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Low Carb Caribbean Shrimp Bruschetta

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Last year at this time my family and I were just coming back and recovering from an amazing trip to Jamaica where we celebrated my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding!  There was sand, there was surf, there was a beautiful beach chair and tropical drink waiting for me daily, ahhhh.  I’m not gonna lie, it was nice!

Although I won’t be traveling to the Caribbean this year, there is always a vehicle to get me back there if just for a few moments… FOOD  Food glorious food can really take you anywhere in the world and with this dish I am transported right back to those white sand beaches and clear blue waters!

If you are looking for a fancy shmancy appetizer to serve at your next cocktail party or if you are having a fun and festive Caribbean style get together, this dish is easy, delicious and can totally be made ahead and built just before serving!  AND its low carb, gluten-free and super healthy!

Start with a ripened plantain.

Taking the peel off is not quite as easy as with a banana.

Slice thinly on an angle.

Deep fry in veggie oil.

Drain fried plantains on a paper towel.

Immediately salt.

Grab some bacon.

Cut bacon into three segments.

Sprinkle shrimp with some Jamaican Jerk Rub. This one is by Pampered Chef.

Pan fry in either butter or veggie oil.

Now you have three elements ready to go.

Gather these ingredients for your caribbean style pico de gallo.

I am using my Pampered Chef Manual Food Processor today because I want to be able to control just how processed the ingredients get, I want a small dice, but I don’t want to liquefy.

Dice up your tomatoes, red onion and peppers. For this, I am using sweet peppers, but you can totally use jalapeno peppers or even ghost peppers if you want to really go Jamaican!

Place the onion, tomato, peppers and cilantro in the food processor.

Process lightly.

Add the squeeze of half an orange.

Continue to process.  Add in kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

I added in some Portuguese hot ground pepper. (Pimenta Moida)

Cover the fried plantain with the pico de gallo.

Add a piece of fried bacon.

Add a little more pico de gallo.

Add your shrimp right on top and sprinkle with a bit more cilantro.

Low Carb Caribbean Shrimp Bruschetta

Yield 12 Bruschetta

1 ripened plantain, sliced and deep-fried in 2 cups Canola Oil

12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on

4 pieces of bacon, cut into thirds and fried until just crisp

For Pico de Gallo:

1 plum tomato, roughly chopped

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

3 sweet peppers, roughly chopped

1/2 small orange, juiced

1 small handful cilantro

1 Tbs. Pimenta Moida (Portuguese ground red pepper)

1 tsp. Pampered Chef Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, plus more for shrimp

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Deep fry 12 slices of ripened plantains, set aside on paper to drain.  Season shrimp with a sprinkle of Jamaican Jerk seasoning and salt. Pan fry with butter.  Set aside.  Pan fry bacon until just crisp, set aside on paper to drain.

For salsa, add in tomato, peppers, cilantro, onion, Pimenta Moida and Jamaican Jerk Seasoning and a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste into a food processor.  Process until a fine salsa is made.

Build your bruschetta = 1 plantain, 1 tsp pico de gallo, 1 pc. bacon, a little more pico de gallo, top with shrimp. Garnish with more cilantro.

 

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Pizza Dough

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Have you ever wished you could make a perfect pizza dough?  Does working with yeast intimidate you?  If you have never worked with yeast and if you like to save money while having endless possibilities of different meals and snacks you can make for your family and friends, this is the perfect recipe to start with!

Pizza dough can of course be made into a great pizza or calzone. But, don’t forget cheesy bread with a marinara dipping sauce, hot dogs wrapped in pizza dough, bread sticks, or even sugar and cinnamon twists, yum! The possibilities are endless once you have a good basic dough under your belt.

This recipe is easier if you have a stand mixer of course, but totally doable if you only have your own two hands, remember Italians have been making pizza for long before electricity was even invented!

Start with some super warm water, about 110-115 degrees.

Add water into the bowl of an electric mixer.

(I keep my yeast in a resealable bag in the fridge because I use so much of it, I don’t buy in packets) Use one packet of Active dry yeast or 3 tsp.

Add yeast into warm water.

Add sugar into water with the yeast.

Stir.

Add one cup of the flour.

Stir.

Don’t worry if there are lumps.

Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

This is what it should look like… if your mixture is not foaming, your yeast may not be good.

Add in the remaining flour. Stir.

Add in salt.

When your dough starts to look like this, it’s time to use the dough hook on your mixer.

This is my dough hook.

Mix for about 30 seconds to see how wet it is… This one is a bit too wet.

Add in one tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough isn’t quite as sticky, but not too dry either.

I set my mixer’s timer for 5 minutes and knead on level 2. If your mixer does not have a time, be sure to set one.

Add in oil.

Continue to knead another 2 minutes until oil is incorporated. Move to an oiled bowl and let rise 20 minutes.

