The Easiest Shrimp/Seafood Scampi Ever!

If ever I want to make my husband flip out with excitement, I announce that I’m making this dish. It’s his favorite and I love to make him happy! Here is how easy it is!

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Classic shrimp scampi doesn’t involve marinating the shrimp, nor does it involve tomatoes or basil, but I’m not making classic shrimp scampi here. This is a little recipe I made up in order to make life a little more simple and believe me, there is nothing more simple than this dish!

I usually start with a pound (or more) of Red Rock shrimp (because we like it best). Red Rock shrimp are brighter in color and have a consistency closer to lobster. We buy this at Trader Joe’s, but if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area and you can’t find it, by all means just use regular shrimp (peeled and de-veined, of course.)

To a one gallon zip lock bag, I add the shrimp, plus a half cup of olive oil, about about six garlic cloves, minced, fresh cracked pepper and just a pinch of salt. Smoosh it around in the bag so all of the shrimp it coated and then set aside for at least a half hour. I leave it right on the kitchen counter. (Shhhh, it’s fine. I promise. You won’t die.)

Next the pasta pot gets filled with water and salt and brought up to a rolling boil. We like to use angel hair pasta for this recipe because it cooks very quickly (about ten minutes), but you can use whatever pasta you love.  Once I’ve dropped the pasta, I prepare a cast iron skillet with two tablespoons of real butter (never use anything but 100% full fat, real butter!) melting over medium high heat.

When the butter has melted, I pour the contents of the shrimp bag, (olive oil and all), right into the skillet. Using a spatula, I quickly distribute the shrimp so they are in a single layer. Shrimp cook very quickly -literally just a couple of minutes- so it’s important to watch them closely and turn them over as soon as they are becoming pink and opaque.

If this were a regular shrimp scampi recipe, wine would be added early  into this mix, but I am not a fan of cooking with wine, so I ignore this step. Instead I like to pop in some pretty tomatoes right after the shrimp goes in and then fresh basil towards the end. Make sure to continue stirring frequently so the shrimp are not over-cooked.

I said this was seafood scampi, correct? This is because my dear husband, Charlie, likes to sneak off to Trader Joe’s and buy things I would never even consider looking at. For instance; this stuff:

Frozen-Seafood-Mix

I would never have even looked at this, let alone purchased it, but it made him happy, so he did. I obliged him by thawing it out and adding it right into the skillet at the same time I put in the shrimp. (No marinade for the seafood.)

See how colorful these shrimp are? In this photo, they are about 95% cooked. I love how they retain their pretty color. Regular shrimp do turn pink but not like this!

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Finally, I take the skillet off the heat and give the dish a stir as I add in the fresh basil. You might notice that there is no photo of this step. This is because I didn’t have a lot of the fresh basil this time. Oh and by the way, your tomatoes might not smile like mine. I’m magic. You’re probably not magic. ♥

Once the pasta is finished cooking, it gets tossed in with the garlic sauce and seafood, then plated and sprinkled with a little fresh Parmesan cheese.

Finito!

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Ingredients:

½ cup of olive oil

½ Teaspoon cracked black pepper

¼ Teaspoon salt

2-3 Tablespoons butter

6 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 lbs. Red Rock Shrimp, thawed (peeled & deveined)

1 pkg. Pana Pesca Seafood Mix (Optional. You can sub in any seafood mix you like or don’t do it at all.)

¼ cup fresh basil (torn)

¼ cup Parmesan (finely grated)

10-12 cherry tomatoes (optional & use however many you prefer)

¼ – ½ lb. angel hair pasta

 

Directions:

To a one gallon zip-lock bag add the shrimp, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Smoosh it around making sure the shrimp is coated. Set aside for at least half an hour. I do not refrigerate the shrimp, but you can if you are afraid.

Prepare pasta according to instructions on the box. (Boil water, add salt, and add pasta…yada yada…)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet set to medium high. When the pan is hot, drop in the contents of the gallon bag. (If you are making seafood scampi-add the additional seafood as well.) Quickly distribute the shrimp so they are in a single layer in the pan. Add the tomatoes. Continue stirring keeping careful watch on the shrimp. They are finished when they are pink and opaque. The whole process takes about 2-3 minutes on each side, but it can happen faster, so watch carefully.

