Seafood Casserole

When you check your freezer and find a small package of shrimp and another one of scallops which still look perfect thanks to our FoodSaver, what else to do but a seafood casserole!

Seafood Casserole

  • 6 oz uncooked spaghetti, broken
  • 1/2 lb fresh scallops, cut in half or quarters if large
  • ½ lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined. Smaller ones are best.
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 4 Tbs flour, divided
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups half and half cream
  • 4 Tbs white wine or sherry
  • ½ cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 8 Tbs parmesan cheese, divided

Instructions

Cook spaghetti per directions on package. Drain and rinse with hot water.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole dish, or 4 individual 2 cup ramekins.

Thoroughly rinse scallops and shrimp in cold water, drain, and cut scallops to desired size. I like a bite sized piece.

Melt 3 tbs of butter in a sauté pan.

Add seafood and mushrooms and sauté over medium high heat.

Cook 6-8 minutes, or until scallops are opaque.

Remove from pan and set aside.

 In same pan, melt remaining butter. Add flour, salt and pepper and blend well.

Add half and half all at once.

Cook until mixture thickens. This should take about 5 minutes. Stir constantly with a whisk.

Add 4 T of parmesan cheese.

 Add scallops and mushrooms back to the pan.

Add wine and peas. Continue stirring until heated through.

Place spaghetti into saucepan with seafood mixture, and stir it all together until well mixed.

Place it all in the buttered casserole.

 Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until light brown and bubbly around the edges.

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pot Pie

If you are fortunate to live somewhere where spaghetti squash is available, you probably know that it is a very versatile squash and a great replacement for pasta! Cut it in half horizontally, remove the seeds, spray some olive oil over it and bake cut side down in a pyrex dish in the oven for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. When it is done, remove it from the oven and turn cut side up. Let it cool a bit and then take a dinner fork and begin to shred it into strands.

While the shreds are resting, prepare the “pot pie” ingredients.

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pot Pie

  • 5 cups cooked spaghetti squash, *see note below
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (or turkey)
  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots (I used a can of Niblets)
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced OPTIONAL
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 Panko breadcrumbs

1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2 Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

3 Add the onions, stirring into the butter and cook until the onions have completely softened, about 10 minutes.

4 Stir in the garlic and cook one minute longer.

5 Add the Niblets, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and rosemary then cook about 5 minutes.

6 Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for a minute while stirring, then slowly pour in the milk.

7 Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the bottom of the skillet and stir the milk into the vegetables. Let the filling come up to a simmer and then let thicken for 3-4 minutes.

8 Stir in the chicken and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, then remove the skillet form the heat. Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed.

9 Pour the filling into a large bowl along with the cooked spaghetti squash. Stir gently to combine the filling, then pour into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that’s been buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.

10 Top the casserole with the remaining parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs then bake for 30 minutes.

11 To brown the topping even more, place the casserole under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.

Baked Pork Tenderloin

Normally when I prepare pork tenderloin, I make a marinade, meaning it needs to sit in the marinade for several hours or overnight. NOT this one, which makes it very simple. The end result was juicy and very flavourful. We like to remove ours from the oven while it is still slightly pink in the middle, so you need to adjust the timing. This one reached 140 F between 15 and 20 minutes and I removed it from the oven and let it sit about 10 minutes. It was perfectly a little pink inside.

Baked Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 ½ pound pork tenderloins
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice (or 1 tablespoon of each)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional but highly recommended)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a large baking/casserole dish. Pierce tenderloins all over with a fork. Rub oil onto all sides of the meat.

2. Whisk together Italian seasoning, garlic powder, cumin, salt, chili powder, smoked paprika (if using) and black pepper. Sprinkle mixture over tenderloin(s), patting it onto the surface of the meat on all sides. Place in prepared baking dish and drizzle lemon/lime juice over the top.

