Oh Quiche.  What an easy friend, willing to take on any ingredients you may have on hand.  And this friend doesn’t mind stopping by for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This is a favorite in our house.  Served with fresh fruit for breakfast, or a light salad for dinner.  Bacon and cheese, pancetta and spinach or tomatoes and zucchini, its all wonderful.  Below is my basic recipe and a few variations.

quiche Collage


prepared 9 inch pie crust
5 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1/4 c water
Spices to taste:
salt, pepper, chili powder, mustard powder, onion powder, celery seed, paparika

Pancetta & Spinach
4 oz chopped Pancetta
1 sm onion, finely chopped
1 c spinach
– thawed from frozen, or wilted fresh spinach
1 c grated cheese

Bacon, Mushroom and Cheese
5-7 slices of bacon, browned and drained
1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
1 cup shredded cheese

Tomato, Zucchini and Cheese
Layer ingredients from the bottom up, until the layers reach right below your pie pan lip.
Tomatoes (round slices)
Zucchini (round slices)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Italian Seasoning
Once layers have been completed, pour egg mixture over the top.

quiche 1

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  If using bacon or pancetta, brown and drain.  Place the pie crust in your pan.  Whisk together eggs, milk, water and spices.  Add other ingredients and pour into pie crust.

Bake for 40-45 min, until the middle is firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

quiche 2

Macaroni Monday

My sister will swear that the one of the only things I would eat as a child is macaroni and cheese.  (Knowing my mother I don’t totally believe it.)  But dinner from the blue box tastes like growing up and comfort and the days when I was too poor to eat much else.  In the last few years I have tried my hand at a few homemade recipes and have fallen even more deeply in love.

So when I saw this book, it was a MUST have.

Mac and cheese

80 recipes of pasta and cheese?  Sounds like heaven to me.

This is the first recipe I tried; a few small substitutions were made, noted below.

dumac and cheese 2

Dumac & Cheese

1/2 lb radiatore or rotini pasta
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c heavy cream, warmed
1 c whole milk, warmed – I used 2%
4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
4 oz sharp white Cheddar, grated
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3 tbls plain breadcrumbs – I used Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13×9 baking pan.  (There is not enough stuff to fit into a 13×9 pan.  If you’re feeding a large crowd, double the recipe.  If not, use a 8 or 9 inch square baker.)  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Cook the pasta until it is just beginning to soften to the al dente stage.  Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, and return it to the pot.  (Be sure to rinse the pot out with cold water also, or the pasta will stick to the pan.)

Heat the butter in a saucepan over med-low heat.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 min, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly and appears to have grown in volume.  Increase the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the warm cream and milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.

Reserve 3/4 c of both cheeses.  Add the remaining cheese to the sauce by 1/2 c measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper then transfer the pasta to the prepared pan.  Mix the reserved cheeses and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle it over the top of the dish.

Bake the casserole for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbly and the crumbs on the top are deep brown.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

dumac and cheese 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh My.  This is some good stuff.  Both husband and I loved it.  I’m only wishing I could’ve eaten more.  1 recipe down and 79 to go…

Towering Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m sure y’all think we do nothing but eat sweets, cookies, cakes and pie, Oh My! I promise, we do have a good dose of protein and veggies every day.

I had planned to do a post on the steak and potatoes  that I made for husband’s birthday.  But I only took pictures of the beginning stages of everything and not the final product.  It’s a blessing and a curse really.  The steak didn’t come out as well as the last time I made it (curse), but I have a pretty good idea why (blessing).  I guess I’ll just have to make it all again to redeem myself and to take all the proper pictures.

This is the cake I made for husband’s birthday.

The recipe is from Food Network Magazine, March 2012.

No substitutions were made.

Any cake that starts out with 12 ounces of chocolate is a winner in my book!

Any cake that starts out with 12oz of chocolate is a winner in my book!

Towering Flourless Chocolate Cake

For the Cake:
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces, pluse more for the pan
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
3/4 c turbinado sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 c stout beer (such a Guinness)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tblsp unsalted butter
1 tblsp light corn syrup
1 c granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

choc cake Collage

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment papaer.

Put the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water).  Stir until the chocolate melts, then remover the bowl from the pan.

Put the eggs, turbinado sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set the bowl over the same pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is warm, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer; beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the beer and vanilla to a low boil in a saucepan.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the beer mixture, then the melted chocolate, until combined, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the butter until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick come out with a few crumbs, about 35 minutes.  Cool in the pan, on a rack 1 hour, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the ring.  Let cool completely.

flourless choc cake 3

Make the meringue:  Microwave the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring until the chocolate melts.

Whisk the granulated sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 c of water in a heatproof bowl.  Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; beat with a handheld mixer on low speed, then gradually increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the pan; continue beating until the meringue is cool and fluffy.  Fold in the vanilla, then fold in the melted chocolate until swirled.  Spread the meringue on the cake.

flourless choc cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9  This cake is superb, ‘fudgy’ and dense, but not heavy.  The meringue adds a wonderful lightness to the whole thing.  Husband loved it and I just need another excuse to make it again.

