Monthly Archives: February 2016

Trader Joe’s, a Birthday, and Country Potato Quiche

Where has February gone? I realize that it is the shortest month of the year and all…but still. It went by far too quickly. It even had an extra day this time, so that the earth’s trips around the sun are equal, to clocks, the calendar, and apparently the entire space-time continuum. I’m not a scientist and I’ve never played one on TV, so that’s as good an explanation of Leap Year as you’ll get.

You might be wondering what Trader Joe’s has to do with February. Here’s the short version: I have a February birthday. We won’t go into which one this was, but let’s just say that we are beyond using candles on the cake without a fire permit. My kids shared the special day with me and were very generous with their gifts. A Trader Joe’s gift bag was part of the loot, and among the items in it were a Gift card and an interesting cook book.IMG_1347What was Mama D to do? As this site illustrates, I generally cook with more than 5 ingredients at a time. Still the book was fascinating. Lots of the recipes sounded delicious, and the limited number of ingredients made it all seem do-able, so armed with my gift card and some recipe ideas from the book, I paid a visit to my local Trader Joe’s. I came home with two bags of goodies. A few of my favorites like White Cheddar Popcorn and Frozen Artichoke Hearts had to come home with me (just because), but I also picked up some recipe specific items. Case in point; Frozen Country Potato Blend and Frozen Pie Crust both of which were new to my kitchen. These were the cornerstone of what sounded to be a great Meatless Monday supper, Country Potato QuicheIMG_1350Besides these two ingredients the remaining cast was filled out with eggs, grated Italian Cheese blend, and some fat-free half and half  (the last 2 being my personal substitutions). This was my first foray into frozen pie crust and I can’t say that I am a fan. The crust thawed into pieces, but once I gathered the pieces together and re-rolled the crust, I was in business. The filling was easy enough to make. All I had to do was mix the ingredients together in a bowl. The potato medley was quite unique as are many of the items at T.J.’s. Fried potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms made an intriguing and tasty base.IMG_1352I decided to pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes to guard against a soggy bottom. Then it was a matter of pouring the generous filling into the crust (thankfully the pan was on a rimmed baking sheet which averted sure disaster). Once out of the oven it rested on its laurels for 15 minutes before making its way to the table, our plates, and ultimately our stomachs. A simple salad was the only other thing that was required (oh yeah, and a nice Pinot Noir)IMG_1360

This recipe is from: Cooking with Trader Joe’s 5 Ingredient Cook Book by Deanna Gunn & Wona Miniati. I have inserted my substitutions and changes in procedures, but the idea originated with these two lovely ladies.

Country Potato Quiche
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This quiche uses Frozen Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts and Wild Mushrooms from Trader Joe's. You could use another type of frozen potato blend if you prefer. It is adapted from Cooking with Trader Joe's Five Ingredient Cook Book by Deanna Gunn & Wona Miniarti
Servings
6
Servings
6
Country Potato Quiche
Print Recipe
This quiche uses Frozen Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts and Wild Mushrooms from Trader Joe's. You could use another type of frozen potato blend if you prefer. It is adapted from Cooking with Trader Joe's Five Ingredient Cook Book by Deanna Gunn & Wona Miniarti
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Press the crust into a deep 9 inch pie dish. Bake the crust for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
  2. Whisk the eggs and half & half together in a large bowl. Stir in the cheese and the potato mix.
  3. Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the egg/potato mixture into the crust. Make sure that the potatoes and beans are evenly distributed.
  4. Bake 40 -45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes (15 is better) before serving.
  5. Slice and serve with a simple salad and a nice glass of wine.
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The Trader Joe’s adventure will continue. There were plenty of other goodies in my bags that will find their way into the kitchen and maybe into this blog, as I continue to explore the idea that less (ingredients) can be more.

Quick Quips About Sides and Cauliflower Mash with Broccoli & Cheese

It’s been some time since I shared a side dish recipe. I will remedy that now with this quick, decadent, and delicious take on Cauliflower Mash. This  mash has been hanging around Mama D’s Kitchen since my Low-Carb Diet phase. Back then I embraced Cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes. While my diet has become more balanced, I still watch those carbs and I often go to this side to fill out a comfort food plate.

It starts with cauliflower of course. Where it goes from there is totally up to the cook’s imagination. On this particular day I was using up some leftovers from the shower we gave for the new Grand-boy to be. The broccoli and cauliflower came from the crudites platter. The cheese spread was from a cheese football ( my boys are sports obsessed and the shower theme reflected that). The recipe for this, by the way, was awesome. It came from Jeff Mauro. Click on his name to check it out. While this cheese spread gave my dish a delightful cheddar flavor, any cheese spread, homemade or otherwise will work. The only requirement is that it be cream cheese based. (Boursin, or Allouette would be great.) This is crucial to it melting into the cauliflower and creating the perfect creamy texture.

One pot of boiling water did double duty. First, I blanched some broccoli florets, shocked them and let them dry while the rest of the magic happened.IMG_1282With the water still boiling I added the cauliflower that was chopped into small pieces. I like my veggies “al dente”, but this is one time when a little overcooking is a good thing. Well cooked cauliflower results in smooth mash.IMG_1285The cauliflower went back into the pan along with the cheese spread that was at room temperature. They were mashed together just like mashed potatoes would be. The ratio was perfect so no other liquid was added. If things seem too stiff add some milk, a little at a time. Take it slow because you can’t take it out if you use too much.IMG_1288All that was left to do was fold in the broccoli and grace the dinner plate with a generous mountain of creamy goodness. Yes, that is a bacon wrapped chicken breast that is peeking out of the corner. Since I was reflecting back on those low-carb days of old, I thought that I would go for the gusto and create an entire plate of  goodness in their memory.IMG_1293Honestly, this side would be wonderful with anything. Give this recipe a try, and by all means make it your own.

