Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quiche, Quiche and More Quiche

As I said in my first post, I make quiches all the time. But this one has to be the best of the best. It's an adaptation from a recipe from the cookbook Southern Living Homestyle Cooking, but I changed it up quite a bit due to my pantry and fridge limitations. I will probably gush over and over again about the recipes of Southern Living, the magazine and the cookbooks. I've never made (or tweaked) anything from their pages that wasn't fabulous!

We recently gave my dad a smoker for Christmas, and we made the best Easter pork butt I have ever had from a recipe straight from the pages of the cookbook above. I laugh when I say, it was expensive, but worth every penny. I had copied the recipe from my friend Heather's book and emailed it to my dad. We were traveling to Indiana on Friday morning, and my dad called me Thursday evening to tell me that the email had not hit his inbox. Unfortunately I had left work for the weekend and did not have access to the email account from which the recipe was sent. But I was determined to use the pork recipe from the cookbook, so I ran out to Barnes and Noble to purchase the book. Needless to say, when I arrived in Indiana on Friday, my dad informed me that the email had safely arrived. I joked with him that he had purchased quite the recipe, but in reality I was pleased to have an excuse to buy the cookbook. So please enjoy the following recipe tweaked from Southern Living Homestyle Cookbook.

Chicken Pecan Quiche

1 frozen deep dish pie crust
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chicken broth (I used stock)
3 large eggs
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (I usually anticipate this recipe and grill an extra chicken breast previously marinated in Lawry's Herb and Garlic Marinade... YUM!)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced onion
1/3 tsp dillweed
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
4-5 drops hot sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie crust on cookie sheet 10 minutes. Add all ingredients except pecans to medium bowl and beat for 90 seconds. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Place pecans evenly over top. Bake 50-55 minutes or until center is set. Let cook 10 minutes before cutting.

*Please note that you can use 1 cup sour cream rather than 3/4 cup cottage cheese. I experimented with the cottage cheese because I was out of sour cream, and the result was divine. Also you are welcome to use light sour cream... I do!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Paninis Revisited

Because we had enough leftovers from last night, we enjoyed Chicken Pesto Paninis again tonight. The non-burnt finished product with a not-so-pretty presentation...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pesto Is A Girl's Best Friend

I LOVE pesto! The store bought variety is so good, that I've never even bothered to make it homemade. What's not to love about basil, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts? Last summer I was staring at the inside of my refrigerator trying to figure out how I could turn a hodge podge of leftovers into something appetizing. I had a bit of focaccia bread leftover from an appetizer, sauteed mushrooms from a previous steak dinner, a half an onion, a grilled chicken breast and some shredded Italian blend cheese. As I was shuffling these items around, it was as though the light in the fridge was shining a spotlight on the pesto, and I had an epiphany. The result was one of the most fabulous sandwiches my husband and I had ever tasted. The best thing about this sandwich is that it is what I call a "dump dish" meaning that it's a great way to use up those random leftovers sitting in your fridge. Tonight I created the sandwiches from scratch using baby portabello mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with garlic salt, red wine and worcestershire sauce, sauteed red onions with red pepper, and grilled chicken marinated in Lawry's Herb and Garlic.

Grilled Chicken Pesto Paninis

2 chicken breasts, sliced or chopped
2-3 T prepared pesto
Sauteed mushrooms, onions and red pepper

Shredded cheese
Cooked bacon
1 flat loaf of foccacia bread, sliced horizontally

Above is my sandwich building station. Make sure and put the cheese directly on the bread to hold the sandwich together. Heat a skillet over medium, gently place the sandwich in the skillet, and press it down with another heavy skillet. Heat a few minutes on each side. Unfortunately I was distracted while heating one side of tonight's sandwich and slightly burnt it, so no pic of the final product, although I can assure you it tasted much better than it looked. I'd like to think maybe I was channeling Julia Child in one of her quirkier moments tonight.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Mama... Did You Say Cakes?"

One item I always have on hand in my cupboard is a can of black beans. You just never know when you're going to make a dish and come to the realization that black beans would be the perfect addition. I just love them... in dips, in salads, in tacos, in salsas, well in most tex-mex dishes. So when I came across a recipe for Black Bean Cakes in Southern Living magazine, I couldn't resist tweaking this one and making it my own. When my almost 3-year old daughter heard me telling her daddy I was making Black Bean Cakes, she perked up and asked, "Mama... did you say cakes?"

