Monday, January 25, 2010

Using Up Product

A love of cooking definitely runs in the family. I've mentioned what an excellent cook my mother is, but her younger brother is also amazing in the kitchen. I would lay my money on their cooking talents having evolved more out of a reaction to their mother's cooking than on any genetic predisposition towards mad kitchen skills. Anyway, my uncle has taken all sorts of courses on professional cooking and running a restaurant. In the process, he's picked a bit of the lingo.

One of his kitchen phrases is "using up product" which basically means using up the stuff in your kitchen before it goes bad or goes to waste. His other main kitchen saying is SHIT, which I don't believe he learned from a cooking class, but was guaranteed to bring his dog racing in to clean up any product that had made its way to the floor.

This week, in part because of the crazy schedule disruption last week and in part because of some tasty veggies turning up in the sale bin, my menu planning is all about using up product. I've still got leftover ricotta to deal with, some yogurt (which will probably be baked into a lemon cake), cabbage, a few scallions, a cauliflower and a pair of avocados. Ack.

SUNDAY - Sausage Calzones. Ricotta used up. Check.

MONDAY - Stir Fry Chicken with Chinese Cabbage - out of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I can use up the scallions and the cabbage. OR Cabbage and Mushroom Galette which would use up some of the yogurt in addition to the cabbage. We'll have to wait and see what I'm in the mood for.

TUESDAY - Roast Chicken with Crash Hot Potatoes and Cauliflower Cheese. There were these delicious looking red potatoes on sale and then I came across the recipe for Crash Hot Potatoes and realized, clearly this was meant to be. The cauliflower was also on sale, which was just as well, because on Iron Chef's recent challenge involving the White House Garden, Bobby Flay made a delectable dish using cauliflower in place of macaroni in mac and cheese. Two of the judges, both British (weird right, that they had two British judges for the White House episode?), exclaimed over how wonderful it was, and how British. I was sold. I love cauliflower, I love macaroni and cheese. Excellent.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili - So easy to make, it's great for a midweek meal. The avocados which were hard on Sunday should be ready to chop on top or use for guacamole.

Broccoli Soup - I've been feeling a bit veggie deprived since being sick. This should take care of my vitamins. Also, if Ry doesn't think it's enough for dinner, there's bound to be some leftover chicken from Tuesday that he can nibble on.

FRIDAY - Ziti with White Beans and Sausage - This week features tons of new recipes and not quite recipes, but I still have to deal with those old Cooking Light magazines. This is the test recipe for this week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spinach with Rotini, Beans and Asiago Cheese

To be honest, right now I'm pretty glad the only part of my life you can see is the food. Because while you wouldn't know it to look at this blog, things have fallen apart around here on a pretty massive scale. Last weekend Dexter (seen below)had to go to the emergency room where it was determined that he'd eaten something he's not supposed to and would need surgery to remove it. He spent two nights at the veterinary hospital and then came home, quite a bit worse for the wear. Then, I managed to get a bit of a stomach bug, which was not helped by the anxiety over Dexter's well being. So basically, Dexter looks a mess, I look a mess, the apartment is truly shameful and we've eaten almost nothing that would pass for real food for about a week.

Luckily, things are finally on the mend and last night I managed to try out that Cooking Light pasta recipe I'd planned to make last week. First reaction - oh my STARS that is a lot of spinach. Seriously, look at that photo. How can you call that pasta with spinach? It is clearly spinach, with a bit of pasta. Truth be told, I didn't even make the recipe exactly. Nope. I messed with it. Know what I did? I made HALF the spinach they called for. HALF. Reflect on that for a moment.

But. The dish was truly delicious. Even with that much spinach. Ryan said maybe it would like some tomatoes (N.B. Ryan thinks every pasta dish would improve with tomatoes). But I loved it and would gladly make it again.

adapted from Cooking Light (also, probably not "light" anymore)

1/2 bag of spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1/2 lb of rotini or other spiral pasta
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil (originally it only called for 2 T)
1 can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 C shredded Asiago cheese
salt and pepper (I add more salt than Cooking Light would ever sanction).

