Warm Mexicorn Dip

Warm Mexicorn Dip | Pinky's Pantry
This dip has been a long time favorite in my family. It’s very, very easy to make because you just throw all the ingredients into a bowl and microwave it! It’s a great appetizer for a Cinco de Mayo party. I you want to make this meatless, you can omit the bacon. I think it’s fine without it, but my kids swear it tastes better with bacon. Either way, you’ve got to give this recipe a try. You won’t be sorry. Make sure you serve it warm!

WARM MEXICORN DIP

  • 4 cans (11 ozs. each) Green Giant mexi-corn, drained well
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 of a 16-oz. container sour cream
  • 16 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 or 4 green onion stalks, chopped (depends on how big they are)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices bacon, fried crispy and crumbled
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Microwave until hot and bubbly, stopping to stir halfway through (about 5 minutes).
  3. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
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Veggie Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

Veggie Cream Cheese Rollups | Pinky's Pantry
I stumbled across this recipe on justapinch.com. They have some great recipes on their website and this one was no exception. This yummy, vegetarian appetizer is great to serve at a party or take to a potluck. You can substitute lowfat cream cheese if you want to cut down on the fat. These colorful rolls look so pretty arranged on a platter. And the best part is….. they’re super easy to make!
Veggie Cream Cheese Rollups | Pinky's Pantry

VEGGIE CREAM CHEESE ROLL-UPS

  • 6 eight-inch flour tortillas (can use wheat, spinach, or tomato tortillas)
  • 2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 envelope ranch dressing or dip mix
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ small can (4.25 oz.) chopped black olives
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  1. Beat cream cheese and ranch mix together until smooth and well-blended.
  2. Stir in chopped vegetables with a rubber spatula.
  3. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over tortillas.
  4. Roll up tortillas into logs and wrap each log in plastic wrap.
  5. Place tortilla logs in fridge to chill for at least 3 hours to set.
  6. Slice tortillas into ½-inch rounds before serving.

NOTE:

  • Can be served with salsa as a dip.
  • I don’t like a lot of olives in these rolls so I only use half a small can. Feel free to use the whole can if you like.

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini | Pinky's Pantry
This vegetarian dish looks like you spent all day making it but is actually very easy. Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy too. If you have a mandoline, use it. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it sure makes nice even eggplant slices. You can also make your own marinara sauce or just buy a jar, like I did. They have lots of healthy ones out there nowadays. This recipe makes a big 9×13-inch casserole. If you’re feeding less people, cut the recipe in half.

EGGPLANT ROLLATINI

  • 2 large eggplants
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 container (15 ozs.) ricotta cheese
  • 1 pkg. (10 ozs.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 jar (24 ozs.) marinara sauce
  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil and generously grease each with olive oil.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Trim off and discard stem ends and bottom ends of the eggplants.
  4. Slice off 2 opposite sides of each eggplant so you have a flat top and a flat bottom.
  5. Using a mandoline, slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. You’ll have about 20 slices total.
  6. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and lightly drizzle a little more olive oil over them.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Place in oven and bake about 12-15 minutes or until tender and pliable.
  9. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  10. Pour half the jar of marinara sauce into a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  11. Tilt the dish left and right to spread the sauce evenly across the bottom. Set aside.
  12. Make the rollatini filling by beating the eggs in a medium bowl with ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper.
  13. Add the ricotta, spinach, Italian seasoning, and 1 cup of the mozzarella.
  14. Stir well to combine.
  15. Divide the filling evenly between all the eggplant slices, placing a scoop of filling onto the wide end of each slice.
  16. Roll each slice up and place seam side down on sauce in baking dish.
  17. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over each eggplant roll.
  18. Sprinkle top with remaining mozzarella cheese, then parmesan cheese.
  19. Bake about 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Peruvian Quinoa Vegetable Stew

Pinky's Pantry | Quinoa Vegetable Stew
This vegetarian dish is popularly eaten in Peru. Besides being healthy and good for you, it’s also very easy to make. I think you could add other veggies to it if you wanted to, like carrots, mushrooms, kale, or peas, which makes it quite the versatile little dish. Just make sure you keep in the potato and corn which are what make it classically Peruvian. Oh and I forgot to sprinkle the cilantro over it before I took the photo above. Don’t do what I did. The cilantro adds a delicious pop of flavor so you don’t want to leave it out. This recipe serves 2 people, but could very easily be doubled or tripled to feed more.

PERUVIAN QUINOA VEGETABLE STEW
[Serves 2]

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ¾ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 red potato (6 ozs.), unpeeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ⅓ cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • ⅓ cup fresh, canned or frozen corn kernels
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, paprika, coriander and cumin.
  3. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened and spices are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in water, scraping up any browned bits.
  5. Stir in broth and potato, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in quinoa and simmer for 8 minutes.
  7. Stir in corn and zucchini and continue to simmer until quinoa and vegetables are just tender, 6-8 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Divide stew into 2 bowls.
  10. Top each with a sprinkling of cilantro, a little avocado, some crumbled queso fresco, and 2 or 3 lime wedges for your guests to squeeze into the stew before eating.

[Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated]

Salade Niçoise with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

Salade Niçoise | Pinky's Pantry
I’m sick as a dog. I caught that terrible flu that’s been going around. I had a fever of 103° and felt pretty darn miserable. Finally got rid of the flu, but my doctor says I now have bronchitis, not to mention I’m wheezing like an old asthmatic. Sigh….. Anyway, since I’ve been laid up in bed, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on the blog and post some of my recipes that have been sitting in draft form waiting for a little tweaking or something before being published, so don’t be surprised to see several posts come out all at once.

Salade Niçoise (pronounced ni swaz) is one of my all-time favorite salads. I believe it originated in France and my understanding is the original is made with anchovies, but never having been to Nice, I can’t say for sure. Every time I’ve had it, it’s been made with tuna and my family likes it that way so I just keep it up — though personally, I wouldn’t mind anchovies. Hey! I happen to like the little guys! Anyway, classic niçoise salad typically has boiled potatoes, green beans, and niçoise olives, but there again from my readings it seems that boiled veggies are frowned upon in some areas of France. Whatever. I happen to think the boiled potatoes and green beans are the best part of this salad! Anyway, give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love it!

SALADE NIÇOISE

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 12 ozs. boston, bibb, or butter lettuce
  • 16 baby yellow potatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 10 ozs. haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cans (5½ oz. each) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup niçoise or Kalamata olives, cut in half
  1. Fill a bowl with ice and water and set it aside. You may have to replenish the ice and/or water as needed.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to the ice water bath to stop cooking.
  5. When potatoes are cool, remove from ice water, cut in half, and set aside.
  6. Place eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover eggs by one inch.
  7. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  8. Let cook for 6-7 minutes until eggs are hard boiled.
  9. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  10. When eggs are cool, remove from ice water, peel, and set aside.
  11. Add fresh water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil again.
  12. Add the green beans and blanch till they’re bright green, about 1 minute.
  13. Remove green beans with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  14. Once green beans are cool, remove from ice water, and set aside.
  15. Divide the lettuce equally into 4 salad bowls.
  16. Top each with 4 potatoes cut in half, 1/4 of the green beans, 5 tomatoes cut in half, 1 egg cut into 4 wedges, 1/4 of the olives, and half a can of tuna.
  17. Drizzle lemon-thyme dressing over each salad.

LEMON-THYME VINAIGRETTE

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.
  3. Dressing will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

NOTE:  We like our dressing with a touch of sweetness, but if you want the dressing to be less sweet, feel free to cut the sugar in half or omit it altogether. 

Spinach Feta Quiche

Spinach Feta Quiche | Pinky's Pantry
I’ve had this recipe for years but hadn’t made it in a long time. One day, my daughter, Tissi, decided she wanted to make herself some quiche. She’s a veggie eater and she loves quiche so I dug up my recipe for her. The problem was when I wrote it out for her, I said it only needed one pie crust. Needless to say, she ended up with a ton of extra filling. It wasn’t until a couple of attempts later that I realized my recipe was actually for TWO pies! Poor Tis. She couldn’t figure out why the recipe wasn’t working for her. LOL! If you want to make just one pie, cut the recipe in half. Otherwise, make sure you have two pie crusts ready.

SPINACH FETA QUICHE

  • 2 ready-made frozen pie crust shells (or make your own)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half or whipping cream or milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 pkg. (10 ozs.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 6 ozs. (1 cup) crumbled feta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Line pie crusts with foil, fill with rice, beans, or pie weights, and bake for 10 mins.
  3. Remove foil and pie weights, return crusts to oven, and bake an additional 4-5 minutes or until crusts are set and dry.
  4. Remove crusts from oven and set aside until ready to use.
  5. Lower oven temperature to 350°F.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper, using a wire whisk.
  7. Sprinkle in flour, whisking vigorously back and forth to break up any lumps. If you have a few tiny lumps left, don’t worry about it. They’ll disappear into the quiche.
  8. Stir in spinach and feta cheese.
  9. Divide mixture evenly between the two crusts.
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crusts with foil to prevent over-browning.
  11. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Funeral Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name.
Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.

FUNERAL POTATOES

  • 1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • ¼ – ½ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
  3. Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
  4. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
  6. Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
  7. Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  8. Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.

TOPPING VARIATIONS:  Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots | Pinky's Pantry
Did you know that February 2nd is National Tater Tot Day? It’s an easy day for me to remember because it’s also my only brother’s birthday. Tater tots are an iconic American food that was created in the early 1950’s. The founders of Ore-Ida were trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover pieces of potato that they had tons of everyday. They chopped up the potato pieces, mixed them with flour and seasonings, then forced the mixture through the barrel of an extruder, slicing off little one-inch pieces as the mixture came through. And so the tater tot was born.

Actually, when the little potato nuggets were first created, they didn’t have a name for them so the owners of Ore-Ida decided to have a name-the-product contest among their employees. The name “Tater Tots” was submitted by a young mother named Clora Lay Orton. Everyone loved the name and she won the contest.

