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Chase the mid-winter blues away with wholesome comfort foods

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Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Mon Jan 13, 2014.

(BPT) - The colder weather of winter has many looking for some comforting wholesome meals to share with friends and family. This winter try delicious recipes that will create tantalizing smells in the home and warm everyone sitting around the table.

If you’re serving a smaller crowd like your immediate family or planning a large gathering with friends to chase away the mid-winter blues, you’ll want to serve savory foods that will have mouths watering. The seasonings of Tuscany in Central Italy are one delicious way to introduce everyone to new menu items, and you might just have everyone clamoring for more.

Often the hearty and comforting recipes that are ideal for this time of year include some not-so-healthy ingredients like butter or shortening. The following Tuscan-inspired recipes have a wonderful substitute – Carapelli Olive Oil – which is naturally cholesterol-free, making it a healthy alternative. Plus, this premium olive oil will enhance and lighten the taste of dishes, giving your family and friends the best flavors with better health options.

The following two side dishes infuse delicious Tuscan ingredients and premium Carapelli Olive Oil, giving everyone a warm and hearty feeling. Start the meal off with fresh Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions:

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Prosciutto

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts

4 tablespoons Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 onion, julienned

1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, sliced into 1/2 inch strips

4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

Trim stem end of Brussels sprouts. Discard wilted outside leaves. Boil in salted water until cooked through (about 7 minutes) and just tender. Shock in ice water. Quarter the cooled sprouts. In large skillet over medium-high heat, caramelize onions in olive oil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan. Place in bowl, mix with prosciutto. In the same skillet, over high heat lightly brown Brussels sprouts. Add onion-prosciutto mix and toss. Deglaze by adding white balsamic vinegar and scraping bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Potatoes are another favorite mid-winter food, and the following Olive Oil and Herb Mashed Potatoes not only tastes delectable – it also looks pretty in the serving bowl as well.

Olive Oil and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

10 8-ounce potatoes (about 5 pounds) peeled and cut in half

3/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup Tuscan Herb paste (recipe follows)

1/2 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup heavy cream, warmed

Directions:

Boil potatoes in salted water. When cooked tender, mash potatoes. Mix salt and pepper with Tuscan Herb Paste, olive oil and warm heavy cream. Fold into potatoes.

Tuscan Herb Paste

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon fresh basil

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

2 tablespoons fresh sage

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3/4 cup Carapelli Extra Light in Taste Olive Oil

1 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Blend herbs and crushed red pepper with light olive oil using a blender or food processor, then stir in extra virgin olive oil.

When serving your mid-winter meal featuring these delicious recipes, be sure to warm up the home in other ways as well. Bring warmth to the decor by lighting candles or starting a fire in the fireplace, add a couple of soft rugs under tables or couches and toss some throw blankets over the backs of furniture, giving everything a cozy look.

For more comfort-food recipes to try this winter season, visit carapelliusa.com/recipes.

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