Pumpkin, Cheese & Chard Lasagna

The vegetable section of the grocery store is usually a mystery to me: What are those leaves? Is that dirty-looking root thing edible? Do people really enjoy consuming kale, or do they just like purchasing it for the “Look-I’m-so-healthy-and-better-than-you” one-uppance, which I like to call the “grocery twat” factor.

But nothing has fascinated me more than the fall pumpkin and squash section, which I only recently learned is not just there as a seasonal decoration-people actually cook these fuglies and make stuff with them. Laugh all you want, but the only time my foodie family ever touched a whole pumpkin was to turn it into a really ferocious porch creepster.

Imagine my surprise when I felt oddly adventurous a couple of months ago and tried butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce, and not only DEVOURED it, but learned that squash can taste like unseasoned canned pumpkin…and that you can BAKE with it. More specifically, that you can pair it with pasta and cream and turn it into a fatty’s paradise [swoon].

After looking online at all the things you can do with squash and carbs, I chose to make a fall lasagna, which consists of lots of veggies-you got sage, parsley, rainbow swiss chard (which is, [ahem] actually more nutrient-dense than kale), butternut squash, pumpkin, and onion-as well as a lot of what makes food actually taste good: milk, cream, fontina, parmesan, and cranberry goat cheese.

All the flavors blend together to make an insanely satisfying seasonal lasagna, which basically counts as no calories at all, since the healthiness of the chard and squash cancel out the unhealthiness of the cream and cheese. It’s how the universe balances itself people, and it’s called science ūüėČ

[Makes a 9×13″ lasagna. However many servings you want to make out of that is up to you, my friend :))

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Equipment: 

  • 9×13″ baking pan
  • Vegetable peeler

Ingredients:¬†[*Note: Many of these ingredients can be subbed for lower-calorie things. Don’t want to use heavy cream? Use fat free 1/2&1/2. Don’t want to use whole milk? Use 2%, etc.]

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 lb. whole milk cottage cheese, mixed with about half of a log of cranberry goat cheese.
  • 1 Tbl. julienned fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Some kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 butternut squash, cut, peeled, and sliced thin [more info below]
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. rainbow swiss chard, stems removed, washed and chopped
  • 3 Tbl. olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups [28 oz. can] canned pumpkin puree, divided
  • 12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup gated fontina
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

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Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Cut, peel, and slice your butternut squash. There’s a good tutorial on how to do this here. Basically, you slice off the top and bottom, use a vegetable peeler to trim off the sides, slice the squash lengthwise, scoop out the guts and seeds, then slice into extremely thin pieces.

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You really want the slices thin-see how you can sort of see my finger through the squash? That’s how thin. And don’t judge me on my nails. Sometimes a girl just doesn’t have time, people.

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In a large bowl, toss the squash with 1 Tbl. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in spread-out layers on the baking sheet and put in the oven to roast until tender and lightly browned-about 15 min.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the cottage/goat cheese blend, sage, 3 Tbl. parsley, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large nonstick pan, heat 2 Tbl. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until translucent-5 min. Increase heat to medium-high heat and add the chard, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Cook, stirring until the chard is wilted and no liquid remains in the pan-5 to 10 min.

After you pull out the squash, reduce oven heat to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups of pumpkin, 3/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.

Spray a 13×9″ baking pan with cooking spray. Pour the 1/2 cup milk into the pan.

Here’s the assembly:

1. Put down 3 lasagna noodles.

2. Put down 1/3 of the cottage/goat cheese mix.

3. Put down 1/3 of the swiss chard/onion mix.

4. Put down 1/3 of the baked squash.

5. Put down 1/2 of the pumpkin sauce.

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the fontina and 1/3 of the parmesan.

7. Put down 3 lasagna noodles.

8. Put down 1/3 of the cottage/goat cheese mix.

9. Put down 1/3 of the swiss chard/onion mix.

10. Put down 1/3 of the baked squash.

11. Put down 1/2 of the pumpkin sauce.

12. Sprinkle 1/3 of the fontina and 1/3 of the parmesan.

13. Put down 3 lasagna noodles.

14. Put down the last of the cottage/goat cheese mix.

15. Put down the last of the swiss chard/onion mix.

16. Put down the last of the baked squash.

17. Put down the last 3 lasagna noodles.

18. Combine the remaining 1 cup of canned pumpkin with the remaining 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Spread that over the noodles.

