Onion, Pepper and Tomato Quiche

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I hate to admit it, but my husband and I have become incredibly boring over the past year.  The highlight of our weekends lately is usually a trip to Costco and binge watching whatever the newest hit tv series is.  This weekend, we had to suck it up and pretend to be fun people.  My husband’s best friend was coming to visit and so we had to go out, stay out late and actually do things during the day.  Not that we didn’t have a good time, but by Sunday, I was exhausted.

Growing up, Sundays were synonymous with pasta.  For the most part, I’ve continued that tradition into my adult life but this Sunday I decided to forgo the Sunday sauce and whip up something that would make up for the lack of vegetables in our weekend meals of mac n cheese, chili fries and frozen pizza.  So, I took every remaining vegetable out of the fridge, sauteed them up and made this quiche.  The best thing about this dish is it has that warm comfort food feeling, but gives you lots of nutrients and vitamins from the veggies.  It also requires minimal work.  Since I was aiming for doing the least amount of work possible I used a ready made pie crust but you could certainly make a homemade one very quickly.  The recipe below is what I put in it, but you can put really anything you want in this, it’s a great versatile meal idea.

Onion, Pepper and Tomato Quiche

1 ready made pie crust
1 large chopped yellow onion
1chopped green  bell pepper
3 large chopped heirloom tomatoes
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese chopped or grated
1/2 cup monterrey jack with jalapeno cheese chopped or grated
2 t butter
1 t olive oil
seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, parsley and oregano)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Add the butter and olive oil to a pan on medium heatphoto (16)

3. When the butter is melted add the onion to the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and whatever spices you like

4. When the onion is starting to get translucent add the pepper
**I like my peppers a little under cooked, if you like them softer, add them in with the onion or slightly after

5. Cook for another 4-6 minutes until peppers begin to soften

6. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute or two

7. When the onions, peppers and tomatoes are cooked turn the pan off and set aside

8. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add the heavy cream, then add the cheese photo (14)

9. Place the pie crust in a pie dish (my pie dish was dirty so I had to use my spring form pan but it worked)!

10. Pour the vegetables into the pie crust and top with the egg, milk and cheese mixture

photo (17)11. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the quiche comes out clean, enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage, Onions and Peppers

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I absolutely love this time of year.  It’s cool enough to be comfortable outside, but not yet time to bundle up. I can start pulling out my favorite fall staples like boots and scarves.  And, in my opinion, it’s the best season for vegetables.  It’s the perfect transition time when you can still get some late summer gems like great heirloom tomatoes at the same time that my fall favorites likes squash , sweet potatoes and swiss chard are just hitting their peak.  This week I got spaghetti squash in my farm basket – an ingredient I’ve never cooked myself before.  The past few days I’ve been craving an Italian sausage and peppers sandwich, so I decided to see if I could combine the two.  I’m a bit of a turkey kick at the moment, so I substituted turkey sausage for pork and the taste was surprisingly similar.  A fun bonus with the squash – you can toast the seeds just like pumpkin seeds to snack on!

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage, Onions and Peppers
2 medium spaghetti squash
2 bell peppers cut into strips
1 yellow onion sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt
pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds – save them if you want to roast them!

3. Drizzle olive oil over the squash and salt and pepper them photo (7)

4. Place the squash on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until you can easily poke them with a fork and feel that they’re soft

5. Add some olive to a large pan on medium heat and add the onions and the sausage
**I like my peppers just a little crunchy so I wait to add them, if you prefer them cooked more add them in with the onions and sausage

6. Add the peppers and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook until the sausage is cooked through

photo (8)7. When the squash is soft, take it out of the oven and use a fork to scrape out spaghetti like strands and add them to the cooked sausage and vegetables – careful with the squash it will be very hot!

8. Mix it all together, top with some pecorino romano or parmesan and enjoy!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Seeds 

Rinse the seeds and let them dry on a paper towel. Mix the seeds in a bowl with some olive, salt and pepper (add some cayenne if you like spice). Put them on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for 30-40 minutes, turning them every ten minutes so they evenly roast.