Get your water on for your pasta. While you're waiting for it to boil, drain and rinse the beans and set aside, grate the Asiago cheese and clean dry and chop your spinach. When the water boils, add your pasta and cook according to the box directions (about 8-10 minutes for rotini probably). In a large saucepan, add 2 T of olive oil and the smashed garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. The garlic will get golden in color but it's not really cooked through. Add the beans and a pinch of salt and cook on very, very low heat. You just want the beans getting a nice garlic flavor, you don't really need to be cooking them. When the pasta is done, drain it and then toss it in with the beans. If you don't want the garlic chunks in your meal you can pick them out now. Stir carefully (you don't want mushed beans). Then add the spinach. Give it a nice sprinkling of salt and add the other 2 T of olive oil. Turn it slowly and carefully. The spinach will start to wilt. When the spinach has melted down enough to be manageable (maybe 1-2 minutes) add the cheese and mix once more. That's it! Super fast and tasty!

Monday, January 18, 2010


For me meatloaf always conjured up images of gum snapping older waitresses in gritty late night diners and disgruntled hairnetted cafeteria workers, never homey thoughts of mom (although my mom certainly made a very good meatloaf). Since I have no personal experience with meatloaf in either of those settings, I blame Hollywood for giving meatloaf its bad rap. Thankfully, as an adult, my main personal memory of meatloaf, is how my friend J once gave her (crazy) cat the teensiest little taste of raw meat while making meatloaf and we spent the rest of the time it took to make the meatloaf fending off his dive bomb attacks on the meatloaf bowl. Fortunately I've been able to overcome my early prejudices (mainly due to the hilarity of a meatloaf fiend cat) and I really do enjoy meatloaf. Still can't say I love the idea of meatloaf, but this recipe is moist and delicious and definitely has earned a place on the table.

from Barefoot Contessa

12-14 oz ground turkey (1 package, but I've noticed that packages of ground turkey vary in size)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 t thyme
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C chicken stock
1 t tomato paste (if you don't use much of this, buy a tube rather than a can, it keeps better)
1/2 C bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 C ketchup
salt and pepper (I'd say maybe a large pinch salt?)

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a small skillet, warm the olive oil over medium low. Add the onions and saute for 3-5 minutes until translucent (not browned). Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add the Worcestershire sauce, the chicken stock and the tomato paste. Mix and then turn off heat. Allow to cool. No seriously. Put it in a bowl in the fridge if you're in a hurry but don't pour the hot mixture onto your turkey meat and go to mix with your bare hands. You will be sorry. Okay. So when it's cool, add the onion mixture, plus the breadcrumbs, plus the egg to your ground turkey. Make sure everything's evenly distributed and then pop it in a loaf pan. Spread the ketchup on top. Then cook for 50 minutes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mixing it Up (a bit)

I have an alarmingly short memory when it comes to things I know how to cook. I make something, like it and then promptly forget. I know I'm not alone. I know that lots of you out there are making the same things over and over. I think the worst part is that most of the time, its hard to even figure out a way out of the rut. Here's a plan that may help.

1. Make a List
Keep a some type of list of dishes you make. If you make something new that's good, write it down. My list is
organized into categories: ground turkey, chicken, sausage, vegetarian. You can use any system that works for you: main protein, degree of difficulty, type of cuisine. But you know, having an unorganized list is better than no list at all.

2. Plan Your Meals
If you have a list of dishes you make, it's easy to pick five to get you through the week. Don't worry too much about the perfect combination for now. Just make sure that your plan isn't the same each week.

3. Introduce New Recipes
First off, you need to figure out where to get them, right? I bookmark recipes on blogs, on or epicurious. I have a stack of cookbooks too. Right now, I'm trying to deal with an old stack of Cooking Lights. I'm going through only a magazine a day and tearing out anything I thin
k I'd make. But the key? Actually trying the recipes, and soon. That way, if it's no good, I can toss the recipe right away, and if it's good, I'll post it here (and then toss the recipe). Either way, I'm not going to keep storing torn out recipes indefinitely.

So here's next week's plan:

"Sporkie Pizza" - My family has never been much for chain restaurants, but we've certainly been in situations where a Bertucci's is about the best you can get. Our favorite pizza is a Sporkie, sweet italian sausage, ricotta, tomato sauce and mozzarella. Perfect to make at home, using turkey sausage so Ryan can enjoy it too.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
So far I've introduced you to two of my major cheats - using a meal out of the freezer and adding something to some chicken sausages. My other main cheat - breakfast for dinner. It's not like pancakes are no work, but they're a lot easier than other things I make. As a special bonus, these will use up the ricotta from last night's pizza, so no worried about it going to waste or spoiling before I get to it.

