Tag Archives: Parmesan

Stuffed Calamari for Dinner!

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already behind us. I feel like the last month just flew by, from Thanksgiving right through Christmas and now waiting for New Years Eve. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with friends, family, and of course, great food!ChristmasAfter we hosted 24 for Thanksgiving, we had a pretty simple Christmas Eve dinner with only 11. Being an Italian family, Christmas Eve always meant seafood. Some of you may be familiar with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian tradition of a big Christmas Eve dinner consisting of, you guessed it, seven fishes. There is some debate as to why seven, but most agree it represents the seven sacraments. Traditionally, dinner included shrimp and white fish, bacala (salted cod) and smelts, and always calamari. Sure, like many, we had fried calamari, but my favorite was always the stuffed calamari. I’ve come to find out that this is a bit unusual, however, both of my grandmothers made it, and they are delicious.

This year, with the small crowd, we decided to have a smaller menu. We didn’t come close to the seven fishes, but the meal was great. We started with a shrimp butter and mussels for an appetizer, and for the main course, spaghetti and crabs, and, yes, the stuffed calamari. As always, they were a huge hit, and I keep getting requests for the recipe, so here goes.

To make the calamari, you need about 3 pounds cleaned calamari. You want a bulk of it to be the whole tubes, however, the tentacles work great in the stuffing. To make the stuffing, saute 1 medium onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft and golden in color. To the onions, add about 1 cup chopped tentacles. Cook for a few minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool then add about 1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir to combine.sauteed onionstentacleschoppedcookedbreadcrumbsparsleyaddedcheeseTo complete the dish, you also need about 4 cups tomato sauce, toothpicks, and a casserole dish. For the sauce, I used the sauce from the spaghetti and crabs before I added the crab meat. It’s just a simple marinara with basil. sauceYou want to use the largest tubes you have to stuff. Hold them in your hand while you carefully spoon the filling in. Push the filling down so you make room for more. Once full, use a toothpick to seal the edges. Add 2 cups sauce to the casserole dish. Set the stuffed, sealed calamari in the dish in neat rows. Once you’ve stuffed them all, cover the calamari with the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes until bubbling and cooked through.tubestuffingsealedcompleteready for the ovenI know some are a little nervous when it comes to calamari, but they really are delicious. If you’re willing to try, you won’t be disappointed. We finished off the Christmas Eve meal with another one of my favorites, chocolate chip bread pudding. Even if you’re hesitant with the calamari, you please make the bread pudding. 🙂

Enjoy the rest of the holidays, and a very Happy New Year to you! Here’s to 2016!

Eating Healthy in the New Year…Brussels Sprouts!

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Brussels sproutsIt’s hard to believe that 2014 is about to draw to a close. I feel like the year has just flown by. It was an eventful year for us…new jobs, travel, and excitement. Oh, and I started this blog, which has been a ton of fun. So, now as the year comes to a close, if I believe all of the January issues of magazines, and every commercial since Christmas, we’re supposed to focus on healthy eating and taking care of ourselves. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a this “healthy” recipe. Of course, it combines delicious Brussels sprouts cooked in butter with a creamy rich Parmesan cream sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds. But it’s a vegetable…so it has to be healthy…right??? 😉

blanchedTo ring in the new year, we’re heading to the new home of our friends. There will be about 10 of us, and everyone was assigned something to bring for dinner. Of course, I was a little disappointed that I was assigned a side. After all, how can I let my cooking talents shine with just a side. However, this recipe is a keeper, and it’s incredibly easy. Surprisingly enough, the recipe comes from the November 2013 issue of the Spirit Airlines inflight magazine. Who would have thought a recipe from an airline magazine would be so good, but this one surprised us!

To start, blanch 1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts in boiling water for about a minute. They’ll become bright green and soften a little. Drain, and soak in ice water until cool to stop the cooking. Once they’re cool, drain again and cut into quarters.coolingdrainslicedIn the meantime, heat 2 cups heavy cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until simmering. Allow to simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cream reduces by half. Make sure you keep an eye on the cream, as it could boil over. Once the cream has reduced, remove from heat and add 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine, then set aside.creamboilingcheesesauce readyHeat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread out 2 oz pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet. Toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for about 10 minutes until brown. You’ll want to check on them frequently, and shake the pan to stir. Set aside once toasted.beforeafterIn a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until melted. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until toasted, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.butteradd sproutsbrowned sproutsTo serve, pour the toasted Brussels sprouts into a serving dish. Top with the Parmesan cream and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. The Brussels sprouts are buttery and flavorful, the sauce is creamy and salty from the cheese, and the pumpkin seeds are nutty and crunchy. It’s the perfect mix of flavors and textures, and I’m sure it will wow the crowd tonight.

Whatever you are doing to celebrate the new year, whether it’s a huge night out, quiet celebration at home, or an early evening in bed, have a safe night. And have a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015! Happy New Year!