Friday’s Flavors: Baked Tomato And Eggplant Caprese

Hi, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Sometimes, inspiration just strikes like a bolt of lightening. Other times, it happens because you have food on hand that you don’t want to waste. This recipe was born from one of those times.

I brought home a beautiful graffiti eggplant because, even though I already had a vegetable I was supposed to cook with dinner, I’m weak when it comes to pretty veggies! I also had a tomato threatening to die in the vegetable drawer and a lovely block of smoked mozzarella that came with a cheese basket we were gifted for Christmas. Put them all together and a new favorite recipe is born!

Great as an appetizer, vegetable, or salad course!

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

1 tomato

mozzarella chesse

about 1/2 cup olive oil

3 cloves crushed garlic

fresh basil

seasoning

optional: balsamic drizzle

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and slice eggplant and tomato.

Mix crushed garlic with about a half cup of olive oil (you can always add more) and seasoning. I used Nature’s Seasoning because it’s a flavorful combination and saves time, but the staples are salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Dip eggplant and tomato slices into olive oil mixture coating well (use that garlic!), and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove baking sheet and place a thin slice of mozzarella on eggplant slices. Put tomato slices on top of cheese and eggplant, then top with another thin slice of cheese.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with fresh basil. Serve.

It’s great as it is, but drizzling a little balsamic glaze takes this recipe to an entirely new level!

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Mediterranean Style Baked Feta Pasta

Hi, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I recently read a blurb about a recipe that was trending on TikTok, and while I’m not on that platform, the idea of the recipe – baked feta pasta – sounded so good I decided to give it a try. I’m not sure what the original recipe entails, but I bought myself a block of feta and set to work. It was so easy and turned out so delicious that I had to share!

The flavors melded so well that I could easily see turning this into a cheese spread and eating it on a cracker!

The only thing I’d do differently is that instead of a long pasta, I’d use a pasta with a shape, like shells, bowtie or ziti to catch even more cheesy goodness.

Ingredients:

1 block of feta cheese

1 tomato (sundried would work, too)

1 shallot

3 cloves of garlic sliced thin

halved Kalamata olives

capers

pine nuts

seasoning

olive oil

sherry or cooking wine

pasta of choice

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Place your block of feta in the center.

Add chopped or sundried tomato, shallots, garlic, olives, capers and pine nuts to the dish, surrounding the cheese.

Drizzle with olive oil. Add a splash of sherry or cooking wine. Sprinkle with seasoning. I used coarse sea salt mixed with herbs de provence and some fresh pepper.

Bake 30-40 minutes until cheese is soft.

Toss with your pasta.

That’s it! Big flavor with little effort! If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Have you jumped on the baked feta craze? How’d you prepare yours?

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Lamb Meatballs With Fontina Fondue

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

For a long time my experience with lamb was a bad one. Memories of inedible hunks of undercooked, gamey meat served to me overseas left me traumatized. Seriously. I never thought I’d make my peace with that particular protein.

My husband had no such qualms, however, and after a tense round of rock paper scissors during an anniversary dinner years ago, he won the right to pick the appetizer. Imagine how I felt when he chose lamb. >.<

But I tried it – and I liked it. A lot.

Had it not been for those meatballs, not at all gamey, served with a savory cheese sauce and just a hint of sweetness from a balsamic glaze drizzle, I’d probably still hate lamb. And once the door was cracked, I kicked it wide open. I’ve since expanded my horizons with multiple cuts and preparation styles, but nothing compares to the good old lamb meatball, and if you’ve been looking for a way to (gently) expand your diet to include lamb, this recipe’s for you!

This works well as an appetizer, an entrée, or as part of Fondue night!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb

1 large shallot

6 large garlic cloves

yellow curry powder

tumeric powder

ground cumin

garlic powder

garlic salt

1 tablespoon butter

spray oil

balsamic glaze

Cheese Fondue Kit

OR

1.5 cups shredded Fontina cheese

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 cloves garlic

corn starch

Preparation:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with spray oil.

Chop shallots. Melt butter in pan, add shallots and sauté until translucent. Add 4 cloves garlic, crushed, mix until fragrant, and put in a mixing bowl.

Add lamb.

Spices are subjective to taste, but I use about 1.5 tbsp yellow curry, 3/4 tbsp tumeric, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp garlic powder, and a touch of garlic salt.

Add the remaining 2 garlic cloves, crushed, and mix well. (I use gloves for this part.)

Shape into meatballs. If I’m serving them with the Fontina sauce and balsamic drizzle, I make large meatballs, 8-10. However, if I’m using a cheese fondue kit, I make smaller, bite sized meatballs, 24, and serve with an array of veggies for a fun, interactive meal.

Bake 20-25 minutes for larger meatballs, 15 minutes for smaller.

Some Fondue Fruits & Veggies

To make the Fontina sauce, grate the cheese and dust with just enough cornstarch to coat. Heat wine to a simmer, add garlic, then slowly mix in cheese, constantly stirring. You can get creative and add some spices, or keep it simple.

Then, either plate the meatballs, spoon some cheese sauce over them and drizzle with the balsamic glaze, or gather your fondue dippers and have at it!

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!


Friday’s Flavors: Fork Tender Veal Marsala

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

When talking about restaurants, there are 3 little words I have to say to get it on my husband’s list – “They have veal.” But, invariably, if we try the restaurant, and my husband orders the veal, he complains on the ride home about how tough it was.

It isn’t hard to keep a veal cutlet juicy and fork tender – all it takes is a tiny bit of effort – but that tiny bit of effort is well rewarded and this recipe will even it out because, unlike other veal marsala recipes, you don’t have to cook the meat, remove it, set it aside, keep it warm, cook the mushrooms and sauce, reduce, add the veal back . . . you get the idea. I promise you this method is worth it!

