Wish Upon A Dish: February 2014

February 28, 2014

Baked Eggplant Parmesan ♥ Week One, Day One - EatingWell Meal Plan

I have started a monthly meal plan published by Eating Well magazine. I have dabbled with the thought of trying a few over the years but being OCD propels me to need more control over what dishes I cook, so for many years I did my own monthly menus and corresponding weekly shopping list.

Subscribing to a month of meals, which includes a shopping list, a recipe and a nutritional diet is all the rage lately and there a few good ones specializing in healthy, easy recipes but the few following the Glycemic Index where all TV advertised pre-cooked, freeze-dried and very expensive....yuck!

I recently stumbled here and found a wealth of menu plans just for me. It was time to see if I could discipline myself to follow someone else's recommendations.  It is so hard for me to not mess with a recipe but I promised myself I would only change the ingredients not good for a diabetic.

To make it so everyone could follow, I choose a basic 28-day dinner plan which was already oober healthy.
After reading the dishes, I got the thumbs up from The Nudge.
It was time to go shopping.

If you want to start March 1st and do this together, here is the link for the PDF. They break the meal plan into 4 weeks, with one shopping list for each week and serving suggestions. For instance; Creamy Green Chile Chicken Soup (serve with cheese quesadillas) or Grape Chutney (serve with pork tenderloin and spinach salad).
They include 4 (cook one, freeze one) recipes for those days when cooking from scratch is just not doable.
I love that there is room to customize each week. You can pair any meal with a day that suits your schedule.
Most of the recipes are 10 ingredients or less and all the ingredients can be bought in a basic supermarket.

The first recipe is for a 'cook one, freeze one' Eggplant Parmesan.
I am famous for my version, so it was interesting to see what we would think.
Any Diabetic substitutions will be in parentheses.

Let's get cooking.....

Eggplant Parmesan
Makes: 2 casseroles, 4 servings each (about 3/4 cup)
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 6, cover and freeze (unbaked) for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 2 days. Uncover and bake at 400° for 40-45 minutes.
* 2 eggplants (about 1 pound each), cut into 12 slices
* 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
* 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
* 3/4 cup liquid egg whites or 6 large egg whites
* 2 1/2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat (half crumbs, half quinoa flakes)
* 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning, divided
* 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Olive oil spray
* 2 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes
* 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
* 4 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
* Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

1. Place 2 layers of paper towels on a baking sheet or cutting board. Place half the eggplant slices on the paper towels. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cover with another double layer of paper towels. Top with the remaining eggplant slices and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cover with another double layer of paper towels. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Position oven racks in upper and lower positions and place a large baking sheet on each rack to heat; preheat to 425°.
3. Blot the eggplant with more paper towels. Put the flour in one shallow dish, egg whites in another. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning in a third dish. Dip each slice of eggplant in the flour, shaking off excess. Dip in the egg letting the excess drip off, then press into the breadcrumbs.
4. Remove the heated baking sheets from the oven and add 2 tablespoons oil to each, tilting to coat. Place half the eggplant on each baking sheet, not letting the slices touch. Generously coat the tops with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip over and continue baking until golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
5. Combine crushed tomatoes and the remaining 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning in a medium bowl.
6. To assemble: Coat two 8" square baking dishes with cooking spray (I used 1 metal and 1 aluminum for freezing). Spread 1/2 cup of the tomatoes in each prepared baking dish. Make a layer of 6 eggplant slices over the sauce. Spread with 1 cup of tomatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella. Top with the remaining 6 slices of eggplant, a generous 1 cup tomatoes. 1/2 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmesan.
7. To serve: Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve garnished with basil if desired. To freeze: let unbaked casserole cool to room temperature. Tightly wrap with heavy-duty foil (or freezer paper) and freeze. (To prevent foil from sticking to the cheese, coat with cooking spray first.)

Per serving: 294 calories; 14g fa t(4g sat, 7g mono); 13mg cholesterol; 33g carbohydrate; 0g added sugars; 14g protein; 9g fiber; 459mg sodium; 176mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (35% daily value), Calcium (28% dv), Potassium & Iron (20% dv).

Review: Was as good as any I have eaten in a restaurant but it's not mine. Mine is fried in olive oil and is made with homemade sauce. I do love the technique for baking the slices and will use that many times in the future.

