Spinach, Artichoke, and Goat Cheese Frittata

final

If you’re like me, whenever you pass by the monster size organic spinach container at Sam’s club your insides scream “THAT IS SO GOOD FOR ME, BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT” and then your mind kicks in and says “You don’t need that much BUT IT’S 4.98!! YOU CAN’T BUY EVEN CLOSE TO THAT AMOUNT AT THE GROCERY STORE FOR THAT PRICE!”, you end up with a large excess of spinach and you have to find new ways to use it for every meal.

Spinach

After having Amish-made pecan, cinnamon rolls for breakfast every day this week, I needed something a little healthier.  Of course, I had my excess of spinach to use.  I also had some leftover french bread (also a Sam’s club buy that is 2 loaves for under the price of 1 loaf anywhere else), frozen artichokes (tastier than canned), eggs and my all time favorite, goat cheese.

artichoke

I wasn’t planning on blogging about this because it was just a thrown together breakfast but it was sooo delicious that I had to share.

I started with a small baking dish. I cubed the left over bread and covered the bottom of the dish.  In a small bowl, I mixed together 3 eggs with about 3/4 cup of milk and some salt. I poured the egg mixture over the bread and let it all soak in. I dotted the top with goat cheese- maybe 1/4 of the small log. In a skillet, I melted 2 tbs (ok 3 tbs) and mixed in a half a pack of frozen artichokes and 3 big handfuls of spinach. Once wilted, I placed it in the baking dish on top of the other ingredients.  Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes or until it’s set in the middle and you have a wonderful breakfast!!!  It also keeps nicely in the refrigerator so you have breakfast for tomorrow too!

Notes:

  • I’m not sure if this is really a frittata because I’m not really sure what that means
  • I like this because it has eggs in it without being eggy.  The bread works wonders
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Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Ina (as in Ina Garten- the creator of the most wonderfully, foolproof recipes. ever.) is realeasing a new cookbook at the end of the month which I have been actively counting down the days until I get to carefully page through it, read every word, and cook every recipe. This recipe was pre-released and I couldn’t help but give it a go.  The cookbook is called “Foolproof: Recipes you can trust” and this one rang true.  It’s a light, easy dinner that warmed my insides and tasted delicious.

I’ve found the secret to any tomato based dish:

San Marzano Tomatoes.

This isn’t a brand. It’s a TYPE of tomato.  They look as pictured on the can- long and thin.  The flesh of these tomatoes is much thicker with fewer seeds, and the taste is stronger, more sweet and less acidic.

The less acidic part is particularly important because no one wants an acidic sauce.

So this recipe calls for crushed tomatoes but whole foods only had san marzano tomatoes in whole form (imagine that- whole tomatoes at whole foods). No problem- I whipped out my handy dandy food processor.

I heated some olive oil in a dutch oven (taylor only knows this term to have one meaning- we won’t discuss it here) and threw in 3 cups of chopped onions.  I simmered them on low-medium heat until they were brown and soft.  You want to give them a full 20 minutes or they will be too crunchy. At minute 19, throw in 3 cloves of chopped garlic.  At minute 20, put in the tomatoes, 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 tbs of salt (it sounds like a lot but it’s needed), 1 tsp pepper, and a large pinch of saffron.  I’m not sure how much the saffron added. It’s a pretty expensive spice so if it’s not on sale or you don’t have it on hand, don’t worry about it.

Now let this simmer for 15 minutes.  During this time, cook the orzo.  Boil it for 5 minutes in salted water.  It will finish cooking in the soup. Drain it and throw it into the soup.

Here’s where you pour in 1/2 cup of cream.  I forgot about this and didn’t realize it until I wrote this post.  I’m sure it would have made it a lot richer but it was still very good without it.

While the soup was simmering on low, I got the grilled cheese croutons ready. I sliced some french bread in 1/2 inch slices and buttered them (all the way to edges) and toped the non-buttered side with little pieces of gruyere cheese.

Ina used a panini press but I don’t own one (hint: christmas gift). If you are without one as well, heat a pan on medium- not any higher. You want them nice and brown, not black. Place them in the pan and let them brown.

Cut them into halves or fourths.  You can either place them in the soup or serve them along side.

I put on Frank Sinatra pandora, poured myself a glass of red, french wine and flipped through every page of the mega thanksgiving issue of the food network magazine. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the full recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/easy-tomato-soup-grilled-cheese-croutons-recipe/index.html 

Apple Cider Pork Loin with Cumin Parsley Rice

I’ve made this pork loin every fall since I was in 7th grade.  It’s my absolute favorite way to do pork loin. Its a wonderful start to fall and a great dish for a crowd of people.  I had the wonderful opportunity of cooking for 5 friends a few weekends ago while I was in Philly and I couldn’t think of a better dish to prepare.  Taylor (my amazingly wonderful man-of-my-dreams boyfriend) and I went to a small farm outside of philadelphia to pick pumpkins and much to my liking they had a farmers market that had fresh meat raised on their farm.  The pork loins were absolutely beautiful.  They had a deep red color that just screamed flavor.

He’s absolutely beautiful too 😉

And we’re beautiful together!

