Tag Archives: Spinach

Spanakopita Bites

I saw this recipe for Spanakopita Bites using Pillsbury Crescent rolls awhile back and thought they sounded interesting.   I love Spanakopita anyway.     And since phyllo dough is a little finicky to play with, I thought the crescent roll dough might be an idea.

I don’t usually use prepared stuff like this, and in fact I think this is only the second time in my life I’ve purchased Crescent Roll Dough.

I found this recipe on a neat website called Flavors by Four.   

The website is a mother daughter team of bloggers and I have to say they have some great ideas on there.

The following is the original recipe and the changes (tweaks) I made are in blue to the side.
I have to say, these were inhaled in short order, and I got a lot of compliments on them.

1 container Pillsbury crescent rolls                  2 containers Pillsbury Crescent            Rolls
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and drained)
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese                             6 oz. Crumbled Feta Cheese
3 green onions chopped                                 1/2 Sweet Onion, diced and sweated in pan
1 large clove of garlic minced                         1 clove elephant garlic, minced and sweated in pan
1 tbsp olive oil                                                1 tablespoon EVOO
1/2 tsp dill weed                                            1 tablespoon Za’atar  (I could not find my Dill)
1 tbsp lemon juice                                          I forgot the lemon juice, but I think it really could have used it
1/2 cup toasted Pine Nuts
2 eggs slightly beaten

Take out the spinach, defrost it and squeeze out the liquid.  I had it in a strainer for an hour but was running out of time, so I just picked it up and squeezed out the liquid.  You do want it on the dry side here.  Of course I got it a little too dry, so I added a couple of slightly beaten eggs.   I sweated the onions and garlic in the olive oil, just til the onions turned translucent and the garlic started to scent the air.   I added it to the Spinach and Feta.

I also toasted some Pine Nuts, just cause they were sitting on the counter and caught my eye, and I thought Gee, Spanakopita  is Greek in nature and Pine Nuts are used in Greece and ….   So I popped them in there.

I also could not find my dill, but the Za’atar was sitting in plain sight so I added it as well.

Mixed it all up together

And then took one package of Crescent Roll dough out of the fridge.   I played with a couple of ways of wrapping the spinach in them.

As you can see, then I  figured it out.
I rolled out the dough a little, divided it into fourths, and pinched the perforations together

I then put some of the mixture into the middle of the dough, brought up the opposite sides together and pinched them closed, (and did not realize that I forgot to take pictures at that point)  I tend to get into the zone when it comes to doing this stuff.  grrrrr

Placed them on a baking sheet and baked them for about 15 minutes or until they were a nice golden brown.
Just like this.    I actually used two packages of Crescent Roll dough.   There was more than enough filling for both of them.   And it’s a good thing I made so many, they all got et.

I brought them to the gathering and added them to the rest of the offerings.

This picture was taken with my camera phone and it’s not all that great.   As you can see the Spanakopita bites are there to the left, sorta in the middle.   And in the foreground, some really awesome brownies, made with mango’s and tahini.  Yeah, Tahini, and a little Frangelico as well.   I will share this recipe once I get it.  They were really good.

Spanakopita Bites

I found some Phyllo tart shells on sale a while back and bought them without knowing just what I was going to make with them.   And then I remembered my friend Debi and the great Stuffed Grape Leaves she showed us how to make.   Well, that day we also made some Baklava and since there was a bunch of Phyllo dough scraps left over, Debi made some Spanakopita tarts.  And they were so good and disappeared so fast.

So, guess what?   I was totally shameless and stole her idea so I made some for the Boat Club Potluck this month.   I’m not using leftover phyllo dough, but I am using the phyllo or fillo if you insist, pre-made tart shells I bought.

It just so happened I also had some Feta Cheese in the fridge, as well as some Parmesan Cheese and the tart shells, and onions, and eggs, and I found a package of frozen spinach buried in the bottom of the freezer as well.   I had all the ingredients.    Don’tcha just love it when it all comes together?

   Nice little bites of goodness, well, I thought they were.   Although Debi did tell me I didn’t put enough onion in them, so next time, I’ll up the onion, or better yet remember to put the minced onion and garlic in them in the first place.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I sautéed the green onions, and totally spaced the minced onion  and the garlic clove,   sitting on the counter all by its lonesome afterwards as well.  sigh.   I was in a hurry to get these made and I forgot stuff.  So here’s the real recipe and do as I tell you, not as I did.  However, the Spanakopita Bites, still tasted good, just not as good as they could have.

30 Mini Fillo Shells, brushed with butter and set aside.

1 8 oz package of Frozen Spinach
4 oz. Feta Cheese, either the block or crumbles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
4 green onions
1/2 cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350 deg.
Thaw the spinach and put into a colander to drain, then squeeze out the liquid.  Do a rough chop if needed, makes it easier to fill the tart shells if you don’t have to deal with a bunch of stems.
Saute’ the onions til they have softened about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, stir around for about 30 seconds, take off the heat and set aside.
Place the spinach, cheeses, onions and garlic into a bowl, then pour over the lightly beaten eggs and milk, mix together.

