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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pantry Pointers

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

For festive sweets, turn to fudge

fudgePublished the week of December 5, 2016

‘Tis the season for hiding the scale and indulging in holiday treats. Whether you are making them for the family, for a party, or for gifts, fudge is a sweet treat that fits all the bills.

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Easy Chocolate Fudge

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a large microwave-safe bowl, place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Cook in microwave oven on medium until chips are melted. Cook 1 minute. Stir, then cook 30 additional seconds at a time, stirring, until chips are melted. Total cooking time is about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in nuts, if desired. Pour into well-greased 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate until set. Makes 16 servings.

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Pumpkin Fudge

3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 10-ounce pack

ages cinnamon-flavored chips (such as Hershey’s)
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and pumpkin. Cook until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan; reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 234 degrees F, soft-ball stage, about 20 to 25 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer from saucepan. Stir in cinnamon-flavored pieces until melted. Stir in marshmallow creme and walnuts. Immediately spread fudge evenly in a greased 13×9-inch pan. Score into squares while warm. Let fudge cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cut into squares. Cover tightly and chill for up to 1 week. Makes about 96 pieces.

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Peanut Butter Fudge

1/2 cup butter
2-1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place butter. Add brown sugar and milk, stirring. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla.

Place confectioners’ sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pour hot peanut butter mixture over confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Pour fudge into a greased 8-by-8 inch pan. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Cut into 1-inch squares. Makes about 64 pieces.

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Pantry Pointers

For easier handling of fudge, line your pan with foil first and then coat the foil with butter. Use the foil to lift the fudge out of the pan before cutting.

Try something new with raspberries

Published the week of July 11,2016raspberries

While raspberries are available all year long, the really fresh ones are those in season locally. While eating them straight out of a berry basket is a treat all on its own, they also work as an ingredient in something new and tasty.

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Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix raspberries and sugar together in a bowl; set aside until mixture is juicy, about 10 minutes. Mash berries using a fork until liquefied. Pour berry mixture into a jar with a lid; add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt. Cover jar with lid and shake until dressing is mixed well. Store in refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.

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Raspberry Salsa

2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno chile peppers
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a medium bowl, mix together raspberries, sweet onion, jalapeno chile peppers, garlic, cilantro, granulated sugar, and lime juice. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 20 servings.

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Raspberry Almond Coffeecake

1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Combine raspberries and brown sugar in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine sour cream, butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread raspberry mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over raspberry mixture. Top with almonds. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Drizzle glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Pantry Pointers

Raspberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so when selecting berries, choose ones that already ripe.

Enjoy the taste of French onion

Published the week of July 4, 2016

Few things are as decadent as slow-cooked French onion soup served with large croutons and melted cheese. While the soup itself can take a long time to prepare, the flavor of it is much easier to get—and it works in a variety of dishes.

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French Onion Bake

1 loaf French bread or baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 3/4-ounce envelope onion soup mix, prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bread slices on baking sheets and bake until dry and golden, about 5 minutes per side. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange half the bread slices in a single layer over bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese and top with remaining bread slices. Pour prepared onion soup over bread and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake until bread has absorbed most of the soup and cheese is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

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French Onion Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprout
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons French onion soup mix ( 1 packet)
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the root end off the sprouts; peel off the first layer of leaves and cut each one on half. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan until the butter just starts to brown. Add the sprouts while being careful not to get splattered with hot oil. Stir or toss frequently until the sprouts are nicely browned. Add the water and soup mix and simmer uncovered for about 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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French Onion Burgers

1 2-7/8 ounce cans French-fried onions
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1 4ounce cans mushrooms, drained and diced
4 hamburger buns

In a bowl, combine the onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt and mushrooms if using. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 4 patties. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat for 6 to 9 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Serve on buns with any condiments and toppings of your choice. Makes 4 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Sometimes the easiest way to enjoy the taste of French onion is in dip. Try serving with veggies, crackers, corn chips, or pretzels.

Bring red, white, and blue to dessert

Published the week of June 27, 2016

Fourth of July celebrations rarely occur without food. While grilling and picnics might not have much room for festive colors, dessert definitely does. Just combine some naturally red, white, and blue foods in to something sweet and special.

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Red, White, and Blue Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups butter-flavored shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips
1 12-ounce package dried blueberries
2 6-ounce packages dried cranberries

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in the other egg. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate chips, blueberries, and cranberries, mixing just enough to evenly combine. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball to about 1/2-inch thick. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 72 cookies.

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Red, White, and Blue Trifle

3 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1 3.3-ounce package instant white chocolate pudding mix, unprepared
1 6-ounce container lemon yogurt
2 16-ounce prepared pound cakes, cubed
2 pints fresh blueberries, or as needed

Chill a large metal mixing bowl and beaters from an electric mixer. In a bowl, sprinkle the strawberries with sugar; stir to distribute the sugar, and set aside. Pour the cream into the chilled mixing bowl and add the white chocolate pudding mix, and lemon yogurt; beat until fluffy with an electric mixer set on medium speed.

Spread a layer of pound cake cubes into the bottom of a glass 10×15-inch baking dish. Cover the pound cake with a layer of strawberries; sprinkle blueberries over the strawberries. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over the berries. Repeat the layers several times, ending with a layer of strawberries sprinkled with blueberries and reserving about 1 cup of whipped cream; top the trifle with dollops of whipped cream to serve. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 15 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Plan ahead and make red and blue ice cubes using food coloring and your drinks will be festive too.

