Monday, May 21, 2018

Meatless Monday--Spinach Artichoke Frittata

When I was a kid and my mom could sense I needed to talk about something, we'd go to a local Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.  We'd always start out with an order of espinaca--Mexican spinach dip--and dive into our conversation after the first couple of bites.  

As the years went on, we found spinach artichoke dip on more and more restaurant menus.  We'd almost always order it, deep conversation or not.  By the time I'd graduated high school, we were quite the connoisseurs.  I'm not ashamed to admit we'd sometimes pick the restaurant solely based on how good their dip was. 


My mom and I have lived in different states for almost five years now and, sadly, I've learned just how unhealthy most spinach artichoke dip is.  It's certainly worth the splurge every now and then, but I'm so glad to have found this frittata.  With just a half a cup of sour cream and a small amount of cheese in the entire recipe, both the creaminess and the protein comes from eggs--another one of my favorite foods.  Add in a hearty helping of greens, and you've got yourself an easy, healthy vegetarian meal.  One that's high in nutrients and, for me, high in guiltless nostalgia.   


With just a skillet and a handful of ingredients, you can whip up a healthy, hearty frittata that will leave you feeling like you've indulged in creamy, bubbly spinach artichoke dip--without the guilt.

Spinach Artichoke Frittata

slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking

Ingredients:
2 green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (15-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts
6 c. baby spinach, loosely packed
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
1 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 TBSP stone-ground or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. plus pinch kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 c. sour cream or crème fraiche, plus more for serving
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes, optional

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2.  Thinly slice the green onions and set aside.  Drain the artichoke hearts and roughly chop.  Also chop the spinach leaves if they are very large.  

3.  Heat a 10-in. nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Warm the olive oil.  Sauté the spinach, stirring until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Add in green onions and garlic and sauté 1 minute more, stirring and pulling some of the spinach mixture to the top.

4.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, shaking the pan to allow the egg mixture to spread evenly and fill in around the vegetables.  Cook 5-7 minutes until the bottom is set and the edges can be pulled back from the sides with a spatula.

5.  Place the skillet in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until the top is puffed, set, and slightly browned.  Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve warm, garnished with red pepper flakes and additional sour cream, if desired.

yield: 4-6 servings 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meatless Monday--Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad

It seems as if spring has finally come to Dallas...except on Saturdays.  Each of the last three Saturdays have been chilly and windy and drizzly.  The other six days of the week have, for the most part, gotten their business together.  I'll take it.


strawberry cucumber salad

To celebrate those days when the sun is shining and my windows are open, I've been making this light, colorful salad.  The ingredients all play nicely together--but make no mistake--the bright red spring strawberries are the star here.  As much as I like all the other ingredients here, this salad would be nothing without the strawberries.  Spring is here, friends.  Let's enjoy every minute.


strawberry cucumber salad

Bright red spring strawberries steal the show in this light salad just meant for sunnier spring days. 

Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad
adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling

Ingredients:

For the dressing:
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper

For the salad:
3 c. fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
1 c. chopped strawberries
1 c. chopped cucumbers
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1 TBSP fresh mint, minced


Directions:
1.  To make the dressing, pour all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake to combine.

2.  Place spinach in a large serving bowl or four individual bowls.  Add equal amounts of the strawberries, cucumbers, and onion, then drizzle dressing over the top.  Sprinkle cheese, almonds, and mint on top.  Serve immediately.

yield: 2 servings       

Friday, April 20, 2018

Quick Pickled Onions

I wasn't even sure if I should post this.  These quick pickled onions are so unbelievably simple, they barely even count as a recipe.


pickled onions

But anyone who love tacos--real tacos--knows the pickled onions (and radishes, if you're lucky) are the most perfect garnish.  Just a few of these ultra-savory, pucker-worthy gems take your tacos (or salads, or bowls, or burgers, or grilled cheese sandwiches) to the next level.  Case in point, the carne deshebrada (Mexican shredded beef) tacos I shared earlier this week.  The meat was outstanding on its own--tender and full of flavor, but with the acidic punch and eye-popping color from these onions, they were out of this world!


pickled onions

Take your tacos to the next level with these super simple five-ingredient quick pickled onions.

Quick Pickled Onions
from Bon Appetít, June 2012 

Ingredients:
1 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large red onion, thinly sliced

Directions:
1.  Pour water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake until sugar and salt are dissolved.  