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February 27, 2014

Pork Noisettes with Charcutiére Sauce

I found this recipe on saveur.com. What caught my eye was the cornichons and demi-glace in the sauce.
We are huge fans of pork tenderloins and while we grill most of them in the summer, I am always looking for winter-ized recipes.

While the overall dish was quite good, the use of boutique ingredients makes this not-so-approachable to the average cook. I think I would like to play around with the concept using basic pantry ingredients and if I did I would give you these recommendations...........if you can not find demi-glace (I do believe D'Artagnan sells it) or want to make it yourself (if you have a whole day, that is), reducing 2 cups of good quality low sodium beef stock (Rachael's won the ATK test) down to 6 tablespoons is a good enough sub as long as you refrain from adding salt to the finished sauce before you taste. If you can't find cornichons, add 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish.

As usual the sauce tasted better the next day, so making this ahead a few days and searing off the pork last minute should work quite well.

A side of red cabbage, Brussels Sprouts or cauliflower is perfect with the pork.

Pork Noisettes with Charcutiére Sauce
Adapted from Saveur
serves 4
yield 3/4 cup sauce

* 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* (12) 1/2" slices pork tenderloin
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
* 1 cup white wine
* 6 tablespoon demi-glace
* 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
* 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
* 6 cornichons, julienned

1. Sear the pork: Heat 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt & pepper. Add half the pork to the skillet; cook, flipping once, until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Divide pork between 2 plates, overlapping  pieces on each plate. Repeat with remaining olive oil and pork. Cover plates loosely with foil; set aside in a warm place to let rest while you finish the sauce.

2. Make the sauce: Return skillet, with brown bits from pork still in it, to medium-high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring and scraping occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine; simmer until reduced to about one-forth its original volume, about 5 minutes. Add demi-glace; whisk in butter until smooth. Remove skillet from heat; stir in mustard and cornichons. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons sauce over pork.

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February 24, 2014

Spinach and Cheese Omelet for the Omelet Impaired

If you are like me and your omelets don't look like Julia's, even though you have watched the pro's make them a hundred times, this is the best way to cheat and make one that doesn't look half bad.

I heard on Dr. Oz that eggs for breakfast gives one the best amount of protein in the morning along with enough staying power to last as long as oatmeal but without all those carbs.
A win-win in my book.

So since then my new favorite go to breakfast is an egg white omelet with spinach and provolone cheese. Did you know that provolone is considered a 'hard' cheese and therefore is OK for those on a low carb diet? I think it's because hard cheeses loose milk fat as they age.

What makes this so great is there is no more cooking the spinach first, then squeezing the water out and no more jerking the pan. Your cheater omelet is cooked and on the table in 5 minutes.

First thing you need to do is spray the pan with a release agent. Throw a handful of spinach leaves into the pan, cover with a lid for 2 minutes and then gently pour a 1/3 cup of egg substitute or 1 extra large egg that is beaten with a teaspoon of water, over the spinach.

Cover the pan again for another 2 minutes while the eggs set. Place two slices or 1 ounce grated provolone or Swiss cheese down the center of the eggs and cover for 1 minute.

Shut off the heat, flip one side over so that the edge is in the middle, then flip again get your plate.
The eggs will finish cooking and the cheese will melt with the residual heat.

Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and breakfast is ready. Depending on the day, sometimes I will use ketchup and other times I will use Frontera Grill's salsa (yum). I also will grab a bunch of grapes to finish the meal on a sweet note.


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February 22, 2014

Beverages Are Hot !! ♥ Recipe Redux Challenge February 2014

I am so ready for warmer weather. Since the Recipe Redux February Challenge is all about the drinks, all I could think about was something fruity but not too sweet and with a color that begs to be served on a beach somewhere in my head.

I took two of my favorite drinks, the Tequila Sunrise and the Margarita and blended them together to create a Margarita Sunrise.  I liked the addition of pineapple, honey and orange juice. This drink could be made non-alcoholic and still be quite refreshing and a splash of Prosecco would keep it leaner than with the tequila, but this drink has less than a shot of tequila per drink, so it is already on the healthier side than a straight Margarita would be.