This is what your dough will look like. Remove and place on a floured surface and knead by hand into a ball this should take about 2-3 minutes.

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Pizza Dough

Makes 2 full size pizza crusts

Ingredients:

5 – 6 cups All purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar (shallow cup)

3 tsp. Active dry yeast

Shallow 1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp. salt

2 cups warm water (110°-115°F)

Instructions:

Bloom yeast in warm water with sugar for 2 minutes, once bubbling add one cup flour, mix, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Once bubbly continue.

Add 4 cups flour and salt.  Add remaining flour 1 Tbs. at a time if too wet and not kneading well.  Once desired consistency is reached, knead for a timed 5 minutes.  Add in most of the oil saving some to oil bowl.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for about 20 minutes.

Turn out onto a floured surface, knead by hand about 2-3 minutes until dough comes into a ball.

 

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Twice Baked Potatoes

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Why bake a boring ole potato once when you can bake it twice and make it spectacular?  My Twice Baked Potatoes are loaded with not only butter and sour cream, but bacon and cheese.  I know, I know, not exactly keeping with those New Year’s resolutions right? But, it’s Championship weekend people, I’m still in “football food” mode.

These Twice Baked Potatoes are flavorful, they are packed with everything you love so there is no muss at game time and the best part is you can eat them with a fork and a knife or just pick um right up and you have a perfect finger food.  And I’m not even going to try to pretend they are healthy, but they aren’t fried and they are even gluten-free.  So, they aren’t the worst thing in the world health-wise either!

Make them in a big batch like I have for a party or tailgating or make a smaller batch for dinner.  Or you can do like I did and make the big batch, have them for the party and freeze the rest so you have them right at your fingertips whenever you are looking for an easy side, they freeze great!  Baking potatoes the old-fashioned way is not a quick process, so making a big batch is always the way to go in my opinion.  Here’s how I do them…

So, I use my double burner griddle for this project. Pampered Chef sells a great one, talk about cutting down on time and energy!

So, I use my double burner griddle for this project. Pampered Chef sells a great one, talk about cutting down on time and energy!

I always start off with preparing the bacon, mostly because when I make bacon, I like to make the entire package and we don’t need the entire package for this recipe, so I make breakfast in the morning and then I reserve the rest of the bacon for the recipe. Call me crazy, but it saves me time. In any case, you will need 8 slices of bacon for this recipe.

The problem is when an entire package of bacon is hanging around, it needs to be covered in my house otherwise it will dwindle throughout the morning if it’s not hidden!

Then I gather my potatoes, I like russet potatoes for baking. I try to find the ones that are oval in shape as opposed to round and med/large for variety.

Russets come dirty, so be sure to give them a good scrub, you will be eating the skin on these.

I like to bake them whole, but I like to half split them for ease in cooking time.

I like to make these in a disposable aluminum tray for a couple of reasons. First I am making a bunch here, so I am not wrapping each one in aluminum foil. This tray mimics that. Also, because this makes for easy clean up.

I like to then add a good pinch of salt to each one. We did not dry these, so they should still be wet helping the salt to cling. If you pre-washed or something, then just run them each under water for this effect.

Now turn them all over and do the same thing to the other side. A good pinch of kosher salt to each. It may seem like a lot, but you are really just seasoning the skin of the potato which is very important.

Cover tightly in aluminum foil and bake at 400°F for 1 hour and 45 minutes or so.

Now spit them using your original cut as the guide.

You will have twice the amount at this point which will require a second tray. Be sure to salt the bottom of that tray again.

Scoop out the middles of each potato leaving a reservoir for the filling and a good “wall” all the way around.

Add in your scooped out fillings to a bowl.

Add in a stick of salted butter. Remember you are making 16 twice baked potatoes, that spreads that butter out. Besides, it’s football food. If your potatoes are not hot because you chose not to scald your fingers as you handled the potatoes, just pop this in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

Start to go at it with a potato masher.

Get some good fresh sour cream.

Add in sour cream.

Add in cheese.

Add in kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Now, back to the bacon. It survived! Yay!

Chop it up pretty well still allowing for some good size chuncks.

Add to your bowl.

But reserve some for topping.

Mash mash mash.

Add in some half and half or heavy cream, whichever you have on hand.

Now fill each of your potatoes with a healthy amount. Be sure to spread it evenly though.

Once they are all filled, pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

Add a good bunch of cheese to top each.

Then top that with bacon bits.

Bake for about 1/2 hour until they are heated through and the cheese is all melty!

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Twice Baked Potatoes

Serves 8-16

Ingredients:

8 med/lg. Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 stick salted butter

8 slices bacon, fried and drained and chopped, divided

3/4 cup sour cream, plus more for serving

kosher salt to taste

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

water-soaked minced onions or chives for serving (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.  Scrub potatoes clean and while still wet, carefully slice into potato lengthwise about 3/4 of the way through as though you were going to split them for stuffing (see photo above).  Salt the outside of the wet potato with kosher salt on all sides and place in aluminum pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove from oven and turn oven down to 350°F if baking immediately.

