Picked up another recipe from A Beautiful Mess for mini quiches (original recipe is here, I added a couple things). Tried it yesterday during the Seahawks v. Saints game.
puff pastry (I took out a piece and set it in the fridge in saran wrap to defrost overnight instead of having to add 30-40 minutes’ lead time from the freezer)
2 Tbs half and half
salt + pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/8 cup chopped ham
1 Tbs chopped scallions
1 tsp dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, ham, scallions, thyme, salt and pepper. Buttered 2 large ramekins (4.5″ diameter). Cut puff pastry into large squares that will slightly hang over once placed in the baking dishes. Fill 2/3 full with the egg batter. Fold the edges in toward the center. Sprinkle on the cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the egg looks set.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a brand new combo to try, and the ease of using defrosted puff pastry really appealed to me. However, as I made it, it reminded me more and more of the baked eggs I’ve been baking the last few months, which involves very similar ingredients, minus the pastry and scrambling and whip up faster. The novelty also wore off quickly as I ended up timing it for a post-lunch snack, but me and my partner were still full from a delicious late lunch. Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
I had to wait a day and reheat before I could finish a whole ramekin, and the whole thing really turned out to be very heavy on the pastry side, and it felt like most of the egg mixture disappeared. Adding some fresh tomato and basil made it feel renewed a little, but I will be looking for other methods to finish the leftover puff pastry in the freezer, probably something involving jam..
If I did try it again, I’d up the egg ratio, add tomatoes, and maybe roll out the pastry more so there’s less of it to balloon up and take over. This is definitely a carb-rich recipe.
Do you have other favorite combos for puff pastry? Let me know.
Last week also saw my spouse and I visiting my parents. I was raised on a relatively mellow-tasting, healthy diet, similar to what I helped my mama make below. Lots of steamed stuff, and delicious tofu.
The next night, I made dinner in honor of my father’s birthday. Fell a little short on supplies cooking away from my kitchen, but I made do.
I preheated the good ‘ole toaster oven to 400 and oiled up the pan. I rinsed and dried the chicken, brushed it with the butter and oil mix, and sprinkled a generous amount of marjoram, rosemary, salt and pepper. Then I baked it for around 40 minutes, dripped a little honey on top on impulse, took it out around 10 minutes later.
Charred Green Beans
Originally from a Seattle Times 2008 article (their link was dead so I removed it), modified for what I had on hand, and to keep the garlic in the roast.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons chili powder (this is the substitute shown above for not having chili oil)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 large or 4 small garlic cloves
1 pound green beans
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Coarse kosher or sea salt
1. Combine vegetable, chili and sesame oils in a microwave-safe container. With the flat of a chef’s knife, smash the garlic cloves; remove and discard peel and add garlic to oil. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on full power for 30 seconds. Let sit while you prepare the beans.
2. Top and tail green beans, rinse them thoroughly and then whirl in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread beans out in one layer in two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle oil over beans and toss beans until all are coated with oil.
4. Roast beans 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size, stirring and rotating pans halfway through. Beans should be browned in spots and beginning to shrivel. Remove from oven and drain on paper towels.
5. While beans are roasting, toast sesame seeds in a skillet over low heat, shaking pan and stirring frequently until fragrant; then remove from heat.
6. Sprinkle hot beans with sesame seeds and coarse salt to taste. Serve immediately, or store in fridge then serve at room temperature.
This week’s trial recipe rating:
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars
The chicken was palatable, and I was happy it turned out okay, but was not remarkable. I’ve been making those green beans since 2008, they are in the regular meal rotation, so the only novelty is how tasty they are. Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
Likely not to repeat the same ad hoc chicken, likely to repeat the green beans, but they weren’t the trial factor here.
3 large yukon gold potatoes, washed and dried.
1/4 cup of butter
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 teaspoons minced rosemary
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
Per instructions in the link above,
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Slice potatoes 3/4 through in accordion style.
-In a microwave safe bowl combine the butter, oil, rosemary and garlic.
-Cook just until melted, about 45 seconds.
