Herbed Cottage Cheese Biscuits

Everyone is set with their turkey chili, turkey tetrazzini, turkey soup, and turkey so forth, so to go with all your recycled turkey goodies I have some herbed cottage cheese biscuits.

Are you like me?  Do you buy a thing of cottage cheese with the full intent of eating it, and it’s still there, unopened, weeks later?  I’m mortified to tell you exactly how long this container was in my fridge and I peeled back the seal expecting to find a science experiment.  But it was fine.  Now that the seal was broken I had to use it immediately, so to go with my turkey minestrone soup, I made these biscuits.

The first batch I baked at 450 for 12 minutes and they got burned on the bottom and were under-done on the inside.  So the next batch I put into the oven at 450, but then immediately turned the heat down to 425 and baked about 21 minutes.  Still slightly gooey in the middle.  So this is one of those things you might have to fiddle around with.  But they taste great.

By the way, what is it about putting hot biscuits into a towel-lined bowl that makes you feel so goofy?


Herbed Cottage Cheese Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp dried chives
  • 1 tbsp dried dill weed
  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 5 tbsp butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • 1 16-oz container cottage cheese

Makes about 18 biscuits – some for now, some to freeze.

Preheat oven to 450.  Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat mat, or spray with Pam

In large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and herbs

Add butter, and with pastry cutter or two knives, work through the flour until it is in small, pea-size clumps (a food processor also works but I didn’t feel like breaking it out)

Add cottage cheese and mix together until just combined (the dough is not going to make you feel good, it’s sort of a mess, just deal)

With a soupspoon, drop onto baking sheet

Put into oven, turn heat down to 425, bake 20-21 minutes until golden.

Keep warm in towel-lined bowl.

Be goofy.


Cheesy Cauliflower Patties & Poor Man’s Crab Cakes

Cheesy Cauliflower patties are the latest recipe meme I’ve seen ciruclating, and damn are they good! I’ve had the recipe pinned for a while, and tonight I made a special trip at rush hour, just to get cheddar cheese and eggs, and it was totally worth it.  We ate them at room temperature with a side of Panda’s favorite black-eyed pea salad, but they are just screaming for a winter evening, piping hot on the side of some tomato soup. I also imagine you could bake these instead of frying them, much like Stacey’s cheesy broccoli bites.

At the same time I was wanting to try a similar pattie recipe, sort of a “poor man’s crab cakes”, using artichoke hearts instead of crab meat. I figured it would just be a big pattie night and we’d have a lot leftover for lunch. Ha. I’m writing this with a tremendously full stomach and Jeeps is passed out on the floor. Since I stuffed myself, you’re going to get stuffed with both recipes as well. It’s only fair I share.


Cheesy Cauliflower Bites

The best thing about these babies is that there are four ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (panko, plain, flavored, whatever)
  • 2 eggs

Cut the cauliflower into florets and drop into boiling water for about 10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and mash. Let cool slightly.

Put cheddar cheese and bread crumbs into a bowl. Add cauliflower and eggs, mix thoroughly.

Form into patties and fry in olive or coconut oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Salt the patties after you’ve flipped them. Drain on paper towels, then keep on a baking sheet in a 175-200 oven while you cook the rest.

Poor Man’s Crab Cakes

  • 1 can artichoke hearts (cut each heart into quarters, then crosswise. Squeeze as much water out as possible before putting in bowl)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (I realized too late I’d used up both my scallions and last red pepper in the black-eyed pea salad, oops)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (which I didn’t have so it wasn’t the true faux crab cake experience, oops)

Combine all ingredients, form into patties and fry.

Warm Spinach and White Bean Dip

This warm dip is reminiscent of the artichoke dip I got from Suzanne, but a little more healthful – instead of the half cup of mayonnaise it gets its creaminess from pureed cannellini beans and lowfat ricotta cheese.  The lemon really turns it into something nice.  Serve it with vegetables, chunks of bread, or pita chips for dipping.  And plenty of gin and tonics.