Let cool just long enough for handling. Continue cutting potato along the original cut line spitting the potatoes in half.  Now, scoop out the middle flesh of the potato leaving about a 1/4 inch wall along the entire outer potato skin (this provides stability, see photo above).  Place the scooped out potato flesh in a bowl for mixing.  Add in butter, sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheese,  3/4 of your bacon, a good pinch of salt and about 10 cracks of black pepper. Mash all ingredients together with a potato masher (warm for a minute in the microwave if the contents are not warm enough to melt the butter and incorporate all the ingredients at this point.)

Now, fill each potato cavity with the mixture.  Top with an additional Tablespoon or so on each along with a few remaining bacon bits.  Bake until heated through and melty for about 1/2 hour.  Serve with sour cream and [instructions]

water-soaked minced onions or chives.  Enjoy![/instructions]

*note-  This is a gluten-free recipe.

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Portuguese Style Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Sementes de Abóbora Assado)

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Being Portuguese, one of my most favorite Halloween traditions is roasting of the pumpkin seeds!  American pumpkin seeds (usually involving lots of salt as the only spice) are tasty and I do like them at other times of the year, but there is nothing like a home roasted Portuguese Style pumpkin seed that you get after carving your Halloween pumpkin!

Each and every family has a different style of pumpkin seed roasting and a different mixture of spices.  I have been working on this recipe myself for a few years now and I think I have it just right for my taste.  These are super spicy, so in the tutorial pictures, I give advice on reducing the heat if you like.

Start with an empty sealable container. This recipe can be doubled easily and will store nicely if you prefer to use it throughout pumpkin season… this recipe is great for squash seeds too!

To your container, add in garlic powder.

Kosher salt

Paprika… now, I use Hungarian Paprika which is very spicy, so if you like spice, use it, if you don’t, don’t

Crushed red pepper flakes

Since I already use Hungarian Paprika, I only use a touch of Cayenne Pepper… If you don’t have Hungarian Paprika, you may want to use a bit more Cayenne. Here I am using 1/4 tsp… I would up it to 1/2 tsp without the Hungarian Paprika.

Cover your container and give it a good shake.

Once you are through mixing your spice, it’s time to move onto the pumpkin. This guy is about to become a Mickey Mouse pumpkin!

Have a large bowl handy for your seeds.

I like to cut the bottom of my pumpkin for carving because no seam is shown up top.

Now pull apart and you will expose all your seeds.

Scoop them out.

You will find you may have a lot of pumpkin goop mixed in with your seeds, you don’t need that.

Remove all the goop. From here I DO NOT wash… I like that they are still slimy. Slimy seeds let the spice mix stick better!

You can throw out the goop.

Now, add in a little of the spice at a time. I have 2 cups of seeds here, so I am starting by adding in about half of my seasoning.

It looks to me like they are not well coated enough. So, I ended up adding the remaining spice. You be the judge on yours.

After they are mixed, this is what they should look like. Lay them in a single layer on a parchment covered cookie sheet… please do not try to put this directly on a cookie sheet… even with parchment, they stick. You could oil your pan first if you don’t have parchment paper.

After about 20 minutes in the oven, they look like this… You want to stir them up again and lay flat again. Pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so.

When done roasting, this is what you get.

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Portuguese Style Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups non-washed pumpkin seeds

Spice Mix:

1 Tbs. Paprika (Hungarian for extra spice if desired)

1 Tbs. Kosher salt

1 Tbs. granulated garlic

1 tsp. dry crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper

Directions:

Combine all spices in a resealable container. Spread on pumpkin seeds and stir.  Bake in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350°F.  Stir.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Allow to cool. Break up any big pieces.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

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My husband loves “Buffalo” everything!  He loves wings, he loves tenders, he loves deli meat, he loves wraps and calzones made with buffalo chicken… and so it is only natural that this is one of his favorite party munchies!  Made with chicken, buffalo sauce, blue cheese (or ranch) and cheese, this dip is perfect for tailgating, homegating or any party all year round!

Start with a block of cream cheese. Be sure your block of cream cheese is softened or at room temperature before you try mixing it in.

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Then grab a chicken breast… This one is from a rotisserie chicken. Remove the skin and I like to use only the breasts.

You’ll need cooked chicken…You can buy a chicken breast and cook it yourself or just pick up a rotisserie chicken and use the breasts from there, either way, start with two boneless skinnless breasts.

I start processing the chicken by cubing it first… it won’t stay this way, but this makes it easier to manage.

I’ve heard there is a trick with a mixer to shred your chicken and by all means look it up and try it, but for me two forks works just as well for this little dip.