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Plum Ice Cream

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I’m not usually a fan of having a bunch of kitchen gadgets around, but even when we lived in a tiny studio apartment the ice cream maker attachment to my stand mixer proved to be a kitchen necessity.  My husband always talked about this creamy lemon ice cream he used to eat in Turkey and how he could never find anything like it in America.  After we got an ice cream maker lemon was the first variety we tried and we were actually able to come up with an acceptable version of the one he remembered.  After experimenting with more flavors and getting used to the extra creaminess that homemade ice cream has, it’s very very difficult to go back to store bought ice cream.  If you like ice cream, I highly suggest trying to make your own, it’s definitely worth it.  This week we got some great little plums in our farm basket and I couldn’t wait to try making ice cream with them.

Plum Ice Cream
1 pint plums
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup 1% or 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1. Wash the plums, cut them in half and take out the pit. Then cut each half into small slices.
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2. Add the plums, water and 1/2 cup sugar to a bowl on low heat and let them cook down until the plums get mushy and the liquid gets syrupy (usually about 20-30 minutes).

3. Let the plum mixture cool.

4. Add the cream, milk, vanilla and the rest of the sugar to a bowl and whisk slightly to combine.

iceream65. Add the cooled plum mixture to the milk mixture and stir to combine.

6. Add the entire mixture to an ice cream maker and follow the ice cream maker’s instructions.

I’ve found that the ice cream is very soft when it comes out of the ice cream maker but it’ll harden up after about 12 hours in the freezer. Enjoy!

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Vegetable Quinoa Salad

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lifestyle changes I’ve adopted since moving to DC a little over two years ago.  I went from driving a gas guzzling Jeep which I had no intentions of giving up to a much more eco-friendly Subaru.  I went from thinking 65 degrees meant time to pull out dresses and flip flops to grabbing a scarf and sweater at the first mention of a breeze. I went from thinking playing tennis three times a year counted as ample exercise to making an honest attempt to make it to yoga at least once a week. And, I went from thinking the only starches worth eating were bread, pasta and potatoes to regularly enjoying quinoa.

Quinoa is a really versatile ingredient. The first time I had it, I didn’t know quite what to expect.  I assumed I wouldn’t like, but it turns out it was actually pretty good – and it’s extremely healthy! Ever since, I’ve been thinking up ways to work quinoa into my regular repertoire of recipes.    This salad is a great way to introduce yourself to this uber healthy grain.  Adding quinoa to the salad makes it much more hearty and fulfilling.  This salad also keeps really well so you can make a large batch and keep the left overs for a healthy and satisfying lunch the next day.

Vegetable and Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups quinoa – prepared according to the instructions on the package
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1 cucumber
1 package arugula

Dressing
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon parsley

1. Prepare the quinoa according to the instructions on the package

2. Wash and dry the arugula and add it a large bowlquinoa4

3. Cut up the cucumber, onion and tomatoes and add them to the bowl with the arugula

4. When the quinoa has finished cooking let it cool down a bit, if you put it in while it’s too hot the arugula and tomatoes will wilt too much

5. While waiting for the quinoa to cool mix together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl

6. Add quinoa to the bowl with the vegetables and top with the dressing, enjoy!

No-Knead Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia

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Let me start this off by saying I LOVE bread.  I’m pretty sure I could live off of nothing but good bread and be a happy girl (ok maybe some tomatoes and cheese wouldn’t hurt either).  As a kid, I remember going to the local bakery with my grandpa and sneakily breaking off bits of the crunchy crust and shoving them in my mouth on the way home.  In college, I would make the inconvenient drive out to the Italian bakery on the other side of town just to get my fix.  To this day, if I find a really good loaf it’s definitely not making it all the way back to my kitchen without me ripping off a piece and enjoying it on the way home.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I moved to D.C. and couldn’t find a decent bakery.  Sure,  there are tons of bakeries offering cupcakes (not that those aren’t great) but I couldn’t find a place that sold that a loaf of bread that was perfectly crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Not to say such a place doesn’t exist, but I’ve been here over two years and still haven’t found it, so if you know of a place, let me know!  I decided to take matters into my own hands and began to try baking my own bread.  I’ll admit, at first I had my fair share of disappointing failures but then my mom suggested I look at King Arthur Flour’s website.  She mentioned my Uncle Dave always liked them because they had tons of recipes and included comments from other people who have tried them.  I checked out their site and the first one that caught my eye was a no-knead crusty bread – had they read my mind!?  I tried it and it came out great.  So I started trying more and more of their recipes and the results have been fanatastic.  Today I’m sharing my version of their simple focaccia bread.  I added some cheese, spices and sun dried tomatoes to mine.  This bread is actually really simple to make, if you’ve ever though about trying to make your own bread but have been scared to try it, try this one!