Back to food…

I apologize for my lack of pictures.. I was concentrating on how delicious the food was going to be.

This pork in marinated in apple cider then covered in a brown sugar, mustard pecan rub.  YUM!

Start by marinating the pork loin in apple cider.  Put the pork in a zip lock back or casserole dish and cover it with the apple cider.  Marinate it for 6-8 hours. I started marinating when I woke up and it was perfect by dinner time.

Take the pork out and throw away the apple cider.  Get your rub together- garlic, brown sugar, and mustard.  Generously rub this all over the pork loins.  Then roll them in chopped pecans.  Roast at 450 until it reaches 145 degrees about 30 minutes. Cover with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.

The rice is easy!  Cook 2 cups of white rice with 2 can of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water.  Then mix in the parsley, cumin, and pecans  I’m not a huge cumin fan but it’s absolutely amazing in this rice.

I sautéed some apples in butter and apple cider and topped the pork with it. Serve all together and enjoy!!

Here’s the recipe–

serves 6

2 cups apple cider
2 pounds pork
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs spicy brown mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/3 cup chopped pecans
Cooking Spray

Cover the pork with apple cider and marinate for 6-8 hours.  Discard Marinade.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine brown sugar, mustard, and garlic. Rub over pork. Roll pork in pecans until covered.  Roast on a broiler pan for 30 minutes or until pork reaches 145 degrees.

While the pork is cooking, make the rice.

2 cups rice
2- 14 oz cans chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2/3 cups of parsley
2 tbs. of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Cumin

Bring water, chicken broth, and rice to a boil. Cover and turn heat on the lowest setting.  After 20-30 minutes the rice will be done.  Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Fall is here. Well, fall is everywhere else but Florida. It still feels like the dead of summer but if you turn up the air conditioning and light a pumpkin candle you can pretend.  I LOVE pumpkin anything- pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cupcakes (I had 3 at work today :/) but my favorite is pumpkin bread! I decided to mix it with my other favorite sweet bread, zucchini bread.  It tastes just like fall.

I started by mixing the wet ingredients-

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Then I mixed the dry ingredients-

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Then combine them all together.

Then shred 1 cup of zucchini and add that in.

Take a moment here and eat some of the mix.  It’s fabulous. I almost like it better in this state than when it’s bread.

 Grease 2 bread pans with some butter. Don’t skip- you’ll regret it later.
Butter does wonders for your hands.  It’s the ultimate moisturizer.

Pour half of the mixture into each pan

Now throw them in the oven at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
If you stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean, it’s finished baking.

Yum!  Let them cool (if you can wait).  Wrap them nice and tightly in plastic wrap and keep them out on the counter.
They will go dry if they are put in the refrigerator.

Eat one yourself and give another to a friend.

The lucky receiver of my second loaf is my friend and faithful blog reader……..

DARREN MCGUIRE!!

Fruit Tarts

Yum.  These fruit tarts are creamy, sweet, all-natural, and fresh.  They take about 2 hours to make so I wouldn’t classify this as quick and easy but the taste is worth the work.  They can be topped with any type of fruit. I chose strawberries and my roommate, Scott, chose bananas.

I saw fruit tarts at a french bakery in Winter Park, FL and knew I had to go home and try to make some myself.  I ventured over to Williams Sonoma’s and got these cute, 4-inch tart dishes.

There are 3 parts to this recipe- 1) The crust 2) The filling and 3) The assembly

1) The crust-

As with any pastry crust, the colder the better. Start with combining 1 1/4 cup of flour, 3 tbs of sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt.  Place this mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes so it’s nice and freezing.  Pour the flour mixture into the bowl of a food processor with a blade attachment.  Drop in 8 tbs of very cold butter cut into tablespoons. Pulse it until the butter is in small pea-size pieces.  Drizzle in 1/4 cup of ice cold water and pulse again until it comes together in a dough ball.

Place the dough on a floured surface and form into a disk.  Then wrap it in plastic and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While the dough is in the fridge move on to the second stage.

2) The Filling

Here’s all that goes into it:

5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk (Milk heated to 180 degrees, just on the edge of boiling)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac (I buy the little airplane sized bottle)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes with an electric mixer.  It’ll will get very thick., Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Now, Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes.

Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Don’t worry, it will be ok. I promise.

Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes. The custard will start to become pudding.

Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Now that the filling is chilling, go back to step one and pull your dough out the fridge.

Roll out the dough to be about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Cut out circles of the dough that are a little bit bigger than your tart shells. Place it into your tart shell and press ( not stretch) the dough into the shell.

Once the dough is in the shell, roll your rolling pin over the top to cut off the excess.  

Now do it for the rest of them! What fun!
Aren’t they adorable?
Now butter some foil squares and put the foil butter side down into the shells.
Put something like beans or rice on top of the shells.  This will keep the bottoms from rising while they bake.
Throw them in the oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then take out the foil and beans and cook them for another 15 minutes.  If they are getting too brown, place a piece of foil loosely over the top.
You’re almost finished!
3) The assembly:
Cut up the fruit you want to use.  Try to cut them in flatter pieces so they will lay nicely on the tart.  Spoon the cool custard into the tart shells and then decorate with the fruit.
Voila! Enjoy!