Margarita Sunrise
makes 4 drinks
* 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes), plus wedges for serving 
* 3 tablespoons honey 
* 1 cup orange juice 
* 2 cups fresh or frozen pineapple cubes 
* 1/4 cup triple sec
* 1/3 cup tequila
* 2 cups ice
* 1 teaspoon Sriracha
* 1 tablespoon grenadine (optional)

Stir together lime juice and honey; add to a blender, along with orange juice, pineapple, triple sec, tequila, and ice. Blend until smooth and frothy.
Pour a teaspoon of grenadine into the bottom of each glass. Using the bottom of a spoon to diffuse the pour of the drink, carefully pour the drink over the back of a spoon into the glass. As the drink sits it separates into four distinct colors, to look like a sunrise.

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February 19, 2014

Margarita Flatbread Pizza

I made a 5 pound batch of no knead crusty bread, divided it up into 5 one pound bags, froze 4 of them and one for a flatbread pizza, margarita-style. I can not start to tell you how good the chew on this crust was.

Not a traditional margarita, it was delicious and gone in 15 minutes.
I am so happy I froze basil in the summer when I had pots of it because it took this pizza over the top.

I like to slice, salt and press the water out of my tomatoes or it will make the dough wet.
Once the dough rises, add the cheese and semi-bake for 10 minutes.
Place the tomatoes evenly on top of the cheese and dot them with a spoonful of pesto. A dusting of Parmesan, a brushing of olive oil on the crust and it is returned to the oven until the bottom and crust is browned.

While thicker than the thin crust pizza The Nudge usually asks for, thinner than a deep dish, the bread dough had a nice chew to it, and after shoving his mouth full, I thought I heard him say (barely), "wow, this is really good! Think you could grab me a few more pieces, please."
I love hitting it on the mark. (By the way, I made a breakfast flatbread two says later....yum!!)

Margarita-style Flatbread Pizza
makes one 10x14" pizza
* 1 pound pizza dough (homemade, store-bought flatbread or pre-baked crust)
* 1 large tomato, sliced thin, salted and pressed between paper towels)
* 2" slice of fresh mozzarella, grated
* 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, grated
* 10 teaspoons of basil pesto
* salt & pepper
* Olive oil 

Spread the dough into a 10x14" rectangle with the edges forming a wall. Allow to rest and rise, but not too high. As soon as it is as thick as you like, add the cheese and pre-bake for 10 minutes. This will stop the rise. Remove the pizza and add the tomatoes, the Parmesan and the pesto.
Brush the crust with the olive oil & salt & pepper.
Return the pan to the oven and bake another 15 minutes. Remove the pizza from the pan right onto the top rack of your oven and broil for a minute or two until golden brown and bubbly. This will allow the bottom crust to brown also.

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February 16, 2014

Meal Starter Nutrition Charts ♥ Important Information Everyone Should Know

Diabetes Self-Management sent me a free trial a while back and while throwing away junk cleaning my desk, I always like to give things a final once over before tossing them out.

I found this article on meal starters and like my series on Best Fast Food Choices for Diabetics, I thought I would share a nutrition chart with a good comparison amongst the most nation-wide food manufacturer's "meal helpers" and "dinner mixers".

Diabetic diets are not cookie cut list of foods to eat and which ones to not. Main reason why it is hard to maintain blood glucose levels for most. I was lucky, my doctor had enough sense to test me (even though no one in my family had diabetes) and warned me I was .2 points away from full blown diabetes.

That scared the crap out of me because I knew my SIL was injecting and there was no way I would follow in her footsteps. That was the week I started this blog, not to make money but as a place to store my findings, my recipes and all the information I knew I was going to have to digest.

It was a virtual filing cabinet of sorts and if someone happened to pass through and find something helpful for a loved one also struggling with BG levels, I hope I was able to offer some help.

There are three very important facts that doctors and diabetic health care professionals do agree on....
No more than 12 grams of saturated fat, only 200 mg of cholesterol and 2300 mg of sodium per day.

Personally I think all three is very obtainable. It is quite possible that the starter you prefer is not on the list (so many more on the shelves nowadays), but knowing the best allowable amounts of sat fat, cholesterol and sodium will allow you to make the best choices.

