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May 30, 2016

Quick Chickpea Curry

Canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 tsp cumin seeds (or add ground cumin along with the curry paste)
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (finely chopped stems are fine too)
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1-2 tsp curry paste or powder
1-2 tomatoes, or a few canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas, or a 19-oz can, rinsed and drained
Half to a full 14 oz can coconut milk (regular or light)
1 tsp salt

In a large skillet, heat a glut of oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seed and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden. Add the jalapeño, cilantro, ginger, and curry paste and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes, chickpeas, half the can of coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 4-8 minutes, until everything softens and thickens. If it's too thick, or if you like it saucier add more coconut milk. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve hot, over rice.

Aloo Gobi with Chickpeas

canola or olive oil for cooking
1 medium head cauliflower, separated into florets
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced, or 2 thin-skinned white potatoes, diced (about 3 cups)
2 cups cooked chickpeas or red kidney beans (or a 19 oz can drained and rinsed)

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat the pieces. Roast for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and turning golden on the bottom and edges.

Meanwhile, heat a generous drizzle of oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Cook for a minute , then add the tomatoes, sweet potato, and chickpeas or kidney beans. Stir to combine everything well, then pour 1 cup water over and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes.


Add the roasted cauliflower to the pan and stir to combine everything. Add a little water if it seems too dry. Season to taste with salt (if needed).

May 26, 2016

Blue-beary Pie

3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup cold water
5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pie crust (9-inch), baked

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water. Mix and cook until smooth.

2. Add 3 cups blueberries and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

3. Remove from the heat. Add butter, lemon juice, and remaining berries; stir until butter is melted. Cool. Pour into pastry shell.

4. Refrigerate one hour. When ready to eat, top with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh blueberries.

Yield: 8 servings

May 17, 2016

Goulash

2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (29-oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (15-oz) cans corn, drained
2 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese (used when reheating)

In large sauce pot, cook macaroni 8-9 minutes until it is just under-done. Drain and return to sauce pot. In skillet, brown the ground beef, ground sausage, and onion for 15 minutes, or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Add garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Drain off fat. Add all remaining ingredients to the sauce pot, remove from stove, and cool. Cool and freeze in a freezer bag.

To reheat: Defrost goulash in refrigerator for 24 hours. In skillet, bring goulash to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

Nutrition:
Calories 432
Fat: 19g
Protein: 27g
Sodium: 357mg
Carbohydrates: 38g
Fiber: 3g

Skillet Beef with Black Beans

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup tomato sauce
1 (16-oz) can black beans

In a skillet, brown ground beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Add remaining ingredients except black beans. Mix well. Gently stir in black beans. Freeze in freezer bag.

To reheat: Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Heat over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until desired temperature is reached, and serve over rice.

Nutrition:
Calories: 433
Fat: 10g
Protein: 37g
Sodium 131mg
Carbohydrates: 49g
Fiber: 11g

Ricotta and Beef Stuffed Shells

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 slices white bread
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 (12-oz) box jumbo pasta shells, uncooked
2 (24-oz) jars spaghetti sauce (to be used when reheating)
1 cup Mozzarella cheese (to be used when reheating)

In a skillet, brown ground beef and onion for 7-10 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Drain if needed. Put ground beef mixture in large mixing bowl. Add bread (torn into small pieces), mozzarella cheese, ricotta, egg, milk, and Italian seasoning to the mixing bowl. Mix well. Carefully stuff each shell with meat mixture. Flash freeze shells and transfer to freezer bag. (Alternatively, prepare and freeze it as an entire casserole rather than flash freezing the shells and assembling the casserole on serving day.)

To reheat: Put frozen shells in a 9" x 12" baking dish. Pour up to 2 jars of sauce over the top of shells, depending on your taste. Spread 1 cup mozzarella cheese over shells. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour 45 minutes - 2 hours until shells are tender.

Nutrition, per serving:
Calories: 911
Fat: 31g
Protein: 46g
Sodium: 1300mg
Carbohydrates: 114g
Fiber: 13g

Mushroom Beef Stroganoff

1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb top round steak or equivalent, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 (10.75-oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water
2 (8-oz) cans sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup sour cream (used on reheating day)

In a 1-gallon sized plastic bag, put flour, salt, and pepper. Add beef and shake to coat completely. Heat oil in skillet. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 7-10 minutes. In separate bowl, mix soup and water. Slowly add soup and water to skillet, scraping the bottom as you mix with beef. Add mushrooms and wine.

Cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring frequently. Scrape the bottom of the skillet when you stir. Cool and freeze in freezer bag.

To reheat: Defrost Stroganoff overnight in refrigerator, stir in sour cream, and heat on medium-low 30-45 minutes or until it is thoroughly heated.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 507
Fat: 29g
Protein: 39g
Sodium: 690mg
Carbohydrates: 22g
Fiber: 1g

May 16, 2016

Hot Artichoke Dip

1-2 medium jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed
2 whole green onions
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
salt
black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 (14-oz) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained

1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat.

2. Add jalapeños and green onions, and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain completely.

3. In a food processor, combine blanched jalapeños and green onions with garlic, and process until finely chopped. Add cream cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne (if using), and soy sauce, and process until smooth. Add drained artichoke hearts and process until coarsely chopped.

4. Scoop into a small baking dish or if preferred, a number of smaller baking dishes. (Ramekins work well.) Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over top, cover with aluminum foil, label, and freeze.

To reheat: Bake frozen dip in a 375°F oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (timing depends on portion size) or until bubbly and top is beginning to brown. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Southwest Tortilla Soup

5 (5-1/2 inch) corn tortillas
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 (6-oz) can diced green chiles, with juices
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
salt
black pepper

1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 300°F.

2. Cut tortillas in 1/4's, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast for about 15 minutes or until hard and just beginning to brown. Alternatively, toast tortillas in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat, turning once. Crush toasted tortillas to a powder in a blender or food processor, and set aside.

3. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and sauté for about 4 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and their juice and green chiles, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

4. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Stir in crushed tortillas. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and remove bay leaf.

5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Alternatively, transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor to puree.

6. Return soup to the pot, and stir in cooked shredded chicken and lime juice. Cool completely, package in zipper-lock plastic freezer bags or rigid freezer containers, label, and freeze.

To reheat: Heat frozen soup in a stockpot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Alternatively, microwave soup on high, stopping to stir every minute or so, until heated through.

Tandoori-Style Chicken

2 cups plain yogurt
3 Tbsp minced garlic
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste (optional)
6 lb skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces

1. In a large zipper-lock plastic bag, combine yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, pepper, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne (if using). Close bag and squeeze to combine ingredients.

2. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Label, and freeze.

To cook after freezing: Thaw completely in the refrigerator, or use the cold water method (place food in large leak-proof bag; immerse in cold water, changing water every 30 minutes). Heat grill to medium-high heat, leaving an area unlit for indirect grilling. Lightly spray the grill rack with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade, shake off any excess, and discard marinade. Grill chicken, skin side up, for about 8 minutes or until browned. Turn and brown on second side for about 8 minutes. Move chicken from the direct heat and continue to cook via indirect heat for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked and 160°F. Alternatively, bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 35 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

May 15, 2016

Chicken Curry

2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium fresh jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, and minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
salt
black pepper
1 cup cooked rice per serving

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil. Add chicken, onion and jalapeño, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes or until chicken is just beginning to brown and onions are softened.

2. Stir in ginger, garlic, curry powder, and turmeric. Stir in yogurt, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until thickened.

3. Stir in water and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until chicken in cooked through. Cool completely, package in zipper-lock plastic freezer bags, and freeze.

4. Alternatively, for a complete frozen meal, top cooled cooked rice with cooled Chicken Curry in a rigid freezer container. Label and freeze.

To reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator if desired. Heat thawed or frozen in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bubbling and heated through. Serve over rice. Alternatively, microwave thawed or frozen on high (with or without rice), stopping to stir every minute or so, until heated through.

Curried Veggies with Lentils

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground fired ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into 3/8-inch rounds
1 medium parsnip, peeled and sliced into 3/8-inch chunks
1 small eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1-1/2 cups chopped cauliflower florets
1/2 cup red lentils or split yellow peas
3-1/2 cups boiling Vegetable Stock or water
1/4 cup tomato paste
7 cups cooked white or brown rice

1. In a small bowl, mix together ground cumin, ground turmeric, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and curry powder.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat vegetable oil. Add spices, and stir for about 10 seconds. Add onion, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes or until just softened. Add potato, carrot, parsnip, eggplant, and cauliflower, and stir to combine.

