Crustless Quiche with Spinach, Tomato, and Feta

finished quiche

Do you love quiche but don’t want to make a crust? Or want all the benefits and taste of quiche without the extra carbs? This is the recipe for you? And, it has that lovely spinach and feta combo!!!

Spinach and feta is one of my very favorites. I’m a big fan of feta, especially Bulgarian feta made from sheep’s milk. I can’t always find that in stores near me, but I have been able to locate several Greek kinds that at least are stored in brine. I always recommend getting whole pieces of feta that are brined because it keeps the cheese moist, not like those dried out pre-crumbled fetas.

So, let’s get started!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

First, chop an onion and saute it in olive oil until tender and soft. I find that you can let it cook and keep and eye on it while preparing the spinach.

I find that buying a bunch of spinach at the grocery store is usually a sufficient amount. Wash the spinach and then take the really long stems off. Then, wilt the spinach in the pan with the onion. Yes, it looks like a lot when you first dump it in, but it’s really not. It gets much smaller while cooking down.

it looks like a lot here
but the amount is much smaller when wilted

Then, in a bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, a half cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 1/2 cups milk. The original recipe doesn’t mention it, but I suggest adding about a teaspoon of dried basil.

egg mixture

Spray a pie plate or tart dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle the spinach mixture on the bottom of the pan. This way you can make sure there are no spinach clumps.

spread the spinach mixture around the bottom of the tart dish or pie plate

Then, pour the egg mixture over the spinach mixture.

see how that spinach is nicely spread throughout the quiche?

Then, sprinkle about a half cup of feta over the egg and spinach. Yes, it can be messy work, but it’s worth it!

look at that feta, so creamy and salty

Now, take some grape tomatoes and cut them in half. Arrange them around the quiche, so they add color and make a pretty pattern. It will depend on the size of your tomatoes how many you will need.

tomatoes artfully arranged

Bake it for 25-30 minutes until the center is set. Let it set a few minutes before cutting into it.

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Crustless Quiche

(recipe originally from kylecooks.com)

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 onion diced (about a cup)

6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

4 eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 10″ quiche or tart pan or a deep dish pie plate
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, and saute the onion until softened.
  4. Add in spinach and cook until just wilted. Set aside to cool.
  5. Whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder, and basil. Whisk in milk and stir in spinach-onion (I put the spinach in first and then pour the egg mixture over the top).
  6. Pour egg mixture into quiche pan. Top with feta.
  7. Place the tomato halves on top.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is set and the edge is golden brown and pulling away from the sides.
  9. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Easy Peaches and Cream Pie

completed peaches and cream pie

I love peaches! Peach season is never long enough for me. I think the best place to get peaches is the local farmer’s market, and that’s where the peaches from this pie came from.

The farmer’s market is definitely different in these Covid times, but I’m still so very glad it exists. I love to support local farmers and get some of the freshest, yummiest peaches.

I found this recipe in the Mennonite food column in the local paper. Wednesday is the day when the paper used to have a whole food section. Now, it’s pretty much down to the Mennonite column, which does have some tasty recipes.

So, let’s bake a peaches and cream pie! First, you’ll need a crust. 1 9″ unbaked crust, to be exact. You always have the option to buy one if making a pie crust is scary to you.

If you tried the last recipe, for the savory chicken and spinach galette, you’ll already know my pie crust recipe. If you didn’t, here it is again:

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Mix these three ingredients in a bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup shortening until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

pie crust should look like coarse crumbs before any water is added

Add in just enough water (usually about 3-3 1/2 T) to make the dough stick together.

A pie crust rolling tip I learned from my mother is to roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper. This way there is almost no mess because you don’t have to flour any surface or worry about messing up the dough as you transfer it to the pie plate.

My mother taught me to roll the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper

Peel off one sheet of waxed paper, arrange the dough in the pie plate, and peel off the top layer of waxed paper. Then make the edges of the crust pretty (ok, so mine is a little rough in these pictures–the important part is that it tastes delicious, even if the edges are a bit uneven).

