Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Texicali Muffins

I have a large circle of friends.  We often have movie nights at one another’s homes.  Everyone brings a dish to share.  I try to bring something different every time.  However, I don’t want to take something so different that the picky eaters won’t try it.


 

But everyone loves Tex-Mex. So, I fiddled around with one of my other recipes and created these.  They carry well and can be reheated.  They can be an appetizer or an entrée.  They even freeze well. You can control the amount of heat through the Ro-Tel and taco seasoning that you chose.



 

Servings: 16 appetizers
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 30 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a large heavy bottomed skillet, a slotted spoon, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a can opener, a glass, a muffin tin, and muffin tin liners
 
Ingredients:
  • ½ pound hamburger
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ can Ro-Tel tomatoes-DRAINED
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • 1-16 ounce can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Sour cream and salsa
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.  Place the cream cheese into the mixing bowl to allow it to soften.
  2. Line the muffin tins with paper cups.
  3. In the skillet over medium heat, cook the hamburger until it is browned. Remove it from the skillet with the slotted spoon and place it into the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the tomatoes, cheese, and seasoning.  Mix well.
  5. Separate the biscuits into halves horizontally.  Using the glass as a rolling pin, roll the halves out to flatten them.
  6. Place each half into a muffin cup. Evenly divide the mixture between the cups.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Top each cup with a dollop of salsa and sour cream. Serve warm.








BLT Cups

The holiday season is not quite over.  We still have New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl to get through.  I know that I get tired of the standard potato chip, dip set up at most parties.  Also, if guests are going to drink then they need protein to slow down the alcohol.  But no one wants to spend the party in the kitchen. These can be made ahead and warmed up before the party.

These muffins are a two bite version of one of the best sandwiches ever, the BLT. You can find sundried tomatoes with the pasta sauces in your grocers.  If you cannot find them you may be able to find bruschetta spread.

Servings: 16 appetizers
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 30 minutes
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a large heavy bottomed skillet, a paper towel covered plate, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a glass, a muffin tin, and muffin tin liners

Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 9 slices of thick cut bacon
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes with herbs packed in oil**
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • ½ cup shredded gruyère
  • 1-16 ounce can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Shredded lettuce





  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.  Place the cream cheese into the mixing bowl to allow it to soften.
  2. Line the muffin tins with paper cups.
  3. In the skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crispy. Drain it on the paper towel covered plate.
  4. Dice the tomatoes.
  5. Crumble the bacon into the mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese.  Mix well.
  6. Separate the biscuits into halves horizontally.  Use the glass to roll the halves out to flatten them.
  7. Place each half into a muffin cup. Evenly divide the mixture between the cups.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Top each cup with shredded lettuce.  Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spinach Pie

This dish isn’t spinach pie like you get in a Greek restaurant and it isn’t a quiche.  My spinach pie is a distant cousin to both. It is one of my first original recipes.  I created it while I was in high school.  When I was in college, I would bake a spinach pie and eat it every day for breakfast until it was gone. 

I really love it.  It is easy to make and can be eaten any time of the day.  Just add a piece of roasted chicken and you have dinner.  It also makes a great brunch item. If you are asked to bring an item to a pot luck, this travels well.


Servings: 6-8
Hardware: A mixing bowl, a colander, a whisk, foil
Time:  Cook:  30-40 minutes, Prep:  15 minutes









Ingredients:
  • 1 deep dish frozen pie crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2-10 ounce packages frozen spinach
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • S&P to taste
  • Malt vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Allow the piecrust to defrost. 
  2. Put the frozen spinach in the colander and run under hot water until it is completely defrosted.
  3. Whisk the eggs in the mixing bowl.
  4. With your hands, squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach.  You may need to do it a handful at a time.
  5. Stir the eggs, squeezed spinach, feta, nutmeg, and S&P together.
  6. Spread the spinach mixture evenly into the pie crust.
  7. Cover the edges of the crust in foil so that it doesn’t burn while it is cooking.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center is set. Remove the foil during the last part of baking to allow the crust to brown.
  9. Cool the pie for 10 minutes and serve.    Offer your guests malt vinegar.


Onion Gruyere Wheels

The past few months have been so awful, that I’m having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.  I also missed making a holiday post, which made me sad.  So I decided to bake.  Cooking helps relax me, which in turn brightens my mood.  And even if this is too late for you to add to your Christmas menu, maybe you can use it for New Year’s Eve?  Or just Saturday.

I have been wanting to make an onion tart, but I have been too busy for pastry. So, I bought a puff pastry and improvised.  Onion, thyme, and gruyere really go well together.  I added bacon, because I love bacon.  What doesn’t taste better with bacon?  If you don’t like bacon, you can omit it.  Or add roasted portabello mushrooms instead. 

