Fridays Flavors: Easy Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

What comes to mind when you think about Brussel Sprouts?

A childhood fear of being forced to eat them?

That they’ve been hailed as a ‘superfood’?

Or that they’re trendy in a deep fried or fattened up with bacon kind of way? (Which, as much as I love bacon, kind of defeats the purpose of a vegetable.)

The truth is, Brussel Sprouts are incredibly good for you, but it seems like there’s a bit of confusion about what to do with them. And honestly, prepared the wrong way, that childhood fear just might be realized.

But with just a tiny bit of effort, you can make Brussel Sprouts that are both delicious and nutritious!

(This same roasting method also works for broccoli, cauliflower and fennel!)

Ingredients:

Brussel Sprouts

Olive Oil

Pepper to Taste

Garlic Salt to Taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut off the butt end of the sprouts, then slice up the middle. Remove any loose or damaged leaves.

Dip Brussel Sprout halves into a bowl of olive oil, and place on a baking sheet cut edge down. Be generous with the olive oil – it’ll take more than you think – because you want the sprouts to roast until they caramelize, but if they’re too dry, they’ll get crusty and dry instead.

Sprinkle oiled sprouts with Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste.

Roast in oven for 30 minutes (adjusting for smaller or larger than normal sized sprouts). The top side should turn color a darker green and begin to brown. The bottoms should caramelize and look like heated sugar (think the top of Crème Brule). And that’s it. Tender, flavorful, and healthy!

How do you cook your Brussel Sprouts?

If you try it please let me know if you like it, and don’t forget to check back next week for more Friday Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy Air Fryer Chicken

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I’ll admit it – when air fryers first broke onto the scene, I jumped on the bandwagon. I mean, frying food without actually frying it? Healthy ‘fried’ food?!?!

And while us air fryers quickly parted into two different camps – those who hated it and those who loved it – I found myself somewhere in the middle. No, it’s not an excellent imitation of deep fried food without all the oil, but yes, it does cook some things very well and I still use mine at least several times a month.

One of the great things about air fryers is being able to cook meals in a fraction of the time. Game hens in 25 minutes. Entire roaster chickens in 45-55 minutes. And if you do it right, the skin is crisp and the meat is tender and juicy. So here’s my secret for perfect (and EASY!) air fryer chicken.

Ingredients:

1 whole 3-4 pound chicken

butter, ghee or olive oil (I use about 2 tbsp of butter)

spices (I use large quantities of garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper and a bit of Old Bay, paprika and garlic salt)

Preparation:

Spray the air fryer basket lightly with a little cooking spray to make clean up easier.

I mix some of the spices I’m going to use in a small dish, as well as my butter or oil so I don’t spread raw chicken germs everywhere. Rinse and dry your chicken, including the inside, removing any neck, gizzards, etc..

Starting with the breast side up, work your fingers underneath the skin. Rub some of your butter or oil and your spice mixture under the skin, then on top of the skin. Flip and repeat. Do the same to the inside of the cavity.

Begin cooking breast side down.

After washing your hands, sprinkle more spices on the bottom of the chicken. Keep spices out for when you flip the bird.

Cook bottom side up at 350 for 25 minutes. Flip, sprinkle skin with more spices, then set timer for another 20 minutes. (If chicken is closer to 4 pounds than 3, 23 minutes.)

When time is up, check with a cooking thermometer, inserting into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees. If it’s within a few degrees, you can let it sit for a few minutes to continue cooking before slicing. If it needs more time, do so sparingly to keep the meat juicy.

And that’s it! Juicy chicken with crispy skin in half the time it takes in the oven! (If cooking game hens, simply cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 breast side up, no flipping necessary.)

If you make it, please let me know how you liked it!

Check back next Friday for another Friday Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy (But Tasty) Mussels

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Mussels are one of the foods that I’ve found a lot of people like to eat, but tend to only do so when dining out – they want someone else to cook them. But it’s SO easy to do it yourself! This recipe works whether you want them plain or (if like me) you want to serve them over pasta!

Ingredients:

2 pounds mussels

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white wine

1 large shallot, chopped

8 large cloves garlic, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, pressed

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

2 large handfuls spinach

pasta

parmesan cheese

Preparation:

I think what turns a lot of people off about cooking mussels is the debearding, but it really isn’t that hard and doesn’t take that long. Rinse each mussel individually, making sure the shells are clean. As you do that, grab any whiskers that protrude from the seam of the shell and tug back and forth until they come free.

