Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups. Um. YES!

This recipe is one of my favorites of all time. Check it out.

By now most people have caught on to the health benefits of the occasional switch from pasta to zucchini noodles. I saw a version of this recipe floating around on Facebook and decided it was so pretty, I had to try it. (I love pretty food!)

My husband and I are on a strict low-carb diet, so I made my own Alfredo sauce without using flour, but if you are not under any dietary restrictions, feel free to buy your favorite bottled or frozen variety and use that. Also, if you are going to go that route, buy more than you think you will need. One of the best parts of this recipe for me was that I had enough sauce to use inside the rolls and also to pour over the top before baking. Plus, if you reheat this the next day for lunch (I do that all the time), it’s nice to have leftover sauce to drizzle over the top for more flavor.

To make it extra special easy peasy, pick up a couple containers of of shedded rotisserie chicken from your local market! That’s what I did. I did not buy enough though, so ended up boiling about three chicken tenders and shredding them by hand. Be smarter than me!

img_6389

This is what my rolls looked like after I got them all in the pan. It’s a little tricky at first, which is why you want to have more than just a tiny layer of sauce in your dish. Mine was about 1/4″ deep, so the rolls had something to hold onto. I sprinkled a little bit of the crumbled bacon on top first.

img_6397

Afterward, I drizzled on some more Alfredo sauce, Parmesan cheese and more bacon! Then it went into the oven!

img_6399

Thirty minutes later, it came out smelling and looking beautiful!

img_6405

img_6404

img_6403


Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-Ups

(Serves 6)

Ingredients
4 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced (I love garlic so used 6 cloves.)
2 1/4 c. cream
1 1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish (Chopped scallions or basil would work as great garnishes as well.)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4-5 large-ish zucchinis, peeled into long strips
3 c. shredded mozzarella (may not use all of it)
3 c. shredded cooked chicken (I used a pre-shredded rotisserie chicken plus a couple of my own shredded chicken tenders.)
4-5 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk cream into the butter and garlic and stir until simmering gently. Gradually stir in the Parmesan, whisking constantly. Let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon a layer of Alfredo sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (This will help the rolls to stand vertically, so make sure it’s not too thin.) On a clean surface, lay 2-3 pieces of zucchini down slightly overlapping each other. I made mine to be about 2 & ½ inches across, so depending on the size of the zoodle, I either used two or three slices. Spoon & spread a little Alfredo sauce on top, then the shredded chicken and a sprinkle of mozzarella. Roll up tightly and place vertically in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Top with remaining Alfredo Sauce, Parmesan and crumbled bacon. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden on top and baked through. Garnish with fresh parsley and MORE BACON!

The Struggle is REAL.

A long time ago I used to counsel people on how to find purpose in life. Now it’s my turn.

Does anyone else out there struggle with decision making? I am the absolute WORST lately. One minute I’m convinced I am turning this blog into a “food only” blog and then the angel on my shoulder whispers, “You are good at that, but it’s not your calling”. (Insert expletive here.) Then I sit for hours contemplating how to merge my inspirational/spiritual musings with my recipes. What would that even look like? Arch Angel Food cake, Angel-haired pasta, Heavenly potato chip casserole, Celestial peanut butter cookies, Saintly Sour cream cake, etc?

Um. No.

I seriously do not want to write two separate blogs, so what’s a girl to do? Insert this book right here:

(You can click on this photo later if you are interested in reading more about the book or if you want to order a copy through Amazon.)

I ran into this great book, “Crushing It!”, by Gary Vaynerchuck, via someone’s Instagram story and was inspired to see what it was about. (I’m happy I did. I have had such good luck finding great books via recommendations on IG.)  The book relates all sorts of stories about people who finally learn to turn their passion into a life. He says to stop worrying about numbers, followers, algorithms and to just be who you authentically are. The rest will follow. (Oh and the other part that I just adore is that he says Altruism is of the utmost importance. I could not agree more.)

This is the stuff I’ve actually been preaching about for years:

Authenticity: Leading and living from the heart.

Altruism: Doing Unto Others. Random acts of Kindness. Giving of oneself.

The thing is, I look around the Internet, especially on Instagram and YouTube, and see that it appears practically every person and her brother are aspiring Internet Gurus. I absolutely cannot stand Instagram stories where it’s nothing but 15 second segment after 15 second segment of someone opening a gazillion boxes of free stuff in exchange for free advertising. I admit, it overwhelms me and sometimes if I take a very large step back, it can make me a little bit sad. Is this what we’ve become?