Once the shrimp are just about cooked, I like to add one more tablespoon of butter and the basil, then stir once more and remove from the heat. Add a final pinch of freshly cracked pepper.

Drain the pasta, mix it in with the scampi.

Garnish with grated Parmesan and a little more pretty basil!

Enjoy!

Tricked Out Eggplant Parmesan Towers!

Oh my GOODNESS, look at THIS!

Lately I have been trying to make friends with egg plant. Try as I may, I have never liked it. Conversely, my husband loves it and is often disappointed when he suggests it for dinner and I poo-poo the idea. A few days ago I decided to try my hand at making faux bacon using slices of eggplant. It was a hit and I actually loved it. I will make it again.

The recipe was so simple, it’s almost ridiculous. I posted it the other day.  Click here. Also did you notice flat “Groot” in the last piece? Yeah, that wasn’t planned.

Because I liked this so much, I decided to buy some more eggplant and see what else I could possibly love about it. Enter, “Tricked Out Eggplant Parmesan”. I like just about anything fried, so why not! I have to give credit to Trisha Yearwood because I saw her show on the Food Network and she made Eggplant Parmesan stacks. I thought they looked really pretty, so this was the inspiration for my dish.

This recipe starts by slicing the eggplant into rounds. I salted them on both sides and set them up on a wire rack for thirty minutes. Then they get towel dried and dredged in the traditional, seasoned flour, egg and Italian breadcrumb mixture.

I made a quick, cheater version of marinara sauce (and I do mean quick AND cheater cheater pumpkin eater!) I cut up an onion into a medium large dice and sautéed it in some olive oil and fresh garlic; then I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, Italian seasoning, one large can of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes and shhhhh!…a jar of prepared Marinara. (My favorite brand is by Chef Emeril Lagasse. I love his tomato basil sauce!) I threw in the rind of my last Parmesan wedge and also two basil stems with the leaves and all-then it simmered for about half an hour. I was shocked at how good it was. I was even more shocked that Charlie raved over it. (He is an Italian gravy snob from Chicago.)

Then comes the frying of the eggplant. I heated the oil in my cast iron skillet to 350 degrees, which is the optimal temperature for deep frying. (I never deep fry without a thermometer.) The eggplant cooks very quickly; about a minute on each side. After this, it’s just a matter of salting them while they are still hot and dabbing them with paper towels to get rid of the excess oil.

Now comes the really fun part: stacking them! First a slice of eggplant, then sauce, then grated cheese (I used a combination of Mozzarella, Fontina and fresh Parmesan), then a big fat basil leaf! Repeat twice but leave off the basil leaf from the top or it will burn. Then bake these beautiful creatures!

I made a side dish of fettuccine, but it was too much. One of these stacks is a meal in itself, so next time we’ll just have a nice salad and call it a day.

Well, did I like it or not? Resoundingly I say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! This recipe is a keeper and I really loved my cheater sauce. It was yummy and so easy.

It looks like a lot of work but truly, it’s all easy stuff. Give it a try!


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning.
1 small Parmesan rind
1 15-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 jar prepared marinara (your favorite)
1 bunch fresh basil
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 large eggs
4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
One 1-pound eggplant, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (about 24 slices)
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese. 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese.
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan

 

 

Directions:

To make a “cheater cheater pumpkin eater” marinara sauce, place a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened , about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the diced tomatoes, including their juice, to the pot. Stir to combine. Add 1 whole stem of fresh basil leaves, plus the Italian Seasonings. Throw in the Parmesan rind. (If you don’t have one, you can sprinkle in some grated Parmesan cheese.) Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium low. Allow the sauce to cook and reduce while you work on everything else.

Pour the vegetable oil into a Dutch oven  and attach a deep-frying thermometer. Heat the oil over medium heat to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and top with a cooling rack.

Assemble a three dish dredging station: To the first dish, add the flour, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. In the second dish, beat the eggs. To the third dish, add the breadcrumbs (I add extra seasoning here. You can even add some grated Parmesan here and it would be delicious.)

