Potato and Manchego Mini-Quiches with Greens

Mini Quiches

Spending time with loved ones and friends is on everybody’s priority list these days, or at least I hope it is. (So is taking care of yourself as best you can when life’s “busy.”)

Thumbing through a back issue of Eating Well, their Muffin Tin Quiches caught my eye. Not only were those smoky, cheesy, potato-and-spinach-filled gems screaming my name, make-ahead suggestions were offered. But, how to avoid the milk and smoked Cheddar? Culinary creativity ensued. (Original recipe notes in parentheses below.)

I can have my quiche and eat it, too, yay!

Potato and Manchego Mini-Quiches with Greens (adapted from Eating Well January/February 2017)

4 slices of hickory smoked bacon (the recipe didn’t call for bacon, but ya know…)

1 Tbsp. bacon drippings (or EVOO)

3/4 c. diced red-skinned potatoes (skin on), 1/4″ diced

1/2 c. red onion, finely diced

1/4 tsp. salt

1 (5 oz.) container Green Girl Organic Super Greens: red and green Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, and tat soi (or 3/4 c. fresh baby spinach)

4 large eggs

1/4 c. chicken stock (or milk)

1/2 c. shredded Manchego (or smoked Cheddar) cheese

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (omit if using smoked Cheddar)

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Preheat oven to 325º F. Coat a six-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp. (Reserve drippings.) Transfer slices to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble and set aside for garnish.

Return 1 tablespoon bacon drippings to same skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, and salt. Stir frequently until potatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Add greens (or spinach); drizzle with an additional tablespoon bacon drippings (or EVOO) if needed to prevent sticking. Toss with tongs until the greens are slightly wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, grated cheese (whichever), chicken stock (or milk), and smoked paprika (omit if using smoked Cheddar) ’til combined. Stir in potato mixture. Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Divide evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake 25 minutes or until set; cool 5 minutes. Remove quiches from muffin cups and garnish each with crumbled bacon before serving.

Per Eating Well these can be made ahead. Wrap (individually) in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to three days or freeze up to one month. To reheat: remove the plastic, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave on high 30-60 seconds.

I haven’t tried the frozen option yet. (I ate them in three days!) They “nuked” just fine. I’m looking forward to serving a big batch to our loved ones and friends — forgot to mention this adaptation was a “half batch” — TMOFW doesn’t eat “greens”, lol! (Double the recipe at will.) Most likely I’ll reheat larger batches in the oven on low heat covered with tinfoil. Ingredients aren’t the only things I adapt!

Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Brunch is Served

Enjoying brunch three days in a row,

~ Kim

 

“Easy” Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

I love baking from scratch (really I do), but sometimes a lil’ “punting” is called for — especially when my pantry is low on ingredients and I’m hungry for fresh-from-the-oven goodness — now.

All I had on hand was King Arthur Flour’s gluten free “baking mix” and some previously frozen pumpkin to make a “pumpkin bread” (of sorts.) That, and years… and years… and years of baking experience.

After a somewhat desperate (allow me re-phrase that motivated!) online search, I discovered this recipe. Sadly I was missing a couple of ingredients — but, where there’s a will there’s a way.

“Easy” Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

(flagrantly adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe)

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)

1 c. sugar (I used 3/4 cup because The Man Of Few Words doesn’t like things “sweet” — except me. :)

1 large egg (the original recipe called for 3; I wanted pumpkin “bread” not pumpkin cake — plus I only had 1 egg!)

2 c. pumpkin puree (I made up for the lack of “egg moisture” with more pumpkin, which is why my bread is “orange-r”)

3 T. honey (another punt… fresh out of molasses, per the original recipe)

1 tsp. vanilla (truthfully I was out of vanilla, too, so I used 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar cuz… a girl’s gotta do!)

Sigh… I was also out of “pumpkin pie spice” (their recipe called for 1 tsp. of it)… so I used:

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

(Whatever works!!!)

2 c. King Arthur Gluten-Free Baking Mix (not GF Flour)

Sparkle sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a loaf pan with shortening. (NOTE: I used a round casserole cuz I haven’t been able to replace my bread pans yet.) Adjust baking time as needed.

Mix together oil, sugar, egg, pumpkin, honey, vanilla (or apple cider vinegar) and spices in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Add baking mix and beat until combined. Let the batter rest 10 minutes. (I forgot to do this… see “hungry” ¶ 1.)

Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle top with sparkle sugar.

Bake 30 minutes, then tent with foil and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the “loaf” comes out clean. (Might take a lil’ longer than that… use your nose!) I can “smell” when things are done.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn “loaf” out onto the rack to cool completely.

(And, if in doubt about “my rendition”… make the original recipe!)

Pumpkin Bread 2

I think the results speak for themselves, don’t you?

(By the way, it made fabulous “French Toast” the next day.)

Wishing you a spontaneous weekend!