Slice about 3 cups of fresh peaches, washed and peeled and pitted and place them in your prepared crust.

Make sure you have enough peaches to fill the bottom crust of the pie

In a mixing bowl or very large liquid measure, combine 1 cup of heavy cream, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and a dash of salt. Pour this mixture over the peaches in the prepared crust.

cream mixture poured over the peaches

Bake the pie in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 40-50 minutes. Another suggestion my mother taught me is to always place the pie plate on a baking sheet. That way, if anything drips over the top, it doesn’t get all over the floor of the oven. It’s much easier to scrub a baking sheet than it is an oven!

Easy Peaches and Cream Pie

(recipe from the Mennonite column in the Wednesday Daily News Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia)

3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

1 9″ pie crust (unbaked)

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar (original recipe calls for a cup, but you can get away with 3/4)

1/4 cup flour

dash of salt

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place peaches in the pie crust. Beat eggs slightly in a bowl. Blend in sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in cream and vanilla; blend well. Pour over peaches. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, or until center shakes slightly when moved.

Chicken, Spinach, and Tomato Galette (Rustic Tart)

finished galette

The most common question I get about this recipe is “What is a galette?” Many people are unfamiliar with this term, which I only learned about a few years ago. A galette is a rustic tart, which means a pie crust in the most un-fancy of shapes. Simply put, this means you have permission to not worry about how pretty the final shape is! Does it get any easier?

Ok, let me guess. Now, you’re going to tell me you’ve never made a pie crust. And that pie crusts are scary and difficult and trigger your anxiety. If that’s you, buy a pre-made one.

If you’re willing to give it a try, this is the time to make your own pie crust? Why? Remember, a galette is rustic. That means if anyone tries to tell you it’s uneven or looks funny, that you were aiming for a rustic look!

Ready to give making your own crust a go? Then get out a bowl and measure 1 1/4 cups of flour and a half teaspoon of salt. Mix these two together and use a fork (or a pastry blender if you want to be fancy…I actually don’t own one of these yet. Might have to change that!) to blend in 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening. The goal here is to blend until you have coarse crumbs. Then add about 3 Tablespoons of water. I try to make sure my dough is a little on the drier side. You can always add a few more drops of water if it’s too dry, but you can’t take water back out.

you want the dough to look like coarse crumbs before you add the water

Once you have a dough that barely sticks together, sprinkle a little flour onto the pan and roll the dough out. I recommend a large pizza stone or pan. You can see I’ve made a lot of pizzas on mine!

look at that chaotic, I mean Rustic, shape!

Now, take a prepared jar of pesto (you could be fancy and make this yourself if you have a lot of basil on hand–I do not, so I bought the jarred kind) and spread a Tablespoon or two onto the crust. I went more towards 2 T. Make sure to leave a little room for a crust.

Spread some prepared pesto onto the crust.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is preheating, heat some olive oil in a large, deep skillet (or even a wok). Chop an onion (or use a half of an onion if it’s large) and saute it in the oil until it’s translucent and tender. Add a clove (or several–I’m always a fan of extra garlic!) of chopped garlic.

While the onion is sauteing (or perhaps before–it might take a bit), you’ll want to clean your spinach if you’re using fresh spinach. I also like to take the stems off, especially on the bits that are very long. If you prefer, you can use frozen spinach. If you choose to go that route, you’ll want to make sure it’s thawed and squeeze out excess moisture. Then add then add the spinach to the cooked onion and garlic mixture. Cook until the spinach wilts. Add in shredded cooked chicken–you could use prepared rotisserie chicken for this. I had made a slow cooked roasted chicken a few days before, so I used the last of it in this recipe. Then add in about 1/2 cup of the pesto and a bit of black pepper. Stir this mixture up.

chicken, onion, garlic, spinach, and pesto mixture

Now, it’s time to spread the mixture over your prepared crust. Don’t worry too much about what it looks like. It’s supposed to be rustic, remember?

spread the mixture over the crust

Top this with shredded mozzarella cheese and slices of roma tomato.

top with cheese and tomatoes

Now, bake for 20–25 minutes. Then, cut and eat!

