Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crab Quiche

YUM. What's not to love about crabby, eggy goodness in a PIE CRUST? Ok, the pie crust is optional. This will work just fine in a pie dish without the crust, as long as you are generous with the non-stick spray. I've also used this recipe to make egg "muffins." It's been a while since I did that, but I think it made about 16 muffins. Either way, it's good stuff. :)

The Recipe:
1 cup crab (imitation crab works fine, too)
1 ¼ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
½ small white onion, chopped (or ½ cup frozen, pre-chopped onion)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp hot sauce - optional
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 prepared pie crust, NOT prebaked (or make your own) - optional

Preheat the oven to 450. If you’re not using a piecrust, spray a baking dish liberally with non-stick spray. (Seriously. None of that nanosecond spraying – this will need some help coming out of the pan.)

Combine the crab, Cheddar cheese and onion in the bottom of the pie crust. Mix the eggs, milk, pepper and hot sauce in a bowl, and pour it over the mixture in the pie crust. Top with Parmesan cheese.

For best results, bake at 450 for 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes.
OR: instead of preheating to 450, just preheat oven to 350 and bake 40-50 minutes. This is good, but not quite AS good. I’m just saying.

You’ll know it’s done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

This is also one of my favorite "on-the-go" lunches, because you can eat it cold or at room temperature. Either way it tastes FANTASTIC.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Veggie Dressing

One of my favorite quick meals is a Boca burger and a side of vegetables, all microwaved.  I really like vegetables!  I like them steamed, baked, boiled, etc., and without anything on them!  I just LIKE them!

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me.  Ha!  And my husband and daughters were all in agreement:  vegetables were "yuckie!"  I used to let them dip everything in mayonnaise, so they'd eat vegetables!  I didn't care that I was developing a bad habit; I figured they could deal with that when they got older!  And in the meantime, they'd at least have a few vitamins and minerals!

It finally occurred to me to make a "dressing," like I used for salad.  Even I think that lettuce needs dressing!  Ha!

So, here is my vegetable "dressing," which we all could eat with a spoon and no vegetables!  Ha!

Vegetable Dressing

1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
*1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 Tbs. water
**1 c. olive oil
**1 c. canola oil

In a 2 cup container with a lid, combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme leaves, and water.  Shake, or let it sit for a few minutes and then shake, until the salt and the powdered stuff are dissolved.  Add the oils, and shake to combine.  (I like the combination of oils, because I think olive oil has a sharp taste.  If you love olive oil, just use that!  Or just use canola oil for a stronger herb taste!)  Refrigerate.  To use, shake well and pour it on!

*I've also used oregano leaves, rosemary leaves, and other herbs.  I like thyme best; it seems to go well with all the vegetables I've tried.  (Oregano, for instance, makes green beans taste spoiled to me!  Ha!)

**If you're using a 2-cup container that leaves no room for extra stuff, then just add oil until it's full.  I use a 16-oz. container that used to hold honey.  It works great, because I have to squeeze it out, and I have less of a tendency to just keep pouring!  Ha!  

In the above "meal," I feed Steve a piece of already-cooked chicken (like Tyson's mesquite chicken available at Costco) and vegetables with this dressing, and he's a happy camper.  You should understand that his favorite meal is a Hungry Man Fried Chicken dinner!  Mmm--grease and salt!!!  Ha!

This dressing is also great on Boca burgers, chicken pieces, fish, etc.  It's just good!  Since there's no acid component, it's not so great on salad!  Ha!

I hope you enjoy it!  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Middle Eastern-Style Salad

This is a variation on a classic salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions. It's one of my favorites, and every year when I bust it out again in the spring, I'm reminded all over again of why I like it: the strong flavors of the onions, tomatoes and basil are balanced nicely by the milder flavors of the cucumbers and cheese. Since I do better on more protein, I add turkey or chicken strips to this salad, but you could serve it just as easily without the meat.

The Recipe:
Serves 4-6 as a meal

2 large English cucumbers
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
16 oz cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes), halved
OR 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped*
3 oz basil (one large grocery store package)
11 oz goat cheese**
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar

Optional: .75 oz mint (one small grocery store package)
Optional: 1 pound turkey or chicken strips, cooked

Chop or shred the basil and mint. Break the goat cheese into small, bite-size chunks.

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, basil, goat cheese, olive oil, vinegar and HALF the mint (it’s a strong taste, and you can always add more – it’s harder to take it out!). Toss to combine, and check for taste. Add more mint if you like.

Serve the salad in bowls, with the turkey/chicken strips on top.

SO GOOD. Like summer in a bowl.

*I use cherry tomatoes, and only halve the big ones. That way the tomato juice doesn’t leak all through the salad, which is helpful if you want to have it for leftovers later. If you’re serving the whole thing right away, either kind of tomato will work.

**Salads like this one usually call for feta cheese, which is a little harder than regular goat cheese. I like the softer goat cheese though, because it’s a milder flavor, and because it’s so soft that as you toss the salad, some of the cheese breaks down into the olive oil and vinegar dressing, giving it a slightly creamy consistency.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Sauce Enchilada Casserole

I use La Victoria green enchilada sauce, because I can get it in all the places I travel in the U.S.  It has a sour taste, so I add "sweet" vegetables--onion, carrots, and corn--to offset this.  I usually top another enchilada casserole I make with tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream, but the tomatoes and onions don't taste great with this!  I didn't think that was possible!  Ha!

1 Tbl. canola or olive oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced (or 1 tsp. jarred, 1 frozen cube, or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder)
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced into "coins"
1 lb. package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1 14.5 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained (or 1 cup frozen, thawed)
1 29 oz. can La Victoria's green enchilada sauce
6 corn tortillas
*Grated cheddar cheese
Sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low.  Add the chopped onion, garlic, and carrots.  Sauté until onion is tender.  Add the spinach.  Continue cooking about 15 minutes, then add the corn.  Pour about 1 cup of the enchilada sauce into the spinach mix, stir, and heat until bubbling.

Break the corn tortillas in half.  In a 9x13 baking dish, place 3 tortillas, each whole tortilla with its halves slanted and offset.  (The 6 halves should cover most of the bottom of the pan.)  *See possible alteration below.  Pour the spinach mix evenly over the tortillas.  *See possible alteration below.  Place the 3 remaining tortillas, arranged as above, across the top of the spinach.  Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the tortillas.  Add enough grated cheese to make an opaque cover over the sauce.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.

Let it sit for 10 minutes before you cut into it.  Serve it with a dollop of sour cream on the side.

*Another option, if you'd like a cheesier casserole, is to sprinkle cheese over the 1st layer of tortillas, again over the spinach and before the last tortilla layer, and finally, on top of the final sauce layer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Steakhouse at home: Steak with Bacon-Shallot Sauce and Creamed Spinach

I love steak. Love, love, LOVE. My diet generally hews more toward Atkins than Pritikin, although the late Dr. Atkins would not approve of my carb intake. (It’s on the low side, but I don’t shy away from the occasional piece of – gasp! – toast.) Anyway, I found filet mignon on sale over Valentine’s Day (specifically, I found “Tenderloin Butt,” which is a larger cut that includes the filet – I butchered it myself), and stashed some in the freezer to experiment.

Lucky, lucky me. I mean YOU! You, I meant you. Ahem.

The Steak Recipe:
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 Tbs butter
4 small steaks (I used filet mignon) or 2 large, about 1 inch thick
Salt and pepper
1 large shallot, diced
10 oz mushrooms, sliced (1 grocery store package)
1 ½ cups red wine

In a large frying pan, cook the bacon in the butter over medium-high heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, get the bacon out of the pan, but leave the drippings in. Add the steaks, using tongs (TONGS, people – don’t pierce the meat with a fork or you’ll lose all the juice!), salt and pepper them, and cook: about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. (Add a minute for each gradation of doneness: 3 minutes for medium, 4 for medium-well, etc.)

[While the steak cooks, microwave the spinach in the recipe below.]

Remove the steaks from the pan (again with the tongs, people), and put them on a plate. Cover them with foil to keep them warm.

Add the shallots and mushrooms to the pan, and cook until the mushrooms start to soften, 5-10 minutes. Add the red wine, and the bacon bits, scraping the pan to get all the good bacony-steaky bits off the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium and allow it to simmer until the liquid is about half gone, about 10-15 minutes.

[If you’re making the spinach, now’s the time to finish it.]

Place the steaks on plates, and pour the bacon-shallot sauce over them.

Too-Easy-and-Good-to-Believe Creamed Spinach
2 packages frozen chopped spinach – 16 oz
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup sour cream (I use Daisy brand because I can pronounce all the ingredients, and I usually use Light – mostly because I like the consistency better for this)
½ cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup Parmesan cheese

*Note: I like garlic – I like to be able to taste it – but if you don’t, use 1 clove of garlic instead of 2.