Add in sour cream… I like adding in the sour cream for the tang, but also for the way that it helps the dip to be a bit more fluid and not so stiff.

Start to work it in to the cream cheese.

Add in either blue cheese or ranch dressing… I found this cool Buffalo Blue Cheese dressing and I like it.

Add some shredded cheddar right into your mixture.

Mix well.

Then add in chicken and  your wing sauce. 

I like to let the sauce sit on the chicken for a minute or so to really absorb the flavor of the sauce. At this point add in a pinch of salt and pepper too.

Mix well.

Spread it in your pan.

Cover with more cheddar. At this point you can either keep refrigerated until it’s time to bake, or pop it in the oven.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until melted through. Everything is fully cooked going into the oven, so you really just need it to get melty.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

Serving Size: 8

Ingredients:

2 small rotisserie chicken breasts, shredded

1 bar softened cream cheese

3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup blue cheese dressing (or ranch)

1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350°F

Mix cream cheese, sour cream and dressing until well combined. Add in 1/2 shredded cheddar, mix well.  Add shredded chicken on top and without mixing add in buffalo wing sauce, let sit 1 or 2 minutes, then mix in. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Pour into small baking dish.  Top with remaining cheddar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until melted through. Serve with corn chips.

Enjoy!

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Lisa’s Sausage Stuffed Jalapeños

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Today is a very special day! It’s my 100th post here on thePortugueseAmericanMom.com! So in honor of that I thought I would highlight one of my very favorite party aps to celebrate! One of my very best girlfriend’s, Lisa, makes these for me whenever there is a party to be had.  She came over last Sunday with her husband Carlos and her daughter Kaedence for the football game and we had our selves some good old-fashioned “home-gating”.  And I asked, that instead of her making these for me at home, she make them here so I could document the process and share it with you all! And so she did!

They are a super simple and incredibly flavorful and delicious naturally gluten-free appetizer made with just 5 ingredients! One thing that Lisa asked that I stress and I will stress it in the tutorial as well is to please be sure to have surgical gloves before attempting this recipe.  You will be working with very hot peppers and will need to protect yourself from the oils in the pepper.  Once done and the peppers are in the oven, remove the gloves directly into the trash and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to ensure you got it all.

Let me show you how she does it!

Here are all your ingredients! Yep, that's it, just 4! (plus olive oil for the pan, so five if we are technical)

Here are all your ingredients! Yep, that’s it, just 4! (plus olive oil for the pan, so five if we are technical)

Mince your onion.

Mince your onion.

Heat up some olive oil over medium heat.

Sautée the onions.

Split each Italian Sausage so you can remove the casing.  Lisa uses hot Italian sausage and we all love them that way… but if you want to reduce the heat due to the already super hot jalapeño peppers, you could use mild Italian sausage here.

Remove the casing.

Remove the casing.

This is what they look like without the casing.

Add in the sausage.

Lisa asked me for not only a wooden spoon to mix, but also a potato masher to make sure it all gets broken down!

Brown up all of the sausage meat.

Strain out any grease. There wasn’t too much in this batch.

Return the sausage to the skillet and add in a bar of room temperature cream cheese.

Then work the cream cheese into the sausage meat.

Once most of the cream cheese it distributed, you can continue to work it with a wooden spoon.

Once the cream cheese is all distributed well, turn off the burner and let cool for a minute or two.

Preparing the peppers: You should have time to prepare the peppers while the sausage is cooking, but to keep things simple, I am keeping that separate…

Before we get into the pepper part, I need to mention these handy-dandy surgical gloves again… Lisa says, if you don’t have these, don’t make this dish! So, I would gather they are imperative.

Split the peppers all in half.

Split the peppers all in half.

Place them into a bowl as you go.

You need to remove the seeds and connective tissue from the inside of each pepper. This is Lisa's technique. Hold firmly an scrape from the top down with your thumb.

You need to remove the seeds and connective tissue from the inside of each pepper. This is Lisa’s technique. Hold firmly and scrape from the top down with your thumb.

Lisa mentioned that the you should look for fatter peppers so they have more stuffing room.

You want to try to get as many of the seeds out to start off with as possible, but you have to go through 18-20 peppers, so you don’t want to spend too much time on it.

Now the peppers need to be washed, but this is more of a technique to get the remaining seeds out.

Fill the bowl with water and let the seeds float around in the water.

Then let them all just flow out in the water. Repeat this process a couple of times until you are satisfied.

Next, take a teaspoon and stuff each.

You want to firmly press in, but build up a little mound at the same time.

This is what you should have.

Line them on a parchment lined rimmed cookie sheet. Pop them in the oven at 350°F for about 30-50 mins or so… but check in on them every 10 mins or so after that first 30 mins.  The cooking time will depend on how big your peppers are.

