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: Easy Chicken Pasta From Leftovers

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I don’t think it’s any secret that I LOVE pasta, but I’m not a huge fan of red sauce, and I don’t eat chicken in my pasta. Never. Not Ever. Until now.

Let me explain.

I hate wasting food. Quite often I’ll clear the refrigerator out on the weekends and make what I call a ‘garbage pail’ lunch. (Recipes that call for ‘a tablespoon of tomato paste’ drive me crazy, because tomato paste doesn’t come by the tablespoon. Which means I have to save the rest and find something to do with it.) But every once in a while the odds and ends from the meals I cooked over the week align into a shining ray of recipe gold. (In this case, the leftovers were bowtie pasta, chicken from a whole bird I roasted in the air fryer, tomato paste, and some large capers that had to be used within a week of opening.)

This one was so good I’m looking forward to making it again! AND – I finally have a go to for my chicken leftovers!

Note: Garlic, shallots, cooking wine, and pine nuts (gotta love Amazon for the great prices on those) are staples in my kitchen. I grow my own basil so I always have plenty of that on hand. And I tend to cook an entire box of pasta at a time and freeze portions because I live in Florida and nothing makes the house quite as hot and humid as a big pot of boiling water.

Ingredients:

leftover chicken, chopped or shredded

tomato paste or sauce

1 shallot

3 cloves garlic

cream sherry or other red cooking wine

fresh basil

pine nuts

capers

olive oil

nature’s seasoning

pepper

pasta (I usually cook the whole box at once and freeze extra portions.)

optional: shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation:

In a medium to large frying pan sauté the shallots, capers, pine nuts and garlic together until shallots are opaque. Add a dollop (about 2 tablespoons) tomato paste or spaghetti sauce, whatever you have leftover on hand, into the pan, and a splash or two of red cooking wine (I use Cream Sherry) and stir until well mixed. Add your spices (I use Nature’s Seasoning because it’s a nice blend). Add your chicken and cook until hot. Add your pasta (if using leftover pasta, stir until the pasta is hot). Add fresh basil and stir. And that’s it!

Super easy and surprisingly delicious! I sprinkled a little shredded mozzarella on mine and couldn’t have been happier with this gourmet ‘garbage pail’ lunch!

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: 6 Of My Favorite Things For A Happy (And Healthy) Foodie New Year

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I feel like it’s safe to say that most of us are on the same page about being ready to welcome in a new year. Symbolically, it’s become a time of change, fresh starts and new beginnings, and while I personally don’t use it as a catalyst to make resolutions (they can and should be made at any time of the year), I thought I’d share some of my favorite health conscious foodie things.

1) These are absolutely awesome. One of the hardest things for me about having a food sensitivity is how much it can complicate mealtimes – especially lunch. I can’t just throw a quick sandwich together. But these Crepini egg thins – again, awesome. They also make them plain, without cauliflower, but I prefer the taste of these. And only 8 calories a thin? Take that, bread! I sprinkle a little shredded cheese on one, add some lunch meat, a little more cheese, and a second thin, thenpop it in the microwave for 12 seconds (because I like that number) and you have yourself a sandwich-like meal. Or, add some avocado and roll it up like a burrito. So many possibilities!

And did you see? No net carbs, keto friendly, paleo friendly, gluten free and dairy free? They really are awesome!

I find these by the ‘premium’ lunchmeats in the refrigerated section near the deli at Publix.

2) Most of us know that olive oil is good for us, but did you know that some is better for us than others? Things to look for in a high quality olive oil are:

  1. Is it First Cold-Pressed? Because that’s what you want.
  2. It’s Country of Origin. Olive oils with multiple countries of origin listed are making their oil with whatever olives they can get. Not ideal. So first, find an olive oil with one country of origin.
  3. The type of olive used. A quality olive oil should tell you what type of olive they’re making the oil from, and only one type should be listed.
  4. The highest quality olive oils source their olives from a specific farm or location, and will tell you this information on the label.
  5. Ideally, you also want your oil to be organic.

