Bipartisan Baked Taquitos

baked-taquitos

When some members of the household lean towards cheeseburgers and ketchup while others campaign for frijoles y salsa, dinner can become a divisive issue. Finding middle ground is a challenge, and more often than not, someone’s dinner dreams are dashed. But because we have to live with each other, we must come together at the table. I propose Baked Cheeseburger Taquitos! Uniquely American fusion fare that can be made ahead and/or eaten on the go. Or quickly roll up some other favorites (shown above): Baked Chicken Taquitos (made with rotisserie or leftover chicken) or Black Bean and Corn Taquitos. So many choices – and none more right (or left) than the other. It’s what makes our country great.  Continue reading

What’s for Lunch??

In a lunch rut? We were too, until I discovered Yumboxes.  These multi-compartment bento-inspired boxes are leakproof, so you can even pack ranch dip, salsa or yogurt without a big mess come lunchtime. Added bonus: these aren’t just for kids! I plan on using Yumboxes for our next plane trip, since the hard case will protect food from getting squished in my carry-on bag. The portion control is nice too.

YumBox with Cheez-Its

Cheez-Its, peanut butter, celery and honeycrisp apple slices. Pack a plastic knife for spreading peanut butter.

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Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

flank steak chimichurri close-up

With most of our weeknights this spring consumed with soccer practices, lacrosse practices, Girls on the Run practices, piano lessons and tennis clinics, the question of “What’s for dinner?” becomes all the more pressing. I won’t lie to you – we resort to the blue box mac-n-cheese and frozen pizza plenty of nights. I also make “pizza panini” on a regular basis – panini-maker grilled sandwiches with panella bread and grated mozzarella, cut into wedges and served with marinara sauce for dipping. (Hey – that would make a good blog post! Stay tuned.)

Another regular in our quick-dinner rotation is this red wine, garlic and soy-marinated flank steak. It’s best if you can marinate in the morning, or even the night before, but broiling the steak is quicker than cooking a DiGiorno’s rising crust pizza. Continue reading

Bacon, Potato and Leek Frittata

 

frittata

Breakfast, lunch or dinner is served! I tossed around some other names for this dish: Leftovers Pie, Crustless Quiche, Make-Ahead Magic for Overnight Guests, Zap-n-Go Anytime Meal Slices. Some of these are better than others, but they all would work. Frittata sounded a little fancier – worthy of the leeks I used in it this time, but it’s not a traditional frittata. It’s also not as heavy as a cream-laden quiche, but I think you get the idea. I’ve made similar versions without the leeks – just a lone, leftover baked potato and some bits from the Christmas ham. That was good too! But leeks work really well here and bring a much-needed glimmer of spring to the table. Continue reading

Corned Beef & Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Corned beef and cheddar biscuits

Got leftover corned beef and need a break from sandwiches or hash? Try adding it to these quick drop biscuits – no kneading or rolling required. Along with a pot of cauliflower soup, it’s what’s for dinner in our house tonight.

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Baked Campanelle with Mushrooms (and Chicken)

While my 9-year-old has always had a taste for adventure, she’s not been known for her adventurous tastes. No sauces, limited vegetables, no comingled ingredients – you get the idea. Then one day she blew me away by asking if she could please have a salad. A few days later when I was sautéing mushrooms for this recipe, she asked if she could try one of those things in the pan that smelled so good. What?! Aliens have abducted my firstborn and replaced her with a vegetable-craving clone! Fortunately, my 7-year-old is still subsisting on bread, butter and milk products so all’s right with the world.

 

Back to the mushroom pasta. The inspiration for this dish was all the stuff in the fridge that needed to get used up before a President’s Week ski trip: a box of crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, half a block of cream cheese, a little cream, and half a box of chicken stock.  If I had had some rotisserie chicken, I would’ve added it for a complete meal-in-one. (Meal-in-one = fewer dishes to wash!) For those of us happy with vegetarian meals, this dish is already a meal-in-one. With or without the chicken, I’d serve it with a simple green salad (and perhaps a glass of pinot noir). It reheats well for leftovers and probably would freeze well also.

Every time pasta goes on sale, I stock up in all shapes and sizes. One of my favorite shapes is campanelle, aka bells or lilies. I’m a sucker for the little ruffles, which get nice and crunchy on the top layer of a baked dish. I also love how the bell shape traps the sauce or filling. Feel free to use any shape pasta – even spaghetti would work.

