Spinach & Feta Tartlets

By the time Friday evening rolls around, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking another meal. Usually I’m tired, lately it’s been hot, and half of the time the little Bundlet is at her dad’s. Mr. Bundt rolls in around 8pm (if he’s early) and around 10pm (if he’s late). So I often end up eating alone and heating up his dinner when he gets home. Usually I have a frozen casserole or one-dish-dinner of some sort I can pop in the oven while I catch up on the news or take a quick nap. But I’ve had these tartlets on my radar for some time now and thought it would be a great, easy Friday night dinner. Of course, you could have them for lunch, they’d be great with a little salad. I would even eat them for a savory breakfast.

We have a little pastry shop in town that has stuffed croissants, one of my favorites is spinach and feta (my other favorite is chocolate stuffed, sooo good) and these are similar to those, also simpler than making your own croissants which could literally take days.

Spinach & Feta Tartlets

adapted from a recipe from Sweet Paul

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a pan.

Fry the shallots until soft. I used the mandolin to get thin slices. If you have one, great, use it and watch your fingers. If not, a sharp knife will work just fine.

Add the spinach a little at a time, letting it wilt, stirring the wilted spinach to the top and moving the firm leaves toward the heat.

This is what the wilted spinach and shallots will look like when they’re done.

Mix the feta, eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Then add the wilted spinach mixture. Mix well.

I have little tart pans (Wilton brand, from Walmart). I’m sure you could make one large tart if you have a regular tart pan. You could probably also make these pouches sans pans too. Just make sure to wrap them up well so the tops don’t pop open and leak.

Brush four small tart pans with butter and layer them with phyllo. Brush phyllo with butter between each layer, use 4-5 layers. Make sure you keep the phyllo covered with a wet towel while you’re working. It will be a hot mess if you don’t. Also, if it tears, don’t sweat it. By the time you finish piling the extra dough on top no one will ever know. I swear. And if you’re thinking about making your own phyllo, may the force be with you, you’ve obviously got a sadistic streak. Even I wouldn’t touch that job with a ten-foot-spatula.

Here’s something I learned after my first tart. I was working with giganto sized phyllo sheets. For the first tart I ended up with a lot more phyllo than I thought would taste good. For the three ensuing tarts, I folded each phyllo sheet in half, brushed with butter and it worked wonderfully.

Spoon 1/4 of the spinach and egg mixture in to each of the tarts.

Fold the edges of the phyllo over the filling.

See? Cute! Repeat with the remaining tarts. Make sure to brush the tops with butter.

See the giganto tart? I told Mr. Bundt I made that one for him, special. Men will believe anything. Really.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the phyllo is crispy and golden brown.

Sorry for the lowlight [food] porn looking photos. It was late, I was tired. See paragraph one.

These are so quick and easy! I think they’d be perfect with a nice piece of salmon and a small salad. They would also be beautiful for a shower or luncheon!

The filling is no nice! The salty feta with the earthy spinach is a wonderful combination. I hope you’ll give it a try!

What do you like to cook on a lazy night? Do you have any go-to simple dinners?

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Fish Tacos

Have you had fish tacos? Holy moly, I tried them on a whim a few months back at Bonefish Grill, and I am officially an addict! I can’t get enough! But I can’t go to Bonefish every night. I mean, I guess I could, but you know what I mean. So I scoured the internet and gave these a try. They are pretty darn awesome! And, it’s still Lent (how ya doin’ with that?) so this would be a perfect fish dish to serve.

I don’t know if your spring weather has been as warm and pleasant as ours has here in Central Virginia, but it’s hard to keep myself from thinking it’s May! Even if you’re only longing for a taste of summer, these are great! If you can eat them out on the patio with a margarita, all the better. If all else fails, keep this recipe in your back pocket, Cinco de Mayo will be here soon!

I know it seems like a lot of ingredients. And I guess it is. But you’re making your own salsa. If you don’t have time to do that, buy some prepared mango salsa and skip that part. Don’t stress. Cooking’s not fun when you stress.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Sauce

Recipe adapted from Carrie Floyd, from the Culinate Kitchen collection

Fish

  • 1 lb. flaky white fish, I prefer a meaty fish like catfish or cod
  • 4 T fresh lime juice
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 T soy sauce

Sauce

  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup lowfat yogurt
  • ⅓ cup light sour cream
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or pressed
  • Salt to taste

Tacos

  • 10 to 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded slaw mix (red and green cabbage, carrots)

Mango Salsa 

Make one day ahead if possible.

