Crustless quiche

I love quiche and usually rely on my old standby herb quiche (a recipe that I’ve been making since getting it from a teacher in 6th grade.) But a recipe for greens and Gruyere mini-quiches caught my eye. I tweaked a bit – the recipe says you can use any leafy greens (kale or chard, for example) but we like spinach. The recipe also calls for anchovy paste and olives but those are not ingredients that Samantha loves so I omitted them. She was helping me make them and pointed out that bacon would be a great addition – maybe next time.

Green and Gruyere mini crustless quiche

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 TB water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of spinach, chopped

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add onion and cook stirring until soft. Add water and reduce heat. Cover and cook until very soft and slightly caramelized (about 10 minutes). Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl and add cheese, garlic, pepper and cooked onion. Mix spinach into egg mixture. Fill muffin cups with mixture and cook 25 – 30 minutes until set. Remove from cups. (Cooled quiches can be frozen for up to 3 months but Samantha already claimed the leftovers for breakfast so we won’t be freezing any.)

Crab soup

We got this recipe from friends years ago and it is a go to in our house. It is easy to make, it makes a lot and it freezes beautifully. We made a batch last week and enjoyed some when we got home from our weekend travels.

Cream of Maryland crab soup

  • 6 T butter
  • 3 large onions chopped
  • 3 T chopped garlic
  • 48 oz frozen corn
  • 2 28 oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 T dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay (or more for zing)!
  • 3/4 teaspoon crumbled bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 1/2 cups bottled clam juice (6 bottles)
  • 2 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 2 lbs fresh crab meat

Melt 6 T butter.  Add onion and garlic – sauté 8 minutes.  Add 32 oz corn and sauté 5 minutes more.  Add tomatoes and all spices listed above.  Stir 2 minutes.  Purée remaining  corn and 3 cups clam juice in blender and add to pot.  Add remaining clam juice and cream.  Simmer 20 minutes until corn is tender.  Last, add crab meat.

Popular momma

When your 13 year old child enters the kitchen and asks “What’s for dinner?” and you remind her that you made chicken chipotle chili and she says “Yeah!”, it makes you feel good.  This is one of Samantha’s favorites and it is easy.  And as I pointed out to her, once summer really kicks in and it is in the 80s and 90s, we are going to be less inclined to want chili!

Chicken Chipotle chili

  • 3 TB canola oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small cubes
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained of about 1/2 of liquid
  • 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans black beans

Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan and brown chicken cubes (about 5 minutes.)  Remove chicken and drain on paper towels.  Pour off fat leaving about 1 tablespoon in pan.  Add onions and brown about 4 – 5 minutes.  Return chicken to pan.

Stir together flour, chili powder, cumin and salt and sprinkle over onions and chicken.  Stir and cook about 1 minute.  Add stock, tomatoes and chipotles and simmer covered about 30 minutes.  Add black beans and cook another 10 minutes.

Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips.

Chicken Avocado Casserole

Many years ago we went to a dinner party where this was served.  I loved it then and I love it still.  The hostess grew up in California and I think of it as a California casserole because of the avocados.  Leftovers freeze well.

Chicken Avocado casserole

  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split
  • milk for poaching chicken breasts
  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 TB flour
  • 1 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 dashes Tabasco
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 2 avocados

Place chicken breasts in a glass baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour in milk to cover about halfway.  Cover with a sheet of wax paper sprayed with Pam and cook at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Let cool and chop.

Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium low heat and add flour.  Stir to combine and gradually add milk (or half and half), chicken stock and wine until smooth and thick.  (If mixture gets too thick, turn down heat – if it is too slow to thicken, turn up heat.)  Add Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, rosemary and basil and remove from heat.

Melt remaining butter in another pan and saute mushrooms until soft.

Place chopped chicken in a casserole dish.  Pour mushrooms over top and then cover with cream sauce.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Add almonds and return to oven for another 10 minutes.  Serve with sliced avocado on top of casserole and a side of rice.

Lasagna

I like to make lasagna on a weekend so it’s available for a weeknight dinner.  (It’s easier to manage if it has had a chance to set in the refrigerator.)  We have discovered that if you cook it, chill it and then cut into squares, you can freeze the squares on a sheet pan with space between them.  You can then freeze the pieces in freezer bags without them sticking together.  These are a few of our favorite lasagnas:

Classic lasagna

  • 1 package lasagna noodles cooked per package instructions and drained
  • 4 cups tomato sauce (I used a mix of Graul’s homemade marinara and their bolognese)
  • 1 large container ricotta cheese mixed with 1 beaten egg
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan.  Top with a layer of noodles, more sauce, ricotta and mozzarella.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, more sauce, remaining ricotta and mozzarella.  Top with one more layer of noodles, remaining sauce and Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover lasagna.  Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake a remaining 10.

Eggplant lasagna

  • 3 large eggplant, skin removed from one side and then sliced about 1/4 ” thick
  • olive oil
  • 16 oz shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb sweet italian turkey or chicken sausage (removed from casing)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425.  Spread eggplant on baking sheets and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Let sit for about 30 minutes and then wipe with a paper towel.  (The salt will sweat some of the liquid out of the eggplant.)  Brush eggplant with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes until golden brown.