French Bread Veggie Pizza

After a long night out on the town, I always wake up craving………. pizza. Bread + Sauce + Cheese = perfect cure.  I needed something quick and easy so I could crawl back into bed and watch HGTV for the rest of the day. French bread veggie pizza was a perfect solution.  No dough, no waiting, just assemble and eat.  It turned out amazing. Here’s how I did it:

I chopped up some veggies I had in the fridge.  You can use whatever you have/like. Pepperoni would be good too.

Since mushrooms and spinach have a lot of water in them, I sautéed all the veggies for 8-1o minutes to let some of the water out so the pizza wouldn’t get soggy.

I took a chunk of fresh french bread and sliced it lengthwise and put them on a foil lined cookie sheet. As pizza sauce, I used Dave’s gourmet organic red heirloom tomato sauce.  The stuff is awesome.  It doesn’t have any funky ingredients or preservatives.  It’s just pure delicious, light, flavor.  I’m trying to figure out where I can buy it in bulk.  Then eat it with a spoon.

Then put on your cheese.  I used fresh mozzarella and goat cheese. You can use shredded mozzarella as well. Mmmm coming together so nicely.

Now top on all the veggies and throw it in the oven.  If you’re patient, then preheat the oven to 400.  If you’re not patient (like me), just put the oven on broil so you don’t have to wait for it to heat up. yum. yum. yum. yum.

Put it on a plate, crawl into bed, put on House Hunters, and enjoy a perfect Sunday morning.

Perfect Crab Cakes

If you’ve ever had a dozen crabs plopped on a newspaper covered table, you know how much work goes into getting one shred of meat.  I prefer to eat sans the work.  I’d rather spend my time tasting then digging.  That’s why I love the crab cake.  I’ve ordered many a crab cake from restaurants and have always found the ones with lump pieces of crab and not a lot of filler to be the best.  Sometimes you get a crab cake with finely shredded crab and lots of breadcrumbs. yuck.

As with everything I make, I read through about 10-15 different recipes and take from each what I like.  I didn’t want to add old bay, celery, red peppers, or yellow onion.  This is what I decided on:

I mixed in:

Real mayonnaise, egg (to act as a glue), green onion, worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt, cayenne pepper, and fresh breadcrumbs ( I had some semi-stale french bread that I threw in the food processor).

Then I folded in the crab.  Be very careful not to stir it so much that the crab comes apart.  You want as many lump pieces as possible.

Just mix it enough to coat the crab with the egg mixture.  Once this is mixed, throw it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.  Not to freeze it but to make it come together a little nicer.

Our freezer might be a little too full –

Now get your skillet ready- melt 2 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil.  I used cast iron because it browns things so nicely. While the skillet is warming, start forming the crab mixture into little cakes.  Then roll them in the fresh breadcrumbs.

It’s a little camouflaged but the cake is in there.

Now plop it in your skillet and get them nice and brown.

Be careful when you flip them. You don’t want them falling apart.

They turned out exactly how I wanted them.  Lump crab pieces were the shinning star and everything else just added to the cake.  With a little squeeze of lemon, the cake was complete. Delicious!  I paired it with a nice caprese salad.  Fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil drizzled with some balsamic vinegar.

Here’s the full recipe:
Yields 6 small crab cakes

1 tbs of real mayonaisse (the kind with egg, vinegar, and oil as the only ingredients, like Hellmann’s)
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tbs of green onion, chopped
1/4 tsp of worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp of dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 pound jumbo crab meat
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, onion, egg, worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt, and cayenne.  Fold in the crab and 1.4 cup of the breadcrumbs. Shape the mixture into 6 cakes.  Coat the crab cakes with breadcurmbs.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil.  When the foam subsides, add the crab cakes over moderate heat until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.  The cakes can be kept warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.  Serve with lemon wedges.

If you don’t want to cook them right away, they can be made ahead of time. Just keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them.

I finished off the meal with a spoonful of something above godliness:

and it’s all natural so you don’t need to feel guilty (if you just have a big spoonful)

Roommate Dinner

Once a week, my roommates and I have dinner together.  One person decides on the main dish and then the two fill in with drinks and/or sides.  Tonight, my roommate, Alex, was feeling generous and made us rib-eye steaks! I love rib-eye because it is tender cut of meat with just the right amount of marbling (fat) to keep it juicy and give it a nice flavor. To complement the steaks, I decided to make garlic mashed red potatoes.

Here’s the cast of characters:

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 I roasted the garlic first then removed the cloves and mashed with a wooden spoon:

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Then I cooked the potatoes.  I love making mashed red potatoes because you don’t have to peel them first!

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Then I added in the miracle workers- butter and half and half.  Mashed it all together and Voila! a delicious compliment to a juicy rib-eye.

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Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, washed well and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup half and half

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Drizzle head with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on a sheet tray and bake until tender and fragrant, roughly 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the cloves and mash with a wooden spoon.

Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender and drain. Mash the potatoes until smooth.

Meanwhile heat butter and cream until butter melts. Add the roasted garlic and potatoes and mash all together.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.