Caserola Milanese

Parmesan polenta layered in a casserole with vegetables, tomatoes, fresh herbs and cheeses.

Caserola Milanese on plate

Caserola Milanese on plate

Serves 4


Polenta Layer:

1 c dried polenta cornmeal
3 c water
2 Tbs butter
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup parmesan cheese additional tbls butter for buttering Pyrex dish


3 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
½ red bell pepper
1 c baby carrots, cut into pieces
2 small zucchini
2 c kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tbl tomato paste
¼ c red wine
2 tbl fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ c parmesan cheese
3 c mozzarella cheese


For the polenta layer:

1  Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Turn heat to low and gradually add the polenta, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon. Add butter, salt and pepper. Continue to stir while the polenta simmers on low hear for 5 minutes.

2  Remove from heat and add the ½ cup of parmesan cheese. Pour into the well-buttered Pyrex dish, spread with a rubber spatula and let set.


For the filling:

1  Chop onion finely. Mash garlic, set aside. Cut celery, carrots, zucchini and red bell into bite-sized pieces and keep separately.

2  In large sauce pan, add olive oil. Turn heat to medium, wait one minute, then sauté garlic and onions until they are translucent, about 4 minutes.

3  Add the celery, and red bell pepper and cook about 3 more minutes. Then add the carrots and zucchini. Add the kale and stir one minute more.

4  Add the herbs, drained tomatoes, red wine and tomato paste. Cook 5 more minutes on a medium-low heat. Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese.

5  With a slotted spoon, layer vegetables onto the cooled polenta.


6  Sprinkle on grated mozzarella.


7  Bake in a 325° oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let set about 5 minutes before serving.





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Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast

This has been my breakfast staple for the past 6 months. Quick simple and super healthy.

oatmeal breakfast with fruit

I add ground flax seeds, best to eat them ground so that they are digested. Whole flax seeds are a great source of fiber, but are not digestible, so use them ground. I buy them ground and keep them in the refrigerator.

Flax seed benefits could help you improve digestion, give you clear skin, lower cholesterol, reduce sugar cravings, balance hormones, fight cancer and promote weight loss.

ground flax seeds

Here is a list of ingredients


1 cup organic old fashioned rolled oats (don’t use instant!)
8-12 raisins
1 tbl ground flax seed
¾-1 cup unsweetened almond milk, plain or vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana
handful strawberries or other berries
1 pear, peach, plum, apple, etc.
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup Ezekiel cereal – optional

Place raw oats (yes, raw) and raisins in a cereal bowl.

oats with raisins in bowl

Add the ground flax seed, this gives you healthy omega-3s.

Next, add the almond milk and vanilla extract. Let oats soak while you cut up the fruit.


If oats soak up all the milk, add a little water.
Add fruit to the bowl, and Ezekiel cereal. Sprinkle all with the cinnamon.


If you are in the mood for a hot breakfast, you can put the bowl with the milk, oats, flax seeds and raisins in the microwave for 30 seconds, or warm up the almond milk before adding it to the oats.

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Bow Tie Pasta with Zucchini Sauce

Here’s a great recipe to make for kids, even those who say they don’t like zucchini will eat this delicious yet simple recipe.

Bow Tie pasta in zucchini sauce


4 cups whole wheat bow tie pasta, about 1/2 pound
3 cloves garlic
4 medium zucchini, enough for 4 cups grated
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper, fresh ground


1) Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, begin next steps.

2) Peel and mince garlic, set aside.

3) Rinse and grate zucchini by hand or in a food processor. If using fresh parmesan, finely grate the cheese.

grated zucchini  grated parmesan

4) Use a large saucepan. Turn flame to medium. Add the olive oil and butter and let melt a minute.

Melted olive oil and butter

5) Add garlic, stir one minute more, then add the grated zucchini.

Zucchini Sauce

6) Cook until mixture softens, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.

Zucchini Sauce

7) Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid.

Pasta Water

8) Add 2-3 tablespoons cooking liquid to the zucchini mixture. Add the drained pasta and stir, adding more liquid as needed.

9) Transfer pasta to a bowl and mix in ¾ cup of the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Sprinkle on top the remainder of the parmesan.


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Pizzelles – Italian Waffle Cookies

Pizelles, Italian Waffle Cookies

These cookies are made with a Pizzelle Iron, purchased online or in some kitchen stores, like Bed, Bath and Beyond.


Makes about 2 dozen large or 30 small pizzelles.


6 eggs
1 cup butter
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate for dipping
1 tbl crisco


1. Melt butter in microwave or on stove. Set aside to cool.
2. Whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugar.
3. Add the cooled butter. (Hot butter will cook the egg!)


4. Stir in the flour. Dough will be thick but gooey.


5. Heat pizzelle iron. When hot add about a tablespoon cookie dough into the center of each pizzelle impression. For smaller cookies, use less dough.

IMG_1158_web   IMG_1163_web

6. Clamp down handle if you want thinner cookies, and leave it unclamped for a thicker cookie.


7. Cookies cook quickly, remove when they are just slightly browned, careful not to overcook them and get brown. Remove hot cookies with a fork, and place flat to dry.

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8. Optional – Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Add 1 tablespoon crisco for a smoother out the texture, if you choose. With a spoon, drizzle and spread a small amount of chocolate over the edge on both sides of the cookie.

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9. Set chocolate cookies on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to harden the chocolate.

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To keep cookies crisp, store cookies in a tin, preferably not in a plastic container, or cookies will get soft.


