Spicy Meatballs with Sriracha Mayo

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These spicy little meatballs pair perfectly with a crisp salad and flat bread.

1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp Harissa
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp sumac
1 lb ground beef 85/15
1/4 c mayo
1 TBSP Sriracha

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

Toast fennel, coriander and cumin in a small pan for about 1 minute until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder.

Mix mayo and sriracha sauce and set aside in fridge.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and form into meatballs.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

Serve with sauce.

Makes about 30 small meatballs.

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Oatmeal Cookies

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Is there anything better then buttery oatmeal cookies? Even my picky eater goobles these up!

2 c rolled oats, soaked in 1/4 c water
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 sticks butter
1 c coconut palm or brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c raisins
1 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet, stir to combine.

Scoop 1 TBSP of dough onto the prepared baking pans, leaving a little space between cookies.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes so it 40 cookies.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Eggplant Sauce and Seeds

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Another winner from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook. This one requires a bit more work, but it is so worth it! The flavors are amazingly complex.

Ingredients
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced in 3/4 inch slices
Olive oil
2 TBSP pumpkin seeds
2 TBSP sunflower seeds
1 TBSP black sesame seeds
3 TBSP sliced almonds
1 bunch basil leaves
1 tsp nigella seeds
Pomegranate seeds
Salt and pepper
For the sauce:
1 large eggplant
2/3 c cup Greek yogurt at room
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
3 TBSPlemon juice
2 TBSP chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed

Set oven on high broil. Place eggplant on a foil lined baking pan and bake for about 1 hour turning several times. You want it charred. When cool enough to handle, slice in half and scoop out eggplant. Allow to drain in a colander for 10 minutes. Then finely chop.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place squash in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 25-30 minutes. Then leave to cool.

Toast all the seeds in a nonstick pan for a few minutes, watch carefully.

In a medium bowl,mix the eggplant with the other ingredients of the sauce. Season to taste.

To serve, arrange the butternut cubes on the plates, drizzle with olive oil, toasted seeds, Pom seeds and basil leaves. Serve together with the sauce in a separate bowl.

Serves 4.

Ahi Tuna Salad

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This is my take on salad nicoise made with seared ahi tuna. Serve it with Parmesan Bread for a wonderful Parisian Dinner.

Ingredients:
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered
4 radishes, sliced thin
Olives
Capers
Cornichons
8 anchovy fillets
8 oz butter lettuce torn
8 small potatoes, steamed and cooled
8 oz haricots vert, steamed and cooled
1/4 c snipped chives
1 lb ultra fresh ahi tuna
Espelette pepper
Salt

Dressing:
1/4 c olive oil
Zest of one lemon
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake.

Toss a little dressing with the lettuce, place about 2 oz on each plate (4 total). Add green beans to the bowl and toss with a little dressing, divide among plates.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Slice tuna into 4 pieces. Season with salt and espelette and sear about 1 min per side.

Meanwhile divide remaining ingredients among the plates.

Add the tuna sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Parmesan Bread

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This one is from Patricia Wells The Paris Cookbook and its tastes as good as it looks. It takes about 3 hours of mostly hands off time.

Ingredients:
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/3 c lukewarm water
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 3/4 c bread flour
3 oz grated parmigiano
1 large egg beaten with 1 TBSP cold water

In the bowl of a stand mixer stir together yeast, sugar and water. Let sit for 5 min until bubbly. Dump flour and cheese in and knead with bread hook for 6 – 7 minutes until it bounces back when touched.

Shape into a ball and cover with Saran Wrap for 1 hour.

Punch down and form into a rectangle, place in a 1 qt loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let rest 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425.

Brush with egg wash. Slash the top with a razor of serrated knife several times.

Bake for 35 – 40 min until golden and instant read thermometer reads 200.

Transfer to a rack a cool.

Tomato and Fennel Soup

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After a few days of over indulging it’s time for some healthy food! This soup fills the bill and hits the spot! Inspired by a recipe in F&W, I eliminated a lot the oil to make this one healthier.

