Monday, December 30, 2013

Swiss chard crustless quiche

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My family overdid the dessert thing during Christmas week. We were lucky to receive plate after plate of delicious goodies from friends and relatives. Meaning we all ate a ton of cookies, cake, candy, and other snack foods for days on end.

You too? Yep, I thought so.

I went to the farmers market this weekend and loaded up on greens. Beet greens, kale, and a huge bunch of Swiss chard that was so big it didn't fit in the refrigerator.

I stripped the green chard leaves from their ruby-red stems, chopped the leaves, and cooked them for just a few minutes with a little olive oil and garlic. When they were cool I mixed in eggs, crumbled feta cheese, shredded mozzarella, chopped green onions, and a little Bisquick to bind everything together before baking in a casserole dish.

The result: a firm, nutrient-rich snack my family loves. I've served this in squares for breakfast and lunch. I've cut it into small triangles or batons and put it out at parties. No matter what shape you serve it in, I guarantee good results.

P.S. What did I do with the Swiss chard stems? Stay tuned for the most gorgeous pickles you've ever seen....

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Swiss chard crustless quiche
This nutrient-rich snack is packed with healthy Swiss chard. Serve it at breakfast or lunch, or cut it into small triangles or batons as a healthy finger food appetizer for your next party.
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard, washed, leaves only, chopped roughly (reserve stems for another use)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick (or another all-purpose baking mix)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x12-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chard and garlic and saute about 3 minutes, until chard is wilted but not mushy. Pour the chard mixture into a large mixing bowl and let cool 10 minutes.Add the eggs, cheese, green onions, dill, Bisquick, pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Add the milk only if the batter seems dry or extremely thick. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.Bake about 40 minutes, until the quiche is set in the middle and the top is golden brown. Cool in the baking pan. Cut into squares, triangles, or batons to serve.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings as a vegetarian main course, or 20+ servings as an hors d'oeuvre

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Easy holiday entertaining with Green Giant {VIDEO}

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Need ideas for easy holiday entertaining? I hope you'll enjoy watching this video, in which I share two quick and simple recipes using Green Giant frozen vegetables.

Green Giant's recipe for Cheesy Broccoli Puffs With Sriracha Sauce is a great appetizer to bring to a holiday potluck or to pass around while your guests are sipping on wine or champagne. You can make the puffs with crumbled bacon as the recipe suggests, or leave the bacon out for vegetarians.

My Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup is another tasty starter for a holiday party. I love giving my guests something warm to sip as they walk in the door, especially at this time of year.

The video also contains some great advice and easy entertaining tips from my friends (and one from my mother), all experienced hosts and hostesses.

Enjoy the video! (But ignore the weird expression on my face in YouTube's screen capture above. I don't really look like that, do I?)

Note: Green Giant compensated me to produce the Hangout video above and share my Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup recipe. Definitely one of the most fun projects I've done lately.

Cheesy broccoli potato soup with Green Giant

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When I have a party, I love to hand people little cups of hot, creamy soup as they walk in the door. It gives them something warm to hold onto, gets their appetites going without filling them up, and puts a little something in their bellies to cushion the wine and cocktails to come.

When Green Giant asked me to create a recipe using Green Giant frozen vegetables for our Google Plus Hangout on easy holiday entertaining, I knew this Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup was the perfect thing.

I always keep frozen vegetables on hand - they're great for last-minute soups, hot dips, or side dishes should unexpected visitors show up for dinner. (And yes, that does happen fairly often in our house.)

I made this Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup with Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce Steamers, but you could also use their Cauliflower & Cheese Sauce Steamers, or plain frozen broccoli or cauliflower. You can serve it in small glasses or coffee cups at a party, or just put it in bowls as a first course for a dinner party.

For more easy holiday entertaining tips from Green Giant (and me!), watch our video Hangout.

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Cheesy broccoli potato soup
A simple, creamy vegetable soup that's perfect for holiday entertaining. Frozen Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce makes this soup a snap to prepare.
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce bag Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce Steamers
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 small potato, diced (about 1/2 cup - peel if desired, but it's not necessary)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • For garnish: shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, crumbled crackers, popcorn, or plain yogurt
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute about 2 minutes, until the onion is starting to soften. Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds.Add the frozen broccoli (with cheese sauce), chicken stock, and potato to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer uncovered about 20 minutes, or until the potato is very tender. Use a handheld stick blender to puree the soup in the pot (or transfer the soup carefully to a countertop blender). Serve hot garnished with the shredded cheese, tortilla chips, crackers, popcorn, or yogurt.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings as a first course, or 12 "shooters"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Idaho® potato mini lasagnas with kale and pesto

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Have you ever tried making lasagna using paper-thin slices of potato instead of pasta? It's a genius remake of traditional Italian lasagna. The potatoes have the same chewy starchiness you get with pasta noodles. Add meat for the carnivores or take it vegetarian as I've done here with kale and pesto sauce.

You can make this recipe as one big lasagna, but I prefer making mini lasagnas in a muffin tin instead. Portion control - it's a good thing.