While most mother's know preparing food from scratch is the ideal way to feed her family, it's just not doable every night of the week and for Seniors with physical limitations, meal starters are the only way most can prepare a meal. While not opposed to them, I do wish better nutrition will soon become the norm for packaged goods.


To print: Right click, "save to" desktop and print off your desktop. If you have the option to print from your mouse, do that instead.

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February 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup ♥ My Personal Favorite

I try to test as many recipes as time allows but the ones for cookbooks and magazines must come first. Like a job, there is a responsibility attached to agreeing to test somebodies hard work and effort. Often the results are so-so but every once in a while I get a keeper. I am asked to refrain from posting about these recipes until they are published.
More often that not, I tuck the printed version somewhere amongst a shelf of 1" binders and folders. Yes, I forget where they are and when they do make the cut to the outside world, I can't find the original recipe, or for that matter, the pic I took of it.

This recipe I remembered both because black bean soup is one of my top 5 absolute favorites and this was the best I have ever eaten. As far as I am concerned this as good as it gets with a no fuss attitude and ease of preparation and time.

The best part of this recipe was the goal of the writer. To make it ahead, store for a few days and finish off before serving. Most recipes can not be successful with a goal like that, example is most pasta dishes and braises.

After I sent my hugs and kisses thumbs up to the creator I remade the dish from start to finish in my slow cooker using half the amounts. It was an exact duplicate, the hic-cup in time from start to finish did nothing to alter the perfection of the recipe. Since I am not posting the exact recipe, I can share with you, this excellent slow cooker black bean soup.

You could use canned black beans and do a quick stove top version but the beans cook up better from a dry state. The addition of baking soda keeps the skins on and the beans remain firm, not mushy the way canned can be.

Serve with the standard condiments, wedges of lime, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes and minced onion. I like a handful of tortilla chips with mine and The Nudge prefers baked veggie chips.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
makes 4 servings

* 1 pound bag black beans, soaked overnight, drained (or 2 cans, rinsed and drained)
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 4 small cloves garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (or a good all AP chile powder)
* 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 large bay leaf or, two small
* 1 small can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion
* 1/2 large red pepper, 1/2" dice
* 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
* 1 quart water
* salt & pepper to taste

1. In a dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add the oil, onion, garlic, chile powder, paprika and bay leaf. Saute for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth and stir to release all the fond on the pan. Pour contents into the sleeve of your slow cooker. Add the water, beans, baking soda, tomatoes and red pepper. Cover and set the timer to 6 hours on LOW or 3 hours on HI.
3. When done cooking, remove the bay leaf and add in the cilantro. Adjust salt & pepper.
4. Serve with lime wedges and condiments.
5. Freeze leftovers or use it in a batch of Ultimate Nachos.

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February 9, 2014

Pistachios, All They Are Cracked Up To Be and More ♥ Pistcahio Health Institute Sponsored Contest

I am so glad in-shell pistachios are all over the media lately and now it's our turn.
The Pistachio Health Institute sponsored a contest through the Recipe Redux, to showcase different ways to pair in-shell pistachios with foods that make great snack options.

Did you know that in-shell pistachios are a great, everyday healthy choice for people looking to satisfy a salty snack craving the smart way, and still do something good for themselves. In-shell pistachios are a deliciously simple way to snack healthy. A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals approximately 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut, and a reduced serving of about 30 pistachios is just about 100 calories. Crack ‘em, Chew ‘em, Love ‘em, Leave ‘em: Let the Pistachio Principle be your guide!

Need another reason to go nuts snacking on pistachios? Recent research from Harvard University and published in New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the benefits of snacking on nuts go up as the number of servings goes up, too. Bottom line: more nuts, more benefits. Go for a daily handful of in-shell pistachios as part of a healthy diet.

According to the American Diabetes Association, you should consume between 45 g and 60 g of total carbohydrate per meal. With only 5.54 g of total carbohydrate per serving, there is plenty of room to incorporate in-shell pistachios into your meals, without exceeding your carbohydrate intake recommendations. That's always a win-win in my book.
Just so happens, I have a great idea for a skinny snack with in-shell pistachios.

In-shell Pistachios + smoked salmon + cucumber salad + honey yogurt + flour tortilla + green tea = A Healthy Snack

The best part of this contest was all the great pistachios and snacks I ate while participating!