The good news is that you don’t have to pay ridiculous prices to check most of these boxes. Flora brand olive oil is first cold pressed, lists the country (Italy for organic, Greece for not, tells you the type of olive used, and the area it comes from. I buy the organic shown for less than $10. It has a strong, fruity taste and is great when I want to drizzle some oil on an avocado for a snack. The larger bottle, while not organic and with a someone milder flavor, is less than $12 and works great for sautéing, roasting, etc.

3) There are SO many good pasta alternatives these days! I’m only showing one brand, which also makes pasta (spaghetti and other styles) using black beans and edamame, but there are also pastas made from cauliflower, lentils, chickpeas, and many more healthy, tasty alternatives!

As an added bonus, these pastas are often high in plant based protein. They do tend to be around the same count calorie wise as traditional wheat and flour based pastas, but they metabolize much better!

Do some experimenting to find ones that suit your texture, shape, and flavor needs. The pasta shown tastes and feel just like traditional pasta. And if you have an Aldi’s in your area, you can’t beat the price!

4) Birch Benders makes THE BEST mix for Paleo friendly pancakes and waffles! They also have a Keto friendly variety. Just add some water for pancakes, some water and a dash of oil for waffles, and you have a guilty pleasure that’s not so guilty!

The recipe uses cassava starch, almonds and coconut instead of flour, and they’re also dairy free. I find the batter tends to thicken between batches, so I keep some extra water on hand and mix more to consistency than the proportions listed on the package, but the taste and texture is very close to the real thing.

I’ve seen this at multiple stores, but found the best price at Walmart. It’s in the baking aisle.

5) I’ve tried a lot of cheese crisps over the last few years, and all pale in comparison to these. I’m not going to lie – I’ve eaten an entire bag of these Whisps brand Parmesan Cheese Crisps in a sitting more than once. (My dog helps.)

They do make other flavors, but, unfortunately, the other flavors tend to throw more into the mix than just good old cheese. Some even add my arch nemesis, yeast, which I don’t understand, but whatever. I have these. These are enough.

I’ve found these at many stores with varying prices, but both Publix and Winn Dixie occasionally run them Buy One, Get One – stock up then for the best deal!

6) I feel like Bone Broth was one of the trendier health fads to hit in recent years, but it seemed to have quickly died off – perhaps because of the prices. I’ve seen this stuff sold for up to $15 for the 2 pound carton. If I had to pay those prices, I wouldn’t be buying it either.

But the health benefits! Bone broth is good for so many things, including gut health, which is so important because your health in general starts in your gut. So make it happy!

I use in place of chicken broth or stock. Sometimes I’ll cook my veggie pasta in it, like when I do my One Pan Pasta (recipe here). The noodles absorb the broth. If you’re able, add some milk and/or wine to make a thick, delicious sauce!

I buy mine at Aldi’s for about $3 a piece.

There are so many more favorites I want to share with you, but I’ll save those for another post! Hopefully this is enough to get you off to a healthy start, whether you’re making a New Year’s Resolution for better health, or simply maintaining – either way I wish you all the best! Happy New Year!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavors recipe!

Friday’s Flavors: One Pan Creamy Pasta With Clams

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I don’t know about you, but my least favorite thing about cooking is the cleanup. Dirty dishes aren’t my idea of a good time, so over the years I’ve developed certain hacks to reduce the work I have to do when the meal is over.

And every once in a while, I strike gold!

I first tried this recipe because my dishwasher was almost full and I didn’t want to have to wash a bunch of dishes by hand or have a sink full of dirty pots and pans overnight until the dishwasher was done doing its thing in the morning. Little did I know at the time that the result would be the creamiest, most savory pasta I’d ever had!

Ingredients:

1 box pasta

2 cups bone broth

1.5 cups milk

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Old Bay

garlic powder

garlic salt

2 dozen clams

Preparation:

In a large braising or frying pan with a tight fitting lid, add your pasta, bone broth, milk, crushed garlic, and spices. Cover. Bring to a simmer.

