Friday’s Flavors: Baked Tomato And Eggplant Caprese

Hi, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Sometimes, inspiration just strikes like a bolt of lightening. Other times, it happens because you have food on hand that you don’t want to waste. This recipe was born from one of those times.

I brought home a beautiful graffiti eggplant because, even though I already had a vegetable I was supposed to cook with dinner, I’m weak when it comes to pretty veggies! I also had a tomato threatening to die in the vegetable drawer and a lovely block of smoked mozzarella that came with a cheese basket we were gifted for Christmas. Put them all together and a new favorite recipe is born!

Great as an appetizer, vegetable, or salad course!

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

1 tomato

mozzarella chesse

about 1/2 cup olive oil

3 cloves crushed garlic

fresh basil

seasoning

optional: balsamic drizzle

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and slice eggplant and tomato.

Mix crushed garlic with about a half cup of olive oil (you can always add more) and seasoning. I used Nature’s Seasoning because it’s a flavorful combination and saves time, but the staples are salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Dip eggplant and tomato slices into olive oil mixture coating well (use that garlic!), and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove baking sheet and place a thin slice of mozzarella on eggplant slices. Put tomato slices on top of cheese and eggplant, then top with another thin slice of cheese.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with fresh basil. Serve.

It’s great as it is, but drizzling a little balsamic glaze takes this recipe to an entirely new level!

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

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: Greek Mediterranean Chicken Kabobs

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I love Greek food! The spices, the garlic, the flavors . . . there’s nothing I don’t like about it! And since the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest, there’s no guilt about it – just pleasure!

This recipe is super easy and big on flavor! I simply marinate the chicken overnight, and in return I’m rewarded with the most tender, tasty kabobs a girl could want!

Score major flavor points by serving this with large quantities of garlic sauce! For that, I don’t have my own recipe, I use the one found here.

Ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 red onion

1/4 lemon juice (1 large lemon)

2 tbsp. olive oil

8 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. clove

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. garlic salt

Preparation:

Cut chicken into 1-2″ cubes. Mix all ingredients together. Add chicken, coating well, and place in refrigerator overnight. A large, gallon sized plastic bag works great.

The next day, remove from the refrigerator and place on skewers alternating with pieces of red onion. (I skewer them over the sink to help contain the mess!)

Grill until cooked thoroughly. That’s it!

I eat mine with copious amounts of garlic sauce because Garlic sauce is one of my favorite things, but these kabobs pack plenty of their own flavor. Goes great with zucchini sautéed with similar spices and couscous.

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

Check back next week for another Friday Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Indian Style Spinach Curry

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I’m always looking for ways to add healthy ingredients and delicious flavors into my diet, and I love trying new things! I also love Indian food, but I’m a spice wimp, so I often have to make it myself.

This curry spinach recipe is super healthy and is made with ingredients that pack a nutritional punch, from the fresh ginger to the cilantro to everything in between.

To make it VEGAN, simply replace the butter with more olive oil and substitute vegetable broth in lieu of the bone broth.

Tip 1: You don’t have to use fresh grated turmeric, it doesn’t add to the flavor, but it has some awesome health benefits. If you do use it, though, wear gloves to keep your hands from being stained, and don’t let it touch any surface you don’t want turned yellow!

Tip 2: When peeling roots such as ginger or turmeric, you can use the back of a spoon – no knife or peeler needed – the outside will easily flake off like a husk or tree bark.

Tip 3: SPICE: The amount of garam marsala you use will determine how spicy this dish is. I use 1 tsp, which creates a dish as spicy as I can handle, but again, when it comes to spicy, I’m a wimp!

Tip 4: This recipe works best with tomato paste, but if you don’t want to open a can just for this, tomato/spaghetti/marinara sauce can work in a pinch, just adjust the amount of broth you use based on the consistency of your tomato product so the dish doesn’t become runny.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Serves: 4

Ingredients:

8+ ounces spinach

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup bone broth OR vegetable broth for vegetarian and vegan (See Tip 3 above)

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp tomato paste or sauce (See Tip 4 above)

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (See Tip 2 above)

2 tsp fresh grated turmeric (optional) (See Tip 1 & 2 above)

1 tbsp butter (replace with equal amount olive oil for vegan)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp yellow curry

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

garam marsala: to taste (See Tip 3 above)

Preparation:

Melt 1 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Add onions and cook until almost translucent. Add crushed garlic, mix until fragrant, then add fresh ginger and turmeric. Mix well.

*REMEMBER If you choose to use fresh turmeric, wear gloves to avoid staining your hands and don’t let it touch other stainable surfaces!

Turn heat down to medium. Add tomato paste or sauce. Add spices and bone broth, mixing well.

Add cilantro and spinach, stirring and mixing well until spinach is cooked.

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 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: Oven Roasted Duck

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

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.

Ingredients:

1 duck

olive oil

spices (I use garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt and Old Bay)

Preparation:

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!

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: Baked Coconut Shrimp (Keto And Paleo Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

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.

Ingredients:

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)

almond flour

unsweetened coconut flakes (you’ll use most of an 8 ounce bag)

garlic powder

onion powder

Old Bay Seasoning

Preparation:

In order of use.

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.

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

Check back next Friday for another 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!

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