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Kolache–Traditional Holiday Cookie

Kolache is a walnut-filled rolled cookie made with yeasted bread.


I have several old, hand-written kolache recipes that I got a couple decades ago from both grandmothers, my mom, and an aunt.

kolache kolache

The recipe is from Czechoslovakia. My grandmother on my mom’s side had origins from Czechoslovakia, which is where I originally learned to make this. But growing up in Youngstown, Ohio my Italian relatives all made this cookie at the holidays too. The cookie is traditionally one that was made for weddings.

Make this on a day when you have lots of time, from start to finish I’d allow at least 3 hours.

Makes 6 rolled loaves


For dough:
1 ½ c milk
1 tbl active dry yeast
6½ to 7 c flour
¾ c butter
½ c sugar
½ tsp salt
2 whole eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

For filling:
2 lbs walnuts
2-3 c white or brown sugar
¼ cup butter
2-3 eggs
milk to moisten filling


Start with the dough:

1) Scald milk, let cool until it’s lukewarm.

2) Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup warm water with  2 tablespoons flour or sugar and let rise in a warm place.

3) Mix the flour, hard butter, sugar and salt and mix with a fork or pastry blender. This is a pastry blender, but a fork works too.
pastry blender

4) In the cooled milk, add the beaten eggs, vanilla and risen yeast.

5) Add all at once to flour mixture and knead for 10 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry towel while making filling.



For filling

1) Finely chop walnuts in a food processor, or by hand if you don’t have a processor.

2) Place them in a bowl and add the sugar to taste, melted butter, and eggs. Slowly add a few tablespoons of milk to moisten the filling so that it is more easily spreadable.

walnut filling

Putting it all together

1) Divide the dough into 6 even pieces.

kolache dough

2) Roll out with a rilling pin, making it about twice as long as wide. Roll to about 10 or 12 inches by 6 inches. Dough will be fairly thin.


3) Spread the filling with a fork onto the dough, leaving a slight edge with no dough at one side.


4) Now roll up starting at the long side where the filling is to the edge. (Not the side left with no dough.)


5) Where the dough edge is, press with the back side of a fork to help seal the edge. Note that in the photo, the fork should be turned the other way, facing up. This will be the bottom side of the cookie when baking.


6) Now set a cookie sheet on the counter next to the rolled dough, and gently lift the dough onto the (ungreased) cookie sheet, with the edge of the dough on the bottom. Sometimes I can get 2 kolache onto one cookie sheet, side by side. Other times only one, which I place on the diagonal so that it will bake more evenly, as show in this photo.


7) Bake in a hot oven at 350° for 45 minutes, until dough is nicely browned. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.


8) Wrap with foil to store. Cookies can also be frozen as a loaf.

9) When ready to serve, cut dough on the diagonal. Don’t cut until ready to serve. Leftovers can be warmed and eaten with a little butter.

kolache   kolache

Good luck! Find me on Facebook at Cindy’s Garden to Table and message me with any questions you have.


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How to Make Candy Cane Reindeer

Candy Cane Reindeer

Making Candy Cane Reindeer for the holidays.These are fun, quick and simple to make.

I started with organic candy canes, made with no artificial colors or flavors. I bought them at www.NaturalCandyStore.

Organic Candy canes organic candy canes

You need a glue gun, candy canes, mini red pom poms, little bobble eyes, thin red ribbon, 12 inch brown or gold pipe cleaners, a ruler and a pair of scissors.


Start by cutting the pipe cleaners. Cut the piece into 2-6inch pieces. Then cut only one of the 6 inch pieces into half again, leaving the other one 6 inches long. Then cut a piece of ribbon about 8 inches long.


Next add a small dot of glue and glue on the pom pom for a nose and the bobble eyes.


Then take the 6 inch long pipe cleaner, and twist it in half around the bend in the candy cane.


Next take one of the 3 inch pieces of pipe cleaner, and twist it around on side of the pipe cleaner that’s attached to the candy cane. Do the same with the other 3 inch piece on the other side. the put a small dot of glue on the back side of the antlers to heold them in place.

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Now tie on the ribbon, and glue it into place.


You’re done! They are so cute.

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Kids love them!

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Pumpkin Pie – Made From Scratch

Pumpkin Pie

Here’s a pumpkin pie recipe, starting with a fresh pumpkin. You can substitute canned pumpkin if you don’t want to do this step. (But you should REALLY give it a try!) For the crust, here’s the link.

Makes 2 pies

Ingredients for filling


1 medium-sized sugar pumpkin or canned, 3 cups canned
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups whipping cream or half and half


Cut the top off the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, cut it into pieces, and steam it until it’s soft when tested with a fork, about 20 minutes. Place it on a steaming rack, add water and cover with a lid. Bring it to a boil, and reduce heat once it boils.


  1. Remove pumpkin to a collander, to cool. Then peel the skin off with a paring knife. Place the pumpkin back into the collander and squeeze out any excess water. Place the cooked pumpkin into a food processor or blender, and puree the pumpkin.
    Now you’re ready to make pie.


  2. Place eggs in a medium-sized bowl, and whisk until blended. Add pumpkin pureé, and honey. Stir well.
  3. Add spices, mix well. Now slowly add in cream.


  4. Roll out pie crusts into two 9 inch pie pans, according to pie crust recipe.


  5. Add half the filling into each pie tin.


  6. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour in hot oven. Pie is done when the center rises up, and pie is firm when lightly shaken.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.


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