Welcome summer slowly

Published the week of June 20, 2016

When it comes to cooking in the summer, the heat is on! Ovens and skillets add heat in the kitchen to days that are already warm. And while grills are great for keeping the heat at bay, sometimes a change is necessary from grilled foods. When it’s hot, use your slow cooker. It won’t heat up the kitchen, and since you assemble it in the morning, you’ll end up with more free time in the evening.

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This beef works well served on toasted rolls. If you want to add cheese, opt for provolone.

Slow Cooker Italian Beef for Sandwiches

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 0.7-ounce package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 5-pound chuck roast

Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork. Makes 10 servings.

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If you really want the browned skin of an oven-baked chicken, you can brown the chicken in a skillet with oil before putting it in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Baked Chicken

1 2- to 3-pound whole chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika

Wad three pieces of aluminum foil into 3 to 4 inch balls, and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and paprika, and place in the slow cooker on top of the crumpled aluminum foil. Set the slow cooker on High for 1 hour, then turn down to Low for about 8 to 10 hours, or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Makes 6 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

While it’s tempting to keep opening the lid of the slow cooker to check on your meal, you shouldn’t do it. Opening the slow cooker lets heat out and delays the cooking process. Only open it near the end of cooking to check if the meal is done.

Start with strips of beef

Published the week of March 28, 2016

The convenience of pre-sliced beef might entice you at the grocery store, but with a sharp knife it is easy — and cheaper — to buy whole pieces of meat and slice them at home. Just remember to slice against the grain so that your meat is as tender as possible.

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If there is any fat and gristle on the roast, remove it before slicing.

Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds beef chuck roast, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 green onions, sliced, white parts only
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 10.5-ounce can condensed beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 6-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup white wine
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Season beef slices with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then push the beef strips off to one side. Add the onions and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then push to the side with the beef strips. Stir the flour into the juices on the empty side of the pan. Slowly pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Five minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms, sour cream, and white wine. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 servings.

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If you want extra sauce to coat your rice, double the sauce ingredients.

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

2 pounds beef sirloin, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 large green peppers, cut into strips
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
Hot cooked rice, optional

Place sliced beef in the slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion, soy sauce, pepper and sugar. Cover; cook on low until meat is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours. One hour before the end of the cooking time, add green peppers and 1/4 cup water.

To serve, remove meat and vegetables to serving bowl. Transfer liquid to a saucepan; bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water. Add to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour over meat and vegetables. Serve with hot cooked rice if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Wing it at the Super Bowl

Published the week of January 29, 2015

Americans will eat over one billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl, and for good reasons. Wings are tasty, versatile, and easy to nibble on while watching the big game. And when you choose a baked recipe over fried, they are easier to prepare as well.

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Teriyaki Chicken Wings

1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 pounds chicken wings

In a large glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, sugar, pineapple juice, vegetable oil, garlic, and ginger until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chicken wings, coat with the marinade, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and shake off excess and place the chicken wings into the prepared baking sheet. Discard the remaining marinade. Bake wings until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 1 hour. Makes 12 servings.

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Buffalo Chicken Wings

12 chicken wings
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 9×13-inch baking dish in preheated oven. Coat chicken with flour, shake off excess, and place in dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn pieces and bake, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, vinegar, pepper sauce, and salt; mix until well blended. Add chicken and toss until evenly coated with mixture. Makes 6 servings.

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Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

1 large white onion, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
5 pounds chicken wings
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir onion, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, butter, mustard powder, and garlic; cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Spread chicken wings in an even layer into a shallow baking dish; pour sauce over the wings. Marinate wings in refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken wings, turning occasionally, until no longer pink and juices run clear, about 90 minutes. Makes 18 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Ranch dressing and barbecue sauce are the most popular dips for chicken wings, followed by bleu cheese dressing.

Meatless Mondays help meet many resolutions

Published the week of December 28, 2015

Every year, the temptation to make New Year’s resolutions is hard to resist. Saving money and eating healthier are two popular ones. Accomplishing either can be helped by joining the Meatless Monday bandwagon, where you eat vegetarian one day a week. Eating vegetarian meals can be cheaper and usually healthier, with potential benefits to your heart, your cancer risk, and your overall weight. And as an added bonus, skipping the meat might make meal preparation quicker.

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Broccoli Quiche

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, well beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onions, garlic, and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese. In a large bowl, combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese. Bake until center has set, about 30 to 50 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

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Cucumber Sandwich

2 thick slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
6 slices cucumber
2 tablespoons alfalfa sprouts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tomato, sliced
1 leaf lettuce
1 ounce pepperoncini, sliced
1/2 avocado, mashed
Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon cream cheese. On one slice of bread, arrange cucumber slices in a single layer. Cover with sprouts, then sprinkle with oil and vinegar. Layer tomato slices, lettuce, and pepperoncini. Spread other slice of bread with mashed avocado. Close sandwich and serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.

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Tomato and Spinach Spirals

1 8-ounce package spiral pasta, uncooked
1 10-ounce package frozen creamed spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare spinach according to package directions. Drain pasta; return to pot. Mix in spinach, tomatoes, and 4 tablespoons of cheese; heat through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Makes 4 servings

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Pantry Pointers

If you are going meatless for the entire day, be sure to have vegetarian snacks handy. Easy choices include tortilla chips and salsa, veggies dipping in salad dressing or hummus, crackers and peanut butter, nuts, and maybe even a little bit of chocolate.