I don’t want to be one of those people. (She says to herself while at the same time contemplating updating her YouTube Channel.) What happened to giving and sharing from the heart simply for the sake of putting goodness out into the world?

When I’m on Instagram looking at stories, or on here reading blogs, the people I consistently enjoy and who I always read, are those who are actually sharing real snippets of daily life or love or both! Two of my favorite Instagram-ers (is that a word?) are twenty-something Yogi’s who are best friends in real life. I haven’t the least bit of interest in Yoga, other than to marvel at the discipline/talent these girls and their other followers display, yet I watch every story they post from beginning to end. They are each unique, yet the same. One likes to film her fur babies and the other likes to film herself drinking tea and playing with her boyfriend. Both share their yoga practices, but also family life and a bit of their social life too. I watch it all and feel nostalgic for my twenties. Why? They are being authentic on their feeds.

One of my favorite bloggers here is a 30 year old woman who’s blog is entitled, “Damn Girl, Get Your Shit Together”. It’s the same with her; she’s successful because she’s being who she actually is. (Seriously, go read her latest blog, “A Very Stabby Birthday”. It’s great stuff.)

A gazillion years ago when I used to blog daily on MySpace (yes, I’m that old), I think people related to me because I was always writing from my heart about my real life. I wasn’t trying to fit into a box or aspiring to gain a certain number of followers. I was just writing about what was going on at the time. Some days I was feeling hopeful; some days I was feeling silly; other days I might have been feeling low or worried about life. What mattered was that I was putting myself out there because in real life, it’s who I am. I always felt that whatever I might have been going through at the time; someone else out there was also going through. Who doesn’t feel better knowing she isn’t going it totally alone out here?

Somewhere along the line I found myself in a strange state of writing paralysis because I couldn’t decide what box to cram myself into. If I write only about spirituality, I might lose my foodies; if I write only about food, I might lose my other followers; if I write about family, they might get mad; if I write about work, I might upset non-churchy people. I have even gone so far as to believe that my time has passed. I’m fifty four now, maybe the window on my meaningful blogging has closed. You see the dilemma.

I have always felt that when I really need it and I pray hard enough, God will send me pretty unmistakable signs in order to help me find my way. Lately there have been lots of them, including, but not limited to, the “Crush It” book up there.

“Hello reality, thank you for the slap in the face.”

Here is the fact: I don’t fit into a box, nor do you.

Or you.

Or you.

So, I’ve decided to stop being so hard on myself and just be me, which of course means this blog will be reflective of that. I really am not an aspiring cookbook writer. I just love creating pretty food. Hubs and I cater on the side, so sharing recipes is something I genuinely like to do to be helpful. I will continue to do it here, but I’ll be mixing in more of myself as well.

This of course means the occasional angel story, dream interpretation, prayer, complaint, inspirational story or even a silly home video and I can’t guarantee it won’t all happen on the same page sometimes!

PS- Speaking of Altruism: I am holding a #Giveaway on my Instagram page and there is still time to sign up. See that pretty red, enameled, cast-iron skillet (by Lodge). Someone is going to win a brand new one (comes with lid). I will announce the winner on Wednesday, May 16th, via Instagram. I am NOT being paid for this. This is coming from my own pocket because this skillet seriously IS one of my favorite things in the world and I want someone else to have one too. I got this for my Birthday back in March and I use it every day. They are NOT cheap and I know not everyone can afford a cool kitchen thingie like this! So this is me, trying to do something nice for someone else.

If you are interested, just click through the link to my Instagram and find this picture. Click on it and you will find the instructions on how to enter. It’s that simple.

img_6288


PSS: (Insert Angel Stuff here. hee hee)

I used to love to sit with my deck of angel cards and pull one as inspiration for each day. So here is today’s card which is perfect for where I am in life right now. I share this here because somewhere out there, someone else needs this message as well. ((hugs))

power

Power:   The power of your Creator is within you. It doesn’t matter if you’re facing a situation that seems larger than life or something that is a small hurdle, the angels and God want to help you overcome it all!

The key to finding resolve in so many of life’s circumstances is to stay in the right frame of mind. You have the power of your Creator within you, all of the His greatness brings into focus who He is; faithful, righteous, good, honest and it diminishes the negative problems you are facing.

