Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quiche: It's what's for dinner...

**Update on quiche - I used 1/2 chopped onion and 1/2 chopped bell pepper. It was good! There were TONS of veggies in it, and the egg spilled over the side a bit. But, I did make it all fit in a 9-inch crust!

I have a good friend named Gwen. We met in seminary. We grew up about 15 miles from each other, attended college 2 hours from each other, but never met until adulthood. Gwen and I have been through a lot of life changes together. Through thick and thin, she has been a good friend to me. Though we live over 500 miles apart, our friendship that began 8 years ago is still going strong.

A year or so after I met Gwen (who lived with Jana who I met at orientation), she introduced me to Jennifer and Mayeli. They all worked in the library together. We enjoyed eating lunch or dinner, and playing games. Throughout my time in Texas, I became close friends with these three girls. They are all amazing women, Christians, and friends. Oh, and they are all married. I'm the only one who is not.

Several weeks ago I went to Gwen's house, and the four of us were reunited for the first time since I moved. Gwen made a quiche and salad for dinner, and we laughed and talked and played our dirty word game, Linkity. Despite the fact that I was on the verge of coming down with a terrible chest cold…it was an amazing time!

In honor of my lovely hostess and dear friend, Gwen…I am posting my version of the spinach quiche she made. It was fantastic! I’m also passing a long a salad dressing recipe that she gave me. I was going to make this for my brother last week, but he’s not a fan of quiche…so…this is going to be my Dancing with the Stars finale dinner meal. Sounds like a winner, eh?

Miss you Jenn, Gwen, and…Mayeli!

Spinach Quiche

1/2 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1.5 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 (6 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese (Garlic & herb flavor if you can find it)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust (9 inch)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion in butter until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, feta and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Pour mixture into pie crust.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into the pastry shell, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Sprinkle top with remaining Cheddar cheese,
and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until set in center. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Spring Poppy Seed Salad

Salad Ingredients:
1 bag spring mix salad
1 can mandarin oranges or 1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
red onion slices

Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup light olive oil
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Directions: Prior to dinner, mix all salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. For dinner, mix all salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with dressing, or serve dressing on the side.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy birthday to all my girls!

May 20th is a very important and special day to me. Last year on May 20th, this chick entered my life:
I love her a lot. She's pretty cute!

This weekend we are celebrating her first year of life with cupcakes and kabobs. I also bought her a tutu.

May 20th is also special because 10 years ago I became a mommy! Not a REAL mommy...but a pet-owner mommy! Our family cat, PC, had a litter of kittens, and I kept two of them...Josephine and Juliet.
They are my little cuddle munchkins. My family loves their pets a lot, and these girls have hung with me through two houses, three apartments, two states, two diplomas, around 10 jobs (only 3 professional), and countless milestones over the last 10 years. I love them lots!

To all my girls, happy birthday! I'm glad they are all in my life!

Monday, May 17, 2010

All about the pineapple

I haven't blogged in a while. I've been busy. And out of town. And sick. And then doing loads and loads of laundry. And sick of the computer. I'm sorry.

I did make a pie this weekend. I made my great-grandmother's pineapple pie for my neighbors. I gave it to one of them, with the disclaimer that I took a chance on the pineapple and coconut combo. I know they don't like nuts. I don't know how they feel about coconut. I'm still getting to know the neighbor boys.

The recipe makes two pies, so I had a piece of the other one last night. It was good....not the BEST pineapple pie I have ever made. (It needed more lime or lemon juice.) But it was still good.

So, since I haven't blogged. And since I'm lazy. I'm just reminding you about my grandmother's pineapple pie recipe...

Also, if you like pineapple, I saw the following recipe on Food Network several years ago. This is an amazing summer dessert! Especially if you love fresh pineapple. And rum.

Grilled pineapple with ice cream and rum sauce
(From Food Network.com)

1 (3 to 4 pound) pineapple
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rum
1 pint light vanilla ice cream

Cut the top and bottom off of the pineapple, peel and cut it crosswise into 8 rings, about 1/2-inch each. Use a spoon or apple corer to carve out the center core of each ring.

Spray a large grill pan with cooking spray and heat over a medium flame. Grill the pineapple, in 2 or 3 batches, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until it is nicely brown and grill marks have appeared. (You can also grill this on an outdoor grill sprayed with cooking spray before being heated.)

While the last batch of pineapple cooks, heat the butter, sugar and rum in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Place a pineapple ring on each plate, scoop 1/4 cup of ice cream into the center of the ring, and drizzle about 2 teaspoons of sauce on top.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Five O'Clock Friday: Special Cinco de Mayo Wednesday Edition...oh, and some cookies

Today is a special day for our neighbors to the south. Its Cinco de Mayo, or Battle of Puebla day. As the northern neighbors, we Americans feel like it is our duty to celebrate another nation's holiday, probably because it gives us an excuse to eat massive amounts of chips and salsa and drink margaritas.