3. Stir in red lentils and boiling Vegetable Stock. Stir in tomato paste until dissolved and all ingredients are well combined. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Package in zipper-lock plastic freezer bags or rigid freezer containers, and freeze. Alternatively, for a complete frozen meal, top cooled cooked rice with cooled Curried Veggies with Lentils in a rigid freezer container, label, and freeze.

To reheat: Thaw in a refrigerator if desired. Heat thawed or frozen (with or without rice) in a large saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bubbling and heated through. Alternatively, microwave thawed or frozen (with or without rice), stopping to stir every minute or so, until heated through. Serve over rice.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 lb smoked sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large yellow onions, diced
4 large celery stalks, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large green bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, and diced
2 tsp minced garlic
2-1/2 cups uncooked rice or brown rice
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
1 tsp hot sauce, or to taste

1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until browned on all sides.

2. Add sausage, onions, celery, and green bell peppers, and cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add garlic and rice, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add chicken stock, and deglaze pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom.

3. Add bay leaves, dried thyme, dried oregano, cayenne, and hot sauce, and stir to blend. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Cool completely in the refrigerator, remove bay leaf, package in zipper-lock plastic freezer bags or rigid freezer containers, label, and freeze.

To reheat after freezing: Thaw if desired in the fridge. Heat, thawed or frozen, in a large saucepan sprayed with cooking spray. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom, until heated through. Alternatively, microwave on high, stopping to stir every minute or so, until heated through.

Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Enchiladas

3 cups cooked diced chicken
1 cup sour cream or low-fat sour cream
1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 (8-oz) cans diced green chiles, drained
1 (15-oz) can corn, drained
2-1/2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
salt
black pepper
16 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 (28-oz) can plus 1 (15-oz) can green enchilada sauce

1. Spray a baking dish or 2 with cooking spray

2. In a large bowl, combine diced chicken, sour cream, black beans, 1 can green chiles, corn, 2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese, ground cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, and chili powder. Add salt and pepper, and toss to mix well.

3. Place 1 tortilla on a clean surface. Place 1/2 cup filling mixture down the center, and roll tortilla. Place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling, placing enchiladas with sides touching to completely fill the baking dish(es).

4. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 can green chiles with enchilada sauce. Pour sauce over prepared enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese over top. Tightly cover pans with foil, label, and freeze.

To bake after freezing: Bake uncovered and frozen in a 375°F oven for about 45 minutes for 2 enchiladas, or about 1 hour for 8 enchiladas.

Makes 16 enchiladas.

Mini Quiche Lorraines

4 Tbsp butter or margarine
4 Tbsp vegetable shortening
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp milk
1/2 lb bacon
3/4 cup (6 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg


1. Add butter, vegetable shortening, and all-purpose flour to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse 8-10 times or until well combined.

2. Add milk to the processor and pulse a few times until just combined, or stir in milk until dough just holds together. Gather into a ball, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

4. Place bacon slices on a broiler pan, and bake for about 10 minutes or until bacon is cooked and crispy. Let cook and crumble. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

5. Turn out chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in 1/2, and roll out crust to 1/8 inch thick. Use a 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter or a small glass with an opening about that size to cut 24 dough circles, re-rolling as necessary. Press each circle into a mini-muffin cup -- dough should cover bottom and sides with no overhang. Repeat with remaining dough and muffin cups.

6. Sprinkle cooked and crumbled bacon into bottom of each dough-lined cup, about 1/2 teaspoon per cup. Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon Swiss cheese into each cup on top of bacon.

7. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg until well combined. Pour egg mixture into muffin cups until just filled. Bake for about 40 minutes or until quiches are set and tops are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Stack cooled quiches, with waxed paper between layers, in a rigid freezer container or containers, label, and freeze.

To reheat: Place frozen quiches on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, and bake in a 375°F oven for 20-25 minutes. Alternatively, microwave 2 frozen quiches for about 30 seconds or until heated through.

