Tag Archives: cheese

Boring lunch fix! Spinach & Cheese Toasts!

19 Feb

I’m in a slump. A winter time lunch slump. I also think I’m, for lack of a better term, bored. I hate the word bored, but I’ve been finding things for myself to do. On a whim I colored my whole brunette head a bright red. Because I finally found a shade of red that said HEY! PICK ME! You’ll look fabulous!!! I love it.

red head girl

But back to the lunch slump….I’m trying to avoid eating overprocessed deli meats….and to be honest I’ve burned out a little from sandwiches. Remove the deli meats and you are left with a cheese sandwich, pb & j, tuna or chicken salad…you see where I’m going. BORING. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some pb & j, especially when the J is homemade strawberry jam. But, well, it’s still boring. Monday – Friday, I’m a working stiff and I have got to eat lunch. My coworkers do not deserve to be subjected to me being hangry.  On the weekends, it’s not a requirement for me to eat lunch since I usually whip up a substantial breakfast. But I’ve certainly got a better set up at home for making a meal than I do at work. At work, we’ve got a toaster, fridge, and microwave. That limits my lunch choices. Since I’m trying to eat healthier, incorporate more veggies, and really stick to eating whole grain products as much as I can, the Spinach & Cheese Toasts lunch was born! It’s a pretty simple set up – whole grain bread, baby spinach, cheese & pepper. Yep. That’s it. And damn…it’s GOOD! I’m getting some veggies into the meal, the whole grain (whole grain as in I can SEE the grains. Not “whole grain” where everything is milled into a fine dust of submission) helps keep me full, and the cheese makes me feel like I’m eating something bad for me, but I’m getting a serving of dairy. To round this out a little and make it feel more like a meal, I have some marinated mushrooms along side it. Next up, I’m going to quick pickle some shrimp and have those with it for an added boost of protein and yummy, citrus laden refreshing flavor! (yes, I’ll post the recipe if my quick pickling tastes yummy like I envision it will!)

spinach & cheese toasts

So, here’s the “recipe”

2 slices whole grain, crusty bread – toasted

1/2 cup baby spinach

2 slices good deli cheese or enough slices of block cheese to cover 2 slices of bread

Put a layer of spinach on each piece of toast, topping with your cheese and a sprinkling of pepper. For optimum results, place under a broiler for a few minutes to get the cheese nice and melty, wilting the spinach a little. If you are limited and only have a microwave, zap is for 45 seconds to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

Breakfast Idea: Bacon Egg & Cheese Mix/Spread

28 Jan

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I LOVE BREAKFAST! I can’t help it. It’s the best meal of the day in my opinion, and breakfast for dinner is really a treat. But back to this spread. It’s cheesy, it’s got some zing from the mustard powder, smokiness from the bacon, and the mayo helps bind it all together and up the creamy quotient. Another plus is on it’s own it’s Gluten Free (obviously you’ll have to put it on GF bread or crackers to keep it that way)! It’s yummy, quick, and can be used in a variety of ways listed below.

egg spread broiled

Bacon Egg & Cheese Mix/Spread

adapted from The Pioneer Woman

12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

12 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

2 cups freshly grated cheese ( I used Colby Jack)

1/2 cup Hellman’s Light Olive Oil Mayo

1 heaping teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

6 slices bread of choice

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined. Refrigerate 1 hour to let flavors meld. (If freezing, skip this step)

egg spread premixeggspread mixed

I have used this recipe 4 different ways, all with great results:

1. Frozen – Top english muffins with mixture and freeze individually. Remove from freezer letting thaw overnight for use the following day. Place under broiler for roughly 5 minutes, until golden brown and warmed through.

2. Microwaved – for 30-60 seconds and topped on crackers.

3. Traditional – top a toasted piece of bread or english muffin with the mix, and place under broiler for about 5 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

4. Appetizer – follow original directions, but chop the egg and bacon a bit finer. Heat is a small crock pot and serve with crackers, melba toast, or slices of baguette bread. Yum!

With breakfast being the most important meal of the day, I feel that you need variety! A cold bowl of cereal just won’t cut it to cover 7 days a week! I hope you guys enjoy this breakfast treat as much as we do!

