Chicken Charlie Alfredo w/ Bacon & Sun-dried Tomatoes!

The recipe has ruined me for all other Alfredo dishes!

Okay people prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to have your spouses and your family and friends drop to their knees and bow their heads in your presence. This dish delivers everything but dollar bills from your Grandma’s purse. I promise!

By the way. Meet Charlie Alfredo. He really has nothing to do with this recipe. I just like to call him, “Charlie Alfredo” and share this photo whenever possible. (hee hee. HI CHARLIE!)

 

Charlie Tortellini

This recipe starts off in the most delicious way possible! Let’s fry some bacon! Six pieces will definitely do!

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While the bacon is cooking, I grate almost a full cup of Asiago cheese and chop up about 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes. You may wish to add more tomatoes, but they have carbs, so I limited them in my recipe.

Once this bacon has delivered on making your home smell delightful and it’s reached the desired brownness, remove it from the pan and set aside but do NOT do a THING with that bacon grease! You want that!

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Here are my ingredients (bacon, cheese & sun-dried tomatoes) getting ready to be added to the pan. This is prior to my crumbling the bacon. I find if I do this at the last minute, it keeps the bacon crumbles from detouring to my mouth.

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To the grease, add in a couple of garlic cloves, minced. They will sizzle quickly, so be prepared to add the chicken almost immediately. Prior to cooking this chicken, you will want to rinse it and pat it dry, then season liberally with Salt and pepper and I also used Trader Joe’s “21 Season Salute” (I adore that stuff!), but you don’t have to. Here you are just aiming to brown the chicken on both sides. No need to try to cook it through. This takes about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. When it’s brown, remove it and set it aside.

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When the chicken is removed from the pan, add in 1/2 cup of chicken stock and with a wooden spoon or whisk, scrape up all the lovely bits of flavor. Here is where I cheated and used store-bought Alfredo sauce rather than make my own. Hey. This is a week night dish. Cutting corners is totally acceptable except for one thing. IF you are keto or low carb, you will want to read the label of your preferred sauce. Most of them have too many carbs for my taste, so I choose to use Rao’s because it doesn’t. (It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it to me.)roas

Whisk continually while you add in the sauce and then keep whisking as you add in the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and all but one piece of chopped bacon. IF the sauce appears to be too thick, add in some more chicken stock. Bring up to a slow simmer.

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While your chicken is simmering, spiralize three zucchini. I pulled out another large cast iron skillet and sauteed the zoodles in butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Just as they were getting tender, I sprinkled in half a cup of Parmesan cheese to give it body.

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Lastly, season again with salt and pepper. Add the chicken back, cover and let simmer for twenty minutes. When you are ready to serve, stir in one Tablespoon of butter (use the real stuff!), sprinkle the remaining bacon and whatever fresh herb you prefer. Here I have added basil and parsley.

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All that’s left is to dish up your zoodles and top it with a piece of chicken and lots of sauce. I don’t add my zoodles to the sauce prior because I feel the zoodles get soggy. By all means, do what you like to do here. This would be delicious over Alfredo noodles, too.

Bonus: If you eat bread, a nice, crusty piece of garlic bread would be wonderful!


Chicken Charlie Alfredo with Bacon & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 pieces of bacon, crumbled
1 15oz jar of Rao’s Alfredo Sauce
¾ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (more if you don’t care about carbs)
1 cup chicken stock (possibly more if your sauce is too thick)
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
½ teaspoon salt (Asiago cheese is very salty)
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped Basil
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 Tablespoons butter

Optional: If you have it, you can add additional seasoning your chicken with Trader Joe’s “21 Season Salute”, but it’s not necessary.

For the zoodles:
3 medium zucchini spiralized
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

Prepare the chicken by rinsing, patting dry and seasoning both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Assemble the ingredients: grate the Asiago cheese, chop the sun-dried tomatoes, chop the garlic, chop the herbs and then set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet set to medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, then remove and set aside. Quickly stir in the chopped garlic letting it sizzle only for about 30 seconds, then add in the chicken.

Cook until browned on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). No need to cook the chicken all the way through at this step. Brown it and remove it from the pan. Do NOT drain the bacon fat.

Deglaze the pan by whisking in ½ cup of chicken stock making certain to pick up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the jar of Alfredo Sauce, then whisk in the cheese, tomatoes and all but one piece of the crumbled bacon. Bring up to a simmer and then add the chicken back to the pan making sure to coat both sides. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked through, just prior to service, stir in 1 tablespoon butter and the fresh herbs and then top it with the remaining bacon.

Serve over zoodles or pasta or alone with a side of lovely Asparagus!

 

 

 

Roman-ish Chicken

If you are like me and are not a fan of dark meat, this recipe will convert you. I promise.

My poor husband has to live with all of my silly food likes and dislikes. He is a guy who really loves all types of food and though I love to cook, I confess that I’m not a fan of some of the things he really loves. Dark meat happens to be one of his favorites. Each time we’re at the store together he gravitates to chicken thighs and suggests we make them. Stubbornly, I refuse because I hate dark meat. (Well I used to refuse until I found this recipe!)

Just look at that photo up there! With this cast of characters, how can anyone not like this recipe! The bonus is that it’s super easy (and cheap) to make!

