Monday, October 14, 2019

Spinach Bacon Quiche with Tomatoes

I love a good quiche served anytime of the day. I came across this recipe originally posted by friend Sharon who is the author of the blog, Grits and Pinecones. Sharon and I have been friends since high school and she is an extremely accomplished cook and food blogger. She also has a weekly column in our local food section of our newspaper. I knew when I first read this recipe that it was definitely a keeper. I also knew that even Mr. Picky Eater would love it as well and that is often a real challenge.
I began by gathering my ingredients. I sliced the tomatoes, sprinkled a little salt on them, and set them on a doubled paper towel so some of the juices could be absorbed in the paper toweling. Just to ensure that there won't be any excess liquid.
In a separate container I whisked together all of my liquid ingredients with the salt and nutmeg.

In my opinion, the key to an excellent quiche is the cheese you use and if you want a tasty quiche don't skimp on the gruyere. Know the gruyere you are using, it can make
all the difference in the world for a tasty quiche. There are so many different levels of gruyere and the one I used was a little bit of a softer gruyere. It gave a creamier consistency to the quiche than any I had used before. Another thing I loved about this recipe was the use of the bacon. Oh my, who can argue with that, it just put it over the top for me.
 
Spinach Bacon Quiche with Tomatoes

1 pie crust, pre-baked deep dish (9-inch)
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups Gruyere, shredded
1 cup fresh baby spinach, stems removed and chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Blind bake the pie crust for 10 minutes using a parchment round in the bottom and add pie weights.  Cool completely and turn oven down to 375 degrees.

Combine the eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt in a medium size bowl and whisk with a wire whisk and set aside.

Place the chopped spinach and shredded cheese in the pie crust. Spread out evenly and sprinkle the sliced tomatoes over the top. Pour the egg mixture over the spinach, cheese and tomatoes. Top with the crumbled bacon and place the quiche on a rimmed baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is puffed and set.

Set baked quiche on a wire rack and cool briefly.
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This quiche was amazingly delicious and pared well with a mixed green salad for a quick and easy dinner. I loved the use of the fresh baby spinach with the cherry tomatoes.
 
Try this, you won't be disappointed and you can click HERE to access other fabulous recipes shared at Grits and Pinecones.
 
This is a recipe that I will use over and over again and I am so glad to have it in my own repertoire. Thanks Sharon for sharing this wonderful recipe.
 
 Enjoy your afternoon to all, Carolyn
 


Friday, October 4, 2019

Leek and Asparagus Soup

I'm in the mood for soup most any time of year and especially now that we are anticipating Fall, a key word, anticipating. We are experiencing a heat wave at the moment but no matter I dearly LOVE an asparagus soup and I prepare it year round. It can be served warm, room temperature or cold. Here in N FL we are fortunate to be able to get asparagus year round and an Asparagus Soup is one of my favorite soups. I have tried many variations of an Asparagus Soup and this recipe is a combination of all the things I most liked of all those soups I have tried over the years. I think I have come up with an amazing soup in my humble opinion.

Gathering all of the ingredients before hand is a MUST. I dearly love the use of leeks, they are so much milder than onions and the lemon gives this soup an added freshness. Of course, I always enjoy using fresh herbs from my Herb Garden and a bouquet of fresh lemon thyme tied together in a bundle is perfect for this soup. If I don't have homemade chicken stock this one in the background is perhaps my most favorite. I have tried them all and have found this brand to come the closest to homemade.
Begin by sautéing the prepared leeks on medium heat, just long enough to wilt them, add in the garlic for only about a minute. You don't want to burn the garlic so I usually turn my heat down just a bit.

Add the prepped asparagus and thyme bundle for a couple of minutes and then add in your chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes until the asparagus are very tender. Let the soup cool slightly and blend thoroughly with an immersion blender.
The smell is heavenly. Often you will see a recipe that tells you to put it through a sieve before serving but I like this texture. It's a matter of personal preference. If you don't have an immersion blender then you can use a regular blender in batches. Being careful, of course, not to burn your self. One other thing that was very appealing to me is that I used no cream. Instead I used Parmigiona-Reggiano and I did not miss the cream at all, it was a delight.
 
Leek and Asparagus Soup
 
2 bunches asparagus (about 2-pounds), bottoms trimmed and chopped
1 large leek, white portion only, thoroughly washed, halved and chopped
2 Thyme sprigs, tied in a bundle
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups a good chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiona-Reggiano
Black Truffle Oil
Fresh thyme and/or croutons (whichever you desire)
 
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks stirring until softened. Lower the heat and add the garlic watching carefully that the garlic does not burn. Add in the chopped asparagus pieces, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper to taste and cook stirring for 5 minutes. Add the 6 cups of broth and simmer, covered, until the asparagus are very tender, simmer for 30 minutes.
 
Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Bring the soup back to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice and Parmigiona-Reggiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
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Ladle the soup into bowls, top each bowl with a drizzle of black truffle oil and a few sprinkles of fresh thyme if desired or croutons.
In my opinion the black truffle oil puts this soup over the top, restaurant quality. It's keeps in the refrigerator for several days and I love warming it for lunch. I am addicted to this soup.
I hope you'll try it, I feel certain you won't be disappointed if you like asparagus as much as I do.
 
Enjoy your weekend, thank you for dropping by and I do love it when you leave a comment.
 
Carolyn   
 
 
 


Monday, July 1, 2019

My Favorite Summer Sangria

I seem to be posting a lot of cocktail recipes but it's just that time of year when you want that extra special cocktail. Here in our neck of the woods we are experiencing some really HOT and HUMID temperatures. We've even have had a few days with triple digit temperatures. There is nothing better or refreshing in the late afternoon than a tasty glass of Sangria. I always prepare mine with a Rose' and I always have lots of summer fresh fruit.
My Favorite Summer Sangria

2- 750 ml bottles of a good Rose' wine
1 cup Pom's pomegranate juice
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup superfine sugar
6 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 navel orange, sliced thinly
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1-5 strawberries, sliced

Combine the Rose', pomegranate juice, lemon juice, sugar, Grand Marnier, and Cognac in a large glass pitcher. Add the sliced orange, lemon and strawberries and mix well. Refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for several hours.

To serve place ice in your prettiest wine glass, pour your Sangria in the glass and add in a piece of fruit and I promise you, you will get lots of compliments.

This will serve six people and keeps refrigerated for another day.
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This recipe can be halved also. The freshly squeezed lemon juice is a MUST and if you do not have super fine sugar you can make a simple syrup using 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. This simple syrup will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Taste as you go when using a simple syrup, some people like it sweeter but I don't care for my Sangria to be overly sweet. If using the super fine sugar, the alcohol will dissolve the sugar.
This really is a delicious and refreshing afternoon delight on a steamy afternoon.
This would make a great cocktail for the Fourth of July as well.
If you try this recipe I do hope you like it as much as I do. It does put any other Sangria over the top.

Hope you all have a Happy Fourth of July.





Sunday, April 28, 2019

Blood Orange Margarita's

The weather here in N FL is warming up and timing is perfect for a cooling cocktail. A dear friend of mine gave me this recipe and I have since changed it up a bit, a little tweak here and there. I should also say that I am a stickler for using excellent ingredients, it does make a difference in the taste. For example, my choice of tequila is Patron but you may prefer something different.

The first time I made these I used freshly squeezed blood oranges but there is a very short season for blood oranges. We can get them from California but for only about a month. I have since found that Fresh Market and Whole Foods carry pure blood orange juice imported from Italy and I can get it just about year round.


Blood Orange Margarita's


1 cup tequila
1 cup triple sec
2 1/2 cups Margarita Mix
2 1/2 cups blood orange juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
lime squeeze in each glass

To make the simple syrup place 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan on low stirring constantly until the sugar has melted. I always make a cup since it will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks and it must cool before putting these together.

Mix all ingredients in a tall pitcher. Rim a margarita glass with a cut lime and dip the rim in kosher salt. Place some ice in the glass, pour margarita into the glass, add a slice of lime and enjoy. These are delicious.
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This will probably serve six.
I used Stirring's Margarita mix but some would use Jose Cuervo. I have made them with fresh blood oranges when they are in season but found that Fresh Market carried Saint Volcano 100% organic blood orange juice in the veggie area and I could not tell a difference between that and freshly squeezed blood oranges. Fresh Market has in the area where they sell milk a pasteurized blood orange juice that works just as well also.
When I make simple syrup I do 1 to 1 meaning 1 cup but taste the mixture before you add in the simple syrup. Everyone has a taste difference and I only put in 1/2 cup to this mixture and it was awesome. The next time I put in even less and liked it even better, I think I like a more tart cocktail. At first did the rim salt on the glasses but decided that I preferred not having it with this particular margarita. I normally do when I order a regular Margarita when I am out somewhere since that is my cocktail of choice. Didn't even use my pretty blue margarita glasses the second time I made these but always in a pretty piece of stemware. It definitely tastes better in an elegant glass.
 
If you like a really good margarita you should try this. They have become a favorite of mine especially on a warm afternoon. They are so refreshing.
Enjoy the remainder of your day, Carolyn

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Chocolate Cupcake Brownies

Many years ago a dear friend shared this recipe with me and I loved these for so many reasons. I hadn't made them in quite sometime but recently came across this recipe that I had tucked away in another cookbook. And Yes, you guessed it, I made them right away.
Chocolate Cupcake Brownies, rich and chewy in the center with a nice crunchy top.
These are so quick and easy to put together and definitely quench that chocolate craving. They are great for picnics, children love them and you can add all the decadence you want for a great dessert as I did with some chocolate and vanilla ice cream. A little drizzle of caramel or chocolate wouldn't hurt either. Now that would become really decadent and I also think they would be an excellent dinner party dessert, you'd be a rock star with this little dessert. And remember, I mentioned how easy to make they are.
Now I'm getting hungry to make a new batch as I type this post.
They don't stay around long either especially since I have a sweet toothed husband and grands that come over frequently too. Now I don't eat too many sweets but these are sooooooo good.
 
