The Practical Pantry began in 1998 as a weekly newspaper column. After 10 years, The Practical Pantry's first cookbook was published. The food column continues to be published weekly, and many of the newspaper columns appear below.

Break out the pie plate for Mom

Published the week of May 8, 2017

Appreciation for Mom can come in many forms. Showing your love with something homemade is always a nice touch on a special day. Whether you’re celebrating the day at brunch or dinner, a tasty pie can be impressive and tasty at the same time.

– – – – –

If you don’t have a pie plate handy, you can bake this recipe in a muffin pan. Just grease each cup and fill about half way with the egg mixture. You can also put a little cheese on the quiche for a golden brown topping.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded Muenster, Swiss, or cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan. Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

– – – – –

This recipe is very chocolatey and thick. Be sure to serve it with whipped cream.

Double Chocolate Pie

1 9-inch pie crust, baked
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Add chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Place egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl. Slowly pour half of chocolate mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into mixture in saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.

Pour mixture into baked pie shell. Press a layer of plastic wrap onto filling. Refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 48 hours. Makes 8 servings.

– – – – –

Pantry Pointers

To make sure that the bottom of your pie crust is nice and golden brown, bake your pie on the bottom rack of the oven.

There’s nothing old-fashioned about these oats

OatmealPublished the week of March 6, 2017

While turning to sugary oatmeal packets results in an easy breakfast, its flavor-to-calorie ratio might not be as appealing. When you need flavor and have a bit of extra time, try oatmeal flavored with tasty ingredients you control. You’ll have a more satisfying — and healthier — meal.

– – – – –

Butterscotch Oatmeal

1 egg, beaten
1-3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the egg, milk and brown sugar. Mix in the oats. When the oatmeal begins to boil, cook and stir until thick. Remove from the heat, and stir in butter until melted. Serve immediately. Makes 3 servings.

– – – – –

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

4 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Bring water to a boil in a heavy, large saucepan, and stir in the oats. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook oats until they begin to thicken, about 10 minutes; mix in the apple, carrot, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Let the oats simmer until tender, about 20 more minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat; stir in the pecans. Toast the nuts until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 to 5 minutes, then sprinkle with brown sugar and stir until sugar has melted and coated the pecans. Serve in bowls, each topped with about 2 tablespoons of the pecan mixture and a dollop of yogurt. Makes 6 servings.

– – – – –

Coconut Oatmeal

3-1/2 cups plain or vanilla soy milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 8-ounce container plain yogurt, optional
3 tablespoons honey, optional

Pour the milk and salt into a saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in the oats, maple syrup, raisins, and cranberries. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in walnuts and coconut; let stand until it reaches your desired thickness. Spoon into serving bowls, and top with yogurt and honey, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

– – – – –

Pantry Pointers

Cooking oatmeal in milk instead of water adds protein to the dish.