(Some people soak the mussels for 20 minutes in cold water to get them to release any sand they have in their shells – I’ve never done this and have never had any issues.)

Peel garlic. Chop shallots and some of the garlic. Add olive oil, butter and wine to a cooking container with a lid (braising pan, stock pot, large frying pan, etc.). Add shallots and chopped garlic. When shallots start becoming pale and translucent, add crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

Add mussels, stirring to coat with the mix, then cover. After a couple minutes, when the shells start opening, stir again and recover.

Mussels generally only take about 5 minutes to cook. If you decide you want to serve your mussels over pasta, I suggest adding some spinach for the last minute of cooking. And that’s it! Time to serve!

If you’re a cheese person, a little freshly grated parmesan compliments the flavor nicely.

(Mussels water down the mixture, making it more of a mild flavored broth than a sauce. I think it works nicely over pasta, but if you want something thicker and more flavorful, remove the mussels and spinach, add a little more wine, butter and garlic and reduce.)

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Delicious Stuffed Clams

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

To me, Stuffed Clams are one of those comfort foods that I could eat all the time. The flavor, the consistency, there’s nothing about them that I don’t like – except for that long list of ingredients in the store bought ones. And since they include breadcrumbs, I can’t order them at restaurants because of the yeast.

Luckily, over the years I’ve managed to find a way to satisfy my food cravings working around dietary restrictions. Pillsbury biscuits are leavened with baking soda instead of yeast (thank you, Pillsbury!!!). I bake them according to the directions, break into chunks which I let get stale over a day or two, then put them in a food processor to get the fine texture of store bought bread crumbs.

Armed with the one ingredient that’s hard for me to find, this recipe has become a favorite at my house! It is labor intensive, so I usually make enough for 2 or three dinners, but they freeze wonderfully and taste just as good when defrosted overnight and reheated at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

The amount of your ingredients will depend on the size of your clams and how many you are making. I’m including amounts for up to 2 dozen large (4 inch) clams. I usually have to work in batches for both steaming and using the food processor, so I split the ingredients accordingly.

Ingredients:

1-2 dozen large clams (cherry, chowder, Quahog or top neck)

1-2 large shallots

1/2 to 1 bell pepper (orange or yellow)

3-6 green onions

1-3 celery ribs

4-10 cloves garlic

3-6 tbsp butter

1/2-1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

Old Bay seasoning

garlic salt

paprika

Preparation:

Scrub the clam shells to remove any dirt and debris, then steam until they are open. You may have to work in batches. I line a baking sheet with tinfoil and set the cooked clams on there to cool while I’m steaming the next batch.

Peel garlic. Chop shallots, bell pepper, green onions, and celery. In a large frying pan, cook vegetables in just enough butter to keep ingredients moist. Add crushed garlic. Set aside when done.

(If I’m making 2 dozen large clams, I have to split the ingredients into thirds to use my food processor. Using a spatula, I usually separate the cooked vegetables into three even portions in the pan. If the clams are smaller, two even portions.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove cooked clams from their shells, setting the shells aside for later use. I usually remove the muscle attachments, as these tend to be tough and chewy.

Separate the two halves of the shells. You won’t need both halves, so choose the shells that are best for stuffing. Rinse again to remove any remaining grit.

Put the clams in the food processor. Add vegetables.

(If I’m splitting into three batches, I put 1/3 of the clams and 1/3 of the vegetables into the food processor at a time. Likewise 2 batches means half the clams and half the vegetables.)

Now comes the tricky part. The trick is that you don’t want to use more breadcrumbs than you have to. There is no set amount because some clams are ‘juicier’ than others. I suggest you start sparingly – you can always add more. Using both the chop and grind option on the food processor, mix the ingredients together.

When the mixture is a nice moist – but not wet – consistency, thick enough to stick to a spoon but not so dry that it starts caking, add the Old Bay and garlic salt to taste. (If you add too many breadcrumbs, add a splash of chicken stock or melted butter.)

Next, stuff the clam shells with your mixture and place on a baking sheet. (I use the same tinfoil covered baking sheet I use to cool the steamed clams, just give it a wipe with a paper towel and it’s good to go.) You many need to use more than one baking sheet to accommodate all your clams.

