Meatless Monday Radicchio Risotto

The wonderful Holidays are behind us and we are off to a wonderful 2014.

I don’t know why but I feel like this year is going to be fantastic, it’s an even number and I love the way it’s starting out. I feel positive and happy!

Tomorrow is my Monday because here in Italy it was Epiphany today, “which pretty much means a ton of candy, chocolate and of course another big family meal.”
With that being said I will be doing my Meatless Monday tomorrow and I thought that this Italian recipe was perfect. I love rice and I love veggies so this Risotto is a must in my book!

Let me know what you think and how you like it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 small head of Radicchio

200 gr. Rice

1 Shallot

3-4 cups Vegetable Broth

1 tbsp. EVOO

Splash white wine

Salt

Parmiggino Reggiano, grated

Wash the radicchio and slice thinly. Get your shallot and slice finely; place in a sauce pan with the EVOO allow to get golden and then add the radicchio and cook until it wilts.

Add your rice and incorporate with all the ingredients, add your splash of white wine mix and allow it to evaporate.
Add your hot vegetable broth to the pan mix and allow to cook for about 20 minutes or desired doness.
Once it’s ready sprinkle some parmiggiano mix well and serve.

Traditional Italian Savory Easter Cake – My Way Sans Gluten

A happy early Easter to you all! It’s only Monday but I figured that I would give you a Meatless-Monday recipe to try out; as well as a Northern Italian (specifically from Genova) Traditional Savory Easter cake: Torta Pasqualina. You’ll be amazed at how healthy it is. No joke!

This delicious recipe calls for amazing ingredients mainly being; spinach, fresh cheese, puff pastry and eggs. Yes, quite surprising but something so simple can really be so delicious.
I truly enjoyed the simplicity of the ingredients and was amazed at how I had never made it before at home and why?! This is a perfect nutritional dish. Spinach and eggs?? And this is something that is a traditional Holiday dish, which means that you don’t have to eat anything unhealthy for Easter!! Alright so you have your Torta Pasqualina (which means Easter Cake) which is quite filling on its own leaving you with very little space for anything else, then you have some lamb or whatever meat your family makes, some side veggies and some delicious dark chocolate for dessert. That’s not bad at all.
Healthy, Traditional & Delicious. Oh yes, you can eat and be thin too!

I made this Cake without the puff pastry so I followed all the steps just leaving out the puff pastry; hence making it gluten-free and a bit lighter. But if you are going to make it the real traditional way just make sure to get 2 puff pastry sheets, follow the instructions below and add these 2 steps:

  1. Lay one sheet of rolled out puff pastry down onto the baking tray. Pour in your filling and follow the instructions below in the recipe.
  2. Lay the second sheet of puff pastry on the top and close up like a pie. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

I really hope that you enjoy this as much as we did. Happy Meatless Monday and Happy Easter!!! From my home to yours. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Makes a 20cm Cake (8in cake) with puff pastry. Without puff pastry use a 6in cake pan.

350g. (3/4 lb) of Spinach*

150g. (1/4 lb) of Ricotta

70g. (2.5oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

5 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your spinach in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and squeeze out as much water with your hands as possible. Chop and set aside.

Preheat your oven at 200°C (390°F)

Prepare the filling by mixing your ricotta with the egg and parmigiano. Add salt and pepper to taste and once all ingredients are thoroughly mixed add the spinach. Make sure that this is well incorporated.

Grab your circular baking tray drizzle 1tbsp. of E.V.O. (skip this step if sing puff pastry). Pour your filling and lay out evenly, now make 4 indentations big enough to crack an egg in them and then carefully crack an egg in each hole. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes. My husband doesn’t like his eggs at all runny so I cooked it thoroughly but you can cook till desired egg doness. Serve and enjoy.

*for the Spinach you can also use frozen, make sure to thaw and squeeze as well.

