Monday Menu and Recipe Review

After a good long stretch of Indian summer, fall is finally really here. We’re getting out the sweaters, taking the wool coats to the cleaners, and thinking about Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to more soups for dinner and cups of tea in the afternoon. (I can’t be the only one falling asleep at 2 p.m. Or noon.) I even bought three little pie pumpkins so the kids can enter the “decorate a pumpkin like your favorite character from a book” contest at school. Miss Eight has already decorated hers to look like Fancy Nancy, but I’m kind of hoping the boys will just let me roast their pumpkins and make pie.

This week

  • Easy SlidersMy dinner swap pal Jen has been making these for parties, and now people expect them and descend on the hot tray like so many vultures. If you don’t have onion soup mix (I sure don’t), just toss together a homemade substitute. I’ll make them early in the day and have Mr. Ten put them in the oven while I’m shuttling his siblings to piano lessons. (The little pretzel rolls are key!)
  • Seco de chancho (Ecuadorian pork stew), yellow rice. I’ll use cubed pork shoulder and no beer in the sauce. (Swap with Jen)
  • Slow Cooker Stuffed PeppersI really don’t know whether any of the kids will eat these, but I think they’ll like the filling. I might make some apple crumble to motivate them to try the peppers!
  • Sesame noodles, stir-fried garlic green beans.

Last week

  • Mexican Pizza, salad. Very good! Next time I’ll dial down the chile powder just a bit, and maybe have some more toppings on hand–guacamole!
  • Salmon with herbs, potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Finally! Everybody ate salmon! Don’t leave out the sauce on the side–garlic mayonnaise, or a lemony-herb yogurt sauce.
  • Quiche (I’ll use this crust, but the filling will probably be caramelized onions and bacon), salad. Make this crust. Don’t pre-bake it. Quiche can be a weeknight meal! (Also breakfast and lunch the next day.)
  • Winter squash soup with croutonsThe kids still aren’t squash lovers, but they’ll tolerate this soup because of its savory spices. Roast the squash and add a little more cream than called for to make it more soupy than baby food.
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Spinach feta quiche

To be honest, I’ve been struggling with pie crust lately. Blind baked crusts have been emerging from the oven shrunken and puffy, and my pretty crimped edges have turned out deformed. I suspect it’s a case of trying too hard, attempting techniques from a variety of recipes from memory–a faulty and distracted memory, unfortunately.

So I abandoned blind baking for a time and tried this crust recipe. The cornstarch gives a nice crispiness, and though it still shrank slightly, it didn’t make much difference in my deep dish plate, which I like for quiche because it makes a nice hearty slice and I’m less likely to slosh the unbaked custard onto the bottom of the oven. (What? That never happens to you?)

I had spinach, feta and some leftover sliced leeks in the fridge when I made this quiche. You can vary the filling ingredients all you like, but this combination was particularly rich and tasty. We ate it for dinner, and finished the rest for breakfast. Quiche is something I can eat any time of day or night. It’s the little black dress of mealtime. Accessorize with a green salad and a glass of wine for dinner, or add a cup of coffee and some fresh fruit for breakfast time.

And that’s all the fashion advice I’ll be giving out around here. Promise.

Spinach Feta Quiche

Crust:

1 1/4 cups flour

1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. cornstarch

pinch of salt

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, diced

1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling:

1 cup finely chopped leeks

5 ounces spinach, washed and spun dry

1 Tbsp. butter

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta

4 eggs

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. pepper

Sauté the leeks in the butter over medium heat until they are soft and lightly caramelized. Add the spinach (I ripped the larger leaves into smaller pieces) and stir into the leeks. Cover for a couple minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch and salt. Add the chunks of cold butter and cut it in with a pastry blender (or use the food processor). With a fork, stir in the egg and mix until a dough forms. You may need to use your hands to press the dough into a ball.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a deep dish 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges and chill for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the cream, sour cream, eggs, nutmeg and pepper in a large bowl. Spread the leek and spinach mixture into the pie shell. Add the crumbled feta, then pour the custard on top. Bake until puffed and golden, 30-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday Menu

We are way ahead of the game, here, and if I don’t watch it, I could get pretty smug. By Saturday afternoon, not only was the weekend’s menu all planned, but all of next week’s, too! AND the grocery shopping was done, AND the freezer was cleaned out. By Sunday afternoon, the Hub had already cooked the soup and pasta sauce for later in the week, and had dinner well on its way. The Hub took the lead on all these tasks, but I washed a lot of dishes and cleaned the gunk out of the bottom of the freezer drawer. I’d say we’re even. If I make some dessert, he’ll say we’re even.

Monday: Mote pillo (an Ecuadorean hominy dish), green salad

Tuesday: Garlic-Potato Soup, kale chips

Wednesday: Rustic Slow-Simmered Tomato Sauce with Meat, pasta, broccoli, Halloween candy for dessert

Thursday: Quiche (I’d like to try this crust recipe, but will streamline the rest), Carrot Salad with Creamy Lemon, Yogurt & Chive Dressing

Friday: Chili (I don’t exactly use a recipe, but this one is the same general formula), tortilla chips, fruit salad

Last week on Home Baked

Käsekuchen in America

Homemake Halloween costumes

Monday Menu

Do you have a special dinner planned for Halloween, or at least something you can heat up after trick-or-treating?