Dredge both sides of the eggplant slices in the seasoned flour. Then, dip the eggplant slices into the egg. Then, coat the eggplant in the breadcrumbs evenly on both sides.

Working in batches, carefully place the breaded eggplant into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy, about 40-50 seconds per side. Transfer to the cooling rack on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice generously with salt. Continue until all the eggplant has been fried.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the basil stem from the marinara sauce.

Remove the paper towels from the baking sheet. Build towers on the cooling rack: Top a slice of eggplant with 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce, 1 tablespoon mozzarella, 1 tablespoon Parmesan and 1 basil leaf. Place a second piece of eggplant on top and repeat this process. Top the tower with a third piece of eggplant and repeat only with sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan (no basil). Repeat this process to create 8 towers on the cooling rack.

Bake until the cheese is melted and slightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Transfer the towers to a serving platter. Garnish each eggplant tower with a fresh basil leaf and serve immediately.

I made four of these towers. We ate two of them and refrigerated the others for the next day’s lunch. They were just as delicious re-heated.

 

Smokey Potato Leek Soup ala Sickly Baba!

Ever since I started making my own soups, I have a hard time with any type of canned soup. (This is mainly because the stuff in the cans is so full of sodium and fat and yet it still tastes bland to me.)Today I made a Smokey potato-leek soup that turned out really well. Here is the recipe.

I am on my second go around with sickness. Thankfully, it’s just a virus, and I’m feeling better today, yet I am still not really into eating anything but mild food. That being said, after having not eaten a thing but saltines yesterday, this morning I woke up feeling hungry for chicken noodle soup. Ordinarily, I would have made my own, but I’m sick, remember? Charlie pulled out a can of chunky chicken noodle and lovingly made it for me. (He takes such good care of me even when I’m not sick. I am Blessed!) I was happy to eat it (and that it stayed down), but it reminded me of why I like to make my own soups. It was borderline tasteless, brimming with sodium and fat and the noodles tasted like rubber.

Now I don’t know what to think of myself. Have I become a food snob? I used to love chunky chicken noodle soup!

This afternoon while Charlie was at the gym, I reached that stage of illness where you are really still too sick and weak to do much; yet you are so bored, your brain tells you it’s okay to get up and go make a pot of homemade soup. (After all, it’s not that hard.) I have a butternut squash sitting on the counter waiting to be cut up and roasted and turned into a beautiful, creamy soup, but instead I focused my attention on the ever present leeks in my fridge. I pulled them out, cut them up and threw them into a bowl of cold water to be certain there was no sand. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped about two and a half pounds of russet potatoes. (Why? Because if I didn’t, they were bound to start sprouting any day. We don’t eat a ton of russets.) It bears reporting that I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes in soups, but this is what I had on hand. Use what you have on hand, people!

Next, the leeks got drained, dried; then sautéed in some olive oil and butter for just a short time. Afterward, I added the potatoes, seasonings, and then six cups of chicken stock. The top went on and I let it boil for about thirty minutes-until everything was soft enough to blend.

At this point I was feeling accomplished and it dawned on me that we had a pound of bacon that also needed to be used before it was wasted. What better thing to do then to make some bacon as a garnish, right? I always make my bacon on a sheet pan with a rack, so this too, is really easy to do. I was just about to lay the stuff out in strips when I remembered having seen one of those Facebook videos that showed bacon being weaved together so it would form a perfect square for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. OMG! Genius! I just happened to have a big juicy tomato on the counter and some lettuce in the fridge. Poof! Done! I weaved that bacon like a professional bacon weaver and into the oven it went.

I was so proud when it came out looking pretty! (Seriously, I was envisioning the Instagram praise-fest about to happen! I am a sick girl and not in a good way.) I decided to take some of the smaller pieces of cooked bacon and drop them into the the soup for a little more Smokey flavor. See them?

Truth to be told: I did all of this today…but I made frequent trips to the couch to pass out, drink ice water, take my temperature, cough, etc. See that last soup photo? It’s not even hot. I just forgot to take the money shot so I fudged it. Now I am back, dying on the couch, but this blog is scheduled to go. LOL! (I really did love this soup, however.)

This photo below; now that’s actually hot soup! LOL!