Microwave the frozen spinach in a large bowl until hot. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. (You might have to toss it back in the microwave for a minute or so – sometimes the other ingredients cool off the spinach too much.)

I KNOW, RIGHT?! How easy is THAT?!

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but if you do, this would be FANTASTIC rounded out with a baked potato or some garlic bread. YUM. Can’t beat a steakhouse meal at home-cooked prices, you know? ;)

(And no, that's not blood. That's the red wine. ;D)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vegetable Pot Pie from Marlyle

Ok, kids, this one is from Mom. She had to take Grandpa to the ER tonight (no word on what's wrong, but she said they'd been waiting a while, which is actually a GOOD sign: it means they don't think he's going to drop dead in the next few minutes), and she called me in a panic and asked me to post for her! She told me where the draft was and which draft to use, so this one is from Mom, long-distance, via me! ;)

1 Tbl. olive or canola oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 frozen cube, 1/8 tsp. powder, or 1 tsp. jarred)
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed as adding
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 oz. (about 2 cups) frozen green beans, cut to bite size--1 1/4 inch, or so
6 cups (about 1 1/2 lbs.) frozen mixed vegetables
3 Tbl. butter
3 Tbl. flour
1 14.5 oz. can vegetable broth
1/4 cup milk

Filo topping: 7 sheets filo dough
2 Tbl. butter, melted

To make a filo topping, unwrap packaged filo sheets. For 7 sheets: take each one, brush melted butter on half the sheet (or, if you don't have a brush--as I don't!--drizzle a teaspoon or two of the melted butter on half the sheet), fold the sheet in half, and lay it over the top of the casserole dish. Repeat 6 more times! I didn't top it with butter; I'd run out! It's much lighter this way than with the biscuit topping.

Biscuit topping: 2 cups flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1 c. milk

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until the mix looks like coarse crumbs. Add all the milk. Quickly stir with a fork until the dough is mixed. (You can make the biscuits with a food processor, following the steps as far as adding and mixing goes! Don't tell Marste!) Drop the biscuits by spoonfuls--small ones, if you want full coverage, and large ones, if you want actual biscuits!--over the top of the vegetables. See below for baking directions!
(Alternatively, you could use refrigerated, prepared biscuit dough - you'll just have to flatten them out a little before you put them on top of the casserole!)

In a large skillet or pot, heat the oil. Add the onions, and cook them until they're barely cooked, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper, and stir until the spices are mixed into the onion.

Add the green beans, and cook to thaw. Add the mixed vegetables, stir, and cook until heated through.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Whisk, or stir, in the flour, and cook until the flour is lightly tanned. Stir in the broth until the mix is smooth. Continue to cook and stir until the broth bubbles gently. Stir in the milk. Pour this sauce into the vegetables, and stir until everything is mixed. Pour it into a sprayed, 9x13 baking dish. Top with either filo or biscuit topping. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until the top is browned. MMMMM!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


If Bouillabaisse had a cousin, it would be this quick and easy, one-pot seafood stew. High in protein, low in just about everything else, this will warm the cockles of your heart on a winter night. (Yeah. I said “cockles.” Stop snickering!)

Makes 6-8 large servings or 8-10 medium ones

2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
3 large celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, chopped (or 1 cup chopped onion)
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh thyme (the entire contents of one small grocery-store package)
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh flat leaf (sometimes called Italian) parsley (the entire contents of one small grocery-store package)
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
2 15-oz cans UNSALTED diced tomatoes (the unsalted part is important)
1 Tbs Old Bay seasoning
3 pounds assorted fish (I use 1 lb each: shrimp, scallops, tilapia)
juice of 2 lemons, plus extra lemons for serving alongside

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery, thyme and parsley, and sauté until the onions get soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine, broth, tomatoes and Old Bay seasoning, and bring to a boil.

While the broth mixture heats, chop the tilapia (or other fish) into large (approx 2-inch) pieces. When the broth boils, lower the heat, add all the fish and shellfish, as well as the juice of 2 lemons. Stir gently to combine, then cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and/or the fish flakes with a fork.
Serve with a lemon half for each person to squeeze into their bowl, and some crusty bread for sopping up the broth. I also like a little pepper on mine. *happy sigh*

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eggplant Parmigiana

I've fed this dish to many, many people who run screaming when they hear the word "eggplant."  They ALWAYS like this dish, although they still don't like other eggplant dishes!  The mild eggplant flavor in this might be a factor (I don't soak it in salted water--EVER!).  It might also have something to do with the fact that I don't fry the eggplant first, so it's not oily.  I just don't know!  

I DO know it's good, though, and even if you're an avowed eggplant hater--especially if you're an avowed eggplant hater!--I hope you try this and let me know what you think!

2 medium eggplants
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (or 1 29 oz. can, obviously!  Ha!)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp. jarred garlic, or 1 frozen cube)
1 heaping tsp. dried basil (or 1 Tbl. fresh, chopped)
1 tsp. paprika (not smoked)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. sugar (Taste the sauce while it's cooking.  If it's sour or bitter, add another tsp. sugar!)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Simmer, covered, in unsalted water for 10 minutes.  Drain.  (You can skip this step if you have 2 hours to let it bake!)

While the eggplant is cooking, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar in a sauce pan.  Stir the flour into a bit of the tomato juice until it's smooth, and then add it to the mix.  Cook over medium high heat until it's slightly thickened.

In a 9x13 baking dish, layer all the eggplant, the mozzarella, and the tomato mix.  Top with the Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned.  MMMMMMM!

This is a quick version, as Chelsea, our youngest daughter requested.  If you use fresh garlic and basil, the flavor's much better!  Either way, enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Savory Butternut Squash Soup

I'm not crazy about the sweetness that most butternut squash soups are flavored with. I always sort of feel like I'm eating dessert for dinner, but not in a good way. :P So this recipe is a savory one. It's jam-packed with vegetables, and the colors are GORGEOUS. I like serving it during the holidays: the red, white and green of the vegetables look fantastic in the deep yellow color of the soup. Mmmmmmmm.

The Recipe
3 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (or 2 cups frozen pre-diced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small package fresh rosemary, chopped OR 3 Tbs dried, crumbled into the pan
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can)
6 cups chicken broth
10 cups butternut squash puree (methods below), or use canned pumpkin (and sage instead of rosemary)*
1 package frozen broccoli, thawed in the microwave
1 package frozen cauliflower, thawed in the microwave
1 cup cream or ½ & ½ (optional)
Bleu cheese crumbles for garnish (Yes, really. It’s FANTASTIC.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a stock pot and add the onions and rosemary. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to turn a little brown. If the onions get too dry, add a little juice from the canned tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add the butternut squash about 2 cups at a time, stirring to combine after each addition.

(Note: if you are making this for a party, you can assemble it up to this point and then continue with the recipe about a half hour before you want to serve it. Make sure to heat the soup back to almost-boiling before continuing the recipe, though.)

Add the broccoli and cauliflower and heat through. Just before serving, add the cream or ½ & ½ and stir to combine.

Garnish with bleu cheese crumbles and a little salt and pepper. (I hardly ever add salt to a dish while it's cooking, especially if I know the ingredients - like canned tomatoes - have salt already added. Everyone likes different amounts of salt in their food, so I just think it's easier to put out the shakers.)

Serve with bread and a plate of olive oil and minced garlic for dipping.

*To make butternut squash puree:
Method 1: if you have a well-stocked Trader Joe’s nearby, just buy it canned. You’ll need 5 15-oz cans

Method 2: Sometimes you can find cubed butternut squash in the frozen vegetable section at the grocery. If so, just thaw it in the microwave and either dump it in the food processor or mash it up with a fork. Each package will make about 1 1/2-2 cups of puree. (If you end up with a little too much or a little too little, just use whatever you've got. It'll be fine.)

Method 3: Buy some butternut squash (figure 1 pound of squash for every 1 ½ cups of puree – so 4 pounds of squash will make 6 cups of puree). With a fork, pierce the outside a bunch of times. Microwave it for 8-10 minutes, cut it in half, and scoop out the insides. Repeat for as many squash as you have.

Method 4: Substitute canned pumpkin, and instead of rosemary, use sage.

Guest Post and Sneak Peek recipes!!!

Today, the fantastic MizFit is featuring Mom and me over at her site! Go check it out - we included a couple of sneak peek recipes that won't post here for another week or two, so if Eggplant Parmigiana or Bouillabaisse-ish Stew sound good, head over! And then make sure and stick around; she's full of good stuff over there. ;)

If you're here from Miz's site, welcome! We hope you stick around and check out what looks good. And if you have any special requests, drop us a line at tomeatornottomeat (at) gmail (dot) com. Or just leave it in the comments. Either way. ;)

Later today, I'll have Savory Butternut Squash Soup (as opposed to the sweet kind) up in this space. :)