19. Cover the noodles with the remaining fontina and parmesan.

Cover the lasagna with a loose-fitting foil tent and bake 30 min. Remove the foil and sprinkle top with remaining parsley. Continue baking another 15 min. until the cheese is melted and top is golden brown.

Let sit for approx. 15-20 min. before serving so the lasagna plates nicely and doesn’t collapse into slop.

Sedimentary rock ain’t got nothin’ on these layers…am I right? #NerdAlert

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Because it’s just food porn at this point.

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Almost gone!

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Homemade Ramen Burger

There are some mass-produced things in this world that are just too perfect to tamper with; things like Twinkies, Krispy Kreme donuts, and Kit-Kat bars (though, Central Michel Richard gives Nestle somethin’ to think about).

Seriously, Central has perfected perfection. Central’s “Kit Kat Bar.”¬†

Copyright: New York Times.

Copyright: New York Times.

But for some reason, I’m always a little less reverent of savory concoctions, and this includes the latest trend of the Ramen Burger. If you haven’t already heard of the Ramen Burger, 1) You clearly aren’t an obsessive freak like me; and 2) That’s all about to change right now:

The Ramen Burger, created by¬†Keizo Shimamoto-a 35-year-old ramen blogger turned ramen chef-is being touted as NYC’s new Cronut…or basically NYC’s new ridiculous food creation that people are lining up for by the HUNDREDS. The Daily Beast has a great article about the Ramen Burger¬†here.

Usually I read about something like the cronut and shudder in awe at the modernity and technical perfection of something, clearly, only a master chef could create. But with the Ramen Burger (and no offense to Shimamoto) I thought…”I could homemade that shiz. For reals.”

After taking time out of my real job to scour the internet for techniques associated with Ramen Burgers, it turns out that it’s not that involved. Also, thanks to my recent inner fat girl obsession with Ramen (I blame Toki Underground), I had a pretty decent idea what should go on this “burger.”¬†And let me tell you: From the sriracha ketchup to the ginger-sauteed bok choy, and from the 50% ground pork burger to the sesame oil-fried ramen buns, this burger gives The Luther Burger a legit run for its money. [Other things that make this the best burger ever? Toasted sesame seeds, fried eggs, green onions, shoyu sauce and hoisin. What Whaaaaaat.]

Is this a pastry? Cupcake? Tart? Homemade Twinkie? No. But in a random post I hope some will enjoy, I decided to go a little savory.

BEHOLD. THE RAMEN BURGER.

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[Makes 2 burgers]

Equipment:

  • 2 round containers or ramekins
  • A heavy can or weight that fits inside your containers or ramekins
  • Saran wrap

Ingredients:

  • 2 (3 oz.) packs cheap ramen [I used Maruchan]
  • 2 Tbl. sesame oil, divided
  • 4 Tbl. veggie oil, divided
  • 2 Tbl. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 small head of bok choy, seperated into pieces
  • 2 Tbl. minced fresh ginger
  • 3-4 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbl. sriracha
  • 3 eggs [one of the 3 eggs needs to be beaten in a small dish]
  • 1 Tbl. dark soy
  • 1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Some crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 lb. ground beef
  • 2 Tbl. hoisin, divided
  • 1 Tbl. Shoyu sauce

Chop chop.

ramen

Make your ramen buns first! Cook the 2 packs of ramen noodles according to the package instructions for boiling. Drain the noodles when cooked and immediately rinse in cold water-just enough to stop additional cooking, but still warm. Add the 2 seasoning packets included with the ramen and the 1 beaten egg.

Line the bottom of one round container with saran wrap. Place 1/4 of the ramen noodles in the bottom of the container, flattening to make it round and stick together. Try to make it as flat as possible. Cover this with saran wrap. Take another 1/4 of the ramen noodles and create another flat patty on top. Cover with Saran wrap.

