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Published: Sunday, 4/24/2011

Cute little quiches for a special meal


For Easter every year, we try to come up with a recipe that's special enough for entertaining, but one that allows us to enjoy ourselves in the process.

Enter today's Pesto Cream-Cheese Mini Quiches. With just 10 minutes of preparation, a quick-bake brunch (or lunch or dinner) is served.

Although you probably already have your Easter menu in mind -- or have already prepared and consumed your meal -- this recipe is one to keep in mind for any occasion.

There are several secrets to the ease of these cute little quiches. We use frozen unsweetened tart shells, which are basically tiny pie or quiche shells, and refrigerated pesto from the supermarket.

The surprise ingredient -- a tablespoon of baking mix (such as Bisquick) -- is responsible for the fact that these little quiches get puffy and stay that way instead of settling and sinking.

All you need to round out your spring feast is a fruit salad and some yummy asparagus.

We've got a great recipe for Sauteed Asparagus with Garlic on our Web site at www.KitchenScoop.com.

What are you planning to serve for spring entertaining? Let us know via e-mail at tellus@KitchenScoop.com.

Contact Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross at Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016. Or visit www.kitchenscoop.com.

Pesto Cream-Cheese Mini Quiches

Start to finish: 10 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to bake, five minutes to cool

8 frozen mini (3-inch) tart shells (see Cook's note)

3 large eggs

3 ounces Neufchatel or cream cheese

⅓ cup 2 percent milk (or higher fat)

1 tablespoon basil pesto (see Cook's note)

1 tablespoon baking mix, such as Jiffy or Bisquick

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook's note: There are several brands of mini "unsweetened" tart shells, available in most major grocery chains. They are located alongside the regular size frozen pie shells and puff pastry. You can use the ultra-mini tart shells that are bite size, but we like the heartiness and single-serving size of the 3-inch tart shell. We specify "unsweetened," as some tart shells are made especially for desserts and are slightly sweetened. If that is all you can find, they will be perfectly fine.

We like to use refrigerated pesto from the supermarket, which can be found alongside refrigerated pastas and sauces.

Recipe can be doubled easily.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the tart shells according to package directions on a baking sheet, and set aside.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Whisk well or use a hand-held mixer to blend. Pour into the tart shells. Place in the oven, and bake, uncovered, until the quiches are puffy and begin to turn golden at the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool five minutes, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Approximate values per 3-inch quiche: 210 calories (51 percent from fat), 12 g fat (4 g saturated), 85 mg cholesterol, 5.5 g protein, 20.5 g carbohydrates, trace amount dietary fiber, 329 mg sodium

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