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).

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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.

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step 3

 

 

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

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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.

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step 5

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

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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 Flavor ~ Guacomole

ff22Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of going to a Mexican restaurant (besides the margaritas) is when they make tableside guacamole. I LOVE avocados and guacamole is another one of those things (seems like there’s a lot of them) that I feel like I could eat my own bodyweight of everyday!

The only thing is, there are so many variations on guacamole that you can never be sure what you’re going to get. After years of experimenting, here is my favorite way to make guacamole at home.

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados

1 red onion

1 tomato

1 lime

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch green onion

cilantro

garlic salt

Preparation:

ff18Chop your onion, tomato and cilantro. Some people like chunky, some people don’t. I cut mine fairly small. Peel garlic and slice lime.

Scoop your avocado into a molcajete or bowl. A ripe avocado should easily separate from the rind with a spoon.

ff19Mash the avocado.

Add the juice from half the lime, some garlic salt (just a bit at first), pressed garlic, a handful of onions and tomatoes, and cilantro. Mix together, mashing a little. Only you know how much of each ingredient you’ll want. (I go much heavier on the onions than the tomatoes.) Taste.

ff20Adjust flavor by adding more garlic salt and lime. When you get the flavor how you like it, add green onions and stir. That’s it!

If you try it, 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!!

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Scallop Ceviche

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Today I’m sharing my recipe for Scallop Ceviche which is quick, easy, and uses only 5 ingredients. I could eat this every day and be happy.

ff6I love scallops, and I’ll be honest here – I think they taste best raw, but my husband . . . won’t even try it. Not happening. I’m a sashimi girl and he’s a tempura guy, but we both love this recipe, which makes it a perfect compromise.

Ceviche is the Peruvian method of curing or ‘cooking’ seafood by marinating it in citrus juice. The citric acid actually changes the proteins in the fish, turning the flesh firm and opaque, similar to the way heat does. There’s a great article on the process over at Chowhound.

There are endless variations on ingredients, marinating times, spices, etc. – it’s not uncommon to add bell peppers, hot peppers like jalapenos or habaneros, and tomatoes -you can also use different types of fish, shrimp, and even octopus! But I prefer to keep it simple.

I’d like to note that while this recipe is gluten free and paleo friendly, people with certain health conditions shouldn’t try it. If you can’t eat sushi or raw oysters, then, unfortunately, this recipe probably isn’t for you.

Also, you want to find dry packed scallops. This means that there are no chemical additives, unlike wet packed scallops. The flavor is better, and you know exactly what you’re eating.

This recipes makes an appetizer or side dish for 2 people.

Ingredients:

6 large dry packed sea scallops

2 limes

1 avocado

1 small red onion

1 handful of cilantro

Preparation:

Slice the scallops through the eqatorial middle to make them thinner, then cut into chunks. I usually cut a large scallop into 12 pieces. ff7

Juice the first lime into your marinating dish. You’ll want one big enough to fit all of the ingredinents. (I used a  measuring cup this time – this recipe makes about 2 cups when all the ingredients are added.) Add the scallops to the dish, then juice the second lime on top. Stir and refrigerate.

Different seafood requires different marinating times. I let this marinate for an hour and ff8a half, stirring at least twice. After the scallops have been in the lime juice for an hour, chop the avocado, onion and cilantro. Add to the scallops, and stir to coat with the lime juice. Refridgerate for another 1/2 hour. Then serve! It’s really that easy!

Don’t be scared to play around with ingredients to tailor this recipe to your tastes and make it your own! If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think! And if you have your own ceviche recipe, I want to know what you’re doing so I can give it a try!

 

 

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Bacon Quiche

qu4If you’re a foodie like I’m a foodie (and Friday’s are for us foodie’s, right?), then you appreciate a dish that delivers major taste without requiring hours of hands-on laboring

When I’m craving something that’s rich and savory, I make what is essentially Quiche Lorraine but what is known of in my house as Bacon Quiche. I know it’s hard to go wrong with a meal that includes both bacon and cheese, but this is seriously tasty!

