Red Wine Braised Calamari with Pearl Couscous

Red Wine Braised Calamari with Pearl Couscous

Soooo…. I wrote this post almost a year ago and then fell off the blogging wagon. As I updated my theme and all that jazz, I noticed that it was still floating around. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 pound squid, cleaned
    • I get the frozen tubes and tentacles from Harvest of the Sea, in the HEB seafood department. Then cut the tubes into 1-inch rings.
  • ½-1 cup red wine (I used pinot noir)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Italian blend spices (I used Sandwich Sprinkle from Penzey’s, which is garlic, coarse salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, black pepper)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pearl couscous, prepared using package instructions, including “optional” butter and salt

 

Procedures

  1. Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet (with a lid), and heat on medium-high. Add garlic to skillet, and brown.
  2. When garlic is browned, add the squid, sauté for 30 seconds or so (they’ll puff up a little), then reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Add ½ cup wine, thyme and 1 teaspoon of spices to the skillet, stir to combine all, and cover.
  4. Cook at a slow simmer (just little bubbles) for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  5. When the wine is reduced to basically nothing, and squid is of a pleasing texture, remove the cover and add remaining wine and the remaining spices, as well as salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Reduce the wine over medium heat until you have a nice little amount of luscious sauce.
  7. Top the prepared couscous with squid and sauce. Enjoy with the rest of your bottle of red wine!
Calamari Fritti

Calamari Fritti

Hello all, it’s time for the first Mancktastic recipe of 2014! Bill and I enjoyed this delicious dish of squid on Christmas Eve, and we’ve decided it’s going to become a family tradition.

Calamari Fritti from Mancktastic! at mancktastic.wordpress.com

In this dish, tender calamari tubes and tentacles are covered in flavorful spices and flour, then quickly fried in peanut oil. It’s a delicious treat to enjoy with a simple squeeze of lemon, or tossed with pasta and marinara sauce for a heartier meal.

Calamari-2352-2

Calamari Fritti

  • Peanut Oil
  • 1 pound Calamari, tubes and tentacles
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Pour enough peanut oil to come 2 inches up the side of your dutch oven or other thick-bottomed, high-walled pot. Heat on medium to medium-high, or until flour dropped into the oil immediately sizzles and disperses.
  2. Cut your tubes into 1/2 inch rings, rinse the tubes and tentacles, then set aside.
  3. Combine flour, parsley, salt, peppers, paprika, Greek seasoning and garlic powder in a large bowl, stir well.
  4. Toss the tubes and tentacles in the flour mixture, making sure to coat well.
  5. When the oil is heated, fry the calamari in small batches, stirring to ensure complete cooking, for about 2 minutes, or until golden.
  6. Drain the calamari on paper towels and sprinkle with additional salt.

Calamari Fritti from Mancktastic! at mancktastic.wordpress.com

Based on a recipe from Harvest of the Sea

 

 

Simple Gourmet: Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza

Simple Gourmet: Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza

This is one of those kismet dishes that came perfectly based on impulse purchases at the grocery store last week. When I saw fresh smoked mozzarella in the cheese case, I knew it needed to come home in our cart. The little bundle of goodness came to rest next to the pizza dough I’d grabbed from the freezer case, and a light bulb went off above my head! Smoked mozzarella… pizza?! The more traditional route would’ve taken me straight to the tomato sauces for a base, but I took a simple, more flatbread-ish approach for this tasty dish.

Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza from Mancktastic!

Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza only takes 4 ingredients, but has a really gourmet taste to impress your family and friends. Yeasty pizza dough is topped with smoky, savory mozzarella slices and then drizzled with a thick, decadent balsamic vinegar reduction. The distinct smokiness of the mozzarella melts into the robust, sweet reduction for a distinct and delicious combination of flavors.

Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza from Mancktastic!

Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza

  • 1 batch pizza dough of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup smoked mozzarella, sliced thin
  1. Follow the instructions on your pizza dough for it to rise/defrost. Preheat oven to temperature indicated for your pizza dough.
  2. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until syrup-like in thickness. Turn burner down to low and keep vinegar on low until ready to use.
  3. Brush olive oil all over the bottom of a pizza pan. Spread pizza dough to fit the pizza pan. Cover with slices of smoked mozzarella.
  4. Bake pizza in oven for the amount of time recommended for your pizza dough.
  5. Remove cooked pizza from the oven and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Smoked Mozzarella and Balsamic Pizza from Mancktastic!