This is what you need to see before you take them out of the oven… They are all a nice golden brown with some crispiness on top.

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Lisa’s Sausage Stuffed Jalapeños

Serving size: 10

18-20 plump jalapeños, halved and seeded

1 bar cream cheese, room temperature

1 medium onion, minced

1 package hot Italian Sausage, casing removed

1-2 Tbs. olive oil

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Sautée the onion in olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat.  Add in the sausage.  With a wooden spoon and a potato masher, work the meat down into the onions and brown.  Once browned, drain fat.  Return meat to skillet and add in cream cheese.  Again, work in the cream cheese using a wooden spoon and potato masher.  Once the cream cheese is worked in, turn off heat and set aside to cool for a moment or two.

Stuff the ingredients into the prepared peppers.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet or baking dish with parchment paper and line up the stuffed peppers, stuffing facing up.  Bake for 30-50 minutes, check on them every 10 minutes after the 30 minutes.  They will be done when they are golden brown. Allow to cool on pan for about 10 minutes before moving to a serving tray. Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

*Note – This is a gluten-free recipe, but as always, check your ingredients in the Italian Sausage.

*Note – This is a low-carb recipe

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Easy 3 Layer Dip

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Are you ready for some footballlllll????  We are! With the start of football season kicking off this weekend, I thought it only appropriate to post a fun, quick, tasty and super easy dip to take along to any football party or tailgating you might be doing! I have been making this dip for years and I can tell you from personal experience, it is almost addicting!  Just three simple layers, this is a no-bake recipe that will have them asking for more each time you come out to a party!

Ready in under 5 minutes, this dip is perfect for the busy mom or dad on the run!  It also keeps really well and can be made hours before the party and kept covered in the fridge!  Take it out about an hour before you are ready to serve, grab a bag of tortilla chips and you’re good to go!

Add one bar of softened cream cheese to a mixing bowl.

To the cream cheese, add in a half a cup of sour cream. I used to do this recipe without this ingredient, so if you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry about it, but I find that it really helps with texture and softens this layer up a bit, which in turn helps get the dip on the chip.

I have put taco seasoning recipes up in different posts before, if you have some of that already made, then just add in 3 Tbs. of that, if not, just grab a packet of pre-made taco seasoning and add it in. I told you this would be quick and easy!

With these three ingredients in the bowl, whip together. I used my electric mixer, about 45 seconds on high did it just perfect. If you don’t have a mixer, it may take you a minute and a half to mix with a wooden spoon.

Once your mix is complete, scoop it out into your serving dish.

I usually use a pie plate for this, but today I had a pretty blue casserole dish at the ready, so I used that. I spread an even layer at the bottom.

Again, I told you this would be quick and easy. Grab your favorite salsa, hot and spicy, medium or mild, you know your crowd, use what you like… We like medium. I also like the body that the chunky variety gives. And hey if you already have a saucy salsa home-made and ready, go ahead and use it! Spread your salsa evenly to create your second layer.

Now add on some cheese, spread evenly to create your third and final layer. If you are a regular on this blog, you know that I almost always shred my own cheese, but quick and easy is the name of the game here today, so some pre-shredded is how I’m going today. Plus I find that when leaving the pre-shredded stuff exposed to air it holds up a bit better than freshly shredded. Please note that if you are trying to keep this gluten-free, you really need to check your labels because some company’s coat the cheese in flour to preserve.

Spread your cheese over your layer of salsa.

I like to add a couple of toppings to this dip. This is completely optional, so I don’t count it as a layer. The first topping I add is a small can of drained pre-sliced black olives.

The second and final topping I like to add is jalapeno. Again, this is totally optional.

I slice it up super thin.

Then spread about half a pepper’s worth of slices around the top.

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Serve with tortilla chips.

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Recipe for Easy 3 Layer Dip:

(serves 10-12)

1 bar cream cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 packet taco seasoning

1 1/2 cups ready-made salsa

1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 diced jalapeno (optional)

10 black olives, sliced (optional)

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, whip together cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning.  Spread mixture into a pie plate or small casserole dish.  Add an even layer of jarred salsa.  Add an even layer of shredded cheese.  Top with olives and jalapeno.

*Note – This recipe is Gluten-free as long as the specific brands used are gluten-free.

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Little Necks in Garlic Wine Sauce (Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato)

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One of the best parts of living in New England is the vast variety of cold water sea food we have available.  Interestingly enough, it actually mirrors that which is available in St. Michael, Azores.  How lucky am I?

Little Necks in Garlic Wine Sauce is a quintessential Portuguese starter.  9 times out of 10 when we sit down to dinner at a Portuguese restaurant with friends, this is the first thing we order.  It’s a two-part experience really.  First you get to eat the clams that are cooked in a garlic wine broth and then again drenched in garlic, white wine and olive oil.  But then, some may argue the best part of the dish is next… it’s the part when you get to sop up that delectable garlic wine sauce with a crusty piece of Portuguese bread… OMG, so good!