You have all the power of Divine love it is unlimited allow yourself shine. He is the one who with just his voice spoke the world and universe and cosmos into being, yet he is interested in the smallest and most intimate details of your life.


 

Love to all!

Just Wow -One Skillet- Creamy Lemon-Garlic Chicken Over Zoodles

Budget friendly, beautiful & delicious; make this dish your weeknight wonder and wow your family!

I say it all of the time but it bears repeating: most often the best recipes are born out of necessity. I knew I had too much zucchini sitting in the refrigerator; I knew I wanted to make something very low carbohydrate; and I knew I wanted to make chicken. Charlie and I both are citrus and garlic lovers, so this dish was almost a no-brainer, except for the sauce. We are both attempting to limit carbs, so I needed to improvise the sauce in order not to have to use flour for a roux.

First order of business was to assemble my ingredients.

img_5810

If the photo below looks familiar, it’s because I’ve used it before. I didn’t photograph the zucchini last night (whoops). This is how we like to make our zoodles. To me, the texture is better than spiralizing. If you like spiralized zucchini, by all means do that. Prepare the zucchini and then set aside for cooking later.

img_5664

I like a mixture of olive and avocado oil, so this is what I put in my pan. (I also add about a Tbsp. of butter if I’m being honest.) I prepared the chicken with my favorite new seasoning from Trader Joe’s. By all means go get this if you haven’t tried it! If you don’t have this on hand, just use salt and pepper (or whatever you really like using.)

img_5811

The chicken only stays in the pan for about 3 minutes each side. You are not trying to cook it through in this step. You only want to brown it. When it’s a nice color on each side, remove it to another plate. Add a little bit of butter to the pan, then the diced shallots. Cook the shallots for a minute or two, then add the broth mixture. Bring this to a simmer and then go watch TV (or drink wine) for about 10-12 minutes while it reduces.

img_5814

As you can see by the video (below), my sauce is a funny looking color. This is because I used organic bone broth. (It’s what I had on hand.) By all means use what you have on hand. If you prefer chicken broth or vegetable broth, that will work as well.

Once the sauce has reduced, the next step is fairly easy. Remove the pan from heat, whisk in 1 Tbsp of butter until it melts, then whisk in the cream until it’s incorporated. Put the pan back on the heat for about 2 minutes to allow it to heat through, then add the chicken back to it.  I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me to photograph this step, but oh well. After this, stir in the capers and then the whole pan goes into the oven for about 5 – 10 minutes to cook through.

While this is happening, saute the zucchini noodles. (This is what it looks like.)

img_5657

To the zoodles, I added another one of my current favorite spices: Cilantro lime seasoning blend. I also added the zest of two lemons.

img_5687

Once the zoodles are the consistency of egg noodles, I take them off the heat. Then pull the chicken out of the oven, stir in the chopped herbs and plate it up. I garnished with fresh lemons.

img_5824

BTW: If you are not a fan of zoodles, this chicken dish stands on it’s own. You could serve it alongside some freshly steamed broccoli or asparagus would be lovely as well! Any type of pasta would work, too!

PS- If you are counting carbs, the chicken and the sauce come to about 4.3 g net carbs, 16 g fat & 33 g protein; one serving of the zoodles is about 4 g net carbs.

I guestimate the calorie count of just the chicken and sauce is around 305 per serving.

 


JUST WOW, Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken (over zoodles)

Ingredients: (Yields 4 servings)

4 chicken breasts. (I saved time by buying mine already thinly sliced)

2.5 c. bone broth

1/3 c. Cream

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 tea. Red pepper flakes (optional)

3 garlic cloves smashed then chopped

1/2 c. Chopped parsley (any freshly chopped herb would work well.)

1 shallot finely minced

2 Tbsp. Butter

3 Tbsp. Olive oil

4 zucchini, (transformed into noodles using a vegetable peeler)

S & P

1-2 Tbsp. Seasonings to taste (see above for what I used.)


Directions 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Create the zucchini noodles using a vegetable peeler (use a spiralizer if you like that texture better.) Set aside.

2. Zest the lemons and set the zest aside for later. Then slice the lemons and squeeze the juice into a strainer to catch the seeds & pulp. Into a larger measuring cup or bowl, add two cups of broth, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir and set aside.

3. Pound your chicken breasts to the same thickness. Mine were 1/2″ thick. Season with salt and pepper. (I also used a good amount Trader Joe’s: “21 Seasoning Salute”-use what you like)

4. Over medium high heat, sauté the chicken in olive oil, about 2 -3 minutes per side. No need to cook all the way through, as it will be going into the oven later. You are just looking for good color on both sides. Remove to a plate. Reduce heat to medium.