Fresh, Fast and Refreshing: Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad

Fresh, Fast and Refreshing: Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad

You’ve got no idea what to make for dinner, you’re staring at a half-empty refrigerator with a rumbling belly and hungry family to satisfy, but inspiration suddenly strikes! Tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic and a little pasta? Sounds like time to make a simple, delightful pasta salad. You’ve got everything you need on hand to make a quick bruschetta while pasta bubbles and balsamic vinegar reduces, so dinner will be done in just 10 minutes. With the hot summer definitely upon us, fast and fresh is definitely the way to go!

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

I cannot stress enough how simple this dish is to make. Do you know how to boil noodles? Can you watch liquid bubble away? Can you quarter cherry tomatoes? Then you, too, can make this delicious pasta salad that’s way better than anything you’d grab at the deli or salad bar. The secret is the depth of flavor the reduced balsamic vinegar imparts into the pasta, combined with the pops of mozzarella and the fresh herbaceousness and brightness of the quick bruschetta. When you use a small pasta, you can create the perfect bite of fresh tomato, tangy coated pasta and chewy mozzarella. If you’re in the mood for even more savory flavors, try oven roasted tomatoes in place of the bruschetta and top with melty broiled mozzarella rounds.

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

This would be a great side dish for Bruschetta Chicken on a hot summer’s day. I’m also planning to prepare a big batch of this for potluck dish to enjoy with family and friends at the Fourth of July! If I stick it in a big ol’ blue bowl, it’ll be extra patriotic 🙂

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces mini penne
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 8 ounces fresh ciliegine or other small mozzarella balls, drained
  1. Pour ½ cup of balsamic vinegar into a small pot over medium heat. Allow vinegar to reduce, stirring occasionally, until it coats the back of a spoon (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Cook and drain pasta to package directions and set aside
  3. While the balsamic vinegar reduces and pasta cooks, combine cherry tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dried oregano. Stir until all tomatoes are well-coated and place in refrigerator.
  4. Combine pasta and reduced balsamic vinegar, stirring well to coat the pasta. Add tomato mixture and mozzarella balls, stirring to distribute well. Serve topped with additional oregano.

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

Melty and Poppy: Creamy Caprese Pasta

Melty and Poppy: Creamy Caprese Pasta

Maybe I had mentally dozed off during our weekly marketing meeting or my mind had wandered off to someplace more interesting than the small talk after we wrapped up the webinar, but my brain suddenly snapped back into focus as soon as I heard it… “caprice salad”. What? I had to ask my boss to repeat himself and explain what he was talking about. “You know, the salad with the tomatoes and mozzarella; a caprice salad.”

Before he’d even finished, I was doubled over in laughter. “Like a Chevy Caprice? I think you mean a Caprese  (ka-pray-zey) salad… and you call yourselves Italian.”

Of course, this is the same man that swears gnocchi is pronounced yonky, so I don’t know what I was expecting.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Ever since that meeting, I can’t help but laugh to myself when I see a menu or recipe with Caprese in it 🙂 This pasta dish’s deliciousness is no laughing matter though! Call it Caprice, Caprese and Catie for all I care, this is a one tasty baked pasta.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Simple spaghetti noodles are coated with a sauce spiked with cream and cheese, tossed with mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes, topped with more of the same and baked until bubbly and delicious. The baked tomatoes are warm, oven-roasted pops of flavors while the melty, gooey cheese melds perfectly with the simple and creamy sauce. Unlike many pasta casseroles that may weigh you down with that carby feeling, this dish stays light and filling at the same time.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Creamy Caprese Pasta

  • 1 pound spaghetti or other thin pasta
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish
  • 4 ounces mozzarella balls
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare pasta al dente according to directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan.
  3. Drain pasta and combine with sauce until well-coated. Add about ¾ of the mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes, stir to combine and pour into a baking dish.
  4. Top the pasta with the remaining tomatoes and mozzarella, adding additional parmesan cheese as a finishing touch.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Enjoy this as a side or a main course; add protein for a heartier dish.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Based on a recipe from How Sweet It Is

A Simple Side: Creamy Oven Risotto

A Simple Side: Creamy Oven Risotto

I’m sure cooking purists would beat me left and right if they heard me call today’s recipe “risotto”. Sure, it has the traditional arborio rice and white wine, but it involves basically no time tediously stirring while hovering over the stove top. Instead, this simple and tasty dish starts on the stovetop but finishes its creamy work in the oven, freeing you up to cook your entree or, like I did, watch Firefly and drink red wine with your husband : )

By letting the oven do the evaporation work and finishing with parmesan and butter, you get the thick and creamy texture of risotto with much less hassle.