Use a kitchen brush to coat each potato, make sure the butter gets between each slice.
Bake at 375°F for 38-40 minutes. The goal is to make sure they are done on the inside and crispy on the edges.
-Then brush with another layer of the butter mixture and serve.
-Served with sides of cream cheese, chopped green onions and shredded cheddar cheese. yum!
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was really quite tasty with the cream cheese I had left over from cookie-making, and I’d like to try it again for more crisp using smaller potatoes.. Likelihood of Repeat: 45%
…but it was pretty heavy on the carbs, minutely tedious to brush the mix on, and not consumed largely by my dining companion at home. I may only try making it again when he’s out of town, and I’ve pre-burned a lot of calories.
Wheat Berry Salad
1 cup soft white wheat berries
2 cups water
dash of salt
1 orange bell pepper
1/3 red onion
2 roma tomatoes
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts shown here, I think pecans or almonds would work fine too)
1. Toast the wheat berries in a skillet for ~4 minutes on medium high heat. Stir often, for the wheat berries will begin to brown and even start popping. You may want to get a lid or splatter screen just in case.
2. Soak the wheat berries in water for 1 hour, or in my case, overnight in the rice cooker with the timer set for 5:30 PM. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can bring the wheat berries to a boil in a pot of water on the stove top and then let simmer for about 45 minutes.
3. While you’re waiting for it to finish, finely chop: 1 orange bell pepper, 1/3 red onion, 2 roma tomatoes, and 1 cucumber.
4. Lightly toast nuts.
5. When wheatberries are done cooking, dress the cooked wheatberries with a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and a little black pepper to taste.
6. Finally, mix in vegetables, onion, and nuts into wheatberries, can be served warm straight from the rice cooker, or cold.
When I prepped it, I kept the onions and pine nuts separate, since the raw onions could be a little heart burny, and I added the pine nuts at the last minute so I could keep them crunchy for lunch.
This week’s trial recipe rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow, these wheatberries have a delightful pop when you bite down on them! All the bright-colored vegetables I added made it a really appealing-looking dish to eat, with just the right crunch from the peppers and cucumbers. It was also super easy to bring for lunch and eat cold, but still feel satisfied. Score one for small portion efforts. Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
I’m definitely going to make this again, and maybe even branch out to try a different vinaigrette combo with it, or add goat cheese or craisins. Besides the time it took to cook the actual grains, the rest of the prep was super fast since it didn’t require any more cooking.
There are some days when I miss spaghetti, as my household doesn’t eat much pasta at home any more (well, even if I made it, the other half would likely abstain). If it happens to be a chilly Fall day when I’m plotting a meal to make, my mind goes to spaghetti squash. I was only introduced to this intriguing squash variety a couple years ago, when to help while away a lengthy chemo session, a steadfast childhood friend stopped by with some, miraculously procuring something that appeared both vegetable and pasta-like! How novel! I could feel my brain stretching as I ate it…
That brings us to today’s recipe, an amalgam of internet advice and my squash baking experiences. Note: I’ve starred a couple options that I consider more fattening (and therefore tasty).
(1) Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Zucchini Sausage Saute: looks like spaghetti, still tastes like healthy..
1/2 spaghetti squash (you can bake the whole thing, but the rest of this only needs half the squash)
1/2 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1.5 zucchini squash, sliced and halved
chicken apple sausage, sliced and halved (or polska kielbasa sausage*)
butter* or olive oil (for squash baking)
saffola oil (for frying)
salt & pepper (to taste)
thyme (to taste)
parmesan, grated or thinly sliced (your choice)
cheat ingredient: bottled pasta sauce
makes: 4 servings
Preheat oven to 350
Cut spaghetti squash in halve lengthwise, de-seed (shortcut option: poke squash with a fork and microwave for a few minutes to presoften before you fight the rind to cut it, this may result in a mushier end product, though)
Oil or butter (I was feeling decadent so I used butter this time) the flat surface of the squash and lay, cut sides down, on a baking sheet.
Bake spaghetti squash in oven about 30 minutes (check after 20 if you microwaved before cutting), until barely tender when poked with a fork.