Servings:  About 15 roll-ups
Time:  Thaw: 30 minutes, Prep: 20, Cook: 40 minutes total
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a skillet, a paper towel covered plate, a wooden spoon, a clean flat surface, a small bowl, a fork, a pastry brush, 2 baking sheets and parchment paper, cooling rack

Ingredients:
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet
  • 6 cups sliced onions
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 ounces shredded gruyere cheese (the best you can afford)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Water
  • Flour for dusting





  1. Cover the baking sheets in parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Allow the pastry to thaw for about 30.
  3. Cook the bacon until it is crispy.  Crumble the bacon onto the paper towel covered plate.  Set aside. Clean the skillet.
  4. Slice the onions into rings.  Put the onions, sugar, and enough water to cover the onions half way into the skillet on medium high.  Stir often.  Cook until the water has evaporated.  As soon as the water has evaporated, turn the heat down to medium and monitor carefully.  The onions will caramelize quickly.  Don’t allow them to burn . This should take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400°. 
  6. Beat the egg and a tablespoon of water in the small bowl.
  7. Unfold the pastry sheet onto the lightly floured work surface. 
  8. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg wash. 
  9. Top the pastry with the cheese.  Cover the cheese in the caramelized onion and thyme. Cover the onion with the crumbled bacon.
  10. Starting at a short side, roll the pastry up. Cut the roll into about ½ inch slices. 
  11. Put the wheels, cut-side down, onto the baking sheets.  You may need to re-shape them a little so that they are round.
  12. Brush the wheels with the egg wash.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes or until the wheels are golden brown. 
  14. Rest the wheels on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mediterranean Couscous

Couscous is a good alternative to rice.  Popular in the Middle East and North Africa, couscous is one of the oldest varieties of pasta.  It is simple to make and instant couscous can be ready in 7 minutes. Because it doesn’t have much flavor on its own, it can be used as a blank slate and flavored by adding different herbs and vegetables.  Couscous can be used as a side dish or an entrée.

Serves: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 3 minutes, Rest 5 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a bowl of cold water, a pot with a lid, a fork, and a serving bowl

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ¼ cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 ¼ cups instant couscous
  • ¼ cup sliced leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped kalamata olives

  1. Slice the leek and clean it in the bowl of water. Drain thoroughly.
  2. Crush the garlic.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter on low with the leeks and garlic. Sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant.  This should take a minute.
  4. Add the stock, parsley, and seasoning and bring to a boil.
  5. Stir in the couscous.  Cover and remove from the heat.  Allow the couscous to rest for 5 minutes WITHOUT REMOVING THE LID.
  6. Stir the remaining ingredients and the couscous into a serving dish.  Do not over stir or the couscous will become gummy.

Serve warm or cold.  Toss in shrimp or chicken for a meal.  I topped it with Middle Eastern Meatballs and warm Yogurt Sauce.

Middle Eastern Meatballs

I was experimenting with goat cheese and this idea jumped into my head.  So,   I made these meatballs for a dinner party and they were very popular.  My very picky husband even requested that I make them again.

I might try them later incorporating some ground lamb.  Be forewarned that they splatter more than regular meatballs.  I think the liquid in the cheese causes this.  I have a splatter guard.  Something worth purchasing.

Servings: 25 meatballs
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, un-powdered latex gloves, a large heavy pan, a fork
Time:  Prep:  10 minutes    Cooking: 1 hour

 
Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 8 ounces chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ½ tablespoon Greek seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Stock
  1. This is easiest to do with your hands.  Put on latex gloves.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl and mix with your hands. Mash the cheese up and mix it in well.  Make golf ball sized meat balls. Make sure to compact the meatballs, because the cheese will make them fall apart.
  3. Heat the oil on medium.  Brown the meatballs on all sides for about 8 minutes.  Turn it ¼ time every 2 minutes. The meatballs will splatter because of the cheese.
  4. Drain the fat from the pan.
  5. Add enough liquid to the pan to cover the meatballs about 2/3 of the way.  Simmer them for about 45 minutes.  Check the largest meatball to see if it is done. 



Serve over Mediterranean Couscous with warm Yogurt Sauce.

Yogurt Sauce

I love Middle Eastern food.  This sauce isn't necessarily a Middle Eastern recipe but it is inspired by the cuisine of the region. Yogurt is a common ingredient in sauces and dips, as are garlic and dill.  This can be used on warm Middle Eastern Meatballs, as a dipping sauce for chicken kabobs, or just on toasted slices of pita. 



Servings:  Makes 1 ½ cups
Time:  5 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a garlic press, a cutting board and a knife, a sauce pan, and a whisk

 
Ingredients:
  • 12 ounces Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  1. Chop the dill and crush the garlic. Set aside.
  2. Gently melt the butter over low heat.
  3. Whisk in the yogurt, dill, and garlic.
  4. Heat until warm, making sure not to allow the yogurt to scald.
  5. Serve warm.