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Friday, June 28, 2013

Quiche Any Way You Want It

Quiche is a super easy entree. It can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, refrigerated for use within 24 hours or baked right away.  That alone gives you versatility.  I prefer using the deep-dish premade pie shells from the freezer section of the grocery store.  And, of course, make both at the same time.  They can be the same flavor if you are serving a large crowd or make them different to accomodate different taste buds.

Some of our favorite combinations are:
  • spinach, mushroom, crumbled bacon, onion and cheese
  • pepperoni, bacon and cheese
  • cheese only 
  • diced green chilies with an 1/8 tsp. cumin (tastes like Chili Relleno)
Place ingredients of choice into the pie shell.  Keep it level (or lower than) with the rim of the pie crust.  Pour the following egg mixture over the filling.

4 eggs
1 C half-n-half or heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper

Choices:  Bake right away at 325 degrees F for about 1 hour OR cover and either refrigerate or freeze.  I place it on a cookie sheet to bake.

IF you plan to bake it later, cut a circle of waxed paper and lay over the quiche.  Then cover the quiche with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Write baking directions on the foil. Place each quiche on a plate when freezing.  They can be stacked this way.  When you are ready to serve the meal, defrost and bake as directed above.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saved by Frozen Cookie Dough

Once again I had an unexpected houseful of teenage boys.  They had just finished playing basketball and came to cool-off in the pool before crashing on the sofa for some video gaming.  Hungry?  You bet!

Just the day before I had need of baking a few dozen cookies which is about half of my regular chocolate chip cookie dough recipe.  I hemmed and hawed trying to decide if I should make a whole batch or a half batch finally choosing to make a full batch and freeze a portion.  I am so glad that I did!  When those boys came over, I turned on the oven, and pulled out the bag of frozen cookie dough balls.  I had only to place the balls on a cookie sheet and bake them.  I don't think they ever fully cooled before every cookie had been eaten.

How-to?  Mix up a batch of your favorite cookie dough.  Line a jelly roll pan with waxed or parchment paper.  Put balls of dough close together on the pan using a #30 or 1oz. scoop.  Place in freezer until frozen.  Put all the balls of dough into a Ziploc-style bag or other container and use as needed.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 12 minutes.

Try my Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies also (April 2013).


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Super Simple Teriyaki Chicken is a Keeper!

One of the ways I stretch a month of meals is to take advantage of sales at Costco on foods we either love or want to try.  This Teriyaki Chicken is one that all 6 of us love.  That is quite an accomplishment at our house!  So anytime it's on sale I buy a box and stick it in the freezer.  It's perfect for a night when cooking time is short.  Simply follow the package directions to warm the chicken, add the prepared sauce and serve over rice.
My favorite way to prepare white rice is with the Pampered Chef Microwave Rice Cooker.   It only takes 13 minutes to cook (on high) and is enough to feed my whole family.  I prepare brown rice on the stove, giving it plenty of time to cook.

Dinner was a Flop

I know I've written about trying new recipes in between months of menus or even adding a few to my rotations.  Last week as I was weeding through a stack of magazines, I came across a recipe for Asian Pork and Noodles.  I read through the recipe and decided to change how I'd prepare one of the pork roasts in the freezer.  I only needed a couple of different ingredients.

It smelled delicious cooking away in the crock-pot all day!  I even bought Asian rice noodles and prepared them according to the package instructions.  Now it was tasting time.  My family was split 50-50, but my friend's son loved it!  I won't likely make it again, but I'll still share the recipe as the flavor was good.

Asian Pork Roast

2 1/2 lbs. pork roast

1/3 C Hosin sauce
2 T soy sauce
2 T corn starch
2 T fresh ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped or 1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 8.8 oz. pachage udon or soba noodles
1 lb. broccoli florets
2 T rice vinegar

Wash the roast and place in a 4-6qt. crock-pot.  Combine next 7 ingredients with 3/4 C water.  Cover the roast completely with sauce.  Cover and cook for 7-8 hours on low.

Prepare the noodles adding the broccoli during the last two minutes of cooking.

Shred the meat and add the vinegar mixing well.  Serve over the noodles with the broccoli.

Someone thought it was good!

Potato Casserole was a Big Hit

Alongside of tri-tip, I served an old favorite.  It is one that a dear friend gave me as young bride and one that I "revisit" every now and then.  This summer in Honduras I'll be serving it alongside a beef roast.

