Spinach and Feta Drop Biscuits

12 Jun

Spinach and Feta Drop Biscuits

Who among us doesn’t love a crumbly, cheesy biscuit? Two kinds of people: liars and people who don’t eat cheese. And who among us doesn’t love that age-old combination of spinach and feta cheese? Again, two kinds of people: liars and people who don’t eat cheese. I decided to combine those two loves by adapting my savory scone recipe into these cheesy, crumbly drop biscuits. Thanks to a day of rain, the house had cooled down and there was no reason to fear a hot oven – especially because these have a relatively quick baking time of twenty to twenty five minutes. It’s an added bonus that these take about ten minutes to whip up and slide into the oven.

These were absolutely ridiculously good.  A crispy, crunchy crust encases a tender, creamy, cheesy interior. The spice from the crushed red pepper flakes plays well off of the tangy feta, creamy cottage cheese, and fresh, earthy, spinach. These taste seriously, insanely indulgent – even though they aren’t – and make for a great on-the-go breakfast or snack.

Spinach and Feta Drop Biscuit

Makes about 6 large scones

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tbs. plus 2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup large curd cottage cheese

1/4 cup feta, cut into small cubes

3/4 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. dried minced onion

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 large egg

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add cheeses and gently combine with a fork.  Add spinach and gently combine with the fork.

Beat together the milk and egg.  Using your hands, gently fold it into the flour mixture.  When the dough just barely comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Be very careful to not overwork the dough.  I turn it out about 2-3 kneads before I think I really should.  Sprinkle with a bit more flour.

Form into a disc about 1″ thick.  Form into 6 ball-shaped biscuits.

Spray a parchment paper or tinfoil lined baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden brown.


Coming Out of Hibernation

8 Jun

Hi there, all. It’s been awhile, huh?

I won’t make excuses, I’ve just been lazy, lazy, lazy. But on a slow morning at work I was browsing through some of the food blogs I follow and thought to myself: you know, maybe it’s time to get back in the saddle again. I clicked wistfully around this little ol’ blog and remembered some really fun things I had cooked and posted about. I remembered how I managed to make time both to cook and to talk about it with the few people who care what I have to say at least a few times a week, and how much I enjoyed that. I remembered being so excited to share what came in our CSA every week, and how happy I was to show how it got used. I remembered how this blog made me be creative in the kitchen, pushed me to try new things, and gave me a ready-made excuse to document which recipes we liked and didn’t, so I always just a click away from my favorites.

So I decided to start this whole thing up again. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the start of this year’s CSA, and figured now was as good a time as any to get back in the saddle again. Expect new posts coming up in the next few days!

Quinoa and Cheddar Chile Rellenos with Cilantro Chimichurri

29 Apr


These lightened-up chile rellenos were so darned tasty I had to come out of hibernation to post them.  Although I love classic chile rellenos, dripping with cheese and stuffed with meat, I decided to lighten them up a bit and make a version both Zak and I could enjoy.  So I dialed down the cheese, adding just enough for that creamy, cheesy element that is distinctive of a chille relleno, but not so much it overwhelmed the dish.  I substituted quinoa for a meat product, adding some texture, nutty flavor, and healthy protein.  Instead of deep-frying the chiles, I pan fried them in relatively heart-healthy canola oil.  Served with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and a bright, fresh, and flavorful chilantro chimichurri, these were absolutely excellent.  The crunchy exterior gives way to the slightly spicy pepper and cheesy, nutty interior that is bursting with spices.

Rather than traditional poblanos, I used a mixture of cubanelles, which are relatively sweet and not very spicy, and Hungarian hots, which vary in spiciness depending on the pepper and range from relatively mild to pretty hot.  You can, of course, use poblanos – they did not have them at the store we went to, and I decided to throw caution to the wind and make some substitutions.  I was very pleased with the results, and liked having one sweeter and one spicier chile per plate.

Quinoa and Cheddar Chile Rellenos with Cilantro Chimichurri

Quinoa and Cheddar Chile Rellenos:

3 large cubanelle peppers

3 medium Hungarian hot peppers

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

4 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. New Mexico chile powder

3 eggs, separated

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, for serving

Spray a cast iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for about two minutes.  Using a pair of tongs, add the peppers, working in batches if necessary.  Cook the peppers about 3 minutes per side until skins are blistered and blackening.  Transfer to a ziplock bag, and immediately shut the bag to allow the pepper to steam.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are softened.  Carefully peel the skins from the peppers.  Set aside the peppers, discarding the skins.

While peppers are steaming, add quinoa and water to a medium-sized sauce pan.  Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.

Transfer quinoa to a large mixing bowl.  Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and chile powder.  Using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.

Place egg whites either in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a glass mixing bowl.  Using either the mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  (You can do this by hand, I suppose, but it took me a good 10 minutes using my electric hand mixer, so I do not recommend it unless you are a glutton for punishment as well as chile rellenos.)