Ingredients:

2.5 pounds potatoes peeled and cut (I used russets but Yukon golds are better.)

3 large leaks sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (REAL butter)

6 cups low sodium chicken broth (that’s two 32 oz cartons)

1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon raw honey

2 pieces of cooked bacon crumbled

1/4 cup cream

3 tablespoons full fat sour cream

Juice of half a lemon

Salt & fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1) Clean and slice leeks

2) Peel and cut potatoes (If you use Yukon Gold, skip peeling. It isn’t necessary.)

3) Heat olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven (medium high heat) Sauté leeks for about five minutes. Salt & pepper.

4) Add potatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, more cracked pepper. Stir.

5) Add chicken broth and bacon pieces. Turn up heat, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and put the lid on. Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to be blended.

6) When the vegetables are tender, turn off heat, remove bay leaves, stir in honey and allow to cool with the lid on about 30 minutes.

7) Pull out and mash (or rough chop) about a cup of the potatoes. Set aside.

8) Add cream and sour cream. Stir. Then blend with an immersion blender (This is what I use.) Add the reserved potatoes back in with the juice of half a lemon.

9) Taste. We like our soup spicy, so I usually add more cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.

10) Stir and cover. Turn the heat back onto low. Let the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Note: The best garnish in the world for this soup are caramelized onions! Also great: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions


PS- I ended up making a grilled cheese sandwich with the bacon lattice for Charlie. (By the time he came home from the gym, I was way too tired and over-extended to make TWO. I didn’t need a sandwich. I needed to be in bed.)

I present the Cha-Cha approved bacon, tomato, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese on Sourdough bread grilled cheese:

What’s that? Eggplant Disguised as BACON?

Let it be known that I have always hated eggplant. I made this recipe and I can now say that I was wrong. There is ONE way I’ll eat it and this is when it’s disguised as bacon! This stuff is great. Here’s how easy it is to make!

This will be short and sweet.

Make this. You will be shocked over how great it is!

The End.

PS- You’re welcome

Slice up the eggplant, paint the sauce on both sides and bake! How much easier can it be?


Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. Hot sauce

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: Some people use maple syrup in this recipe. I really do not use a lot of sweet in my recipes so I left it out. If you want it, however, use 1/4 teaspoon.

Directions:

1 Preheat oven to 400°.

2 Slice eggplant lengthwise into just shy of quarter inch thick strips. Cut off the skin. (It’s easier than peeling ahead of time)

3 In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, smoked paprika, and liquid smoke. (Maple syrup optional)

4 Place eggplant slices onto a baking sheet and brush both sides with sauce. Season with cracked pepper.

5 Bake until eggplant is cooked through and beginning to get crisp, 35 – 40 minutes.

Enjoy!

See ya tomorrow!

Stuff Your Face with THIS! Spaghetti Squash.

This is the only stuffed spaghetti squash recipe I’ve ever loved so much that I will make again. You’re welcome.

I am not really one who likes to get crazy with my vegetables, especially spaghetti squash. I’ve tried it in place of spaghetti with red sauce and I was underwhelmed. My favorite way to make it is to simply roast it with butter, salt, pepper and a bit of garlic. Occasionally I might mix in some steamed vegetables, but by and large I am a Plain Jane Spaghetti squash girl.

The other day I was watching the Food Network (Surprising, I know.) and on “The Kitchen”, Katie Lee made a spaghetti squash stuffed with chicken and steamed broccoli in a lightened version of Alfredo Sauce. (If you want to look up her recipe it’s called: “Chicken and Broccoli Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash”). It looked really good and since I happened to have a very small squash sitting on my counter, I decided to test my own version.

Let it be said here that I am a full fat, real butter, no fake stuff cook, so I knew immediately that I would not be making a lightened version of Alfredo sauce. I also hate sauces made with any type of cream cheese. No. Instead, I would make my tried and true sauce and perhaps not use a ton of it so as not to over power the delicate squash. I also didn’t like the idea of adding chicken to it. (Of course, that might have been because I knew I had two chicken breasts already pounded into cutlets that I intended to pan fry.)