Golden Potato Casserole (Thanks, Nancy Buck)

6 medium potatoes par-boiled and shredded or my new short-cut - use 2 boxes of dehydrated shredded potatoes

Mix the following in a large bowl, then add the potatoes.
2 C sour cream
10 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
2 green onions, sliced (can put these on top of the dish rather than in)
3 T milk
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Spread into a greased 2qt. casserole or 9x13" pan.  Mix the following together and sprinkle over the casserole.
2 T butter, melted
1/2 C bread crumbs

Loosely cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees F for 50 minutes.  Remoe foil and increase temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake an additional 5 minutes.

This can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead of time, but due to the milk and sour cream, should not be frozen.  I used 1 1/2 recipes which fit perfectly in a 9x13" pan.  This served 13 handily.

Time for a New Meat Thermometer (Tri-tip Roasts)

Oh my blog!  It's been a while.   I have come to realize that June is just a warmer-weathered version of December.  We have two family birthdays, then add Father's Day, graduations, weddings, end-of-school year events, a spring cold, and keeping up with all the graduation announcements and gifts, and well, the month is gone.  And so it has been.  On a more positive note, I have also ended the month with a stack of recipes to share and extreme delight for having prepared a month of meals several weeks ago.

Last night we had a very special family over for dinner.  It was a "get-acquainted" evening, and it was fabulous!  One of those where you say it's time to go and then another hour goes by, and you repeat the line, and another conversation begins.  I wanted this meal to be special, yet comfy and so put together the following menu:

Tri-tip, slow-cooked on the bar-b-que
Potato casserole
Casaer Salad, with homemade dressing
Fresh baked rolls

and for dessert, Creme Brulee with raspberry garnish

I was very pleased with the meal, although I do need to buy a new meat thermometer.  Unfortunately, we discovered this need with the tri-tip.  However, the flavor of the new meat rub that I tried was quite delicious.  It is another find from a magazine which I neglected to document, but have, of course, tweaked anyway.

All-purpose BBQ Rub (makes about 2/3 C)

1/4 C sugar
1 T firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 C paprika
1 T chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (or to taste says the recipe)

Mix all ingredients in a tightly lidded container.  Can be stored up to a month in a dark cupboard.

I used it right away sprinkling it generously on both sides of the tri-tip roasts and patting it in.  I had doubled the recipe and have about half left after covering 3 - 3lb. roasts.  Let it set for several hours in a covered container so that the meat comes to room temperature before grilling.

I placed foil on the grill to reduced the charring, but need to improve this technique and the temperature of the grill as it still charred more heavily than I like.  (My summer dinner project.)  Slow cook for about 1 1/2 hours.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before thinly slicing and serving.

The remnants of three tri-tip roasts.  Delicious!

For the freezer: I have bought roasts such as this and frozen them ahead, but for special ocassions and parties, I usually buy  it fresh.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cheesy Enchiladas (Spring II)

I first had these enchiladas at the rehearsal dinner for some dear college friends.  Her aunt made them for the entire wedding party.  I did not leave until I had the recipe!

I've made them off and on over the years and have now added them to one of the rotations.  I've also learned to serve them early in the month as they can dry out in the freezer.  We enjoyed them just two days after preparing them and they were delicious.

Based on Carol Ann's Echiladas

2 pounds Mexican shredded cheese blend or a mix of Jack and Cheddar cheeses
2 - 4oz. cans chopped olives
2 - 4oz. cans chopped green chilies
1 large onion, finely chopped

Mix well and set aside.

In a blender, puree 2 - 10oz cans golden mushroom soup with 2 - 4oz. cans green chilies.

1 dozen corn tortillas

After observing a friend make enchiladas, I have learned to warm them wrapped in a towel in the microwave.  Dip a tortilla in the sauce and put a handful of the cheese mixture inside and roll it up.  Place the it seam side down in a 9x13" pan into which you've poured a bit of sauce and spread it around the bottom.  I usually fit 8 in a row and then 2 pairs on the side for a total of 12.  Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas.  Sprinkle with any remaining cheese.  Cover with waxed paper and then foil to freeze.

 P.S.  I omitted the chilies and olives from the cheese mixture and added 1 tsp. of onion powder instead of the diced onion to accomodate the tastes of my family.  They were still delicious, especially when paired with steamed veggies for a side.

To enjoy later:  freeze and then reheat at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until cheese is good and "runny."

To enjoy tonight:  bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.