Cinnamon Baked French Toast

Oh the second week of February.  Valentines Day and husbands birthday, all within two days of each other.

This year we weren’t going to be together for dinner on Valentines, so I wanted to make a special breakfast to share before he went off to work.  After some searching on The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I knew this is was the perfect dish for our special breakfast.

Click HERE for a link to the recipe.

No substitutions were made.

french toast collage 1

Cinnamon Baked French Toast

French Toast
1 loaf crusty sourdough or french breach
8 whole eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c whipping cream
3/4 c sugar
2 tblsp vanilla

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
fresh fruit (optional)

Grease a 9×13 pan with butter.  Tear bread into chunks and evenly distribute in the pan.

Mix together, eggs, milk, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla.  Pour evenly over bread.  Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl mix, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture until it resembles fine pebbles.  Store in a ziplock in the fridge.

french toast 4

When you’re read to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove casserole from the fridge and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top.  (If you’re adding fruit, add before the crumb mixture.)  Bake 45 minutes for a softer bread pudding texture.  Bake 1 hour for a firmer less liquid texture.

Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

french toast 5

cartoon-strawberry-9This casserole is beyond good.  I added fresh blackberries and raspberries.  It was a perfect Valentine’s breakfast to share with husband.  Then I had the pleasure of having a second Valentine’s breakfast with a wonderful friend.  She said this casserole is “life changing”.

Brown Sugar Applesauce Cookies

My mom first introduced me to Penzey’s spices a couple of years ago.  And now any trip home includes an afternoon spent browsing the aisles of spices and dreaming up all the wonderful things to be cooked and baked.

This recipe is from the Penzeys ‘Back to School’ catalog.

No substitutions were made.

applesauce cookies

Brown Sugar Applesauce Cookies

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c applesauce
1 egg
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Beat together the brown sugar, shortening, applesauce and egg.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drop the dough by the rounded spoonful about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until browned.  Immediately remove from the cookie sheets.  Cool, and then spread with frosting.


1/4 c butter
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tblsp milk

Heat the butter over medium heat until delicate brown, usually 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the milk until smooth.  Spread over cooled cookies.

cartoon-strawberry-9The first thing to do with any new recipe is to read it all the way through, BEFORE you start.  Setting out to bake some cookies and then BAM, add an hour for refrigeration.  Other than that, these are good cookies.  Next time I might add in some diced apple, or a little cinnamon in the frosting…

French Onion Soup

There’s French Onion Soup.  And then there’s Julia’s French Onion Soup.  This is the best there is, just be sure to set aside 2 hours for this endeavor.

The recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Vol 1.

No substitutions were made.

French Onion 1

Onion Soup

1 1/2 lbs or about 5 c of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tblsp butter
1 tblsp oil
A heavy-bottomed, 4 qrt covered saucepan

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 min.

1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (helps the onions to brown)

Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar.  Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.

3 tblsp flour

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

French Onion2

2 quarts boiling brown stock, canned beef bouillon, or 1 quart of boilinb water and 1 quart of stock or bouillon
– I used 2 quarts of Trader Joes beef stock
1/2 c dry white wine or dry white vermouth
salt and pepper to taste

Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid.  Add the wine, and season to taste.  Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally.  Correct seasoning.  Set aside uncovered until ready to serve.  Then reheat to a simmer.

3 tblsp cognac – I skipped this
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1 to 2 c grated swiss or parmesan cheese

Just before serving, stir in the cognac.  Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread, and pass the cheese separately.

French Onion3

Hard Toasted French Bread

12 to 16 slices of French Bread cut 1/4 to 1 inch thick

Place the bread in one layer in a roasting pan and pack in a preheated 325 degree oven for about half an hour, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned.

Olive oil or beef drippings
Cut clove of garlic

Halfway through the baking, each side may be basted with a tsp of olive oil or beef drippings; and after baking, each piece may be rubbed with cut garlic. – I brushed one side with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.

French Onion4

cartoon-strawberry-9This is the best French Onion soup you’ll ever make or eat.  Do it ASAP!

Country Ham and Asparagus Bake

Breakfast for dinner.  Brinner.  Dinfast.  Definitely a favorite in our house.

The recipe is from the Betty Crocker’s Diabetes Cookbook.