Black Bean Cakes with Chipotle Mayo

1 cup salsa
1/2 jalapeno pepper
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
8 1/2 oz box corn muffin mix
2 T chili powder
2 T fresh cilantro
1 t salt
3 green onions, chopped
4 T olive oil or nonstick cooking spray
1 cup mayo
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped (they pack a punch, so start with less if you don't like it too spicy)

Drain 1/2 cup salsa in colander. Seed and finely chop jalapeno. In large bowl, mash black beans with fork (or use mini osterizer in batches). Stir in rest of drained and undrained salsa, chili powder, green onion, salt, cilantro , corn muffin mix and jalapeno. Mixture should be kind of sticky and thick, but not overly dry. If too dry, add a bit more salsa. In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high. Add four 1/2 mounds of mixture to hot oil and push flat with spatula. Cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining oil and batter. Should make approximately 8 cakes.

In bowl combine last three ingredients. Stir well and serve with cakes and/or with previous Pork Taco recipe or with anything needing a spicy sauce because it is delicious.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Quiet Sunday Afternoon

There's nothing better than having the time and energy on a Sunday afternoon to put together a tasty dish that will last the next few nights. I wanted to make something that I could heat up later for dinner and also tomorrow since we have tumbling to attend. After searching my recipes, I planned out the week's meals and headed out to the grocery store for the necessary ingredients. All the while my daughter (and husband) slept off a late Saturday night. Tonight's menu will feature an adaptation of a recipe I cut out of Southern Living magazine:

Black Bean and Pork Soft Tacos

1 1/2 lbs boneless pork chops, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 T cumin
1 t ground chipotle chile pepper
1 t garlic salt
1 t paprika
1 can black beans
1 can tomatoes with green chiles
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 cup corn
1 cup instant rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 T chopped cilantro
Sour cream

Heat oil in dutch oven and saute onion and red pepper. Pour seasonings in large ziploc and mix. Reserve 2 teaspoons of seasoning mix. Add pork, seal bag and shake to coat. Once onion and red pepper has softened, add pork. Cook until pork is no longer pink about 5 minutes. While pork is cooking, pour tomatoes, corn and beans in large bowl. Stir in remaining seasoning. Add to pot and bring to boil. Add rice, cover and cook until rice is done. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Top with cheese and cilantro. Serve on tortillas with sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Taking the Plunge

Well... after much thought and a little convincing, I've finally taken the plunge and decided to create a blog to chronicle my cooking and anything else that comes to mind. I feel it's a bit necessary to explain how this blog has come about, interesting story or not. My entire unit recently moved buildings at work, which meant I would be subjected to a new seating chart. Keep in mind that I loved my quiet, off the beaten path spot at Corporate, so I was very apprehensive about the move. As much as I dreaded this new arrangement... the new building, the drive that's further away from Zoe's daycare, and the new podmates (as we call them at the Farm), it has really been a delightful experience. I've become good friends with my new neighbors, and our daily visits often include the quirky stories of my dramatic almost three year old and a discussion of "what did you make for supper?" Also, as crazy as it may sound, the cafeteria at my new work home leaves a bit to be desired, so I bit the bullet and bought a new lunch bag. As a result, I often hear, "Ooooh, that smells good, what did you bring today Ang?"

I would be remiss to mention that my sweet neighbor and friend Sruthi, who was born and raised in India loves to sample my dishes and has been begging me to start a recipe blog as she will be returning to India mid-May. (Her smile, laughter, and warm personality will be greatly missed... and I will be saddened to lose my new confidante.)

Anyway, here goes... my first recipe early on a Saturday morning in April is Bacon and Dill Cheddar Jack Quiche. Please keep in mind that all my measurements are approximate because I do not measure anything when I cook. I will try to be precise as I convert into teaspoons and tablespoons, but your cooking should be seasoned to your taste preferences. I will also try to include pictures when I have the time, but please keep in mind that I am not a photographer.

I first have to say that quiche is one of my favorite dishes to make because it is quick, easy and almost always turns out delicious. It's nothing for me to throw a Friday night Tex Mex Chicken dip into a Saturday morning quiche. I've discovered a few things about quiche since I've been making them. The first is that you should always keep frozen deep dish crusts in the freezer. I learned a long time ago from the best cream pie baker east of the Mississippi, well maybe even in the entire country, that Walmart has the best generic pie crust. Yes, Grandmother Ruth made this discovery and since has retired her homemade crust recipe. I'm also delighted that I was able to share a quiche with my Grandmother on her last visit, and she's asked me to share my recipe with her. Although I could never rival her pies, it's nice to know that I've inherited her love of the kitchen. The other secret to a delicious quiche is to get out the hand mixer and mix it for a minute or two. You will be amazed at how much creamier your quiche will be. (Thanks Liz for this wonderful tip.) So without further ado, please enjoy my quiche:

Bacon and Dill Cheddar Jack Quiche

Frozen deep dish pie crust
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese
3 green onions, chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 t ground mustard
1/2 t seasoned salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t dill

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie crust on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Mix all ingredients with hand mixer 1-2 minutes. Pour mixture into cooled crust and bake 50 minutes or until center is set. Let sit a few minutes, cut and serve.