Rotini with Spinach, Cannellini Beans and Asiago Cheese - I just pulled this out of a Cooking Light magazine. I'm a sucker for a vegetarian pasta dish that has protein in it. I'm trying it for the first time, and if it work, I'll report back. If not, I can part ways with another piece of paper.

Butternut Squash Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Sausage - The blue cheese we bought last week for the Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches will be put to use. Such a delicious, warm meal for the end of the week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fried Haddock

After that incredibly awful, embarrassing performance by the Patriots, Ryan and I felt that it was very important to remind ourselves of the good things about New England (since it sure as heck isn't their football team). Fried fish went a long way towards repairing the damage. In fact, when the first few pieces came out all golden and crispy, Ryan may have started to drool a bit. And when it became clear that we had an excess of beer batter, he became a bit overeager, searching the kitchen for anything else we could possibly fry. His suggestions ranged from the possibly delicious (the shrimp I need for tonight's pasta) to the ridiculous and possibly awful (dates, wheat bread, the batter by itself). Anyway. That first bite of sweet, flaky fish and it was like being back on the Cape in summer. Baseball season's gotta be better, right?

an oil thermometer is highly recommended for this recipe
from Epicurious adjusted to have the right amount of batter for 1lb of fish

1 lb fresh fish - I love haddock because it's thick and sweet and flaky. Cod will work well too, but it's a much thinner fish. Cod is best for those of you who like batter better than you like the fish.
1.5 C flour
9 oz beer (preferably ale) and yeah that's not a whole bottle, so go ahead and drink some while you cook.
salt and pepper
oil (veggie, canola) I use about 2" worth in my Dutch oven, I don't measure by cups, I measure by depth.

Clean your fish, remove the skin if you prefer and remove any pin bones (run your hands down the center of the fish, anything poky-uppy is probably a pin bone, they are easiest to remove with a strong set of tweezers).
Get your oil set up in your deep heavy pot. Put the thermometer in, and you want the oil temp to be 375 F. Turn on your oven to low (maybe around 200? F). Prepare a plate with paper towels for draining your fish on, and a raised rack on a cookie sheet for keeping the fish warm in the oven.
Salt and pepper your fish, then dredge in 1/2 C flour, shaking off the excess.
Put the rest of the flour in a large bowl then add the beer slowly, while whisking. It can be a bit tricky, but make sure it's all the same consistency.
When your oil is ready, use a pair of tongs. Dip your fish in the beer batter (you may want to sort of drop it in and pick up again to get it coated and then gently place in the (HOT 375 F) oil. Work in batches, depending on the size of your pan - mine fit about 2 pieces of fish at a time. You want to fry it for 4-5 minutes total. I would do about 2 minutes on one side, then turn. It should be nice and golden brown. After 5 minutes, use the tongs to remove the fish and set it on the paper towels. Get the next two pieces in the oil, then you can transfer the fish to the rack on the pan in the oven to keep warm. Keep working until all your fish is fried. Serve with tartar sauce or cocktail sauce.

Notes on working with oil - Oil is freaking hot. Wear long sleeves. Use tongs. Monitor the temperature, it will drop when you add the fish, so try to keep it as steady as you can, as close to 375 as you can. No it won't ruin the fish if it goes all the way down to 330 or up to 380, just watch it, okay? When you're done with the oil, let it cool completely, pour it off into a container and put it in the trash. Oil does NOT go down the sink.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Right now, just about anything seems like a better idea that continuing to watch the Patriots' humiliation. So I figured I could distract myself by bringing you all up to date on this week's continued cold weather dining plan. Oh, I'm aware that it's supposed to be warmer this week, but it's really hard to think that way when every step outside is accompanied by shivering, cursing and a strong desire to be somewhere tropical. Much love and sympathy to those further North than I am and to those suffering in the Midwest. You are all much stronger people than me.

Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta - This dish is inspired by an appetizer at one of my favorite local restaurants that is absolute heaven. It's this gorgeous artichoke, just the delicate center leaves and the heart, surrounded by 3 scallops in a lemony butter sauce.