  •  2 bell peppers (red, yellow, and/or orange), deseeded and chopped into small dice
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 3 just-ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped into small dice (underripe mangoes can be stored in a paper sack for a few days and will ripen)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried, destemmed, and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Mix the ingredients for the salsa together in a medium-large bowl and season to taste with salt. Try to avoid stuffing your face in the bowl. The good news (the BEST news!!) is that you should have salsa leftover. It’s great on chips or on a salad the next day, if you don’t scarf it all up on taco night. I LOOOOOOVE mango salsa!

Prepare the fish marinade by combining the fresh lime juice with the vegetable oil and soy sauce in a rectangular glass dish. Add the fish, turn to coat, and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. While you may be tempted to do this the night before, or even hours ahead, don’t. Fish is a much more delicate meat than beef or even chicken. Too much marinating will leave you with a mushy disaster. Trust me.

Prepare the chipotle-lime sauce by combining the mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream, lime juice, chipotle chile, and chopped garlic in a bowl. Season to taste with salt. A can of chipotle peppers in adobo should last you an eternity. You only need one for this recipe. Toss the rest in a freezer safe container and use them the next time you make this dish. Trust me, once you’ve had it, you’ll be begging for more.

Remove fish from the marinade and grill or saute until cooked through. Mr. Bundt was kind enough to man the grill while I got everything else ready. If you don’t eat them straight off the grill, don’t worry. They’re great at room temperature or even cold for the next days lunch.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave or on the grill. I cannot stress enough the importance of good tortillas. I know you may be at the mercy of your local supermarket, but if you can go to a Latin grocery or to a local Mexican restaurant and get some, you’ll be money ahead. A gummy corn tortilla, even warmed, is not good. Not good at all.

Set out individual bowls of the sauce, salsa, and shredded cabbage.

For each individual taco, place some of the fish (breaking off chunks of the cooked fillets) on a tortilla, top with slaw mixture and mango salsa, and drizzle with the chipotle-lime sauce.

And presto! Perfect fish taco! There are so many veggies in here I don’t feel like I even need to serve a side item. We have had them with the taquitos you can see in this post. But a light salad or some refried beans would be fine as well. We had them on the deck with margaritas and they were great!

Have you tried any new foods lately? Are you dying to get something on the grill? What’s the first thing you MUST cook when the weather gets warm? Can’t wait to hear your ideas!

SoupaPalooza: Tortellini Soup with Beans and Swiss Chard

Soup is the salad of winter. I would never eat a cold salad for lunch in February, but I will definitely eat bowl after steaming bowl of soup. We have at least one kind of soup each week. It’s an easy lunch for me or a great quick dinner with a piece of crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Normally, I have some kind of leftover meat in the soup. A piece of ham, some bacon, maybe a few odd bits of chicken. That’s what’s great about soup, you can scrabble it together from any type of leftovers. The soup I’ve made for you today can be vegetarian, just use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. Of course you can also amp up the soup with the addition of meat, if you please.

Tortellini Soup with Beans and Swiss Chard

closely adapted from a recipe from Annie’s Eats

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T tomato paste
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 1/2 quarts all-natural, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
15 oz diced tomatoes
15 oz cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
2 t Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. dried tortellini
1 bunch Swiss chard, with stems removed and sliced (or other leafy green)
Freshly grated Parmesan, to finish

It’s so much easier if you use the idea of mise en place (having everything prepped before you begin cooking). I used to be a grab-as-you-go kind of girl. But, once I adopted the idea of doing all the gathering and chopping before beginning the cooking process, I ended up with much better results. And, you’re WAY less likely to get halfway in to a recipe and realize you’re missing ingredients.  It’s super frustrating when that happens. It also eliminates a lot of the stress around prepping the ingredients.So take a few minutes and gather everything together. Do the chopping and measuring and off you go.

Gather the ingredients

Even though I gathered everything, everything did NOT make it into the photo. Obviously I was having a moment. 5 points to Gryffindor if you can figure out what I left out. 10 more if you have any idea what that joke means. :)

Forgotten chard

Ah, yes, the chard. You are correct. There were two types of chard when I was shopping, red and white (obvi!). The red is so beautiful! I bought both so you could see them. I used half of each in my soup. You don’t have to do that.  Chard has a super earthy taste. If you’re not customarily an eater of greens, you might want to turn back the dial and go for kale or collards, spinach would also be fine. It doesn’t really matter which green you choose, but definitely put some greens in. It’s good and it’s good for you.