Gently fold the egg yolks into the egg whites.

Place flour and egg whites in two separate shallow pans.  Add canola oil to a cast iron frying pan and heat over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking.

Cut slit lengthwise down each of the peppers, removing seeds and stems if desired.  Do so carefully, so as not to tear the peppers.  Stuff the peppers with the quinoa and cheese mixture so that you can close the peppers by folding edges of the slit over one another by about 1/8-1/4″.

Take a pepper and dredge lightly in the flour, then in the egg mixture.  Transfer directly to the oil.  Fry the peppers about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy, working in batches if necessary.

Serve with cilantro chimichurri and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Cilantro Chimichurri:

2 cups fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic

1 tsp. dried ancho chile powder

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Add garlic to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until roughly chopped.  Add cilantro and pulse until also roughly chopped.  Add chile powder and red wine vinegar and pulse a few times to combine.  With machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil.  Taste for seasonings, and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Roasted Cauliflower and Feta Lemon-Thyme Quinoa

17 Mar

Roasted Cauliflower and Feta Lemon-Thyme Quinoa

Though relatively easy and quick, this dish is packed with unique and bright flavors.  The acidity and slight bitterness of the roasted lemon works wonderfully with the nuttiness of the quinoa.  Cauliflower really takes on a new dimension of tastiness when it’s roasted, giving it a nice hint of sweetness from the slight caramelization.  The feta adds a perfect saltiness without overwhelming the rest of the flavors.  Finally, the herbaceous flavor of the thyme really ties the whole dish together.

I particularly loved how healthy this was.  Quinoa is high in protein and low in fat, olive oil is chock full of good fats, and the lemon juice has loads of vitamin C.  Though cheese is never the healthiest thing on a dish, there is a relatively small amount of feta.

Roasted Cauliflower and Feta Lemon-Thyme Quinoa

Adapted from Bueno Vida

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

1/8 cup plus 1 tbs. olive oil, divided

1 lemon, thinly sliced

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 lemon, juiced

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup feta, crumbled or roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350º.

On a tinfoil-lined baking sheet, toss together 1 tbs. olive oil, cauliflower, thyme, and lemon slices.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.  When done cooking, remove lemon slices and thyme.  Pluck 2-3 of the thyme sprigs of their leaves and set aside.

Meanwhile, rinse quinoa with cold water.  Bring 2 cups of water to boil.  Add quinoa.  Turn down to medium low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, thyme leaves, and pepper flakes.

In a large bowl, toss together cauliflower, quinoa, feta, and dressing.  Serve at any temperature.

Chicken and Rice Soup

14 Feb

Chicken and Rice Soup

I could tell on Monday night that I was starting to get sick, so I went to bed early, hoping to wake up and feel better.  When that didn’t happen, I decided to make some nutritious and delicious comfort food to cure what ailed me.  This soup was exactly what the doctor ordered.  This soup tastes like it was a whole lot of work, when in fact it is almost totally hands off.  However, it has hours of home cooked flavor from the homemade bone broth and vegetable-poached chicken.  The rice is filling and adds a nice creamy texture to the soup.  I consider the lemon in both the broth base and as a finishing touch the “secret ingredient” here – it brightens up the whole dish and balances out the sweetness of the carrots.

I woke up the next morning feeling greatly improved, thanks in no small part to this healthy and satisfying dish.  If you plan to eat this as leftovers, be aware that the rice will soak up a lot of the liquid, and you will either need to add more stock as you reheat or eat a much less soup-y version the next day.  Both ways are really satisfying and have all of the same comforting flavors.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Homemade Chicken Broth:

1 whole chicken, giblets removed from plastic packaging

2 small yellow onions, quartered

1 shallot, halved

4-5 cloves garlic

2 large carrots, scrubbed clean and roughly chopped

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 small eggplant, quartered

2 bay leaves

1 lemon, halved

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns

In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients.  Add water to cover all ingredients.

Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 4 hours, skimming fat occasionally, until darkened in color and chicken is cooked through.  Carefully remove chicken with a pair of tongs and set aside.  Strain, discarding remaining ingredients.

Chicken and Rice Soup:

1 whole chicken, reserved from above

12 cups chicken broth, reserved from above

1 tbs. butter

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 large stalks celery, sliced

2 large carrots, chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

3/4 cups jasmine rice, uncooked

1 lemon, halved

Salt and pepper

Carefully remove chicken from the broth above and set aside to cool.  Once cool, using forks or your fingers, shred chicken into bite size pieces, both white and dark meat, discarding bones, skin, giblets, and fat.

In a medium Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and carrots and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until onion is translucent and celery begins to become tender.

Add shredded chicken, parsley, and rice.  Bring stock to a simmer.

Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender.  Taste for seasonings, adjusting as necessary.  Serve immediately, with a squeeze of lemon over each bowl.

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