French Onion Soup - This beef stock free version is still hearty and savory. It will also help use up a few of those hamburger buns we bought for the portobello burgers last Friday. I'm making the stock I'll use for it right now in fact, but I do not believe that people should make their own stock unless they're ready to. Use store bought. I promise I won't think any less of you.

Aidell's Portobello Mushroom Sausage and Twice Baked Potatoes - My other main cheat (other than defrosting a dinner) is chicken or turkey sausage. Most brands are precooked, so you only need to make sure they're warm, you don't have to worry about whether or not they're done, which is great for novice chefs (Katie I'm talking to you here). I have no recipe for the potatoes yet, but I'll probably start with this Junior League recipe, cut back the butter, substitute in some sour cream and see what happens.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches - Continuing the trend of comfort food is the only sensible thing in the depths of winter. This has an added benefit for those of you trying to stick to New Year's dieting resolutions - it will satisfy your crazy buffalo wing craving without all the greasy fried guilt.

FRIDAY - I'll make chicken with mushrooms and balsamic. The basic cooking technique is one Melissa D'Arabian used to win The Next Food Network star.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cook's Illustrated Salmon

Years ago, (a decade ago if I'm honest), I had a subscription to Cook's Illustrated. This was back when I sort of wanted to be a great cook, but certainly had no real skills. It turns out, over the years that cooking is one of the few things I actually stuck with.

A Brief Incomplete List of Things I've Quit This Decade :
  • dog training (my own dog that is, ill mannered beastie)
  • rollerblading
  • knitting
  • ballet class
  • tai chi
At least I'm good at cooking right? I probably owe it all to this salmon.

modified slightly from the September & October 2000 issue
serves 2

3/4 lb to 1 lb filet of salmon (depending on appetite)- if possible request a piece that is a uniform thickness. If one side is fat and the other is skinny it is hard to cook correctly.
1 slice of sliced white bread, crusts removed (don't use something that is too mushy)
1/3 c crushed plain potato chips (you want the chips as potato-y as possible, and the bits to be little, 1/8" pieces)
2 T chopped dill
olive oil
pinch salt &pepper
1 T Dijon Mustard

I cook mine in my toaster oven, but if you use your real oven, cooks says to adjust the rack to the top position (about 3 inches from the heat source) and move the second rack to the upper-middle position and preheat to 400. For the toaster oven I don't preheat.

To make the crust, put the bread in your food processor and pulse until it's in small (1/4") bits. I needed to cut my bread in a few pieces before putting it in my mini-chop, but you may not need to. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and toast (I do this in the toaster oven using my toast button, but if you're using the 400 oven, use the lowest rack). Shake the pan once or twice during cooking, it should be toasty in about 4-5 minutes, but watch it, you don't want it dark AT ALL. Then put the whole potato chips in a plastic bag and crush them down to size. In a small bowl, mix together the chips, the toasty crumbs and your chopped dill. Reserve to use as the crust.

Now turn whichever oven you're using to broil. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Rub it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until almost done - the end should be opaque and flaky and the flesh on to should be opaque as well. This should take 9 minutes for a thin piece and around 11 for a thick piece. Pull it out and spread the Dijon mustard over the top. This will help the crust stick, so make sure you cover everything. Then gently pat the mixture of potato chips, crumbs and dill onto the fish. Return to the toaster oven for 1 more minute (in a regular oven put it on the middle rack for that minute). Make sure the fish is cooked as much as you'd like and serve. The mustard and dill combination is delicious and the potato chips ensure that the crust is crispy and not soggy and yucky.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I discovered at a rather young age that I am the kind of person who gets hit by a javelin in gym class (as an aside, it turns out, I'm also the kind of girl who would date someone who hit her with a javelin). I'm also the kind of person who has to go to prom on crutches after a midnight game of kick the can took an ugly turn. You'd think with all of that I wouldn't be surprised at the damage I've done to my ankle; but it turns out, no Most Accident Prone caption under your yearbook picture can prepare you for the words "may never improve." Which is, sadly, exactly what the surgeon told me at my appointment on Monday. And so, after a year of braces, crutches, casts, wraps, physical therapy and pain, I have no clue what to do next. Except maybe cook.

from Tyler Florence

3 medium beets (each one I got was a smidge smaller than a tennis ball)
3 shallots
4 T olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 sprigs each of marjoram, thyme, oregano (like I have marjoram)
kosher salt and black ground pepper
4 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon, the original recipe calls for pancetta) chopped into small pieces
1/2 log goat cheese
2-3 cups good crusty bread cut into 1" squares
juice from 1/2 a lemon
juice from 1/2 an orange
1/4 C honey (you can probably cut this down a bit)
2 T balsamic
1/2 C dates, chopped (buy them pitted, you'll be happier)
1/3 bag spinach, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry.