Using the 2nd round container, repeat the above steps. Once you have both containers completed and all the ramen noodles are used, place one container on top of the other container. Place your heavy can or weight on top of both containers.

Here’s a visual:

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Place the container/weight stack in the fridge for 30 min. to 1 hour.

In the meantime, make your burgers. In a medium bowl, add the beef, pork, Chinese five spice, 1 Tbl. hoisin, dark soy, minced garlic, and some crushed black pepper. Using your hands [I used disposable gloves], mush all the ingredients together and form 2 patties a little bit bigger in circumference than the ramen buns. Let sit out about 20 min. to come to room temp [this ensures good grilling time].

Now it’s time to make your sauces. Mix your ketchup with the sriracha in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, mix 1 Tbl. hoisin sauce with 1 Tbl. shoyu sauce. Set aside.

Heat a grill or pan on med-high with 2 Tbl. veggie oil and 1 Tbl. sesame oil. In another large pan, heat 2 Tbl. veggie oil and 1 Tbl. sesame oil on medium. Cook the burgers on the grill [or in a pan] until cooked through. While the burgers are cooking, gently release the ramen buns from the containers and fry in the pan set on medium heat. Before turning burgers, sprinkle 2 Tbl. of toasted sesame seeds on the 4 buns.  Flip the buns over carefully, and cook until the tops and bottoms of the ramen buns are crispy and dark brown.

Place buns on a  plate and top two of the buns [sesame seeds down] with the sriracha ketchup. Place the burgers on top of the ketchup-covered buns. Top the burger with chopped green onions.

Quickly, so that your burgers don’t lose too much heat, use the hot pan you used to cook the ramen burgers buns to stir-fry your bok choy with the minced ginger. Stir the bok choy and ginger until the bok choy is slightly wilted-about 2-4 min. Place the bok choy and minced ginger on top of the green onions and burgers. Drizzle the bok choy and burgers with the shoyu/hoisin sauce.

With the pan still hot, quickly fry 2 eggs [you can have the eggs runny or hard. I liked my yolks hard for this recipe]. Place the eggs on top of the shoyu/hoisin. Top the burgers with the 2 remaining buns, sesame seeds-up.

You haunt my dreams.

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Belly-buster.

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Ham & Cheese Waffles

Waffles are great, especially when you get the large Belgian ones on a room service splurge, or a nice spring brunch with the fam, but they always seem like a base for so much more. Sure there are jams and fruit compote, dollops of whipped cream here and there, but if there’s anything I’ve learned to appreciate eating my way through life, it’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet.

Behold: Ham & Cheese Waffles.

Before you go thinking this sounds like Fear Factor, think about how much we mix savory and sweet all the time: toast with butter and jam, pretzels with chocolate…dipping Wendy’s fries in Frosties (just me?) And though I haven’t quite mustered the courage to try bacon ice cream, breakfast foods (like French toast eggs Benedict, bacon pancakes, etc.) seem to have an inherent desire to play well with others and are always fun for experiments.

This recipe comes from Hunter Lewis, head of Bon App√©tit’s test kitchen, and Lewis doesn’t disappoint: the recipe delivers crisp bits of ham tucked into a light egg white and soda water batter, oozy cheddar cheese that gives a crisp and savory edge, and plenty of butter.

My waffle maker has never been happier ūüėČ

[Makes approx. 6 Belgian waffles or 12 regular waffles]

Equipment:

  • Waffle maker
  • Whisk
  • Electric beater

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbl. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup soda water
  • Some ham, cut into little bits (I used black forest ham)
  • Some shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (you’ll need a warm oven for the finished waffles while the others cook). Heat the waffle maker until hot (use your manufacturer’s instructions).

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl and using an electric beater, beat the 3 eggs whites until medium-soft peaks form. In another bowl, whisk the 3 egg yolks, melted butter, buttermilk, and soda water. Gradually whisk the egg yolk mix in the flour mix. Once mixed, fold in the egg whites.

