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: Stuffed Green Lipped Mussels

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I love seafood, and New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels are no exception – the only thing is that they’re quite big, and they usually come frozen, so:

1) They need to have good flavor so you don’t wind up with an entire mouth full of ick (and let’s face it, fishy ick is the worst kind).

and

2) You can’t just cook them any old way you’d cook a fresh mussel.

Luckily, stuffing and baking is a flavorful option that checks both the above items off the list! This recipe works great as either an appetizer or an entrée.

(This night I was going for a healthy, light meal so I left the bacon out, but I’m first to admit that everything’s better with bacon!)

Takes: 10 minutes prep, 15-20 minutes cooking time

Ingredients:

2 lbs. (about 2 dozen) New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels (usually sold frozen and on the half shell)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1 large shallot

3 – 5 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

(and if you wanted to add some bacon . . . bacon)

Preparation:

Place mussels in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. (Pro tip – make sure they’re in a bag in case they leak AND check to make sure they’re fully defrosted before you begin cooking.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove stems from spinach and chop. Cut shallots and peel garlic. In a small pan melt 2 tablespoons butter. (If you’re using bacon, you can substitute a little bacon fat for one of the tablespoons of butter). Add shallots. Sautee until translucent, add pressed garlic, stir until fragrant, and remove from heat.

Add chopped spinach and stir until cooked but not wilted. Add 1/4 cup of cheese (and bacon if your using it) and mix.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay your mussels out. (Give each one a press to remove any excess liquid.)

Place about 1/2 spoonful of your cooked mixture onto each mussel. You don’t want to overstuff them because when you go to eat them, the toppings will fall off instead of sticking to the mussel.

Using the rest of the cheese, add a pinch to the top of each mussel.

Place in oven and bake 15-20 minutes (depending on size) until the mussels are cooked thoroughly and the cheese on top is melted.

It’s that easy!

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

Check back next Friday for another foodie flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Onion Crusted Grouper

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Onion Crusted Grouper (Pictured With Sautéed Spinach and Leeks)

My husband had Onion Crusted Grouper at a restaurant last year and thought ‘we’ could do better ‘ourselves’. I knew he wasn’t going to help, but challenge accepted. I did a little research, learned some new things – sour cream on seafood? Yeah. Turns out it’s a secret ingredient in plenty of seafood dips and dishes. Who knew? – and created this recipe which I was reluctant to taste at first but found surprisingly delicious. I’ve made it a half dozen times now and it’s quickly become a favorite!

A tasty meal for two in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients:

Baked, not fried, no MSG.

1 Grouper fillet, about 1 pound

1/3 cup cream cheese (I like chive flavored)

1 tbsp sour cream

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 package crispy onions

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with spray oil. Rinse and dry Grouper fillet.

In a measuring cup or bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, onion powder and garlic powder together until well blended.

Spread a thin coat of the mixture on one side of the fillet, flip, then spread the remaining mixture on the second side. You want a nice layer of the mixture, but if you apply it too thickly it will melt your onion crust off while baking.

Crush the crispy onions and coat the top side of the Grouper in a thick layer.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, adjusting time for a thicker/larger or smaller piece of fish.

And that’s it! If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy Mediterranean Eggplant (Paleo, Keto, Celiac, Anti-Candida Diet Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Today I have a riddle for you: What do eggplant, basil and garlic have in common?

Answer: This delicious (and nutritious) dish!

All corniness aside, this is another recipe where I have to give credit to my mom., so you know it’s gotta be good! When she first tried it, she sliced the eggplant lengthwise and had my dad grill it, which is great if you have the time and patience to man the grill and if you seek a smoky flavor, like you’d find in baba ghanoush.

Jump forward a few decades and I’ve mastered how to create this dish in either the oven or on the stovetop! The oven preparation is more hands off, but for those times when your oven is already in use, the stovetop method works well too!

Bonus: This recipe is keto, paleo, celiac, and anti-candida diet friendly!

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

2 large cloves garlic

1 handful fresh basil

2 tablespoons capers

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Oven Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice eggplant widthwise into 1/4 – 1/2 slices. Using a bowl, dip slices in olive oil until well coated. Place slices on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip, and bake another 10-15 minutes. (The thicker your slices, the more time they’ll need.)

Mix 2/3 cup olive oil, 2 large crushed garlic cloves, a handful of basil chopped finely into ribbons, 2 tablespoons capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

Remove cooked eggplant from baking sheet, put a serving on a plate, and spoon mixture on top.

Stovetop Preparation:

Cube eggplant into 1 inch chunks.

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant. Cook until soft, stirring frequently and adding additional olive oil as needed, about 10-15 minutes.

Add crushed garlic, capers, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until garlic is fragrant, and serve.

Any leftovers (if you have them) taste great the next day!

I’m always looking for new flavors to try! What’s your favorite way to cook eggplant?

If you try it, please let me know if you like it! Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

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!

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.

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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!

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