Valentine's Day is coming up. Are you wanting to stay home and cook something special? I have some ideas for you!
I consider Beef Wellington to be very romantic - it's decadent and it takes a lot of work, so it's definitely a special occasion food. Check out this post for the recipe.
Steak is a quintessential Valentine's dish. I have long used a method of quick aging with salt to tenderize and season even cheaper cuts. Find the method in this post, along with recipes for Spinach and Gruyere Souffle and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote. I used a compound butter to top the steak in that post, but since then have more often made a pan sauce by deglazing with sherry, then adding butter.
For one of our earliest Valentine's, I made an herb crusted standing rib roast; along with a chopped salad, heart shaped roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Yorkshire pudding. All of the recipes are in this post, along with some pretty decorations.
I fell behind on posting over the holidays, which I wouldn't too bad about, except that it means I haven't posted about these empanadas yet! These were Melissa's idea for one of our amazing vegetarian lunches. You can see from her post, which is from all the way back in October, just how far behind I am!
Anywho, back to the empanadas! Crispy, buttery, flaky crust. Smoky, creamy, hearty filling. Cool, creamy, vibrant dipping sauce. Yes, yes, yes!
You will need to bake some sweet potatoes, the fastest and easiest way to do this is in the microwave. Then scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork.
May has five Mondays this year, which means - themed Secret Recipe Club post! Falling on Memorial Day, the theme for this reveal is Picnic/BBQ and my assigned blog was A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are former police officers who moved out to the country and became farmers. They treat their animals humanely, are part of an organic CSA, trade with other farmers, and live sustainably as much as possible - I am so jealous! I dream of being a radical homemaker, but don't have the commitment. I was on a specific mission this month, but I look forward to perusing the blog more thoroughly.
I actually made three recipes from Wendy's blog this weekend, in order to have a full meal for the holiday. She had tons of recipes that are appropriate for the challenge, and I chose BBQ Beef Sandwiches, BLT Pasta Salad, and Black Forest Trifle. Each of these was easy to make with the help of store-bought ingredients, so that I didn't have to spend a full day in the kitchen. And each of them was a big hit!
It's time for April's Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was assigned Morsels of Life. The author is an engineer, and brings her desire for efficiency to her blog. She doesn't like to use any crazy complex methods, and is loose with measurements. She writes, "Generally, if you like something, use more; if you dislike something, use less, substitute something else, or just eliminate it altogether. You’ll probably be fine." I love that. Often when I'm writing recipes, and have to try and figure out how much of something I used, I just want to write - use your best judgement. She also has pretty extensive privacy and disclosure information on her blog, which I think is admirable.
CJ's blog has a lot of Asian influence, and I really like the look of this Pork Meatball Ramen, as well as this Cha Shao Chinese BBQ Pork. For sweets, I was drawn to Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, and Spiced Date Ice Cream (made with cashew milk!). But I ended up running out of time before leaving on a last-minute trip; so when I saw this Seared Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter and Pasta, and realized that I already had all the ingredients for it - I knew that's what I needed to make!
This was incredibly easy to make - just toss hot pasta with lemon herb compound butter, spinach, and Parmesan, then top with seared salmon and more compound butter. I used frozen Alaskan salmon, frozen spinach, and store-bought garlic butter spread (I added lemon juice and zest to it) - so this was really quick and easy. Plus (with the salmon, spinach, and protein-plus pasta), it was really healthy!
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post! This month, my assignment was The Tasty Cheapskate. Food was not a big focus for Jean growing up, neither eating it nor cooking it, which is pretty much the opposite of my childhood. Luckily all that changed for her as an adult. Now she focuses on whole foods and budget friendly family meals. She even did a challenge where she fed her 6 person family on $6 a day! Incredible!
Looking through her blog, I found a lot of yummy baked goods. Like a bunch of different pull-apart breads, but especially this coconut and lime one. Also zucchini bread with lemon or with coconut. And self frosting nutella pumpkin muffins - shut the front door! But despite all those yummy delights, what I really wanted was a nice healthy meal - so my eyes lit up when I saw this Broccoli Barley Casserole. And I was even more excited when I saw that the original recipe used farro, which I have been meaning to start using for a long time, and that it could be made in one pot.
Start by sauteing onions and garlic in a Dutch oven. Then add the farro and allow to toast a bit.
Add in frozen spinach, water, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone and the farro is tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes.
I was looking for a dish to bring over to my friend, Melissa, who just had a baby. This recipe immediately popped out at me - one dish, easy to transport, easy to reheat, and lot's of veggies (plus cheese and pasta, of course). There's a reason people are always bringing casseroles! I also liked that it uses a lot of frozen veggies, making it budget friendly and easy to make year-round.
I also may have used it as an excuse to buy this thing, which I have been wanting for a long time - so cute!
So, we start out with ALL THE VEGETABLES. Ever. Just kidding... kind of. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. When those have thawed, add in shredded carrot and zucchini.
I saw this and thought to myself, "not enough vegetables," so I added some frozen peas to the boiling pasta for the last 30 seconds. You can use whatever shape of pasta you like, I thought bowties would be fun and cute. I used Barilla protein plus pasta, because it boasts 17g of protein per 3.5oz serving and veggie dishes can always use some extra protein. I also rinsed the pasta (and peas) in cold water to stop the cooking and get rid of the extra starch (something I only do for pasta salads, and pasta that is going to be cooked again in the oven).
If you are starting to panic because Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is closing in and you don't have a dinner plan yet, fear not - I have you covered! I have a round-up of all of my holiday recipes, from protein to sides to dessert, and even breakfast! So please enjoy and Happy Holidays!
I have been really busy and traveling a lot lately, I haven't really been cooking much. When I do, it is usually a quick throw together of some type of pasta, vegetable, and protein. This particular version consisted of tri-color cheese tortellini, heirloom tomato, yellow zucchini, spinach, turkey meatballs, goat cheese, and fresh herbs.
While the water for the pasta was boiling, I sliced the zucchini and chopped the tomato and an onion. I sauteed the onion and zucchini in some goat butter, then added the spinach and let it wilt. I added the cooked tortellini on top with a little pit of pasta water (which helped with the wilting), then threw in the fresh tomatoes and took it off the heat.
Lastly I added some frozen turkey meatballs that I had heated in the microwave (I know, I know - I was in a hurry okay?), some crumbled goat cheese, and some fresh basil and parsley. This was super easy and came together in less than 30 minutes. Plus there was enough other stuff going on to distract my husband from the vegetables - score!
As promised - what to do with leftover quiche base, if you have any. Make mini quiches! So easy and totally portable - once these are cool, you can just pick one up and eat it on the go.
All you do is thaw some frozen spinach, squeeze the liquid out of it, and split it between mini tart pans or ramekins. Then sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese, pour the quiche base over it, and bake until set. Voila! A healthy little snack or breakfast and no wasted custard.
Mini Spinach Crustless Quiches
a Well Dined original
makes 4 mini quiches
1 cup leftover quiche base (from this recipe, for example), or 1 egg mixed with 3/4 cup cream and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg
10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
Divide the spinach between four mini tart pans or ramekins. Sprinkle with the cheese, then pour the custard over the top. Bake at 375 deg F until set, about 15 minutes.