Stir every minute or 2 to keep pasta from sticking.

After 5 minutes, add well cleaned clams (so you don’t make your pasta gritty) and cover.

Keep stirring every minute or 2. Once the clams start opening, stir the unopened ones towards the bottom. After most if not all are open (approximately 5-6 minutes), remove lid and test tenderness of pasta. It should be about done. If it’s not, recover for another minute or 2. If it is, add a handful of fresh grated cheese, stir, and allow the remaining liquid to cook down, which should only take a minute, as most of the liquid should have absorbed into the noodles.

Serve, topping with more fresh grated cheese.

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie 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: 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: 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.

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Mediterranean Langoustine Seafood Pasta

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

m11By now you probably know that I could live on Mexican food. Or Italian. Or cheese. But my absolute favorite meal is seafood pasta.

Lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams – I don’t discriminate. Likewise, bring me your cream sauces and your scampis, your carbonaras and your marinaras, your wine sauces and your pestos, because I’ll eat them all. Happily.

But as much as I love a gooey, cheesy, thick alfredo, sometimes you want something lighter (and healthier). When that happens, this Mediterranean style pasta recipe goes well with most seafood and is a tasty, easy option.

Ingredients:

8 oz langoustines (or shrimp, scallops, etc.)

1 large shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, pressed

sundried tomatoes

Kalamata olives

capers

fresh basil

2 handfuls fresh spinach

pine nuts (optional)

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio)

salt and pepper or Nature’s Seasoning to taste

Parmesan cheese (optional)

cooked pasta of choice

Makes 2 servings

Preparation:

m2mI’ve only ever seen precooked langoustine, so if that’s what you’re using, defrost, rinse, and wring dry to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

Chop the shallot, sundried tomatoes, olives IMG_202007201_174338and basil, peel garlic, and gather the rest of your ingredients.

m3While your pasta is cooking, add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large sauté pan on medium high heat. When butter is melted, add shallots, cooking until translucent, then add garlic. Stir, add spinach, then stir again. When spinach is wilted, add sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, pine nuts, and 1/4 cup white wine. Mix and season, allowing to reduce slightly while m4m5straining your cooked pasta.

Add langoustines to pan and stir, allowing to cook until just heated. (If you’re using a different type of seafood, add earlier and adjust cooking time accordingly.) Add pasta, mix, top with fresh basil (and maybe a little freshly grated parmesan cheese) and serve.

                         m7 m8 m10

If you make it, I’d love to know how you liked it!

For more recipes, check the archives or come back next Friday!

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Easy Clam Pasta

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

c5Now, I’ve got to be honest about this – if you had told me even a year ago that I’d not only be eating a recipe made with canned clams, but loving it, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s not something we had in the house when I was growing up.

But . . . life happens.

I have low B12, and was taking weekly injections to help, but I started getting the worst muscle spasms. Turns out that synthesized B12 is made with my arch nemesis (and food sensitivity) yeast. So, I had to find ways to incorporate large amounts of B12 into my diet, and guess what has a ton of B12? Clams!

Even if you don’t have low B12, it’s not one of those vitamins where excess builds up in your system causing adverse effects, and it’s great for your energy levels and metabolism, so there’s no reason not to pack your diet full of B12.

Ingredients:

1 can of clams

1 large shallot

6 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup olives oil

nature’s seasoning or salt and pepper

pasta of choice

optional: shaker or fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preparation:

cc1Chop shallot and garlic. (I save all my largest garlic cloves for this recipe.) Add olive oil and butter to a large frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat, then add shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots are translucent.

Add drained clams, cooking until heated. Season to taste. Add pasta and mix. And that’s it. It really is so simple and even c2c3better, it tastes really good. This is one of the few recipes where I prefer shaker parmesan to fresh, but a bit of cheese really brings out the flavor of this dish!

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

c4

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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