5. Put 1 Tbsp. Butter into the hot pan, swirl around, then add the shallots. Cook about 2 minutes, then add the broth mixture. Bring up to a simmer. Let it reduce to about a half cup. (Took about 12 minutes)

6. When the sauce has reduced, remove from the heat, whisk in 1 Tbsp. Butter, then whisk in the cream until it’s fully incorporated. Return to heat for about a minute or two to reheat. Stir in the capers if you are using them. (Do NOT allow the sauce to boil.) Add the chicken back to the pan; turning it in the sauce to coat both sides; then put it into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

7. In a separate skillet, over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. Olive oil, 1/3 c. Broth, zoodles, lemon zest and seasonings. Toss in the oil and broth until fairly wilted. (I hate soggy zoodles, so watch this carefully. It only takes about 3 minutes.) Season with salt and pepper and 3/4th of the lemon zest.

8. Once the chicken is finished, stir in the chopped parsley (basil would be great in this). Here you can plate the noodles and the put the chicken and sauce on top OR you can remove the chicken from the pan, toss the noodles in the sauce and then add the chicken back. I tend not to toss the noodles in the sauce because it can make the zoodles mushy.

9. Garnish with fresh lemon, more parsley and the last bit of lemon zest.

Pieces of Heart

How well are you treating yourself and others lately?

Truth

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”Gautama Buddha

This morning I was looking through my Facebook memory feed and I saw the entry above. It struck a chord; so I posted it again and within minutes, some of my friends started sharing it. Isn’t it the truth? Why is it so hard for the majority of humans to focus on our positive attributes rather than our negative ones?

I know the quote up there says that it’s not up to others to keep you encouraged and it’s true; but oh, does it help when we infuse this good advice with a healthy dose of kindness to one another? It doesn’t take a supreme effort to make another person feel good. In fact, whenever I am able to bring a smile to someone else’s heart, it makes my own heart smile.

command

This morning I made a quick stop on the way to work in order to pick up lunch. I stopped at my favorite grocery store and picked out something Keto-approved (because I am on a never ending quest to get healthier. That counts as self-love, right?). Standing in the checkout line I overheard the cashier call the customer in front of me by name. My first thought was that she must be a regular shopper. Still, it made me smile inwardly because the cashier was so kind to her.

When it was my turn, she asked me how I was, we exchanged pleasantries and she rang up my items. When she handed me the receipt, in the sweetest tone, she said to me, “Thank you, Bobbe…I really like your name!” I thanked her, wished her a great day, and I left the store smiling. I am sure the store management probably encouraged her to do this, but it didn’t matter to me a bit. It was kind. Her delivery was genuine and it made me feel good. As I pulled out into traffic, still smiling, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is to be kind to one another. She had just altered the course of my day in a wonderfully simple, yet highly positive way.

Last night we performed our regular once-per-week catering job. It’s the Fellowship Meal for the church where I work (doing finances), and I am Facebook friends with most of the people who attend. If you subscribe to this blog you already know that I adore cooking. Few things make me happier than mastering a new dish or preparing pretty food. I regularly share my food porn and my recipes on Facebook, because it’s what I enjoy. (Who doesn’t love food?)

Admittedly, there was a time when I wouldn’t share this blog anywhere because I feared what people may think. My food blogs could be construed as bragging; my inspirational writing could be construed as me believing I am above others; my angel musings could be construed as me being delusional or crazy. I was worried that people I work with might think I am (gasp) “new age”, even though I am actually the furthest thing from it. I was worried about offending people who don’t like what I like… You get where I am going with this.

deep

When I turned 54 a month ago today, I made the decision to live in authenticity. To me, this means the inside matches the outside; it means sharing exactly who I am without concern over what other people think or whether they believe the same as I do. It means that what others think of me is none of my business. Am I living my life in accordance to what I believe God wants? Am I feeling good in my own heart? To me, nothing else should be of higher importance.  Besides, if we were all exactly the same, where would joy live?  Ponder this a while. I’ll wait.