Trying new things: Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

1 Oct

I try not to snub my nose at any foods unless I have tried them and KNOW with certainty that I don’t like them, as long as they smell appealing to  me and don’t contain any visible organ, lip or ass meat – hot dogs and bologna DO NOT count. I’ve been hearing about quinoa for at the very least, this past year. I’ve wanted to try it, but until recent months availability has been an issue. I didn’t want to have to special order a food item that could very well turn into a food staple in our house, which I thought this had the possibility of becoming. I picked some up at the local grocery recently and cooked it with just some sautéed onions and had it for dinner topped with eggplant, garlic, and more onions. It was fantastic. Cooked like you would rice, but with a slightly nutty flavor and it actually kept you full instead of hungry an hour later like rice. Hubs even liked it.

Enter in my sister-in-law and her attempt at a gluten-free lifestyle. I wanted to make an appetizer for a get-together she was having that she would actually be able to eat. Add in the fact that I’m on a newly started diet – not dieting where you only eat certain foods, more of a watching calories and trying to make healthier choices kind of thing – so I wanted something appetizer like without it being fried or laden with fats or mayo. I had a big fresh bag of quinoa and had seen recipes floating around where you use the grains to create an appetizer of some sort.

I stumbled upon Cheese and Vegetable Quinoa bites over at The Curvy Carrot. Sold.

With a few adaptations, I made it mine, gluten-free, and made enough to freeze some! Score. Hubs was digging this one too. Eating them kind of like they were potato chips. But with less guilt.

Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

adapted from The Curvy Carrot

Makes 24 discs or “muffins”

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked to package directions

2 eggs – I used 3 since they were small fresh eggs

1/3 cup store-bought shredded carrot, microwaved to soften 60 seconds

1 ½ cups chopped baby spinach, fresh not frozen

1 shallot chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Colby Jack cheese, freshly shredded

2 tablespoons cornmeal

kosher salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 2 – 12 count muffin pans. Add all ingredients but the cheese to a large bowl until combined. Add cheese and stir to distribute evenly through mixture.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups until 3/4 of the way full, pressing mixture down into pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and set. Remove from muffin pans and serve immediately.

You can reheat these for 10 minutes until warm. For freezing, let cool completely and place in freezer safe container or bags. To serve from frozen, let thaw overnight. Reheat under broiler for 5-10 minutes until tops are crispy and rounds are heated through.

Hearty meal idea – Spinach and Ricotta Quiche with Savory Chive Crust

24 Sep

Breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with Quiche. It can be a hearty and filling meal addition. For breakfast or brunch, it’s great served with some fruit and a few slices of bacon. Add a salad and you have a lunch or dinner option.

With our chickens laying between 4-7 eggs (plus the duck laying almost every day too!), we are ending up with a huge vast amount of eggs – as of this morning, we have 52 eggs – before todays offering from the ladies. For a household of 2, even with our love of eggs, that’s a lot to eat up. What better way to use up some of that egg surplus than quiche! You COULD make this a crustless version (just skip the part about the crust and follow the balance of the directions) but it’s pretty tasty so I don’t know WHY would actually WANT to.

I whipped this up over the weekend so that I could have something tasty to heat up for breakfast during the work week. This would also do well in the freezer to save for when you have unexpected breakfast guests or need something to take to a pot luck. Just partially bake it (in an aluminum pan, you do not want to use ceramic as the frozen to hot oven will most likely break your dish)- 20 minutes in the 375 degree oven, remove and let cool to room temp. Freeze with a double layer of saran. To finish cooking, remove from the freezer and place in your preheated 375 degree oven, cooking for 30-40 minutes until center is set.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche with Savory Chive Crust

serves 6

Seasoned with Sarcasm Original

1 Chive Pate Brisee (recipe below)

2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid

1/2 cup milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 eggs

3/4 cup freshly chopped cheddar cheese

kosher salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray your 9″ pie pan with non stick cooking spray. Roll out your Chive Pate Brisee and place in your prepared pie plate. Press down the edges and trip off any excess crust. I did a rough edge for my Quiche, but you can pretty yours up if you like. Puncture the base of the crust with a fork.

Add your spinach to your crust, distributing evenly. Sprinkle the spinach with your chopped cheddar cheese.

In a small bowl, add your eggs, milk and ricotta cheese, whisking to combine. Pour your egg mixture over the spinach & cheese. Season with kosher salt & pepper.