Variations: You can substitute diced cooked ham for the bacon. Or try adding your favorite combinations of cheeses, vegetables, meats and seafood to come up with your own unique quiche creations.

Makes 48 mini quiches.

Freezer Buttermilk Pancakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
3-1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until well combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract, and whisk until just combined and no lumps remain. Do not overmix.

Coat the griddle or skillet with a thin coat of cooking oil or cooking spray. Spoon 1/3 cup butter onto the cooking surface for each pancake. Cook for about 1-1/2 minutes, or until bubbles begin to dot surface of pancake. Use a spatula to flip over pancakes, and cook for 1 more minute or so or until golden brown on the second side.

Cool pancakes completely on plates or baking sheets, stack in a zipper-lock plastic freezer bag, label, and freeze.

To reheat after freezing: Place frozen pancakes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray in a preheated 350°F oven or toaster oven for 10 minutes (preferred method). For a crispier pancake, place frozen pancake in the toaster on the dark setting, just as you would a slice of bread. Alternatively, microwave for about 20-30 seconds per single pancake. Watch carefully because the pancakes will get tough if they spend too long in the microwave.

Serve with butter and maple or fruit syrup.

Variations: To create a whole new taste sensation, add fresh blueberries or raspberries; raisins or dried, sweetened cranberries; finely chopped dried fruit such as dates, peaches, mangoes, or pineapple; finely chopped fresh fruit such as bananas, apples, peaches, strawberries, etc.; chopped toasted nuts or coconut; crisp cooked bacon bits; or chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or toffee chips.

Chickpea Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

1 cup dried chickpeas
2 medium tomatoes, skinned
1 red onion, sliced into fine rings

FRESH HERB VINAIGRETTE
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp each finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, thyme, and rosemary
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and ground black pepper

Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain, then cook in plenty of boiling salted water until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and refresh under cold water.

Halve the tomatoes, remove the seeds, and chop finely. Combine the chickpeas, tomato, and onion.

Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until the ingredients are combined and well coated with the dressing.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment

May 14, 2016

Summer Squash and Rice Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
5 assorted small summer squashes, such as zucchini, yellow crookneck or straightneck, or pattypan, in any combination, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
salt and ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp distilled white or cider vinegar
2 cups cooked rice, at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
shredded lettuce leaves

In a frying pan over high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add one-third of the squash and season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring often, until lightly browned and slightly soft, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cook the remaining squash, in 2 batches, in the same way, using 2 tablespoons oil with each batch. Let the mixture cool.

In the same frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until lightly golden, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add the cumin, reduce the heat to low, and sauté for about 2 minutes longer. Add to the bowl holding the squashes.

Add the vinegar, rice, and parsley and toss to mix well.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. (At this point, the salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

To serve, line individual plates with lettuce and spoon the salad on top. Serve at once.

Serves 4-6

Spinach-Stuffed Shells

1 Tbsp salt plus to taste
1 (12-oz) box jumbo pasta shells
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 (10-oz) box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups whole milk or part-skim ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
3-1/2 cups chunky marinara sauce

1. Add about 1 Tbsp salt to a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil, add jumbo pasta shells, and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until just barely al dente. Drain.

2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until starting to brown. Add garlic and spinach and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain excess water, and cool.

3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste, using a wooden spoon to stir well. Stir in cooled spinach mixture.

4. Spray baking dishes to hold the desired number of shells to meet your portion needs with cooking spray. Fill each pasta shell with about 1/4 cup filling mixture. Place shells, barely touching and not overcrowded in the baking dishes. Spoon about 2 Tbsp cool marinara sauce on each shell. Cover baking dishes tightly with foil, label, and freeze.

To bake after freezing: bake frozen in a 375° oven for about 1 hour or until heated through.

Yields 30 stuffed shells. Serving size: 2 stuffed shells.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes

Avocado and Tomatillo Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 loaf crusty French, Italian, or sourdough bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
salt to taste, plus 1 tsp
ground pepper to taste, plus 1/2 tsp
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 bunches cilantro, about 6 oz total weight, stemmed
5 tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp distilled white or white wine vinegar
lettuce leaves
6 green onions, thinly sliced

In a frying pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the bread cubes and shake the pan to coat the cubes lightly on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, reduce the heat to medium-low, and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a bowl, combine the avocado, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro; set aside. In a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the tomatillos, lime juice, vinegar, the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, the 1 teaspoon salt, and the 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend well to form a smooth dressing.

