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.
leftover chicken, chopped or shredded
tomato paste or sauce
3 cloves garlic
cream sherry or other red cooking wine
pasta (I usually cook the whole box at once and freeze extra portions.)
optional: shredded mozzarella cheese
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!
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:
Is it First Cold-Pressed? Because that’s what you want.
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.
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.
The highest quality olive oils source their olives from a specific farm or location, and will tell you this information on the label.
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!
Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday, and for those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas!
I don’t think it’s a secret that I do a lot of cooking. But I used to do a lot of baking, too. I always had fresh chocolate chip cookies on hand, and never hesitated to whip up a batch of brownies, cupcakes, or a delectable cake whenever the whim arose.
Why the change? Well, you can’t eat like a kid forever. But more than that (because I’d probably still try), I stopped being able to handle sugar well. And when something feels bad, it makes sense to stop doing it, right?
But, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I know I can no longer handle more than two bites of rich chocolate cake. More than a handful of M&Ms. More than just a dab of maple syrup on my waffles or pancakes. But I can still handle the absolute best cookie recipe I’ve ever met, in moderation of course. And the frosting? Enough can’t be said about it! Odes and sonnets, love poems of every kind have been written about this Butter Frosting! (I know – I’ve written them!)
I’m not exaggerating when I say that these are best described as addictive! Back when I was a choco-holic, I’d make an exception for these!
Growing up, my family would make these every Christmas, but they’re not just for the holidays! While I have Halloween and Easter themed cookie cutters, I also have many types of animal, sea creature, flower shapes and more!
I’m not going to lie – these take a lot of work. But they are SO worth the effort, every. Single. Time. What’s more? They get better with age!
2 ½ cups flour 1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder 2 eggs, well beaten
½ tsp. salt 3 tsp. vanilla
1 cup shortening
Sift flour, measure; add baking powder and salt. Sift again. (Don’t try to short cut this step. I know it’s a pain, but sift the flour before you measure, then sift again!)
Cream shortening, add sugar gradually, beating until light. Add well beaten eggs one at a time and blend thoroughly. Add vanilla. (It’s very important that you add the eggs one at a time, blending well between them. I don’t know why but the cookies don’t come out the same if you add them both at once.)
Combine dry ingredients with the creamed mixture, mix thoroughly and chill for at least an hour.
PREHEAT oven to 400.
Roll as thin as possible on a lightly floured board and cut with cookie cutter. (Tip: I keep a small bowl of flour handy so I don’t contaminate the bag. Also, keep your rolling pin well floured.)
BAKE 6-10 minutes.
Allow to cool for a minute or two before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.
½ cup butter, set out to room temperature
1 lb. (3 ½ cups) Confectioner’s sugar
Pinch of salt
4 – 5 tbsp. liquid (hot water or milk)
1 tbsp. vanilla
sprinkles and decorations as desired
Cream room temperature butter; add sugar gradually, stirring until well blended. (Eventually it’s going to look like straight sugar, just a little lumpier.)
Add salt. Stir in liquid a little at a time, adding just enough to give a good spreading consistency. Beat until fluffy; add vanilla or other flavoring.
Makes enough frosting for tops and sides of 2 9” layers, 3 8” layers, 2 dozen cup cakes, and the entirety of the above cookie recipe.
I cover a table with wax paper to make for easy cleanup. Portion frosting into containers (coffee cups work great) and mix desired colors using food coloring. Apply with dull butter knifes or utensil of choice. Add sprinkles, nonpareils, and whatever other decorations you want! Allow to dry thoroughly before storing.
I didn’t get too fancy decorating this year, but they still tasted fantastic!
If you try it, let me know how you like it! (And don’t say I didn’t warn you about your new addiction!)
Now, I am not a fan of anything spicy. Hot peppers and I are mortal enemies. But, if you look in my garden, you’ll see that I grow 7 different types of peppers, from Jalapenos all the way to Carolina Reapers. Sigh. The things we do for love.
As you might of guessed, my husband is a fan of the spicy. In a family of people who love the hot stuff, his nickname is Leather Tongue. I’ve yet to find something too spicy for him to eat, and even though I do most of the cooking, and I can’t handle the hot stuff, I still make a lot of it. So, for those of you who are like me, here’s a simple solution for poppers: stuff baby bell peppers. I’m not a huge fan of those, either, but my stuffing is too tasty to miss out on!
(I’m giving you the measurements necessary to make 36 poppers, but the amounts are easily reduced and if you have any stuffing left over, it’s great on bagels, sandwiches, celery, or just by the spoonful!)
Mini Bell Peppers
one 7.5 oz. container of Cream Cheese (whipped is easier to work with, I like the chive flavor for this recipe)
one and a half 8 oz. blocks of Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
lots of fresh crushed garlic
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Empty the cream cheese into a bowl. Crush plenty of garlic on top, and mix well. Grate your cheddar and mix into the cream cheese a little at a time, until you absolutely can’t get any more in.
Wash and dry the peppers. (I take my contacts out AND wear gloves anytime I’m handling peppers.) Remove tops and core. They make a nifty little tool for this, but if you don’t have one, carefully cut around the inside with a knife. If you can’t get the seeds and pith out, push them to the bottom.