 

Light, Healthy, Skinny Recipes to help you get that Summer Body

Summer is right around the corner and if you are scrambling to get that latest diet or what have you to help you get in shape I suggest you to just start eating healthy.
This means more seasonal fresh foods, like vegetables, fruits, lean meats and nuts. I live and eat these food groups; and I seem to be doing just fine. The thing about this lifestyle is that you don’t have to constantly be thinking about what you can eat  and what you can’t, how you are going to feel the next day, if your shorts are a bit too tight (or if you’re bulging out of your bikini).
The summer is tough enough already trying to keep yourself hydrated, cool, comfortable, tanning, hair, skin, etc… the last thing you need is to be stressed out about some sort of diet! How many calories, carbs, fat, non-fat, this n’ that. Just eat healthy fresh foods. They provide you with the energy, hydration and beautiful radiant skin to show off; not to mention a smaller waist.

I have a lot of different salads and ways I like to eat my vegetables and of course it’s not hot yet so a salad might not be something that you want to eat. If you start eating healthy now and leave out as much junk food as possible (i.e. artificial sweeteners, sodas, chips, fried foods, prepackaged foods & sweets, along with anything you can’t pronounce) you are going to be in fantastic shape by the summer. It’s really simple you just need to train your body to eat healthy. It’s a chain reaction; once you cut out the bad stuff your body will not crave it anymore. Trust me!

There are billions of ways you can make salads or healthy foods. They aren’t complicated and they don’t have to be boring. I know that the winter isn’t quite over yet and I know a salad might not always give you that warmth of comfort food that you are craving so I have a nice warm healthy recipes here that are simple and delicious.

Warm Bibb Salad w/ Roasted Asparagus and Feta

  • 1 medium head of Bibb salad, washed and pulled apart
  • 10 Asparagus
  • 1/2 lb Feta
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • E.V. Olive oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven at 400°F (200°C). Get a baking dish lay out your Asparagus, drizzle with a little e.v.o. and sprinkle salt and pepper and red chili flakes. Place baking tray in oven and bake for 15 min.
In a medium pan, drizzle some olive oil, allow to heat over medium heat and then add your garlic; once golden add your bibb lettuce season with salt and pepper and carefully mix. You don’t want it to burn or break, just allow it to wilt and then turn off.

Let’s begin plating. Lay your asparagus, top with some wilted lettuce and then sprinkle feta evenly on top and enjoy!

Warm bibb salad with roasted asaragus and feta

Pulled Chicken Breast with Pinto Beans and Avocado
Serves 2

  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 cups Pinto Beans, boiled *
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, steamed & shredded**
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 1 Chilli, fresh & diced (optional)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Handful Parsley and Cilantro, washed
  • 2 tbsp. E.V.O oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan add the e.v.o. heat over medium flame and then add the garlic; cook to golden add your tomatoes, chili and beans. Simmer for about 5 minutes then add about 1/2 of your parsley and cilantro then salt, pepper and continue to cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let’s begin plating. Lay your chicken and add the beans on the side. Cut your avocado in half and slice lay on top of food and serve with remaining parsley and cilantro. Sprinkle some salt over avocado. Enjoy!

*You can use a canned beans, just make sure to drain and rinse well. ** For the Chicken, Place in steamer and cook until fork inserted and liquid runs clear. Cool and pull apart. You can boil it too. Season with some salt and pepper.

Pulled Chicken w/ Pinto beans and avocado

Sesame Crusted Tuna on a bed of Cucumber & Arugula topped w/ Avocado
Serves 2

  • 2 6-8 oz Tuna Steaks
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 cups Arugula
  • Sesame seeds, (enough to coat tuna)
  • E.V.O. oil
  • 1/2 Lemon, squeezed
  • Drizzle of Light Soy sauce (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Salt and Pepper your Tuna steaks, now coat in sesame seeds and set aside.
Grab a mandolin and slice you cucumber, peel and all. (You can peel if you want I liked the texture of it on). Place on the plate one by one creating a nice flat base pattern.