Once clams are stuffed, melt some butter and spoon a little over each clam. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tops start to brown. Serve with lemon, Dijon mustard, and/or cocktail suce.

If you make it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another flavorful recipe!

Friday’s Flavors: Caesar Salad Dressing

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!!!

Today I’m sharing with you the number one thing I get asked to make by people who don’t live in my house – once someone tries it, they invariably want it again. And again. And again.

And what is this addictive flavor that people can’t get enough of, you may ask? Surely it involves chocolate, right? Wrong. The number one dish I get asked to contribute to covered dish dinners is my Caesar Salad dressing!

And it isn’t even my recipe, but a variation on one my mom made all the time when I was little! But, it’s easy and delicious, and every time I taste it I fall in love with it all over again!

Note: This dressing is big on flavor!!!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

fresh pepper (about 20 twists or 1 tsp)

1-3 cloves garlic

3 dashes Tabasco

1-2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1-2 tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar (red wine for a milder flavor, balsamic for more bite)

lemon juice to taste (1/4 to 1/2 lemon)

2 hardboiled egg yolks

romaine lettuce

fresh parmesan cheese

croutons

(makes about 3/4 cup dressing)

Preparation:
Add the ingredients as listed above. I usually make this in a measuring cup to facilitate easy pouring afterwards. (I also don’t measure anything when I make this, but have had to crack my own recipe because so many people have asked for it.)

Hard boil 2 eggs.

Add pepper to olive oil. Add crushed garlic. Add tabasco, mustard, Worcestershire, vinegar and lemon juice. (I use balsamic vinegar because it makes for a tangier dressing. My mom always used red wine vinegar, which I believe is the traditional choice. There’s still plenty of flavor with the red wine vinegar.)

Stir with a fork. Add the hard boiled egg yolks. Crush the egg against the side of the glass with the fork. Mix. Keep crushing and mixing until the fork tines stop catching egg chunks.

This makes a nice, thick dressing. My mom used to squeeze a dollop of anchovy paste into the mix, but I stopped doing this years ago and the taste doesn’t seem to suffer – if there’s one thing this dressing has plenty of, it’s flavor!

When I was younger, I used it on everything – steak, chicken, other vegetables (who am I kidding, I still do!).

Mix dressing with romaine lettuce, fresh parmesan, and croutons, or allow each individual to pour dressing on their own salad. You can even chop the leftover egg whites and add them to the salad because this dressing seriously tastes good on everything!

If you try it, please let me know what you think!

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy, Tasty Fish (Paleo, Keto, Anti-Candida Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I eat a lot of seafood, but I can’t stand fishy flavors. Seriously. To me there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re eating fishing bait that’s been sitting out in the sun. But the catch is, if you stick with only milder flavored fish, you lose out on some of the health benefits found in those stronger tasting swimmers.

Red Snapper and Air Fried Spinach

And sure, you can make a fancy sauce to mask the flavor, or use copious amounts of condiments, which is great when it works (until you read the nutritional label on that bottle of YumYum sauce). But what if you have dietary restrictions, either self-imposed or medically necessary?

Then you’re stuck either suffering through the flavor or missing out on one of the foods you should be including in your diet. Or, you can give my quick, easy go-to that works well on every fish I’ve used it on a try. Bonus? It’s paleo, keto, anti-candida and I believe even celiac friendly.

Ingredients:

Fish of choice

Almond Flour

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Garlic Salt

Old Bay

Pepper

Olive Oil

Preparation:

Mix spices with almond flour. Proportion to your own taste: I usually go heavy on the Garlic and Onion Powders, light on the Salt and Pepper, and medium on the Old Bay. Amount will vary based on how many fillets or the size of the fillet you are preparing. I usually allow at least 1/4 cup of Almond Flour for every small fillet. And when I say I go heavy on a spice, it means pretty heavy, at least a tablespoon or more.

Rinse and dry fish. Dredge in your flour mixture.

Pour a small amount of Olive Oil in a non-stick pan and heat on medium high heat for thinner fillets, medium for thicker. When oil is hot, add fish. If the fillet has scales, begin with the scaled side down. If you’re cooking a thicker fillet, turn heat down to about a 4 after adding the fish.