Warm Spinach and White Bean Dip

  • 20130422-204020.jpg5 ounces baby spinach (3 cups)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash spinach, leaving some water clinging to the leaves. Transfer to a large saucepan. Cover, and steam spinach over medium heat, stirring once, until wilted, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove spinach using a slotted spoon, and let cool. Squeeze out excess liquid using a kitchen towel; coarsely chop.

Pulse ricotta and cannellini beans in a food processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Add chives, lemon zest, and salt. Season with pepper. Stir in spinach. Transfer to a 1-quart baking dish.

Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Season with pepper. Serve warm

20130422-204000.jpg  20130422-203836.jpg

Black Bean & Quinoa Everything

All the Trader Joe chatter is about these things lately:  Quinoa and Black Bean infused Tortilla Chips.  I bought a bag to try at home.  Gone in sixty seconds.  I went back to the store to buy ten bags and they were gone from the shelves.  I asked a crew member if there were any in the back and he, and a few more crew members, burst out laughing.  “Girl, those chips became like Peppermint Joe-Joes.  People are lining up at the truck for them!”  As a testimonial to how perfectly freakin’ AWESOME the crew is at Trader Joe’s, one of them took my cell phone number and promised to text me when the next shipment came in.

And she actually did:

Hm, usually my love has a better effect than that.  Anyway, I hurried over and scored six bags and there was this great communal love-fest in the snack aisle with a bunch of us loading up our carts and discussing the best way to serve these chips.  People confessed to eating an entire bag solo before dinner.  One guy insisted we try them with TJ’s corn relish, and I myself converted a few people to trying them with the peach salsa.  And then a nearby Crew member went in for the kill:

“Have you tried our Tri-Color Quinoa yet?”

We turned as one.  Eyebrows raised.  Pardon?

“The Tri-Color Quinoa.  Over in the pasta aisle.  There’s a recipe on the back of the package for Black Bean & Quinoa fritters that sounds like it would be great with the peach salsa, too.”

I was gone.  I love black bean fritters to begin with, and this sounded really good.  I ended up not following the recipe to the letter…merely because I was too lazy to get out the food processor.  I’ll leave it up to you to try their way.  Here’s my way:

Black Bean & Quinoa Fritters (My Way)

  •  1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked in chicken broth (I got confused here.  Did they mean measure out 3 cups quinoa and then cook it in classic 2-to-1 ratio, in this case 6 cups of broth?  Or to prepare enough quinoa in chicken broth to yield 3 cups?  I went with the latter and cooked 2 cups quinoa in 4 cups broth and the yield was enough with some left over)
  • 2-3 eggs (start with 2, you may need to add another to get the ingredients to bond and the fritters to hold their shape)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Actually, if you combine all without the egg, you could stop here, add a vinaigrette and end up with a very nice salad…

But add the egg, mix it all up.  Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Scoop up a generous tablespoon of quinoa, drop gently into the oil and gently flatten into a patty.  My first batch fell apart and I needed to add the third egg.

Fry until brown on both sides and drain on paper towels.


To go along with these babies, I had a salad spinner basket full of greens from the garden:  yellow swiss chard, beet tops, and leaves from Purple Peacock Broccoli, which is a cross between broccoli and kale so the leaves are edible.  And to prep the greens, I had one from the Department of I’ve Been Meaning to Do This for Years but Never Got Around to It:  flavored olive oil.  I don’t know what’s taken me so long, it’s not like this is a time-consuming, labor-intensive chore.  I guess it was just being in Homegoods and finding a couple of glass bottles for olive oil on clearance and deciding one of them would be exclusively for herb-infused oil.  And there’s nothing to this at all:  wash and dry sprigs of thyme, rosemary, oregano, whatever you want, and cram them into the bottle.  Peel and smash a few cloves of garlic, slice them lengthwise so you can get them through the neck of the bottle too.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Then funnel in your olive oil.  Stop up the bottle, let it sit a few days.  Next thing you know you’re using it to sauté everything, dunking bread in it, drizzling it over pasta.  When the oil runs out, just pour more in.  And be sure you arrange it on a cutting board with a bouquet of just-picked roses and a lemon, because that’s what all the cool people do.