Saute the onions

In your favorite soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Let it get nice and hot before dropping in the chopped onion. Saute the onion until it’s tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Saute another minute until you can smell the garlic.

Add the tomato paste

Believe me when I say, tomato paste in a tube was not available in any store when I was growing up. I only stumbled upon this wonder in my grown-up life. I LOOOOOVE it. I mean love, love, love it. It lives in the fridge and you use only as much as you need. In my grocery store it’s not with the regular tomato paste in a can, but off by itself in the Italian food section. If you don’t have access to this, you can also buy a regular can of tomato paste, portion out teaspoons or tablespoonfuls onto a wax paper lined baking sheet and freeze them. Once they are frozen, plop them in a container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer. Then you can just pull out what you need. You could also do it in an ice cube tray. Not sure you’d want to make ice in it after that, but whatever. That’s up to you.

Rinse and drain the beans

Rinsing and draining your beans is an important step in any recipe. Aside from removing the (grody) bean juice, it also gets rid of a ton of sodium. Much healthier.

Parmesan rinds

This is what Parmesan rinds look like. I get a few in a tub then store them in the fridge. They won’t totally dissolve in the soup so you’ll have to fish them out later. They lend a nice richness to the soup so if you can find them, do put them in. You may have to ask at your cheese counter to get one (if your store even has such a thing!)

Drop in the Parmesan rind

Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind.

Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the sliced chard and tortellini.

Add the tortellini

Return the soup to a simmer and cook the tortellini to package directions. If your tortellini is fresh instead of dry, it will take less time. It shouldn’t take more than about 10 minutes.

With the chard

Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with croutons or freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Soup!

So there you go! A perfect quick dinner you can serve tonight! A nice piece of crusty bread on the side and I’m in heaven!

Do you have a favorite soup? Do you eat soup in the cooler months or year round?

I’m linking up to SoupaPalooza, you should check it out!

Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset!

Meal Planning Part Deux: Five Meals You Can Make This Week

Wordy title, huh? So how’s that meal planning going? Remember, from my post here? Hopefully you’re making a few more meals each week than you were before. I found these WAY prettier meal planners I wanted to share with you, in case you, like me, are motivated by pretty sheets of paper MORE than you are motivated by, well, less pretty ones.

Check these out!

This one’s from Jen Allyson at The Project Girl. Pop over to her site and snag yourself a copy. There are two versions. I love them both. Tell her I sent you.

The Project GIrl Meal Planner

This one is from Ali Edwards. Her blog is awesome and you can head over there to pick it up! This would be great in a binder if you want to keep your recipes, coupons, and meal plans together.

Ali Edwards WeeklyDinner Menu

Okay, now that you’ve got your meal planners and your fav-O-rite pen in hand, here are five easy meals you can make next week and all the stuff you need to make them.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Chicken Taquitos

Photo courtesy of Annie's Eats

We’ve been chowing on these taquitos from Annie’s Eats A LOT lately. They are SOOOO good! Make some extras and pop them in a bag in the freezer. So quick and easy for lunch!

Get the recipe here. We’ve substituted pork for chicken, and I use low fat cream cheese and shredded cheese. We also use whole wheat tortillas, but you can pick your favorite.

Calzones

Calzones

Photo courtesy Simply Scratch

So easy! Grab some prepared dough and your favorite toppings from the store (if you want to make your own dough, try this recipe from Simply Scratch) And dinner’s ready pronto!

Divide dough into four portions. Roll out into four circles. Spoon one tablespoon of marinara on one half of the rolled out dough. Top with your favorite toppings, keep them to one side.

If you’re using sausage or hamburger, cook it first, and drain off any grease. You don’t want that in your calzone. If you don’t like a strong onion taste you can brown those as well.

Make sure the topping stay about 1/2 in. away from the edge of the calzone. Fold the un-topped half of the dough over the toppings and roll and pinch the two edges together to seal. Use a knife to crimp the edge if you like. Cut a small slit in the top of your calzone so steam can escape. Heat the oven to 450 degrees, dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Place your calzones on the baking sheet and brush with a beaten egg. Bake 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

Slow-cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Photo courtesy of http://www.myrecipes.com

I know this recipe has a lot of ingredients, but don’t sweat it. You do a little chopping (or buy pre-chopped veggies if you have to) and dump all the stuff in the crock pot. That’s it. And it’s chock full of veggies so you can serve it up with a little cornbread and have a great, healthy meal for your family. Plus leftovers!

Barbecue Chicken Sliders

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

These are SOOO good! And kids love tiny sandwiches. Let’s be honest, so do grown-ups. Put a little slaw on the side and you have a meal! Get the recipe here.