This dish is best served hot and brought right to the table.  A couple of things you will want to have ready before you start is  a good loaf of Portuguese bread, some hot sauce and a bowl to throw the emptied shells into (as you need to not crowd your plate with that so that you can get to the sauce with that bread!)

There are sooo many varieties of clams available in the world.  These are called Little Necks, they are actually the second to smallest size clam that is legally harvestable in the U.S. Some people call these Northern Quohogs and some call them round clams or chowder clams.  What makes these clams special is that, as it's name indicates, they have an itty bitty neck, unlike it's cousin the Steamer clam with it's long neck that sticks out of it's shell.  Also, unlike the Steamer clam, Little Necks don't have much to speak of in their bellies.  It's really mostly flesh, yum!

There are sooo many varieties of clams available in the world. These are called Little Necks, they are actually the second to smallest size clam that is legally harvestable in the U.S. Some people call these Northern Quohogs and some call them round clams or chowder clams. What makes these clams special is that, as it’s name indicates, they have an itty bitty neck, unlike it’s cousin the Steamer clam with it’s long neck that sticks out of it’s shell. Also, unlike the Steamer clam, Little Necks don’t have much to speak of in their bellies. It’s really mostly flesh, yum!

The first step, as with ANY clam you use, is to wash it inside and out.  This may sound odd, but clams are generally sold with some sand and salt residue still remaining on the outside and there is nothing worst than biting into a clam and crunching on sand.  Although, a sandy inside is not usually a huge issue with Little Necks, I still like to err on the side of caution.  So, clams are zipped up pretty tightly... how do you get the inside clean you ask?  Well, its simple, you need to provide them with an environment in which they might feel comfortable opening up their shells to take in some water.  I do this with cold cold cold tap water and salt. And it works every time. Sometimes I throw some black pepper in there to make them sneaze, mostly I just do that with Steamer clams though.

The first step, as with ANY clam you use, is to wash it inside and out. This may sound odd, but clams are generally sold with some sand and salt residue still remaining on the outside and there is nothing worst than biting into a clam and crunching on sand. Although, a sandy inside is not usually a huge issue with Little Necks, I still like to err on the side of caution. So, clams are zipped up pretty tightly… how do you get the inside clean you ask? Well, its simple, you need to provide them with an environment in which they might feel comfortable opening up their shells to take in some water. I do this with cold cold cold tap water and salt. And it works every time. Sometimes I throw some black pepper in there to make them sneeze, mostly I just do that with Steamer clams though.

Here are the main ingredients you will need.

Here are the main ingredients you will need.

While the washing is taking place, it’s a good time to prep your ingredients. Chop an onion into thin quartered slices.

Saute in olive oil over medium heat.  Add in a pinch of kosher salt.

Next, you will need quite a bit of garlic for this recipe.  Chop up about 6-8 cloves of garlic.

Next, you will need quite a bit of garlic for this recipe. Chop up about 6-8 cloves of garlic.

Add in to the onions once the onions have softened a bit.

Now add in the juice of half a lemon, the lemon half itself, some chopped flat leaf parsley and about 1 cup of dry white wine.

Simmer the ingredients together bringing to a boil over high heat.

Simmer the ingredients together bringing to a boil over high heat.

Drain your cleaning water from the clams and add the clams to your pot.

Cover.  Keep your burner on high and do not remove your lid.  The cooking process is a steam.

Cover. Keep your burner on high and do not remove your lid. The cooking process is a steam.

This is the pot 8 minutes into cooking. Do not remove lid!

This is the pot 10 minutes into cooking… If you look at the clams, some are starting to open, but not all. Do not remove the lid! But, start watching the pot, you don’t want to over cook shellfish, it will get tough.  Little Necks are tough to start off with, they don’t need any more help getting there.

Ah, 12 minutes in and finally! All the clams have opened up. Now, turn off your burner. Still, do not remove the lid! Give it about two minutes in the steam. Then they are ready!

Add in some lemon slices and more chopped parsley, and don't forget the broth!

Add in some lemon slices and more chopped parsley, and don’t forget the broth!

Recipe for Little Necks in Garlic Wine Sauce (Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato):

(serves 10 – 12) 

4 lbs. Little Neck Clams

4 Tbs. olive oil

1 c. dry white wine

1 lemon, 1/2 reserved and sliced for garnish

6-8 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced

6 Tbs. parsley, chopped, 1/2 reserved for garnish

Kosher salt

Directions:

Wash clams with cold water and a good amount of kosher salt (1-2 Tbs.).  Let sit in salted water for about 15 mins.

Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat, add in a pinch of salt.  Add in garlic, continue to saute.  When softened add in the juice of half a lemon plus the lemon shell itself, parsley and about a cup of dry white wine.  Bring to a boil.

Drain clams from their cleaning salt water.  Add clams to boiling liquid. Cover immediately.  Check on them every few minutes until they are all open.  This is best done with a clear lid.  If you don’t have a clear lid, don’t bother checking until 10 minutes into the cooking time.  After about 12 minutes all the clams should be opened.  Keep lid on the pot and turn off the burner.

Serve and enjoy!

*note: this is a gluten-free dish.

It is nice to have either a separate pot at a party with sauce… But, I like to build my own… Here is what I do.

I like to put some olive oil in my plate.

Then I add in some of the cooked onions, garlic and parsley.

I personally like to add in some hot sauce. If you are doing this in a bowl for people to add themselves, I would leave the hot sauce on the side. Mix this together a bit.

Add some lemon, some more parsley and a nice piece of bread.

Add some broth, lemon, some more parsley and a nice piece of bread.

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Stacy’s Deviled Eggs

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My family is heading to Jamaica this summer to attend my little sister’s wedding.  It is a very exciting time.  It is also a time to think about putting on summer clothes and dreaded bathing suits!  So, my husband and I decided it was time to shape up a bit before the trip.  Over the years I have found the easiest, most efficient and most effective way to drop some pounds is with a low (not no) carb diet and some healthy exercise!  No fun right?  Ah, but it could be.  These yummy little deviled eggs just go to show ya that eating low-carb can be great.

I have always enjoyed a good deviled egg with its creamy spicy filling, so years ago I developed this recipe that I come back to time and time again whether on a low-carb diet or not.  They are quick, easy and inexpensive.  And they are great to serve at or bring to a party!  So why not bring back this classic American appetizer this summer?

Each of my entries this week will be focused on something especially yummy and low-carb so that you can enjoy eating with your family whether they are following along the low-carb route or not! Each recipe will be great for carb lovers and dieters alike.  And with summer BBQ’s starting all around the country, if you are watching those carbs, it’s always nice to have something to reach for other than those evil chips and brownies!

hb egg

Start with a hard-boiled egg. To achieve the perfect hard-boiled egg just place your eggs in the bottom of a pot, cover with just enough water to emerse all your eggs and turn on your burner to high… once you come to a full boil, shut off and cover pot. Then set your timer for 12-15 mins. Done.

crack egg

Crack your egg gently to try to avoid making divits in the egg… after all half the appeal of a deviled egg is its presentation.

peeled

For this recipe, I am using 8 hard-boiled eggs… but I always make one or two extra in case there is a casualty.

cut eggs

Empty out the yolks… (see there is a casualty, that will have to be the tester egg)

place on tray

Now place the eggs on the deviled egg plate you will be using… I have one that goes into the freezer for summer parties, but this was for a pink themed spread, so I thought this would be a pretty plate to use.

yolks

Place all your yolks in a medium sized mixing bowl.

mash yolk

Mash them up.

add mayo

I’ve always made this recipe by eye… but, I can give you some general guidelines… two heaping soup spoons of real mayonnaise (a scant 1/4 cup)

add mustard

One non-heaping soup spoon of yellow mustard. (about a tablespoon)

add relish

One soup spoon of relish. (one heaping tablespoon) This provides the vinegar that is in a typical deviled egg, but it also adds some crunch.

one squirt of Sriracha sauce or whatever hot sauce you like. (about one teaspoon)

One dash of cayenne pepper. (about 1/8 teaspoon) Be careful here, you can always add more, but cayenne pepper is hot hot hot.

salt and pepper

Mash all your ingredients together. Then taste for salt and pepper. I didn’t add too much salt here, just about 1/8 teaspoon and about 5-6 cracks of black pepper to balance the pepper flavor from the hot sauce and cayenne.

fill bag

Now, if you want to get fancy (and this was for a party, so I did want to) Place your mixture into a piping bag fitted with a pretty tip.

full bag

These are disposable piping bags that I use for my cake decorating… but, if you don’t have a piping bag handy, just use a quart sized freezer storage bag. Be sure it is freezer strength as the regular strength won’t hold up. Then just cut the tip of one corner off and you will still make a pretty design.

Now, fill your eggs. You want to come up just a bit higher than the egg itself.

Now add some garnish. I used a simple caper. I have also used a chopped up pickle in the past and that was yummy too.

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And there you have it, a beautiful tray of homemade deviled eggs. Zero carbs and lots of healthy protein.

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Enjoy!

Recipe for Stacy’s Deviled Eggs:

(serves 8)

8 hard-boiled eggs

1/4 cup real mayonnaise, scant

1 Tbls. yellow mustard

1 Tbls. dill relish, heaping

1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

kosher salt to taste

cracked black pepper to taste

Garnish: either capers or sliced pickles

Directions:

Cut and separate egg whites from yolks.  Set whites aside. Mash yolks in a medium bowl. Add in all remaining ingredients and mash together.  Garnish with capers or sliced pickles.

