Monday, December 10, 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Rice "Muffins"

Since I'm home in the morning with the girls and able to pack their lunches, I can make sure they have more nutritious lunches than what they can buy at school or what they might pack for themselves (bread, chips, and M&Ms are NOT a balanced lunch.) 

We get up earlier than we need to so there is no rush in the morning.  That gives me time to make them hot items to go in their thermoses.  A lot of the time they want leftovers or chicken noodle or tomato soup.  They love turkey wraps,  pretzel roll sandwiches, or the traditional PB & J.  But if I want to really make their day, I start digging in the fridge for leftover rice and they know what's coming. 

(photo and recipe courtesy of

Throw together some chopped broccoli, shredded cheddar, rice, an egg or two, some ranch dressing, and a mini muffin tin and you have some tasty goodness.  The mini muffins fit nicely in the thermoses and 4 muffins is perfect for an 11 or 9 year old.  Throw in a Cutie orange, a water bottle, a few crackers and you have a good lunch that makes them happy.

Not only are these good for lunch, but they're a great appetizer when you have friends over or if you're going to a potluck.  Making them in a standard size muffin tin is perfect for a dinner, too. Just add a salad and you've got a complete meal.

I always make as many of these as I can.  The girls will gladly take them for lunch  as many times a week as they can and I love them for breakfast!

Broccoli Cheddar Rice "Muffins"

1 cup quick-cooking rice, like Minute Rice (can substitute about 2 cups regular, cooked rice and omit the 1 cup stock below.  I always use leftover jasmine rice that I cook specifically for this purpose.)
1 cup chicken stock (not needed if you're using leftover rice)
1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and excess water squeezed out (I always use fresh or leftovers)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup Homemade Ranch Dressing or store bought
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare rice as directed on package, substituting stock for water.  Place cooked rice in a large bowl and let cool slightly.  Add the remaining ingredients, using only 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, and stir until combined. Transfer mixture to eight well-greased muffin cups–I like to use an ice cream scoop–and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops are lightly browned and edges are starting to get crispy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Comfort food at its finest!

Last weekend I was pretty in need of some comfort food and hit Pinterest for some inspiration (you can find me at my pinterest page).  I knew I wanted something starchy, something cheesy, something different, a new variation on mac and cheese or grilled cheesy goodness.  After searching high and low, I realized it was something potato that I was craving;  And boy-howdy did I find it!  Everyone, meet the Tartiflette:

chunks of tender potato, bacon, onion, cream, thyme, onion, white wine, and an almost impossible to find French cheese,  Reblochon, a "stinky" washed-rind cheese from the region of France bordering Italy and Switzerland called the Rhone-Alpes.

According to purists, this cannot be called a tartiflette unless it has the Reblochon cheese baked on it.  I took that as a personal challenge to find this stupid cheese...that was until I found it at $45/lb in Seattle.  Um...yeah...not going to happen.  So what to substitute?

After reading numerous message boards regarding possible substitutes, each with purists posting and admonishing that NO CHEESE CAN BE SUBSTITUTED,  I found a place where there were several suggestions: Gruyere, Super Sharp Cheddar, Swiss.  But I wanted a cheese that would melt into the potatoes and other complimentary ingredients rather than forming a crust on top.  I took the characteristics of the Reblochon - minus the stinky part - and decided that Brie would be my choice.

Call me odd, but after pondering a bit, I really wanted that stinky characteristic in there, too, for as close to authentic as possible.  So now the search was on for something to augment the Brie for the stink factor.

Further research on washed-rind cheeses led me to a page with many options, Raclette, Taleggio, Epoisses, Limburger, Muenster.  Armed with a list of possible stinky alternatives, I headed to the store with the best possible cheese selection.  Raclette? Nope. Taleggio? Nope. Epoisses? Nope. Limburger? Yes.  Muenster? Yes.  I picked up the Muenster and it just didn't seem right.  Too firm and no smell at all.  That left...Limburger.  Are you like me and think of Pepe Le Pew and the Limburger cheese and its horrible stench?   I picked up the package and put it to my nose and it did not disappoint.  Standing in the store, I just started laughing, loud! I could smell that stuff through all of the packaging!  The girls were with me and they both wanted a snort, too, and both swore it was GROSS!!  Into the cart it went along with a wheel of baby Brie.  A few other ingredients were tossed into the cart and we were on our way to some cheesy, oozy goodness!