The first step is to cut the squash in half. I keep seeing people say that it’s so hard to cut a squash and that it’s easier to microwave them first. Nope. I hate the microwave and with a sharp knife, it’s NOT hard to cut a squash. While I am on the subject of cutting squash, let me just say here that it’s NOT hard to work with butternut squash either. Just use a vegetable peeler (the kind you  peel carrots with) to remove the skin, then cut it up. It’s simple!

I digress. Cut the squash in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little garlic. I also used some beautiful Bourbon smoked paprika because it’s one of my new favorite spices, but that is optional. Here is what they look like before they get turned upside down to roast.

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Preheat the oven to 400, turn them cut side down, and bake them for 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure they are fork tender and the strands easily flake out with a fork. Be careful with the shells because they are going to become the vessel for this dish.

While the shells are cooking, cut up a head of broccoli and steam it until it’s bright green and a little tender. It’s okay to under cook it a bit because it’s going to go back into the oven later.

Then make the Alfredo sauce and combine it with the broccoli and spaghetti squash. Stuff all of it right back into the shells.

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At this point, I sprinkled mine with some more pepper and paprika. I honestly could have put these right in the oven under the broiler without adding anything else and I think they would have been fantastic. Instead, I added a layer of cheese.

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I grated what I had on hand which was Fontina and Parmesan. You can substitute whatever white cheese you have or like. Then they go under the broiler until brown and bubbly.

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I don’t really know how anyone eats an entire half of one of these. Honestly. I put mine on the plate thinking it was so small, it would be gone in a flash, but I could only finish half of it. Hubs and I put hot sauce on just about everything, so that is what you see on top of it with some chopped parsley to garnish.

We’re also addicted to those tomatoes which is why you always see them in my photos. Seriously, they are that delicious. They are called “Flavor Bomb Cherry Tomatoes”. We buy them at Sam’s Club, but I’m sure you can google them and find where they are in your area. So good! (and no they didn’t pay me to say this.)

Flavor Bomb Cherry tomatoes

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • 1 head of broccoli cut up into florets
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 stick of butter (REAL butter!)
  • 2 & 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina (Use Mozzarella if you like it better)
  • 2 teaspoons smoky paprika (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated garlic

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, carefully cut the squash in half horizontally. Scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the inside with olive oil, salt & pepper, granulated garlic and smoky paprika (optional). Place in a baking dish or on a baking sheet cut side down. Roast for 45 minute to an hour until fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a bowl and prepare an ice water bath. Blanch the broccoli briefly in the boiling water, then transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside.

With a large fork, pull the squash fibers away from the outer peel (use a towel to hold the squash in place if necessary). Reserve the squash and the shells. (Shell will be your cooking vessel.)

Preheat the broiler to low.

Make the Alfredo sauce. (I will look away if you want to use your favorite jarred Alfredo but honestly, it’s so easy and tastes so much better to use your own!) Here is how:

In a saucepan, warm the butter and cream. Add the smashed garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Parmesan and stir until melted. (What the WHAT! That was SO HARD!)

Now toss the broccoli and squash with the sauce. Add in some more pepper. Divide the mixture into the two empty shells and top with grated cheese.

Place the stuffed squash onto a baking sheet and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Keep watch after about 3 minutes. I left mine in about five minutes, but your broiler might be stronger than mine.


See ya tomorrow!

 

Sexy Zucchini Leek Pie drives my husband wild!

I confess. I am a reformed recipe hoarder/waster.

I used to go through my favorite foodie magazines ripping out recipes I fully intend to try, only to have them get thrown into my kitchen “drawer of death”, resurfacing years later to be thrown straight into the recycle bin. Thanks to the Internet, if I see something I love and want to make later, I usually just google it later.

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I confess. I am a reformed recipe hoarder/waster.

I used to go through my favorite foodie magazines ripping out recipes I fully intend to try, only to have them get thrown into my kitchen “drawer of death”, resurfacing years later to be thrown straight into the recycle bin. Now, thanks to the Internet, if I see something I love and want to make later, I usually just google it until I find it.

