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.

Weeknight Bolognese Sauce with Zoodles

Checking the pantry and freezer, I found I had all of the ingredients for this sauce, including a very nice medium zucchini for spiralizing. I also had a pound of ground veal which I had not put in the freezer since I bought it two days before. You can use beef or whatever…

Zoodle Bolognese…

Weeknight Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrots, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • Zucchini noodles or the pasta of your choice
  • Romano or Parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.

2. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and sauté until softened stirring often, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add garlic and sauté stirring often until fragrant, around 1 minute.

4. Add the ground veal and sauté using wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks until the veal is fully browned, around 5 minutes.

5. Add salt, crushed red pepper, dried basil, dried Italian seasoning, wine, milk, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and baking soda and stir until well combined.

6. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.

7. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes stirring periodically.

8. Serve immediately over zucchini noodles or pasta with a sprinkle of Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving has passed for us Canadians. American Thanksgiving is coming up very soon. I have been viewing an interview with the president of Butterball who was stating that this year in particular, turkeys would be much larger birds as a result of a shortage of workers to process turkeys during COVID, which resulted in turkeys growing much larger before they were sent to the processors. Small turkeys between 10 and 12 pounds will be extremely hard to find this year! And it definitely is squash season.

If you are not into a traditional Thanksgiving with turkey and all of the trimmings OR if you are not a large family but just a couple, then this could be perfect as a smaller dinner. You could make it vegan using no protein at all!

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing onto the squash
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or half a teaspoon dried
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb mild or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups torn curly kale
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Slice a small piece off the top and bottom of the squash so it can sit upright, then slice the acorn squash in half width-wise (not through the stem). This will result in a pretty scalloped edge. Scrape out the seeds.

3. Place the squash halves on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Turn upside down (seed side down) and roast for 25 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.

4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and sauté until onion is softened and turning translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Stir in the chopped fresh thyme, then add the minced garlic and sausage. Continue to sauté for another 8 minutes, or until the sausage is fully cooked.

6. Place the torn kale on top of the sausage mixture and cover the skillet to steam for 1-2 minutes. Stir and re-cover to continue steaming the kale, if necessary. Once the kale is wilted, stir in half the parmesan cheese and remove the pan from heat.

7. Once the squash is done roasting, remove them from the oven and turn the heat up to broil. Flip the squash bowl side up and divide the filling evenly among them (pile it high, they’ll be overfull), then sprinkle on the remaining the parmesan cheese.

8. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted, making sure not to over-brown the squash.

Serve immediately and store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Eat within4 days.

Nutrition

Italian Romaine Salad and Dressing for Two

Since we are back trying to shed some pre-Christmas pounds/kilos, I find we are eating more salads. This one is very similar to a well known Italian restaurant chain in the US! It’s fresh and very tasty, as well as filling.

Italian Romaine Salad 204 calories per serving

  • 1 head romaine lettuce or 2 small romaine hearts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Grated, parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Pepperoncini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Black olives, sliced or whole
  • 1 pint Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Croutons, store bought or homemade OPTIONAL

Italian Dressing

  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Creamy Baked Acorn Squash

Amazingly, as I write this I note that is recipe#450! Outside today (August 19) the skies are sunny here in our part of Mexico, but the winds are beginning to howl with the approach of Hurricane Grace. Thankfully, it will pass south of us, but we still expect winds and rain.

Rarely do we see acorn squash in our part of Mexico; for that matter, we rarely see butternut squash or spaghetti squash. Whenever we find them, we grab them up! This latest squash recipe, incorporating sweet potatoes, is awesome!

Creamy Baked Acorn Squash

If you need to feed four people,use two acorn squash…

  • 1 large acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream OR coconut milk with cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 5-6 sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the sweet potatoes only (optional)
  • 1/4 cup hard cheese like: parmesan, pecorino Romano (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Prepare squash and sweet potatoes.  If using the sweet potatoes, drizzle the olive oil over the tops of them.  Place in baking dish.  Add heavy cream, salt, pepper and thyme to the center of the acorn squash.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove and grate cheese over the top.  Bake an additional 20 minutes of until squash is soft.  Bake uncovered.

Buen provecho amigos!

Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp Alfredo

Most of you are aware of fettuccini Alfredo with its rich creamy sauce. This version replaces the fettuccini (pasta) with shredded spaghetti squash. The recipe includes directions for baking the squash, but in my case I had baked a whole squash the day before for another spaghetti squash recipe with pesto sauce. Since there are only two of us, one squash is enough for two meals. First night – pesto. Second night, reheated squash with shrimp Alfredo sauce. Since this was prebaked squash, I did not keep the shells, obviously.

To simplify both recipes, I used a jar of pesto sauce the first night, and a jar of Alfredo sauce the second night. In both cases, it simplified the preparation! FYI…I wasn’t too thrilled with my photo…LOL. A few leaves of basil would have been a great improvement, but the garden had none.

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Alfredo (KETO, depending on your sauce)

  • 2 small spaghetti squash, 1.5 – 2 lb
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb shrimp thawed if frozen, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1.5 cups Alfredo sauce*
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, such as parsley and/or basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Brush the inside of each half with half the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet with the cut side facing up. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash at 375F for about 30 minutes, or until the squash flakes easily when pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, but keep the oven on – you’ll need it in a few minutes.

2. Use a fork to scrape all the spaghetti squash strands out of each squash, taking care not to pierce the squash skin (read the recipe post for tips for flaking the squash, and what to do if you pierce the skin!). Place the spaghetti strands into a large bowl.

3. While the spaghetti squash is roasting, prepare the rest of the ingredients: Chop the herbs.

4. Grate the cheese.

5. In a medium bowl, combine the peeled, thawed shrimp with the salt, garlic powder, paprika, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix with a fork.

6. Heat a large skillet, and add the shrimp to the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes, then use tongs to flip each shrimp over. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the shrimp are fully cooked. Remove from heat.

7. In a large bowl, combine the cooked spaghetti squash, cooked shrimp, 1.5 cups Alfredo sauce, ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and the herbs. Mix well, and place into the 4 spaghetti squash boat shells.

8. OPTIONAL if you are using leftover squash – Arrange the spaghetti squash boats on the same large baking sheet. Top each filled spaghetti squash boat with about a tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and about ¼ cup shredded mozzarella. Bake at 375F for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted.

Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Puttanesca originated in Naples in the mid 19th century and is usually made with pasta, capers, tomatoes, garlic and hot peppers. Since I had a spaghetti squash I need to use up, I made this dish. It turned out wonderfully. Below is my own version of this!!

(Hidden under that luscious sauce is the shredded spaghetti squash!)

Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash cut in half horizontally with seeds removed
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 diced jalapeno pepper or red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 stems of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of whole black olives (optional)
  • 2 cups of Prego pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

Drizzle olive oil over each half of squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side  down in a Pyrex dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven uncovered for 60 to 75 minutes.

Remove squash and let cool before shredding each half with forks. Be careful not to puncture the squash skin! Cover loosely with foil. Let it rest while preparing the sauce.

In a large frypan (or wok – I love using a wok when preparing sauce for spaghetti), brown the beef, stirring frequently. When there is no more pink, add the 2 cups of pasta sauce.

Stir to combine all of the meat, adding the diced jalapenos (optional) or red pepper flakes

Add the pitted black olives and 1 stem of basil LEAVES and stir to combine.

Uncover the bowl of spaghetti squash shreds and pour the sauce the shreds.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and the leaves from the other basil stem.

Serve.

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

With a package of frozen meatballs in the freezer, a jar of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella and rotini pasta in the pantry, this recipe was so easy to throw together. Best part You dont need to precook the pasta!!!

Just make sure those meatballs are thawed before you start the recipe…

Hidden meatballs…

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

Total Time 55 minutes         Servings 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 (24 or 25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14 ounce) package fully-cooked miniature (cocktail-size) meatballs (if using frozen meatballs, make sure that they are completely thawed before using)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and meatballs. Season with salt to taste; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

3. Uncover; stir. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.

4. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Some days I just want to be able to throw something together for dinner quickly. Pasta is usually the answer! In this case, I just happened to buy some smoked salmon at Costco to use in salad and I still had some left.

Voila ! Smoked Salmon Carbonara. Bonus – no creams, just fresh eggs and Parmesan for the sauce. Read the recipe carefully, as you don’t want to overcook the eggs and Parmesan. The pasta MUST be a little cool to avoid scrambling the eggs!!! It looked and tasted great. You can skip the capers if it’s not something you like.

NOTE – Capers are immature flower buds from the Capparis spinosa (aka the “caper bush”), which grow all over the Mediterranean, just like olives do. Caper buds are picked before they can bloom into flowers. They are not a fish as some people mistakenly assume, but can be a little salty. Great on pizza, too.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 14.1 oz (400g) linguine pasta, or similar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 5.2 oz (150g) smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of capers (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the linguine or long pasta shape of your choice. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, cut the smoked salmon into thin strips and finely chop some fresh parsley (this is optional).

3. Next, add the eggs to a bowl and whisk together, add the grated parmesan and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir to combine.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the pot you cooked it in. Sprinkle over the strips of salmon then add the whisked eggs and parmesan mixture, immediately stir the pasta to coat it evenly in egg and to distribute the salmon throughout the pasta evenly.

5. Tip: wait exactly 1 minute before pouring over the egg mixture. If the pasta is too hot the eggs will scramble but if it’s too cool the eggs will remain raw.

6. The pasta should be creamy and evenly coated in sauce. Divide the smoked salmon pasta between bowls and top with a scattering of chopped parsley and an extra grinding of pepper, serve.

Add capers.

Notes

I’ve seen and made many pasta carbonara recipes in my time and I find that using 1 egg less as many servings works best. Does that make sense? For four servings I use 400g/14oz of pasta (100g per portion) and 3 eggs.