Spinach and Ham Quiche

Hello again, dear readers.

Did my absence make your heart grow fonder?

I’m not certain I was missed, but I am certain you’ll enjoy this quiche recipe from Cook This Not That.

What you’ll need

  • 1 frozen pie shell
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 bunch of spinach, washed, dried, and stemmed
  • 2 oz smoked ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, such as Gruyère
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

The first step is to pre-heat your oven to 375.

By the way, I opted for making my own pie shell. I googled quiche crust and just went with that. It wasn’t too difficult to make.

The beauty of quiche crusts is that they are supposed to be thin and if you screw up and make it too thin, the egg in the quiche will do some nice chalking for you.

No shame in getting a pie shell from the store though. I’d just check out those package instructions to make sure you bake accurately.

Whichever shell path you take, the goal is to just toast it. In other words, we don’t want it brown just yet. The cookbook said that would be about 8  minutes, but again I’d alter that depending.

While you’re waiting for the magic hour of baking, go ahead and heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Then add the garlic and cook for only 30 seconds. Once that countdown is up, go ahead and add the spinach. Cook this for about five minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

Once the spinach has cooked, remove it from the pan and shake out as much excess water as possible. Then mix it in a bowl along with the ham, cheese, eggs, milk, and half-and-half.

Top this off with salt and the nutmeg once you feel everything is nicely mixed.

Hopefully by now the shell crust has toasted properly. If it is, then add the egg mixture in  and bake for about 12 minutes.

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Pardon my quiche

I’m going to be honest. I’m having writer’s block about how to describe my enjoyment of this recipe.

It’s the same critique my friends. If you’ve been a dedicated reader you already know I love egg dishes. So honestly, it’s almost impossible to disappoint me with quiche. Especially when ham and cheese is involved.

Why is Gruyère so good too? It’s a slightly bitter, cheesy butter when melted. It pairs so well with eggs and ham.

You can’t go wrong folks. You just can’t.

So yeah, that’s all I have to say and that it’s nice to be back. I’ll try to not let so much time pass from now on.

Til next time!

White Beans can Crostini

My next recipe comes from Light and Healthy and is a continuation on the crostini recipe I wrote about months ago.

This recipe challenges you to not be a basic with your tiny garlic bread and instead asks you to be extra vanilla with white beans and arugula.

I’m not so sure that joke worked. Maybe I need to get my money back from that comedy class I took.

What you’ll need

  • 1 large baguette, cut on the bias into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, one un-cut and two minced
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 15 ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 shallot minced (3 tablespoons worth)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 ounce of arugula, chopped (1/2 cups worth)

The first step is to mix the beans, oil, lemon juice, and 2 garlic cloves in a food processor until the mixture is smooth. It’ll look a lot like hummus by the time you’re through.

Next, combine this mixture in a bowl along with the cayenne and shallot. Feel free to also season with salt and pepper as well.

Once this is combined, cover the bowl and allow it to rest under room temperature for about an hour.

When you’ve got 10-15 minutes left waiting for that mixture to settle go ahead and prepare your crostini by following the crostini recipe I mentioned earlier.

When that basic recipe is complete, your bean mixture should be well settled. Take a tablespoon of the bean mixture and spread it on each slice. Then sprinkle arugula on top and you are finito!

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This is a little larger than crostini, but the taste will be the same

As you can see in the photo, I purchased bread that was little bigger than what is called for. You’ll actually want to select a baguette that’s about half the width of what I ended up with.

If you want to be a goody two shoes and follow the rules that is. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter. I can assure you it’ll still taste great.

So how is the taste?

Pretty damn good. As I mentioned earlier, the bean spread reminded me of hummus and that follows through in regards to taste as well, but my favorite part of this recipe is the arugula.

I love arugula. It’s springy and tastes so fresh and green with it’s slightly nutty flavors. Combine that with a bean spread and you just feel…I don’t know…one with nature I guess.

Like you’re just meeting mother nature and your nonna for a light picnic. That’s the best way I can describe it.

So go ahead, plan your fantasy picnic and be one with the universe.

 

 

 

Eggs in Purgatory

This is a fitting recipe to describe my life currently let me tell you. Eggs in Purgatory.

Scratch that, I realize that the egg bit makes it seem like I’m going through menopause or trying to get pregnant maybe. Neither of those things is happening.

What I meant is that work has been hell for me right now and the weekend is like purgatory before I have to go back to the hell on Monday.

Purgatory isn’t so short and oh so sweet for most people, so I suppose I should feel lucky in that regard. I mean have you read Dante’s The Diving Comedy? 

Whatever purgatory you’re in right now, the good news is that this recipe is from Cook This, Not That which should help your case if you’re hoping to go up instead of down.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of farro or barley
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 ounces of pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mince
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (feel free to up the ante on this one if you enjoy spice as well)
  • 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs

The first step is to cook your farro or barley. To do so, follow package instructions which will most likely tell you to boil in water for x amount of time.

