Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

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When I was in the elevator at work yesterday, I overheard someone saying how they made their grandma’s famous linguine alle vongole for Easter Dinner.

And then it was over.

I craved pasta all day long.

Preferably a pasta that someone’s grandma made but beggers can’t be choosers–I had to settle for something I could wrangle up.

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

So as I drove home I did a quick inventory of what I had in the fridge/freezer and decided upon a quick shrimp scampi. I have a delish recipe for Shrimp Scampi on the blog already but I wanted to change it up a bit.

I opted to throw in some fresh spinach leaves at the end for a bit of greens. I had originally played around with the idea of adding peas but went for the spee-natch instead. But who knows, I may throw some peas in next time for some oohs and ahhs.

Peas and thank you!

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

The pasta was bright, citrus-y, uber garlicky (vampires beware) and totally satisfying. And the best thing? Despite me calling this a 20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach, you can probably have it done in 15. But why not pour yourself a glass of wine during the process and take the few extra minutes?

Cheers!

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20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach
Serves 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to garnish
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 thin slices lemon
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) spinach leaves
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, mix the shrimp, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and garlic salt together in a bowl. In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium heat. Add the shrimp (with all the garlic and herbs) and lemon slices* to the skillet. Cook the shrimp on both sides until they turn pink—approximately a minute on each side. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl/plate.

Turn the heat to high and pour the the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and add the lemon juice. Reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat. Add the butter and whisk/melt it into the reduced wine.

Turn the heat to medium-low and toss in the cooked/drained pasta. Vigorously toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season the pasta with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Toss in the spinach and plate the pasta with the light sauce.

Top each dish with the cooked shrimp. Sprinkle the top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

*While plating the pasta, you can remove the cooked lemon slices. Some do not enjoy the slight bitter taste of biting into cooked lemons but I’m all about it.

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Pastas/Noodles · Pork

Ultimate Stuffed Shells to Ring in the Holidays

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

Here we go….let the Holiday celebrations begin!

Thanksgiving….Friendsgiving….Hannukah….Christmas…Kwanzaa…Winter Solstice…Festivus!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore them all. I’m a holiday-lovin’ gal. Heck, I’ve had my Christmas tree up for over two weeks now but with all of these festivities, there’s a lot of cooking that’s required.

And as much as I’m down for long hours of cooking and baking, I also strongly believe in dishes that I can make ahead that can still carry the spirit and yumminess (is that a word?) of the special occasion.

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

These Ultimate Stuffed Shells really fit that bill. Not only are they bright and colorful but they are just down right comfort food—something like grandma would make. Well, not my grandmas…they were old school Vietnamese and would have stuffed tofu than pasta. But someone’s grandma would have made them and it’s like getting a big ol’ hug when you take a bite.

Why do I call these “ultimate” stuffed shells? Because they’ve got all of my favs in them–spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, spinach, and tons of different cheeses. They’re pretty easy to make and are always a fan favorite when they show up on a spread.

And with that….Bring on the stretchy pants–I’m ready for some Holiday Eats!

ps. And since this is the time for giving, check out these adorable personalized cutting boards from our friends at Red Envelope. Perfect for any loved ones who enjoy a delicious Foodventure.

Cutting Board

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Ultimate Stuffed Shells
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
½ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup minced baby portabello mushrooms
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese + 2 tablespoons, divided
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (more for garnish)
kosher salt
black pepper
20 ounces marina sauce
20-24 jumbo pasta shells, boiled to just shy of al dente
4 ounces shredded mozzarella

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once browned, remove the sausage to a plate that has been lined with paper towels to drain.

In the same skillet, cook the shallots over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until tender but not browned. Add in the garlic, pepper flakes, thyme, oregano and mushrooms. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms become tender. Add the spinach, parsley, nutmeg and continue to cook for an additional minute until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Once the mixture has cooled, fold in the ¼ parmesan cheese, ricotta, beaten egg and basil until just combined. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Pour approximately 2/3 of the marina sauce into a baking dish. Spread the sauce evenly to coat the bottom. Fill each of the shells with heaping spoonfuls of the cooled mixture and place them in the dish on top of the layer of marina. Continue until all of the shells have been filled and are placed snugly amongst each other in the baking dish.

Spoon the remaining marina sauce over the shells and then the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet (in case anything bubbles over during baking time). Bake the shells for 25 minutes and then remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes until the cheese bubbles and slightly browns.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Prior to serving, garnish with additional basil chiffonade and enjoy!