The following recipe was adapted  from one of the only recipes that I purposely stuck to my refrigerator door so that I would see it every day and be shamed into making it! The original (Zucchini pie) recipe was torn from the pages of Cooking Light Magazine (August, 2017 edition). Their pie photo was so beautiful, (google it), I had to save it! Last week while trying to decide on dinner,that photo grew arms and started waving a white flag in my face. Okay, Okay, it was time! I had all of the ingredients in the fridge to make something similar, so I adapted it to make “Zucchini Leek Pie”.

The first step is to set your spiralizer on the “thick” setting and go to town on a couple pounds (I used a little less) of unpeeled zucchini. Then you place your spirals on paper towels with some salt and let them stand for 30 minutes. This is to let them sweat out their liquid. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you should get one. They are so fun to experiment with and you don’t need to spend a ton of money. Ours came from the “As seen on TV” section at Walgreen’s. (I think we paid $9.99 for it.) We have discussed buying a fancy version, but we aren’t making zucchini spirals with any regularity, so the little one works well for us.

spiralizer

When I opened our fridge I spied two cleaned and prepped leeks that had been in there a while. Not wanting to waste them, I decided to cut them up and use them in the pie. I also subbed in freshly chopped chives, basil and garlic.  Their recipe called for just the tomatoes, garlic and fresh oregano to be wilted in the pan. I didn’t have oregano, so I left it out. (When I do this dish again, I will skip this step with the tomatoes. I don’t think it’s necessary.)

Here you have the beautiful tomatoes halfed, chopped leeks, chopped fresh garlic, chives, basil, salt and pepper in just a wee bit of olive oil. Pretty colors!

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Once the leeks were cooked to my satisfaction, I turned off the heat and let the mixture cool a little bit. Meanwhile I blotted the zucchini with more paper towels until it felt dry, then put it in a kitchen towel and squeezed it as hard as I could. Once you’ve extracted as much moisture as possible, transfer it to a bowl. If you have never made zucchini spirals, you might not realize that the strands are very very long. I used kitchen scissors to cut them up so they would be more manageable.

Whisk the remaining ingredients, then add the vegetables and stir. (Sorry, no photo of this part.) The whole shebang goes into a spring form pan to bake. When it’s finished, it gets turned out upside down and it looks LOVELY!

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large leeks, carefully cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) optional
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

1) Using the large holes of a spiralizer, cut zucchini into noodles. Place zucchini on a bed of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes.

2) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add tomatoes, leeks, garlic, chives and basil; cook, stirring often, until the leeks are soft and the tomatoes are wilted. Remove from heat and allow this to cool. (Remember, you will be adding it to an egg mixture so it needs to be close to room temp.)

3) Preheat oven to 375°F. Place half of zucchini noodles on a clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel around zucchini; twist and squeeze until all liquid is extracted. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Cut zucchini into manageable lengths.

4) Whisk eggs in a large bowl until lightly beaten. Whisk in milk, flour, hot sauce, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add tomato mixture, cheeses, and zucchini and stir to combine (kind of gently as you want to combine everything but not destroy the integrity of the vegetables.)

5) Wrap bottom plate of a 9-inch spring form pan tightly with foil. Assemble pan; coat bottom and sides with cooking spray. Pour egg mixture into pan. Bake at 375 degrees until set in the middle. Check it at 50 minutes. Mine took 60. Important step:  Make sure to let it cool for at least 15 minutes. Carefully remove the sides of the pan. Place your serving platter on top and invert. Then remove the bottom and garnish.

6) Watch your family swoon. I really love sour cream so I garnished mine with that, but you can do anything you like or nothing at all.

NOTE: This pie is NOT good re-heated in the microwave. The morning after I made this we got up thinking it would be great for breakfast. We nuked two pieces and both agreed that it tasted bitter. Best to put it in the oven covered (at 250 degrees) and let it heat up slowly and evenly for about 15-20 minutes.

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PS- Tomorrow we’ll talk about stuffing spaghetti squash with broccoli Alfredo (Not to be confused with Charlie Alfredo, below.)

Charlie Tortellini

Gimmee that Bacon Roasted Tortellini!

A lot of times I adapt recipes that I have made at home in order to serve for a large crowd. This tortellini casserole is a showstopper every time!