You will need to add more oil as you cook – the secret to developing a nice crust is to use the minimal amount of oil. When the pan gets dry, add a dash more oil as needed.

Sea Bass and Oven Roasted Fennel

When the fish becomes cooked about 60% through (track the change in color as the cooked portion rises from the bottom to the top), flip. Cook until done. For a small fillet, this is usually 4 minutes on the first side, 3 on the second. For a thicker fillet, 12 and 8, and sometimes a minute or two on the sides and ends. Check to ensure doneness. Serve with a wedge of lemon if desired.

And that’s it! Much simpler than masking the flavor with a fancy sauce, much leaner than most condiments.

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next week for more Friday’s Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Hacked! Starbuck’s Egg Sous Vide Bites

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

e4I’ve been working on this recipe for a while because:

  1. I think Starbuck’s Bacon and Gruyere egg bites are delicious.
  2. I refuse to buy a sous vide machine just to make them.
  3. It took me a while to figure out the details (cooking temperature, proportions, etc.) to reach both a flavor and degree of simplicity I was happy with.

The result of my labors is a tasty and easy version you can make at home using nothing fancier than a food processor (or blender) and a muffin tin. The best part is, because of the way the proportions turned out, there’s no fussy math needed if you decide you want to make 2 or 12.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

eggs (half as many as the egg bites you want when finished)

cottage cheese (Yep. Starbuck’s egg bites are more cottage cheese than egg.)

salt

bacon (the precooked, bagged, chopped bacon in the salad dressing section is fine)

cheese of choice (I used an aged gouda)

Preparation:

ePreheat oven to 325 degrees.

This is super easy. You use half as many eggs as the egg bites you want when finished, so if you want 2 egg bites, use 1 egg, if you want 12 egg bites, use 6 eggs.

Break the eggs into a measuring cup. Take note of the amount, then put the eggs in a food processor (or blender). Fill the measuring cup to slightly above the level where the eggs reached with cottage cheese (so if you’re using 1/2 cup eggs, use 1/2 cup plus a heaping spoonful of cottage cheese.) Add the e1cottage cheese to the food processor. Add a pinch of salt and mix together.

Spray oil in the muffin pan cups. Sprinkle bacon at the bottom. Spoon in egg/cottage cheese mixture until about 3/4 full. Top with a generous pinch of the cheese.

My oven runs a bit hot, but my egg bites were perfectly cooked after 17 minutes. I would suggest checking at 15 minutes, and keeping an eye on them until they’re done. Jiggle the muffin pan, and if the egg bites wiggle in the middle, they need more e4time. If you think they’re done, but you’re not sure, a butter knife inserted into the center should come out clean.

(Don’t worry if the tops puff up, they’ll settle as they cool.)

Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then cover with parchment paper and flip. Using a butter knife, trace the edges of any egg bites that don’t come out on their own to free them.

Enjoy immediately, or allow to cool before storing and reheat when ready.

If you try it, please let me know what you think!

Check back next Friday for another recipe!

 

Friday’s Flavors: Garlic Lover’s Bacon Carbonara Pasta

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

caIt’s probably clear by now that I LOVE pasta. Seriously. But my husband – not so much. So, pasta night is a two different dinners night . . . usually. While he occasionally requests my scallops and pasta in blue cheese cream sauce (yum!), and my pizza stuffed shells (who wouldn’t?), there’s only one other pasta recipe (so far) that gets him excited about pasta night, and this is it: Garlic Lover’s Bacon Carbonara Pasta.

We’re talking a pound of savory bacon, fresh parmesan cheese, and garlic – three of my favorite things! This recipe makes 4-8 servings depending on how hungry you are and your degree of self control, and the leftovers are worth fighting over for lunch!

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound thick cut bacon

1 large shallot

8 large garlic cloves chopped

3 garlic cloves crushed

2 large eggs

1/4 cup dry white wine

fresh grated parmesan to taste

salt and pepper to taste

green onions for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

ca8Bring pasta water to a boil. For the average pasta cooking time of 9-11 minutes, it’s usually time to add to the water after the bacon’s been cooking for several minutes.