Preheat your oven to 475 F. Peel your beets and chop into pieces. Do NOT wear or touch anything of value or it will turn pinky red. Place your beets on a sheet pan that you've covered with aluminum foil. Split your shallots in half lengthwise, but don't remove the skin. Add them to the foil. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. You can probably check after 30, depending on how small you cut the pieces. Mine were like this:

While they're baking, cook your bacon until crisp and set aside. Also, mix up the dressing. In a large bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, 4 T olive oil, salt and pepper and stir well.
If you have a toaster oven (or second oven), you can cook the bread at the same time as the beets, or if not, do the bread ahead of time. Place the chunks of bread on a cookie sheet or baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes on 350.
When your beets are done, cut them into bite sized pieces and remove the skins from the shallots.
To make the salad, combine the spinach, dates, bread cubes, beets, shallots (skins removed now), bacon and toss very gently with the dressing. Remember the beets want to turn everything red, so be very gentle. Add the goat cheese at the end by crumbling over the top. Unless you want pink goat cheese, don't stir anymore.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cauliflower Crack Crisps

These little crisps may not look like much, but they certainly are the fastest, tastiest, most addictive thing you can do with a head of cauliflower. We only made half a head due to space restrictions (you may need two sheet pans for a whole cauliflower) and I must say we regretted our choice for much of the evening. Luckily for us, our regret need not be permanent, as now we can be excited that there's still half a cauliflower left to be crisped. Yum.

recipe courtesy of my mom's dear friend Joanne who is a lovely woman and an amazing cook

1 head of cauliflower
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Take one head of cauliflower and wash.
2. Cut out the core. Slice the cauliflower into "fans" about 1/4" thick, cutting from the crown downward to the core. The thickness determines the crunchiness and the speed of cooking. If the fan has too much of the spine, cut the spine out. This frequently results in little random bits of cauliflower florets. Don't despair. Just throw them on the cookie sheet.
3. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Spray with olive oil spray or wipe with a little olive oil, enough for a light coating.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Toss the cauliflower fans onto the sheet and drizzle olive oil over the top. Toss gently. Really gently. Otherwise the florets all just break into crumbles.
6. Cook 20 minutes on one side. Toss the cauliflower onto the other side for another 20 minutes.
7. Keep an eye on things because sometimes if the slices are too thin or thick or the oven is too hot, the timing can be random. The veggies should be crisp and browned.
8. Before serving, toss on some kosher salt and fresh pepper.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Menu for the New Year

Most weeks, I plan our menu in advance. It involves the use of a spreadsheet, because it turns out that I am a giant dork. Some people make fun of me for it, but others just want to know what we're eating. So here's the plan for next week, who knows if we'll stick to it, but a starting place is better than nothing!

Vegetarian Monte Cristo - this requires a loaf of good bread from the bakery, probably bought same day.

Winter Panzanella - Hopefully I'll be sharing this recipe with you soon. But panzanella is a great choice any week when you have bread that you need to use up. This recipe also calls for goat cheese. The rest of the goat cheese will be used up on Friday on the Portobello burgers. Leftover bread will be sliced and frozen for use later.

Chicken Ragout - Usually once a week, dinner is a cheat, something I've frozen earlier, or something so simple I barely consider it cooking. This week, I've got delicious homemade ragout in the freezer, and it is using up a lot of space.

Bolognese Sauce - This will not only be wonderful in the achingly cold weather we've been having, it makes enough that I'll pop some in the freezer for a cheat meal another week. I'll defrost a few slices of bread from Tuesday as well.

Portobello Burgers - Friday night meals have to be easy, or you'll find yourself calling for take-out. This is quick and will use up the goat cheese I bought earlier in the week.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

White or Red?

We have a fundamental difference of opinion around here that nearly eight years of togetherness has done nothing to resolve. Ryan does not like any sauce but red sauce on his pasta. I like red sauce with certain specific types of pasta dishes, but often prefer something else. Even when something else is as basic as butter and cheese. Tonight Ryan offered to make dinner and asked me for the recipe for pasta with clams. I was a little surprised, because he's told me before that he doesn't really like pasta with clams. The recipe's not written anywhere, it's just something my parents made when I was growing up, so I scribbled it down on a few post-its for him and handed it over. He looked it over and said, "I thought this was supposed to be a red sauce." Right. So I directed him to Rachael Ray, who has a pretty good pantry red clam sauce (no, really), and Marcella Hazan who can do no wrong. He flipped through the recipes, but then announced he was going to make it my way. After 8 years we may not agree, but at least one of us knows how to compromise.

my recipe, but with a few things changed by Ryan
makes enough for 2

1/2 lb spaghetti or linguine
3 garlic cloves minced
2 anchovies (or about a teaspoon of anchovy paste, or omit it if you're a wimp)
1 T olive oil
2 cans clams (We usually use Snow's Chopped Clams)
salt and pepper to taste - the anchovies will make it saltier, so be careful
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 C vermouth or dry white wine
fresh parsley (feel free to take some liberties with this, we used dried oregano tonight)

Put on a big pot of water to boil for your pasta. When the water boils cook your spaghetti according to the package directions. In a large saucepan, add the oil, the garlic and the anchovies. Cook on low for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is pale yellow but not brown at all. While its cooking, use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies so they're all mushed in. Then add the clams (and all the liquid in the can). Cook for 5-7 minutes until everything is warmed through. Add the vermouth and increase to high for 1-2 minutes, so that it boils. Then reduce the temperature again and season with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley. Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and mix up. Serve (especially with garlic bread.) Yummy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's (Game) Day Brunch

Look people, this is no time for sleeping in. Oh no. There are bowl games to be watched. Specifically, there is the Northwestern vs. Auburn Outback Bowl. We've been following Northwestern all season via the Big Ten Channel. For anyone else who has had the Big Ten channel experience, you must be familiar with the 8 BILLION ADS FOR QUESO.* These ads remind us that without queso, we will not be able to get our game day started. Every week this is a concern for Ryan. He wants Northwestern to win** and therefore wants our game day started, however he's pretty scared of the idea of microwaving Ro*tel and Velveeta for 5 minutes. Having a mother born in Georgia, I share none of these fears and would be up for the queso challenge. Though I think we both agree though that today's 11am kickoff is a bit early for queso***. So I've promised brunch. I'm making a strata from my brand-new Bon Appetit cookbook.
It's got cheese and jalapenos, so I'm hoping it will be a suitable substitute.

*yes, I'm aware that true queso is made with real cheeses and purportedly delicious. That's not what we're discussing here.
**clearly there is no link between our personal consumption of Rotel/Velveeta queso and Northwestern's performance if they made it to a bowl game.
***if Northwestern loses today, it is possible it will be blamed on the lack of queso.


1 cup milk
2 eggs
salt and pepper (maybe 1 t salt and 1 t pepper?)
1 C grated Monterey Jack cheese tightly packed (I used a few T of cheddar in there, I would have used more but we're almost out of cheddar)
3 T sliced green onion (I used 2 scallions)
2 t chopped jalapenos
2 cups white bread, cubed (about 3 slices) - I couldn't get real bread from the bakery last night because they were closed, and rather than use regular white bread I bought Pepperidge Farms dinner rolls. I used three, first cut them in half and then in smaller cubes. I hope they're dense enough to not become total mush.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Lightly butter a 9" pie plate. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Add the cheese, onion and jalapeno and and stir well. Toss the bread cubes into the mixture and and when they are coated, transfer to your pie dish. Make sure everything is evenly distributed and then press gently on the bread to help it absorb the custard. Let it sit a few minutes, pressing down again if necessary to help the bread soak up the liquid. When you feel the bread has soaked up what it can (maybe 3-5 minutes) put it into the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean and the top is crusty. Slice and serve with salsa. It is very floppy coming out of the pan, so a sturdy spatula would be helpful.


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