Cauliflower Mash with Broccoli and Cheese
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It's hard to believe that just three ingredients can create something so delicious.
Servings
3 - 4
Servings
3 - 4
Cauliflower Mash with Broccoli and Cheese
Print Recipe
It's hard to believe that just three ingredients can create something so delicious.
Servings
3 - 4
Servings
3 - 4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring the cheese spread to room temperature while the broccoli and cauliflower cook.
  2. Heat a large pan of water to a boil. Add a good amount of salt. Dump the broccoli florets in and blanch for 1 - 2 minutes. Immediately remove to an ice water bath. Drain well on paper towels and set aside.
  3. Add the cauliflower to the same pan and cook until the cauliflower is very tender. This should take 15 minutes or so. You actually want to overcook it slightly...trust me.
  4. Drain the cauliflower well and return to the pan. Add the cheese spread and mash with a potato masher. If the mixture seems too thick add a little milk and continue to mash until the mixture is almost smooth.
  5. Fold in the broccoli. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed, (but you probably won't need to). Serve.
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While we’re on the subject of cauliflower, check out the Not Potato Salad and the Cauliflower Mac & Cheese recipes from the archive. these are all wonderful ways to eat your veggies.

Moving Beyond Meatless Monday and a Mediterranean Farro Bowl

Let me start by saying, I am proud to be a carnivore. As this site attests, meat, in all of its forms is my friend, however, there is more than enough room in that  circle of friends for non-meat members. This site can attest to that as well. I’ve often shared recipes that don’t feature beef, pork or poultry in a starring role. Beans, grains, eggs, and dairy are well represented in the Recipe Archive.  Lately I find myself drawn to more recipes that do not feature meat at all. I have completely embraced “Meatless Monday” and I’m working towards Meatless Wednesday or Thursday on occasion.

Speaking of Meatless Monday…how did we come to call it that? We have to look back to both World Wars when rationing food was the law of the land and Meatless Mondays happened in every home. Entering into the new millennium, the concept was revised to improve people’s eating habits. The story goes that Monday being the first weekday was a time to get back on track after a weekend of indulgence. Think of all those diets we’ve started on Monday morning…it kind of makes sense.

Personally, I’m probably in that camp. I tend to eat more on the weekend and often look upon Monday as a clean slate, but that’s not the only reason. Meatless meals tend to be less expensive and some are downright cheap. Especially when there are beans involved. Mama D does have a “thing ” for beans. Soups and chilies of course, but she’s dipped her toe into the pond that is the veggie burger, just look at the Black Bean and Cannellini Burgers from some time back. Besides being low in fat, high in fiber and full of protein, beans are versatile and dare I say (again) cheap.

So, today’s entry into the Meatless Monday category is a Farro Bowl that has a distinctly Mediterranean flair. Farro of course, comes from Italy and many of the other ingredients originate from not too far away in Greece. It has the bright vegetable colors that are featured in both cuisines and then there are those Chick Peas,  Garbanzos, or Ceci, whatever you choose to call them.IMG_1195

It’s quite an easy dish to prepare. While the farro is cooking, the topping comes together in a skillet. The onions and the squash went in first, followed shortly thereafter by  a little garlic (yes, a little… I know) and the beans. I think that garbanzos taste wonderful when they are cooked to a light golden brown. It gives them a nutty, creamy taste that doesn’t happen with most other beans.IMG_1200As the picture indicates, a good many ingredients came out of jars…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Coarsely chopped, they waited on the sidelines until the time was right.IMG_1202Once the garbanzos and squash were what I considered the perfect color, the rest of the veggies went into the pan.IMG_1205All that was needed now was a little lemon juice, a bit more olive oil, some Italian herb blend and fresh rosemary. The farro created a rich brown bed of grainy goodness (absolutely love this stuff) that cradled the vegetables nobly. Some crumbled feta  sat on top in blinding white splendor. This was truly a meal for the gods…Greek or otherwise.IMG_1213The beauty of this recipe is that is the entry-level to so many other creations. Try it with your favorite veggies and grains; go for a different ethnic flavor; or just give my recipe your own personal spin.

Mediterranean Farro Bowl
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Mediterranean Farro Bowl
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Rinse farro and drain. In a medium pan, combine the farro with 1-1/2 cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is as tender as you like. This will take 20 - 30 minutes. While the farro cooks, prepare the vegetables.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the squashes and the garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes until everything begins to soften and become fragrant.
  3. Add the garbanzos and continue to cook until the beans are beginning to brown. This should take around 5-7 minutes. Make sure you stir often so that they brown evenly.
  4. Add a little of the reserved stock to keep things moving. Add the olives, peppers, and artichokes to the skillet, tossing to combine. Continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes, adding more stock if necessary.
  5. Add the lemon juice, herb blend, and rosemary to the skillet and toss one more time and heat another coupe of minutes.
  6. Divide the farro between 2 bowls creating a little well in the middle. Top each bowl with half of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle 1 ounce of the feta on each bowl and serve.
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The best part of this is you don’t have to wait for Monday to make it. You can go Meatless any day of the week…Can you say Meatless Sunday Supper?