While you wait, you can work on sauteing the other stuff per directions below, or go do a little yoga (I did the latter this time, since then the saute wouldn’t cool too much while I was scraping out the squash).
Remove squash from oven, let cool to a temperature to handle, then scrape the squash flesh out with a fork. As you scrape, it will come apart into spaghetti-like shapes. For most squash sizes I’ve seen, if you scrape out only half the squash, that will be enough for this recipe to serve 4, so the other half can be scraped out and put aside for a recipe another day, or frozen.
The Other Stuff:
In a large frying pan on medium, saute onions 2 minutes in saffola oil.
Add garlic, stir a bit.
Add zucchini and sausage, saute 7 minutes or until at desired tender-crispness of zucchini and browning of sausage.
Add the squash to the pan, fold ingredients together, sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
Pour the pasta sauce and mix until warmed through.
Serve with parmesan on top. You can also try it with goat cheese.
This week’s trial recipe #1 rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars
I’ve made this before. I get so excited when it’s plated like spaghetti, but the texture and flavor really aren’t anywhere close, it’s pretty crunchy. In retrospect I may have undercooked it, for fear of overcooking it into mush. Booooo. Likelihood of Repeat: 35%
I’ve made this a few times, and my spouse’s reaction when he hears I’m making it is always, “that seems like a lot of effort for small gain.” So I think the spaghetti squash + pasta sauce combination is on its way out. Since I’m not on the Paleo or Atkins diets, why make spaghetti squash when you miss spaghetti?
Also, why did I make squash (spaghetti) with squash (zucchini)? C-razzy.
I think I need to find another spaghetti squash recipe that just treats it like spaghetti, and stick with Nom Nom Paleo’s Zucchini Spaghetti on those days when I can’t bring myself to cook actual pasta, but have time to julienne zucchinis. You got any?
In general, I am big proponent of eating things for the sake of their own taste, something I like to mention to my vegetarian friends when I agree on the tastiness of tofu, fried gluten, or quorn. Unfortunately, this seems to be an instance where I forgot about that in my enthusiasm for (a)my love of pasta and (b)the novelty of a weird squash that yields fun.
1/2 a spaghetti squash
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (more lactose-intolerant friendly)
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped and toasted (was out of pecans)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 green onions (white & green parts), thinly sliced
Roast spaghetti squash per steps 1-4, and 6 in other recipe above.
In a small bowl, whisk together, olive oil, vinegar and salt.
Pour vinaigrette into the spaghetti squash and toss. Add cheese, pecans, cherries, and most of green onions, stir well, and serve cold.
This week’s trial recipe #2 rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars
May have baked one too many spaghetti squash this season for it to feel novel.. Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
I still have some left over in the freezer and I plan to defrost and use it as a salad later. The slight tartness of the balsamic vinegar makes me less expectant that it should be heavy and filling, and therefore I found it more satisfying to eat. My friend I shared it with also gave positive reviews.
I had leftover cucumber from that tzatziki (and leftover tzatziki too, but that’s a different puzzle), so I figured I’d make some delicious but simple cucumber salad, Japanese style. The recipe I’ve been using since 2007 is from this website with cucumber recipe files.
I halved it for my purposes tonight, but this is the full portion for ingredients below:
1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
salt (haven’t found I feel there is much added value with salting it)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Thankfully, the 30-day reduced sugar challenge I was doing with co-workers in October is over, so I am adding sugar to my heart’s (small) desire! I am either in denial, or I didn’t have that bad a sugar addiction as the books say most people have. I actually did quite badly last month, gaming the rules I was following, and the limit of 1 sugar item (like dessert) each weekend day actually turned into a quota, which I don’t think I was previously following. But enough of a tangent, back to the task:
1. Mix all the ingredients except cucumber together.
2. Add cucumber, toss to cover, and chill in fridge.
3. Eat (cold) in an hour, or tomorrow.
Hmmm, apparently I forgot all about the website’s recommendation to eat it with sesame seeds. I’ll have to try that too.