So here’s the Money Shot of sautéed greens and quinoa-black bean fritters.  Amazing how that entire basket of greens cooked down to a wilted lump.  But fabulous cooked down in the infused oil and then braised with a little added chicken broth.  Top the fritters with a spoonful of peach salsa and you are in business.



Artichoke Dip, Saucepans, and Paper Roses

“As all caregivers know, at four o’clock, children must be fed something.”

–Laurie Colwin

With triplet boys, Suzanne T. knows this all too well, and around 4:00 – at least on the days that I’ve been in her house – she is putting out little somethings to eat.  Cheese and crackers, chips and hummus, veggies and dip.  Of course I’ve done this myself, who can’t do this?  But did you ever notice that the hors d’oeuvres always look greener in someone else’s kitchen?  Why do most of us possess a slightly nagging suspicion that as well as we do it, somewhere there’s someone doing it cooler?

Oh screw it.  Anyway, where was I?  Right, the 4:00 nosh, and out of the oven Suzanne pulls a crock of amazingness:  hot artichoke dip.  We fell on it with pita chips and groans.  I offered a taste to Panda which she accepted with a wrinkled nose.  Next thing I knew she was elbowing Jeeps out of the way to get her chip into the heart of the crock.  Move over ranch dressing, there’s a new kid in town.  Along with the granola, I went home with this recipe.

So tonight Redman was at a friend’s and got the playdate extended to dinner, and Panda asked if I’d make the dip.  Why certainly, my dear.  Let’s have a little cocktail hour of our own.

By the way, did I ever introduce my little Corning Glass saucepan?  I have two of them.  Did I tell you this story?  No?  Well once upon a time, I used to waitress at Ponderosa.  I’ll pause while you process that.  Yeah, it sucked, but there were small glimmers in the misery.  One was this guy David who was a salesman for Corning.  He’d come into the Ponderosa every Wednesday or something, and he’d always sit in my section.  He was an older guy, greying with a mustache, and just very nice to me.  He possessed that keen trick some men have of taking an ordinary, restaurant-issue paper napkin and folding it into a rose.  And he’d leave that along with the tip every Wednesday.  Anyway, time passed and soon I was moving on to bigger and better things, and on my last Wednesday, David left more than a tip and a paper rose:  he gave me two little Corning Glass saucepans.  We said goodbye and never crossed paths again.

Or we might have.

A few summers ago, when Panda was quite young, we were down at the Jersey Shore and out to dinner at the Italian restaurant on the corner.  All through dinner, there was this silver-haired gentleman with a mustache, sitting with his wife and grown children at a table across the room, and he kept glancing sideways at Panda and smiling.  When he got up to leave with his family, he came by our table and held out to Panda a paper napkin, folded into a rose.  “I just love your red hair,” he said gallantly, winked at me and left.  It was like a full five minutes later when my head snapped up and I thought, Oh my God, was that David?

Highly unlikely, but it makes a nice story to have over the 4:00 hors d’oeuvres.

Suzanne’s Highly Unlikely Artichoke Dip

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of horseradish (optional, I didn’t have any, neither did Suzanne when she made it this last time)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a small oven-proof pot, crock or casserole

Bake 25-30 minutes.



Mushroom (Spinach) Wellington Cups

The cups can be made up to one month prior.  Assemble in the muffin tin and then pop the whole tin into the freezer for about an hour.  When frozen, carefully remove from cups and place in ziplock bags.  They can go directly from the freezer into the 375 oven for 16-18 minutes.

Likewise just the filling can be made beforehand, and stored in the refrigerator.