Stuff the Peppers.
Spray a baking cheese and your popper holder with spray oil. Place poppers in holder or in a baking dish as you stuff them. Cook for 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the insides are going to be piping hot, so do your best to wait a few minutes before you enjoy them!
If you try it, please let me know how you like it!
There’s no denying that this past year’s been a rough one. We’ve all had to make sacrifices and changes. And unfortunately, like the rest of 2020, the holidays are taking a hit. It kind of makes it hard to celebrate, or even want to. Even those who rallied for Thanksgiving and still cooked a turkey despite the fact they were feeding far fewer people were then faced with what to do with all the extra leftovers.
But cooking a nice holiday meal on a smaller scale doesn’t have to pose a problem. And I know some people cooked chickens instead this year, but that doesn’t really feel special, does it? So why not give duck a try?
People tend to be reluctant to cook duck, but here’s the thing – they’re less hands on than a turkey. You don’t have to baste it. And while duck skin is fatty, if you prepare it right, not only will the fat render from your bird, the meat will be fork tender – no knives required! Also, for presentation, you can easily remove the entire breast with one cut!
Duck is a great option for special occasions, date nights, and even just for a change of pace!
A 6-7 pound duck will feed 3-4 people.
spices (I use garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt and Old Bay)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray your baking pan and wire rack with oil for easier cleanup.
Rinse your defrosted duck, making sure to remove all loose parts from the inside cavity, and dry well.
Using a very sharp knife – if you have a sharpener, give your knife a fresh blade – carefully score the duck skin diagonally, being careful not to cut through the skin into the meat. The bottom side will require much shallower cuts than the breast side, where the skin is more fatty.
Rub the inside with olive oil and spices. Using a lighter hand with the olive oil, do the same to the outside. A duck’s skin is fatty enough that you don’t actually have to use oil, and you certainly don’t have to baste the skin, but a light coat of oil helps the spices stick and keeps the meat moist and tender.
Even if your baking pan has a lid, cover the pan tightly with tinfoil. Your duck won’t take up as much room as a turkey, and cutting down on the cooking space helps it cook a little quicker, plus you can get a much tighter seal using tinfoil, which will help the meat practically steam off the bones.
Most ducks will have cooking instructions on the package. I’ve found the sweet spot is to bake them for about 22 minutes per pound.
When 1/2 hour of cooking time remains, carefully remove the tinfoil and let the duck roast uncovered.
And that’s it! Remove the duck from the pan, let it set for a few minutes, carve and serve!
When I cook this I’m just feeding two, so instead of carving the breast meat like a chicken or a turkey, I simply remove the entire breast in one stroke (possible because you just cooked a fork tender bird!) and serve it that way.
If you try it, please let me know if you liked it!
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!
1 box pasta
2 cups bone broth
1.5 cups milk
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 dozen clams
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!
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!
1 pound ground lamb
1 large shallot
6 large garlic cloves
yellow curry powder
1 tablespoon butter
Cheese Fondue Kit
1.5 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic
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.
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.
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!
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!
veal cutlets, 1-2 pounds
fresh, whole Portobello mushrooms
2 large shallots
5 cloves garlic
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. ***
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!
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).
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
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)
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.
Coconut Shrimp are one of those tropical treats that are hard to resist. But they’re breaded. And deep fried. And restaurants usually use sweetened coconut, so they’re sugary.
Then those dipping sauces! Orange Marmalade, Mango Sauce, Pina Colada Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce . . . you get the picture. All are delicious, but quickly turn a treat into a dietary disaster.
But I’m all about finding healthy ways to still have the foods I want, so I created this recipe for Baked Coconut Shrimp using unsweetened coconut flakes and almond flour instead of bread crumbs. I’ll be honest – it’s not as good as deep fried, sugar coated shrimp, but it is tasty, and best of all, it’s guilt free and kind to your body. So, here it is.
1-2 pounds shrimp, shells removed (you can leave tails on if you want)
eggs (I’ve found you need 1 egg for every 10 shrimp)
unsweetened coconut flakes (you’ll use most of an 8 ounce bag)
Old Bay Seasoning
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray both sides of an oven safe rack and the cooking side of a baking sheet with oil.
I work in batches because when you use an egg wash, things tend to get clumpy fast, so I use one egg at a time and mix the seasoned flour twice. You can add more coconut as you go along.
In one bowl, beat an egg.
In a second bowl, mix your almond flour with the garlic powder, onion powder, and Old Bay to taste.
In a third, fill with coconut flakes.
Dip your shrimp in the almond flour mix, then the egg wash, letting excess drip off, then cover in coconut. Place on the rack on top of the baking sheet so the shrimp can bake from both sides.
When all your shrimp are coated, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes for large shrimp (16-20 per pound), adjusting time accordingly for smaller or larger shrimp. If you want the shrimp equally crisp on both sides, you can flip them halfway through, but I’ve found you lose most of your coconut this way. They cook just fine (and it’s less work) if you don’t flip them.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. (I enjoy mine with a mustard based sauce.)
And there you have it! Coconut Shrimp with a fraction of the calories and fat, no fry oils, no sugar, no gluten, and no yeast.