It's the morning after a weekend of heavy eating, and still you have family and friends visiting, sleeping in, slouching over their first cups of coffee, needing to be fed. By this time, everyone has had their fill of turkey-potato-stuffing leftovers. You want to send them home with a great breakfast, one that's easy on the cook and a bit kinder to the waistline, and you can't go wrong with an egg and cheese casserole packed with vegetables. After just a few minutes' work, and 35 minutes in the oven, something pouffy and tantalizing emerges, and your guests will feel loved and pampered and never know how simple it was for you to create. In this version, combine low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese with a little bit of goat cheese for a creamy texture. Leeks contribute a sweeter flavor than onions, though either would be fine here. Just add toast, orange juice, the Sunday newspapers, and, well... more coffee.
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In any selection of offerings on the holiday menu, a cook should always sneak in a couple of no-stress side dishes. Sautéed escarole with garlic and parmesan cheese is easy on the cook, yet absolutely worthy of a place at the table. One of the antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens, escarole plays a starring role in Italian vegetable soups and stews, but here it's the star of its own show. Cooking in olive oil softens the leaves and mellows the bitterness that's common to many dark greens. Add garlic and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a few red pepper flakes for fun, and you have a simple, yet stunning, side dish. Make this at the very last minute, before you're ready to serve.
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A long time reader of The Perfect Pantry, Judy answered the call for vegetarian and vegan recipes for my Meatless Holidays e-book with a dish called eggplant salad (baingan bharta). When I made it for the cookbook, I envisioned it as a vegetarian or vegan main dish served with brown rice and almond pilaf, and renamed it roasted eggplant with cumin and cilantro. The original recipe calls for quite a bit of yogurt; in Judy's adaptation, she'd cut that way down, and in my version, the yogurt is completely optional, so if you're vegan, leave it out. Indian-spiced food might be a nontraditional choice for your holiday table, but recipes like this eggplant are a great option for those "blended family" occasions when turkey-lovers and turkey-avoiders come together: one person's main dish is another person's side. It's also a good make-ahead dish for worknight dinners, as the eggplant is good served hot, cold, or at room temperature. For this recipe, go ahead and buy those gigantic, deep purple eggplants you find at the market, not the thin, delicate Japanese ones.
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Continuing my experiments with cooking boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker, I decided to go back to my roots. No, I'm not Italian, but one of my earliest, and best, experiences as a food writer came courtesy of a well-known Italian-American Boston police officer. I'm pleased to share this reinvention of his recipe for stuffed chicken, which works so perfectly with turkey breast. The slow cooker frees your oven for all those amazing side dishes that taste best when cooked at the last minute, and the slow braise helps retain moisture in the meat. Be sure to buy a turkey breast that hasn't been shot full of salty brine, or stabbed with a plastic pop-up timer. Your butcher will be happy to butterfly it for you; unless you have mad butchering skills, leave this step to the professionals. You can do the rest. Stuff, roll, tie, cook, and collect the oohs and aahs when you bring this turkey to the table.
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