Baked Campanelle with Mushrooms (and Chicken)

Serves 6-8

  • 1 box (16 oz.) campanelle (or any shape dried pasta)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 lb. white or brown (crimini) mushrooms, sliced (stems trimmed or removed)
  • ½ teaspoon dried or 1teaspoon fresh thyme (optional but complements the mushrooms nicely)
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • Splash (¼ cup) dry sherry (or white wine)
  • ½ block cream cheese (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (16 oz. or ½ box)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
  • Optional: 2 cups (+ / -) rotisserie or leftover chicken, shredded or cubed
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions (using 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt in the pasta water). Drain and set aside. (Reserve some plain pasta for picky eaters.)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté shallots in butter until softened. (2-3 minutes)

Add sliced mushrooms; stir to coat and then let sit in the pan for a few minutes to develop some color. (This really does make them taste better!)

Stir in thyme and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Add sherry or wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Stir in cream cheese (if using), chicken broth, bouillon cube or salt and cream.

Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in chicken, if using, and 1 cup parmigiano cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Combine sauce with cooked pasta and pour into an ungreased casserole dish or lasagna pan. Sprinkle remaining parmigiano cheese over top. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.

Can be made up to a day ahead (though add about ½ cup more chicken stock if you do). Reheats well for leftovers.

As a side dish side note, the sautéed mushroom mixture would be delicious on its own – even without the pasta and cheese. Omit the chicken stock and reduce the cream to 1/4 cup or omit altogether. Serve as a vegetable side dish, or as a topping for steak, burgers or chicken.

 

Nacho’Mamma’s Rice Casserole

My mamma never really made casseroles, but I’ve experienced enough bad ones in my life to understand why they are often maligned. (You probably have too.) Scratch all those bad memories: this meal-in-one is a fresh spin on the casseroles of old (no canned soup required); the end result is almost like a Mexican risotto (arrozotto?), which can be topped with fresh tomatoes or diced avocado or even a drizzle of my Cilantro Lime Sauce.  It’s a hearty yet elegant way to use up rotisserie chicken (or holiday turkey or almost any other leftover meat), and you can add whatever you like or happen to have on hand. The basics are rice, reduced fat sour cream, salsa verde, and frozen corn.  Any leftover rice will work, but this is a perfect way to be sneaky with brown rice (if you have brown rice objectors in your household). With all the other seasonings and textures in the dish, you’d have to be Tom Coliccio to catch it.  Lately I’ve been stocking up on Trader Joe’s pre-cooked vacuu-pouches, so I’ll always be ready for a casserole.

This recipe was inspired by Rick Bayless’s Arroz Gratinado, from his insightful book, Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.  Rick’s version calls for making your own roasted poblano rajas (sautéed roasted poblanos and onions), which I find too time-consuming for a mid-week meal. By using a good-quality jarred salsa verde, you can get almost as tasty results in a fraction of the time (and importantly: with only 2 dirtied dishes!).

Mexican Rice Casserole

Serves 4-6, though can be doubled for a crowd

  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 cup salsa verde (I like Xochitl brand)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn
  • 1 – 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken or other cooked meat
  • 1 cup grated cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Optional fillers:

  • 1 can green chiles, chopped
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Optional toppers:

  • Anything you’d normally put on nachos: Diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, sliced olives
  • Crumbled tortilla chips
  • Cilantro lime sauce

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix sour cream, salsa verde, cumin and oregano in a measuring cup or small bowl.

In a small casserole or 8×8 baking dish, sprinkle ½ of the rice. Then sprinkle with ½ of the corn. Top with ½ of the sour cream/salsa mixture.  Then add ½ of the chicken, ½ of any optional fillers, and then ½ cup cheese. Repeat for a second layer, starting with the rice and ending with ½ cup cheese. (Don’t worry too much about the order of the layers; just try to have the sour cream/salsa mixture touching the meat layer.)

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top. Serve hot. (Reheats well the next day, too, though it won’t be quite as creamy.)

Add desired toppings. I went with tomatoes, avocado, crumbled tortilla chips (always a favorite), and some leftover cilantro lime sauce.

¡ Buon provecho !