Appetizers/Small Plates · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Spanakopita….Phyllo Perfection.

Spanakopita

I’m pretty much under the belief that you can wrap anything in buttery, flaky phyllo dough and it would be delicious.

Meat, veggies, fruit….a leather shoe. Whatever you can grab.

Spanakopita

Now Spanakopita is on a whole different level. Suprisingly “simple” but utterly perfect. Crispy layers of phyllo stuffed with spinach, feta, onions, and spices…..Yum. I’ve even added mushrooms or sundried tomatoes to the party depending on my mood.

The key to working with phyllo is to cover the sheets with damp paper towels during assembly so that the sheets do not dry out or break. And you just can’t skimp out on the butter either. But why would you? 🙂

Formed as full-sized triangles as entrees or smaller bites for appetizers—-either way, your tummy will love you.

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Spanakopita

¼ Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onions
3 Scallions, chopped
2 (10 ounce) Packages Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted
4 Eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Plain Dry Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Cups Feta Cheese, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Toasted Pine Nuts
24 Sheets Frozen Phyllo Dough, defrosted
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.

When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp. breadcrumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the feta and pine nuts.

Place one sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the sheet lightly with butter and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs. Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (Use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of phyllo don’t stick together.) Pile 4 layers on top of each other this way brushing each with butter and sprinkling each with bread crumbs.

Cut the sheets of phyllo in thirds lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. They fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed. Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling (or all of the phyllo) is used.    Place on a sheet pan, seam sides down.   Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked salt, and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp.

From Ina Garten, Back to Basics

Pastas/Noodles · Pork · Sponsored

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

“I love Pasta…… I love Pasta…..I love Pasta…….Yea, yea, yea, yea!”

In case you didn’t get that….that was my “pasta song”.  I’m a horrible singer and I really don’t like karaoke.  But I just adore pastas so much that I just have to sing it out sometimes.

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

One day I came home from work to find a box sitting at my front door. And in that box, there were PASTAS!!!!!!!

Oh yes—it was a red letter day. 🙂

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Thanks to , I had lasagna sheets and penne rigate at my disposal! They feature pastas that are lower in carbohydrates, high in fiber—and most importantly, delish!

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

I took this opportunity to make lasagna rolls filled with spinach and sausage. Rolls are a fun way to change up traditional lasagnas and since the edges are usually my favorite part (due to the extra crispiness) rolls are the perfect way to go.

And on that note…..

“I love Pasta…… I love Pasta…..I love Pasta…….Yea, yea, yea, yea!”

Yeah….I should just stick to cooking.

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Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls
Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 lasagna sheets
¼ cup shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ pound Italian sausage
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes
¼ cup goat cheese
¼ cup cream cheese
3 cups marinara sauce
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
kosher salt
olive oil

Soak the lasagna sheets in hot tap water for 8-10 minutes or boil the pasta sheets for 1/2 the time listed on the box.

In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté shallots until they are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the sausage to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces.  Once the meat is no longer pink, add the spinach, thyme and chili flakes. Season with kosher salt. Remove pan from the heat and add goat cheese and cream cheese. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and drain the lasagna sheets. Spread about one cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Set aside.

Spoon/spread about 3-4 tablespoons of the spinach-sausage mixture across each lasagna sheet. Carefully roll up each sheet and place the rolls, seam side down inside the baking dish. Cover the tops of each roll with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

To serve, warm up the remainder of the marinara sauce. Add a few spoonfuls to the bottom of the plate and place rolls on top.

*** I received to sample, however, all views and opinions expressed are my own.***

Appetizers/Small Plates · Sponsored · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Mediterranean Spinach Artichoke Dip…and it’s a tad healthier!

Mediterranean Spinach Artichoke Dip

 

I LOVE Chips. Potato chips, tortilla chips, corn chips, taro chips…….I can’t get enough of them. So you can imagine my utter glee when I received a big box of TOSTITOS® Artisan Recipes™ Tortilla Chips as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.

And what goes hand in hand with chips? DIP, of course!

 

Mediterranean Spinach Artichoke Dip

 

Spinach Artichoke Dip is definitely one of my favorites—though I rarely indulge in it. Most recipes are chock-full of mayo, sour cream and other dairy products. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all those tasty things but they don’t necessarily love my hips! With bathing suit weather rapidly approaching, I wanted to create a version of this delish dip to compliment the TOSTITOS® that was a tad healthier and with a slight adaptation in flavor.


Mediterranean Spinach Artichoke Dip

 

I decided to go with a “Mediterranean” spin by adding sun dried tomatoes to the mix. Sun dried tomatoes pairs so well with artichokes and spinach that the addition made perfect sense to me.

To create a more figure friendly dip, I substituted two of the key ingredients with healthier alternatives. In lieu of the sour cream, I used nonfat Greek yogurt. Not only does the latter have a slew of health benefits but the texture provides a lovely creamy, thick texture that we like in our dips. I used an American Neufchatel Cheese in the place of cream cheese since Neufchatel is lower in fat and higher in protein. As for the mayo, I completely nixed it. The other ingredients provided enough creamy texture and flavor that it wasn’t needed.

This “healthy” dip worked really well with the grained tortilla chip. It was full of various textures and I had a clear conscience knowing that I cut out extra fat/calories without sacrificing the flavor.

If only I could make chocolate cake “healthier”…………..  🙂

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Mediterranean Spinach Artichoke Dip
Serves 8

Ingredients:

10 Ounces Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
8 Ounces Artichoke Hearts, finely chopped
5 Ounces Neufchatel Cheese, softened
½ Cup Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt, at room temperature
½ Cup Low Fat (or reduced fat) Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
¼ Cup Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes (preserved in olive oil)
¼ Cup Shallots, finely chopped
2 Whole Garlic Cloves, finely minced
¼ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
¼ Teaspoon Paprika
1 Tablespoon Oil from the Sun Dried Tomatoes
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the oil from the sun dried tomatoes. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and dried thyme. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the spinach. Cook for an additional few minutes and then transfer all items into a large bowl.

Add Neufchatel, Greek Yogurt, Monterey Jack Cheese and paprika to the spinach mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Combine well. Lightly cover ramekins or other baking dishes with cooking spray. Spoon spinach mixture into the dishes and sprinkle the tops with Parmesan Cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes and then turn the broiler on. Broil the tops until they are golden brown. Serve with chips, bread slices, crackers, or vegetable sticks.

 

Vegetables/Vegetarian

Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)

Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)

 

The third installment of my Indian Foodventure—–Saag Aloo or Spinach & Potatoes Curry.

Saag is a typically made with spinach or other leafy greens and is cooked down with spices until it reaches a smooth texture. Often you’ll find Saag prepared with Paneer–a fresh Indian cheese. Paneer isn’t difficult to make and comes together with only a few ingredients. However, it does take some time for the curds to come together and firm up. As such, I opted to prepare my Saag with fried Aloo (potatoes)—which is another common pairing.

 

Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)

 

I adapted a recipe from Saveur by replacing the paneer with fried potato cubes and reducing the amount of heavy cream by 2 tablespoons. The final product resulted in a delightful vegetarian dish with great flavors from the garam masala. Absolutely a winning recipe!

A little side note: This is definitely one of those dishes that may look a tad unappetizing but is darn tasty! 🙂

Monday’s Post: The conclusion of our Indian Foodventure– Channa Masala (Spicy Chickpea Curry)

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Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)
Adapted from Savuer

Ingredients:

1 Large Russett Potato, peeled and cubed
1 Inch Piece Ginger, peeled and chopped
3–4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Serrano Chile, stemmed and chopped
8 Cups Spinach, washed, trimmed, and finely chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1-2 Pinches Cayenne
1/4 Cup Water
4 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt
Vegetable Oil to fry Potatoes, plus 1 Tablespoon

Heat a large skillet with vegetable oil. Using a paper towel, dry the potato cubes. In batches, fry the potato cubes until golden brown all over, about 4–6 minutes. Transfer potatoes with a slotted spatula to a plate covered with paper towels and set aside. Season with kosher salt.

For the spinach, put ginger, garlic, chiles, and 1/4 cup water into a blender and purée to a smooth paste. Place a large skillet with 1 Tablespoon oil on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger–garlic paste and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until leaves wilt. Continue to stir often. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until spinach is very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in garam masala, cayenne, and cream.

Add fried potatoes to the spinach and cover skillet. Continue cooking until liquid thickens and spinach is silky soft, about 15 minutes more. Check for seasonings and add additional kosher salt or cayenne as needed. Serve with Naan or rice.