Enjoying freedom of expression (plus a few decades of ‘know how’) in the kitchen,

~ Kim

French Scrambled Eggs with Homemade Gravlax

Scrambled Eggs with Dill and Gravlax

I have too much time on my hands.

(Either that, or I’m finally making time and following my culinary instincts — and taste buds — or treating myself right.)

Take homemade gravlax, for instance. It requires a 72 hour process of curing and flipping the salmon and seasonings every 12 hours. Totally worth the effort… especially when it comes to making breakfast.

Homemade Gravlax 2

Generally, I’m not a breakfast eater (I know, I know…), but I woke up hungry and in the mood for scrambled eggs — not just any scrambled eggs — Julia Child’s scrambled eggs.

(That’s what I get for reading The Art of French Cooking for fun last winter.)

There’s something about the simplicity of French-inspired scrambled eggs, gently beaten and coaxed into creamy curds with a lil’ butter and some patient attention, combined with long-awaited peace and quiet — and the first crop of irises gracing our dining room table.

Breakfast of Champions

Today my soul wanted… needed… breakfast. Simple. Sublime. Sexy.

My dill plant provided the perfect touch of color and flavor to accentuate the undertones of the gravlax and the creaminess of the eggs (nirvana) — plus a lil’ French press coffee and freshly-squeezed orange juice never hurt.

Yup, definitely worth the effort!

Homemade Gravlax

For a gravlax how-to please refer to this recipe by love & olive oil — which they subsequently credited to Saveur — and whose directions and comments were very helpful, FYI. Good stuff either way! Just be sure to rinse the gravlax thoroughly to remove the salt. (I omitted the usual salt — and pepper — from my eggs to be sure, and they were divine “bite by bite.”)

For a scrambled egg tutorial dang near close to Julia’s, click here. Do your research, people, then please your tastebuds, xo!

Have you made a special breakfast or meal for you lately?

Enjoying nurturing moi (and hopefully you…), 

~ Kim

P.S. You deserve it!

Deconstructed Migas

For nearly a decade, I hauled goods that ultimately ended up in the hands of the consumer.  Although most of my loads consisted of the large variety (steel, glass, and lumber for future shopping centers, hospitals, and homes), I occasionally toted canned goods or department store items.

Once, I even hauled a load of wine bottles to a vineyard. :)

Which reminds me… now that the season of accelerated wining and dining and shopping is upon us, be sure to thank a truck driver.

As a professional driver, it was my responsibility to pick up cargo on time, secure it safely, and make delivery dates before the appointed hour.  Although grueling at times, trucking allowed me to crisscross 45 of the 48 contiguous United States and see some of the most spectacular scenery you could ever hope to see.  It also gave me an opportunity to sample some fabulous regional food.

The first time I had Migas was at a café in Brownsville, Texas after I’d read a post by The Pioneer Woman.  She extolled their virtues in terms I could understand (divine and heavenly, to name a few) and I agreed with her assessment from the very first bite.  Thanks, Ree!  A girl can work up a powerful appetite driving all the way to Brownsville.

Interestingly enough, Migas means different things in different parts of the world.  In Spain, they’re made with day-old bread, olive oil, garlic, and spinach — or alfalfa.  In Portugal, they’re made with bread, garlic, olive oil, wild asparagus, tomatoes, and fresh coriander.  (For a few other interesting variations, click here.)  Down South (or at least farther South than Oklahoma), Migas consist of eggs scrambled with tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn tortillas, and cheese.

The culinary term “deconstructed” has been rattling around in my brain for awhile, so I decided to give it a go.  Not sure what to deconstruct, I opened my fridge…

Eggs.  Salsa.  Corn tortillas.

Sounded like Migas to me!

Deconstructed Migas

1 tsp. butter

1 corn tortilla

1 egg, poached

1/3 c. salsa (liberal interpretation of “tomatoes, onions, & peppers”)

2 Tbsp. sour cream (in lieu of cheese)

Smoked paprika, for garnish

Chives, for garnish

Melt butter in a small skillet until sizzling.  Add corn tortilla.  Fry until crisp on both sides; set aside to drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, poach an egg in boiling, salted water to your preferred “yolky-ness.”  (New culinary term…)

Place tortilla on a plate and mound salsa in the center.

(I used Salsa Me Krazy, which I won on basilmomma‘s show, Around The Kitchen Sink.  Thanks again, Heather and Brenda!)

Top with a poached egg and sprinkle with smoked paprika.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chives on the side.

Commence further deconstruction!

Enjoying culinary architecture & trucking memories,

~Kim

P.S.  This recipe (along with dozens of more favorites from around the world) is featured in Jane Sarchet’s FREE e-cookbook, Project Egg.  For details, click here.

Bye, Bye, Miss American Fry

I’ve always loved potatoes — baked, mashed, creamed, boiled, roasted, you name it — but the ones that make me swoon are fried potatoes.