 

Tortellini casseroletortellini

By day, I do the finances for a very large, beautiful Baptist church here in Louisville. (Not that it matters, but hubs and I are Catholic and we joke with the members of this church all the time that, “We are the heathen Catholic couple!”) Every Wednesday afternoon I knock off at 1:30 to meet Charlie at the door and walk down to the church kitchen where together, we prepare their Wednesday Night Fellowship meal. This is our fifth year of doing that walk.

I think it’s worth noting here that I haven’t always been a good cook, let alone someone who was trained in feeding the masses!  Raising my daughter alone, I remember a very limited scope of what I actually made from scratch. There for a while, we ate almost all of our meals out at Applebee’s. (Yes, it’s true. If I could do that over, I certainly would.) When Charlie came along ten years ago, he came with the experience of not only being a retired Firefighter, but his firehouse’s cook. Soon enough, he was preparing all of our meals.

That is, until we moved to a new condo that had a wonderful kitchen. It was there, two years prior to my being hired at the church, that I discovered my absolute love of cooking. Turns out, I not only love cooking, I’m told my food is worth eating! (That’s a total plus!)

Just after I was hired, I learned of an opening to aid in the Wednesday Fellowship Meal prep. I am ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS on the hunt for side job experiences, so I immediately signed us up! (Poor Charlie. He’s sooo stuck with “a joiner”.)

Long story short, after the first season, we ended up taking over the entire meal preparation. That means we decide what to make, we shop for our ingredients, we prepare the food, we help to serve the food and do the dishes and it’s darned hard work. I joke all the time that,”It’s ALWAYS Wednesday in our life”. I feel like it’s true! It’s also true that it’s like planning a huge party once a week and for this reason, I adore it!

A lot of times, I adapt recipes that Charlie and I make at home in order to share with the church. This tortellini casserole is something I saw on TV long ago. It seemed so easy. I made it for us and we loved it, so I figured out an easier way to make if for the church.

I will give you the original recipe and then I will tell you how to tweak it for a crowd! But first, meet my hubs, Charlie Alfredo! LOL!

Charlie Tortellini

 

Bacon Roasted Chicken Tortellini

Makes 8-10 servings.

½-20 oz. pkg.  Hardwood Smoked Bacon

1 pkg. Chicken Breast (about 1 ¾ lb.)

½ tsp. Kosher Salt

½ tsp. Garlic Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp. Dried basil

¼ tsp.  Coarse Ground Black Pepper

2-19 oz. pkgs. Frozen Cheese Tortellini (I always go for the tri-color variety. It’s just prettier)

1-12 oz. pkg. Frozen Peas

2-16.9 oz. pkgs. Alfredo Sauce (at home, I make my own, but use jarred if you are scared!)

6 slices Provolone Cheese

Preheat oven to 375° & lightly spray a 9″X13″ casserole dish with pan release.

Layout bacon on a baking sheet & bake until crisp (about 15 minutes or so).

Remove bacon from baking sheet & move onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Do not discard the grease from the baking sheet.

Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt, Italian seasoning & black pepper. Place directly on the already hot baking sheet. Flip chicken so that bacon grease is now on both sides of the chicken. Roast chicken for 10 minutes & then flip. Roast another 10 minutes & check for doneness. The chicken should read 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven & let rest on your cutting board for 3-5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced chicken, tortellini, peas & both jars of Alfredo. Crumbled the bacon over top & toss well to combine.

Pour mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Cover top with sliced provolone cheese. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil & then 10 minutes uncovered. The casserole should be hot, bubbly, and browned on top.

Tortellini casserole

Tortellini casserole1

Yeah okay, that’s how we made it at home.

For church (or a large group), skip frying the bacon and doing the chicken in the bacon fat. Instead, go to the market and buy prepared chicken. You can find frozen chopped chicken as well OR buy a rotisserie chicken OR boil some chicken tenders. AND for the bacon, buy frozen, chopped bacon OR buy already prepared bacon and chop it up. Skip the entire part about cooking all this stuff and just add it in with the other ingredients.

THE BEST part about this recipe is that you NEVER have to cook the tortellini; just dump it in as is. Oh and…it’s DELICIOUS,too!!!

PS- Tomorrow’s recipe will be “Zucchini Leak Pie”! Don’t miss it!

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