Quiche seems to have a bad wrap as something that’s difficult to prepare. Here are my hacks for ANY quiche:

  1. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes, checking at 25 minutes. I put my pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any crumbs, but this also makes checking if the quiche is done super simple – just wiggle the baking sheet. If the quiche jiggles on top, it’s not done yet.
  2. Mix 1/2 cup milk for every egg you use. I suggest using at least 2 eggs, (so, 1 cup milk), but if you want to use 3, simply increase the milk to 1½ cups.
  3.  Add your spices, i.e. salt and pepper, nutmeg, etc. to the milk-egg mixture. I also add about half the cheese I use to this mix.
  4.  Buy a piecrust. Every time I made my own from scratch, I’d crash and burn when it came time to transfer the crust from the rolling board to the pie pan. They sell 2 packs in the dairy section by the Pillsbury items. (Bonus – the off brands don’t use yeast, which I sadly have a sensitivity to.) (Bonus² – if you make the recipe below, you only use half the cheese, so you already have some of the ingredients to make another quiche!)
  5.  Make the quiche ahead of time! I try to let mine cool for at least an hour – it allows the inside to set so it stays together when you serve it. You can always reheat if you prefer it piping hot, but it tastes great warm.

 

Roth Cheese, Alpine-Style, Grand Cru, Original
This is what I use, but any variation of Gruyere or Swiss should work.

Ingredients:

1 pound thick cut bacon, cut into 1″ pieces

1 sweet Vidalia onion

2-3 handfuls spinach

3 oz Grand Cru (or Gruyere) cheese

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 pie crust

salt and pepper to taste

optional: fresh grated parmesan

 

Preparation:

qu
Put cooked ingredients in crust.

Begin by cooking the chopped bacon and grating the cheese. When the bacon is done, place on a paper towel lined plate, and remove most, but not all of the bacon fat from the pan, leaving just enough to sauté the onion.

Add the onion. Cook until translucent, then add the spinach, tossing with onion until wilted (you can do this with the heat off). Return bacon to the pan, mix ingredients together.

Place your pie pan on a baking sheet, then put the piecrust in the pan (I use a glass pie pan), and lightly press down to shape it to the cooking container.

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Add 1/2 the cheese.

It helps if you set the crust out for 15-20 minutes to let it warm up a little. You can cut the crust with a knife to neaten it up, and even pattern the edges if you want to get fancy. I’m usually in a rush when I cook this, so I don’t bother.

Next, add the cooked ingredients to the crust. I sprinkle about 1/2 the cheese over the ingredients. Then, mix your milk and eggs together (using the ratios above), add the other 1/2 of the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the cooked ingredients.

qu3
Pour the mixture.

I like to sprinkle just a bit of fresh parmesan on the top if I have some around (I usually do). Place the pan on the baking sheet into the oven, then begin checking at 25 minutes. It usually takes closer to 35, but depending on your oven, and if you use different ingredients, (like a Mediterranean quiche), cooking times vary, and it’s easier to keep cooking than to scrape black crust off your dinner.

When the quiche does not jiggle when you wiggle the baking pan, and the top begins to turn golden brown, it’s done. I make mine ahead of time, and allow to cool for at least an hour before cutting so the inside sets.

qu2
Sprinkled with parm because I’m a cheese glutton!

That’s it! Prepare yourself for cheesy, bacony goodness! This is one of the few dishes where going back for thirds is the norm!

I usually serve this with something light, like a salad. Caesar goes especially well with it!

If you try it, I’d love to hear how it went and if you liked it!

 

Ooh la, la ~ Creme Brulee

wp-image-545739601jpg.jpgI always have been, and always will be a chocolate girl. Chocolate is quite confident about our relationship – it knows it has nothing to worry about. Which is why I am free to share the love; a gingerbread cookie here, a fruit tart there, and never one to discriminate against my French friends, creme brulee.

wp-image-1797215491jpg.jpgThe problem with creme brulee is that it is most often found at expensive restaurants, where they charge a ridiculous amount of money for the two bites they serve you. Which is why I was so excited when I saw a creme brulee kit on the clearance aisle as TJ Maxx. Thank you, TJ Maxx. Thank you, all the people who saw the kit before me who didn’t buy it. And a final thanks to my husband, whose sweet tooth never complains when I try something new.

wp-image-1554265934jpg.jpgBefore I even picked the kit up off the shelf, I had Googled a recipe to see exactly how much work creating the dish would entail. It didn’t seem too hard, so I gave it a try. I used a recipe for Vanilla Creme Brulee as found in the NY Times, shown below.

wp-image-409279096jpg.jpgNotes on the recipe: I doubled the vanilla. I saved the egg whites in tupperware for breakfast the next morning. Beating until light means until the egg mixture becomes frothy – it takes about 10 minutes when whisking by hand. Also, I used the mini blowtorch in the kit to caramelize the sugar instead of the broiler, because, yeah, like I’m passing that up. It turned out terrific! The only thing I would do differently is to use a bigger blowtorch!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)
  2. In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.
  3. When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.