I had only 1 pound of mushrooms to hand when I made this, so I supplemented with 2 red onions.  Because I like the combination of spinach and mushrooms, I added 1/2 bag of baby spinach.  This made enough filling for 12 phyllo cups (the recipe yield as given is for 6)

Mushroom (As You Like It) Cups

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus 4-6 tbsp unsalted better melted
  • 1 1/4 lbs small cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 5 sheets frozen Phyllo dough, thawed
  • 2 ounces store-bought pâté

Melt 4 tbsp butter in a large skillet over high heat.

(I sauted the red onions at this point) Cook mushrooms for 6 minutes.  Add garlic.  Cook until mushrooms are golden brown, about 1 minute more.

(I added spinach at this point and let it cook down until most of the liquid evaporated) Add wine.  Cook, stirring and scraping browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon, until wine evaporates, about 3 minutes (more if you’re using spinach, which releases a lot of liquid).

Sprinkle flour over the mixture, and stir to combine.  Add cream.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cool for 15 minutes, or refrigerate until time to assemble cups.

Preheat oven to 375.  Lay 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface (I covered my regular cutting board with a piece of parchment paper).  Lightly brush sheet with melted butter.  Top with another sheet.  Brush with melted butter.  Repeat with remaining 3 sheets of Phyllo, leaving the top sheet unbuttered.

With clean scissors or sharp knife, cut phyllo stack into six 5 1/2″ by 6″ pieces.  Nestle each into a cup of a standard muffin tin (I sprayed mine with Pam first, just to be safe).  Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of mushroom mixture into each.


Bake until golden, 14 to 16 minutes.  Top each cup with a bit of pâté before serving.


Getting back in the Swing

I miss you too.  Thrice I was asked today when I’d be blogging again.  The issue is getting back into the routine of school and activities, managing middle school and workloads and who is going where on what day.  Anything I’ve been making for dinner the past couple weeks has all been made before.  Everyone is tired.  Now is not the time for adventure, now is the time for tried and true meals that won’t fail me.  And, I confess, a lot of scrambled eggs.  Oh, and I made mushroom barley soup in David Crockpott and it was very nice, dear, but after the effort it’s a shame that mushroom barley just isn’t high on my list of favorite soups.  It’s in the freezer now in case any of my local pals want it.

Another thing taking up my time is me.  I mean I’ve been trying to write again, and when I say write I mean work on that damn novel of mine, take the time every day in the early morning or late at night to write something because seriously, what the hell am I waiting for?  I joined Fanstory.com and have put up a few of the scribbles already posted on the blog.  There’s been some good feedback and I just feel that I have something to say and a gift of sorts for saying it.  Anyway, my Fanstory site is here.

And as writing goes hand-in-hand with reading, and Reads is this blog’s middle name, here are the pages I’ve been flipping:


Commuters I read and loved and then despaired of ever being a successful writer.  The Secret Lives of Dresses I was sure I was going to absolutely love.  I mean, it’s about a woman who owns a vintage clothing shop and (wait for it) secretly writes stories about the dresses she sells.  Whichever patron buys the dress, they also get the story.  I mean is that a book made for me?  I was sure it was going to be my new BFF but alas, by the last chapters I was skimming and I thought maybe I can be a successful writer.

Now I’m reading Before Ever After and back to despairing because I know I’m going to love it and be humbled.  (Sigh)

And now let’s have a snack.  I’ve made zucchini fritters before here.  Haven’t I?  I must have.  Hmm…no…just black bean fritters.  Well no matter, it’s the same premise, and I just discovered/remembered this recipe which I had dog-eared in Food & Wine.  It’s Mario Batali’s twist on shredded zucchini, eggs, flour, onion, etc.  His genius lies in the addition of ricotta cheese and lemon zest (smacks forehead), now why didn’t I think of that?

Mario Batali’s Forehead-Smacking Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters

  • 2 medium zucchini (about 7 ounces each), coarsely shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 3 large scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh sheep-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, garlic, scallions, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir well, then stir in the flour just until incorporated.

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Working in batches, add 2-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini batter to the hot oil, spreading them to form 3-inch fritters. Fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain the fritters on the paper towels and serve right away, with lemon wedges.



Think about it…