Cut bacon into 1 inch slices, and cook in a large pan. When ca7the bacon is almost done, remove most but not all of the fat (I soak it up with paper towels – be careful, it’s hot!). Add shallots and chopped garlic, stirring until shallots are almost done. Add crushed garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute. If you wanted to kick it up with some crushed red pepper, now would be the time to add it.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the pan clean. (This makes clean up SO ca2much easier and adds more flavor!)

Add 1 ladleful (about 1/4 cup) of the boiling pasta water to the beaten eggs. This tempers them so they don’t scramble when you add them to the pasta.

Add well drained pasta to the pan and pour the eggs on top. Stir quickly and well, mixing all the ingredients together. Salt and pepper to taste, and add a generous handful or two of fresh parmesan. (I add less at this step, then top with ca1additional cheese once plated because it makes the pasta easier to dish out as leftovers.) Top with green onions to garnish if desired.

And that’s it! Good luck not going back for seconds (or thirds)!

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another recipe!

 

 

Friday’s Flavors: Conch Fritters With Key Lime Dipping Sauce

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

c5I really like a good conch fritter, but I feel like when you order them at a restaurant, they’re hit or miss. Sometimes they’re just a hard little ball of deep fried dough, other times the conch is hard and chewy, but when they’re done right, they’re tender and flavorful and oh so good – and they’re probably not nearly as hard to make at home as you think!

(The hardest part is getting conch, and while most recipes will tell you to use fresh, I’ve never had a problem using frozen.)

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound conch meat (fresh or defrosted)

1/2 bell pepper

1 large shallot

1-2 ribs celery

6 cloves garlic

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup eggs, beaten (2 large eggs will usually do)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 tablespoon Old Bay

a pinch of baking powder (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)

garlic salt to taste

peanut oil for frying (or oil of choice)

Key Lime Dipping Sauce:

1/2 lime

mayonnaise

(optional) crème of coconut

Preparation:

c6Finely chop the bell pepper, shallot and celery. Peel garlic and get the rest of your ingredients ready to go.

Beat the conch on both sides with the business end of a meat mallet. Dice into 1/4 inch pieces, then chop in a food processor for a few seconds.

cMix flour, milk, beaten eggs and melted butter together. Add baking powder, Old Bay and garlic salt, stirring until well mixed.

Add bell pepper, shallots, celery, crushed garlic and conch. Mix well with a fork, making sure to break up any clumps of conch.

Heat oil over medium high heat to about 350 degrees. If you don’t have a way to measure the temperature, slowly c3increase heat until the oil sizzles but not spits when you add a drop of water.

I like the fritters to take their own shape, kind of like alien sea creatures, so I use a fork to push a small spoonful off the spoon into the oil. Work in small batches, making sure to not overcrowd the fritters. When they turn a nice golden brown, remove with a metal slotted spoon and set on a baking sheet lined with a couple layers of paper towels to dry.

c4To make the dipping sauce, juice half a lime and add mayonnaise a little at a time until it reaches a nice consistency (it doesn’t taste like mayonnaise at all when you’re done). Bonus points for adding a touch of cream of coconut (you can find it in a squeeze bottle and it makes the BEST at home Pina Coladas!)

Serve with lime wedges. Cilantro makes the best garnish if you want to get fancy.

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Scallops And Pasta In Blue Cheese Cream Sauce

Hi, Foodies! Happy Friday!

sc1This week I was craving seafood pasta in a creamy cheese sauce, but I was feeling lazy – I didn’t feel like making a roux, or stirring constantly – I really just wanted to do minimal effort, tossing some ingredients together, while enjoying maximum flavor. This creamy blue cheese sauce is the solution!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound scallops (shrimp work well too!)

1 cup crumbled blue cheese (I get 1 cup from a 5oz container)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup dry white wine

2-4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

green onions to garnish

grated parmesan (optional)

Preparation:

sc2In a large pan combine olive oil with melted butter. Usually I’d say sear the scallops a couple of minutes on each size until they caramelize a nice, crusty brown, but I got a new pan and that didn’t happen this time. 😦

But, cook your scallops (or shrimp) until almost done, then add white wine, crushed garlic, cream, and crumbled blue cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook several minutes to allow to reduce. (The sauce won’t thicken until it cools.)

Toss with your favorite pasta. Garnish with green onions and a handful of fresh parmesan if so desired. Then dig in!

If you make it, please let me know how you liked it!

Check back next Friday for another recipe.

 

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