one of their many devastating droughts. It is believed that the residents prayed to St. Joseph for rain. Their prayers were answered when the rain came. Their spring crops were spared from being destroyed, which prevented a widespread famine for Sicily. It is believed that this is the reason the celebration is held in March.
We celebrate every year because Joseph is the namesake of several of our family members, starting with our grandfather, father, son/nephew and 2 grandsons (Joseph as their middle name).
The menu for a St. Joseph celebration is rooted in the Sicilian tradition and because the holiday falls during Lent, meat is not eaten during the celebration, hence the sardine sauce. We can remember Grandma Tessie cooking spaghetti with a combination of sardines, onions, fennels, & raisins for the sauce topped with toasted breadcrumbs, known as the “poor man’s Parmigiano”, representing the sawdust left behind after a day’s work in his carpenter’s shop. She cooked this meal (which we grew to love) every March 19 until she was 97. At that last celebration, she asked who would carry on this tradition when she was gone. I told her not to worry, that I would. For the past 16 years, I have been making the Pasta con Sarde just as Grandma did, which is especially enjoyed by our Dad. The focus of the meal is on the Pasta con Sarde but we also enjoy the St. Joseph’s pastries. I always get them from Patsy’s & Son Italian Bakery in Lindenhurst, New York. They are the best I ever tasted and I’m a bit of a cannoli cream snob! If you find yourself on Long Island, do stop in to try their cannolis & cassata cake.
If you love ravioli or lasagna and want to cut down on carbs this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for! Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s so easy to make. Zucchini makes a great substitute for the traditional lasagna noodle or ravioli while delivering that classic Italian flavor. It can be layered like lasagna or folded into a ravioli style. Trust us…you will not be disappointed.
2 cups ricotta, whole milk
4 medium zucchini ( if making lasagna, add more zucchini for more than 2 layers)
When Barbara was raising her family this was one of their favorite pasta dishes. Her youngest son always requests this delicious meal every time he visits from California and even asks her to cook this dish while visiting him. It’s a quick and easy meal.
1 lb chicken tenders, cut into 1″ pieces
16-ounce bag frozen broccoli florets
1/4 cup chicken broth to cook broccoli
1/2 cup chicken broth,
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons Oregano, dried
6 Tablespoons butter, divided into thirds
2 Tablespoons EVOO + additional as needed
2 garlic cloves, minced or frozen cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1 box Pasta ( we used Farfalle, use any pasta of your choice)
reserve 1/2 cup cooked pasta water
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated for topping
In a large pot bring salted water to a boil to cook pasta.
When water boils lower heat just to keep water hot until ready to add the pasta.
Cook broccoli in chicken broth in a covered microwave-safe dish 6-7 minutes in a microwave. (make sure covering is vented).
In a large skillet or flat-bottomed wok add 1/3 the butter & EVOO until heated. Add the onions and sauté until translucent and softened, Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
Remove onion mixture and set aside.
Add additional 1/3 butter and EVOO to skillet. On med-high heat add chicken pieces & lightly brown quickly on both sides, being careful not to overcook.
Bring pasta water back to a boil and cook according to package directions.
Reduce skillet heat and add onion mixture back to the skillet, sprinkle the dried oregano onto the chicken and onions, continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
Add the cooked broccoli and chicken broth to skillet and stir well.
Add salt and pepper to taste, simmer another 3 minutes add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter to melt into the mixture.
Add cooked pasta to chicken mixture and toss well. If needed add reserved pasta water a little at a time until the desired consistency.
Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.
Note: Sauté mushrooms in butter for a variation as shown in the last photo below.
Our pork tenderloin is so fragrant & flavorful thanks to the unique blend of seasonings. Crispy on the outside & juicy on the inside. We served ours with some roasted butternut squash, cinnamon applesauce, and a salad. This is favorite pork dish of Jack & Gary (hubbies).
2, 1-2 lb. pork tenderloins (Hormel® comes 2 to a package)
1 Tablespoon EVOO
3 Tablespoons orange juice
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400°F and lightly grease a roasting pan.
Pierce the tenderloin with a fork over the entire piece.
Rub EVOO over all sides of meat.
In a separate bowl mix Italian seasoning, garlic powder, cumin, salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, & black pepper.
Sprinkle mixture over the tenderloin, patting it onto the surface of all sides.
Place in a prepared roasting pan & drizzle the orange juice over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes until outside is lightly browned.
Turn oven temperature to broil at 500°F for 4-5 minutes to crisp outside of tenderloin, being careful not to burn.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Plate onto a serving dish/platter & pour juices from the pan over the meat. Slice into 1-inch pieces.
Spoon any remaining juice over sliced pieces or put a dollop of cinnamon flavored applesauce instead.