Last night just as we were about to serve dinner, one of the church congregants -(a lady I love to “silly-banter” with)- came across the room to tell me she wanted to tell me something. I was expecting our normal silliness, but instead she was so sincere. She proceeded to say the nicest things to me with regard to the variety of things I do well in my life; the cooking, the writing, the accounting, etc. I don’t want to repeat the entire exchange here, but it was one of the loveliest and most unexpected compliments I have ever received. Apparently, she’s been reading my blogs and so she is knowing me better. <grin> What she didn’t know, (or maybe she did), was just how timely she was, as I’ve been feeling rather low since Easter.

Driving home last night, I was telling Charlie what she said when tears formed in his eyes. He took my hand in his and said, “It’s all true, Bobbe. You don’t get enough credit or give yourself enough credit for who you are.” He doesn’t know it, but every time he gets emotional when I tell him about something like this, it cements the fact that I know I am exactly where I belong.

I don’t know if it’s true that I don’t get enough credit. (I am aware I don’t give myself enough credit because people tell me this all the time!) The reason I share this is to illustrate that kindness matters. Two times in the past twenty four hours, I’ve experienced unexpected kindnesses and my spirit has done a complete about-face. In fact, I feel transformed.

I am a generally positive person. Imagine if I wasn’t? How might these kindnesses have affected me even more?

Thank you God, for those people who unabashedly offer pieces of heart. Please help me to persist in trying to follow this path as well.

May pieces of heart sprinkle all of the paths we travel and may God grant us the insight to know when to sprinkle our own.

Happy Friday!

Love, Bobbe

 

Keto-Friendly Chicken Parmesan

This is a great way to fry chicken using no flour!

I decided on making this dish a couple of days prior to actually doing it. This is because Charlie and I are literally obsessed with food. We saw someone else making Chicken Parmesan and then we started drooling over the idea of fried chicken.

We are on the Keto diet plan, so this means no flour and no pasta. My daughter gave me an awesome new Keto cookbook, so I got right in it and learned that pork rinds can be used instead of flour. Of course, when I went into the kitchen to make dinner, I realized we’d finished off our spicy pork rinds a few nights ago. Now what to do? We do keep almond flour on hand, but I had my heart set on not using it. Then I remembered a bag of Parmesan chips in the pantry! Right away I dumped those bad boys into a bag and went to town pulverizing them with a large rolling pin. (It was fun!)

Once I had them to the desired consistency, I finely grated some Pecorino Romano and mixed this with the Parmesan. Just for fun, I also added bourbon smoked paprika, Italian seasoning and a little bit of pepper.  I pounded the chicken to about 1/4th inch thickness and then set up my dredging stations.

  1. 3 eggs lightly beaten with 3 Tbps. cream.
  2. The cheese crust mixture

img_5661

We prefer to make our zucchini “noodles” using a vegetable peeler instead of the spiralizer. Three medium zucchini made a whole bowl of zoodles, which was plenty for the two of us. They cook down, but not as much as the spiralized zoodles do.

img_5664

I let the eggs and chicken sit on the counter for about a half hour to come closer to room temperature before frying and then dredged each piece into the egg and then the crumbs.

img_5662

Next 1/4th cup of olive oil mixed with about 1/8th cup of avocado oil went into the pan and got heated to medium. I added 2 tsp. red pepper flakes to this.

img_5639

Then came the frying:

Once the chicken was cooked, I set it aside on paper towels while I went to work sauteing the zucchini in another pan. I was amazed at how great the chicken looked. It wasn’t the least bit greasy and it was very crispy to the touch!

The zucchini just gets dropped into about 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Toss it around in the pan to coat it. Continue stirring until it reaches the consistency of Al dente pasta. (I like to add about 2 Tbsp. real butter at this point. Season and Stir.)

img_5657

Once it’s Al dente,  slowly add some cheese to it. (This was hand grated Parmesan and some pre-grated Mozzarella, but use what you like.) It doesn’t take a lot. I just added it for a little extra flavor and texture. Stir it around until almost melted.
img_5658

I really did not want to add red sauce to the zucchini because I didn’t want the noodles to become watery, but at the last minute I decided adding just a little bit would make it more flavorful. I added about half a cup and stirred to combine.

img_5659

I knew I was just going to plate this over baking it, so in a separate little pot, I heated a cup of the red sauce and set it aside. Then I began plating the dish: First the zoodles, then the chicken. (I almost stopped here because it looked yummy just like this!)

img_5660

Onto each piece of chicken went a little bit of red sauce and then some more cheese. Finally, I chopped up some flat leaf parsley and that was it! Since this was my plate, I didn’t add a ton of extra cheese. Charlie likes a lot of melty cheese, so we added it to his plate (his is the one at the top of the page) and I confess, we stuck it into the microwave.