Breaded Dijon Shrimp & Lemon Pasta

wp-image-1429283273jpg.jpegI’m a huge fan of pasta, but my husband isn’t, so I’m always trying to devise new recipes that will bring him over to the carb side. This flavorful meal seems to have done the trick.

As usual, I don’t measure ingredients, but rather eyeball everything, which isn’t very helpful when trying to instruct another person how to replicate the recipe, but unlike baking, this is not an exact science. My instructions are for two people, using about 20 medium shrimp.

wp-image-1424641674jpg.jpegwp-image-957787449jpg.jpeg

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place a pot of water on to boil the pasta. In a bowl, melt some butter (I use about a half tablespoon), then mix with about 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard. On a plate, mix breadcrumbs (I prefer Panko style) with some Old Bay, garlic salt, and shaker Parmesan cheese. Dredge the shrimp in the Dijon wp-image-1746117122jpg.jpegmixture, then the breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet sprayed with PAM. (TIP – I use my wp-image-675219532jpg.jpegright hand to put the shrimp in the Dijon mixture and then lay the shrimp on the bread wp-image-1895801259jpg.jpegcrumbs. I use my left hand to scoop breadcrumbs over the shrimp until covered and to transfer to the baking sheet. This keeps you from getting your hands too clumped up to work with – only one hand is ‘wet’ and it doesn’t get covered in breadcrumbs.) Bake shrimp at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

wp-image-1535423545jpg.jpegWhile the shrimp are baking, clean and slice mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Because 1) I love garlic, and 2) every way you prepare garlic produces a different flavor, I thin slice about 5 cloves and and skin another 5 for crushing in a garlic press. Wash 2 lemons, thin slicing at least half of one to add to the dish, saving the rest for juice.

 
Place pasta in the boiling water to cook. Put about one tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan and melt over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and shallots and crushed garlic, sauteing for 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and another 1/2 wp-image-72976912jpg.jpegtablespoon of butter, stir, and saute for minute. Add lemon juice and sliced lemons, stir, and saute for another 1-2 minutes, until mushrooms look cooked. Add a small ladle (2-3 tablespoons) of the pasta water. At this point I would usually add spinach, but since I made this impromptu this time, I used a jar of artichoke hearts instead. By the time the spinach (or artichoke hearts) are sufficiently wilted, the pasta should be done cooking. Test, then add to sauteed mixture in pan. (HINT – If you go light when you add the pasta water, you can add the pasta straight from the pot without straining and the flavor doesn’t get too diluted – one less dish to wash!). Dish out portions, add shrimp from the oven, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan. Voila!

(Everyone cooks at their own pace. This recipe takes me between 35-40 minutes from start to finish.)

Fiddle Me This – What’s a Fiddlehead?

IMG_20160607_183621280_HDRMaybe those of you who are Northerners already know the answer to this question, but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you. First, a little back story. At the grocery store, in the produce section, I kept seeing these . . . things. Things that I could only describe at green little alien coils. Things that did not look like anything that I’d want to put in my mouth.

Only . . . that’s not entirely true. Those of you that know me (or have followed my blog for a while) probably know where this is going. Because you know my secret. You know that I have a habit of being strangely drawn towards eating odd things. There’s really no way to explain it. I’ve always been this way. So while a part of me was repulsed by the strange looking things I saw in the grocery store, another part of me knew that it was my destiny to one day eat them.

I didn’t do any research until the day I put them in my cart. After I brought them home. I had no idea that Fiddleheads are part of the Ostrich Fern, or that they’re rather healthy for you. With some exceptions.

IMG_20160607_190957000_HDRI read conflicting reports, but the bottom line is this – if you want to eat Fiddleheads, clean them well, snip the ends, and boil them for about 10 minutes first, which is what I did before I sauteed them in olive oil with a smidge of butter, garlic, shallots, white wine, lemon juice, and a bit of shaker Parmesan cheese. Then I served them over pasta with fresh grated Parmesan. Not only were they good, but my husband asked when we’d get to eat them again before we even finished dinner. (I have fully completed bringing him over to the interesting side of eating new things.) Mission complete.

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