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!

Friday’s Flavors: Hacked! Starbuck’s Egg Sous Vide Bites

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

e4I’ve been working on this recipe for a while because:

  1. I think Starbuck’s Bacon and Gruyere egg bites are delicious.
  2. I refuse to buy a sous vide machine just to make them.
  3. It took me a while to figure out the details (cooking temperature, proportions, etc.) to reach both a flavor and degree of simplicity I was happy with.

The result of my labors is a tasty and easy version you can make at home using nothing fancier than a food processor (or blender) and a muffin tin. The best part is, because of the way the proportions turned out, there’s no fussy math needed if you decide you want to make 2 or 12.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

eggs (half as many as the egg bites you want when finished)

cottage cheese (Yep. Starbuck’s egg bites are more cottage cheese than egg.)

salt

bacon (the precooked, bagged, chopped bacon in the salad dressing section is fine)

cheese of choice (I used an aged gouda)

Preparation:

ePreheat oven to 325 degrees.

This is super easy. You use half as many eggs as the egg bites you want when finished, so if you want 2 egg bites, use 1 egg, if you want 12 egg bites, use 6 eggs.

Break the eggs into a measuring cup. Take note of the amount, then put the eggs in a food processor (or blender). Fill the measuring cup to slightly above the level where the eggs reached with cottage cheese (so if you’re using 1/2 cup eggs, use 1/2 cup plus a heaping spoonful of cottage cheese.) Add the e1cottage cheese to the food processor. Add a pinch of salt and mix together.

Spray oil in the muffin pan cups. Sprinkle bacon at the bottom. Spoon in egg/cottage cheese mixture until about 3/4 full. Top with a generous pinch of the cheese.

My oven runs a bit hot, but my egg bites were perfectly cooked after 17 minutes. I would suggest checking at 15 minutes, and keeping an eye on them until they’re done. Jiggle the muffin pan, and if the egg bites wiggle in the middle, they need more e4time. If you think they’re done, but you’re not sure, a butter knife inserted into the center should come out clean.

(Don’t worry if the tops puff up, they’ll settle as they cool.)

Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then cover with parchment paper and flip. Using a butter knife, trace the edges of any egg bites that don’t come out on their own to free them.

Enjoy immediately, or allow to cool before storing and reheat when ready.

If you try it, please let me know what you think!

Check back next Friday for another recipe!

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Mediterranean Sautéed Zucchini With Cilantro And Onions

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

z5I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who gets tired of eating the same old vegetables the same old ways. I need plenty of freshness and adventure, especially where veggies are concerned. That said, I don’t want to spend my life in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove just so I don’t have to eat another boring salad.

This recipe is the solution to all that! It takes about 15 minutes to make, and an added bonus is that is actually tastes better when you let it cool to luke warm, so it’s a great dish to make ahead of time when you’re going to have all your burners going making your main course.

Ingredients: (For Two Servings)

1 oversized or 2 smaller zucchinis

1 small sweet Vidalia onion

2 large garlic cloves

1 handful fresh cilantro

1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon paprika (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon cumin (or more to taste)

1/4 cup water

olive oil

Preparation:

zChop zucchini. I cut it in half longways, third the halves, then cut rectangular pieces because I like the shape. Try to keep the pieces uniform in size for consistent cooking.

Chop onions and cilantro, wash and cut lemon, and peel garlic.

Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to a pan. (If at any point you feel you need to add more, z1do so.) Add zucchini and cook over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Turn heat down to medium and add onion, sautéing until translucent.

This next step is important. Add the paprika and cumin, and immediately (as in, have it ready at hand) add the water so the spices don’t burn. The water also helps the zucchini to finish cooking.

z3When the water is absorbed and the zucchini is cooked (you should be able to cut a piece in half easily with your cooking utensil), add crushed garlic, toss until mixed and fragrant, then remove pan from heat. Add cilantro and the juice from 1/2 lemon, stir, then plate to allow to cool.

To give you an idea of how much this recipe makes, the bowl in the picture at the top is the same size used to serve miso soup.

As always, if you make it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another recipe!

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Mediterranean Langoustine Seafood Pasta

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

m11By 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.

Ingredients:

8 oz langoustines (or shrimp, scallops, etc.)

1 large shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, pressed

sundried tomatoes

Kalamata olives

capers

fresh basil

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

Preparation:

m2mI’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 IMG_202007201_174338and basil, peel garlic, and gather the rest of your ingredients.

m3While 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 m4m5straining 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.

                         m7 m8 m10

If you make it, I’d love to know how you liked it!

For more recipes, check the archives or come back next Friday!

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!

 

 

 

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