Ingredients:
2 TBSP canola oil
6 plum tomatoes, cored
1/2 TBSP sugar
Salt
1/4 c Pernod
2 TBSP olive oil
3 medium fennel bulbs—halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c garlic, peeled
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Pepper
One 28-ounce can whole Italian peeled tomatoes, crushed
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large medium pan, heat the canola oil until nearly smoking. Add the plum tomatoes and sugar and season with salt. Cook over moderately high heat, turning, until the tomatoes are lightly charred and starting to burst, about 10 minutes.

Add the Pernod and cook over moderately low heat, breaking up the tomatoes, until a chunky sauce forms, about 20 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add the fennel, shallots, garlic, fennel seeds, oregano, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the fennel starts to soften, 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the fennel is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the tomato and fennel
Soup until smooth. Stir the tomato sauce into the saucepan along with the vinegar. Cook over moderately low heat until heated through and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with shaved cheese.

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

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A breakfast treat that is under 300 calories? Yup, I got ya covered with this one! I used a dark honey to give it some real flavor.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 c blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the oats with the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Stir in the honey, buttermilk, canola oil and eggs. Mix just until combined. Stir in blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for about 18 minutes, until they’re golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pasta with Onion, Tomato and Ricotta Sauce

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Pasta is the perfect fast food – in the time it would take for take out or delivery you can whip up something delicious and much healthier. This one was adapted from Patricia Wells Trattoria cookbook. If you don’t have crushed tomatoes just push them through a ricer or blitz in the blender.

Ingredients:
1 lb Pasta
2 TBSP olive oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
28 oz canned tomatoes, crushed
1 TBSP basil
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper
6 oz ricotta cheese
3 TBSP fresh parsley
Parmigiano

In a 12 inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add onions and herbs and cook until the onions are soft. Stir in tomatoes and reduce heat to low.

Cook pasta according to package.

Drain and add pasta to the sauce, stir in ricotta. Serve topped with a little parsley and cheese.

Serves 4 – 6.

Phyllo Wrapped Fillets with Cheese and Mushrooms

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This one is from Fine Cooking. It is quite a bit of work, but worth the effort for a special meal.

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned
2 medium shallots
1 clove garlic, cut in half
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
6 filets mignons, 6 oz. each and about 1-3/4 inches thick
Salt
1 TBSP unsalted butter
1 cakes peppercorn Boursin cheese
1 package phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted; more if needed
1/4 c thinly sliced fresh chives

Put the mushrooms, shallots and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not puréed; scrape the bowl as needed. Transfer the chopped mushrooms to the center of a clean dishtowel.

Heat the butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are very soft and fragrant and the liquid has evaporated, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the parsley; season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.

Season the filets mignons generously on all sides with salt. Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot and sizzling. Sear the fillets on sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove at least 24 sheets of phyllo from the package and cut to size that will wrap around the beef. Cover them with -plastic wrap and a damp dishtowel while you work to keep them from drying out.

Lay a single phyllo sheet on a clean, dry surface. With a pastry brush, lightly paint an even coat of the melted butter over the entire surface of the square. Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp. of the chives. Set a second sheet over the first. Brush butter over it as well and sprinkle with another 1/2 tsp. chives.
Make four layers, omitting the chives from the last layer. Blot one filet dry with a paper towel, set it in the center and sprinkle it with salt. Spread about 2 TBSP of the Boursin on the filet and top that with 2 generous TBSP of the mushroom filling. Fold the phyllo over the fillet to make a package and place on parchment lined baking pan. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Don’t worry if you tear the phyllo it’s very forgiving. Keep in the fridge until ready to bake.

Take them out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake them.

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

Bake them for 17 – 22 min rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes to ensure evening browning, until an instant-read thermometer inserted through the side of each packet and into the center of the filet reads 130°F for medium rare.

Serves 6.

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