Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spinach-Artichoke Dip Quiche

I had a hankering for quiche yesterday, so I took to Pinterest to see what I could find. Nothing was striking a chord...until I came across this idea from Chatty Gourmet.

I'm not above taking help where I can get it and using prepared foods in recipes. Why not? Let's face it...when you're starting with a tub of supermarket spinach-artichoke dip, you're pretty much guaranteed a good result. (Of course, you could make your own if you want to start from scratch.)

What I loved about this was that the fluffiness of the eggs cut the richness of the dip, but kept the general flavor. I used feta instead of the mozzarella she recommended for some tang. 

This was super easy and makes a great weeknight "meatless main" or brunch dish. It tastes dreamy...and much more complex than it actually is. Several co-workers and I just scarfed a piece down for breakfast. 

Printable recipe

1 refrigerated pie crust
5 eggs
1 cup prepared spinach-artichoke dip (like Publix brand)
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup feta

Fit crust into greased pie plate. In large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy. Add in dip, half-and-half and feta. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes (or until center is set). 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ranch-Pesto Pasta Bake

Ranch dressing? Good. Pesto? Good. Pasta coated in a sauce of the two? Great!

You would think this would be over-the-top decadent, but it's actually a good way. I liked the light flavor that didn't make me feel guilty or too indulgent. I mean, it's less than a cup of sauce spread out over a pound of pasta. It's just the right ratio and not too "saucy."

The original recipe (from Mostly Homemade Mom) called for rigatoni, but I had spaghetti, so I just went with that. I changed the recipe to just use a pound of whatever you prefer. Don't leave out the tomatoes...they provide a nice pop of tartness.

This will definitely make a repeat appearance at my house, but I think I'll try it next time with hot Italian sausage. 

Printable recipe

1 pound pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/4 cup pesto
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained well
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, divided

Stir together pasta, Ranch dressing, pesto, tomatoes,  and 1 cup cheese. Pour into greased baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 additional minutes. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cheesy Mexican Pie

Apparently...I own a springform pan. Three different sizes, in fact. I have no idea why or how I acquired these. I don't make cheesecake. 

Regardless, the smallest pan came in handy for this recipe (idea courtesy of The Country Cook). You could also use a cake pan, but this made for a pretty presentation.

It would have been just fine as a beef-and-cheese dish, but I decided to step it up a notch and add refried beans and Rotel tomatoes. YUM! I loved the extra flavors and textures...and heat!

In fact, the meat mixture alone is so good that it's now going to be my go-to for regular tacos.

I took half into work the next day, and two male co-workers split it...and then asked me to be sure to bring in the rest, too. I'd call that a success!

I topped mine with jalapeno peppers, but I bet a dollop of sour cream on top would be great, too!

Printable recipe

1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1/2 cup jarred salsa con queso (I used Tostito's)
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
4 large flour tortillas
1 can refried beans
Shredded Cheddar cheese

Brown beef, drain, and return to skillet. Add taco seasoning, salsa con queso, and tomatoes and stir to thoroughly combine. Place one tortilla in greased springform or cake pan. Spread 1/3 of beans over top and then add 1/3 of beef mixture and a handful of cheese. Repeat two more times, ending with last tortilla on top. Cover with additional cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eating with Kids in NYC, Day Four

Our final day in NYC was rainy, so we decided to go to the American Museum of Natural History for the girls to take the Night at the Museum Tour. However, the crowd filled the steps to get we changed our minds and headed down to the Chelsea Market instead.

Y'all, this place is seriously cool. This is definitely worth a stop when you're in New York. It fills an entire city block, and it's billed as "one of the greatest indoor food halls of the world." This is also where the Food Network is based, but, unfortunately, they don't offer tours. 

We had brunch at Giovanni Rana Pasta Kitchen, which was a very cool space with such interesting dishes. They had a separate kids' menu, with various pastas and sauces, which Caroline had. The other two girls opted for more of a breakfast and ordered scrambled eggs.

I had their famous RaviolPizza (they serve 150 of these a day). It's a 7-inch homemade ravioli filled with mozzarella and marinara that's flash-fried and served like a pizza. Oh. My. Goodness. Out of this world.

We wrapped up our trip with a visit to FAO Schwarz and then headed to the airport. The girls bellied up to the awesome iPad bar in the Delta terminal and were content for hours. 

Thanks, Dad...we had a GREAT time!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eating with Kids in NYC, Day Three

Day Three started with the NYC activity at the top of the girls' wish lists: Ice Skating! We wisely skipped the crowds at the Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park rinks...and headed to the Winter Village at Bryant Park. We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes!

After skating up an appetite, we tried to go to Ellen's Stardust Diner for lunch...but the line was down the block! We had matinee tickets to see The Lion King, so we started walking towards the Theater District, looking for lunch spots. Everywhere was packed! So, my mom finally just pulled all of us into a hotel, the Marriott Marquis, which was across from our theater.

We ate at one of their restaurants, the Crossroads American Kitchen and Bar. It was actually a very neat space (photo courtesy of hotel website). 

We were just so happy at that point to find a place to sit down and eat! And, for a quick decision, it was a really good experience. I had the Crispy Fried Calamari with pickled peppers and spicy marinara. Well, I should say I had half...Caroline tried one and became a huge fan, so we shared!

