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: 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: 6 Of My Favorite Things For A Happy (And Healthy) Foodie New Year

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

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:

  1. Is it First Cold-Pressed? Because that’s what you want.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The highest quality olive oils source their olives from a specific farm or location, and will tell you this information on the label.
  5. 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!

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!

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!

 

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