Chocolate Cupcake Brownies
Makes 12 regular size cupcakes
 
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, whisked
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
 
Mix together sugar, flour, and eggs. In a saucepan melt chocolate and butter and then let the mixture cool a bit. Combine the flour mixture and chocolate. Add vanilla and pecans being careful not to over mix. Place in muffin tins that are lined with paper bake cups almost to the top and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes. Do not overcook.
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I used the Ghirardelli chocolate squares and not semi-sweet chocolate pieces. I also used walnuts instead of pecans and liked them better but it is a matter of preference. This recipe can be easily doubled as well.

These heavenly cupcakes will satisfy any chocolate craving and a great little recipe to have in your recipe files. If you try the recipe I hope you will let me know how you liked them and I hope they are enjoyed by your family as they are mine.
Thank you for visiting my blog and please come again.

Carolyn

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Comfort Food~A Good Beef Stew

Making stew is a perfect weekend activity and this time of year perfect comfort food. Most of the work is done up front, then all you need to do is enjoy the lovely aromas that fill your kitchen as the stew simmers. There are so many different ways to prepare a good beef stew but I will share mine. It never fails to please my husband.

Many years ago, 1969 to be exact, the year I got married. Yes, we have been married for 49 years now. This was given to me by my dear mother. It apparently was printed in our newspaper the year we were married and it has served me well. I have saved this clipping all these years.
 
The title certainly speaks volumes about the times we lived in at the time. However, the truth is as I have learned over the years is that if you serve your husband or significant other a good meal often they'll love you forever. 
 
Now I have changed my recipe over the years and there are surely many ways to change it up but this recipe is my go to recipe when I prepare a beef stew.
 Using a 5 quart heavy pot (I use a Le Crueset Pot) I begin with mixing the flour, salt, and freshly ground pepper together in a shallow bowl. Dredge the meat in the mixture and shake off any excess flour. You want the meat to be bite size pieces, often the grocery cuts them in to too large of  pieces. After dredging in the flour mixture brown them in batches if necessary on all sides. Begin with just a couple of tablespoons of olive oil but add more olive oil to it if the pot gets too dry.
 
 Remove the browned meat, add a little more olive oil and then add the Mirepoix. This is a French term for finely chopped carrots, onion and celery. Sauté' them just until the onions are clear. Add the garlic and sauté for just a minute being careful not to burn the garlic.
 Move all the vegetables to one side to make room for the tomato paste. Cook it just long enough to deepen the flavor, just a couple of minutes.
Add to the pot 2 cups of a good beef broth, tomato sauce, a cup of water, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, bundle of fresh thyme, bay leaf, a tablespoon of beef base (optional) and the browned beef chunks. Sometimes I add in some beef base for a little added depth of flavor and simmer for an hour.
 
 
 
Then add in your prepped veggies; carrots, potatoes and mushrooms and cook until just tender. I usually don't even peel my potatoes using Yukon gold potatoes or small reds since they have such a thin skin. When the veggies are tender and just before serving I add a cup of a good red wine (optional), something you would drink with this dinner  Since my husband likes his stew served over egg noodles it makes for a delicious comfort food.
A Good Beef Stew

1 1/2- 2 Pounds beef round chunks
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1 large onion finely diced
2 carrots finely diced
2 stalks celery finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup water
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon beef base (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme tied in a bundle
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, cut in chunks
6 Yukon gold potatoes, cut in chunks
8-ounces or more fresh baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced or in large chunks
1 cup of a good red wine (optional)
a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Mix together flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Cut beef chunks into bite size pieces, dredge in flour mixture.

In a large heavy Dutch Oven, heat olive oil and begin to brown beef on all sides.

Add some more olive oil if needed and add the mirepoix, finely diced onion, celery and carrots. Sauté just until onions are clear and then add in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for just a minute taking care not to burn the garlic.

Make a spot in the pot moving veggies to the side to sauté the tomato paste for just a few minutes. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce,  sprigs of thyme tied in a bundle, bay leaf, water, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an hour, covered.

Add to the pot all the veggies, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms. Cook until just tender. Check again to make sure if salt and pepper are needed. In the meantime cook the egg noodles according to package directions. When the veggies are cooked add the wine if desired. Serve stew over a bed of egg noodles, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Enjoy.
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An excellent Beef Stew, it's a "Good Thing". All that is needed to round out this dinner would be a simple mixed green salad.

