Not everyone likes sardines but Teresa and I love them! To be honest, when my husband & son heard I was making sardines & eggplant they made some weird faces. I told them that's what I was cooking so they could either join me or cook for themselves! The combination of eggplant, sardines, garlic, onions, and tomatoes was making my mouth water. This dish doesn't have a strong 'fishy' taste at all but the flavor is reminiscent of Sicilian cuisine. My son had one request; please add some tomato sauce to it. Since I didn't have any made I whipped up a quick sauce using Italian stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic & oil. At first, their faces were very skeptical and then they took their first bites. I'm pretty sure they didn't want to say they liked it, but those weird faces turned to smiles and both wanted to split the 4th eggplant, which I immediately said 'NO', it's mine and Teresa's lunch for tomorrow! Moral of the story: never be afraid to cook what comes into your head because it just might be a new family favorite...you never know. Enjoy!
2 (4.375 oz) cans skinless boneless sardines in olive oil, drained and flaked
2 large eggplants, cut in half lengthwise (leave stems on)
1/3 cup EVOO
1 Tablespoon EVOO
1 ½ large sweet onions, diced
4-6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) cans Hunt’s Italian style diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoons Hunt’s Italian style tomato paste with garlic & basil
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried oregano (more or less to taste, fresh oregano may be substituted.)
1/4 cup grated Locatelli cheese (Pecorino Romano)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Quick Tomato Sauce (any homemade or jar sauce is fine) more if you are serving with pasta
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise with the stem attached. Score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern being careful not to cut through the skins.
In a large skillet on medium heat, heat 1/3 cup oil then lower heat. Add the eggplant, flesh down. Cover and cook until completely softened but not falling apart. About 10 minutes. Carefully flip over and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more. You may have to do this in 2 batches if your skillet isn’t large enough.
When done, let cool in a separate dish. Once cooled, leaving a 1/8-inch border, gently scoop eggplant flesh into a bowl and chop. Lightly drizzle some EVOO on the bottom of a baking dish and place the eggplant shells gently inside, close to each other to support them from flattening.
In the same pan, add the 1 Tablespoon EVOO and saute onions for about 6-7 minutes on medium heat. Add all remaining ingredients including the chopped eggplant & flaked sardines, except the grated Locatelli and mozzarella cheeses. Remove from heat and combine well.
Sprinkle with Locatelli cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese then top with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of quick sauce down the middle, again sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese again. Bake about 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts.
Serve by itself or over your favorite pasta!
Gently scoop flesh from skins
Saute onions, then remaining ingredients
Fill skins with eggplan & sardine mixture then top with a little shredded mozzarella
Add 2 T sauce on top of mozzarella then sprinkle with grated Locatell and top with additional shredded mozzarella
If you're a lobster & seafood lover, this chowder is a must-try. It's filled with lobster, jumbo lump crab meat, shrimp, corn kernels, all delivered in a silky, creamy texture that's loaded with seafood flavor. (When we made this batch we were out of carrots so you won't see any in the photo. We never missed them; however, they do add a pleasant sweetness when included). One spoonful and you'll be transported to the waterfronts of Maine or Cape Cod.
2 -3 Tablespoons butter
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4″ slices
3 large carrots, sliced into 1/4″ slices
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1½ Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)
6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2” cubes.
Ranch dressing is delicious on salads, cooked vegetables, chicken tenders, and as a dip for fresh vegetables. When my grandsons were little boys ranch dressing was the perfect way to get them to eat fresh vegetables. They couldn't get enough. Actually, this dressing is good on everything!!! Our homemade Balsamic Ranch dressing is so good and easy to make you will never buy store-bought again! 😋❤️
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve remove from refrigerator and pour over salad greens or vegetables. Enjoy !
Notes: Try adding blue cheese crumbles and bacon crumbles on top for an added touch…Delicious!