Coat the waffle maker with non-stick spray. Pour batter into maker and sprinkle the top with your desired amount of cheese and ham. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer finished waffles to a baking sheet and keep in the heated oven while you make the rest. Serve with warm maple syrup and butter.

Skillet White Meat Popcorn Chicken and Potato Skin Poppers

Okay, so I know these tidbits aren’t desserts, but let me explain: For the past 5 years- yes, 5 years-I’ve been trying to make good fried chicken. Not¬†just “Oh, hey, you didn’t burn the skin,” or “Yeah it’s fried, alright. Congrats on not burning down the¬†apartment!” but real, KFC/Popeye’s/Chick-Fil-A-tasting fried chicken. I’ve tried salt-brining, marinating with 50 spices and liquids,¬†post-fry baking, double coating-you name it, I have painstakingly, always failingly, tried it. There’s just never been anything special about it.

But thanks to a foodie trend of fried chicken and waffles, different magazines and bloggers have been writing guides to frying¬†chicken. And not to be out-experienced by¬†trendy magazines, my¬†ever taste-testing coworker gave me a great tip: “Girl, keep it simple.” Aggregating all this data, I finally nailed it.

So here’s what I’ve learned:¬†You MUST have a cast iron skillet. Don’t think you can just use any ‘ol big pot or pan. It has to be cast iron and it has to be pre-seasoned. *Sidenote: pre-seasoned means heated and¬†rubbed with¬†grease, then cooled.¬†Most new cast iron skillets come already pre-seasoned. A cast iron skillet will keep your oil at a good all-over temp and give you the perfect fried chicken skin.

Also, you MUST use peanut oil for frying. It’s good for temp. and it’s good for taste.

Finally,¬†experts usually say the temp. of the oil (you’ll need an oil/candy thermometer) must¬†reach a certain degree the whole time. Lies. As long as your oil is between 300-350 degrees, you’re¬†fine.¬†And if you don’t have a thermometer, flick some water into the oil-if it crackles, you’re golden (literally) ūüėČ

And going back to¬†the non-dessert theme of this post: If¬†I, the¬†girl who still calls field goals/touchdowns ‘getting some points,’ can watch the superbowl, then hell has frozen over and I can¬†contribute this non-sugary post.

…And btw, the potato¬†skin poppers are incredible, so they’ve been included too.

Happy savory Friday!

Meris’s “It took 5 years” Popcorn Chicken (Officially approved by Ms. Calloway, Fried Chicken Expert) (Makes roughly 50 pieces popcorn chicken)

Equipment:

  • A deep, large pre-seasoned cast iron skillet
  • Oil/candy thermometer (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Cooling rack
  • Rimmed baking sheet (optional)
  • Large ziplock bag or airtight container
  • Tongs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-3-in. pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. powdered mustard
  • 2 tsp. tarragon
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • Some kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbl. cornstarch
  • Peanut oil

Place chicken pieces in the large ziplock bag. In a small bowl, stir together mustard powder, tarragon, salt, ground pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder, and paprika. Put in ziplock bag with chicken, seal and shake to coat completely. Next, pour in 1 cup buttermilk and cover to coat chicken. Marinate in the fridge 4-12 hours.

Bring out the chicken bag about 1 hour before you start to cook. *Sidenote: letting your chicken and buttermilk come to rm. temp. before frying cooks the chicken more evenly and more quickly.

Place a cooling rack over a large rimmed baking sheet or over wax paper/tin foil.

In a medium shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and water. In another large, shallow bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, and a bit of kosher salt. Heat the peanut oil (use enough to be roughly 3/4-inch deep) in the cast iron skillet. Attach your oil thermometer to the side, making sure the tip is immersed but not touching the bottom of the skillet. Let the oil heat to 300-350 on medium-high heat.

Dip the chicken from the bag into the egg mix, shake gently, then dredge in the flour mix and shake off the excess. Set aside until all are covered. When all are coated, begin adding the chicken pieces, adding only enough to the skillet so that none overlap or are squished together. *Sidenote: if you overcrowd  your skillet, the coatings from different pieces will stick together.