Ingredients:

veal cutlets, 1-2 pounds

fresh, whole Portobello mushrooms

2 large shallots

5 cloves garlic

olive oil

Marsala wine or Cream Sherry

flour seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, dried basil and dried tarragon

*** A frying or braising pan with a tight fitting lid. ***

Preparation:

Don’t wash your mushrooms! Clean with a dry brush or with a paper towel, removing all dirt and loose matter. Slice. Chop your shallots and peel your garlic.

Season your flour, mixing well. You want to be able to see the seasonings.

Using the business end of a meat mallet, beat the cutlet, flip, beat again, flip, and beat again for a total of 3 times, working from one end to the other.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan, then add a splash more.

Add shallots to the pan, mix with the oil, then push them to the edges of the pan.

Dredge your beaten veal cutlets in the flour, coating both sides (no egg wash necessary), then add to the pan. Don’t worry about overcrowding the veal, it shrinks and there will be plenty of time for it to cook thoroughly.

Top with your sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic, a bit of tarragon and enough wine to come halfway up the veal cutlets. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove cover, flip, making sure your mushrooms are now in the wine, stir your shallots, and replace cover. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cutlets. Usually, by this time, the wine has reduced to a nice, thick sauce absorbed by the mushrooms and meat, but if necessary, remove the lid and cook down.

And that’s it! Plate your veal and top with your mushrooms, shallots, and sauce!

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

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!

 

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavor ~ Mini Calzones (Yeast Free)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

ff24Today I’m sharing another of my recipes I created to satisfy my pizza/calzone cravings. Pillsbury is kind enough to make its Crescent Rolls with baking soda instead of yeast AND – did you know that you can buy it by the sheet, without the perforations? This discovery was a game changer for me, because 1) sometimes you (or at least I) NEED a little bread and 2) there are SO many things you can do with a sheet of delicious crescent dough!

And here’s one of them!

This recipe makes 6 mini calzones

Ingredients:

1 can of Pillsbury Crescent Sheet Dough

Pepperoni

Shredded Mozzarella

Ricotta

(any additional cheese you want to add)

optional – marinara sauce

Preparation:

ff10
step 1

Per dough directions, preheat oven to 375 (or 350 depending on the bakeware you’re using).

ff11
step 2

 

 

Unroll the dough onto a baking sheet. Repair any tears or holes in the dough the best you can, then cut the dough into 6 sections.

You’ll be folding the dough in half, so place ingredients on the triangular section on one side of the fold.

ff14
step 3

 

 

Place a pinch of mozzarella on one side of each section.

ff15
step 4

Add pepperoni (I use three slices in a triangle pattern for each portion).

Drop a spoonful of ricotta on top of the pepperoni and spread it out a bit.

ff13
step 5

Add more mozzarella (and any other cheese you like, like grated parmesan).

ff12
step 6

 

Fold the dough over and press edges together, tucking ingredients inside. It doesn’t matter if there are gaps in the closed seam.

Place in oven and bake for 9-11 minutes. Enjoy!

ff9If you make this, please let me know how you liked it!

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Pizza Stuffed Pasta Shells

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

ff4I’ll tell you – one of the hardest parts about developing food sensitivities in adulthood is that you’ve spent years indulging in all the wonderful things you’re no longer supposed to have. And while many great strides have been taken by manufacturers to eliminate certain ingredients, like gluten, all the gluten-free breads, pizza crusts, beer, etc., still contain yeast, which is a major bummer, but . . . I’m pretty determined, so I’ve created several recipes to help me feel like I’m not missing out on too much.

This one combines two of my favorites – pizza and pasta!

Ingredients:

jumbo pasta shells

1 medium sweet Vidalia onion

1 stick pepperoni (no MSG), cut into chunks

ricotta

garlic powder

nature’s seasoning

fresh basil

block mozzarella, cut into cubes

shredded mozzarella

marinara sauce (while I love a good homemade sauce, I don’t always have the time to make it from scratch. When using a store bought jar, I 1) look for a brand without high fructose corn syrup or the like and 2) doctor it by sautéing onion with fresh pressed garlic, fresh basil, dried tarragon, nature’s seasoning, pepper, and if it really needs it for flavor, a splash of cooking wine like sherry or marsala.

optional: shredded parmesan, shredded Italian blend

Preparation:

IMG_20200529_165612 (1)Preheat over to 350 and bring salted water to a boil.IMG_20200529_165724 (1)

Add shells to boiling water and cook until done. Drain and rinse shells under cold water, then set aside to cool. (Note – I decide on the dish I’m going to use, then count how many dry shells it takes to fill it. Then, I add a few extra shells, because some are ffbound to break.)

Chop basil, onion, pepperoni and block mozzarella. The size you chop, and how much you use are up to your own tastes. I used about 1/2 a small mozzarella block, 3/4 of the stick pepperoni, and a medium sized onion. (Tip – after rinsing the basil, I place the leaves inside each other and roll them before chopping. It makes it really easy to cut them into ribbons without bruising the herb too badly.)

ff1Put ricotta in a bowl (I used about 12 ounces) and season how you want. I used garlic powder, nature’s seasoning, and fresh basil. Mix well. Add onion, pepperoni chunks, and mozzarella cubes, and mix again.

Place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of your cooking dish (if you’re worried about cleanup, spray with a cooking oil first). Stuff shells with the pizza style ricotta mixture. I found this was easily done using a spoon.

ff3When all your shells are stuffed, cover with more sauce, then add shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce and cheese at the edges begins to bubble. Enjoy!

If you make this, I want to hear if you liked it!

Do you have any recipes that would satisfy my pizza and calzone cravings? If you do, let me know!!

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