No-Knead Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia adapted from King Arthur’s Blitz Bread: No-Fuss Focaccia
Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 teaspoons King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor, optional
1/2 cup cheddar cheese cut into small chunks or shredded, optional

Topping:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sun dried tomatoes (however many you like)

1. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom

2. Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and let sit for about ten minutes

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients for the dough except the cheese, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds dough

4. Add the cheese to the dough mixture and mix very slightly, until it’s just incorporated

5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, cover with a clean cloth and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes
**I’ve found that letting my covered dough rise in the microwave helps a great deal, it keeps out the draft from the air conditioning – just remember not to turn the microwave on while it’s in there!

dough26. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F and mix all of the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl

7. After rising, gently poke the dough all over with your index finger

8. Brush the topping onto the dough

9. Bake for about 35- 40 minutes, until it’s golden brownfoc

Baked Apple Crisp French Toast

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Yes, I know it’s supposed to be 90+ degrees in DC this week but I’m still blissfully pretending it’s almost Fall and I’ll soon feel a cool breeze.  I was very excited last Friday when I made three very successful loaves of homemade bread – not an easy feat. I’ve had my share of attempts at bread making that turn out to be brick-like loaves of a waste of good flour. But this week’s batch actually came out really well so I’ve been thinking up ways to eat it all up. Then, Saturday my husband and I went apple picking and now I have waaay more apples than I know what to do with. So, Sunday morning breakfast was an apple crisp french toast to use up both the bread and some of the apples!

Baked Apple Crisp French Toast
(This recipe is only enough for two people, so you’ll want to double or triple it if you have a large crowd).
4 medium sized apples peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
4 thickly cut slices of bread
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of cold butter cut into small chunks
3-4 tablespoons flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow bowl and whisk.

aple crisp43. Dunk the bread slices in the egg mixture until completely covered on both sides.

4. Place the bread in a baking pan.

5. Place the butter, 2 tablespoons of flour and both sugars in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add more flour as needed until you get small chunks.

6. Arrange the cut up apples on top of your bread and and pour the butter/flour/sugar mixture on top of the apples.

7. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until brown and bubbly! Enjoy!

baked apple crisp

 

A Turkey Burger You’ll Actually Like!

turkey burgI admit, I’ve always scoffed at a burger made of anything other than beef. Veggie burgers certainly never appealed to me, if I was going to eat a burger it had to be a juicy hunk of red meat. However, my mom’s recent addition of turkey sausage to her Sunday sauce inspired me to explore the meat that I had once thought only served a purpose on Thanksgiving and occasionally as a cold cut. I was happily surprised by the outcome. The burger was still juicy and the addition of herbs, feta and avocado made the meal feel extra special!

Turkey Burgers with Herbs and Feta
1.3 lb ground turkey
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions chopped
1 t dried oregano
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
2 T olive oil for the pan
Burger bun of your choice (I went with whole wheat to be “healthy”)
1 avocado sliced (or any other toppings you like)

1. Add the olive to your pan and put on medium heat

2. Combine the parsley, scallion, oregano, feta, salt and pepper in a bowl

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3. Add the turkey meat and gently combine until just mixed (don’t over-mix or you won’t get a juicy burger!)

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4. Add the burgers to your pan and cook until the center temperature reaches 165 degrees F (usually 7-10 minutes on each side)

5. Add the bun and toppings of your choosing and enjoy!