Spinach, Onion, and Cheese Quiche

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This past 4th of July, my boyfriend and I drove upstate to visit his mother’s side of the family. The countryside was beautiful, the people were lovely, I shot a gun for the first time in my life (!!!) but of course the real star of the weekend was the food!

Quiche probably isn’t the most patriotic meal, but my boyfriend’s Aunt W made us a great breakfast the morning of July 5th with quiche as a centerpiece and it was delicious.

I’ve made quiche several times before (and blogged about it here as well, once) but I’ve never been able to truly wow myself with my own efforts. Either I didn’t have the right recipe, the right crust, or the right baking time/temp–in any case, my quiches were underwhelming and occasionally watery??? I’m not sure if I didn’t cook the vegetables enough or what, but sometimes my quiche came out watery. It sounds gross and it was not the most appetizing. Boyfriend ate it without a complaint because he is contractually obligated to do so.

ANYWAY, it didn’t happen this time! I also deviated from the recipe which called for using a pie pan. I usually use a regular glass pie pan as well, but this time I used a cast-iron skillet which was a wonderful housewarming gift from a good college friend who recently visited us in NY. I don’t know what it is about cast-iron but it makes everything seem more authentic and I can pretend like I’m a real professional cook. It also looks better in pictures.

Aunt W says: “This recipe is very forgiving. I often substitute if I do not have exact ingredients. I really like to use this pastry shell for quiche. I like the flavor and the flakiness the the oil gives.”

My thoughts: The pastry shell is indeed super flaky, no doubt about it. A great oil crust. I’ll use this oil crust recipe again, maybe for other items as well. And the recipe was quite forgiving. Instead of 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream, I just used 1.5 cups milk (didn’t have any cream). I also quickly cooked up spinach and onions instead of broccoli, and used a mix of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I didn’t put in any meat.

Pastry Shell (can mix in the pan, but I mixed in a bowl then pressed into the pan with fingers)
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
2 Tablespoon milk

Measure all ingredients into 9” pie pan (I used a 10″ cast-iron skillet) and toss together with a fork. Press into shape and flute edges.

Quiche egg filling
3 eggs
1 cup light cream
1 cup milk (I omitted cream and used 1.5 cups milk)
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
about 1 cup of whatever cheese (Aunt W had used grated swiss, I used shredded mozz and grated parmesan)

Mix the eggs, cream, salt, pepper together. Hold cheese.

Veggies
1 clove garlic
1/4 of a large onion
2 cups of loosely packed spinach

Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a pan; saute garlic and onion until slightly translucent. Add in spinach, cook until just wilted, do not overcook.

Put it together:
Scoop veggie mix into the bottom of the pastry shell. Sprinkle cheese. Pour in egg/cream quiche filling mix.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Simple Apple Tart

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Yum! It’s summer and warm again!

This apple tart is really easy to make and can be in any shape or form you’d like it to be in. I ended up making a long oval-ish apple tart because I had a few too many apples compared to my tart crust, but in the original recipe photos, it’s a cuter circle shape. If you’re craving anything with apple and cinnamon and sugar, this is a very fast, quick option.

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The crust is buttery and flakey

Since I’m a student, cost is always an issue with any new recipes I try, and I’m happy to say that this dessert is very cheap! I used two little apples and I already had the baking essentials (flour, sugar, salt, etc.) in my pantry.

Recipe (original from Taste of Home)

Crust
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
6-1/2 teaspoons cold water
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
1-1/2 cups chopped peeled tart apples (I didn’t peel mine)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

Topping
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping, warmed (I didn’t include this)

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Apples + Cinnamon + Sugar = Winning combination!

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add water and vanilla, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 10-in. circle. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Combine the filling ingredients; spoon over pastry to within 2 in. of edges. Fold up edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over filling.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Drizzle with caramel topping (optional). Serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings (my boyfriend and I usually finish it off between the two of us in one sitting though…)

Honey Beer Bread

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This is a simple but very good recipe that anyone (over 21!) will be able to put together in less than 30 minutes. And if you’re not 21, I’m sure you can figure out a way to get it done. This bread involves no kneading, no yeast, no rise time, and bakes in less than an hour. Super good when you’re just craving those carbs. The melted butter gives a nice crunch to the edges, and the honey adds a bit of sweetness. It looks awesome, it smells amazing, and it will wow everyone at the next potluck you go to with very little effort on your part.

The best part about this recipe is that you can use any kind of beer in it, and it could be a lot of fun experimenting with different kinds. I’ve made this recipe with 2 different types of beer, and it definitely makes a big difference in terms of how the bread tastes.

My favorite so far has been bread with the Troublesome beer from Off Color Brewing here in Chicago. Malts include “Pils, Wheat Malt, Flaked Wheat, Flaked Oats” and secret ingredients include “Coriander and Lactobacillus.” Don’t ask me any hard questions about beer or “mouthfeel” because I can’t answer those. In fact, I’ll be completely honest and say that this was a beer I found in my boyfriend’s fridge, leftover from his ex-roommate. That is the extent of my knowledge about beer. I also tried making this bread with a different kind of beer found in his fridge, and it was still good, but not as great. Why? I don’t know.