Preparation was uneventful until I got to the Limburger. (you saw that coming, right?)  I peeled the package off and it was DEFINITELY smelly.  I sliced a piece and tasted it and I'll be darned if it didn't taste like it smelled. (HA! Surprise, right?)  I cut the cheese in half, thinking half would be good.  After trimming the rind and smelling that stuff, I just couldn't put all of it in the dish with all the other amazing ingredients.  I ended up using 1/4 of the piece and mixing it in with the Brie, hoping it would blend well and not stick out.

Into the oven it went, steaks went onto the grill, and green beans were prepped for steaming.  Dinner went onto plates and I overheard Faith and Lily arguing,
Faith: Lily!  Did you fart?
Lily: NO!
Faith: Yes you did!  It stinks!
Me: Girls, it's the cheese.
Both: Oh...

Good times in gastronomy!

The steak was good but THE POTATOES!  The amazing flavor of the cheese melted into the wine/bacon/onion goodness was beyond compare!  Mopping up the melty goodness with some crusty sourdough bread was heaven!  The steak was superfluous at this point.  I would have been happy to eat potatoes, bread and possibly beans (just for the health aspect.)  It was a thumbs up from everyone for dinner!

The Limburger was so strong and I likely won't use it again, although I've paid for it and probably should find something to do with it, but you can GUARANTEE that we'll be eating this again very soon.

The recipe (from this website)

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
50 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
100 g. lightly smoked bacon cut into matchsticks
125 ml dry white wine
6 waxy potatoes, such as desiree, cut into small cubes (leaving skin on)
100 ml pouring cream
250 g. Reblochon or any other washed-rind cheese

Fresh thyme, for decoration (optional)

1.Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat oil in large deep-sided frying pan, add onion and bacon and cook over low heat until onion is soft (5-10 minutes), add wine and cook until evaporated (2-3 minutes). Add potato and cook until tender (10-15 minutes), then season to taste. Add cream, cook for 1 minute and remove from heat.

2.Lay half the potato mixture in an 8 cup-capacity casserole or two 4 cup-capacity baking dishes, scatter over half the cheese, then repeat with remaining potato mixture and cheese. Bake until dish is golden and bubbling and potato is tender (30-45 minutes). Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread.


Several weeks ago I got a call from my son asking if he could move back with us.  He's been living with his dad across the country since 2006, so my immediate reaction was YES!!!

He arrived on the 23rd and I of course let him pick his dinner of choice.  It was a gorgeous day so grilling would have been perfect! steaks? chicken?  ribs? Anything you want, bub! 

I should have known what his choice would be but was surprised when he answered "Goulash, Mom."

YES!! That old family friend.  Full of comfort and good memories of growing up and lots of carb-y, meaty goodness!  Also did some fresh green beans, steamed (and seriously, WHY are fresh green beans $3/lb in JULY?  Shouldn't they be in season?), and some Texas Toast garlic bread.

It's always good to have my boy young man home again!

I got a little over-zealous with the goulash, making enough for at least two entire meals for 5 people.  In our house, that means one meal and many lunches/breakfasts/late night snacks.


1.5 lbs ground beef
1 lb bag macaroni (I think it was only a lb but it said 11 servings)
1 medium onion, small diced
2-28 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 cans of water
3 Tbsp tomato paste
Garlic salt and powder, to taste
Pepper to taste

Brown ground beef and onion in dutch oven.  Season with garlics and pepper.  Stir in macaroni, tomatoes and tomato paste and water.  Let cook until macaroni is cooked to desired doneness.