Heat for 2 min per side or until a dark, crispy gold color. Turn with tongs and cook another 2 min. Remove from the skillet and place on the cooling rack, letting excess oil drip off. Continue cooking chicken in batches. *You don’t have to put the chicken in the oven to keep warm while waiting for your other chicken to fry. Since it’s popcorn chicken the pieces cook fast and the chicken is so hot after being fried it takes a long time to cool down.

Meris’s “It’s-Healthy-Because-It’s-Baked” Potato Skin Poppers (Makes roughly 50; halve the recipe for 25)

Equipment:

  • Baking sheet

Ingredients:

  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 3/4 cup turkey bacon, or regular bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 1/2-2 cups hash browns (I used the square chunky kind)
  • 1 cup sour cream (fat free works great)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 2 tsp. onion powder or some diced scallions
  • Some seasoned salt and ground black pepper
  • Small dish of water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with Pam.

Cook the hash browns according to the package.

Mix the hash browns, cheese, sour cream, bacon, onion, pepper, and seasoned salt in a medium bowl. Take a large rounded tsp. of mix and place in the middle of the wonton wrapper. Fold wrapper according to instructions (see photos), making sure to wet the edges by dipping your finger in the bowl of water and slightly tracing the edges.

Wrap the two ends

Then the other two

Place on the greased baking sheet, seam-side-down. Spray the wontons with more Pam. Bake for 20 min. or until the wontons are a dark golden color.

Whole Wheat Sausage Cheddar Biscuits

Most days I’m a Yoplait and English muffin kind of girl, but Sundays in my house growing up were always about going for breakfast gold: bacon, eggs, goetta (a German-American version of sausage found in Cincinnati that consists of ground pork, beef, and steel-cut oats. Not as fear factor as it sounds, promise) and coffee strong enough to give you the jitters for the rest of the day.

Little me eating b-fast at my favortie spot-the counter. Note the awesome bowl-cut hair, 80s outfit, Care Bears cup, and my need to tell stories constantly...classic.

Honoring that tradition, but with more happy heart and less death wish, I thought I’d make these relatively healthy whole wheat sausage and cheddar biscuits, which, to be honest, gives¬†yogurt and toast¬†a run for its money ūüėČ

The whole wheat comes from King Arthur Flour’s unbleached white whole wheat flour *Sidenote: white does not refer to all-purpose. White wheat is actually a kind of wheat that still has 100% of the nutrition of traditional wheat, but has a more neutral flavor than traditional red wheat.

The happy heart also comes from Jones fully cooked pork sausage & rice links with no MSG, preservatives, or nitrates-basically, the most ‘fresh’ frozen sausage you can find that’s also low in calories and cholesterol but super high in flavor. The cheese I didn’t skimp on, because, well, the Frenchie in me loves it too much. So be it.

(Makes 20 biscuits)

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups King Arthur Flour white whole wheat flour (or any whole wheat flour)
  • 1 Tbl. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cold and cubed
  • 2 cups cooked, sliced breakfast sausage links (1/2-in. pieces)
  • 1 cup diced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1¬† 1/4 -1 1/2 cups yogurt, buttermilk, or low-fat sour cream (I used the sour cream version b/c that’s what I had in my fridge)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or cover with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the cold butter, cutting it into the mix with a dough/pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal (you can also do this step with a food processor). Add the sausage and cheddar, mixing to distribute. Add the sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk and mix just until everything is evenly moistened and can stick together.

Showing off my new Canoe Maple tree crosscut cutting board I received for Xmas ūüôā

Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and pat and roll to a 8 x 10″ rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Cut the dough into 20 (2″) squares. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet and bake 20-25 min. or until medium-deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Keeps about a week in the fridge. Warm up on medium-power in the microwave for about 2-3 min.

Roasted Tomato, Spinach and Cheese Mini Quiches

I’m not sure if this happens to everyone or just to me, but about twice a month I get a craving for a dish, or a food in general, and can’t stop eating it. This month it’s tomatoes, so why not make a savory summer quiche featuring roasted cherry tomatoes?

