Posts Tagged cheese

Garden Quiche

Garden QuicheQuiche is one of the big “dinner underdogs.” People often think of making it if they’re throwing a brunch, or having people over for breakfast. Yet, quiche is one of the most versatile dishes on the planet, and it’s also fairly easy to make.

Purists will want to make their own crust. However, I am not ashamed to admit that making pastry crust is not my favorite foodie activity. I make no bones about using the frozen crust. It works just fine. As for the milk, feel free to use whole or 2%. It truly doesn’t make a difference. I keep a jar of prepared minced garlic in my fridge. That is what I use for this dish as opposed to mincing my own.

Cheese is the most important part of any quiche. I like a sharp cheese, but you should use whatever cheese works for your palate. There are no rules!

As for serving quiche, it’s a dish that goes great with a crisp green salad, regardless of what you put in it.

 

Ingredients

5 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 frozen pie crust

1 cup shredded cheese (Asiago, Cheddar, Monterey Jack; depending upon your taste buds)

1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onions

1/2 cup chopped red, yellow and orange peppers

1/2 cup chopped Baby Bella mushrooms

1.5 cups baby spinach

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp Kosher or sea salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. While you’re waiting for  it to warm up, put the eggs and milk in a bowl and mix well with a whisk. Set aside.

Once your skillet is ready, add the minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the oil becomes fragrant. Then, add the onions and peppers, as well as the rest of the spices (including the salt and pepper) and cook on medium heat until the onions become translucent. This will take about 7-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more, again stirring the mixture occasionally.

The final item you add is the spinach. Cook until wilted, stirring regularly. Be sure to taste the filling at this point and adjust spices to suit your taste. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the filling to cool a bit. While cooling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prior to adding the filling and cheese to the egg mixture, give it several more whisks. Then, add the vegetable filling and shredded cheese.

Mix thoroughly and pour it into a frozen pie crust. Place the quiche on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a knife (or toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

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Spicy Spanish Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash with chorizoSpaghetti squash is delicious, and I’ve already posted one recipe on this site that is an Italian version. This particular recipe for spaghetti squash is a more spicy Spanish version made with Chorizo. I recently made as a side dish when serving Paella.

The recipe also incorporates Manchego cheese, a sheep-milk cheese that also happens to be the most popular and tastiest of Spanish cheeses. It is made in the La Mancha region of Spain.

Many people cut and remove the seeds prior to baking spaghetti squash. However, I prefer to bake the spaghetti squash whole, removing the seeds once the squash is cooked.

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash

6 oz of chorizo, diced

1 large Spanish onion, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

3/4 cup Manchego cheese, shredded

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pierce the spaghetti squash all over with a fork or a knife. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. You will know when it’s done because a fork will slide easily into the flesh. Do not be concerned if the outside of the squash becomes browned during the baking. You’re not going to use the skin.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes. If you’re going to add the red pepper flakes (and I, of course, would not skip this), this is a good place to do it. Add your chorizo and garlic and continue to sauté. Add your salt and pepper to taste.

The squash should now be cool enough to handle. Cut off the top close to the stem, then cut the squash down the middle. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Take a fork and scrape the squash away from the skin and into the skillet. It will separate easily into long, spaghetti-like strands (hence, the name). Your squash is already completely cooked, so this is all about mixing the ingredients together, not about cooking the squash.

Add the chopped cilantro and the Manchego cheese. Stir completely and remove from the heat. Again, I urge you to taste the dish and adjust the flavor as you wish. If you think it needs more Manchego, feel free to add it. (Then again, I am admittedly a cheese-o-holic.)

Garnish with a touch of shredded Manchego on top.

This is a delicious side dish, but it can also serve as a great main dish with some bread, a salad, and some good wine.

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Indonesian Chicken Wings

Asian Soy WingsI’d have to say that soy sauce (or Tamari) is one of those ingredients you should never be without. However, this recipe calls for Indonesian soy sauce, or Ketjap Manis, which is slightly sweeter and thicker than traditional soy sauce. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to buy this at your local grocer. You would definitely have to go to an Asian market to buy it. Or you could make your own without much effort. Therefore, I’ve included a recipe for this delectable little condiment at the bottom of this recipe.

I love Asian food. They say that the Chinese invented noodles and the Italians perfected it. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate claim. But Asian food is so much more than Chinese and Japanese. Indonesian and Vietnamese food is amazing. So are these wings.

Ingredients

2.5 lbs party wings (these are wings that have already been trimmed and separated)

1 cup Ketjap Manis (recipe follows)

2 tbsp Sambal Oelek

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned is fine)

2 tbsp ginger paste

Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup lime juice

Chopped scallions or chives (for garnish)

Directions

The first order of business is to make the marinade, so this is a simple recipe because it requires you to mix all the ingredients together (except the salt and pepper). Whisk to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Put the wings in a resealable plastic bag along with the concoction, and marinate overnight. I like to use a toothpick on the wings and poke holes in them prior to marinating. This helps to infuse the wings with the sauce.

When you are ready to cook the wings, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the wings in a single layer in a long baking pan. Pour in the marinade. Season with salt (lightly) and fresh-ground pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes, turning at least once to cook on both sides. Prior to removing the wings, turn them again and put the oven on “broil” for about 5 minutes.

Remember to put on the hood of your stove and open a window as you might generate a little smoke.

Remove the wings to a serving tray and get ready to feast. Garnish with chopped scallions or chives. These are delicious!

How to Make Ketjap Manis

Ingredients for Ketjap Manis

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup water

1 cup dark soy sauce

7 tbsp dark (blackstrap) molasses

1 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Directions

Combine the dark brown sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until all the sugar dissolves.