I hope you will try this stew, it is delicious and thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

September Cookbook Book Club Luncheon

Each and every month I look forward to our cookbook book club monthly gathering. Our hostess for the month chooses the cookbook from which we cook and we have enjoyed cooking from some of the newer books available to us as well some really tried and true cookbooks. This month was no exception, our hostess chose to cook from a new book on the market but one I was not familiar with. Written by blogger, Jennifer Segal, "Once Upon a Chef". We also had the option to choose a recipe from her blog. This was an excellent choice by our hostess, I bought the book and it is one I will often cook from. I have many recipes book marked to try at another time as well as making copies from Jennifer's blog that are not in her book. It's always great fun to get a taste of some of the recipes that are brought to our luncheon. I knew that this was a book I would use again and again and I also highly recommend her blog, Once Upon a Chef. You can click on to the name of her book and blog to access her blog.
Every month each hostess goes to great lengths to set the stage for a lovely luncheon and this was certainly the case this month.
Seasonal decorations and flower arrangement set the stage as we entered her home.

And an exquisitely set dining table.
As well as the lovely buffet table. And here are the recipes brought to our luncheon.

Our hostess prepared an outstanding Andouille Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo served over rice, of course. Not your typical Louisiana Creole Gumbo but as Jennifer says in her book, everyone has a different take on gumbo. The most important flavor component is of course, the Roux and this particular gumbo had lots and lots of flavor. I was offered to take some home to my husband for his dinner and he was delighted. I was as well, especially on cookbook book club luncheon day, I am stuffed when I leave and never feel like preparing dinner that evening.

Another entrée' served was Chicken Tikka Masala. I don't usually prepare or even order out Indian dishes but this was particularly good and a recipe I would be inclined to prepare at home. Another interesting thing about this dish was that it used a typical Indian spice, Garam Masala that I have never used before. It is a blend of peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. This was a dish with complex flavors but not overly spicy and also served over Basmati Rice.
Creamy Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad, an excellent chicken salad. The chicken is first marinated for six hours and then grilled creating layers of flavor. This is on my list to prepare at home and probably the best chicken salad I have ever eaten.
Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes with Goat Cheese, what an outstanding blend of flavors. I was so anxious to try this side dish and it did not disappoint. A perfect side to any meat you may be serving and can be prepared ahead of time. I dearly love make ahead dishes especially when company is coming. It is served warm but this was served at room temperature and was just as good.
Cauliflower Fried Rice, an amazingly delicious dish. These days you can find grated cauliflower in the produce section and will often be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores but yet you can also grind your own cauliflower in a food processor for this recipe. I can honestly say that it did not taste like cauliflower to me and that's important since my husband won't touch cauliflower. The general consensus was that I try it out on him to see if he could tell what it was. With all the other ingredients added in and the seasonings, I am betting he would love this and I'll wait for him to go on and on about it and then tell him what he was eating. Oh I do have a little bit of bad in me. This was a dish that could in fact be served as a main dish or pared with maybe some salmon, an outstanding dish.
This was a very different take on a Baked Artichoke and Spinach Dip. It was an updated version eliminating the use of mayonnaise and sour cream. Instead the recipe called for preparing a Béchamel sauce, a French twist and using instead of jarred or canned artichokes, using frozen artichokes. It was delicious and I will make this again and again. I loved the way she changed up an old and tired recipe.
My contribution to this lovely soiree was Golden Orange Gazpacho with Basil. A very different take on gazpacho using yellow cherry tomatoes, yellow bell pepper and freshly squeezed orange juice. I thought the changes were excellent and I said while there that I could make this early in the week and eat on it every day, a healthy lunch.

Golden Orange Gazpacho with Basil

3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
2 pounds golden cherry tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced (do not peel)
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of 3 large oranges (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce, to taste

Place the onions in a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak for 10 minutes, then drain.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine half of the tomatoes, half of the bell pepper, half of the cucumber, and half of the drained onion. Pulse until finely chopped but not puréed, 25 to 30 one-second pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, and onion, along with all of the basil, to the food processor (no need to wipe the bowl clean beforehand). Process until the vegetables are finely chopped, 25 to 30 one-second pulses, then add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Add the remaining ingredients to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve cold. This soup is best served fresh, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
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Serving this in a glass vessel was important, so you could see all the healthy deliciousness.
An unusual take on Gazpacho and it was outstanding.
Is it any wonder why I look forward to this luncheon each and every month. It makes for a delightful afternoon, great food and good friends as we walk our way through our chosen cookbook. There was a dessert brought, Blobbs but unfortunately I failed to get a picture of them. It was chocolaty deliciousness, yummy.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope this will be inspiration for others to start their own Cookbook Book Club. Enjoy your weekend.