Chicken, Spinach and Tomato Galette

from the newspaper Food section, which reprinted the recipe from Pillsbury: The Big Book of More Baking with Refrigerated Dough by Grace Wells, Editor

1 9″ pie crust (homemade or store bought)

1/2 cup pesto (and 1-2 T for crust)

2 T. Olive oil

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

6 c. fresh spinach (or kale , or frozen spinach, thawed and drained)

2 c. shredded cooked chicken

1/4 t. black pepper

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 medium roma tomato, sliced

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Flour a pizza stone or baking sheet and roll out crust onto it. Spread 1-2 T pesto onto crust, leaving a 1-2″ crust.

In a large non-stick skillet on medium, heat oil. Cook onion and garlic 1-2 minutes or until tender, stirring often. Stir in spinach, chicken, pepper, and remaining pesto. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until greens are wilted and chicken is heated. Stir often. Spoon chicken mixture over center of crust to cover pesto. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold edges of crust over filling, pleating if needed. Top with tomato.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Peaches and Creme Brulee French Toast

finished French toast with peach topping

Peaches are my favorite summer fruit! And this dish highlights them in a wonderful, decadent way. It’s an overnight recipe, so it’s best for a weekend or any time you could have a brunch. This recipe is one of my favorites. It came from a cookbook I found at a thrift store. The cookbook has recipes from Virginia Bed and Breakfasts. This one comes from the Inn at Monticello.

To start, you’ll need a loaf of day old French bread (I picked up a sale loaf at the store, and it was perfect).

Take a 9×13 baking dish and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt a stick of butter (1/2 cup), 1 cup of packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup corn syrup. Cook and stir until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.

prepared pan with creme brulee mixture

Next, slice the bread into thick slices, about 1″ thick. Layer the bread slices over the top of the creme brulee mixure until the pan is full.

Next, make the French toast mixture. In a bowl or very large measuring cup, combine 6 large eggs, 1 1/2 cups half and half, a splash of vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of Triple Sec.

Pour the mixture over the bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This part is great to do at midnight!

mixing the French toast mixure
Pour the egg mixture over the bread

The next morning, take the casserole out of the fridge and let it stand for about a half hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole for 30-35 minutes.

While the French toast is baking, slice about a pound of peeled peaches. Combine them in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of peach brandy. I imagine that the toast would be just as good with peaches without alcohol and sugar, as I’d used all of my peach mixture before I got to the end and topped it with plain sliced peaches. Still amazing and delcious!

To serve, put the French toast creme brulee side up and top with the peach mixture.

Peaches and Creme Brulee French Toast

from The Inn at Monticello from the Virginia Bed and Breakfast Cookbook

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

about 10 1″ thick slices French bread

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 t. vanilla extract

1 t. Triple Sec

1/4 t. salt

1 pound fresh or frozen peeled, sliced peaches

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup peach brandy

Spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Melt butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring until smooth, then pour mixture into baking dish. Put bread on top of butter mixture. Whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, Triple Sec, and salt; pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, let French toast stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake French toast for 30-35 minutes. While French toast is baking, put peaches in a bowl. Add white sugar and peach brandy; stir to combine. Put 1-2 pieces of French toast on each plate, brown sugar side up. Top with some peaches to serve.

Chicken Tikka Masala in a Slow Cooker

finished dish, served over basmati rice

It’s hot outside, and you don’t feel like cooking something complicated. You’d love to have Indian food, but don’t want to go to a restaurant in this pandemic? What do you do? Well, if you’re reading this today, not in the morning, it might be time to reach for your emergency can of Spaghetti O’s or make a grilled cheese sandwich as slow cooking does take a bit of time. But it’s so easy! Dump in the ingredients, make sure the cooker is plugged in (been there and done that before with a similar recipe) and turned on. 8 hours later, and dinner is ready!