Mae wanted to take a picture of her cheeseburger and fries:

After the show and a few more stops, we headed to the Upper West Side for our dinner reservations at Rosa Mexicano. This had come up on several people's NYC dining recommendation lists, so I was excited about trying it out. They have a separate kids' menu, as well as a gluten-free menu for my sister.

We started with guacamole, which was made fresh right at our table. It was divine!

I had the Carne Asada/All-Natural Skirt Steak “Skillet Style," which was marinated sliced skirt steak served over Chihuahua cheese with grilled Mexican street corn, chorizo chili and warm corn tortillas. Excellent choice!

One more day to come!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Eating in NYC with Kids, Day Two

We started the morning of Day Two by hopping on the subway to head up to Central Park.

After visiting the Eloise Suite at The Plaza Hotel and Dylan's Candy Bar, we stopped for lunch at Patsy's Pizzeria, which has been serving up thin crust, brick oven pizza since 1933.

The girls were in heaven because the restaurant served buttered noodles, their absolute favorite meal.

I had a slice of their Ricotta Mozzarella "white" pizza with a Caesar salad. The cheeses were so fresh, and the crust was perfectly crisp. Delicious!

We had dinner reservations at Big Daddy's diner for that night...but we had impulsively bought tickets to see Matilda on Broadway (so cute!) that morning, and the location of the restaurant just didn't work with the location and time of the show, so we had to adjust.

My sister picked STK, a favorite restaurant of hers that she's visited in Atlanta. As advertised, it "artfully blends two concepts into one--the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge." The decor was certainly striking.

This wasn't particularly kid-friendly, but the girls rolled with it and had their mac and cheese. I had the 6-ounce grilled skirt steak (medium rare)...but the star of my meal was the crock of sweet corn pudding I ordered as a side dish. It was AH-mazing!

Forgive the photos below...this place was DARK! But, even though it was an impromptu decision, and a little highbrow for kids, the food was delicious.

Two more days of good food ahead!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Eating with Kids in NYC, Day One

The day after Christmas, I headed to New York City with my mom, sister, and three nieces for a long weekend. I was in charge of food arrangements for this visit, just like my trip back in October. I had fun picking out kid-friendly places for us to eat. 

After checking into our hotel near Times Square, we stopped in for lunch at Chevys Fresh Mex. They have a separate kids' menu, and they also offered crayons and activity pages for the girls.

We started off with their queso...and the girls were so thrown that it was yellow instead of white like cheese dip at Mexican restaurants in the South. But, they quickly became big fans. In fact, all three wanted this as their lunch (instead of ordering), so we just got another bowl, and they made their own nachos. Their chips were light as air, and the dip featured diced green and red bell peppers.

I had the Fajita Nachos, which were composed of individual tortilla chips topped with refried beans, grilled chicken, and jack cheese. It also had scoops of guacamole, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos. It was a TON of food! (I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to take a photo!) 

After spending the afternoon hitting spots like the American Girl store, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center, we headed to Guy's American for dinner. The girls are big Food Network fans, and they were psyched about eating at Guy Fieri's restaurant! (They were SO hoping he would actually be there.)

As you can imagine, the space was very eclectic and in keeping with his larger-than-life personality. The photo below is from the restaurant's website...but it's our exact view from our booth.

They had a kids' menu, as well as more activity pages and crayons, so the girls were perfectly happy with that and their cheeseburgers. 

I had the BBQ Buffalo Meatloaf, which was made with ground buffalo and Italian sausage, BBQ glaze, crispy sweet onion straws, ranch dressing, and bacon bits and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

I can't even do this dish justice with words. It was the most incredible meatloaf I have ever had (and I make Dolly Parton's family recipe, so that's saying something). The combination of meats gave it the most unique flavor. I honestly couldn't stop eating it (and neither could my mother, who kept reaching over for another forkful). 

Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cinnamon Caramel Monkey Bread

(Again, excuse the iPhone photo...last one.)

It's been awhile since I made something from Plain Chicken, so when I was thinking about what I should make for Christmas morning, I looked through her Breakfast recipes...and came across this dish.

My family meets at my sister's house to see what Santa brought the girls. I always bring something on the sweet side to accompany all of the savory dishes we have that morning. I left out the nuts to make it niece-friendly...and they couldn't keep their hands out of it, even before we made our plates and sat down. 

They are always skeptical of any food that they don't recognize, so I was surprised (and pleased) that they enjoyed this so much. It's super easy and quick to put together!

Printable recipe

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 can refrigerated cinnamon rolls

Stir together butter and caramel sauce in a large bowl. Separate and quarter the biscuits; toss pieces with sauce. Place in greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Baked Cheesy Taco Dip

(Note: The battery in my camera died on Christmas Eve, so this photo is courtesy of my iPhone. I apologize for the poor quality!)

My family spends Christmas Eve at my parents' house, and we always have grilled beef tenderloin and baked cheese grits for dinner. I brought this dip (idea courtesy of Averie Cooks) to munch on while we waited for everything to be ready.

There's so much goodness going on brother-in-law pulled up a chair and just camped out next to it. Full of gooey, melted cheese, with a little kick from the taco seasoning and picante sauce, this is a perfect dip for a crowd!

Printable recipe

10-15 tortilla chips

1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce jar picante sauce

Line a greased pie plate with tortilla chips until bottom is completely covered. Spread soup evenly over top. Sprinkle with taco seasoning. Cover with 1 cup of the cheese. Pull apart cream cheese into dollops and scatter on top. Spread picante sauce evenly and then top with remaining cup of cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.