On any given Sunday morning, you can find me standing at the butcher block counter in my kitchen, all-important first cup of coffee within easy reach, eggs and shredded cheese and odds and ends of vegetables arrayed before me. Even without coffee -- even in my sleep -- I can preheat the oven and whip up a breakfast casserole in less than ten minutes. And half an hour later, when my household wakes up, something like this broccoli, mushroom, egg and cheese casserole will be there to greet them. I'm a huge fan of protein-centered breakfasts, and I also love egg and cheese casseroles for lunch or worknight dinners. Unlike souffles, egg casseroles aren't fussy, which is good to know if you're planning to cook while not quite fully awake.
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Sometimes -- very lucky times, indeed -- you find yourself with a house full of kids and grandkids having so much fun playing in the snow that afternoon turns into evening and, while wet jackets and mittens and shoes bang around in the clothes dryer, everyone decides to stay for dinner. If that happens, and you have nothing prepared, you'll be glad you stored this recipe for baked three-cheese bow-tie pasta in your recipe box. It's a mac and cheese made easy, combining low-fat ricotta and cottage cheese with just enough nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano and a buttery bread crumb topping. Toss together a side salad for the adults; then, with dinner under control, get out of the kitchen and have fun with the kids.
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What's in a name? In the case of this egg, spinach and two cheese crustless quiche, you could call it an egg casserole, breakfast casserole, even a frittata. In our house, we use the generic term "eggy cheesy thing". Crustless quiche -- the dish we make when we're watching what we eat, and don't want the added calories and carbs in a crust -- accommodates mix-ins of leftover cooked pasta, vegetables, beans, or even shredded rotisserie chicken, in any combination. At least once a week, we eat eggy cheesy things for dinner, because I always keep eggs and cheese in the pantry and the dish comes together with a minimum of work. When I have dark leafy greens like spinach in my refrigerator, I like to make this quiche and portion it for a week's worth of breakfasts, so I know I'm eating my vegetables right at the beginning of the day.
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When my husband Ted saw the jar of marinated mozzarella with slow-roasted tomato in the refrigerator, he laughed and said it looked like brains. In fact, it's just the opposite: a no-brainer appetizer that takes two minutes to prepare, and a few days to marinate in the refrigerator. No cooking, no fussing. During the busy holiday entertaining season, it helps to have a few easy appetizers in your repertoire. You can keep these in the refrigerator for a week, while they soak up more and more of the garlicky tomato and herb flavor. Serve the mozzarella as an appetizer, with crackers or toasted bread; or, toss the cheese with pasta for a quick weeknight dinner, or press into panini sandwiches with some peppery arugula.
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