While x amount of time is occurring, heat the oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, cook the pancetta and let it brown slightly. Next, add the onions, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook this until the onion has softened which should take around three minutes and then throw in the tomatoes and your grains from before. Provided said grains are ready to be cooked that is.

Cook this until the tomato juices have slightly reduced. This should be about 5 minutes and once these 5 minutes are up this is your time to season with salt and pepper to your likeing.

We are now ready to cook the eggs and will do so by creating 8 large wells in the sauce. It’s going to be difficult to do this perfectly, but try your best. Our goal is to make a well that will fit an egg. Once you’ve made eight that can accommodate start cracking your eggs into each of their little wells.

Cook the eggs under low heat for about 7 minutes until they’re cooked, but still slightly runny. You can poke your eggs with a pitchfork to make them cook faster if necessary. That might earn you points down instead of up though. Choose your own adventure.

Once those eggs are cooked, you’re ready to enjoy!

Cook This, Not That recommends consuming this dish by scooping it up with some bread and I say don’t make it just any bread. Make it garlic bread!

That would be straying from the low calorie breakfast goal intended unless you incorporated the crostini from Light and Healthy. Seems like a good option here to me. Again choose your own adventure, but depending on your current state of health garlic bread could be the devil on your shoulder. Tread carefully.

This was my first experience with Eggs in Purgatory and I have to save I was not disappointed. It’s an Italian version of Huevos Rancheros which makes the list of breakfast favorites for this girl so I’m not too surprised.

It was fairly easy to make as well. I did struggle with not breaking up the egg when I tried to remove it from my pan. The picture below was the best result I could get and I recognize it’s not one of my better pictures.

I’m not a professional food photographer so if this offends you then I suggest you hire one for me.

Despite it’s looks, this was tasty and I suggest you give it a chance. It may not be beautiful but it’s got a good soul.

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Eggs in Purgatory

Crostini, aka tiny garlic bread

My next recipe comes from Light and Healthy and the good news is that mini garlic toast doesn’t need much tweaking if you need to lay low when it comes to food consumption.

The only tip Light and Healthy has given us is to use olive oil spray so one can control the amount of oil and avoid infomercial level embarrassment like below

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We’ve all been there

Other than that this is your standard garlic bread recipe which consists of rubbing garlic on bread.

In case you don’t know how to do that, here’s what you’ll need.

  • 1 large baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • olive oil spray
  • salt and pepper

The first step is pre-heat the oven to 400 and place your rack in the middle.

Once the oven is heated, place the toast on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. You’ll want to turn them over half way through this process as well.

When baking time is up, take them out of the oven and immediately rub the garlic on each toast. You only need to do one side as well.

After the garlic rub, spray each toast with oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, cross your fingers, throw salt over your left shoulder, and then you should have some mini garlic bread.

For those of you who are not aware of my sarcasm, you don’t have to do the last two steps.

My point with the jokes is that this is elementary cooking my friends and I have faith each and every one of you can make this.

It’s so easy that I don’t know how to elaborate more on this or how to even end this post. So, on that note, check out this cute cat plate with crostini and have a good day!

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Crostini makes kitties happy

 

 

 

Isa’s Wild Rice Soup

This recipe comes from Isa Does It and is a vegan alternative to chicken and rice soup.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of peeled and thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
  • 1 cup of wild rice
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 pound of seitan
  • 1 15 ounce can of great northern beans, rinsed and drained

Being the omnivore that I am, I had never heard of seitan until making this soup. Tofu, tempeh, and soy alternatives of meat for sure, but not seitan. Seitan did remind me of something though….

Church lady nc state - Tried this new vegan meat substitute... Could it be SEITAN?!

Seems like I’m not the only one who thought of the church lady

Seitan is a popular chicken alternative because it’s denser than soy and tofu based meat alternatives. You can buy firm tofu, but usually tofu has that soft jello like texture in the middle that clues my brain into knowing I’m not eating meat.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still tell seitan isn’t meat, but it’s closer to the real thing due to level of firmness.

Which makes me concerned that maybe there’s a reason it’s called seitan. Gonna have to consult the church lady on this one.

Away with you seitan! We need to move on and talk about how to prepare this soup.

First you pre-heat your favorite pot that you got crafted in California and heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add those onions in and saute with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until it’s translucent. This is so seitan can see it’s soul better for stealing purposes.

Add some garlic next and saute that until you smell it. Next toss in the carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir that pot up because stirring the pot sometimes gets seitan’s attention.

This may not be enough, however, so we need to throw in some wild rice into the mix along with lentils and broth. Cover the pot and bring it a hellish boil. Church lady will then come in and try to save its soul. It doesn’t work, but the heat will go to a simmer. She’ll leave the lid open slighty so redeemed souls can escape. Allow them to escape for about 25 minutes.

By now, seitan should learn about this golden opportunity to steal some wild rice souls, but like with most professionals preparations must be made.

Seitan likes to prepare itself by soaking in a hot pan with oil. Not surprising right?

Prepare that pan by heating it over medium heat and then adding the oil. Once the temperature is right, allow seitan to take an oil bath for about 5 minutes.