IMG_1780

First things first, preheat your oven to 450° F, nice and toasty. Combine olive oil and a couple cloves of minced garlic in a large oven-proof pan or dutch oven (with a cover) over medium heat. When olive oil has been heated and the garlic is fragrant, add two cups of arborio rice to the pan and stir so every grain is well-coated with oil. Add one half cup of white wine to the pan and huff the fumes, I mean, stir and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add four cups of water to the pan and let come to a boil. Once you’ve achieved a healthy boil, cover the pan and into the oven it goes! Let this bubble away for 25-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed, then remove from the hotbox. Add 2 Tablespoons of butter and (at least) half a cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan and stir until it’s all creamy and delicious. Add salt and pepper to taste as a finishing touch.

We served our oven risotto with fresh feta, spinach and chicken sausage that we skillet-cooked while the risotto bubbled away. The pan juices from the chicken sausage added a really nice savory touch to the creamy risotto; it would also be a great accompaniment to a hearty grilled steak or fresh fish.

Creamy Oven Risotto

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup white white
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large oven-proof dutch oven. Add rice and cook for about 1 minute, stirring so that it gets coated in oil. Add in wine and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add in the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and move pot into the oven. Bake until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese, stirring so that everything is incorporated. Serve immediately.

Based on a recipe from PoppyTalk

CreamyOvenRisotto

Decadent and Delicious: Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

Decadent and Delicious: Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

First things first, this is my 60th recipe on Mancktastic! It’s hard to believe I’ve shared that many recipes here on the bloggy, but it’s awesome too. I hope that you and your families enjoyed these recipes; I love sharing them with you!

And now, on to the milestone recipe! This dish holds a special place in my family’s house because it brought my mother and my sisters together.

When my parents got married, Mom suddenly gained 3 half-grown daughters ranging in age from 15-8, my half-sisters. Of course, they were a little suspicious of this new, young woman in my dad’s life, so Mom had to work a little to integrated herself into the family. I didn’t join the world until six years after all of this happened, but I grew up hearing stories about the trials and tribulations of their new, blended family. I’ll never really understand or appreciate the relationship my mother and my half-sisters have because, to me, my mommy has always been there and part of our family, but Mom had to work hard to be a Manck, apparently. She came from a more worldly and learned background, full of things the girls found weird and different.

I never really understood this struggle and relationship until I stayed with my oldest sister, Jennifer, the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college.

To earn my keep living with Jen and her family during an internship, I watched my awesome twin nephews and cooked dinner several nights a week. This was when I really learned the basic skills of cooking like browning ground beef and meal planning. One weekend, while plotting the week’s meals, I asked Jen what she’d like for dinner. She asked if I knew how to make stuffed shells. “Well, I’ve never made them before, but I could try”, I responded. “Do you really like them?” She told me she loved them, and they always reminded her of my mother.

Apparently, the girls had never had the dish until my mom made it for them for dinner one night. The wariness they’d had to her evaporated for just that one night as they enjoyed the saucy, cheesy shells as a family.

The shells didn’t magically make their relationship easy, but it showed my sisters that Mom was new but she (and the things she brought) didn’t have to be scary just because they were unfamiliar. Of course, I made Stuffed Shells for the family that week, and that story has stuck with me ever since. Now stuffed shells speak to me about family, new experiences, and love.

This version of Stuffed Shells feels particularly decadent because of the inclusion of cream cheese and Italian sausage in the shell filling. The cream cheese adds a smooth richness to the cheeses, while the delicious Italian sausage elevates this dish beyond your typical pasta dish. I was glad to share these with Bill last night and think about how big, and small, my family is now : )

Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

  • 8 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • ²/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 26 ounces spaghetti sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cook shells according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  3. Cook Italian sausage, drain and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine Italian sausage, spinach, garlic, ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, egg, seasonings and ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture into a large ziptop bag and snip off one corner.
  5. Spread half of spaghetti sauce into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Arrange shells over sauce, fill with the cheese and sausage mixture, then top with remaining sauce.
  6. Cover baking dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and bake for 5-10 minutes.

ItalianSausageStuffedShells

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Based on a recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything