Spinach Mushroom Quiche

They say that when the cat’s away, the mice will play.

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In this house, when the proverbial cat (aka J) is away, the mice (aka myself and the posse) eat fish, which J abhors. Something about having to eat it 5 nights a week when he was a child completely turned him off of it.

Can’t imagine why….

So in his absence, we partake in crispy panko-breaded cod, spicy salmon filets and all the garlic butter rosemary shrimp we can eat.

Absolute gluttony…. but oh so delicious….

All of this makes me wonder what the posse will eat when J and I are away for a few days next week. I suspect they will celebrate their freedom with a covert run to the closest Whataburger.

Because nothing says “thank god Mom’s not here to cook” like a fast food run.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche – adapted from Valerie Bertinelli

1 tbs. canola oil
2 cups small mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups mixed veggies, such as raw spinach leaves and cooked broccoli and asparagus
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup light cream
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
5 to 6 grinds black peppercorns
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated white Cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 9″ pie crust, fully baked

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the quiche: heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until well browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Then add in the mixed veggies to cook out any excess water and wilt the spinach leaves. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, parsley, thyme and pepper in a large bowl and lightly whisk. Sprinkle half of the Gruyere, Cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano on the crust, followed by the veggie mixture and then the remaining cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top and bake until set, about 35 minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

I’m not a health food fanatic by any means, but lately I have become enamored with Quinoa, Freekah, and Chia Seeds.

Which, quite frankly, sounds like a pop/rap group…

Aside from their many health benefits, I’m doing my part to expand our culinary horizons and venture beyond the standard pasta/rice routine. What am I saying? Pasta is and will always be my go-to carb of choice. Besides bread. And chocolate. And wine.

sigh…

Anyway, look beyond the plain, humble appearance of this casserole, and trust me when I tell you that it tastes way better than it looks. It would be most comparable to Mac and Cheese, but healthier.
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Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Casserole – adapted from buns in my oven

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup broccoli florets
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
1 cup milk
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese, divided

Add the quinoa, water, onion powder, and garlic powder to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Place quinoa in a large mixing bowl.
While the quinoa is cooking, drizzle the broccoli with olive oil, season with a generous amount of black pepper, and roast in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes or until tender crisp. Add to the bowl with the quinoa.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and continue cooking and whisking for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly, and continue cooking until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere and 2 ounces of the cheddar. Whisk until smooth and melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the quinoa and vegetables and stir to combine. Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheddar. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Serve immediately

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread

Ever since I was little, I’ve always been an over-the-top organizer. I keep my clothes arranged by season, color, and style…. my shoes are kept the same way. Every six months I go through my closet and discard items that are past their prime, worn/stained beyond repair, and anything that is clearly out of my age range.

Cut off shorts were discarded years ago. Thank goodness.

I’m on the brink of driving J and the kids insane with my constant organizing and rearranging of the kitchen. I’m simply trying to find the best and most productive locations for everything, which includes putting frequently used food items in glass jars that are clearly labeled.

Clearly. Labeled.

“Mom, where are the chia seeds for my smoothie?”

In the jar. Labeled. Right in front of you. Organized with the mini blender, flax seeds and protein powder for your smoothie as well. Which are….wait for it…..clearly labeled.

Apparently I’m the only one that finds that amusing….

Anyway, given my long term habit of needing order amongst my things, I was highly intrigued when I read about the latest organizational phenomenon circling the web these days – the KonMari method of keeping your clothes folded and perfectly tidy. I’m not sure how I feel about folding versus hanging. But if you’ll excuse me I have some work in my closet I need to attend to…….
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Chocolate Chip Gingerbread – adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder, plus more
    for dusting
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 package (12 oz.) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 12 tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup very hot water

Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the 2 1/2 cups flour, the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and pepper.

In another bowl, toss the chocolate chips with the 2 tbs. flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a 4-cup glass measure or a bowl, whisk together the molasses and hot water. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the molasses mixture in 3 batches, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with the spatula and beating just until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and is firm to the touch, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.

To serve, lightly dust the cake with cocoa powder and cut into wedges.

Cheesecake Brownies

About a month ago, I realized just how appreciative I am for my blog. Oh sure, it’s “my space” and “my creative outlet” – but there’s a bigger, more important reason why.

Simply put, and I know I’ve said this before, it’s preservation of my/our favorite recipes.

I’m referring not only to safeguarding family recipes that could otherwise be lost without saving them here. I’m also referring to the fact the TWO cases of my baking books / cookbooks mysteriously disappeared during the move, along with recipes from those books that I haven’t had a chance to post yet.

And I’m still bitter about it.
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Since I have an incredible kitchen to work in, I’ve found myself saying, wow, this is a great time to work on my bagel making skills again, or maybe whip up that delicious cheese danish that I haven’t made in forever. But I can’t, because I DON’T HAVE THE BOOK and therefore don’t have the recipe.

Ugh.

Enough whining, I know. But I’ll tell you this – my birthday wish list is going to include lots of books from my Amazon page.

Cheesecake Brownies – adapted from Nick Malgieri

About these brownies: Everything from Nick Malgieri is perfect. Follow the directions precisely and don’t overbake them. Use a knife dipped in hot water between slices and you’ll be rewarded with picture perfect squares.

Brownie layer:

  • 8 tbs unsalted butter
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake layer:

  • 16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs

To prepare oven, baking pan: Set rack in middle level of oven. Preheat to 350 degrees. Butter 9-by-13-inch pan. Line with buttered parchment or aluminum foil. Set aside.

To make brownie batter: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. (Note: If all chocolate has not melted, return pan to very low heat and stir constantly to melt chocolate.) In large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt and vanilla until just mixed. Whisk in sugar in stream. Whisk in chocolate and butter mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold in flour. Set aside.

To make cheesecake batter: In bowl of standing electric mixture fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed for about 1 minute or until smooth. Add vanilla. Scrape bowl. Beat well. Beat in 1 egg. Scrape again. Add remaining egg. Beat until just incorporated.

To assemble brownies: Scrape brownie batter into prepared pan. Smooth top. Drop tablespoons of cheesecake batter over brownie batter to cover completely.

To bake brownies: Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely on rack.

To cut: Wrap pan. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) so cake solidifies completely. (Note: This also makes brownies easier to cut.) Transfer brownies to cutting board. Using long knife or spatula, slide it under to loosen paper or foil, then pull it away. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares.

Ginger Stout Cake

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays nothing but a memory now, life as we know it has resumed a bit of normalcy around here. Of course, the definition of normal in this house is wide open to interpretation.

I can hear my father snickering from here.

I’ve hit almost all of my goals for this week, with the exception of the gnocchi I haven’t finished yet. It’s a project much like the pierogi – time consuming, but well worth every bit of effort. Now that my flow chart (a topic for another time) is complete, my plans are laid out, and everything is where is should be, I think this is a perfect time to get started. After all, the weather is lousy (drizzling and cold), the fireplace is on, and the dogs are quiet.

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Time for a slice of this cake and a steamy mug of coffee for fortification..

Ginger Stout Cake – adapted from NY Times

This cake is really, really good. The flavor improves as it sits and the hit of fresh ginger makes it pop. It’s not a holiday-ish cake, but definitely one for cooler weather.

  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup stout (I used Guinness)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tbs. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 3 tbs grated fresh ginger
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan well with the softened butter. Coat the entire pan with  sugar so that it sticks to the butter. Turn the pan over to dump out any excess sugar.

Add the stout and molasses to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Carefully whisk in the baking soda and let cool to room temperature. Be careful as the stout mixture will bubble up.

Sift together the flour and ground spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the fresh ginger, eggs, vanilla extract, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed for five minutes.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the oil. Mix for another 5 minutes. Slowly add the stout mixture and mix for another 5 minutes.

Carefully add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well in between each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes and then flip upside down to release while still warm. Let cool completely.

 

Ricotta Cheesecake

As much as I loved this cheesecake, I was a bit bothered by the simple fact that it didn’t have a crust. I suppose I’m a purist like that, and I suppose it would be very simple to add one the next time I make it. I guess the question is, what kind of crust would you add? Graham crackers, while traditional, seem out of place. Pastry crust? Too heavy, in my opinion. Crushed cannoli shells? Now we’re talking!

Wait…… it just dawned on me that I have a recipe for Cannoli Cheesecake on this site, complete with a crushed cannoli shell crust. No wonder the flavor/concept seemed so familiar…..

Seriously though, the main difference between the two recipes (aside from a crust), is that this recipe calls for separating the eggs and whipping the whites, which results in a texture akin to a souffled cannoli.

That is, if one could actually souffle a cannoli…..

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Ricotta Cheesecake – adapted from Food Network

6 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
Two 15-ounce containers whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one of the large bowls and the yolks in the work bowl of a food processor.

Add the sugar and vanilla to the work bowl of the food processor and process until thick and light yellow, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta and zest and process until smooth, another 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into the other large bowl.

Beat the whites on high speed with the mixer until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the ricotta mixture and scrape into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake until the cake is deep golden brown and the sides begin to pull away from the pan, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Transfer to the rack to let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day. To serve, release the sides of the springform pan, dust with confectioners’ sugar using the strainer, and cut into wedges.

Beef Stroganoff

Here we are, two days into the new year, and I’ve already managed to blow out an appliance.

I think know I’ve set a record here…

Yesterday, I spent most of the day prepping a few food related projects, taking down various holiday themed decorations, and cleaning up from the aforementioned glitter-filled holiday themed decorations. After making several circles around the house with the vacuum, I pulled out the steam mop to clean the entryway from the garage to the kitchen, since that’s the only section of the house with tile. AND it’s where Zeus laid down every night to wait for the Queen Mother to emerge from her room every.single.morning. So he could be sure to trip her greet her every.single.morning ….. and proceed to rub his nose/white fur all over her black pants every.single.morning.

She just loved it. Not. But that’s another story….

Anyway, I pulled out the machine, filled the tank with water, attached the mop head, plugged it in, and waited.

And then…..a burning smell coming from the heating element. Then smoke.

sigh……

At least my pierogi turned out.

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Beef Stroganoff – adapted from Tyler Florence

4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 2 cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
3 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 2 ribs apiece
1 lb. white button mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pound egg noodles
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the 4 cloves of minced garlic and pepper into a bowl. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to create a paste. Add the rosemary and thyme leaves to the bowl and stir to combine.

Set short ribs out on a roasting tray and cover with herb paste. Roast in the oven for 2 hours and 30 minutes until they are falling apart.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes until brown. Add shallots and minced garlic and toss to combine. Season with pepper. Cook for a further 2 minutes until garlic and onion become fragrant. Remove pan from heat and carefully add cognac to deglaze the pan. Return to heat and add the half and half. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Turn off heat and stir in Dijon mustard and sour cream. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cook egg noodles in boiling water according to directions on package. Drain and toss with butter while still hot.

To serve: Pile the noodles high on a plate, top with stroganoff sauce and finish with rib slices. Garnish with fresh parsley.