If you were going to serve this dish to a crowd, you would simply add the chicken pieces over the zoodles in the skillet, then top them with the sauce and the cheese and either bake or broil until the cheese melts.

img_5654


Keto Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients:
1.5 lb. chicken tenderloins, pounded to ¼” thickness (you can use breasts if you like, just butterfly them & pound them out.)
3 eggs lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. cream
3 c. prepared Parmesan chips, pulverized
1 c. finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ c. Bourbon smoked Paprika (optional)
¼ c. Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp. cracked black pepper
3 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
¼ c. olive oil
1/8 c. avocado oil (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter (full fat REAL butter)
2-3 c. keto marinara sauce
½ c. shredded Mozzarella
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions:

1. Prepare the chicken by pounding to ¼” thickness. Set aside.

2. Prepare the dredges: Whisk together 3 eggs & 3 Tbsp. Cream. Place in bowl. In another bowl, combine pulverized Parmesan chips with the finely grated pecorino cheese plus the Paprika, Italian seasoning & pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces first into the egg mixture, then both sides in the cheese crumbs. Set aside.

3. Prepare the zucchini noodles by using a vegetable peeler to strip off long, thin pieces. Set aside.

4. Pour the marinara sauce into a small pan and heat it through. Reserve on low heat.

5. Using a straight sided skillet, heat olive oil & avocado oil to medium heat; add in the red pepper flakes.

6 Fry the chicken in the oil until golden brown on both sides. (About 3 minutes each side.) Set cooked chicken aside on paper towels.

7. In a separate skillet set to medium heat, drizzle olive oil and add the zoodles, tossing constantly to coat with the oil and also to heat them through. (Takes about 4-5 minutes). Season with butter and pepper.

8. Once the noodles are cooked to desired consistency, add in the grated Parmesan cheese and continue to stir; then add in about a cup of the heated marinara sauce.

9. From here you may plate it layering first the zoodles, then the chicken, then a layer of marinara over each chicken piece, then Mozzarella cheese, then chopped parsley.

OR:

Add each chicken piece back to the zoodle pan, top each piece with marinara sauce, Mozzarella cheese, bake in the oven until the cheese melts. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Seriously, Spaghetti alle Vongole!

This dish was so fun to make and turned out so beautifully, I can’t stop smiling about it. This would be great to serve fora dinner party! Don’t forget the bread!

I seriously cannot believe I made this dish! To me, there is something so beautiful about simple food. Basically this dish is clams in a white sauce with tomatoes over pasta. It doesn’t get more basic. I adore the way seafood looks, especially clams and mussels, and this dish is a wizz-bang-show-stopper! I mean, just look at the colors! I loved every part of making this meal and I certainly plan on doing it again!

We started at the fish market. I am a clam virgin so I relied on the fish monger to explain them to me. Turns out, clams are not cheap, so he suggested we buy just the meat to get more bang for our money. I wanted the real deal, so we bought both. I can’t imagine making this dish without the clams in their shells; it’s half the fun!

img_5573

As soon as we got home, I put them in a bowl of cold water, sprinkled in some semolina, and let them sit in the refrigerator until dinner. Supposedly, the semolina makes the clams open up and spit out any sand they might be holding onto. (Black pepper works as well.)

Step one of this dish was to prepare my ingredients. I sliced half of my tomatoes and left the other half whole; chopped my parsley; then I smashed my garlic and prepared my pasta and set it aside. (They say to wait until the last minute to chop the parsley so it is as fresh as possible. I’ll do that next time. I was nervous about making this dish so I wanted everything prepared ahead.)

img_5597

When I was ready, I heated my olive oil to medium, and then added in the garlic and red pepper flakes. This cooked until fragrant (oh and it was a beautiful aroma!) about two minutes.

img_5602

Then came the tomatoes. (Isn’t this pretty? I loved the colors!) The point here is to blister them in the oil. It takes about five minutes.

img_5603

Here is a silly video of the tomatoes blistering:

Next comes the wine! I used a Sauvignon Blanc. They say to only cook with a wine you would drink so I followed the rules to the letter. This was left to come up to a boil. (Took about a minute.)

img_5604

The clams go in next! Then the pot gets covered for two minutes in order to steam them. (I swear to you, I’m feeling giddy typing this out. I had some much fun doing this!)

img_5598

I was a little bit uncertain about when to add the extra clam meat, so I opted to wait until I could see the clams starting to open. I was really afraid of over-cooking them. No one wants to bite into a rubber clam!

