Fried Calamari (Carrabba’s Italian Grill Recipe)

DSCN3770I hope you guys don’t mind, but I have really been into Italian food and Carrabba’s recipes lately, hence all my latest posts lol. This is another one of our favorites and Carrabba’s Italian Grill makes it the best, maybe that’s why it is actually their best selling appetizer. I have always wanted to make this dish at home, so I finally did. This is the exact Carrabba’s recipe. The fried calamari turns out perfect…tender and crisp with a light and delicate coating. We like to dip it in Marinara Sauce and Garlic Aioli sauce. I must admit that I had a hard time making this dish because it was my first time dealing with (and touching) raw squid, and I have a very weak stomach. So consider this a warning: Calamari is made from squid and you will have to touch it! I told my husband I was making it for him and that I wouldn’t eat it, but it turned out so delicious I ended up eating half lol. I was surprised at how fast and easy it is to make Fried Calamari, in the restuarant it looks so perfect and that makes it intimidating to cook but it’s actually very simple. If you are looking for a yummy new appetizer or if you love seafood, this recipe is for you! I made Marinara Sauce and Garlic Aioli Sauce for this appetizer and I highly recommend you make both sauces for dipping too, if you want to get the ultimate, restaurant, taste. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pd. Calamari, cleaned
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • Vegetable Oil (For deep frying)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (I used Sea Salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black Pepper
  • Lemon Wedges, for serving *Optional
  • Marinara Sauce or Garlic Aioli Sauce
  •  * (Ingredients and directions for Marinara sauce is on this page, below. Or you can use canned marinara sauce, heated up. The recipe for Garlic Aioli Sauce is posted on the recipe for Zucchini Fries here http://sofiesbestrecipes.com/2014/03/03/zucchini-fries-with-garlic-aioli-sauce/)*

DSCN3730Directions:

1) Wash the Calamari (Squid). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line 1 baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Have a 2nd baking sheet ready nearby.

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2) Pour enough oil to come 1 inch up the side of a large, heavy saucepan. Heat over High heat to 350 Degrees (On a deep frying thermometer).

3) Cut the Calamari bodies (Sacs/Tubes) crosswise into 1/2 inch-wide rings. Cut each cluster of tentacles in halves or thirds. Season the Calamari with salt/pepper and mix.

4) Pour the flour into a bowl. Divide the calamari into 2 batches. Put the first batch of calamari into the bowl with flour and coat it with the flour, shaking off excess flour.

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5) Add the coated calamari into the saucepan with the hot oil. Cook over High heat until the calamari are golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.

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6) Using a slotted spoon transfer the calamari onto the baking sheet lined with paper towels to briefly drain.

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7) Move the calamari to the second baking sheet and place in the oven, to keep it warm and crisp. Repeat the same steps with the 2nd batch of calamari. Add more flour to the bowl if there is not enough, I did add a few spoons more of flour.

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8) Transfer the calamari to the serving plate. You can add lemon wedges to the plate, for decoration. Serve with marinara sauce and or garlic aioli sauce for dipping, if desired. I served with both sauces because we like our calamari with yummy sauces.

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Marinara Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, Finely chopped
  • 2 Scallions (white & green part) Finely chopped
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (Optional*)
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Cup hearty Red Wine (Such as Citra Montepulciano)
  • 1 Can (28 oz.) Whole Tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot, Crushed, Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1) Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, anchovies (if using), garlic, and cook. Stir occasionally until garlic is fragrant for about 1 minute.

2) Add the wine. Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Crush the tomatoes between your fingers, and pour the mixture into the saucepan. Add the oregano, hot pepper flakes, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to med.-low. Simmer, stirring often, until the tomato juices have thickened and the sauce has reduced slightly, about 30 minutes.  * The sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 2 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)

Carrabba’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes

DSCN3714This is the recipe for the authentic Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I got the recipe from my Carrabba’s Cookbook but I did change a few minor things. It tastes exactly like Carrabba’s restaurant. I recommend serving this dish with some steak or other meat of your choice, or some roasted or steamed vegetables. Although they are “garlic” mashed potatoes, they are actually not too garlic tasting at all because the garlic is roasted in the oven for 1.5 hours, and that gives it a sweetly unique taste, so don’t let those 2 heads of garlic in the picture throw you off! I could eat the roasted garlic just like that because it’s seriously so tasty lol. Enjoy! 🙂

Garlic Mashed Potatoes {Makes 4-5 Servings}

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 LB Red-Skinned Potatoes, Scrubbed and washed But unpeeled, cut into 3/4 inch dice
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature
  • *For the roasted garlic: 2 Large, Plump heads of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt/Pepper to taste

DSCN3685Directions:  

1) To make the roasted garlic, preheat a small conventional oven to 300 Degrees. Cut the top 1/2 inch from each garlic head to reveal the cloves. Discard the tops. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil on the cut surfaces of the garlic heads, and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt/pepper.

