Friday’s Flavors: Easy (But Tasty) Mussels

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Mussels are one of the foods that I’ve found a lot of people like to eat, but tend to only do so when dining out – they want someone else to cook them. But it’s SO easy to do it yourself! This recipe works whether you want them plain or (if like me) you want to serve them over pasta!

Ingredients:

2 pounds mussels

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white wine

1 large shallot, chopped

8 large cloves garlic, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, pressed

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

2 large handfuls spinach

pasta

parmesan cheese

Preparation:

I think what turns a lot of people off about cooking mussels is the debearding, but it really isn’t that hard and doesn’t take that long. Rinse each mussel individually, making sure the shells are clean. As you do that, grab any whiskers that protrude from the seam of the shell and tug back and forth until they come free.

(Some people soak the mussels for 20 minutes in cold water to get them to release any sand they have in their shells – I’ve never done this and have never had any issues.)

Peel garlic. Chop shallots and some of the garlic. Add olive oil, butter and wine to a cooking container with a lid (braising pan, stock pot, large frying pan, etc.). Add shallots and chopped garlic. When shallots start becoming pale and translucent, add crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

Add mussels, stirring to coat with the mix, then cover. After a couple minutes, when the shells start opening, stir again and recover.

Mussels generally only take about 5 minutes to cook. If you decide you want to serve your mussels over pasta, I suggest adding some spinach for the last minute of cooking. And that’s it! Time to serve!

If you’re a cheese person, a little freshly grated parmesan compliments the flavor nicely.

(Mussels water down the mixture, making it more of a mild flavored broth than a sauce. I think it works nicely over pasta, but if you want something thicker and more flavorful, remove the mussels and spinach, add a little more wine, butter and garlic and reduce.)

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

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

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!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy, Tasty Fish (Paleo, Keto, Anti-Candida Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I eat a lot of seafood, but I can’t stand fishy flavors. Seriously. To me there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re eating fishing bait that’s been sitting out in the sun. But the catch is, if you stick with only milder flavored fish, you lose out on some of the health benefits found in those stronger tasting swimmers.

Red Snapper and Air Fried Spinach

And sure, you can make a fancy sauce to mask the flavor, or use copious amounts of condiments, which is great when it works (until you read the nutritional label on that bottle of YumYum sauce). But what if you have dietary restrictions, either self-imposed or medically necessary?

Then you’re stuck either suffering through the flavor or missing out on one of the foods you should be including in your diet. Or, you can give my quick, easy go-to that works well on every fish I’ve used it on a try. Bonus? It’s paleo, keto, anti-candida and I believe even celiac friendly.

Ingredients:

Fish of choice

Almond Flour

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Garlic Salt

Old Bay

Pepper

Olive Oil

Preparation:

Mix spices with almond flour. Proportion to your own taste: I usually go heavy on the Garlic and Onion Powders, light on the Salt and Pepper, and medium on the Old Bay. Amount will vary based on how many fillets or the size of the fillet you are preparing. I usually allow at least 1/4 cup of Almond Flour for every small fillet. And when I say I go heavy on a spice, it means pretty heavy, at least a tablespoon or more.

Rinse and dry fish. Dredge in your flour mixture.

Pour a small amount of Olive Oil in a non-stick pan and heat on medium high heat for thinner fillets, medium for thicker. When oil is hot, add fish. If the fillet has scales, begin with the scaled side down. If you’re cooking a thicker fillet, turn heat down to about a 4 after adding the fish.

You will need to add more oil as you cook – the secret to developing a nice crust is to use the minimal amount of oil. When the pan gets dry, add a dash more oil as needed.

Sea Bass and Oven Roasted Fennel

When the fish becomes cooked about 60% through (track the change in color as the cooked portion rises from the bottom to the top), flip. Cook until done. For a small fillet, this is usually 4 minutes on the first side, 3 on the second. For a thicker fillet, 12 and 8, and sometimes a minute or two on the sides and ends. Check to ensure doneness. Serve with a wedge of lemon if desired.

And that’s it! Much simpler than masking the flavor with a fancy sauce, much leaner than most condiments.

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

Check back next week for more Friday’s Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Conch Fritters With Key Lime Dipping Sauce

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

c5I really like a good conch fritter, but I feel like when you order them at a restaurant, they’re hit or miss. Sometimes they’re just a hard little ball of deep fried dough, other times the conch is hard and chewy, but when they’re done right, they’re tender and flavorful and oh so good – and they’re probably not nearly as hard to make at home as you think!

(The hardest part is getting conch, and while most recipes will tell you to use fresh, I’ve never had a problem using frozen.)

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound conch meat (fresh or defrosted)

1/2 bell pepper

1 large shallot

1-2 ribs celery

6 cloves garlic

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup eggs, beaten (2 large eggs will usually do)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 tablespoon Old Bay

a pinch of baking powder (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)

garlic salt to taste

peanut oil for frying (or oil of choice)

Key Lime Dipping Sauce:

1/2 lime

mayonnaise

(optional) crème of coconut

Preparation:

c6Finely chop the bell pepper, shallot and celery. Peel garlic and get the rest of your ingredients ready to go.

Beat the conch on both sides with the business end of a meat mallet. Dice into 1/4 inch pieces, then chop in a food processor for a few seconds.

cMix flour, milk, beaten eggs and melted butter together. Add baking powder, Old Bay and garlic salt, stirring until well mixed.

Add bell pepper, shallots, celery, crushed garlic and conch. Mix well with a fork, making sure to break up any clumps of conch.

Heat oil over medium high heat to about 350 degrees. If you don’t have a way to measure the temperature, slowly c3increase heat until the oil sizzles but not spits when you add a drop of water.