You will want to take time to make some basmati rice to go along with this, but you can do that when you add the heavy cream towards the end. I’d also recommend some naan bread as a side dish (especially garlic naan). You can either buy or make that.

So, what do I put in the slow cooker? About 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces. A lot of recipes call for breast, but I feel like thigh is actually more flavorful. Either, or a mixture is fine.

In a large bowl, combine a yellow onion, chopped, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 2 T. minced ginger (I usually keep a jar of minced ginger on hand, as I use it often, but not a lot at one go), 1 large can of tomato puree (28 oz, also called crushed tomatoes with some brands), 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, 2 T. olive oil, 2 T. lemon juice, 2 T. garam masala, 1 T. ground cumin, 1 1/2 t. paprika, 1 t. salt, 3/4 t. cinnamon, 3/4 t. black pepper, and 1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Mix it all together and pour over the chicken. Add two bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

I mixed it all and poured it over the onions. Works just as well!

6-8 hours later, mix 1 cup heavy cream with 1 1/2 t. cornstarch. Pour mixture in and stir to combine all. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Use this time to prepare some basmati rice. I recommend a rice cooker to make this step as easy as possible.

combine cream and cornstarch
Stir the cream mixture in, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes.

Chicken Tikka Masala in a Slow Cooker

recipe found on cookingclassy.com

3 lb boneless skinless chicken (breast or thigh)

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. grated/minced ginger

1 28 oz can tomato puree/crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

2 T. olive oil

2 T. lemon juice

2 T. garam masala (look for this in international food stores)

1 T. cumin

1 1/2 t. paprika

1 t. salt (to taste)

3/4 t. cinnamon

3/4 t. black pepper

1-3 tsp. cayenne pepper (I went with 1 1/2)

2 bay leaves

1 c. heavy cream

1 1/2 t. cornstarch

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, minced garlic, minced ginger, tomato puree, plain yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garam masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Stir until combined. Pour half of sauce mixture into a large slow cooker, then add in diced chicken, followed by the rest of the sauce mixture. Add in two bay leaves. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  3. In a large liquid measure, whisk together heavy cream and cornstarch. Pour mixture into slow cooker and gently stir. Allow mixture to cook 20 minutes while you prepare basmati rice. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

a finished slice of cake

One of my best friends adores blueberries and was about to turn 40, so I decided to find a new cake recipe. This one is a triple layer cake that uses fresh blueberries and a lemon to make. The frosting has cream cheese and more lemon. If you’ve tried my blueberry muffin recipe, you already know that blueberry lemon is a great combination, so I knew immediately the cake would also be delicious!

Don’t be put off by worries about a cake with three layers. All a third layer means is an extra few swipes of frosting atop another layer to stick them together. Three is just as easy as two!

First, gather 3 9″ round cake pans and spray them with Baker’s Secret (it’s like Pam spray, but with flour). I used to grease them with shortening and sprinkle flour over that, but the spray is so easy!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set the pans aside. In a bowl, measure 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar. Zest a whole lemon into the sugar. To zest, take a zester (a small grater) and rub it over the skin of a washed lemon. Don’t forget to take the bar code sticker off if your lemon came from a grocery store (pretty much the only place I can get a fresh lemon in VA–it gets hot in the summer, but not lemon-growing hot!).

Lemon freshly grated into sugar

Mix that up a bit, and let it sit a few minutes for the flavors to settle. Then, mix in 2/3 cup softened butter (I keep butter in the freezer and set it out overnight to soften) and 3 eggs.

the butter has been mixed with the lemon sugar. Now 3 eggs are added.

Next, add in 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. Then, in a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients of 2 3/4 cups cake flour (all-purpose will turn out fine if you don’t have cake flour, though it might be less delicate), 1 tsp. salt, and 3 1/2 tsp baking powder (3 tsp.= 1 T, so if it’s easier for your brain, 1 T and 1/2 tsp).

Combine the liquids in a liquid measuring cup: 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup lemon juice (I juiced half of the huge lemon I already zested). Alternate adding liquid and dry mixtures into the cake batter until all is combined.