 

2) Place the garlic heads, cut side up, in a small baking dish lined with foil. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 1.5 hours on 300 degrees, until the garlic is deep beige and very tender when squeezed. Set aside when ready.

 

3) Put the potatoes in a large saucepan. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium low (I did 3.5) and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes.

DSCN36934) When the potatoes are cooked through and tender, drain out all the water, and return the potatoes back into the pot. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher.

DSCN37045) In a small bowl, squeeze out the garlic cloves from the 2 heads of garlic. Mash the cloves with a fork. (They will be very tender.) Add the stick of butter and cream into the bowl. Mix very well using a fork and spoon. Until it becomes a creamy texture.

 

DSCN37016) Add the roasted garlic, butter, and heavy cream mixture into the mashed potatoes. Mix very well. Mash potatoes again with the masher until they become as smooth as you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I did 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Transfer to a serving bowl or scoop into individual plates. Serve hot!

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DSCN3714*To reheat: Heat a skillet on medium heat with some butter, add the mashed potatoes. Mix until heated up.

 

My Weight Loss Journey

Okay, so let me start off by saying that, this is a hard one for me to post. But I know that it needs to be done so here it goes… The reason I decided to make this post is because I have been struggling with this problem for 4 years now since I had my son and have been diagnosed with Hypothyroid and PCOS and I know that I am not alone. I know there are more people out there that are facing the same challenges and I am writing this to give you hope, encouragement, and a solution. I want to give this information to help someone because I only wish someone had shared this with me earlier. Also, because I have been receiving a lot of compliments from people and they want to know what my secret is. Well let me tell you, it is no secret. I have been working out!

Now before you jump to conclusions please hear me, I have tried working out before. I literally spent 1 entire summer going to the YMCA and doing Zumba class for 1 hour and then I’d lift some weights and do the elliptical or treadmill for another 30 minutes. I did that every day that summer Mon.-Fri. and I also spent another hour driving because it was 30 min. each way for me to get to that particular location. I got no results. Lost about 5 pounds in all and spent a lot of time and money. I tried different diets, but you guys know that I love to eat and cook new yummy meals for my family so that did not work out for me either because I could never last long. Ya’ll know I like my biscuits with gravy! Lol jk. I tried many different work out programs, probably all the ones that you can think of and if I was able to do them, I got little to no results and others I tried were just too hard for me to do, I mean impossibly hard. So we got the elliptical machine for our house and I would do that, every other day, or walk/run outside at least 3-4 times a week and still was not getting the results that I wanted.

Then one day I tried something that completely changed my life. I tried the Power 90 work out. That my friends, is the secret. Before you read any further, let me just tell you that I do not sell the work out or own it, and I am not getting paid in any way for writing about it. I just genuinely, want to help someone that is looking for help like I was. I only wish someone would have told me about this amazing work out! Sure, I have heard some friends saying that they did it. But no one really told me much about it and their experience with it.

I know many of you have New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t believe in those because I feel that we should always be striving to get better in all aspects of our life, the physical, spiritual, financial, mental, emotional, etc. just to name a few. I don’t know about you but I always want to be the best that I can be. Now, with that being said, I am all for setting and achieving goals and in fact I do that all the time. I just feel like resolutions should always be made and not just at the beginning of the year but all through out. Some of you have resolutions to loose weight or get into better shape. In fact that is one of the top resolutions that most people have today. So reading this post is just the right timing for some of you.