3. Bake for 25-35 minutes until outside is browned and crispy and centers are cooked through to desired doneness (you can take them out on the early side if you like the centers a little pink).

4. Spoon juices from the dish over the meat. Allow to rest on a cutting board or in the baking dish for 5-10 minutes. Slice into 1-inch pieces. Spoon any remaining juices from the pan over the slices, garnish with fresh chopped cilantro if desired, and serve.

Macaroni and Cheese

No luncheon meats in the house and the cleaning lady is here today. What to give her for lunch? Penne. Large bag of Kirkland cheese blend. Whipping cream. Onion powder. Parmesan. Panko. Milk. Macaroni and cheese!!!

If you do not have gruyere experiment with another shredded cheese…

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces pasta, I had penne
  • 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted or olive oil or canola oil
  • ½ cup parmesan grated
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 cups gruyere shredded O or whatever shredded cheese you have on hand
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9×12 casserole dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Prepare noodles al dente. Drain, drizzle with oil to prevent sticking and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine panko, butter or oil and parmesan. Set aside.

4. Melt butter in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.

5. Whisk in flour. Whisk continuously until golden, about 1 minute.

6. Gradually whisk in milk and heavy cream until smooth. Whisk about 5 minutes.

7. Add onion powder, paprika and pepper.

8. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in cheeses until smooth.

9. Fold in pasta. Stir until well combined. Transfer to casserole dish or bake in Dutch oven.

10. Spread panko mixture evenly over the top.

11. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

A Blast from the Past

So many of you have joined this blog since it was begun back since 10 years ago, that I thought you might enjoy a flashback from the past, more or less the recipe that started it all! Hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as myself and many others have turned to so many times… Thanks for hanging in there my friends! Originally posted March 19, 2011

Rose and Thistle Salad Dressing

Technically, this recipe was stolen from a little restaurant in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. The restaurant is/was The Rose and Thistle.  As a special request was made, I decided to post this one early…let me know how it turns out Bev…

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup salad oil (NOT Olive)
  • crushed garlic to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • Dash Worcestershire
  • Dash pepper

Put into a blender for 1 to 2 minutes. I cheat and pout it in a shaker and shake hard.

Make it ahead as it keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. It is great on almost any salad, including spinach!

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

Normally, when I do sausage and peppers, it is in the oven. Since I had time this week I found a slow cooker/crockpot recipe on Pinterest for this method. Come to find out, I liked it much better without having to use the oven. The texture of the sausage was so very different and the peppers were great. Served this with a little side of steamed broccoli. Perfect dish!

FYI…the sausages I prefer are Obertal Argentinian Chorizos, but that is your choice.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Italian sausages (5) My preference is Obertal Argentinian Chorizo
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chunky marinara sauce I substituted a small jar of PACE Medium Salsa
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.

2. Sear the Italian sausages 2-3 mins on each side until starting to brown. You aren’t trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just browning the outside a bit which always increases the flavor while slow cooking.

3. Lay the seared Italian sausages in the bottom of a slow cooker/crockpot.

4. Add the uncooked sliced onions and peppers on top of the sausages.

5. Sprinkle the garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning over the top.

6. Spread the marinara sauce or PACE salsa over the onion and pepper mixture.

7. Cook the crock pot sausage and peppers recipe on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours until the peppers are soft and the Italian sausage is cook through. FYI…mine was done at 4 hours on low!

8. The crockpot Italian sausage and peppers are seriously SO delicious as is, but to take it up a notch, take the sausage and peppers out of the slow cooker and spread into a broiler-safe pan and follow the cheese steps in the optional section.

Optional – Add Cheese

1. Sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 cups of your favorite shredded white cheese, like mozzarella, Monterey Jack, an Italian blend, or Colby Jack would all be great choices.

2. Broil the Italian sausage and peppers mix for 1-2 minutes 4″ from the heat source until the cheese is melted.

Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Salt and Pepper Salmon Bites

My dilemma…do I buy a full side salmon filet or just three pieces at the fish counter? With the full side from Costco, there are thick and thin pieces, some cook faster than others.

Resolution, trim off the thinner sides of the piece, along with the tail end. Cut these into cubes or smaller slices and freeze them in a bag to make other salmon dishes not requiring small filets. The result was this recipe which makes a very nice dinner when served with some freshly steamed brussel sprouts and maybe a nice rice dish. Those pieces can also be used in a pasta dish.

20200803_185713

Salt and Pepper Salmon Bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2-pound skinless salmon filet
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • red pepper flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice the salmon into strips about an inch thick.

In a bowl combine the pepper, salt, five spice and cornstarch.

Add the salmon pieces and toss well making sure the salmon is well coated.

In a medium sized pan stick pan heat the oil until hot.

Gently place the salmon into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes. Turn the salmon pieces over and repeat with the other side until salmon is fully cooked.

Transfer the salmon to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Serve with rice and garnish with chopped green onions and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a bit of sour cream if you like.

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos).

Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich boston butt or picnic ham cuts of pork. The 6–16 lb (3–7 kg) sections are usually cut down to a workable (6–10 lb) size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a copper pot (or any thick-bottomed pot), which disperses the heat evenly in a process similar to confit. Lard is used to cover the dish in proportion to the amount of meat being cooked. Once the lard has melted, pork and flavorings are added (usually salt, chili, cumin, oregano or Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves). Traditional carnitas are then made by a process of simmering the meat in the lard until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. (WIKIPEDIA)

Having read that, you are probably thinking TOO MUCH WORK! Indeed, my spouse made carnitas the traditional way, complete with the copper pan we bought in Quiroga when we visited that area of Mexico. It took hours and was incredible BUT….too time consuming and messy!

One of my favorite Mexican TV cooks is Pati Jinich, who has a program on PBS and on YouTube (Pati’s Mexican Table). The following recipe is her version and done on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. It was PERFECT and a lot less onerous.

20200711_183508

 

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or oil (I used oil)
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, fat on, cut into 3” chunks
  • 4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute.

Heat the lard in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Season the meat with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Once the lard has melted, add the meat, brown on all sides, stirring and flipping as it does, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

In the jar of a blender, pour 1 ½ cups of the milk and add the garlic, onion and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour over the meat and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, drop in the bay leaves, and cover. Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, flipping the chunks of meat a couple times in between.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup milk with the sugar. Pour over the carnitas, stir, and let them continue to cook, uncovered, for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and place in a bowl. Shred with a couple forks, add a couple tablespoons of the seasoned fat remaining in the casserole and toss.

This is normally eaten in  tacos with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, etc. As you can see we skipped the tacos/tortillas and simply plated it with some rice and green beans.

Stacked Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

20200704_184142

Stacked Tomato Salad with Black Olive Tapenade and Sweet Basil Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, (beefsteak, yellow, and heirloom), sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • Tapenade, recipe follows*
  • 1-pound goat cheese, thinly sliced (or use Mozzarella, but goat is better)
  • Fresh basil leaves and sprigs, for layering and for garnish

Sweet Basil Dressing, recipe follows below

Directions

Place a tomato slice on a plate and spread with some of the tapenade. Then place a slice of the goat cheese on top, add a few basil leaves, and finish with another tomato slice. You can add another layer to make Napoleon as high as you desire. Top with another small spoonful of the tapenade and then drizzle the Sweet Basil Dressing over the tomato and around the plate. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and repeat to make 4 to 6 plates. For a smaller version, use Roma tomatoes.

Tapenade (Honestly, I buy a small jar at the store…a whole lot easier)

  • 2 cups kalamata or niçoise olives, pitted
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine olives, garlic, anchovies and pine nuts in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sweet Basil Dressing

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup pure olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (roll the leaves in a little tube shape and slice across the leaves)

Whisk together vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and then stir in the basil.

20200704_184300