Turkey is a great alternative to beef as it reduces the amount of unhealthy fat in our daily consumption. Our turkey meatball recipe is easy & healthier alternative to beef meatballs. These meatballs add low-fat protein to homemade soups or broths like in our homemade Italian Wedding Soup (see link below). They are also perfect for an appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce or a perfect complement to your favorite pasta dish, just choose the size you want to make. Not only are these meatballs packed with flavor, but they are also gluten-free. To get our mini meatballs uniform in size, we used the 1-inch side of a melon baller, which is the perfect size for adding to our Italian Wedding Soup. Any size you make them will be delicious!
20.8 oz (1.3 lbs) ground turkey
1/2 large onion, finely minced
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (see note for dried amounts)
3 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped (see note for dried amounts)
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (see note for dried amounts)
salt & pepper to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup 4C Gluten-Free Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated (Locatelli)
In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey with all the ingredients.
Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Spray lightly with cooking spray.
Wearing food-grade gloves, put a dab of EVOO on one glove, and rub your hands together. This prevents the meat mixture from sticking to your hands while forming into round balls.
Using a 1-inch melon baller, scoop enough meat mixture to fill the baller. Shake into your hand and roll into a ball. Place each meatball onto the prepared baking sheet in even rows.
Bake at 350ºF for 10-12 minutes on the upper rack. of your oven. After 10-12 minutes put on broil for 2 minutes to lightly crisp the meatballs.
Remove from oven and immediately remove to paper towels to drain. When completely cooled, place in plastic food storage bags and freeze. If using immediately, drop into your favorite broth or soup. Italian Wedding Soup
Melon Baller – use the smaller 1″ size baller
Large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil
Bake 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes
Drain on paper towels
Gluten-Free Turkey Mini Meatballs
Note: When using dried herbs in place of fresh, use the standard ratio of 1 tsp dried herbs for every 1 Tablespoon of fresh herbs.
We're keeping things simple for Thanksgiving this year so we will forgo the traditional apple pie & pumpkin cheesecake for our (OH so simple & delicious) gluten-free apple crisp. Not having to make pie crust saves a lot of time in the kitchen with better than pie results! We use Gala apples for this recipe as they are juicy, sweet, and hold their shape well. It’s a big hit with our family by itself or topped with a little vanilla ice cream or a Klondike Heath Bar divided (pictured below).
cast-iron skillet (10-inch preferred but 12-inch will do)
5-7 large Gala apples (approximately 1200 g), peeled, cored & cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 Tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup gluten-free flour (we use Bob’s Redmill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
2½ Tablespoons brown sugar
2½ Tablespoons white sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) salted melted butter
3/4 oats (regular old fashioned or Quaker 1 minute)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a large bowl place the apples, lemon juice, white sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Toss until all apples are well coated and combined. Set aside.
Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a heated cast-iron skillet.
Add the 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Stir to combine well.
Add the apple mixture to the skillet, mix well. On medium-low heat keep a simmer while preparing the topping.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, 2½ Tablespoons of brown sugar, 2½ Tablespoons of white sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Once combined, add the 8 Tablespoons of melted butter. Stir well to combine.
Add the oats and chopped pecans.
Stir the apples in the skillet, liquid should start to thicken. Add 1/4 cup of water over the apples and combine. It will create a syrupy mixture when done.
Remove skillet from the heat and sprinkle the crispy topping mixture evenly over the top.
Place the entire cast-iron skillet in a pre-heated 375º F over and bake for 35 minutes until the crispy top is golden brown edges are bubbling.
Best served while hot but delicious cold or at room temperature too. Top with vanilla ice cream for an added treat!
Note: To cut your total prep time in half, peel, core & slice your apples ahead of time. Sprinkle some lemon juice on them to prevent apples from turning brown then cover & refrigerate until you start the mixing portion of ingredients.
Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Gluten-Free - Twiins Style
It's no secret our second favorite cuisine after Italian is Thai. Who can resist crispy, tender chicken bites coated in a scrumptious sweet chili & sesame seed sauce just like your favorite Thai restaurant? Since we haven't been going out during this pandemic, we wanted to reproduce the meals we would order at a restaurant. Tonight we served it over Jasmine brown rice which soaks up the flavorful sweet chili sauce. Our husbands gave us rave reviews so we hope your family will too. Try this recipe for a quick & easy weeknight meal or impress your friends & family with great appetizers once you can gather again. 😋😋
deep skillet or wok
oil for frying (peanut or canola or olive)
4 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
3/4 cup corn starch
1½ cups Thai sweet chili sauce (store-bought or homemade, check the label to make sure it’s GF)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2-3 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a small, dry skillet
2 cups brown jasmine rice
4 cups gluten-free chicken broth
Place brown jasmine rice in a medium bowl filled with cold water, enough to cover rice. Set aside for 20 minutes. (soaking in water helps breakdown the bran and keeps the rice from sticking together.)
While the rice is soaking, use this time to start prepping the chicken & the remainder of ingredients.
After 20 minutes, drain the rice and place in a medium saucepan. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, lower heat to a low simmer and cover. Cover and cook approximately 40 minutes, check after 30 minutes.
Using a shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt & pepper and mix well.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
Dip each piece of chicken into the egg then roll into the flour mixture to coat well. Repeat with all of the chicken pieces.
Heat about 3-inches of oil in a wok or deep skillet. Make sure oil is very hot before adding dredged chicken.
Fry 5-8 pieces of chicken at a time, depending on the width of your skillet, until golden brown. Do not overcrowd as it will cause the chicken to steam instead of crisping.
Remove and drain on paper towels then repeat until all the chicken is cooked.
Heat chili sauce until hot. Pour over the chicken bites to combine. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
Spread cooked rice on a plate and top with sweet chili chicken bites. Garnish with extra green onions and enjoy!
Prep all ingredients
Frying dredged chicken pieces in a wok
Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet
Place cooked chicken bites on paper towels to absorb excess oil
Thai Sweet Chili Chicken ready to serve
Plate & ready to eat & enjoy!
NOTE: If you want to include more vegetables in your meal, steam some broccoli or cut green beans and add to the chicken before serving.
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If you’re lucky enough to have a have a garden with an abundance of fresh vegetables, you must try making some Ciambotta (pronounced chim-botta)! Even if you don’t have a garden, grocery stores are full of a variety of fresh, local produce during the summer. It’s a delicious and nutritious way to use your harvest or take advantage of the fresh produce available now. Ciambotta can also be spelled giambotta, depending on the region of Italy. This version is a southern Italy farm dish. The great thing about this dish is you can use whatever veggies you like. The key is big, equal size cubes or chunks... and it’s naturally Gluten-Free. I served it with crusty whole wheat French bread drizzled with EVOO and Za’atar seasoning. It was delicious. Enjoy. 😋❤️
1 large yellow onion, cubed
8-10 cloves large garlic, peeled and diced
1/4 cup EVOO
4-5 golden Yukon potatoes, cubed
6 large Roma tomatoes, skin & seeds removed, cubed
2 medium eggplants, ends removed and cubed
2 medium zucchini, ends removed and cubed
1 large green bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
1 large red bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
2 handfuls of fresh spinach (optional)
1 jalapeño (I used jalapeño) or long Italian hot pepper (optional)
Salt & pepper, to taste
20 fresh basil leaves, torn right before adding
1 sprig Greek oregano, (optional)
Boil the Roma tomatoes for a few minutes until the skin starts to crack. Remove from boiling water and cool. Once cool enough to handle you can easily peel off the skin., Cut them in half, remove the seeds and cube.
In a minimum 6 qt deep Dutch oven, On medium-high, heat EVOO until it starts to shimmer.
Add the onions and garlic and turn several times until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, zucchini, potatoes, give it a good turn.
Add the eggplants last. Turn well and cook about 10 minutes.
Add salt and black pepper to taste and tear the basil leaves, sprig of Greek oregano (if using) and add to pot. Stir together.
Lower flame to medium-low and cover. Cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now is a good time to prepare any pasta or crusty bread.