My fondness for sauteed spuds hails back to my roots, when my folks would take us “up north” fishing.  I can still picture Mom cooking Dad’s early morning catch (generally walleye) in a cast iron skillet, adjacent to a larger skillet filled with sliced potatoes sizzling in butter.  Their aroma would waft through the open screen door to mingle with pine, birch, and lake-scented air and beckon me to blaze a trail to the table, where all of the above was served on a Melmac plate with a side of toast.

Breakfast doesn’t get much finer than that.

During “the trucking years” I looked forward to breakfast more than any other meal — particularly breakfast potatoes.  After a day or night of shifting gears across America, I’d search for a good ol’ fashioned truck stop — not one of those huge, hundred-acre mega-plexes, but a “Mom & Pop” joint — neat and tidy, with a little wear and tear around the edges, and a cook who looked like they’d put in a few miles, too.

After perusing the “breakfast section” of the menu, I’d order any combo that came with American Fries (sometimes hailed as “home fries”) and anticipate that mound of crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside, hand-peeled, hand-cut spuds, pan-fried to a golden brown.  Depending on which region I was in (and which cook was slinging hash), the spuds would hint of butter, bacon grease, or lard — but, they were never greasy — and they typically sported diced onion or peppers.   Potato perfection.

Then came the convenience food revolution and a noticeable decline in “American fries” — often replaced by mechanically cut, frozen cubes dunked in a deep fryer.   Not the same!  I could almost hear Don McClean crooning, “Bye… bye… Miss American Fry…”

Thankfully, I ran across a recipe in the “good ol’ days” that never fails to deliver the taste and texture I’ve been missing.  Although billed as a ‘salad’ (Warm Irish Potato Salad http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/taste/11445761.html), these spuds are entirely suitable for breakfast, and worthy of their title.
 

American Fries (adapted from ‘The Local’ linked above)

4 c. red potatoes, diced

8 slices bacon, diced

1/2 c. malt vinegar

4 green onions, sliced

4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water until almost tender; drain.  Rinse with cold water; place in a sieve to drain thoroughly.

In the meantime, fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove to paper toweling to drain.  Reserve drippings in skillet.

Heat bacon drippings over high heat; add potatoes.  Reduce heat to medium-high; cook and turn with a spatula until potatoes are browned evenly.  Add malt vinegar; stir gently until vinegar is evaporated.  Remove pan from heat.  Add green onions, parlsey, and bacon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

As I said, breakfast doesn’t get much finer than that.

Enjoying spud nostalgia,

~ Kim

What kind of potatoes do you like?

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast with Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Ever notice how breakfast tastes better on a weekend morning?

I’m not much of a breakfast-eater during the week (unless it comes in a mug), but on Saturday mornings I’m in the mood for something decadent — not your ordinary breakfast fare.

The solution to my craving was Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast.

Filled with ripe strawberries, sweetened mascarpone and cream cheeses, and a hint of spice, it elevated plain ol’ French Toast into something extraordinary.  Plus, it was quick to make.

Unless, of course, your local grocer happens to be out of Mascarpone cheese… in which case, you start the night before.

(Feel free to skip ahead to the French Toast recipe if you have Mascarpone on hand!)

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

(Adapted from two tarts’ recipe on Tasty Kitchen)

1 c. heavy cream

1/4 t. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whisk together cream and confectioners’ sugar in a double boiler over simmering (not boiling) water.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until it reaches 180° F.  Add lemon juice and stir 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Set top part of double boiler on a pot holder; let stand undisturbed for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl; line sieve with cheesecloth.  (In a pinch, use a coffee filter — same principle.)

Slowly pour the cream mixture into the sieve; let stand 20 minutes or until cool enough to refrigerate.  Wrap sieve (bowl and all) in plastic wrap; chill overnight.

In the morning, scrape the fresh Mascarpone cheese from the filter (it doesn’t stick) and discard the liquid in the bowl.

Prepare to be amazed…

I’ll never lack for Mascarpone cheese again.  Or stuffed French Toast…

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast

6 slices French bread, approximately 2″ wide each

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. Mascarpone cheese, softened (homemade or store-bought)

1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for serving

1 pint ripe strawberries (reserve some for garnish)

1 c. milk

3 eggs

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

Create a “pocket” in each slice of bread by slicing through the middle without cutting through the crust; set aside.

Mix together softened cheeses and confectioners’ sugar until well blended.

Rinse and hull strawberries; pat dry.  Slice berries into 1/4″ slices.

Spread a generous portion of cheese mixture in each French bread “pocket.”  Layer with sliced strawberries; set aside.

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, spices, and salt.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter on a griddle over medium heat.

Meanwhile, dip each stuffed French toast into egg batter, covering both sides; drain slightly.

Fry three pieces at a time.  When underside is golden brown, flip over and fry until golden on both sides.  Keep warm in a 250 oven until remaining pieces are cooked.  (Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to griddle before frying the rest.)

Serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar; garnish with whole strawberries.

Weekend French Toast

This weekend, treat your family (or yourself) to breakfast — you’ll be glad you did!

Enjoying a slice of Stuffed French Toast (okay, two…),

~ Kimby