2.  Add in sliced onion, secure lid, and shake to coat.  Let stand at room temperature at least one hour, shaking a couple of times if all onion slices are not submerged at first.  Can be kept, refrigerated, up to two weeks. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Carne Deshebrada (Mexican Shredded Beef)

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but my mom bought me a really nice slow cooker several years ago.  And I let it sit in the box, unused, for months.  Shame.  Sad, sad, shame.

It's not that I ever intend to become the kind of person who sets the slow cooker every morning.  I enjoy the smells, sights, creativity, and processes of cooking too much.  But your slow cooker can be such a helpful tool and a gateway to rich, deeply savory dishes.  


carne deshebrada mexican shredded beef

Case in point, this carne deshebrada.  With minimal prep work the day before, cutting one onion, and stirring a few things together, you've got the filling for your favorite Mexican dishes ready to go.  Tacos, nachos, burritos, bowls--your imagination is the only limit.  Plus, shredded meat from the slow cooker freezes so well.  In fact, I doubled this recipe (which fit into my 7-quart slow cooker) and increased the cooking time to six hours to make sure I would have several servings the day of and a whole bunch more to freeze.

I'd say it was a good decision.   


slow cooker shredded beef

Let your slow cooker do the work with this savory, juicy, versatile, and completely satisfying carne deshebrada (Mexican shredded beef) recipe.  ¡Qué sabrosa! 

Carne Deshebrada (Mexican Shredded Beef)
adapted from The Little Epicurean

Ingredients:
2 TBSP dried ancho chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/2 tsp. dried cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-in. cubes
12 oz. full-bodied lager or beer
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-in. thick rounds

Directions:
1.  In a small bowl, mix together ancho powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper.  Pour over beef cubes and toss to coat evenly.  For best results, wrap meat up tightly in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag with the air pressed out and refrigerate at least two hours, up to overnight.

2.  In the bottom of a slow cooker, whisk together beer, vinegar, tomato paste, and garlic.  Scatter onion rounds into the slow cooker, creating a base to keep the beef from scorching on the bottom.  Layer the beef on top and push down slightly to make sure it is covered by the liquid.

3.  Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours, until beef easily shreds.

4.  Using tongs or two forks, shred beef into bite-sized pieces.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve in tacos, breakfast tacos, taco salad, nachos, quesadillas, burritos, or anything else your heart desires.

yield: 8 servings           

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blackberry Muffins with Pecan Streusel

I know it's not blackberry season yet (almost!), but I couldn't wait.  The fresh berries at the store just looked too good (though you can also use frozen) and I hadn't made muffins in a very long time.  Plus my mom was in town and I just couldn't let the chance to spend a little time in the kitchen with her pass me by.

We both agreed these muffins were winners.  They didn't have the heavy feel so many muffins can and, by cutting the sugar down a bit, the streusel and berries were able to stand out on their own while also balancing each other out.

Honestly, this may be my new favorite base recipe for straightforward breakfast muffins.  I think you'll like it too, especially since you could easily swap out the blackberries for your favorite fruit and use walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or whatever you'd prefer in place of the pecans.  I'm thinking a strawberry almond and peach almond combination might be especially tasty.  Good thing I have plenty of friends and coworkers who are always willing to chow down on baked goods!

blackberry muffins

With just a little time, some classic pantry staples, and your favorite fruit and nut combination, you'll be able to whip up a batch of these blackberry muffins with pecan streusel (or whatever combo you can imagine) in no time at all!

Blackberry Muffins with Pecan Streusel
from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Ingredients:


For the streusel:

1/3 c. granulated sugar
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 c. pecans, finely chopped

For the muffins:
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beten
5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
1 c. buttermilk
2. fresh blackberries or 2 1/2 c. frozen (unthawed) unsweetened blackberries

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Prepare a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners, butter, or nonstick baking spray.

2.  Make the streusel by stirring together the sugar, flour, and lemon zest.  Stir in melted butter until the mixture is crumbly, then add in pecans.  Set aside.

3.  To make the muffins, in a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, lemon zest, and salt.  Make a well in the center and add the egg, melted butter, and buttermilk.  Stir just until the batter is slightly lumpy but evenly moistened.  Gently fold in blackberries, taking care not to break up the fruit.

4.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each to a bit above the rim of the cup.  Top each muffin with some of the streusel.  

5.  Bake until the muffins are golden and springy to the touch and the sugar in the streusel melts to produce a glaze effect, 25-30 minutes.  Test with a toothpick before removing from the oven and, when done, transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Unmold the muffins and serve warm or at room temperature.  Leftover keep in the refrigerator up to two days.

yield: 12 muffins