“I received free pistachio samples from the Pistachio Health Institute mentioned in this post. By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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February 7, 2014

Pistachios, Love Italian Style ♥ Pistachio Health Institute and Recipe Redux Sponsored Contest

It is no secret I have Italian in my blood, and if you were to take a poll on 'what food do people think of when they think Italian', 95% will say pasta.
Italian meals consist of many courses (as do most European meals), Apertivo (light appetizers), Antipasto (heavier fare consisting of cold foods), Primo (pasta, risotto, polenta, etc), Secondo (the main part of a meal that is usually  ooked meat or fish), Contorno (side dishes), Insalata (salad), Fromaggi e frutta (cheeses & fruits), Dolce (pastries), Caffé (espresso) & Digestivo (Saltimbocca, grappa, etc.) .

If you stopped an Italian on the street and asked him which course is his favorite, 50% would say Antipasto.
I know that in my house at any time of year, not just in the summer, I will make a meal of foods presented on a large wooden board. Always finger foods, always convenience foods and always plentiful. It can consist of, to name a few, charcuterie, cheese, dried and fresh fruit, Gorgonzola-stuffed olives/peppers and nuts.

In our family there is a warm bowl of In-shell Pistachios to greet every guest as a 'welcome to my house'. They say...please sit, eat something, have a drink and relax. There is nothing better than a bowl of warm In-shell Pistachios to break the ice. It gives the guest a reason to make noise, make a mess and feel completely at home. Everyone loves In-shell Pistachios.

Recently, beer has made an appearance on the Italian table and along with all the other antipasto offerings, makes perfect sense. They say the best way to prepare a platter of snacks is to pair them with the same food/drink you are serving. and with the resurgence of craft beers from around the world in our own back yard, a Pilsner, even an Italian one, is as close as your neighborhood wine & beer store. I love the idea of beer to start the meal.

This post is about what I serve to my guests (and that includes one to a dozen) when there is a good reason for friends and family to get together. So sit, relax, crack open an in-shell pistachio or two, eat and enjoy!

In-shell Pistachios + cured meats + creamy cheeses + briny olives + fresh & dried fruits + crispy crackers + Pilsner beer = The Social Event of the Year

Now that the menu is out of the way, let's discuss the other reason that In-shell Pistachios should always be on your Apertivo/Antipasto table or snack tray.

In-shell pistachios make a great, everyday healthy snacking choice for people looking to satisfy a salty snack craving the smart way, and still do something good for themselves. In-shell pistachios are a deliciously simple way to snack healthy. A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals approximately 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut, and a reduced serving of about 30 in-shell pistachios is just about 100 calories.

Recent research from Harvard University and published in New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the benefits of snacking on nuts go up as the number of servings goes up, too.
Bottom line: more nuts, more benefits. Go for a daily handful of in-shell pistachios as part of a healthy diet. A daily handful of in-shell pistachios is a delicious and healthy everyday snack for those striving for seven servings a week.

Best reason for Diabetics to ♥ in-shell pistachios: Nuts are low in carbohydrate, have healthy fats, and are high in vegetable protein, fiber and magnesium. When eaten alone or with other foods, nuts tend to prevent a rapid rise in blood glucose levels

This contest was a collaboration of the Pistachio Health Institute and The Recipe Redux.

“I received free pistachio samples from the Pistachio Health Institute mentioned in this post. By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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February 6, 2014

In-shell Pistachio, Honey and Hazelnut Spread Roll-Ups ♥ In-shell Pistachios Recipe Redux Sponsored Contest

It seems the idea of snacks to manage weight is finally being embraced. There are so many good reasons to snack that the Pistachio Health Institute and Paramount Farms teamed up with The Recipe Redux to sponsor a contest to pair In-shell Pistachios with other healthy foods to make the Ultimate Snack.

In-shell pistachios have always been one of my favorite nuts to snack on and during my school years there was always a faint red color to my fingertips (baby boomers will remember!).

Now that I am older and wiser, it is not only the taste of in-shell pistachios but the healthy benefit of eating them that makes me happy it is my nut of choice.

A one-ounce serving of in-shell pistachios (about 49 nuts) is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut, and better yet, a reduced serving of about 30 in-shell pistachios is just under 100 calories.