While eggplant is cooking, heat about 2 TB of olive oil in a heavy saucepan.  Sauce onion until translucent (about 3 – 5 minutes).  Add garlic and cook stirring for about 30 seconds.  Add red pepper flakes and sausage.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring often until sausage is cooked through.  Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine ricotta with 1 oz of the Parmesan cheese, the egg and basil.

Assemble lasagna in a 9 x 13 pan.  Start with a thin layer of sauce, then eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella, sauce.  Add another layer of eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella sauce.  Then a layer of eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil (spray with Pam first) and bake at 375 for 15 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered.

Mushroom Lasagna

  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster but use whatever you like), cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb Fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute shallot until soft.  Add mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cook an additional minute.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.   Add dried porcini mushrooms and boil 5 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, reserving stock.  Rinse mushrooms and add to mushrooms in skillet with reserved stock.

Add milk and half and half to mushroom mixture and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and spread with 1 layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with half of the mushroom mixture and half of the cheeses.  Add another layer of lasagna noodles and remaining mushrooms and cheese.  Top with lasagna noodles.  (I dotted the top with butter and additional Parmesan cheese but next time I would brush with melted butter and/or olive oil to keep from getting too crisp.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then 15 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.

Seafood Lasagna

  • 1 package lasagna noodles, cook according to package directions and drain
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (store bought or homemade)
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, steamed and peeled and cut in half
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce (store bought or homemade – I made mine by melting butter and cooking with half and half and Parmesan cheese)
  • 2 lbs crab meat
In a lasagna pan layer ingredients as follows – 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 5 overlapping lasagna noodles, 1 cup tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, shrimp, 6 oz mozzarella cheese, 5 overlapping lasagna noodles, 1 cup Alfredo sauce, crabmeat, 5 overlapping lasagna noodles, remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
This is best if you cook it the night before and let it set in the refrigerator overnight.  Reheat desired portions and freeze remaining pieces.
NOTE: You could reduce the calories tremendously by eliminating the Alfredo sauce layer – it is very rich (but it really goes well with the crabmeat!)  🙂  You could reduce the cost by substituting fish or scallops for the crabmeat.  Or you could just do shrimp and tomato sauce and cheese and skip the Alfredo and crabmeat.  Experiment based on what you like.

Cooking half a dinner

Many people are struggling with fixing meals during this challenging time.  With restaurants closed, people who relied on eating out are forced to cook.  Many grocery stores are struggling to keep staples on hand.  A friend recently remarked “I wish I enjoyed cooking like you do.”

One solution is to cook half a dinner.  Notice, I didn’t say eat half a dinner.  🙂  Tonight I made polenta and served it with meatballs that I had made and frozen a few weeks ago.  That meant I really only had to cook half a dinner.  Staying at home creates a great opportunity to fill your freezer.  Alternatively, you could make the meatballs and you use store bought polenta (or pasta) or make the polenta and buy meatballs.

Rosemary polenta

  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp minced rosemary
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 4 TB grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter and olive oil.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary and saute for 1 minute.  Add milk and chicken stock and boil.  Add cornmeal and whisk, stirring over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Meatballs

  • 2 lbs meatloaf mix (a combination of ground beef, pork and veal
  • 1 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • olive oil
  • Jarred marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.  (This will make cleanup much easier!)

Put the meatloaf mix in a large bowl and toss with your fingers.  Combine breadcrumbs, cheese and seasonings in a separate bowl and add to meat mixture.  Add the eggs, wine and 3/4 cup water.  Mix with your hands until well combined.

Roll into balls about 2 oz each and place on parchment.  (Samantha said mine weren’t evenly shaped and were more like meat blobs but they still tasted good.)   Brush with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool and then refrigerate if making ahead.  They can also be frozen.

Heat marinara sauce and add meatballs to heat through.  Serve on top of polenta.  meatballs and polenta

Family favorites week

I’m working on using up some of what I stored in our freezer.  Last night was chicken pesto lasagna:

Chicken Pesto Lasagna

  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb. Chicken Scallopini
  • 1 lb Ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb. Mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz Pesto
  • 8 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes, well drained

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain.  Run under cold water to stop cooking.

Pound chicken to flatten.  Spray a nonstick pan with Pam and cook chicken in batches until browned.  Set aside.  When cool enough to handle, slice chicken into thin slices.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.  Top with 4 or 5 lasagna noodles.  Spoon pesto over noodles and top with chicken.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over chicken and top with 4 or 5 lasagna noodles.  Spoon ricotta cheese on top of noodles and top with diced tomatoes.  (I drained thoroughly because I do remember that the last time I made this the tomato juice made it a little too juicy.)  Top with 4 or 5 lasagna noodles, remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Bake it covered with aluminum foil at 375 for about 40 minutes and then uncover and bake for 10 more minutes.  Let chill overnight and then cut into 12 pieces.  Put the pieces on a sheet pan lined with wax paper and freeze overnight.  You can then transfer the pieces into freezer bags and they won’t stick together.

