By Celestina Blok
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Bringing home baby is one of life’s most treasured moments, but it also can mean the beginning of chaotic days and sleepless nights for a while.
New moms might not have time to brush their hair, much less make a meal, but that’s where you, the great friend, can help. After being showered with bottles and bibs, what Mom needs now is nourishment — ready-to-eat dishes that are easy to reheat, because even maneuvering a microwave can seem like a daunting task come newborn time.
Think beyond boring lasagna and tasteless frozen casseroles and delight your new mom friend with something delicious and unique. Four area chefs, all mothers themselves, provide easy recipes for pretty dishes that will keep busy new moms not only satisfied but energized.
Make and give one, and your fatigued friend will cherish the gesture.
VEGGIE QUICHE WITH FRESH TOMATO SALSA
Co-owner Janet Capua of Z’s Café in Fort Worth, Texas, says a classic quiche works wells for breakfast, lunch or dinner; can be heated whole or by the slice; and tastes great hot or chilled.
Her savory vegetable quiche is frequently requested, she says, and she shares her 40-year-old recipe here. Pair the pie with mason jars of tomato salsa and fresh fruit for a pretty presentation.
Makes 6-8 servings
1 deep-dish pie shell
1 green onion, chopped (use white end as well)
Half a green bell pepper, diced
Half a red bell pepper, diced
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 cup yellow squash, shredded
8 asparagus spears, chopped
1 cup cheddar, Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese cubes (or shredded)
1 cup beaten eggs (approximately 6 eggs)
1 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
1. Arrange all vegetables in the pie shell and top with cheese.
2. Mix together the beaten eggs and whipping cream and pour into shell.
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes until set. Serve with fresh tomato salsa (recipe follows).
Nutritional information per serving, based on 6: 348 calories, 24 grams fat, 19 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 247 milligrams cholesterol, 377 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 61 percent of calories from fat.
FRESH TOMATO SALSA
Makes 3 ½ cups
1 ½ pounds plum tomatoes (6 to 8), cored, halved and seeded
Half a medium red onion, minced (approximately ½ cup)
1 jalapeño or serrano chile (with ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired), minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Chop tomatoes into ¼-inch pieces and transfer to a medium bowl. Add onion, chile, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Season generously with salt. Mix to combine. Let stand 15 minutes to develop flavor. Salsa can be kept at room temperature up to 2 hours. To store, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.
Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving: 9 calories, trace fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 7 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 5 percent of calories from fat.
— Z’s Cafe, www.zscafe.com
RED AND WHITE QUINOA WITH OVEN-ROASTED VEGETABLES
A wellness foods chef and holistic health counselor, Catherine Ruehle, a busy single mom herself, lives with rheumatoid arthritis but is medication-, pain- and symptom-free thanks, she says, to her nutritious diet. Find lots of vibrant color in this nutrient-rich, gluten-free dish that can be made vegan by nixing the goat cheese. Your gal pal may enjoy the meal chilled, or she can cover it with foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven until it’s warmed through.
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed (see note)
3 medium beets, washed, peeled and cubed
2 cups Brussels sprouts, washed, ends trimmed and halved
Half a white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup goat cheese or vegan cheese (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine quinoa with 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer 10 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork, then set aside, covered.
3. While quinoa is simmering, combine beets, Brussels sprouts and onions in a bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the veggies, then add about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and toss all together. Spread veggies on a baking sheet and bake until the beets are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Shake the pan halfway through to move the veggies around for even cooking.
5. Meanwhile, combine remaining olive oil with balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste to make a simple vinaigrette. Whisk together to combine well.
6. When veggies are done, combine them with the quinoa in a large bowl, add the walnuts, then pour the vinaigrette over the top and toss together. Turn the mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the cheese, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to deliver.
Chef’s note: Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve to remove the soapy-tasting saponin from the seed. Choose red or golden quinoa, or a mixture of the two as shown. One cup dry quinoa will yield 4 ½ cups cooked. Quinoa keeps well in the refrigerator for one week and in the freezer for up to a month.
Nutritional information per serving: 263 calories, 14 grams fat, 28 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, no cholesterol, 401 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 47 percent of calories from fat.
ROASTED CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
Your new-mom friend might squeal with joy when homemade enchiladas are delivered to her door, especially when the recipe’s from Irma Gamez, the chef half of the mother-daughter duo that owns Mariposa’s Latin Kitchen restaurant and catering.
Irma’s daughter and business partner, Crystal Padilla, says customers frequently ask to purchase her mom’s fire-roasted poblano sauce, a version of which is featured here. Pair with chips and salsa for a ready-made Tex-Mex treat.
Makes 1 dozen
3 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
4 poblano peppers
3 cups olive oil, divided
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
12 corn tortillas
16 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1. Place chicken breasts in a baking pan and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Shred chicken and set aside.
2. While the chicken is baking, roast poblano peppers over open fire using stovetop burners. Once poblanos are evenly roasted, cut off the stems, remove the seeds and puree in a blender. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk together 1 cup olive oil and flour. Add minced garlic and continue to whisk. Add 6 cups of water and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. Add poblano puree, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
4. Heat 2 cups olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Using tongs, submerge one tortilla in the oil for 10 seconds and drain on a cookie sheet covered with napkins. Continue this process for each tortilla.
5. Place approximately ¼ cup shredded chicken in a tortilla and roll to seal. Continue this process for each tortilla and place them in a glass or metal baking pan. Pour poblano sauce directly on top of enchiladas and top with cheese. Cover with foil and instruct your friend to bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
Nutritional information per serving: 474 calories, 35 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 276 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 66 percent of calories from fat.
MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN PASTA WITH ARTICHOKES AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
Personal chef and dietary consultant Deb Cantrell provides easy alternatives to make a hearty, Mediterranean-inspired meal both gluten- and dairy-free, if desired.
Cantrell regularly teaches classes at Market Street in Colleyville aimed at redefining healthy eating without sacrificing taste. This one-pot dish is just as easy to prepare as it is to transport.
Makes 6-8 servings
6 ounces rotini or penne pasta (for a gluten-free option, use quinoa or brown rice pasta)
¼ cup butter (a dairy-free option: Earth Balance brand butter, found at Central Market and area health food stores)
3 large shallots, minced
½ teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ cup flour (can use cornstarch or gluten-free flour)
14 ounces chicken broth
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (use nondairy cheese, or goat or sheep cheese if desired)
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded (use store-bought rotisserie chicken for a time saver)
6 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1. Cook pasta, drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic. Cook and stir for one minute.
3. Stir in flour with a wire whisk and cook 30 seconds. Stir in broth, then add mushrooms and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
5. Add cooked pasta, chicken, artichokes, tomatoes and parsley. Mix gently and spoon into casserole dish.
6. Instruct your friend to bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly.
Nutritional information per serving, based on 6: 431 calories, 19 grams fat, 31 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 98 milligrams cholesterol, 288 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 39 percent of calories from fat.