I made a few small substitutions, noted below.

ham casserole 1

Country Ham and Asparagus Bake

1 1/2 c chopped fully cooked ham
1 medium onion, chopped (approx 1/2 c)
1/4 c chopped bell pepper
1 package (10 oz) frozen asparagus or broccoli cuts – I used asparagus
8 eggs or 2 c egg subsitute – I used all eggs
2 c fat-free milk – I used 2%
1 c all-purpose four
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tps dried tarragon
1 c shredded cheddar cheese – I used my fav 3 cheese blend from Trader Joes

ham casserole 2

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Generously grease bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking dish.  Sprinkle ham, onion, bell pepper and asparagus in baking dish. – I used my pampered chef pan (no greasing).  I also tossed the ham and veggies together in a bowl before putting them in the baking dish.

Beat eggs, milk, flour, parm cheese, salt, pepper and tarragon with a fork or wire whisk in medium bowl until smooth; pour over ham mixture.

Bake uncovered about 20 min, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

ham casserole 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a easy and delish casserole.  Both husband and I liked this one and it’s a great use for leftover ham (from Christmas or Easter).

Almost-Famous Pecan Waffles

January marked our fourth anniversary of living in the south, and I still haven’t eaten at a Waffle House. But a good waffle for a Saturday morning breakfast is one of my favorite things, so I had to try these out.

The recipe is from Food Network Magazine, December 2011.

I did not alter the recipe in any way.

pecan waffles 1

Almost-Famous Pecan Waffles

3/4 pecans
1 1/2 c all-purpose four
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1 c whole milk – I used 2%
1/2 c buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing and topping
1/4 c vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
maple syrup for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecan on a baking sheet; bake until toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool, then chop. Reduce the oven temp to 200.

pecan waffles 2

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk the egg, milk, buttermilk and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined. Stir the egg mixture, melted butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until just combined. (The batter will be lumpy.)

Preheat a waffle iron and brush with melted butter. Ladle some batter into the iron; sprinkle with 2 tblsp toasted pecans. Cook until golden brown, then transfer the waffle to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. Top the waffles with butter and maple syrup.

pecan waffles 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh my goodness, these waffles are good! If you have a special day coming up, these would be a great celebration breakfast!

Oatmeal Bread

Is there anything better than the smell of rising and baking bread? Is there a candle or perfume I could have and just smell as needed?

This recipe is from the cookbook, Flavors of Cape Cod – Recipes from the Friends of the Thorton W. Burgess Society.

A full recipe makes 4 loaves of bread, so I cut everything in half. No other alterations were made.

oatmeal bread 1

Oatmeal Bread

2 c rolled oats
1 tblsp salt
1 tblsp lard
1/3 cup oil – I used vegetable oil
1 c molasses
4 c boiling water
1 c warm water
10 c flour – I used all-purpose flour
4 tblsp dry yeast

Combine oats, salt, lard, oil, molasses and 4 cups of boiling water and let cool. – It took about approx half hour for this to cool. Add yeast to cup of warm water and let proof. Mix all ingredients and add flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead for 10 minutes, place in greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Let rise until double in bulk. – This took a little over an hour. Punch down and divide into 4 loaves; place in 9 inch greased loaf tins – I used Bakers Joy. Let rise until doubled. – Another hour. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

oatmeal bread 2

cartoon-strawberry-9The only thing better than the smell of baking bread is a warm slice of that bread. The texture is perfect and the oats just magically disappear. I think the molasses taste is a little strong, but not distracting. This one will take awhile, but it totally worth the effort.

Ultimate Red Velvet Cake

Husband wanted a red velvet cake for dessert on Christmas, so it gave me a chance to try out this recipe. Because what couple doesn’t need a 3 layer cake all to themselves on Christmas?

The recipe is from The Nest, Fall 2008

Recipe altered slightly, noted below.

red velvet 2

Ultimate Red Velvet Cake

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 c sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 tblsp red food coloring – I only had 5 tblsp on hand
3 tblsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3 1/3 c cake flour (not self rising), sifted
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 3, 9 inch round cake pans and line bottoms with waxed paper. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beat well. – I used Baker’s Joy on the cake pans with no wax paper.

In a small bowl, whisk food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to batter and beat well. In a measuring cup, stir salt into the buttermilk. Add to batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. In a small bowl, stir together cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to batter and mix well. – As I think back now, I’m pretty sure I forgot to sift the flour…

Divide batter among 3 pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 1 hour. Remove from pans and frost.

Red Velvet 1

Vanilla Frosting

1 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
8 to 10 c confectioners’ sugar
3/4 c milk
1 tblsp vanilla extract

Place butter in a large mixing bowl, add 4 cups sugar, milk and vanilla. – My frosting had a yellowy tint to it b/c of my vanilla. If you want a pure white frosting, it would be better to use the clear vanilla.

Using an electric mixer, beat for 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until it’s a good consistency for spreading. – I used 8 1/2 cups of sugar, but it was a little runny. I should have gone for 9 to 9 1/2 cups.

red velvet 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Here’s the thing, I desperately want to love red velvet cake. But this one just didn’t do it for me. The cake is a little dry and I want more than a faint hint of chocolate. Husband liked it, and thinks I’m being too picky.