Tonight was one of Samantha’s favorites:

Grilled Hoisin Pork

  • 1 jar of Hoisin sauce
  • 3 TB honey
  • 2 TB sherry
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin

Combine Hoisin sauce, honey, sherry and sesame oil in a small saucepan and heat, stirring for about 5 minutes until thick.  Let cool.  Use about 1/2 of the marinade on the pork and refrigerate for 4 -6 hours (or overnight).  Grill pork about 10 minutes or until 140 on a meat thermometer.  Heat remaining sauce and serve with pork.

We had this will grilled asparagus and cous cous.  Very easy!

hoisin pork and asparagus

Weekend cooking

Before I proceed with the menu plan for the week, a quick update on the weekend.  Friday I made steak and black bean quesadillas with the leftover skirt steak.  The same as the shrimp and black bean except for the fact that I substituted the steak for the shrimp:

Steak and black bean quesadilla

  • Leftover skirt or flank steak
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you are making for the first time, start with 1 tsp until you see how much heat you like)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack, Pepperjack or Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 6″ flour tortillas per person
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add steak and cook until warm.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas, putting filling on one half and then folding over.  Brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

Samantha made hers look like a face:

steak quesadilla

Last night we made pasta with tomato sauce from the fridge and Italian meatballs from the freezer:

Meatballs

  • 2 lbs meatloaf mix (a combination of ground beef, pork and veal
  • 1 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • olive oil
  • Jarred marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.  (This will make cleanup much easier!)

Put the meatloaf mix in a large bowl and toss with your fingers.  Combine breadcrumbs, cheese and seasonings in a separate bowl and add to meat mixture.  Add the eggs, wine and 3/4 cup water.  Mix with your hands until well combined.

Roll into balls about 2 oz each and place on parchment.  (Samantha said mine weren’t evenly shaped and were more like meat blobs but they still tasted good.)   Brush with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool and then refrigerate if making ahead.  They can also be frozen.

Heat marinara sauce and add meatballs to heat through.  Serve over pasta or polenta.

 

Our rapidly changing world

When I developed the menu plan for the week, I thought that we would be having dinner at a restaurant in Florida tonight.  My daughter is on Spring Break this week and we were supposed to travel to Florida on Tuesday for 2 days at Universal and 3 days of golf school.  On Friday when they closed Universal, we made the decision to move our flight.  We still thought golf school seemed “safe”.  Things are changing so fast that it now seems unbelievable that a week ago, we thought we would be taking this trip.  We are home and keeping ourselves isolated except for walks around our neighborhood and less frequent trips to the store.

Since we aren’t in Florida having a nice dinner, we had chili from the freezer tonight.  It was delicious.  I have warned my family  that in spite of this week’s successes with three new dinners that everyone liked, there may be some meals ahead where the response is “that’s not my favorite”.  I am trying to make sure we are prepared for whatever changes are in store but I don’t see a reason to hoard.

Over the weekend (since I’m not at golf school), I will post some suggestions for some things to keep on hand.  Be safe.

Chili

Beef and Sausage Chili (courtesy of Keith – adapted from The Silver Palate)

This is the chili that converted me (I was not a fan of chili prior to tasting this one.)  It makes enough to serve 15 – 20 people so you’ll need a good sized stockpot (we use a 12 qt pot).

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 lb of chopped yellow onions
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs sirloin, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tsps fresh ground pepper
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 TB minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 oz cumin
  • 2 oz chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 TB dried basil
  • 2 TB dried oregano
  • 3 lbs canned  plum tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 4 TB lemon juice
  • 1 dash Tabasco
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (5 1/2 oz) of pitted black olives, drained

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot.  Add onions and cook over low heat, until tender (about 10 minutes).

Add sausage meat, ground beef and sirloin cubes and cook over medium high heat until meat is well browned.  Drain as much fat as possible.

Reduce heat to low and add all ingredients except olives.  Stir well and simmer for about 25 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add olives and heat through.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped red onions and jalapeno peppers (for those who like it spicy) and cornbread.

Soup and sandwich

I made a black bean soup a few weeks ago and we were disappointed with it.  I thought I’d try another variation and this one was much better.  Plus I got to use my new immersion blender again.  Combined with leftover crabcake sandwiches, it was a delicious dinner (and easy).  Don’t be put off by the length of time this soup cooks – the active time is minimal.

Black bean soup with jalapeno sour cream

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 6 cups of beef broth
  • 2 14 oz cans of chopped tomatoes (including juice)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 minced peppers
  • avocado

Soak beans in cold water in a large bowl for an hour.  Drain and rinse.  In a heavy Dutch oven or pot combine beans with 8 cups of water and the broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour.  Stir in tomatoes with juice and cumin and simmer uncovered for 90 minutes.  (Beans should be soft.)  Let cool for 15 minutes and puree (you can do it in batches or use an immersion blender).

Whisk together sour cream and minced jalapeno.  Serve soup with jalapeno sour cream (or plain sour cream if you are me) and chopped avocado.

Delicious!

black bean soup