Then, wash the blueberries and dust them with flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom.

blueberries coated with flour

Divide the batter equally among the 3 prepared pans. Smooth the batter in the pans so it bakes evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

only 2 of my pans fit in the picure!

You can let the cakes cool in the pans or on a wire rack. Usually, I let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes and then switch them to wire racks, but I was having a Zoom call with my dad, so the cakes were left to cool in the pans. This turned out not to impede removing them at all!

Then, to make the frosting, take 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese and 4 Tbs of softened butter (about a half stick) and put them in a bowl with 4 cups of powdered confectioner’s sugar, the juice from other half of the lemon (it really was a huge lemon!), and a tsp of vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, mix it all up. I’m usually very much the mix things by hand sort of person, but I like how easy it is to get the frosting really smooth with a mixer.

Then, once the cake is cool, turn one layer onto the cake plate upside down. Cover the center with frosting. Add the next layer, again, upside down. Repeat the frosting swipe. Put the top layer on, this one right side up. Cover the sides of the cake with frosting, as well as the top.

Here you can see the frosting between the cake layers as well as it starting to appear on the sides.

When the cake is all frosted, you can decorate the top. I had some leftover blueberries, but no remaining frosting, so I decided to put Happy Birthday in blueberries. It turned out to take up a lot of cake space with blueberries, so I ended up with HB 40.

This recipe comes from flouronmyfingers.com

Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 T. lemon zest (I zested one huge lemon)

2/3 cup butter, softened

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 3/4 cup cake flour

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder (aka 1 T and 1/2 tsp)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/4 cups blueberries (washed)

Frosting

16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 8 oz bricks)

4 T. butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 T. lemon juice (I used more–the other half of the lemon)

4 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 3 9″ round cake pans with cooking spray/flour or use the shortening and flour method to grease them.
  3. Mix together the sugar and lemon zest. Then let this mixture sit for 3-5 minutes, so the lemon can really infuse into the sugar.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, mix together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a liquid measure, combine the milk and lemon juice. Set aside.
  5. Cream the butter into sugar lemon zest mixture.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, into the sugar mixture.
  7. Then mix in the vanilla extract.
  8. Alternate the dry ingredients with the milk and lemon juice mixture. Keep alternating, adding the milk and lemon juice and ending with the dry ingredients.
  9. Toss the blueberries in a T. of cake flour, and then gently fold the flour-coated blueberries into the cake batter. Use a spatula, not a mixer.
  10. Spread the batter evenly into 3 round greased cake pans.
  11. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  13. To mix up the lemon cream cheese frosting quickly and easily, I use a mixer.
  14. Mix together the softened cream cheese and butter.
  15. Add vanilla extract and lemon juice, mixing in well.
  16. Then add in the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and creamy,
  17. Now, you’re ready to frost and layer your cake. I usually like to frost between layers as I add them. Then frost all over the outside of the cake, including the sides.
  18. Then you can add blueberries and lemon slices to the top, whatever your preference.

Cream of Potato Soup

Finished bowl of soup–a perfect comfort food

I grew up eating a lot of canned soup. My mom would make occasional pots of beef stew or chili for my dad, who is a much bigger fan of soup than my mom. But mostly, there was a lot of Cambell’s in our house. Then, someone gave my mom a device called a Rocket Chef. It came with an instruction book that included this recipe. I don’t know what ever became of Rocket Chef (or truthfully, even exactly what Rocket Chef was), but this recipe has been adapted for stove top use.

In grad school, I had my first apartment, and enjoyed having “dinner parties,” which really consisted of me inviting friends over to cook dinner together. This was a common recipe we often used. We usually served it with homemade biscuits.

There was a long period of time after I moved to VA when I rarely made this recipe, but I rediscovered it in 2014 in a handwritten book of favorite recipes I use often.

To start, heat 3 cups of chicken broth to boiling. I usually use this salt-free mix if I don’t have any homemade stock handy. If I need more liquid (which happens often), I just add some water.