And finally . . . drumroll please!

Leftover Soup

Whaaaat?? Seriously, leftover soup. It’s time to use up all the bits of stuff that you haven’t used up in your meals this week. Check out this post for help. Start by sautéing anything crispy (celery, onion, carrots) in some butter or a teaspoon or two of vegetable or olive oil. Add some broth (chicken, beef, veggie, whatev) or canned tomatoes (the diced in juice kind, preferably) and bring to a simmer. Add your protein (meat or beans, or both!). Let it simmer for a bit. When things have softened up (15-20 minutes) drop in anything delicate like frozen veggies, greens, or mushrooms. Continue cooking for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning as you go. A little salt and pepper go a looooong way. Serve up with a nice piece of crusty bread (or leftover cornbread, if you made that with the chili) and enjoy!

So there you go! Enjoy an easy week on me!

Download and print the meal planner 5 Easy Meals Meal Planner Printable.

5 Easy Meals Meal Planner

What meal do you think you might try? Is there a type of meal you’d like to see more of? Have you been using your meal planner?

Mardi Gras Feast: Shrimp & Grits

Fat Tuesday is coming my people. It’s the last day of gluttony before the season of Lent begins. I’m wondering if you’re scratching your head about what all this means. In case this is new to you, Lent is meant to represent the 40 days of fasting in the desert that Jesus observed. It’s a time to get get clean, do things in moderation, and repent before God. While I don’t know anyone who actually fasts for 40 days, I do know many people who give up something for Lent. While the idea is to give up something that stands between you and God, giving up anything that you feel has power over you or prevents you from being the kind of person you believe you should be is a good choice.

Over the years I have given up chocolate or candy, but I usually give up swearing. I know God doesn’t want me to swear, I definitely don’t want my daughter to pick it up, and it’s just a generally trashy habit.

I digress. In celebration of Fat Tuesday, I thought I’d make a great Southern dish for you. I thought about Gumbo or Étouffée, but landed on Shrimp & Grits. Partially because it’s one of my FAV-O-RITE things to eat in the world, but also because it brings back fond memories of the first vacation I took with Mr. Bundt. We like to refer to it as my Shrimp & Grits Tour of the South. Here we are not eating shrimp and grits. Probably because I had them for breakfast and lunch that day.

There are many, many versions of Shrimp & Grits. This one is low-fat and comes together quickly so it’s great for a weeknight meal.

Not eating shrimp and grits

Shrimp & Grits

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 3T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 t hot sauce (or more if you like it hot)
  • 1lb peeled and devined shrimp
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1c chopped onion
  • 1/4c chopped bell pepper
  • 1 1/2t minced garlic
  • 1c chicken broth (homemade is great, Swanson all-natural, low-sodium is my off-the-shelf pick)
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c chopped scallions
  • 5c water
  • 1 1/2c grits
  • 1T butter
  • 1t salt
  • 3/4 c shredded cheddar

Gather your ingredients

Combine the lemon juice. hot sauce, and shrimp and set aside.

Get your sous chef to assist. That’s Winnie, my kitchen helper and floor cleaner.

Sous Chef Winnie

Add your chopped bacon to a large skillet. Fry over medium heat until crispy.

Fry the bacon

Add the onion, pepper, and garlic to the bacon and drippings and cook about five minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally. You could use frozen chopped onion and peppers if you like.

Onions, peppers, and garlic

Add 1/2 the scallions, tomato paste, the shrimp mixture, and the chicken broth. Cook about five minutes or until shrimp are cooked through, stir frequently.

Shrimp collage

Meanwhile, start the 5 cups of water for your grits. Bring to a rapid boil, then slowly add the grits, stirring constantly with a whisk to smooth out any lumps. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, covered, for about five minutes for quick-cooking grits, stirring occasionally. Add the cheese, butter, and salt.

Add the cheese, butter, and salt

Yummy!

Put a few spoonfuls of grits onto a plate or into a bowl and scoop some shrimp mixture with sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions.

Shrimp and grits

Quick and easy Shrimp & Grits! Is this the definitive recipe for Shrimp & Grits? No, but it’s pretty good, especially if you’re easing into the world of Southern cooking. Many call for tasso ham or andouille sausage, sometimes for a lot more tomatoes and all those things are wonderful. But for a quick meal, this is a great option.

How do you celebrate Mardi Gras? Do you give up anything for Lent? What is it and why? I’d love to hear about it! Also, you know this is a sweet food memory for me, more about food memory on Wednesday!