For the bread: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice the Italian or French bread into 1/2-inch slices and place on foiled baking sheet. Drizzle each piece with EVOO then sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning, garlic powder, & a little sea salt.
Bake about 4 minutes until golden brown. (Bake when Ciambotta is just about done)
Serve in pasta dishes with crusty bread on the side or over pasta & garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Notes: Serve with crusty gluten-free bread to keep completely gluten-free or use Italian or French bread to soak up the juices! Can be served with pasta too.
I'm always looking for ways to use the herbs I'm growing in my garden. I have quite a bit of Thai basil which I've made delicious chicken salad and Thai basil Chicken with but I wanted to experiment with other dishes. I made a summertime bean salad and added quite a few Thai basil leaves to see how it tasted...we loved it. You're still getting protein through the beans and this dish delivers big time on flavor. Enjoy by itself in lettuce leaves or as a side dish with no cooking as an added bonus during the hot summer! Naturally Gluten-Free. Enjoy. 😋❤️
1 can (15 oz) Chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 large red onion
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup EVOO
2 Tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
4 large cloves garlic, minced
ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4- 1/3 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, parsley, Thai basil, garlic & pepper. Slowly whisk in the EVOO & set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the rinsed & drained beans, celery, and red onion.
Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and gently toss to coat evenly.
Garnish with a few Thai basil leaves.
Notes: Leftovers can be added to rice & cooked green beans for a delicious side to basil pesto chicken.
My Thai basil growing in hay bales
Summertime Bean Salad – Twiins Style mixed with brown rice & cooked cut green beans
When marinating chicken with Greek-inspired flavors the Mediterranean is brought to your dinner table and with it all the sunshine and joy for life that is associated with a beautiful outdoor dinner in the Greek Islands! This dish is so simple but packs huge flavor! Whether you want a quick family meal or a casual dinner with friends you will love it...Enjoy!😋❤️
2 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise to make 4 pieces
2 tsp EVOO
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1½ tsp fresh Greek oregano, chopped (dried may be substituted, but use a lesser amount)
1½ tsp fresh dill, chopped ( dried may be substituted, but use a lesser amount)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3-4 Tablespoons 2% milk ( any milk works well)
1½ Tablespoons red onion, chopped
1 large tomato, sliced
Fresh oregano, chopped for garnish
Mixed salad greens with olives, cucumbers, red onion, thin sliced
Optional: Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)
In a large bowl, combine 2 tsp EVOO, red wine vinegar, oregano, dill, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
Pound chicken between sheets of waxed paper to a 1/4” thickness. Cut each piece in half to yield approximately 6-8 pieces of chicken breast.
Add chicken breasts to the marinade, cover & refrigerate 30 minutes. (this step can be prepared ahead of time until ready for cooking.)
In a small bowl, combine the Feta cheese, garlic powder, 2% milk & chopped red onion. Using a fork, mash well to make a spread. Add additional milk if too thick until you reach desired consistency. (this step can be prepared ahead of time & refrigerated until ready to serve)
In a grill pan or large skillet drizzle 1 tsp of EVOO, then using a paper towel, coat pan.
Heat pan to medium-high. Once hot, place half the chicken pieces in the pan and cook until browned approximately 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan & set aside. Cook remaining chicken breasts and set aside.
Place mixed salad greens on a dinner plate then top with cooked chicken breast(s). Garnish the chicken with Feta cheese spread. Arrange tomato slices on the dish and garnish with fresh Greek oregano.
Preparation of Feta cheese spread
Marinated Chicken breasts in grill pan
Grilled chicken breasts set aside
Plated Grilled Greek Chicken breasts
Also can replace “burger night” meal or next days lunch in a sandwich
Notes: Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers. To enhance this Greek meal, drizzle salad greens with EVOO, red wine vinegar, add a little feta cheese, red onion, cucumber, and some Greek olives for a side salad. The creamy feta cheese spread is delicious on any vegetable or baked potato.