Place a medium pan over medium flame, drizzle some e.v.o and when hot add the tuna steaks, cook for about 2 minutes on each side and quickly on the corners as well. Remove allow to sit for 2 min and then slice or leave whole.

Get you Arugula and toss in some e.v.o, 2 tbsp. of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place a bit at the center of each dish. Place the Tuna steak on the bed of arugula.
Slice Avocado in half, slice again into thin pieces and place on top of tuna topping with a drizzle of soy and remaining lemon. Enjoy!

Sesame crusted Tuna over cucmber and arugula topped with avocado

Shaved Asparagus & Radish w/ Shrimp in a Multi-Lettuce Salad
Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb Shrimp, cooked and deveined
  • 8 Asparagus, washed
  • Handful Radishes, washed
  • 4 Mushrooms, cleaned
  • 5 cups Italian lettuce, (radicchio, romaine, arugula, etc…)
  • 4 tbsp. E.V.O. oil
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place your salad in a large bowl. Grab a mandolin start slicing your asparagus long-wise, now start slicing your radishes and mushrooms, add all these ingredients to salad bowl as well as shrimp.

Whisk together last 4 ingredients, drizzle over salad and toss until completely combined and serve. Enjoy!

Shaved Asparagus and Shrimp salad

And there you have it. Options for your healthy eating. It seems so hard to eat healthy, but in all reality it’s easy and a pleasure. I hope that you enjoy these recipes and feel free to substitute with other vegetables or protein. They are simple, fun, delicious but most of all light and nutritious. They will give you energy and help you feel great and ready for the summer. Happy cooking. Let me know what you think and also try to incorporate a little physical activity to give you that extra boost you need to get you feeling sexy. Ciao

P.s. remember I am not a nutritionist, dietician so please consult your doctor before you go on any diet or change any lifestyle.

Day After Superbowl Cleansing Soup

We are all human and bound to get carried away at times. During festivities and/or especially after watching a Superbowl game with friends having one too many drinks and eating a little too much can leave your body feeling just a bit tired and heavy.
It’s nice to be able to get your body back on track especially because it’s Monday and we need a lot of energy for this week ahead. Catering to your body and giving it a nice nutritious, light, warm meal can do wonders.

Help jumpstart your body into getting rid of toxins that you’ve accumulated during this time by feeding it a light meal allows your body to focus more on your body than on the digestion of what you are eating, hence using the extra energy in keeping you awake, or completing that workout that you are so dreading because you feel exhausted. We don’t realize how much energy our body uses for digestion and when you eat heavily it really takes a toll on your already tired body.
This is a nice light recipe that will really give your body all the nutrients it is now lacking.

It’s so good for you and simple; but most of all delicious. I topped it off with some steamed mushrooms and chilies (recipe below). Feel free to top off with what you like. I hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients: For the Soup

1 lb. of Spinach*, washed

1 Scallion, finely chopped

5 cups of Vegetable broth**

Handful Parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. of Ginger, fresh & grated

A pinch of Cayenne *optional

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot add half a cup of broth, add your scallion and allow to get translucent. Add your ginger, then spinach, parsley then cayenne, salt and pepper mix and add remaining broth allow to cook for 15-20 min.
Turn heat off and with an immersion blender puree the soup. Serve warm.

*Spinach use whatever variety or array you like
**Make your own by boiling 5 cups of water and add a no MSG Veg bullion

Ingredients:  For Mushroom topping

2 cups of Porcini Mushrooms*, chopped

2 Chili Peppers *optional

Couple leaves of chopped parsley

1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan add the olive oil with the chili pepper and the parsley, allow to simmer lightly and then add your mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes add your salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and then top your delicious soup with this. YUM!

*Whatever mushroom is completely fine.

Cleansing soup

One of My many Low Calorie Meals: Spinach and White Bass

We all have go-to dishes that we cook when we feel like we need to get back on track from a weekend or holiday of eating a little too much. I for instance; when away on vacation for a week or so can’t wait to get home and cook my own meals. Although I try not to overdo it, I still don’t know the exact ingredients on my plate and can’t always get it cooked exactly how I like. I almost feel like a need a palate refresher.

My Husband without fail always says “I can’t wait to get home and have one of your salads or meals”. That always makes me feel good because I know that my meals are things he looks forward to even when away enjoying other things he can’t wait to get back to my cooking. I love cooking. I mean I truly enjoy it. So, to know that I can create and put meals together that not only are delicious but also make you feel healthy is so rewarding. Really!

I love fish. My favorites being Salmon, Branzino (Sea Bass), Tilapia, Sole, Cod, Tuna, Grouper, Mahi-Mahi, etc… It’s so good for you and easy to make. The health benefits are so many that you just feel good knowing that you are going to eat it, most of all it is delicious, delicate and light.

I used European White Bass in this recipe but you can use really just about any fish that you have. This is any easy and quick meal with so many benefits. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb. Fresh Spinach

400 gr. White Bass (cut into 2 slices)

3 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Lemon

Red Chili Flakes (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place a large non-stick sauce pan over medium heat, add the rinsed Spinach and cover allowing to wilt for about 5-7 minutes.

Grab a medium pan place over high heat and add 1 tbsp. of Olive oil along with some Chili flakes (if using), allow the oil to heat and in the mean time salt and pepper both sides of your fish. Once the oil is hot place the fish and allow to cook for 2 minutes and then lower the flame to medium low and cook for another 3 minutes.

Check on your spinach, mix around and if wilted turn off add salt, pepper, 2 tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive oil and squeeze half the lemon, mix well until all ingredients are incorporated. Set aside.

Return to your fish flip over and cook for about another 3 minutes. Turn off and Serve.I served the fish over the spinach, but you do what you like. Ciao

Delicately Pureed Artichoke Soup topped off with to die for Lentils

It’s been a busy 4 days for all of us with Thanksgiving and all the additional get togethers. As much as I enjoy cooking and all the wonders that the Holidays bring, I inevitably need to be a little catered to after it’s all done. And by catered to, I mean I need to pamper myself!

For starters I always without fail need a date night alone with just my Husband; I’ll cook something that we both want, and he’ll light the candles, set the table, open a bottle of wine, set the tunes and the mood. We’ll sit and just talk about the passed events, what we want to do next and really just try to enjoy eachother as much as possible, afterall even though we were together it’s just not the same as being alone.

Then I like to get back to my routine of working out, getting the house back in order and cook a healthy delicious get back on track meal. It’s hard once you start eating sweets and this and that you crave it more, so I like cooking something that is not only healthy but looks amazing that you just want to gobble it up by looking at it. Obviously it also has to be kinda simple, after cooking such big gourmet meals for the Holidays you want something that doesn’t require so much time and effort.

I came up with this meal just because I had the ingredients and thought that I should try doing something with them that I had never done before. It’s so detoxifying, delicious and damn easy. Enjoy this feel good and amazing soup.

Ingredients:

For The Puree:

1 1/2lb. Bag of Frozen Artichokes, defrosted*

3qt. Stock Veggie of Chicken

2 drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Lentils:

1 cup Dried lentils, your choice

1/2 small Onion

1/2 Carrot

1 celery stick

1 small Potato**

1/2 veggie bullion cube

Handful of Parsley, chopped

2-3 Sage leaves, Chopped

1 tbsp. Olive oil

2 1/2 cups of Water

 

In a medium pot add your Artichokes, Veggie stock, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set over medium flame cover and allow to boil.

In the meantime, chop up your onion, carrot and celery. Grab a small pot put over medium heat add the olive oil and once hot throw in the chopped onion, carrot and celery. Now, peel and cut your potato into small cubes, once the onions are translucent throw in your potatoes along with the bullion cube, stir until the bullion has dissolved, add your sage and then throw in the lentils along with the water followed by the parsley. Mix everything well; cover and allow to cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Lentil cooking time may vary so just keep an eye on them.

Now return to your Artichoke, should be ready and boiling. Turn heat of and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Now grab your Immersion blender and put in the pot and start blending until smooth.

Once your lentils are cooked turn off. Now start to serve first add your Artichoke puree and then in the center add your lentils. If you want you can top off with a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil, or not it’s up to you. Now enjoy and congratulate yourself for being an amazing cook.

* Pull the Artichokes out a couple of hours before cooking time. If you have fresh, cooked ones use those instead.

** you can leave the potato out if you wish

 

Sage wrapped Low-Fat stuffed Chicken Breasts

The winter is well on its way and I feel like heart-warming meals without all the added calories and heavy ingredients. As you all know by now there are 2 things that I absolutely love 1. Chicken (especially my husband, he literally could eat chicken everyday) 2. Veggies (I will find a way to incorporate them in all my meals).

During the summer it’s always grilled chicken. It’s light , tastes delicious and most of all easy and fast. However in the winter I feel more like staying inside away from the cold and also don’t really crave a grilled anything for that matter. It’s hard sometimes to try to make chicken inside on the stove top without it tasting absolutely boring. I’ve decided that no matter what I won’t cave in to millions of ingredients in one dish just to give it flavor, there are so many natural herbs and spices that can give your meals incredible flavor and bring out the best of your meals, without overpowering a dish.
The other morning I was craving stuffed chicken breasts and thought that I would need to go to the store for some cheese and whatever else inspired me to put in it. However, the thought became an absolute ‘no way am I going out in this cold for some cheese and stuff’, like always I opened the fridge and saw that I had some sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, some artichokes in olive oil and some fresh sliced mushrooms. Perfect this was going to work. I will say that I did have some Parmigiano Reggiano but I opted to leave out the cheese and see how a stuffed chicken breast with no cheese would taste.

I also have a wonderful Sage plant outside and I love the warming, eloquent, subtle flavor it gives when added to food. It has wonderful health benefits, it helps cure gastrointestinal disorders, muscle spasms and cramps, gingivitis, it helps regulate blood sugar and improves digestion. It’s full of Antioxidants that help with the aging process. And it’s an Anti-inflammatory agent for people with inflammatory issues such as but not limited to Rheumatoid arthritis. So yeah, it’s good for ya; and I decided that it would be the only seasoning herb for the chicken.
Here in Italy people incorporate it to meals quite a bit, whether its soups, sauces, meats, stews, etc… let me say that it really does compliment a dish when used correctly.

I hope that you enjoy this recipe it’s really simple and so delicious. Accompany it with whatever you like, a salad, roasted vegetables, steamed vegetables, rice, quinoa, couscous, potatoes or anything else you can come up with. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless Chicken breasts

8 Sun-dried Tomatoes, in Extra Virgin Olive OIl

8 Artichoke quarters, in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 slices of Mushrooms

2-3 fresh sprigs of Sage, or 14 leaves

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 pieces Parchment paper, big enough to wrap each breast individually

8 pieces cooking Twine, about 4in. long

 

Preheat your oven at 350°.

Grab your chicken breasts and butterfly. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.  Now layer 4 pc. of sun-dried Tomatoes, followed by 4 slices of Mushrooms, followed by 4 pc. of Artichokes. Now close your chicken, cover the top nicely with half the sage leaves, salt and pepper.
Get 4 pc. of Twine and carefully slide one by one under the breast and then tieing at the top until the whole breast is securely tied. Lay one piece of parchment paper out and place your chicken in the center, drizzle 1 tsp of Olive oil and then close your parchment paper as if making a little doggie bag. Place in baking tray and repeat the same with other breast.

Bake for 25 minutes and then carefully open the paper, start with sides as some steam may leave and you’ll get burnt. Cut twine off and place nicely on dish. Buon Appetito