I like the fritters to take their own shape, kind of like alien sea creatures, so I use a fork to push a small spoonful off the spoon into the oil. Work in small batches, making sure to not overcrowd the fritters. When they turn a nice golden brown, remove with a metal slotted spoon and set on a baking sheet lined with a couple layers of paper towels to dry.

c4To make the dipping sauce, juice half a lime and add mayonnaise a little at a time until it reaches a nice consistency (it doesn’t taste like mayonnaise at all when you’re done). Bonus points for adding a touch of cream of coconut (you can find it in a squeeze bottle and it makes the BEST at home Pina Coladas!)

Serve with lime wedges. Cilantro makes the best garnish if you want to get fancy.

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

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Scallops And Pasta In Blue Cheese Cream Sauce

Hi, Foodies! Happy Friday!

sc1This week I was craving seafood pasta in a creamy cheese sauce, but I was feeling lazy – I didn’t feel like making a roux, or stirring constantly – I really just wanted to do minimal effort, tossing some ingredients together, while enjoying maximum flavor. This creamy blue cheese sauce is the solution!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound scallops (shrimp work well too!)

1 cup crumbled blue cheese (I get 1 cup from a 5oz container)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup dry white wine

2-4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

green onions to garnish

grated parmesan (optional)

Preparation:

sc2In a large pan combine olive oil with melted butter. Usually I’d say sear the scallops a couple of minutes on each size until they caramelize a nice, crusty brown, but I got a new pan and that didn’t happen this time. ūüė¶

But, cook your scallops (or shrimp) until almost done, then add white wine, crushed garlic, cream, and crumbled blue cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook several minutes to allow to reduce. (The sauce won’t thicken until it cools.)

Toss with your favorite pasta. Garnish with green onions and a handful of fresh parmesan if so desired. Then dig in!

If you make it, please let me know how you liked 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 ~ Easy Clam Pasta

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

c5Now, I’ve got to be honest about this – if you had told me even a year ago that I’d not only be eating a recipe made with canned clams, but loving it, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s not something we had in the house when I was growing up.

But . . . life happens.

I have low B12, and was taking weekly injections to help, but I started getting the worst muscle spasms. Turns out that synthesized B12 is made with my arch nemesis (and food sensitivity) yeast. So, I had to find ways to incorporate large amounts of B12 into my diet, and guess what has a ton of B12? Clams!

Even if you don’t have low B12, it’s not one of those vitamins where excess builds up in your system causing adverse effects, and it’s great for your energy levels and metabolism, so there’s no reason not to pack your diet full of B12.

Ingredients:

1 can of clams

1 large shallot

6 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup olives oil

nature’s seasoning or salt and pepper

pasta of choice

optional: shaker or fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preparation:

cc1Chop shallot and garlic. (I save all my largest garlic cloves for this recipe.) Add olive oil and butter to a large frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat, then add shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots are translucent.

Add drained clams, cooking until heated. Season to taste. Add pasta and mix. And that’s it. It really is so simple and even c2c3better, it tastes really good. This is one of the few recipes where I prefer shaker parmesan to fresh, but a bit of cheese really brings out the flavor of this dish!

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

c4

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavor ~ Cornbread Crab Cakes (Yeast Free)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

cc6I LOVE crab cakes, but they’re one of those things that are hit or miss. Either they’re great, or not so much, and with the price of crab, no one wants to risk making a recipe that could turn out on the not so much end of the spectrum. But this recipe is seriously good, so do it – take the risk! You won’t regret it!

Now first, I can’t take full credit for this recipe. I had just bought a container of lump crab meat (and FYI, the most important thing is a quality crab meat) and I had cornbread on hand (because I can eat it since it doesn’t have yeast, but I’m not a huge fan of it. Once I kill my initial bread craving with it, I don’t want anymore) so I Googled cornbread crab cakes to see if it was a thing.

What I found was Lawrence Page’s recipe over at Tasty, which I used as my inspiration. I’ve made the following recipe twice now, and even though it takes about an hour (45 minutes prep, 15-20 cooking),¬† I can’t wait to eat make it again!

Ingredients:

cornbread: 2 cups, crumbled (If you use the Jiffy mix, 2 cups is about 2/3 of the finished product)

orange or yellow bell pepper: 1/2 cup chopped small

green onion: 1/2 cup  (slice lengthwise and chop)

celery: 1 rib, minced

mayonnaise: 1/3 cup

sour cream: 1 and 1/2 tablespoon

cilantro: 2 heaping tablespoons

garlic: 4 cloves, crushed in a garlic press

eggs: 2 large, beaten

Old Bay seasoning: 1 and 1/2 tablespoons

garlic salt: to taste

olive oil: 2 teaspoons

fresh lump crabmeat: 1 pound

vegetable oil for frying (I use Canola Oil)

Preparation:

cc2Chop bell pepper, green onion, celery and cilantro and add to a large bowl.

Add 2 cups crumbled cornbread, and mix.

Next, add mayonnaise, sour cream, and beaten eggs.

Break up the crab meat and add.

cc1Top with crushed garlic, Old Bay, garlic salt and olive oil.

Combine ingredients together evenly, mixing with a fork or your hands.

Form into patties about 2.5 inches in diameter and place on wax paper.

Heat vegeatable oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When oil is ready (it sizzles when a drop of water is added), it’s time to begin!

ccUsing a metal spatula, transfer crab cake patties from the wax paper into the oil, working with about 4 at a time. Cook until golden bown, then flip. It usually takes about 2-3 minutes a side, but you might notice that with each batch, the cooking time gets a little shorter. I also turn the heat down a notch with each batch to keep the frying consistent.

When done, use spatual to transfer to a papertowel lined plate.

Makes 16 crab cakes at the above size.

If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think!

cc7

 

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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