I recommend sodium free Herb Ox if you don’t have any homemade stock

While the broth/stock is heating to a boil, chop 3 potatoes (classically, they are peeled, and in this quarantine version, I was down to the last of the potatoes, so they were full of eyes and areas that needed to be cut away, so I peeled them. Otherwise, peeling is not required). Also chop 2 medium yellow onions (or one large). Add them to the boiling stock. If there is not enough liquid once you’ve added the veg, add a bit more water and bring the temperature up to a simmer.

Adding veggies put my stock back to a simmer.

Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Then add in 1/4 cup parsley (about 1 T if using dried parsley), 1/2 cup of light cream (half and half is fine. I always have that on hand for coffee, so I’ve used that for years), and 2 T. butter. I keep butter in the freezer, and frozen butter takes a tiny bit longer to melt, but it works as well as room temp. Stir to combine. Do not boil.

the frozen butter takes a little longer to melt

Cream of Potato Soup (from a Rocket Chef instruction book)

3 C. chicken broth (vegetable broth can be used for a vegetarian version)

3 medium potatoes (peeling optional)

2 medium yellow onions (or 1 large)

1/4 cup parsley (1 T. if using dried)

1/2 cup light cream (or half and half)

2 T. butter

  1. Bring the chicken broth to boiling in a saucepan (or dutch oven).
  2. Add potatoes and onions to the broth. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add parsley, oregano, cream, and butter. Stir to combine. Do not boil.

Tostones

finished tostones

Tostones are unripened plantains that are twice fried. They are amazing! I used to work in a Caribbean restaurant for about 3 years. It was called Macondo’s and was named after the fictional town in A Hundred Years of Solitude, which is one of my favorite books. Macondo’s was run by a couple. She was from Puerto Rico, and he was from Albania. Many of the recipes were from her childhood.

I learned a lot in my time at Macondo’s, and there are many times I miss the amazing food. So, I’ve learned to recreate some of these dishes.

To make tostones, you first need unripe plantains. A plantain that is green will work. When plantains ripen, they turn black and are sweeter. Ripe/black plantains will not stand up to the double fry process (there are a number of delicious things you can do with ripe plantains, but we’ll keep those for another day).

an unripe plantain–this one is starting to turn, so it needs to be used now

Take the peel off the plantain. This is much harder than peeling a banana. It will require a sharp knife. Once you’ve removed the peel, cut the plantain into chunks. Soak the chunks in some salt water.

chunks soaking in salt water

Next, deep fry the chunks in oil. Make sure there is enough oil to cover the chunks. Remove them when they are browned.

once-fried plantain chunks

Now, it’s time to smash the chunks. Traditionally, a tostonera is used. This is a hinged piece of wood with a circle cut into it. I was able to locate one during my Macondo’s days at Food Lion, when it had a sizable Latin foods section. If you don’t have a tostonera, you will need to find something large and sturdy enough to smash the plantains with.

outside of the tostonera
Place a chunk in the circle and close the hinged lid, pressing until flat

Once you have flattened all of the chunks into disks, you will refry the tostones in the hot oil until browned sufficiently. Remove them to paper towels and salt them, as you would French fries.

At Macondo’s, we served them with a mixture of equal parts ketchup and mayo with lots of minced garlic stirred in. It was a very popular side dish or appetizer. I have found a couple local restaurants that make them, but I was spurred into making these by a friend whose grocery delivery contained a large number of plantains. She was asking, what can I do with these? This was my suggestion.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Finished bread

Banana bread is one of the standard comfort foods, especially in this time of staying home. I think it’s one of the dishes I’ve seen most people post about making at least once.

I know that I’m never good about using up all of the bananas in a bunch. I buy them with the best of intentions, and then, suddenly, there are 2-3 that are blackening on the counter. What to do? The answer is obvious: banana bread.

So, you probably already have a recipe for regular banana bread. But what about peanut butter? I’ve been using this recipe from Cooking Light for years. It adds a few healthy ingredients to make this indulgent comfort food a little bit better for you–without sacrificing flavor. And, did I mention there is peanut butter?