Seitan will be relaxing in its bath until the rice, beans, and lentils have softened. You’d think this would be the perfect moment for seitan to strike, but it won’t until we’ve tested the soup for salt seasoning.

Once that’s been prepared to everyone’s liking, seitan waits til the soup is served into individual bowls before it makes its move.

We now have a condemned soul for consumption.

Despite my bad taste of humor into turning this into a story of ungodliness, this is actually a pure soup for those of you who love animals.

I also love animals but unfortunately enjoy eating chicken. Despite this, I thought seitan was a tasty alternative. Knowing  it’s high in protein is beneficial as well.

I suggest doing your research about what seitan to use however. This was my first time with seitan, so I just grabbed what was available, but I read up on it after the fact and some pre-packaged seitan has extra additives like sodium that negate the health benefits.

Otherwise I highly recommend it as a meat alternative.

Enjoy!

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Seitan’s soup

 

Homemade Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa are a favorite eating pastime of mine. I’ve known how to make my own salsa for a few years now, but this was my first attempt to make my own chips.

The greatest news about this chip making recipe is that it comes from the Light and Healthy Cookbook, so you can feel a little less guilty about eating a giant bowl of chips and salsa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Not that I ever do that or anything.

What you’ll need for the salsa

  • 2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (5-6 medium), cored, seeded, and chopped medium
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup of minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder

What you need for the chips

  • 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 6 wedges
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

The fist step in making the salsa is to place the tomatoes in a strainer with a bowl underneath the strainer. Sprinkle salt on top of the tomatoes and let them drain for about 30 minutes. Discard the liquid once the 30 minutes are up.

While the tomatoes are being softened with salt, you can combine the onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and chili powder in a medium bowl.

Side note, if you like things hot like I do, don’t discard the jalapeno seeds. If you’re truly like me, you’ll add another jalapeno as well.

Put one-third of the drained tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Then add these tomatoes to your onion and chili bowl you created earlier. Then add the chunky tomatoes and mix it all together.

Cover this mixture and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

We are now ready to make our chips!

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 350. Place your chips as evenly as possible, spray with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake until they are slightly browned which should be around 8-12 minutes. Flip the chips when this occurs and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes. By this time the chips should be ready to eat, but if they aren’t just tackle on more time in the oven. You want to make sure they are nice and crisp.

Whether you need more time or not, they will need to cool before consumption which should work out with waiting on that delicious salsa you just made.

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Overall, I was happy with this recipe. I prefer salsa that isn’t quite as chunky most of the time, but I like how the chunky tomatoes sort of spritz juice in you mouth. It makes me feel light and refreshed.

My chips were not consistently crisp which was disappointing, but I blame myself. I didn’t bake them long enough and didn’t realize they weren’t really as crisp as they seemed. So be sure to really check those chips out before taking them out of the oven.

I’m sure if I made this again, I’d have more success and as much as I love greasy fried chips, it’s good to have heatlhy alternatives you can make yourself.

Isa’s Babushka Borscht

I enjoy Isa from Isa Does It. She throws in little slices of humor and tips for lazy cooks. Plus, she has a deep connection with her heritage, which I appreciate and relate to.

This particular recipe is a vegan alternative to borscht and I’m guessing it comes from her grandmother since babushka means grandmother or elderly woman in Russian. I do know at the very least that her ancestors are Russian and that she loves imagining them eating and preparing this dish. As I like to do with my own ancestors whenever I make pasta.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 chunks
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • several pinches of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • cashew cream (optional)
  • fresh dill, for garnish

Before I lay down the cooking steps, let me side track into how to make the cashew cream.

It’s simple, but it takes some planning ahead. All you do is take one cup of cashews and soak them in water for two hours. Drain the water and place the nuts in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend until it’s smooth and creamy. Isa also notes you can spice it up with salt and lemon juice if you desire.

If you are not vegan, however, a friend of mine who spent some time in Russia likes to make his borscht with sour cream. I have yet to try his borscht recipe, but I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling the cashew cream. If you are a corrupted animal product dairy lover like myself, you also might find it preferable.

The first step, beyond the cream, is to pre-heat the oil in your largest soup pot. Saute the onion with some salt for about 5-7 minutes. The onions should be slightly soft and translucent in color. Add the garlic next, and cook for only 30 seconds.

Now we will add just about all the remaining ingredients. The lemon juice, dill, and cream are the only ingredients left out at this time.

Cover the pot and allow it to boil. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat, leave the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the beets are tender.

Once the beets have been tendered, add the lemon juice and then serve individually with garnished cream and dill.

My final results turned out ok. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t too happy with the cashew cream. I think I would have preferred a dairy product of some sort. I made her cashew cream for another recipe, however, and thought it was delicious. It’s possible I didn’t blend well enough this time or maybe the cashews were fresher the first time I made it.

Other than that, I found this soup to not only be healthy, but full-filling. Beets aren’t magical fruits, but they are magical vegetables with numerous health benefits.

Which is probably why I want to corrupt this soup with sour cream. Without sour cream, it’s just too good for me and I don’t deserve it unless I knock it down a peg.

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