Posted in Gather Together

The Party is STILL On!

Macandcheese

I love food. I love to shop for it, prepare it, and eat it. My daughter who also likes food, calls us recreational cooks. We do it for relaxation as well as for creativity. The only downfall of enjoying this activity the way we do is unwanted weight gain.

Recently, I had to make the decision to do something about it, so I joined Weight Watchers. I have used the program before with great results and I anticipate the same this time. The beauty of this particular way of eating is everything is still permissible. Nothing is eliminated. I can continue to enjoy creating wonderful things to eat. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

The party is STILL on in the kitchen.

(Oh, by-the-way, I’ve lost twelve pounds so far.)


Here is something I tried recently that was very delicious and great for any gathering. It works for anyone who loves the comfort of Mac and Cheese.  (Except, maybe, those who only like the kind that comes in the box.)

Enlightened Cheesy Mac with a Twist

Serves Main Dish 4; Side 8

Ingredients
• 1 teaspoon olive oil, or your choice
• 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, I used panko
• 1 20-ounce package of peeled and cut-up butternut squash
• ¾ cup vegetable broth
• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, I used reduced-fat
• 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
• 2 tablespoons cream cheese, I used light cream cheese
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 4-ounces small pasta shells, 1 ¼ cups
• 2 cups small cauliflower florets

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.
3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat oil and add breadcrumbs. Toast until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
4. Add squash to boiling water. Cover and return to boil. Cook uncovered until squash is very tender, about 10 minutes.
5. While squash is cooking, combine broth, cheddar, pecorino, cream cheese, mustard, salt and cayenne in blender. When squash is very tender, use slotted spoon to transfer it to blender. Purée. (Leave water in pan.)
6. Bring water bake to a boil. Add pasta and cook ½ the time called for in cooking instructions on package.
7. Add cauliflower to pasta during last minute of cooking time.
8. Drain pasta and cauliflower and return to pot.
9. Stir purée into pasta/cauliflower mixture. Toss to coat.
10. Spread pasta mixture in prepared pan. Sprinkle with toasted panko breadcrumbs. Spray with nonstick spray.
11. Bake until top is golden, and casserole is bubbling, about 25 minutes.

Note: Herbs, such as fresh thyme, can be added to the breadcrumbs during the toasting. Also, a little drizzle of truffle oil just before baking can elevate the yumminess of this dish. Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Weight Watchers. 1 ¼ cup serving equals 7 Smart points when using reduced-fat cheeses.

I think that the butternut/cheese purée could be used for a variety of recipes that include a cheese sauce. I am thinking of trying it with a Chicken and Broccoli Casserole or even a Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Do you have any suggestions? I would love to hear them.


Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.

Guy Fieri

 

Posted in Matters of the Heart

Fellowship: Nourishment for the Soul

 

thepartysinthekitchen.me
A gathering of women from three years ago. This one was in Radeburg, Germany. It was a welcome party for this group as they started a ten-day mission where they would work in the community with women and youth. We had a wonderful time. Germans know how to do hospitality.

 


Recently, I joined a group of lovely ladies to celebrate a year well-lived.

They had just finished their session of serving the women at our church as group leaders for a Bible study. It was their turn to be served a little and just spend time together before the summer started. I was honored to provide a variety of quiches for their brunch. It was a wonderful morning where fellowship was the main event.

Fellowship is one of those words we don’t hear too much outside the church, but it goes on nearly everywhere we look. People coming together to be together is its loose definition. Dictionary.com calls it friendly relationship or companionship. It’s something that is essential to a good life. The problem is, it’s the first thing that gets thrown out of the schedule when life gets busy. We need to be intentional and make time to gather with our fellows, our friends, our chums and not let the demands of life be our only companions.

If fellowship is going to happen in our fast-paced world, we will need to be intention in our planning. Put fellowship on the calendar. Instead of viewing as another demand, protect it as a time of much needed refreshment.

We know that without food we would die. Without fellowship, life is not worth living.

Laurie Colwin


For the brunch, I took a basic quiche recipe and then switched it up to create several different flavor profiles. I made them with a crust, but you can cook them without a crust for a grain-free version. I do it quite often with the Spinach and Feta version.

Basic Quiche

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ cup half and half or heavy cream (Milk can be used or even a combination of cream and milk.
  • 2 cups of cheese
  • 1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed in a little butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 9” frozen deep dish pie crust.

Directions

  1. Mix eggs, cream salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Mix in sautéed onions and any additional ingredients*.
  3. Pour into pie shell.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it begins to get too brown on top, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to protect it. Check for doneness by inserting a knife in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s finished.

ENJOY!

Additional ingredients

Bacon and Cheddar Quiche

  • 2 cups cheddar
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

Mushroom, Leek, and Prosciutto Quiche

  • Omit onion.
  • 2 tablespoons butter for sautéing
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, washed, sliced and sautéed. Do small batches so they don’t get too soggy.
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced and sautéed.
  • 2 cups Swiss cheese
  • 8 slices prosciutto, chopped

Spinach and Feta Quiche

  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 6 cups baby spinach, sautéed until just wilted
  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese

The sky’s the limit with the types of quiche you can come up with. Here’s one I especially like.

 Tomato Basil Quiche

  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil

Fry tomato slices that have been lightly breaded in Italian breadcrumbs with extra dried basil. After pouring egg and cheese mixture in pie crust, arrange slices on top and sprinkle with additional cheese, and bake.

Please tell me your favorite creation. I would love to hear from you.

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Join the Party! The More the Merrier!

 

Posted in Dumping Dinner

Dumping Dinner: Enchilada Casserole

https://thepartysinthekitchen.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/enchilada-cassarole.jpg?w=840

Yesterday, I dumped some chicken tenders into the crock pot along with a cup of salsa and a small can of green enchilada sauce. My thought was to have it ready for dinner with some left for the next day. But later in the morning, an impromptu gathering started to bubble. Before I knew it, our supper for three quickly grew to a dinner party of fifteen.

Luckily, the salsa chicken would be ready to transform into an enchilada casserole, another simple dump recipe that takes just a few items from the pantry and fridge. Tortilla chips, black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, and cheese layered into a baking dish along with the chicken produced a pretty delicious entrée to feed a crowd. And guess what? We had leftovers, so I get to enjoy it again today.


Enchilada Casserole

I am giving you the amounts for a 9×9 casserole which will feed four to six. If you need to feed a crowd just adjust accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups broken tortilla chips
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, or your choice of any cooked meat
  • 1 14.5 ounce black beans
  • 1 14.5 ounce corn
  • 1 19 ounce enchilada sauce, red or green
  • 1 cup or more shredded Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese
  • sliced green onion

Directions

  1. Layer the ingredients into a lightly greased 9×9 casserole dish. I used garlic infused olive oil, and oh, man, did the kitchen smell good when the enchiladas were baking.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!

I have to thank my sister, Jeannie, for suggesting this recipe. It’s one of her go-to recipes.