Place your Quiche into your preheated oven, cooking for 40-45 minutes, until center is only slightly jiggly.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 -15 minutes to finish setting the Quiche. Serve hot. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Chive Pate Brisee

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Yield: 1 pie crust for single 9″ pie

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chives – fresh or dehydrated
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 stick butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, more if needed

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and chives, pulsing a few times to combine. Drop your cubes of butter into the flour mixture, and pulse until the dough resembles a dry coarse crumb.

Turn your food processor on and slowly add the ice water through the feed tube in a steady stream just until the mixture starts to come together. If dough appears to still be crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn dough out onto a piece of saran wrap, press together into a flat disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can also freeze the dough, double wrapping in saran.

Bake according to directions for your recipe.

 

Lazy side dish: Baked Potato Bake

16 Apr

Yes you read that right. A Baked Potato BAKE. I love potatoes, in all their forms. Mashed, baked, french fries….yum. But this past weekend? I was feeling lazy and didn’t really want to dirty the mixer making mashed potatoes. And I didn’t want to chop the potatoes small enough to expedite their boiling. So I cut them into 4’s and boiled them. I was originally going to do a butter/parsely/chive type of thing but after the potatoes were boiled, it didn’t really appeal to me. So I rooted around the fridge and found that I could, essentially, make a baked potato like concoction. Now THAT sounded yummy to me. And I didn’t have to lug my Kitchen Aid out to whip up mashed potatoes. woot woot!

This recipe is a basic guideline. Add whatever you want! Love adding bacon and green onions when you eat a baked potato? Do that here! You could even top this with some chili and make it a whole meal – chili cheese baked potato bake. YES PLEASE!

Baked Potato Bake

Ingredients

8-10 large idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 4’s

kosher salt (for potato water)

1 – 1 1/2 cups colby jack cheese, shredded

1cup sour cream

5 tablespoons butter

garlic salt

pepper

3 tablespoons chives

1 cup fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until fork tender. Drain and rinse.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour hot rinsed potatoes into an 8×8 baking dish. Add in the sour cream, butter, spinach, and chives. Using a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes. (Lumps are ok, this is a baked potato bake after all. You do NOT want mashed potatoes!) Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine all the ingredients.

mashed and mixed up, prior to cheesing

^^^mashed and mixed up prior to cheesing!

When it tastes seasoned to your liking, sprinkle the top with the shredded colby jack cheese and put the baking dish uncovered into your preheated oven for 30 minutes.

After 3o minutes, try to refrain from gobbling up the entire pan. This is a filling, easy side dish! Alternately, you can freeze this BEFORE baking for the 3o minutes and have a readily available side dish. Just add another 10 minutes to the baking time! (and if you have it in a ceramic dish, put the dish in the oven WHILE it preheats to avoid cracking the ceramic.)

mmm.... MMMM….

Slovenian Tradition: Hrutka aka Easter Cheese

2 Apr

My great grandparents came to the US on a boat as immigrants with many others seeking a better life in America. With them, they also brought their Slovenian traditions that they passed along to their children. My gram passed the tradition of Hrutka on to me. Essentially, you cook eggs in milk over a double boiler until “curds” are formed. Then you transfer it to cheese cloth to drain off the liquid and form a solid ball.

It is delicious. You can make it sweet or savory, but I lean toward the savory. I eat it on crackers. Or a big slice all by itself  with some hot sauce. Traditionally it is eaten with ham on easter bread. I always make a double batch because we love it, so timewise from start to finish (where the cheesecloth balls are hanging to drain) is about 1 1/2hrs. Making the recipe below, it will take you about an hour.

Hrutka (Easter Cheese)

1 dozen large eggs, whisked to combine yolks with whites

1 quart whole milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Add all the ingredients to a double boiler. I used a large pyrex mixing bowl set over a pot of water. (Be sure to add enough water that you will not run out in the middle of making this.)

The first 20 minutes, let the water come up to a boil and heat the mixture. Using a wisk, scrape the sides of the bowl periodically.

Once the mixture looks like the photo below, line a colander with cheesecloth and ladle the egg mixture in to drain off the liquid. Twist the top of the cheesecloth together and hang to drain excess liquid.

Unwrap the hrutka and slice the bottom off to let it sit flat. Cover with saran wrap and chill overnight.

To serve, slice into pieces to be topped on a piece of ham, or on a cracker. Enjoy!