Since this blog is all about how to control blood glucose levels, this challenge was important to me. The best way I know to combat Diabetes is to start the kids off right, getting them to embrace the healthy foods they need to take with them into their adult lives. The snacks they consume are just as important as the meals they eat. Life is so true of that statement "You are what you eat".

This snack plate is full of kid-friendly foods that they will be happy to eat. No feeding the dog under the table or burying it in their napkin. In front of the TV, the game consoles, right after school when they are most hungry and even as something to munch on while watching TV before bedtime, it is portable.
Toss a few in their lunch boxes to take to school. Carry a bunch in your Soccer Mom pocketbook or for their backpacks.

In-shell Pistachios + hazelnut spread + honey + whole grain bread = One Un-Tradable Snack

No recipe needed and no cooking required. The bread is flattened with a rolling pin, which by coincidence is also used to break up the In-Shell Pistachios (you could use a processor also).
This snack is fun from start to finish, from the cracking open the In-shell Pistachios to the final rolls. So easy, as a roll-up or stacked. Kids love foods they can play with.

Important: remember with younger children, use plastic party forks that can be bought at any party center and in most dollar stores.

Add these to a plate with their favorite fruits and a glass of chocolate milk.
What's not to love? Made a great snack while I was writing this post.

“I received free pistachio samples from the Pistachio Health Institute mentioned in this post. By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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February 5, 2014

Fideos ♥ Hello my little friend

While trying to organize my move to Word Press, I came across this post from two years ago.
 I thought it would make a wonderful dish for a cold winter's night so I updated the pictures and am introducing it again.

Simple....you betcha
Tasty....off the hook
Recipe....anything goes

Fideos? Fideos is a paella with pasta or risotto without the rice.
A Latin pasta one-pot wonder. There are as many ways to make fideos as there is paella or risotto.
I prefer my fideos with shrimp and I will tell you why. The creamy saffron sauced pasta with the briny spicy crunchy shrimp topped with a snazzy garlic aioli will make your tongue tingle.

Want to be a rock star in the kitchen? Make this, seriously.
I will give you the easy peasy version as well as a traditional version, both are wonderful.

I have seen Daisy Martinez make her Puerto Rican version as well as Joanne Weir making a version she had in Spain. One is a paella-style and Joanne's is a risotto-style. Both use basically the same ingredients just a different outcome. I have made both and I like them both.

Although this has steps, the aioli and shrimp can be made ahead of time and the actual dish only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

First we will make the one I made today.

Shrimp Fideos
Makes 2 servings

* 1/4 pound whole wheat angel hair pasta, broken into 2" pieces (I use Ronzoni Smart Taste)
* 1 dozen fresh caught USA shrimp, veined & shelled (frozen is fine)
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 cup clam juice
* Pinch saffron
* 1 teaspoon tomato paste
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 1/4 cup white wine
* Handful of peas
* 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)

* Creole seasonings
* salt & pepper
* canola oil

* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 3 cloves roasted garlic (you can use fresh)
* salt & pepper
* Hot sauce
* 1/2 cup canola oil

1. Preheat toaster oven to 350°. Toast pasta for 8 minutes. Remove and cool.
2. Bring chicken broth and clam juice to a simmer and add the pinch of saffron. Cover and keep low simmer.
2. In skillet, heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes. When bottom of pan starts to brown, deglaze with wine.
3. Add pasta and 1 ladle of saffron infused broth. As soon as is gets dry add more liquid. Continue until pasta is cooked. Add peas, cover and remove off heat.
4. Sprinkle shrimp with creole seasonings and mix in a small amount of canola oil.
Preheat cast iron pan (or thick bottomed skillet) for 4 minutes on medium heat and sear shrimp on both sides, being careful to not overcook, about 2 minutes each side). Remove from skillet and place on top of pasta. Cover and keep warm.
5. In bowl of processor add yolk, roasted garlic, vinegar, salt & pepper, hot sauce and Dijon mustard. Process till smooth and with motor running, slowly drip the canola oil into the spout.
6. When the mixture starts to thicken, taste for seasonings and adjust if need be. The mixture should be thick but loose enough to pour easily. We are not making mayonnaise, just a sauce.
7. Serve the pasta on a platter, top with shrimp and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
8. Sauce is spooned over the shrimp at the table on each dinner plate.

Now for the paella-style dish.

Fideos a la Cazuela (Rustic Noodle Casserole)
serves 5

This traditional dish is often served in a terra-cotta cazuela clay pan. A popular variation is to cook this dish in a paella pan with the amount of liquid reduced to make a Fidua, which results in a paella-type dish, but with noodles in place of rice.

* 8 ounces(250g) Short Noodles (fideos or angel hair cut into 1 inch lengths)
* 1/2 pound boneless Pork
* 7 cups Fish Stock (alternately, you may substitute bouillon)
* 2 cloves Garlic
* 5 tablespoons Tomate Frito or Tomato Sauce
* 1 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
* 3 tablespoons grated Manchego Cheese
* 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
* 1 sprig Parsley
* Mediterranean Sea Salt to taste


Bring the fish stock to a boil, then set the hot liquid aside until needed. Cut the pork into cubes, season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside until needed. Chop the garlic together with a sprig of parsley and fry in a cazuela with the olive oil. When the garlic begins to brown, add the meat and stir well to coat it in oil before adding the tomato sauce. Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat, then add the noodles, the paprika, and the hot fish stock. Stir well to mix all the ingredients together and cook for a further 10 minutes. When the noodles are tender or al-dente, add salt to taste and serve with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Both terrific, one a meat dish, one with seafood, but the variations are as endless as your imagination. The shrimp one was so good The Nudge told me I have gotten very good cooking really punched up dishes and would like this again.

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February 3, 2014

Frittata di Pasta ♥ Spaghetti Pie

Two years ago I made this spaghetti pie.  I was home alone and wanted comfort food and I wasn't sure The Nudge would enjoy baked spaghetti & eggs.

This is one of the most loved lunch dishes in Italy. Italians are frugal and any leftover pasta was always morphed into a pie of sorts. To this day, besides meatloaf sandwiches, I will make macaroni and cheese just to have the leftovers, to which I mix with two eggs and saute in a skillet (best breakfast ever!).

I thought it was time I made an updated version of a spaghetti pie. Yes, there will still be beaten eggs added right before baking but I thought a few pantry items would rich it up a bit.

I went to the salad bar today and bought roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes but use what you like.
From my fridge I pulled out peas, ricotta, Fontina, Parmesan, mozzarella and prosciutto. I had a container of homemade pasta sauce and local range-free extra large eggs. This was going to be no ordinary spaghetti pie. Move over Giada, I am challenging you to a throwdown...lol

YO, Bobby, where are ya hun?!?

If you have leftover Carbonara, Alfredo or just plain sauced pasta, it's all good.

This was possibly the best pasta frittata that I have ever eaten. I would make this again in a heartbeat.
Very filling, it was just as good reheated the next day for lunch.

I actually packaged half of it for the freezer. I imagine there will be a night where I need a gift from that freezer, and the foccacia that's in there now has a buddy. 

Let's get cooking.....

Frittata di Pasta
makes 8 servings
* 8 ounces of pasta, cooked
* 5 eggs
* 1/4 cup milk
* 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
* 4 slices prosciutto, chopped
* 3 ounces ricotta cheese
* 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese + more for garnish
* Salt & pepper
* 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
* 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
* 2 cups pasta cooking water
* 2 ounces Fontina, grated
* 5 slices deli mozzarella
* 1/4 cup peas or broccoli or spinach

Heat a skillet and spray with a release agent. Pre-heat your oven to 375°.
1. Mix the pasta with the sun-dried tomatoes, peas, Fontina, ricotta, prosciutto, roasted pepper and Parmesan. Moisten with pasta water. As the mixture sits it will drink in the water. You will probably use all the water.
2. Place half the pasta mixture in the skillet, spreading evenly to the edges. Add the sliced mozzarella, overlapping to cover the pasta. Repeat with the rest of the pasta mixture and press down with a spoon.
3. Add a turn of olive oil and as soon as the bottom starts to achieve color, add the egg and milk.
4. Simmer on the stove until the mixture starts to bubble. Place in the oven and bake until the mixture is moist, but not wet. It will continue to cook as it sits. Remove and rest.
5. Invert the skillet on a large serving platter. Spoon a ladle of hot spaghetti sauce on a dinner plate and top with a slice of pasta pie.

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