Spoon some of the filling into the tart shells, and bake for about 20 minutes or so until they have browned  and the egg has cooked through.

Don’t forget to sample one as you take them out of the oven, you need to make sure they are edible after all.

Serve warm or at room temperature.    You can also make these ahead of time, and just warm them in the oven for a few minutes, they are very forgiving that way.

Stuffed Grape Leaves, Syrian Style

I’m so excited, I’m going to learn how to make Stuffed Grape Leaves, giggle.  Now these aren’t Dolmathes, the greek style Dolma, these are Syrian style.   And I’m just lucky enough to have a friend who asked me if I was interested in making some with her.   I couldn’t believe my ears, someone asked me if she could come over and make something with me in the kitchen.  I love it.  And especially since I get to make something I’ve never made before.  I’ve had Dolmathes, and they were good, but these are a little different, a different riff if you will.  (very suitable for me to say this, since it’s a musician who will be showing me some new notes in my kitchen).   Oh and another friend is coming over to make Baklava as well.   How lucky can I get?   Sorry, bursting out with big grins here from excitement.   I’ve had Robin’s Baklava before and I know how additive it can be.   And now I’ll learn how to make it as well.  But that will have to be a separate post.

I wrote the above last week when I was all excited.   Now that the big day has come and gone, well, all I can say is I had so much fun.    Debi Jordan is my musician friend ( Shameless plug for her music here) and I gotta say she rocks it in the kitchen and is welcome any time she wants to come on over and cook with me.   Especially when I can expand my repertoire a little.

Now, you will have to bear with me, cause nothing got measured out, so a lot of it was ‘eyeballed’ and a smidge and a dash and some of this and some of that.  But I can guesstimate pretty well so…   I also did a little shopping and picked up a jar of grape leaves as well as a couple of other things.   We didn’t use the couscous, but I can use that when I make some Tabbouli again.

Debi cutting up onions, she already has the grape leaves spread out

To make the stuffed grape leaves you need grape leaves, and they come in a jar.  Debi prefers Orlando Brand, California style.  I also picked up a jar just in case, but we had more than enough and we didn’t get a count on just many of those little suckers we rolled.   There are a few things you need to know about grape leaves, one is that you must remove them from the jar and gently flatten them onto a plate so they can relax a little and unfurl.   Another thing to know is that there is a right and a wrong side on grape leaves.  You always put the meat or rice on the inside of the leaf, where the main veins are.  The smooth side is always out.   Another tip, you nip off the end of the stems as you don’t want them inside.   All that being said, let’s get on with it.

I ground up some lamb and some beef.   There was about three pounds total.

I love my KitchenAid, it does so much for me.

Put that in a big bowl and Debi added some rice and seasoning.   There is the other thing, she used a spice mixture called Syrian Pepper.

All ready to mix together.

Which is basically a mixture of black peppercorns, allspice, cloves and nutmeg, all ground up together.   Some recipes call for cinnamon as well.   This was a new taste for me, and while I was a little hesitant, I found I liked it.  I’m not all that fond of Nutmeg, but it was complemented very nicely by the other spices.  Recipe for Syrian Pepper at the end of this post by the way.

Debi added about a cup or so of rice into the meat mixture, she did what many good cooks do, she eyeballed it.  Of course she has made this many times before so she knew the right proportions.    I’m guessing she also added almost a tablespoon of Syrian Pepper as well as about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of regular ground pepper.   She mixed that all together and we commenced to rolling.

Open the grape leaves up, with the vein side in, take about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture and form it into a cigar shape.  I found out later, we actually put too much meat in each package, but it’s all good and a learning curve.

 Tuck the base of the leaf up and over the meat, and fold in the sides, just as if you were wrapping a package, you don’t want any loose leaf hanging out.
Roll it up into a cylinder, making sure that the leaf stays tucked in.   You want it tight but not too tight, the rice will expand as it cooks and you don’t want a bunch of burst leaves, it would totally defeat the whole concept of stuffed grape leaves.   Also, you place them in the pot seam side down.   If you don’t they will come undone.    And I need to add something else here.  Some of the grape leaves were stuffed with rice which we’d par cooked with some of the Syrian pepper and Za’atar for a vegetarian version of the Stuffed Grape Leaves, so if you have a vegetarian around, you can safely serve them some grape leaves as well.

Once we got all the meat and rice rolled into nice little rolls, it was time to cook them.   As they were rolled we placed them into a large pot (and I neglected to get a picture of that, but hey, I was busy rolling), and covered them with water with about a cup or so of lemon juice and some garlic cloves. This was left to simmer for about an hour or until the rice was cooked.  Debi said she could tell when they were done by the way they smelled, but I caught her taking a taste test.   We then turned off the pot and let it sit while the rest of the meal was prepared.

While I was busy grinding the meat, Debi was making a Syrian Salad, isn’t it gorgeous looking?   as well as the Lebhan, which is a yoghurt sauce.

In the salad was Spinach, Red Onions, Beets, Cucumbers and Feta Cheese.   She finished it off with some Za’ tar seasoning, roasted pine nuts and olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing.

Also along the way, I did take a few pictures of the Baklava as it was being built, which is another post entirely.

However, some phyllo dough was left over and there was still some feta cheese as well as pine nuts and so Debi made some Spinach Pies.  After Robin lined the muffin tin with some phyllo dough brushed with butter.   These were baked off and wow, now I know how to make a version of Spanakoppita or I’ll just call them Spinach Pies, giggle.  They may not have looked real purty, but they sure tasted good.

Stuffed Grape Leaves, Spinach Pie, Leban Salad and Yoghurt sauce.  A really great meal.

We finished off the meal with some Cherry Tarts that I’d thrown together earlier in the day, as the Baklava needed to age before we could eat that.

And Robin was right about that.  I snuck a piece the next day, but it is now covered and waiting out of temptations way, I hope.   I’ll eat some in a few days.

3 ounces whole allspice
1 ounce whole black peppercorn
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Grind the allspice, pepper, and cloves in a food processor, coffee grinder or blender.

Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and pulse briefly to combine

So there you have part of my cooking adventures, I so love it when someone asks if they can come over to my house and cook, especially when I get introduced to a cuisine I’m not familiar with.    We had some laughs, I learned how to roll a grape leaf and now I have a supply of Za’atar in my cupboard.

Spinach Maria and Boat Club for June

I am so thankful for being able to attend our monthly potlucks at Boat Club, it means I get to try lots of new dishes and if I’m lucky I get recipes as well.  The best of both worlds.    And last night was no exception.

We had everything from ham to salad to desserts.    We really do have the best cooks here.  I say that every month, but it’s true.

And I have to admit to taking the easy way out this time.   I made my Blooming Onion bread and a Black Olive Tapenade, mainly cause I had the ingredients to hand and they were easy to make, and I wasn’t feeling inspired.  I did change up the Blooming Onion Bread a little, mainly cause I had some cheddar cheese and some Pepper Jack cheese that I’d already sliced and that were in the freezer.    And of course I always have at least one can of Black Olives on hand so I can make a quick Tapenade.  I used some Ciabatta rolls I had in the freezer for the Tapenade, and that worked well also.

Now without further ado, drum roll please….   Here are the dishes we had last night and I’m following that with the recipe for the Spinach Maria, which was OMG good.


Blooming Onion Bread


Tapenade with Ciabatta Roll slices  


Spicy Asian White Bean Dip




Fresh Sliced Cucumbers


Spinach Maria


Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno’s


Fresh carrots and tomatoes




More Dessert


Creamsicle Cookies



And here’s the recipe for the Spinach Maria.   And this was shamelessly copied from this blog Nibble Me This  which has some really yummy looking recipes and stunning photography.     This is usually served in little ramekins at Calhoun’s restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Calhoun’s Spinach Maria


5 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach

4 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

5 tablespoons melted butter

6 tablespoons flour

8 ounces  Velveeta cheese

8 ounces cheddar cheese

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (for topping)

Thaw spinach in refrigerator for 24 hours. Squeeze as much excess water as possible out of spinach. Heat milk and spices in 4-quart saucepan on medium heat to just below a boil (190 degrees). Then reduce heat and simmer. Saute chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Add to saucepan. Combine 5 tablespoons melted butter with flour in a small suate pan. (This is the first step of making a roux, which will thicken the sauce.) Mix until completely blended. Cook on low heat 3-4 minutes to make roux. Add roux to milk in saucepan and mix well. Continue to cook until sauce thickens.

Cut Velveeta, cheddar and Jack cheese into small cubes and add to saucepan. Continue to mix until all the cheese is completely melted and blended into sauce. Be careful not to burn the sauce while cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Add drained spinach to cheese sauce, mix until completely blended. Spoon into 11-by-9-by-2-inch casserole dish and top with grated Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.


Veggie Pizza



I love a good veggie pizza, and I made such a good one the other night for our Tapa’s night.   I was kinda playing around with toppings, and made what I’ve heard referred to as a Lady’s Pizza.  I think it was called that because while there’s cheese on here, there is no tomato sauce, and it’s really rather dainty.  Although I did notice some of the guys eating this as well.

To start with, your favorite pizza dough.   I don’t have one yet, but I think I’m going to start experimenting a little.   I used a box mix, (I know, but…) patted it out into a rough rectangle, then drizzled some EVOO over that.  Spread the oil around then dotted it with some well-drained, frozen spinach, added some Brie cheese, in little chunks,some sautéed mushrooms, some sautéed green onions and some thin slivers of sautéed green peppers.   Topped that whole thing with some shredded italian cheeses, and drizzled some more EVOO over the top and

then baked it until the cheese was melted and golden, and the crust was browned.    And it was soooooo  good.

Although, the next time I think I’ll try using some more fun cheeses, as well as a better dough.   I have recipes for Pizza dough that need to be evaluated.
However, in the meantime, this was very tasty, and I noticed that it disappeared faster than the other regular type pizza I’d made.

Happy Pizza’ing to you.