Here they have started to open up, so this is the point where I dropped in the other clam meat.

img_5600

This is another silly video that captures my giddiness!

Finally, it’s time to add in the pasta. We used angel hair pasta, which is our favorite. The recipe calls for spaghetti or linguine, but I ignored that part. The important part was not to cook the pasta all the way through because it continues to cook in the sauce. Thankfully, I managed to get it right.

img_5606

Lastly, the fresh parsley goes in, the heat goes off and then the cheese goes on.

Voila! How gorgeous is this!!!

img_5589


Ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 ounces spaghetti or linguine (we used angel hair pasta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes
8 ounces very small cherry tomatoes, roughly crushed with your hands, or regular cherry tomatoes, halved (I sliced half of the tomatoes in half and left the other whole & I didn’t crush them.)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc)
48 tiny clams such as cockles or vongole (We used 24 clams & a pound of frozen clam meat, thawed)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (salty like the sea!) and the pasta and stir to separate. Cook until a few minutes shy of al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add the clams and cover for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the clams open. Discard unopened clams.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the parsley, cheese and butter. Cook, tossing and stirring and drizzling with olive oil, until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is silky and thickened. Serve drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and parsley.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you don’t serve this with a loaf of crusty bread, you will seriously regret it!

How do I know this? We forgot and seriously regretted it! The sauce is divine and crusty bread would have been perfect for sopping it up!

Naked Zucchini Pie, Oh My!

This recipe is perfect for a brunch!

This recipe was born out of an extreme case of the “I don’t want to’s”.  Once a week, my husband and I cater the Fellowship meal for my workplace. Last week I knew I wanted to serve soups, because the weather has been so cold. When I think about serving soup, my thoughts go to one of two things: sandwiches or quiche. I didn’t feel like making 100 sandwiches, so I opted for quiche.

Usually when I am going to serve quiche for church, I prepare twenty to twenty five regular-sized quiches and then scurry around cutting them to serving sizes and transferring them to steam trays for easy service. I didn’t feel like doing that this time, so I decided to experiment with a crust-less (naked) variety. Thankfully, it was a winner!

I knew I wanted to make something with zucchini and tomatoes because lately, these are my favorite things. Any time this is my choice, the first step is to slice the vegetables, lay them out on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. Let them sit for thirty minutes in order to release their liquid. (See how they are glistening in the photo below?) Then prior to use, we pat them dry. This keeps the quiche from getting soggy. (NOT pictured is the other table full of zucchini spirals that are also sprinkled with salt & sitting on paper towels.) Close your eyes. Picture it. I know you can.

img_5296

This is what it looks like when it’s all put together and ready to be baked. We use the zucchini spirals inside and the slices on the outside.

img_5295

And poof. Here is is fresh out of the oven.

img_5294

I prayed a few Hail Mary’s to be certain it would slice and serve properly. Prayers were heard and answered. It was yummy and it was pretty! I had to rely on Charlie to tell me that it tasted good because I gave up meat for Lent and this had yummy chopped bacon in it!

img_5293


Here is the recipe converted for use with a 9 x 13″ pan (serves 12):

Naked Zucchini Pie, Oh My!

Ingredients:
12-13 large eggs
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 zucchini’s spiral cut
1 zucchini thinly sliced
3-4 Roma tomatoes thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. full fat REAL butter (anything else is POISON!)
1 onion chopped
1/3 c. cream (you can use milk or half & half if you like, but I prefer cream)
2 Tbsp. sour cream
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
¼ c. chopped bacon
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.
3. Prepare the zucchini and tomatoes by slicing and spiralizing. Lay out on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes prior to using them. (This draws liquid out). After 30 minutes, pat them dry with more paper towels.
4. Dice the onion and sauté (in butter) over medium heat until translucent. Remove to a paper towel and cool.
5. Whisk the eggs, cream, sour cream, cheese and seasonings together.
6. Add green onions and bacon, mix well.
7. Pat the zucchini and tomatoes dry and then add the spiralized zucchini & sautéed onions to the baking dish and then pour liquid mixture into it.
8. Arrange the thinly sliced zucchini and tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle more bacon & cheese, if you like.
9. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until center is springy to the touch.