This week’s trial recipe ratings:
Novelty: 0, I’ve done this before. Likelihood of repeat: 100%, since 2007.
This recipe has proven itself a tasty snack, side, and picnic item. It keeps pretty well if you need something that’s made in advance, and doesn’t need to be warmed up to taste good.
In anticipation of potential consumers of my meal output going down by 50% this week, I went for a minor trial this time: tzatziki sauce. I found one from The Man Fuel Blog that at least mentioned the risk of heartburn, so I went with that, at half portion.
1 tsp garlic (went with pre-cut stuff from the jar to get something milder than fresh raw garlic)
1 cup greek yogurt
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 tsp dried mint
salt to taste
1/2 c finely diced cucumber (peeled first)
Didn’t take much mixing (for specifics, see the instructions linked above), and I just let this sit for about 30 minutes:
Thanks to my helpful co-chef, got some falafel (prepped “fresh from the box”) fried up with tomato, lettuce, cukes, and roasted butternut squash and potato to overload atop some pita bread for a tasty but vegetarian dinner, and lunch the next day!
This week’s trial recipe ratings:
Novelty: 4 of 5 stars Likelihood of repeat: 60%
Felt really good to have this for lunch. It was delicious, kept well, but didn’t feel over-filling. I really like the novelty of home made tzatziki sauce, since it is so simple to make, but I’m still wishing I could find a delicious yet non-raw-garlic version. You got anything?
(October Week 5 Trial)
I banked this Spanish Bread & Garlic Soup recipe in my Evernote recipe folder last April waiting for the right day, which apparently meant in the Fall, when I’m in the mood for soup. Having to watch the video for the actual instructions behind ingredients -including turning the heat up and down a bunch- may have had something to do with it.
I started with the prescribed ingredients, including some home made chicken stock from a Sunday a few weeks ago:
Baked the bread at 350 for 15 minutes and forgot to include olive oil, sliced tons of garlic thin by hand (my amateur area of expertise!), sauteed it, then sauteed the ham..
Added the bread to the mix, and paprika..
Brought it to a boil, salted, peppered and cayenned it to taste, and popped in a couple eggs* in to poach on low covered,
Voila! Bread and garlic soup!
This week’s trial recipe ratings: novelty: 4 of 5 stars likelihood of repeat: 75%
My test audience of one mentioned it was a little carby, and I have to agree. I was not expecting quite so much bread-to-garlic substance ratio. I think I’ll probably make this on a lazy weekend for half the portion size, and possibly when I’m the only one home. It’s definitely a good recipe for a low budget if you have some stale bread lying around, paprika, broth and garlic.
*Let’s just pretend the first egg was not lost to the bready, soupy abyss and got overcooked, and that this perfect, just-runny egg in the picture was the only final product.
Addendum: Four days later and I finally finished the leftovers, what was I thinking on those giant portions! A tasty poached egg with a just-runny yolk definitely makes the flavor right in this soup, which I found hard to replicate via microwave egg poaching at work (yolk gets cooked too fast too evenly). I may try this poached egg addition to some other soups too.
Congrats, folks, it’s a two-fer this week, for the inaugural postings of this blog.
I bought some jerusalem artichokes (a.k.a. sunchokes)* at the Farmer’s Market near my work. Never had them before. Despite the internet’s warnings when I was looking up recipes (after I bought them) that these suckers were also known as ‘fartichokes,’ I plowed on.
To brighten the dish, I also got some golden beets, roasted them together with some red onions at 400 for around 30-40 minutes.
This week’s trial recipe ratings: novelty: 2 of 5 stars likelihood of repeat: 2%.
Like, maybe if zombies attack and it’s the only thing to eat (I’d probably mistake it for ginger out in the field anyway). The rommate was not a fan, and only found it worth a politeness bite.
I wouldn’t avoid it if it were in a dish with other food I liked at a restaurant, but the architecture of its shape made it hard to clean, the flavor was no so remarkable, and I just love potatoes more.
Have you made these before? Got a recipe/prep style for it that you think will change my mind? Let me know.