Pour the dressing over the avocado mixture and toss lightly to mix. When almost fully mixed, add the croutons and continue to toss until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

To serve, line a platter or individual salad bowls with lettuce leaves and spoon the avocado mixture on top. Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.

Chicken Cacciatore

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 lb bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, and diced
9 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes, reserve juice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley or 1 Tbsp dried
salt
black pepper

1. Place all-purpose flour in a large plastic bag. Add chicken thighs and drumsticks, and shake to lightly coat.

2. In a large skillet (be sure it's large enough to hold chicken in a single layer; if not, use 2 skillets) over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove chicken from the skillet, and set aside.

3. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms to the skillet, and sauté for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic, and sauté for 1 more minute. Add red wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.

4. Using your hands, squeeze each tomato into the skillet, breaking it up as you go. Reserve tomato juice in the can. Add tomato paste, and stir well with a wooden spoon.

5. Stir in Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and Italian parsley and season with salt and pepper. If sauce seems too thick, add some of the reserved tomato juice until you achieve a consistency you like. Sauce should be chunky and thick but not dry.

6. Return chicken to the skillet, and coat with sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer and cook, stirring and turning chicken occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through. Cook completely and remove bay leaf. Package in baking dishes or zipper-lock plastic freezer bags (depending on if you prefer to bake or microwave later), label, and freeze.

To reheat after freezing: Thaw in the refrigerator if desired. Bake thawed or frozen baking pan of chicken in a preheated 375°F oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, microwave on high, stopping to stir every minute of so, until heated through.

Yields: 3 lb
Prep time: 55 minutes
Cook time: 1:15 hours
Servings: 12 (1/4 lb) servings

Tamale Pie

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 tsp plus 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, and diced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (14-oz.) can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 (15-oz.) can corn, with juice
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chiles, with juice
1/2 tsp salt plus to taste
black pepper
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1-1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese

1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, and set over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, and cook, stirring to break into small crumbles, for about 6 minutes or until browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef from the skillet, and drain off excess fat.

2. Return the skillet to heat, and add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Add onion and bell pepper, and sauté for about 3 minutes or until softened. Return beef to the skillet, and add chili powder and cumin. Stir in crushed tomatoes with juice, corn, black beans, and green chiles with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add milk, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and beaten eggs, and stir until all dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in shredded cheese.

4. Spray 4 (5x7-inch) or 2 (8-inch) square or round baking pans with cooking spray. Divide meat mixture between the prepared pans. Top with cornmeal mixture and use a rubber spatula to smooth out the top. Cover with foil, label, and freeze.

To bake after freezing: Bake frozen in a 375° oven for about 1 hour, 15 minutes or until top is puffed and brown and filling is heated through.

Yields: 4 (5x7-inch) pans
Serving size: 1/3 pan
Servings: 12
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 1:15 hours

May 11, 2016

Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole

12 oz. uncooked wide egg noodles
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 (6-oz.) cans oil- or water-packed tuna, drained well
1-1/2 cups frozen green peas
salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1. In a large sauce pan over high heat, cook egg noodles according to package directions until flexible but still very al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter. Whisk in all-purpose flour until a smooth roux forms. Whisk in milk until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, and cook for about 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in cheddar cheese until melted and smooth. Stir in tuna and peas, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Spray baking pans that meet your portion needs with cooking spray. Fill the prepared pans 3/4 full with tuna mixture.

4. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add garlic, and stir for 30 seconds. Add panko breadcrumbs, and stir until well combined. Sprinkle garlic crumbs over tops of filled baking dishes. Cook completely, cover with foil, label, and freeze.

To bake after freezing: Bake frozen in a 375° oven for about 50 minutes (for a 4-cup portion) or until heated through, bubbly, and lightly browned on top.

Variations: You can add all kinds of vegetables to this casserole. Try blanched baby carrots, green beans, broccoli, or sliced and sautéed mushrooms.

Makes 8 1-cup servings.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes