Friday, October 28, 2011

Baked Frittatas and Quiches

One of my favorite things to make when I have a few people coming for brunch or lunch is quiche. It's a great way to get creative and use up things in your fridge that are ready to be eaten. Any veggie or protein tastes great with eggs, so like omelets, you can use what you have, and it's pretty much guaranteed to taste wonderful.

If making quiche, I will make my own pie crust or purchase an already made one from the freezer section at the grocery store.

If making it without a crust, as in this case...I call it a baked frittata. Frittatas are generally started on the stove in a pan and finished in the oven...but this one was oven-only. It works just fine.

I started by washing and tearing up some  rainbow chard into smaller pieces and wilting it (no oil) in a sautee pan.
Then I added diced red pepper...until it was all soft and tender.

Next, I prepped the egg custard. I used the equivalent of 6 eggs with egg substitute, 1/2 cup of milk, salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.

I put the veggies, some cooked sausage, and cheese at the bottom of my "greased" pie dish. If making it with crust, I will spread Dijon mustard on the bottom of the pie crust first for extra flavor, then add the goodies.

Pour in the egg mixture and top with more cheese.

Bake at 375F for about 45-60 minutes, on the middle rack, and placing a cookie sheet below it just in case it overflows while it rises.

I served it with a green salad and some roasted potatoes and squash. Yum!
When you think of ingredients to add to your quiche or frittata, remember to add only cooked meats to it. Veggies don't need to be cooked first, but some like peppers, squash, onions, and leafy greens have a better flavor if they are sauteed a little first. Happy cookin'!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Try saying that 4 times fast. You might be able to make these treats from start to finish before you get the words out of your mouth straight.

They are that easy and quick. Five ingredients that many people have on hand at all times. Cake mix. Cream cheese. Peanut butter. Egg.

And tasty morsels (chocolate or peanut butter chips or whatever you have on hand). C'est tout. That's all, folks.

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies (adapted from a recipe I saw in a magazine - can't remember which one)
1 Package Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 large egg
3/4 cup chocolate chips and/or peanut butter chips (Nestle makes them in a mixed bag)

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all the ingredients together (in a stand mixer is easiest, though I did it with a hand mixer and it worked fine). Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down the dough for a flatter cookie. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Eat.

As fast as you make them, you could devour them all. They are definitely addictive.

The dough may seem dry at first, but it comes together into one big clump of chocolatey-peanut-butter-goodness.

On the right you can see the balls of dough. On the left, you see I've squished them a little flat. They stay roughly the same shape and size, so you can put them pretty close to each other on the cookie sheet.

Eight minutes and they are done. My trick is to do the dishes while you wait, then the mess is gone, and you can just enjoy the eating part.

Because trust me. You'll want to eat them. All.

Fall has really, really arrived with this crazy desire to bake. Now, if only I were getting the extreme workout that my oven is...!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Seattle Food Tour, Part 2

It's time I finished posting about Seattle. It's already been a month. Man, time is fleeting. I'll make this quick-ish!

The Forge Lounge We stopped here after yelping bars in the area downtown, where we were waiting for our friend Mel to come and pick us up for dinner. It was a fun little hole-in-the-wall (my favorite type of place). I'm trying to cut down on the alcohol (my liver is not behaving), so I asked for a mocktail. The bartender was awesome. He made me a ginger beer with club soda and a squeeze of lime and lemon...delish! And the coolest part about this guy was that he was cooking up a batch of bacon jam while he ran the whole happy hour by himself. Yes, that's what I said. Bacon Jam. And, he let us taste it. You can bet you will be seeing that one on this blog sometime in the near future - combining two of my favorite things into one. Oh yeah.

Volterra We went here after a couple of drinks in the Ballard area. Cute, chic, fun part of town. Supposedly this Italian restaurant is one of Rachael Ray's faves. It was quite yumm-o. The cheese and charcuterie (meat) plates were amazing. These were our entrees. It's been so long I don't really know what they were. But they were good. :) The pea risotto at the bottom was hubby's favorite of the night, light, creamy, and topped off with some homemade sausages.