First you lay out your chicken pieces making sure to pat them dry. After seasoning them with salt and pepper, brown them on both sides in a dutch oven. It isn’t necessary that they cook all the way through at this point. You are just looking for a nice color on both sides. When this is to your satisfaction, remove the pieces and set aside.

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Using the same pan, cook the bacon three quarters of the way to crisp, then add in the rest of the vegetables to saute until soft. Don’t forget to season and reseason every step of the way!

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Once your veggies have reached the desired consistency, add in a can of diced tomatoes, half of a cup of dry white wine, half of a cup of chicken stock, half of a cup of your favorite marinara (I use only Rao, because it’s Keto-approved. You may also make your own fresh marinara if you choose.) Here I threw in a whole bunch of fresh herbs from my garden and also more fresh cracked pepper and salt.

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I let this simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry and then I add back in the chicken. It’s not a beautiful picture, from here I let the chicken and the sauce simmer for about twenty minutes to allow the chicken to cook through. Charlie suggested last time that olives would be great in this. I agree. I also think artichokes would be tasty as well.

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Once it’s all cooked through, all that remains is to serve it over whatever your heart desires OR to serve it alone with a side of green vegetables. This will do well over rice, pasta, zoodles and even quinoa.


Roman-Ish Chicken
Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you may use bone in, skin on if preferred)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you may use bone in, skin on preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped or sliced (however you prefer)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Optional Ingredients:
¾ cup thinly sliced eggplant (I grow Japanese eggplant, so that’s what you are seeing in the photo)
½ cup sliced olives (whatever type you like)
¾ cup jarred quartered artichokes

Directions:
Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same pan over medium heat, add the bacon & cook it until it’s just about crisp, then add the onions and peppers (and whatever other fresh veggies you may decide to add), and cook until tender (about five minutes or so). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the stock. Stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. IF you are adding jarred olives and/or artichokes, you would add them here. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Just prior to serving, stir in the parsley and capers.

 

Marinated Zoooooodle Salad

I don’t know where the inspiration for this salad came from. Every time we make it, we add something new. Here is what we did recently…

Happy Summer Solstice! I was just out in my garden this morning telling my zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes to hurry and grow, grow, grow! This salad is part of the reason why! Summer is here and those of us who have planted gardens or who frequent the Farmers Markets are about to have an abundance of vegetables! OH happy day!!!!!!

Whenever we want to make something special for a summer gathering, this is one of the dishes we select. It’s one of our personal favorites for many reasons: People enjoy all of the different flavors and textures; it can sit at room temperature with no concern; it gets better with age; and it can be made ahead.

Why do I like it?

  • It’s pretty.
  • It’s healthy.
  • It’s easy.
  • It’s delicious!

Because we cater, we have several spiralizers that we use to make large amounts of zoodles (noodles made of zucchini), but you don’t need to buy a big one unless you plan on being the Zoodle-Queen of your neighborhood. If you don’t have one, this little contraption costs about $14.95 and you can find them at Walgreen’s, your local grocery store, or you can order one on Amazon.  Also, the salad works just as well with the zucchini sliced like the cucumbers. We like the zoodles because they create nice texture.

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I am going to take a risk and assume everyone reading this recipe knows how to peel and slice, so there will be no photos of the process. One word of advice though, use the biggest vessel you can find in order to mix this salad, then transfer it to a serving bowl. We use our hands, but since you don’t have our hands, you can use a spatula. Or spoons. Or your own hands.


Marinated Zoodle Salad:

This recipe will serve millions.

Okay not really.
This will serve 6-8.

FOR THE SALAD:
2 cups Baby Spinach
2 large zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
2-3 cucumbers sliced (we use English Cucumbers)
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 (15 oz.) can quartered artichokes
2 large ear sweet corn, kernels removed
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (I like to use red and yellow)
8 oz. fresh Mozzarella pearls
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced (use the variety you like)
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

FOR THE DRESSING:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
Salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
First, make (or cough cough, “buy) the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Note: If you are afraid of making your own dressing, use a bottle of your favorite Balsamic or Red wine vinaigrette.

Use a spiralizer to make the zucchini noodles. We use scissors to cut them into manageable spirals (about 2 ½ inches long). Slice the corn off the cob and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine zucchini noodles with the spinach and all of the chopped and sliced vegetables, herbs, seasonings and seeds. Pour on the dressing and toss. At this point, you may serve or cover and refrigerate. I believe this salad is best when allowed to marinate for a few hours.

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS: Do NOT skip the step even if you are using bottle dressing! A few minutes before you intend to serve, take the salad out and toss it once more. Then add a few more shots of pure Balsamic Vinegar and a few more twists of freshly cracked pepper and a little more salt and garlic. Toss and serve.

Options: Think of things you like to eat and add them in.
Here are some suggestions:
Chopped avocado
Bean Sprouts
Pepperoni
Mini corn on the cob
Diced or shredded chicken or ham
Black olives
Bamboo shoots
Sliced carrots & celery
Sliced red, yellow and orange bell peppers

See? The list is virtually endless. Can you think of other variations? If so, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments and IF you are a food blogger and you have a great summer salad to share, by all means drop your link! I’d love to check it out!

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.

 

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.
Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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, uncooked, frozen tortellini, frozen 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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