To get started, put the oven to 350 degrees. Take those 2-3 overripe bananas and mash them in a bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of plain yogurt (vanilla is also fine) and 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Then add 3 Tablespoons of melted butter and 2 eggs. Put 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar.

all ready to stir

Now it’s time to add the dry ingredients! Put 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (I have several recipes that use this–including an amazing ginger cake, so I usually have some on hand), 3/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. allspice, and 1 1/2 cups of flour into the mixture. Stir just until combined–don’t overstir.

adding the dry ingredients

Spray a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour in the batter. Bake for an hour and 5 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the loaf. It should come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before attempting to remove it to a wire rack to cool completely.

I love these clay pans!

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

original recipe from Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas (2-3)

1/3 cup plain yogurt (can be Greek, not required–I’ve also used vanilla)

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

3 Tablespoons butter, melted

2 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare bread, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with mixer (or by hand). Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; stir until just combined. Pour batter into a 9×5″ loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan to a wire rack. Cool.

Garlic Goddess Cheese Pie

finished pie

I love garlic!! I had been taking the Garlic Lovers Cookbooks out of my local library every once in a while for years. These are cookbooks that come from the Gilroy Garlic Festival. And then….I found my very own copy of one of them!! So, yes, I have many garlic laced recipes. And this cheese pie with a potato crust is an essential spring time recipe!

Fair warning–it has several steps and takes a while. You might should have a cheese snack before you start, to tide you over.

Then, we start the crust. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, so it will be ready by the time your crust is. Then grate 2 potatoes. I use a box grater, and place a plate underneath to catch all the shreds.

You can peel the potatoes, but I usually don’t bother. Lots of vitamins in the skin!

Combine the potato with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and put them in a colander to drain for 10 minutes. After that, you’ll want to squish all the moisture out that you can. You won’t want a soggy crust.

You can drain the colander in a sink or over a plate. I used the sink first, and then used the plate to catch any remaining drips.

Once the potatoes are dry, combine them with 1 beaten egg. Press the crust to the sides and bottom of an oiled 9″ pie pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

pressing the crust into the pie plate

Towards the end of the baking period, you’ll want to work on the filling. Peel and crush 3 cloves of garlic (or more….we’re talking garlic here!) Chop a green onion. Chop 15 medium sized mushrooms (I bought one pint sized container, and that worked fine). Trim a bunch of asparagus and chop into bite sized pieces. Saute garlic and onion a few minutes in some butter.

I didn’t have green onion, so I used a regular onion and a lot of garlic

Add asparagus and mushrooms. Season with a dash of thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Put a lid on it, and cook for about 10 minutes. Check on it once in a while and give it a stir.

Before I put the cover on. Look at those yummy veg!

Now, it’s time to assemble the pie! Put about a cup of shredded cheese over the crust, which should be done baking by now. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.

cheese sprinkled on the baked crust

Place the sauteed veg on top. Beat 2 eggs with 1/4 cup milk and pour over the top. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

all ready for the oven!

Garlic Goddess Cheese Pie (from The Garlic Lovers Cookbook 1982)

Potato Crust

2 large raw potatoes

1/2 tsp. salt

1 large beaten egg

Filling

3 large cloves fresh garlic (or more)

1 green onion (I used one regular onion)

a bunch asparagus

15 medium sized mushrooms (I used a pint container)

3 Tbs. butter (or oil, for sauteeing)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried basil

dash thyme

2 1/4 heaping cups grated cheddar cheese

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pare and grate potatoes. Combine with salt and turn into a colander. Let drain 10 minutes, then squeeze out excess moisture. Combine with egg. Pat into oiled 9″ pie pan to make a crust. Bake in preheated oven 40-45 minutes. Peel and crush garlic; trim and chop onion. Trim and chop asparagus tips and mushrooms. Saute garlic and onion in butter a few minutes. Add asparagus and mushrooms with seasonings. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread half the cheese into the baked crust, then the vegetable saute. Cover with remaining cheese. Beat eggs with milk and pour over the pie. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

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