Note: This recipe was originally published on the Idaho® Potato Commission website. Go look at their amazing collection of potato recipes - I guarantee you will be inspired.

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Idaho® potato mini lasagnas with kale and pesto
Individual mini lasagnas using thinly sliced potatoes instead of pasta. Kale and pesto make these single-serving lasagnas a delicious gluten-free vegetarian entree.
  • 1 bunch curly or Tuscan kale
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Idaho® Russet potatoes, scrubbed (do not peel)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup) ricotta cheese (whole or part-skim)
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese
Wash the kale well and strip the leaves from the stems (discard the stems). Chop the leaves finely. It’s okay if some water clings to the kale leaves.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and kale and saute about 5 minutes, until the kale is wilted. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.Slice the potatoes paper-thin. (It’s easiest to do this with a mandoline, v-slicer or food processor.) Toss the potato slices with the salt and let sit about 5 minutes.In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, pesto sauce and egg together.Preheat the oven to 350° F.Assemble the mini lasagnas: Spray each cup of the muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray, or brush it with olive oil. Build the lasagnas in layers in each muffin cup, starting with a layer of potato slices, then adding a small dollop of the ricotta-pesto mixture, a teaspoon of cooked kale, a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of grated parmesan or Romano cheese. Continue building the mini lasagnas in this manner, finishing each one with a layer of potato slices and a sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan.Bake the mini lasagnas about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, the cheese is golden brown and the lasagnas are cooked through. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before attempting to remove from the pan. Use a small offset spatula or blunt knife to unmold the mini lasagnas and transfer to serving plates. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 mini lasagnas

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Antioxidant chocolate bark: My favorite homemade holiday gift

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Every December the members of Food Bloggers Los Angeles get together at my house for our annual Cookie and Cookbook Swap. I love hosting this gathering because everyone's in a great mood (SUGAR! BUTTER! CHOCOLATE!) and it's a festive way to start off the holiday season.

There's only one problem: I don't make a lot of cookies.

This year, short on time and motivation, I defaulted to my favorite chocolate bark. I call this Antioxidant Chocolate Bark because it's full of things that are good for you: very dark chocolate, dried cherries, dried blueberries, and nuts. It's gluten-free, dairy-free (if you choose dairy-free chocolate), delicious, and extremely easy to make. In fact, I put together the super-size batch for our cookie swap last Friday in the 20 minutes between when my alarm clock went off and when we had to leave for the school bus stop.

Feel free to use whatever combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you have in your pantry. Sometimes I even crush amaretti (crisp Italian almond cookies) and add the crumbs in for an extra crunch. Do use salted nuts; the salt brings out the flavor of the bittersweet chocolate perfectly.

Scroll down for links to all the amazing cookies made by FBLA members at our 2013 Cookie and Cookbook Swap!

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Antioxidant Chocolate Bark
One of the easiest and healthiest homemade treats you can make for holiday gifts. Very dark bittersweet chocolate with dried cherries, blueberries, and apricots, plus pistachios and almonds.
  • 1 pound very dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 3/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roasted and salted
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, roasted and salted
Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 45 seconds, then let stand 1 minute. Stir and microwave again for 30 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate is nearly melted, with just a few little chunks remaining. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir continuously until the residual heat in the bowl melts the rest of the chocolate. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the stove.)While the chocolate is melting, chop the apricots and cherries into smaller pieces, roughly 1/4 inch. You can also chop the pistachios if you like (I usually don't).When the chocolate is melted and smooth, dump in all the dried fruit and nuts. Stir until everything is coated. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin, even layer with a spatula or the back of a spoon.Leave the chocolate bark at room temperature to set. The temperature in the room will determine how long the chocolate bark will take to harden - the cooler the room, the quicker the bark will be done. Don't refrigerate it, though, or the chocolate will lose its glossy shine.To serve, break into pieces, working quickly so the heat of your hands doesn't melt the chocolate (always a problem for me).
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20+ servings

FBLA 2013 Cookie Exchange Recipes

Non-Cookie Items

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Orleans red beans and rice

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My friend Ellen call this her dad's "ancestral" recipe. Ellen's father, who passed away suddenly a few years ago, grew up in the tight-knit Jewish community in New Orleans. Ellen remembers making this with him a few times when she was little. 

Long, slow cooking transforms these simple ingredients into a comforting bowl of winter goodness. Don't skimp on the Tabasco unless you absolutely have to - it makes the dish.

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New Orleans red beans and rice
Long, slow cooking transforms a few simple ingredients into a steaming bowl of comfort food. Serve these southern-style red beans over plain white rice if you want to be perfectly authentic.
  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound ham hock, beef stew meat, or beef brisket
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground New Mexico chiles
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add gradually until the beans are seasoned to your taste)
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
To a large pot add the beans, water, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves, meat, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, Tabasco, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered 3 to 4 hours, until the beans are soft.Add salt and butter. (Do not add the salt earlier as it will toughen the beans.)Serve hot over plain white rice. Note: The beans should have a soupy consistency; if they start to seem dry, add more water.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings