My sister discourages experimenting with new recipes when you are entertaining dinner guests. But I can’t seem to help myself! When we are having people over for dinner it seems like a great time to try out a new recipe.
I like to cook new things all the time, but I am learning my kids prefer more structure and routine, so I am trying to give them that too. I guess finding the balance for me means experimenting with company! Now you know what you are in for if I invite you over for dinner.
I saw a recipe for spinach enchiladas that I thought sounded great, but I was pretty sure my kids wouldn’t want to touch it. We had a family over for dinner on Sunday who avoid eating meat and it seemed the perfect time to try out this recipe. I knew there would be lots of food prepared, so if my kids completely refused the main dish there would be other options for them.
The dinner turned out great. Most everyone loved the enchiladas (everyone except my older 2 kids). And I hope that I can find an opportunity to make them again!
Bean & Green Enchiladas – Real Food for Real Kids by Tracy Seaman and Tanya Steel
1 ½ pounds spinach
¼ c oil
1 large onion, chopped
One 15 oz can pinto beans
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
2 cups pepper jack cheese (shredded)
8 – 6 inch corn tortillas
1 ½ cups salsa verde
Wilt spinach in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain. Run under cool water and squeeze out excess water.
In the same pan cook the onion in a tablespoon of oil until softened. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, beans, salt, pepper, and half of the shredded cheese.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a tortilla and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Repeat with remaining tortillas when skillet seems dry.
Fill the tortillas with about ½ cup spinach mixture in each. Arrange the enchiladas in two rows in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.
Do you go grocery shopping with your kids? I prefer not to, but it seems like they end up at the store with me more often than not. And of course they are always requesting things to go into the cart. Mostly of the sugary, processed variety which we try to avoid. So when my older two said they wanted to try mussels I felt that it was a request I could support and I was more than happy to pick up a pound to cook for dinner.
I haven’t eaten mussels for a long time. I grew up eating lots of shellfish in Nova Scotia, but developed an allergy when I was 8. I had a pretty severe reaction and I haven’t really wanted to take the chance to see if I am still allergic or not. But I thought I would try it out this week with the kids too. And no problems, yay! So we may be incorporating a bit more shellfish into the diet. It may take some work with the kids, none of them ended up being too keen about the mussels!
Obviously the mussels are optional, but I really liked the flavor they added to the dish.
Pesto Linguine with Penn Cove Mussels
1 pound linguine
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
1 cup prepared pesto, plus more for garnish
4 oz goat cheese, plus more for garnish
1 pound mussels
Boil water. Add green beans and cook until tender – about 5 minutes. Remove beans from pot.
Add pasta to same water and cook pasta until tender.
Save 1/2 cup pasta water and mix in with pesto, goat cheese, pasta and beans. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with an extra dollop of pesto and goat cheese on top.
To prepare the mussels I heated about 4 cloves of crushed garlic in some melted butter over medium heat. I added the mussels and fried them in the butter for two minutes and then I added 1/2 cup of the pasta water (you can use white wine or broth for more flavor) and covered the pan with a lid and let them steam for about 2 more minutes. When the shells open they’re done. If none of the shells open then they’re not done cooking and you can put the lid on for another minute. But if there are just a few that don’t open discard the closed shells, that’s a sign of a bad mussel.
I wrote about Torn Tortilla Casserole when we first launched the blog in my week of recipes and you can find my review of Honest Pretzels, the cookbook from whence it came here. A couple of people have asked for this recipe so I thought I would share it with everyone. It is very simple to make – I guess that’s why it’s in a cookbook for kids!
Because there are so few ingredients in this recipe I think it’s important to choose quality. Make sure that you are using corn tortillas that you love and yummy salsa! I think this dish would be great for breakfast or brunch as well. Enjoy!
Torn Tortilla Casserole
oil for the pan
12 corn tortillas
2 cups monterey jack cheese (about 8 oz)
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups buttermilk
paprika for the top
salsa and/or sour cream
Turn oven to 350 to preheat and oil a 9 by 13 baking pan.
Tear 6 tortillas into bite sized pieces and distribute over bottom of pan. Put half the cheese on top. Tear 6 more tortillas and distribute over cheese/tortillas and top with remaining cheese.
Break 4 eggs into a bowl, add salt. Beat eggs and milk together and pour over the top of the tortillas/cheese. Sprinkle paprika on top.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, cut into squares and serve hot with salsa and sour cream.
Last night I needed dinner in an instant. I have been trying the Quick Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook that Sarah recommended a few weeks ago for our dinners this week. And we have been loving it. I got a “you have outdone yourself” from my husband last night because he thought dinner was so good! And it was about 2 minutes of hands-on preparation. Sweet!
Cheese Tortellini with Sour Cream Sauce:
16 oz. cheese filled tortellini
1 cup sour cream
3 T grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
Cook tortellini according to directions on package. When there is about 3 minutes left in your cooking time, add the peas.
While pasta is cooking prepare sauce by mixing sour cream, cheese, salt and pepper.
I was thinking about what to make for dinner last night. Something told me I should be making a Cinco de Mayo dish, but I hadn’t planned ahead and the thought of taking my three little jumping beans to the supermercado ended with me beating my head like a pinata. So, instead, I dug through the pantry and found a couple of sweet potatoes that I had left from something I made last week. And then I saw the coconut milk. And then I was thinking curry. And finally stew because it’s been so cold here lately!
At dinner, my husband asked me where I had gotten the recipe. He liked it – a lot – and had never had anything like it before. I just pulled a bunch of things together and it worked! I hope you like it too.
Sweet Potato Stew:
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small red onion
28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
14 oz coconut milk
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 cup dried lentils
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 t tumeric
1/8 t dry mustard
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1/2 t salt
1/4 t red pepper flakes
Turn slow cooker on high and toss in olive oil, garlic, and onion. Put the lid on and let those flavors come together while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Open your cans, dice and chop your vegetables and throw everything in the pot! Cook on high for 4-6 hours. It took four hours for me, but I think my crock pot is on the hotter side of things.
I love to cook for my family, but my family doesn’t always love to eat what I cook. I’m trying to involve the kids more in meal-planning and preparation in the hopes that if they take some ownership in the process they might actually eat what’s prepared. So when both of my older kids come to me and ask me to make something it’s pretty much guaranteed thing that I’ll be making it.
We checked out a story from the library last week called Carmine, A Little More Red by Melissa Sweet. It’s a story based on Little Red Riding Hood (but there is no people eating in this one) and has some fantastic and very different illustrations. In the story Carmine is going to visit her Grandmother to share some Alphabet Soup with her. At the end of the book the author shares the recipe for Alphabet Soup with us. So, obviously the kids asked me to make the soup. And I was happy to oblige – sometimes coming up with the meals is the hardest part for me and I love cooking healthy food that my kids want to eat. The recipe was simple and good. And it was fun for the kids to be looking for letters in their soup!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
4 cups water
1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup alphabet pasta, uncooked
salt and pepper to taste
Saute onion, carrots, pepper, celery and garlic in olive oil for five minutes over medium heat.
Stir in the oregano and basil
Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until veggies are tender.
Add tomato sauce and pasta and simmer gently until pasta is done (~10 minutes)
Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
So, as Christina and I were planning out our month she thought that it would be great to have a vegetarian week. I believed she called it, “Meatless Mains.” The only problem is, I almost always use meat! If I perchance make a vegetable pasta, my husband will invariably ask what’s missing. Or, he’ll offer some cooking advice in the form of, “This could use some bacon.”
Vegetarian week put me in a quandary. I really don’t have a whole repertoire of meatless menus. My go to source for meatless cooking is Anna, and she was away on a girls’ week-end! So, I turned to Dixie who in turn told me about Lucy’s amazing cheese quiche. It’s so cheesy that there is no pastry. The crust is made of cheese!
This dish comes together easily. It would make a wonderful brunch dish, but we did eat it for Sunday night dinner. It’s wonderful just the way it is, but I can’t help to think that it might be improved the tiniest bit with just a hint of bacon!
Lucy’s Muenster Cheese & Spinach Quiche
1 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1lb. fresh spinach
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
8 oz. Muenster cheese, sliced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 cup Muenster cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium skillet melt butter and cook onions until translucent.
Add spinach to the pan and cook until wilted, and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir in the garlic powder, remove pan from heat and let cool.
Line a tart pan with the sliced cheese.
In a bowl, combine spinach mixture, eggs, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Spoon mixture into tart pan and smooth out. Cover with the grated Muenster cheese.
Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.