Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mini Spinach Pies

In our house, we have a two "no-thank-you-bites" rule.  When we have a new food, the children must take at least two bites before they are allowed to say a polite "no thank you" and move on to something else.  With the littlest, sometimes it goes like this "just take this bite and I'll leave you alone."  Sometimes, with the biggest, it goes like this "I didn't see you take two bites, take another one--SQUIRREL--oh, sorry honey, didn't see that one either, take another one..." and so on.  The next time we have that particular food, they have to eat it if that is what we are having for dinner.

That being said, you have to know your children.  We have learned that Charleigh's favorite food is asparagus and that she really doesn't like meat (I keep telling her that she can be a vegetarian when she is 12, but until she will eat the right foods to get enough protein, she has to eat her meat).  We have also learned that Dani is the only one in our family that doesn't like asparagus, so we don't make her eat it.  Charleigh likes spinach raw, Dani likes it cooked.  Each of them will not eat it the other way.

So I stock the freezer with these little spinach pies for Dani and when we have asparagus for dinner, we just defrost a couple ("Five, because I am five years old, Mommy!") for Dani to eat.

Just a little background for you...Dani was borderline anemic when she was a baby and even feeding her beef five times a week wasn't correcting it, so we were trying all iron-filled food.  We started with spinach filled things, like quiche (check out that blog post here).  Each time, she would say "I don't want the crust...I don't want the egg...I don't want the ham..." Then we tried spanakopita but she didn't want the crust.  So we ended up with making these little spinach pies--kind of the filling of spanakopita but without the pastry (or the fuss, thank you baby girl for making my life a little easier here).  Oh, and here is the cutest thing--she still calls feta cheese "marshmallow cheese," as she did when she was a toddler.  Well, it does look like marshmallows!

My little photobomber...I can't get her out of pictures when I'm cooking.  When photographer Daddy wants to take pictures, she will not cooperate--Yay 3-year-olds!

Chop and saute onion.  In the past, I have tried to hide this step from the biggest.  She thinks she doesn't line onions.  This time, she saw me and I told her that I was making some spinach pies for me and I like onions.  Then I took a HUGE risk...I asked her "can I tell you a secret?  I've been making yours with onions for a long time now.  I just cut them up really small so you don't see them.  Can I make yours with onions this time?"  I held my breath for a beat or two...then she shrugged an okay and left the kitchen.  Phew!

Squeeze the water out of the spinach and set aside in a bowl.  I used to do this with a towel.  Now I just do it by the handful, it is actually less messy that way.

To get the rest of the water out of the spinach, toss with the onions in the skillet for a few minutes.  Place back in bowl to cool and add oregano, lemon zest, parsley and a pinch of nutmeg.

Stir in feta, parmasen, and eggs, stir to combine.

Remind your husband that there is raw egg in there as he tries to eat the feta out of the bowl.

Scoop into a greased mini muffin tin.

Bake 20 minutes at 350.

Mini Spinach Pies

4 boxes frozen chopped spinach (9-10 oz each)
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs dried oregano
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
zest of one lemon
8 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350.  Squeeze the water out of the spinach and set aside in a large bowl.  Saute the onion in the olive oil until softened.  Use your fingers to separate the spinach a bit and add to skillet for a minute or two (just to dry it out a little more). Add oregeno, nutmeg, salt, pepper, parsley and lemon zest to the spinach and toss to combine.  Place back in the bowl and let it cool a bit.  Add feta, parmesan, and eggs and stir.
Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.  (This recipe makes 36 pies, stuffing the tins full.  You can easily stretch it out into 48 pies)  Fill each tin to the top with the spinach mixture.  Bake 15-20 minutes til golden brown on the edges.  Serve warm or let cool completely and freeze.  To defrost when frozen, heat 5 pies on a plate for 1 minute at 50% power.

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