Then, increase the heat to high and cook until the syrup begins to thicken. This takes about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. This can be stored for 2-3 months (covered) in your refrigerator.

 

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Chicken and White Bean Chili

chicken and white bean chiliIt’s getting pretty chilly outside, and it is definitely “soup weather.” But in our house, it’s also chili weather. This is not what you’d expect for “chili” because it’s made with white beans and chicken, both ground and chicken pieces. However, it is a nice change from the traditional chili (which I also love).

Some of the spices are different. Some are the same as traditional chili. I use a combination of ground chicken and chicken thighs, so there is a variation in consistency that makes this dish very yummy.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in bite-sized pieces

1 lb ground chicken

2 15 oz cans Cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large Vidalia onion, chopped

3 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 tsp salt, plus more for final seasoning

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp ancho chili powder

3 tbsp garlic, minced

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tbsp flour

Fresh-ground black pepper (for seasoning)

Queso Fresco or Monterey Jack Cheese (for serving)

Fresh cilantro sprigs (for garnish)

Directions

Add the olive oil to a large pan or Dutch oven and heat on medium. Then, add the ground chicken, chicken thigh pieces, yellow and orange bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become soft.

Then add about a half cup of the chicken stock, along with the ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and flour. Turn the heat down a bit and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring a few times..

Add the rest of the chicken stock and the rinsed and drained beans, along with the cilantro. Stir to mix everything together.

You could, of course, have this dish completed in about 45 minutes if you cook this on medium-high. However, I recommend that you turn the heat to low and allow the chili to simmer for about one and a half to two hours to really allow the flavors to take hold. About 35 minutes before your chili is done, add the corn so that it heats through.

Serve the chili topped with shredded Queso Fresco or Monterey Jack Cheese. A side of white corn chips adds a nice texture!

Please remember to check the chili while it is cooking and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste!

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Baked Mac and Cheese With Chipotle Panko

Baked Mac and CheeseNo question about it. What I’m about to give you for a recipe is for adults. There’s no way kids will like Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs on their mac and cheese. In fact, my kids don’t like any breadcrumbs on their mac and cheese, unfortunately for them. So, here’s the deal: If you make this for them, leave off the breadcrumbs unless you ask them first. I make two versions. One is decidedly for adults because I add stuff in as well. The other is for the kids.

I also find that kids like milder cheeses, so I switch it up when I’m making it for kids. In other words, I put more Monterey Jack in for the kids, and less Cheddar. For adults, I’m liable to do just about anything. And I confess I’m a cheesaholic.

This is one of the greatest comfort foods on the planet. It distresses me when kids (who may be visiting) ask if it’s from the box. Ah, that would be a big, fat “No.” Not happening.

So, when you look at this recipe, pay close attention to the notes. This is one of those foods where you can think totally outside the recipe.

Ingredients

16 oz pasta (Anything goes here, except for spaghetti. I like to use Farfalle (bowties), Casserole Elbows (instead of regular elbows), Medium Shells, Rotini, or Cavatappi)

8 tbsp (one stick) butter plus an additional 4 tbsp (for the top when baking)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp Tuscan seasoning (McCormick brand; great product)

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

5 cups milk (whole or two-percent; your choice)

Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs (or regular Panko; your choice)

2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup finely-grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

The first thing I do is cook the pasta in a large pot until it is partially done. You’re going to bake it in the oven for at least 30 minutes, so you don’t want to cook it completely. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Another thing you can get out of the way is prepping yourself a large casserole dish by rubbing the inside thoroughly with butter. I use the tub butter for this job, specifically the light butter made with canola. It works just fine.

In a medium sized pan, heat the 4 cups of milk until just boiling. Set aside. While you’re doing that, take the same pan you cooked the pasta in and melt the 8 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in the flour and whisk continually until the mixture turns light brown. Remove from heat and whisk in the Tuscan seasoning, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Now, add the milk a little at a time. You’ll note that the mixture will be really thick in the beginning, but it will thin out. Once the milk has been incorporated, return this concoction to medium high heat and whisk until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You really don’t need to check this out. You can tell when it’s ready. Trust me. Remove from heat yet again, and add all of the cheese. Mix well until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Now, add the partially-cooked pasta and mix well until the pasta and cheese is thoroughly incorporated. Don’t worry if you have to add a few drops of cold milk to this. Again, think outside the recipe. Do what you have to do.

Spoon the mixture into your greased casserole dish and top with Chipotle Panko Breadcrumbs. Take the additional 4 tbsp butter and cut it up so that it sits on top of the breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling freely.

Cooking Notes

There are a lot of things you can do with this dish. It’s unbelievably versatile. For kids, you may want to eliminate the Chipotle Panko Breadcrumbs and replace them with regular breadcrumbs. I simply use two different casserole dishes. One with; one without. Again, that’s up to you.

But there are a number of things you can add in besides spinach:

  • Chopped and sauteed Pancetta
  • Blanched broccoli florets
  • Sauteed red, yellow and orange peppers
  • Defrosted frozen peas (one of my all-time favorites)
  • Baby Kale (do not microwave before you bake)
  • Baby Spinach (do not microwave before you bake)
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes

All of these additional ingredients, except for the tomatoes, should be added in when you add the pasta to the cheese concoction. With the tomatoes, you can simply layer them with the pasta mixture in the casserole dish.

A Note About Cheese

Let’s talk cheese. The recipe calls for Cheddar and Monterey Jack. You can simply switch the two around and use 1 cup of cheddar and 2 of Monterey Jack for a mac and cheese with milder flavor. Keep the Parmesan as is. Other cheese that can be used in this recipe include Shredded Swiss, Edam, Fontina, or Mozarella, Six-Cheese Italian…even Four-Cheese Mexican. Hey, when it comes to cheese, anything goes.

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