Friday’s Flavors: Fried Green Tomatoes

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I’m not going to lie. The first time I tried making Fried Green Tomatoes years ago was because I love the movie (even more than the book, which is rare for me!).

But the reason I’ve kept making them is because I like the flavor. And while there are MANY different ways to make these, some more labor intensive than others, this recipe cuts down on the work without cutting down on the flavor!

Ingredients:

2-3 green tomatoes

2 cups bread crumbs

1.5 cups flour

2 eggs

salt

garlic powder

old bay

garlic salt

pepper

oil for frying (I use peanut)

Preparation:

Wash and slice tomatoes. Salt both sides and allow to sit for at least ten minutes.

While tomatoes are resting, lay out your flour and breadcrumbs. (For yeast free breadcrumbs, add a couple Pillsbury Crescent Rolls or Biscuits to a food processor. I’ve used rice ‘bread’ crumbs before, and they don’t have the best flavor.) Season both flour and breadcrumbs with the old bay, garlic powder, garlic salt, and pepper. In a small bowl, beat your eggs.

Heat your oil over medium high heat.

You’ll find your tomatoes are now sitting in a puddle of liquid. Wipe both sides of your tomatoes, removing the salt. Dredge in the flour, then the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs. I do them all at once and set them on a piece of wax paper, but you can dredge, dip and dredge as you go if you want.

Add your tomatoes to the oil, working in batches. You may have to turn the oil down in temperature as you go.

Remove from oil using a metal spatula or spoon and allow to dry on a paper towel lined plate. And that’s it!

For dipping sauces, I like ranch dressing mixed with chili powder or tzatziki. They taste best freshly fried, and while still tasty, will be a bit soggy the next day.

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: Best Ever Sugar Cookies With Butter Frosting

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!

Ingredients:

CHRISTMAS COOKIES

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

Preparation:

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.

Ingredients:

BUTTER FROSTING

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

food coloring

sprinkles and decorations as desired

Preparation:

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 put these in tins and give them to friends and family!

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!)

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: One Pan Creamy Pasta With Clams

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

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!

Ingredients:

1 box pasta

2 cups bone broth

1.5 cups milk

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Old Bay

garlic powder

garlic salt

2 dozen clams

Preparation:

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!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Fork Tender Veal Marsala

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

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!

Ingredients:

veal cutlets, 1-2 pounds

fresh, whole Portobello mushrooms

2 large shallots

5 cloves garlic

olive oil

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. ***

Preparation:

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!

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

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Delicious Stuffed Clams

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

To me, Stuffed Clams are one of those comfort foods that I could eat all the time. The flavor, the consistency, there’s nothing about them that I don’t like – except for that long list of ingredients in the store bought ones. And since they include breadcrumbs, I can’t order them at restaurants because of the yeast.

Luckily, over the years I’ve managed to find a way to satisfy my food cravings working around dietary restrictions. Pillsbury biscuits are leavened with baking soda instead of yeast (thank you, Pillsbury!!!). I bake them according to the directions, break into chunks which I let get stale over a day or two, then put them in a food processor to get the fine texture of store bought bread crumbs.

Armed with the one ingredient that’s hard for me to find, this recipe has become a favorite at my house! It is labor intensive, so I usually make enough for 2 or three dinners, but they freeze wonderfully and taste just as good when defrosted overnight and reheated at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

The amount of your ingredients will depend on the size of your clams and how many you are making. I’m including amounts for up to 2 dozen large (4 inch) clams. I usually have to work in batches for both steaming and using the food processor, so I split the ingredients accordingly.

Ingredients:

1-2 dozen large clams (cherry, chowder, Quahog or top neck)

1-2 large shallots

1/2 to 1 bell pepper (orange or yellow)

3-6 green onions

1-3 celery ribs

4-10 cloves garlic

3-6 tbsp butter

1/2-1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

Old Bay seasoning

garlic salt

paprika

Preparation:

Scrub the clam shells to remove any dirt and debris, then steam until they are open. You may have to work in batches. I line a baking sheet with tinfoil and set the cooked clams on there to cool while I’m steaming the next batch.

Peel garlic. Chop shallots, bell pepper, green onions, and celery. In a large frying pan, cook vegetables in just enough butter to keep ingredients moist. Add crushed garlic. Set aside when done.

(If I’m making 2 dozen large clams, I have to split the ingredients into thirds to use my food processor. Using a spatula, I usually separate the cooked vegetables into three even portions in the pan. If the clams are smaller, two even portions.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove cooked clams from their shells, setting the shells aside for later use. I usually remove the muscle attachments, as these tend to be tough and chewy.

Separate the two halves of the shells. You won’t need both halves, so choose the shells that are best for stuffing. Rinse again to remove any remaining grit.

Put the clams in the food processor. Add vegetables.

(If I’m splitting into three batches, I put 1/3 of the clams and 1/3 of the vegetables into the food processor at a time. Likewise 2 batches means half the clams and half the vegetables.)

Now comes the tricky part. The trick is that you don’t want to use more breadcrumbs than you have to. There is no set amount because some clams are ‘juicier’ than others. I suggest you start sparingly – you can always add more. Using both the chop and grind option on the food processor, mix the ingredients together.

When the mixture is a nice moist – but not wet – consistency, thick enough to stick to a spoon but not so dry that it starts caking, add the Old Bay and garlic salt to taste. (If you add too many breadcrumbs, add a splash of chicken stock or melted butter.)

Next, stuff the clam shells with your mixture and place on a baking sheet. (I use the same tinfoil covered baking sheet I use to cool the steamed clams, just give it a wipe with a paper towel and it’s good to go.) You many need to use more than one baking sheet to accommodate all your clams.

Once clams are stuffed, melt some butter and spoon a little over each clam. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tops start to brown. Serve with lemon, Dijon mustard, and/or cocktail suce.

If you make it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another flavorful recipe!

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