It’s hard to believe that when the inexpensive tater tots were first sold in stores in 1956, they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of them per year! It’s safe to say the lowly tater tot has finally found its place in society, from school cafeterias to the ever popular food truck. It’s certainly found its way to our dinner table!

CHEESY BACON TATER TOTS

  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  1. Bake tater tots according to package directions.
  2. While tots are baking, combine sour cream and ranch dressing in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle sour cream mixture over baked tater tots.
  4. Sprinkle cheeses over the top.
  5. Place under broiler until cheese is completely melted.
  6. Remove from broiler and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.
  7. Return to broiler for 2-5 minutes to warm up the bacon.
  8. Serve hot.

Santa Fe Chopped Salad with Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette

Santa Fe Chopped Salad | Pinky's Pantry
I always think of my daughter, Tissi, when I make this salad. Tissi and a friend of hers were discussing vegetarianism one day and he made her a bet that she couldn’t go without eating meat for more than 2 days. Tissi decided to take him up on it and she won the bet! The funny thing is, while she was trying to be all vegetarian in order to win, she realized she didn’t miss meat at all! So after her 2 days were up, she decided to just go on eating the way she was and she became a vegetarian for real! Has been for a couple of years now. Isn’t that funny? Anyway, when I make this salad and see all the colorful rows of veggies, I always think of my Tissi. You wouldn’t miss meat either when faced with a healthy, delicious salad like this one!

That being said, the “Tex-Mex” flavor of this salad makes it a great accompaniment to barbecued meat or chicken. It’s delicious alongside a pulled pork sandwich or some tender slices of smoked beef brisket. Sometimes I add crumbled bacon to it which makes it extra yummy in my book. After all, everything is better with bacon, right? (As you might have guessed, I’m not a vegetarian.) If you’re looking for a heartier, more filling salad that could stand alone as a light lunch or brunch dish, you could toss in some chopped grilled chicken.

The dressing for this salad has very little oil which makes it less fattening than other dressings, albeit rather thin. If you want a thicker, creamier dressing, try whisking in a half cup of plain greek yogurt.
Santa Fe Chopped Salad | Pinky's Pantry

SANTA FE CHOPPED SALAD

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 romaine hearts, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 small (2.25 oz.) cans sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1½ cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla strips
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • half of a small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  1. Place chopped lettuce in a bowl.
  2. Arrange remaining ingredients in rows on top of lettuce.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle with Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette.
  4. Toss and serve.

Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette | Pinky's Pantry

CILANTRO CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • juice from 2 limes (about 3½ – 4 Tbsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil (can substitute canola oil)
  1. Place cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor or blender and pulse until well-combined.
  2. Then gradually stream in the oil while processing until oil is completely incorporated. Dressing is thin and light.

Tomato Bisque with Crispy Mozzarella Cubes

Tomato Bisque | Pinky's Pantr
Today was a scary day at work. I arrived at the office to be greeted with the news that our Vice President had called an impromptu “Organizational Announcement” meeting. Everyone was to report to the meeting at 9 a.m. sharp. The VP’s announcement was that they were going to be outsourcing some of our jobs and some people would be laid off at the end of this year. So sad. It’s hard to understand the business decision to cut costs by sending our work abroad, but it’s harder to accept when good, hardworking employees of long standing are laid off without a qualm. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to keep her job but my heart breaks for my friends who don’t.

I think comfort food is called for tonight. And what could be more comforting than a yummy bowl of tomato soup? Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you’re instantly transported back to those carefree childhood days when it seemed like nothing could go wrong. This soup is delicious and very easy to make. Instead of grilled cheese sandwiches, I gave it a different touch by making Crispy Mozzarella Cubes to serve with it. Yum! Now if only the job situation at work were as easy to fix. Sigh…..

TOMATO BISQUE

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil.
  2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme, stirring until fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes, broth, and honey, and stir together well.
  5. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Remove and discard thyme sprigs.
  8. Puree soup with an immersion blender. If you want it chunky, puree only half the soup.
  9. Stir in the cream, adjust the seasonings, and continue to cook for another minute or two.
  10. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley, if desired.

CRISPY MOZZARELLA CUBES

  • 1 block of mozzarella cheese (size depends on how many cubes you want to make)
  • flour
  • egg
  • panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a deep frying pan on the stove.
  2. Cut mozzarella cheese into cubes as small or large as you like. I like a good-sized cube so I cut them about 1½ inches big.
  3. Place about 1 cup flour in a pie plate and season lightly with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Beat 1 egg in a shallow bowl and season lightly with a little more salt and pepper.
  5. Place about 1 cup panko bread crumbs in another pie plate.
  6. Take a mozzarella cube and coat it first in flour, then egg, and finally bread crumbs. Repeat with remaining cubes. If you run out of flour or bread crumbs, just add more, and beat another egg if you need to.
  7. Carefully drop each coated mozzarella cube into hot oil.
  8. Deep fry until golden brown.
  9. Transfer briefly to paper towel lined plate to drain.
  10. Serve hot.