Roxy's Diner We met our friend Jillian here for breakfast before heading out of town to Yakima, WA. This place has a massive menu of Jewish deli food - bagels, lox, latkes, pastrami, get the picture. Haha. Ok, it's Jewish deli food plus all the American goodies too, like peanut butter pancakes. This place is great for breakfast or lunch. We tried both because after taking these pictures...
Jillian, me, and hubby. I love reunions.

The Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich...a winner!

Potato pancakes with bacon and eggs
...I left my camera on the table, and I had to go back for we ate lunch there 3 days later. Everything was really good and the service is great too. A real local hang out. It kind of screams, "Seattle!"

Bonair Winery & Silver Lake Winery Drive 2 hours outside of Seattle, and you'll find a little wine country. It's beautiful out there with crisp clean air and really nice wines. They have ice wines, which are really wonderful, sweet, light dessert wines made from grapes that are frozen while still on the vine. We picnicked on the grounds at Bonair, which reminded us of Europe. I didn't get any great photos here, unfortunately. But you can click on the names of the wineries and they will link you to their webistes for more info.

All in all, we had a fabulous time in Washington and wish it was even closer...we'd be there a lot more often if that were the case. Great friends, great food...can't get much better for this girl. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grab 'n Go Cookies

I've watched a couple of "Hungry Girl" episodes on Cooking Channel, with author and host, Lisa Lillien. Her recipes are creative, but often times, I think, "No wonder it's called Hungry Girl - her recipes leave you hungry!" But this recipe caught my eye because 1) I'm always looking for healthful snacks and 2) I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge...or at least enough of them and some that I could substitute with other things.

The recipe only makes 4 large cookies, so I tested it to see if my hubby would like them. He did. So I'm making more. I made 5x the recipe today because I had the rest of the 15oz. can of pumpkin puree to use up. It measured about 1.25 cups, so there you go - I did the math. :) I'll be freezing the extras and they will be ready to go whenever we're looking for a sweet snack! They are a little more like cake or a muffin than a cookie, but less messy to take with you.

Here's the recipe:

Grab 'n Go Cookies from Lisa Lillien
1/4 c. high-fiber cereal twigs (Fiber One Original, but I used Red Mill wheat bran)
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. + 2 T. whole wheat flour
1/4 no-calorie sweetener (Splenda)
2 T. brown sugar, not packed (I used the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
2tsp. sugar-free French Vanilla powdered creamer (I used regular vanilla extract)
1/3 c. pureed peaches (I used applesauce)
1/4 c. canned pure pumpkin
1/4 c. egg substitute (or 1 large egg, beaten)
1 T. golden raisins (I used regular raisins)
1 T. dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a food processor or blender, grind cereal to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Transfer crumbs to a large bowl.
To the bowl, add oats, flour, sweetener, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
In a medium bowl, dissolve powdered creamer in 2 tablespoons hot water. Add all other wet ingredients (pureed peaches, pumpkin, and egg substitute) and stir until mixed well.
Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir until completely blended. Chop raisins and cranberries and stir into the batter, evenly distributing and making sure they don't all stick together.

The mixture is sticky, like a cake batter
Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray and spoon batter into 4 evenly spaced circles with a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, if using. Spread batter out a bit with the back of a spoon.
I used my fingers to spread it out to a nice round shape

Bake in the oven until tops of treats are just slightly crispy, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on the sheet. Grab 'n go!

PER SERVING (1 cookie): 154 calories, 1.5g fat, 166mg sodium, 32.5g carbs, 5g fiber, 10.5g sugars, 5g protein

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cauliflower & Chard Soup With Chorizo & Crispy Potatoes

Last week I had a head of cauliflower, green onions, and a small bunch of Swiss chard leftover from my CSA box. The days got away from me before I'd be able to use them - so I cut everything up, threw it all in a freezer bag, and put it away for the weekend since I was heading out of town.

Yesterday, I took everything out to thaw, and then I got to cookin'.

I was watching Food Network early last week and saw an episode of "Giada at Home." It was quite timely because she made a cauliflower soup!

I modified her recipe a bit, but here is hers (click on this link for the whole recipe), and I'll tell you how I changed it using what I had instead:

Cauliflower Soup (with Bacon and Croutons) from Giada DeLaurentiis            

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped to yield 3/4 cup
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced (I used 3 green onions, chopped)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used dried, ground thyme)
  • 1 head cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • *I added about a cup and a half of chopped Swiss chard

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the celery, shallots, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth, thyme and cauliflower. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
    In batches, puree the soup in a food processor or with a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cool the soup to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.
    Ladle the chilled soup into bowls and garnish with the croutons and bacon. 
    I served mine hot, and in place of the bacon and croutons, I added chorizo and sliced fingerling potatoes sauteed in olive oil, salt and pepper. I had the chorizo in the freezer and the potatoes came in my farm box. Gotta use whatcha got!
    It was a delicious, satisfying fall meal. It actually tasted a lot like broccoli you could use broccoli instead of cauliflower too! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pickled Beets!

If you can't tell, I'm really getting into this canning thing. I've been wanting to try pickling all summer. I know fall officially arrived a couple of weeks ago, and the rain showed up today in Southern California to say bye-bye to summer, but it's not too I pickled some beets. I got a few in my CSA box last week and it was time to use them up. The farm also sent a recipe for pickled beets, so it was perfect.

First, you cook the beets by boiling them in water or roasting them in the oven.

Ingredient list: white vinegar, sugar, salt, water, cumin seed, and whole cloves...

...and BEETS! Aren't these pretty?
Here's the recipe:
Pickled Beets with Cumin and Cloves (from Sherri Brooks Vinton)
2lbs beets
1 c. distilled white vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 T salt
1 T cumin seed
1/4 tsp whole cloves

1. Prep the beets by boiling or roasting until nearly tender. Cut them in half and then into 1/4 inch slices.
2. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium nonreactive saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt, and then remove from the heat.
3. Pack the beets into 3 clean, hot pint jars, arranging them snugly but with enough room for brine to circulate. Divide the cumin seed and cloves among the jars. Pour the hot brine over the beets to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.
4. Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes 3 pints.

I only had 3 beets, so I only did one jar. I just cut the recipe by 2/3.
I'll see how they taste tomorrow!

I love how they glisten in the liquid like jewels of sour and sweet goodness. This was so easy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Seattle Food Tour Spotlight: Salumi

Salumi is a Seattle Food Tour stop that gets its own "spotlight" post because I took so many pictures there and I wanted you to see them all. And, it was the one place that I had on my mind's Must Eat list for the trip. And, it's uh-may-zing. First of all, they are a specialty shop making cured pork products and I love me some pork. Second, the owners are the parents of an Iron Chef.

Can you guess which one?
Maybe this picture of their bookshelf will give you a clue...
If you guessed Mario Batali, congratulations! Either he's their son, or they are just really huge fans. :)

This was the line outside when we arrived at 11:40am. It looked the same when we left at 1pm. They are only open to the public Tuesday-Friday 11-4. But, they cater and can host private parties.

Like any good Italian establishment, there's a wall of family photos.
Mario is in the color pic in the middle.
The counter where you place your order and pay.
Notice the massive meat slicer front and center.
The Porchetta: braised pork shoulder with onions, peppers,
and lots of Italian spices served on a chewy baguette. Think Italian pulled pork.
The Muffo: their take on a classic muffaletta, complete with salami, sopresatta,
provolone, and an olive salad soaked into a ciabatta bun. Think Italy hits New Orleans.

Happy me. Hubby and I always talk about our Top 5 Sandwiches because he's a sandwich lover. He's definitely rubbing off on me because this is definitely Top 5 material and I was loving it. It was well worth the wait in line and the trip to Seattle. I can't wait 'til we get to eat there again!  Oh, and if you're reading this and you live in Seattle, it is your civic duty to try this place out. It will not disappoint.