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Honey Beer Bread Recipe (adapted from here)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
4 tbsp (half stick) butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a regular loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed. The combination will be super fluffy and bubbly.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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This bread is uber-delicious straight out of the oven, but it’s also fine as lunch the day after. Make sure to store it in an air-tight contained so it doesn’t get stale and dry!

Homemade Bagels

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It’s official: in less than 11 days, I am moving to New York! These past 3 weeks have been incredibly hectic for me, but thankfully the worst is over. I’ve secured an apartment (got the call from my realtor today!) so now the countdown begins. And what better way to celebrate moving to the Big Apple than with some homemade bagels? I’ve never had a real NY bagel before, but these were pretty good if I do say so myself.

I used to think that bagel-making must be some complicated, magical process, but it’s really quite simple. If you know how to make a basic dough with yeast and flour, you can make bagels. There are a few extra steps but they’re easy and fairly quick: you have to work the dough into a bagel shape, of course, and you have to drop the dough into boiling water to get that nice, shiny skin that bagels are known for.

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Bagel recipes are also versatile–I kept mine plain, but you can add all sorts of things to the dough (blueberries, chocolate chips, etc) or put toppings on them (sesame seeds, poppyseed, etc) without having to change up the basic dough recipe. Here’s the one I used:

Homemade Bagels Recipe (adapted from here)
1 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 cups bread flour (I used 4)
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 pot boiling water
About 3-4 tbsp honey (the original recipe called for 1 cup but I thought that was excessive)

Combine 1 1/4 cup water, flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, vegetable oil, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Mix together, then turn out onto a floured countertop and knead for about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise for 2 hours. After 2 hours, punch the dough down, place it on a lightly floured work surface, and use a knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into 8 pieces. Form each bagel into a bagel and poke a hole through the middle with your finger. Shape the bagel around the hole. Repeat with the remaining dough, and let the bagels rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Bring about 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add honey, if desired (according to the original recipe, “Adding honey or barley malt syrup to the boiling water bath gives the bagels a pleasing chewy texture with a hint of sweetness.”) Boil the bagels, three at a time, until they rise to the surface of the pot, about 1 minute per side. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and place them on the baking sheet.

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Bake in the preheated oven until the bagels begin to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Then EAT!

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Perfect toasted with cream cheese in the morning, or with some peanut butter & honey!

 

Blueberry Pie

Summertime is pie time.

I’m on a continuous quest to find the perfect pie crust recipe. Unfortunately I didn’t have any butter when I was making this pie, so I went with a vegetable oil recipe. This one turned out okay, and it would have turned out better had I not overbaked the pie by about 3-5 minutes. I’m going to try it again (probably this week) but as of now, the verdict is still out.

The reason I’m not waiting until I re-do this recipe to post about it is because I’m really excited about Boyfriend’s new camera, which is about 5,483,304 times better than my iPhone camera. I think it’s going to be the ticket to getting a million subscribers, some advertisers, and a book deal. It’s only a matter of time. Take a look:

IMG_0018New York Times bestseller list, here I come!!!

Pie Crust (Adapted from here)
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
0.5 cups milk
0.5 cups oil (I used vegetable, you could use any kind of oil I presume, even olive)

Sift together flour and salt, then pour in milk and oil. Combine until mixture forms together, and divide into 2 equal lumps. Wrap in plastic wrap (I didn’t have any saran wrap, so I put them in an air-tight tupperware) and refrigerate for a bit. I left them in the fridge for about 45 minutes. After dough has chilled, roll out and make sure the crusts are large enough by hovering your pie plate (I used a 9-inch pyrex) over it and checking to make sure the dough overlaps the edge of the plate by 0.5-1 inch. Put one of the rolled-out crusts in the pie plate. I cut the other one in strips to make a lattice pie crust, using these instructions.

Pie Filling (Adapted from here)
About 5-6 cups of blueberries (I used 2 plastic cartons of blueberries from my grocery store)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup corn starch (I didn’t have corn starch so I used potato starch)
1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Mix together all of the filling ingredients, then pour into prepared crust in the pie plate. Cover with lattice topping, then dot small pats of butter into the exposed blueberry spaces. The original recipe called for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then 35-40 minutes at 350, but by the time I checked my time at 35 minutes of total baking time, it was too brown! This is probably more of a problem with my crappy rented apartment oven than anything. Keep an eye on it.

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I think my version of this pie still has some tweaking left in it–I was missing a lot of the ingredients from the original recipe, so that might be why my version just didn’t wow me. I’ll probably try this one again. You can see from my photos that the crust is a bit too brown from overbaking. Even so, it was still juicy, summery, and tart, which is basically all you need from a summer pie.