This was my resolution in September last year so I decided to start the Power 90 work out. It is an in home work out. A set of DVD’s. I bought mine online for about $50. However I have seen some for sale on Craigslist and through Ebay I even saw some for sale at local thrift stores, so shop around and get a good deal on it. I am all about saving money. I started my work out September 28th and completed the 90 days, 12 weeks on January 7th. I do not know exactly how much weight I lost because I was not weighing myself consistently. However I just bought new pants for church, 2 sizes smaller! That is a pretty big deal in just 12 weeks! My husband has been doing the work out with me and he has lost about 15 Pds and also dropped 2 pant sizes. Also it has helped us to build balance, endurance, and flexibility. I feel a lot more tightened and toned. That is a really big deal in such a short amount of time! The work out is supposed to be done 6 days a week but we only did 4 days a week, each week, due to our already busy schedule and because we did not want to over work ourselves.  We did not change our eating or lifestyle habits at all. That is why I like this work out. I can still be me, do me, and eat what I want to. It does come with a food guide/cook book with light recipes but we did not follow them.

Sure there were days when I wanted to quit. Especially in the beginning. There were days when I would pout, and cry. Get mad at myself because I had to take breaks between each interval. But I kept on going. The work out is hard, don’t get me wrong. But it is doable. I have tested and tried it myself! I guess one of the biggest motivations for me was a picture I had seen on FB before that said “Would you rather work out 30 minutes a day or be dead 24 hours a day?” And that really got me thinking hard about getting in better shape. Some other things that helped me stay motivated was getting it over with first thing in the morning, before devotional time, before breakfast, etc. Having my husband do it with me has also helped a great deal! We are there to support each other and hold each other accountable. And of course all the compliments and encouraging words that I have been getting from many people has really helped a lot! I appreciate each and every one of you.

With all of that being said, I hope that this is helpful to someone out there. I am definitely not a fitness guru. I just want to offer help and support to someone who is needing it. I am not where I want to be, but thank God, I am not where I used to be. I plan to continue with this work out. To do another round of it and then possibly do the harder versions like the Power 90 Extreme etc. (Which by the way I did try before but was not able to do because you first have to get at least decently fit to be able to do that one). Please comment and let me know if you have any questions or comments for me. I would love to be able to help you, any way that I could. Blessings!!! 🙂

 

Herb & Garlic Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks

DSCN3633These Herb & Garlic Chicken Drumsticks are super delicious and extremely easy to make! They are great for those busy nights or when you are having company over because they require minimal work. Please keep in mind that they do require to marinate for at least 8 hours, so it is best to marinate over night and they bake for about 1.5 to 2 hours so whenever you are ready for dinner you can just pop these in the oven 2 hours in advance. I came up with this recipe on my own by putting a bunch of stuff together that I thought would make a great marinade. I have made these yummy drumsticks several times, and a few times for dinner guests and they are always a big hit. Even my picky, almost vegetarian, 4 year old enjoys these. I usually pair them with a salad and some mashed potatoes or rice to make the perfect meal.

Herb & Garlic Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks {Makes about 14 Drumsticks, Average serving is 2 Drumsticks, Serves 6-7}

Ingredients:

  • 5 LB Chicken Drumsticks (About 14 Drumsticks)
  • 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise (I prefer Hellmann’s Brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons Lawry’s Herb & Garlic (with lemon juice) Marinade Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs.Dash Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • .5 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Directions:

1) Wash the Chicken Drumsticks, I wash them one by one. Then put them in a large bowl and drain any water from the bowl.

2) Put the mayonnaise in the bowl and mix the chicken with the mayonnaise to get it all over the drumsticks. Then add the Lawry’s herb & garlic marinade sauce and mix the chicken again. Then add all the spices, The Montreal chicken seasoning, Mrs.Dash. Lawry’s seasoning salt, and garlic powder. Do not add additional salt as there is plenty of salt in the seasonings already! Mix the drumsticks well with all the seasonings so that all drumsticks are evenly seasoned and ready to marinate.

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3) Cover the bowl with a lid or foil and let stand for 1 hour in room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours. I usually marinate the chicken drumsticks the night before so that they are marinated and ready to be baked in time for lunch/dinner the next day.

4) When you are ready to bake the chicken drumsticks, put them on a baking tray with foil, and bake on 350 degrees in the oven for about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on how well done and crispy you like your drumsticks to be. I usually do 1.5 hours.

The chicken drumsticks can be kept in the warming drawer in the oven until ready to serve. This is great if you are getting the other sides ready.

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*I usually serve these with mashed potatoes and pour the gravy that the juice from chicken drumsticks make onto the mashed potatoes because it tastes great!

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