Enjoy!

*note: This is a no-carb, gluten-free recipe

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Codfish Cakes (Bolinhos de Bacalhau)

AdoneFriday’s in my house growing up were always grocery shopping day.  That being said, having a full-time working mother, also meant that it was “take-out” day.  We would usually toggle between three things, pizza from Atlas Pizza, Chinese from China Royal or fish and chips from Flint Fish Market.  Sometimes if we were lucky we could tack a little on to that fish and chips order, like shrimp cakes or codfish cakes.

Codfish is a staple in the Portuguese diet.  And although fresh caught Cod is delicious, what most portuguese people think of when they think of codfish is dry salt cod, bacalhau.  This is not fish that has been left to sit with salt on it for a day or two.  We are talking about a drying and salting process that changes the entire consistency of the fish to something amazing and if you know how to work with it, you can create some incredible dishes.

Codfish cakes can be served warm or room temperature.  For breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch.  They are great for parties and picnics.  They can be a main course or a side dish.

Here I will take you through the process of rehydrating and cooking with this particular Portuguese mainstay.

cod11111

This is bacalhau (dry salt cod). For this recipe we are using deboned codfish bits… Normally the best thing to use is a nice thick piece and if I were making almost anything else, that’s what I would get. But, this is actually less expensive and less work, so for something I will mush up anyway, bits are the way to go.

rinse

The first step is to rinse out the fish, get all that initial salt off. Rinse until the water runs relatively clear.

washed cod

Once you have some clear water, you will want to boil this. Then drain. Then boil again. Then drain again. You are not only rehyrating with this process, but removing the majority of the salt. After the second boiling, taste for salt. You still want it salty, but not crazy. Sometimes I go as far as to boil a third time.

cooked fish

This is what your boiled fish will look like.

cod in cloth

Place on a flour sack towel. (or any clean kitchen towel)

wrap

Wrap and twist the end. Wring out all the water. For Cod Fish Cakes we want only moister we add coming to the party.

mush

Once all the water has been removed and the fish is still in the cloth, mush with your hands.

mushed cod

The fish will look very mashed now, which is what you want… you should now go through with your fingers and check for any random bones. Set this aside.

potatoes

Boil potatoes whole with skins on to preserve the starch.

cooked potatoes

Peel boiled potatoes.

mash potatoes

Start mashing potatoes with a masher then finish with a fork in order to get potatoes really fine. You don’t want big chucks. If you have a ricer, this would be the perfect use. (Do not add anything to the potatoes) Set aside to cool.

dice onions

Finely dice onions. The easiest way I find to do this is to cut onion in half and in half again. Then slice several small slices throughout and turn and slice the other way, like so.

onions in pan

Place onions in a small skillet with a drop of olive oil and gently saute. When onions start to develop color, remove and set aside to cool.

parsley

Mince parsley finely.

add to potatoes

Add onions and parsley to potato. Mash together.

mix in cod

Add fish to mash. Mash together. At this point taste for salt. If it does not have a light salty taste, add a pinch of kosher salt.

add egg

Add in one egg and combine.

scoop mixture

Your mixture should hold together at this point.

oil spoons

Put a dab of olive oil on two soup spoons.

spoons

Mold with two spoons. It should for a tri-sided croquette.

raw

Line up on parchment until ready to fry. (At this point they can be covered and refrigerated for 24 hours or flash frozen and stored for a couple of months until ready to fry)

fry1

Heat canola oil in a large skillet on med/high heat. Place croquettes in oil with lots of room around them. Do not crowd pan. Turn the burner down to medium heat.

flip

Because the croquettes are three-sided, it is easy to turn them as they cook. You want to take your time with this.

flip2

The whole process of frying should take 10-15 mins. Be sure each side is golden brown without burning. If they cook too quickly, the inside will not properly cook through.

drain2

Drain on paper towels. Normally with fried food, I would tell you to salt at this point, but these are naturally salty, so no need.

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Transfer to a serving dish. They can be served warm or room temperature.

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Enjoy!

Recipe for Cod Fish Cakes:

(serves 4-6)

3/4 lb. dry salt cod, prepared (hydrated and mashed)

3 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed

2 tsp. minced parsley

1/2 medium onion, finely minced, sautéed

1 egg

kosher salt to taste

1 c. canola oil

Directions:

Combine mashed potato (cooled), minced and sautéed onion (cooled), parsley.  Add in mashed fish. Mash together.  Add in egg, combine.

Spoon out one soup spoon of mixture.  With another soup spoon, form into tri-sided croquettes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat.  Place croquettes in heated oil to fry.  Turn down heat to medium.  Fry over 10-15 minutes turning periodically until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel.

Enjoy!

*note – this recipe is gluten-free