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!
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.
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!)
Pepper to Taste
Garlic Salt to Taste
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!
Today I’m sharing with you the number one thing I get asked to make by people who don’t live in my house – once someone tries it, they invariably want it again. And again. And again.
And what is this addictive flavor that people can’t get enough of, you may ask? Surely it involves chocolate, right? Wrong. The number one dish I get asked to contribute to covered dish dinners is my Caesar Salad dressing!
And it isn’t even my recipe, but a variation on one my mom made all the time when I was little! But, it’s easy and delicious, and every time I taste it I fall in love with it all over again!
Note: This dressing is big on flavor!!!
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh pepper (about 20 twists or 1 tsp)
1-3 cloves garlic
3 dashes Tabasco
1-2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar (red wine for a milder flavor, balsamic for more bite)
lemon juice to taste (1/4 to 1/2 lemon)
2 hardboiled egg yolks
fresh parmesan cheese
(makes about 3/4 cup dressing)
Preparation: Add the ingredients as listed above. I usually make this in a measuring cup to facilitate easy pouring afterwards. (I also don’t measure anything when I make this, but have had to crack my own recipe because so many people have asked for it.)
Hard boil 2 eggs.
Add pepper to olive oil. Add crushed garlic. Add tabasco, mustard, Worcestershire, vinegar and lemon juice. (I use balsamic vinegar because it makes for a tangier dressing. My mom always used red wine vinegar, which I believe is the traditional choice. There’s still plenty of flavor with the red wine vinegar.)
Stir with a fork. Add the hard boiled egg yolks. Crush the egg against the side of the glass with the fork. Mix. Keep crushing and mixing until the fork tines stop catching egg chunks.
This makes a nice, thick dressing. My mom used to squeeze a dollop of anchovy paste into the mix, but I stopped doing this years ago and the taste doesn’t seem to suffer – if there’s one thing this dressing has plenty of, it’s flavor!
When I was younger, I used it on everything – steak, chicken, other vegetables (who am I kidding, I still do!).
Mix dressing with romaine lettuce, fresh parmesan, and croutons, or allow each individual to pour dressing on their own salad. You can even chop the leftover egg whites and add them to the salad because this dressing seriously tastes good on everything!
By 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.
8 oz langoustines (or shrimp, scallops, etc.)
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
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
I’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 and basil, peel garlic, and gather the rest of your ingredients.
While 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 straining 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.
If you make it, I’d love to know how you liked it!
For more recipes, check the archives or come back next Friday!