What makes these tomatoes so wonderful-tasting is that they are roasted in a kind of garlic-balsamic vinaigrette, and go so well with spinach it’s¬†almost like a fresh summer salad tucked into warm cheesy¬†pastry.

You can do many variations of these quiches, and add many different things to them, so feel free to use this recipe as a basic starting point for all of your other inventions!

(Makes roughly 8-10 mini quiches if using 3- to 4-inch tartlet pans; roughly 20 if using smaller tartlet pans; and one large 9-inch quiche)

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box frozen and thawed¬†puff pastry sheets (used in the pictures; 2 sheets come in a box and you will need both) or 1 to 2 frozen and thawed pre-made pie crusts (*tip: a pre-made pie crust, while good for 9-inch quiches can also be used for small tartlet pans. Simply take the pie crust out of the tin shell and make into a ball. Then roll out dough with a rolling pin and use for tartlets. If you want to use pre-made pie crusts for this recipe for the tartlets, you’ll need 2 frozen and thawed crusts)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Onion powder or small handful of chopped red¬†or white onion
  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes (approx.)
  • 4-6 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled¬†(this is a milder version of feta, but feta could also work)
  • Large handful of spinach leaves, coarsely chopped (arugula could also work)
  • Handful of pine nuts
  • 2 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 minced garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters (I did this, and it’s what you see in the pics, but you can also just leave the tomatoes whole)

Stir together olive oil with balsamic in a large bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper and add minced garlic. Toss in tomatoes, then spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 25 min. or until the skins are split and shriveled and the tomatoes start to show signs of roasting (a bit golden). Remove from the oven and cool.

While tomatoes cool, roll out the puff pastry or pie dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch on a well-floured surface. Line your pans with the dough (* tip: always line the pans with about an inch of dough past the height of the pans’ edges, since the dough will shrivel while cooking). Place tins on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.

Whisk heavy cream and eggs in a small bowl until well-blended. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and onion powder (if you want to add other spices/seasonings, do this here). Pour mix into a measuring cup or glass with a spout.

Sprinkle a layer of chopped spinach onto the bottom of the tartlets. Then sprinkle a layer of crumbled cotija cheese (if you want to add onions, do this here). Snuggle cherry tomatoes into the spinach and cheese. Pour the cream/egg mix into the shells, making sure to pour AROUND the tomatoes. Fill each shell no more than 3/4 full, since it will puff and rise as it bakes. Sprinkle each tartlet with pine nuts.

Bake the mini quiches for about 40 min. or until the filling is puffed and SET. The top, or at least the edges, should be a deep golden color.

Take out and let cool. Can be served warm or at rm-temp. Keeps about a week well-covered in the fridge. Re-warm, or leave at at rm-temp. before eating.

Quiche Ardennaise

In keeping with weekend breakfast tradition, I thought I’d post this quiche¬†recipe-courtesy of the family Frenchie.

There are many types of quiches, such as spinach and mushroom, ham and swiss, and¬†sausage and onion, since the term ‘quiche’ refers to any type of pastry crust with an egg and cream-based filling.

However, quiche ardennaise happens to be my favorite, because unlike the classic quiche lorraine, which only has¬†bacon and eggs, an ardennaise also¬†includes cheese (Gruy√®re)… and really, who would ever opt-out of cheese? ūüėČ

Equipment:

  • Hand mixer
  • Pie weights or something¬†to weigh down a crust
  • Love of cheese

Ingredients:

  • A regular, or deep, 9-inch frozen and thawed pie crust
  • 6-8 slices of bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbl. onion powder or to taste
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruy√®re or swiss
  • 1-2 Tbl. chopped butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the thawed crust, coated in foil and with pie weights, 8-9 min. Remove foil and weights and cook another 3 min.

Fry the bacon, then drain on paper towels and cut into small pieces. Spread on the bottom of the pie crust.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, cream, milk, and seasonings until blended. Add the cheese and stir. Pour mix into the crust and distribute butter pieces on top.

Bake at 375 degrees 40-50 min, or until the quiche has puffed and browned.