None-the-less, it is a holiday that even we in Mississippi like to celebrate. I mean, I can understand celebrating in Texas. There are lots of Mexican immigrants that live there. But, in Mississippi, the only folks I know celebrating Cinco de Mayo have no Mexican heritage what-so-ever. But that doesn't matter. We still get to drink tequila!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I made sugar cookies with a lime glaze last night. Talk about yummy! (I also made Joy the Baker's oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookies. Find the recipe here - http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2010/04/oatmeal-pecan-chocolate-chip-cookies/.)

I also wanted to post a make-shift recipe for a drink that one of my coworkers introduced me to - the margaveza. They used to serve these at The Grill, but last time I asked, it was off the menu. Basically its just a half and half mix of margaritas on the rocks and Dos Equis beer. Its worth trying!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Have a great May 5!


How to make the margarita:
According to Tyler Florence, the basic margarita is a 3:2:1 ratio of tequila, triple sec and lime juice, respectively. That seems a big strong, but here are some different ways to mix your pitcher of margaritas.

Method 1: Pour 3 cups of white tequila, 3/4 cup of triple sec, and fresh squeezed juice from about 14 limes in a pitcher. Stir well.

Method 2: Mix 1 cup of white tequila, 1 cup of triple sec, 1/2 cup each of fresh squeezed lime and lemon juice in a pitcher. Add zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime, and mix with 1/3 cup of simple syrup (see below). Stir well! You may need to strain it as you pour into each individual glass.

For the simple syrup: Mix 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water. Boil until sugar is dissolved. Chill before you add to margarita mix.

Method 3: (The 3:2:1 method) Pour 3 cups of tequila, 2 cups of triple sec, and 1 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice in a pitcher. Add simple syrup and mix well.

To make a margaveza:
Fill glass halfway with Dos Equis beer. Top off with the margarita mix. Stir and serve with a lime wedge for garnish.

Sugar Cookies with Lime Glaze:
Adapted from recipes by Paula Deen and Rachael Ray

Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 sticks of softened butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions: In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, then mix in the egg and vanilla and almond extracts. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tarter and cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, then cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spoon out a quarter to half dollar sized piece of dough, roll into a ball, and flatten to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 9-12 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Lime Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon (or so) milk
grated peel of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime (or so)

Directions: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until sugar is dissolved and glaze is smooth. I had to add a splash more of milk and lime juice to get the right consistency for drizzling.

Once cookies are cooled, drizzle glaze over top of cookies with a spoon or spatula. Let the glaze dry/set before serving.

Happy cooking!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cream Cheese Cookies

Cinco de Mayo is this week. Its a Mexican holiday, but celebrated quite fervently in my former Texas hometown. I love any excuse to have a party, especially when you get to drink margaritas.

I've been reading quite a few blogs that have featured Cinco de Mayo recipes lately. Many of them are lime-flavored cookies. I've been trying to decide exactly which cookie I would make in honor of the holiday. While doing that, I put out a request on Twitter and Facebook for feedback. In the midst of that, an old high school friend sent me the following recipe. Sounds delish! I had to post! Maybe I'll make these instead!

Cream Cheese Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions: Cream butter and cream cheese. Slowly add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk. Add flour and vanilla; mix well. Chill dough at least 1 hour. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes. These cookies DO NOT brown. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (3 1/2 oz) cream cheese, softened

Side note from Rachel: My mom has always made these at Christmas time and puts red and green candied cherry halves on top. I top with a peppermint or crushed peppermint, or use peppermint flavoring for Christmas. For spring and summer, I love to do lemon iced ones and add just a hint of yellow color to the icing (these may be my favorites). I keep meaning to make some using the strawberry cream cheese in the frosting and see how that turns out, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I think lime sounds yummy. Orange or banana might be good, too. Such a good cookie, and so versatile! And you can switch the vanilla in either the cookie or the icing to flavor whichever (or both)...lots of variations!

Thanks for the recipe, Rachel! Adding this to my to-do list!

Happy cooking!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dad's French Toast

This morning I woke up, came in the living room, and low and behold, breakfast was not being cooked! That's a shocker at my parents' house. I sat there for a while, and decided to get up and get something to eat. Then my dad interjected,"What do you want for breakfast? I'll cook." I said I would eat oatmeal or grits, but he volunteered french toast. How could I refuse! It was delicious! Here's the recipe:

sliced bread of choice (if you have a baguette, that's good too)
3 eggs
3/4 cup of milk
2 tbsp all purpose flour
a splash of vanilla extract

Preheat a large cast iron skillet (cornbread pan)that has been lighted brushed with oil or sprayed with pan. (You can use any large skillet, actually. My dad prefers cooking with cast iron whenever possible.) Beat eggs and put in a bowl or shallow dish. Add milk, flour and a splash of vanilla (probably about 1-2 tsp.) Dip bread in egg mixture, coating both sides well. Transfer to a cast iron skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes on one side, until slightly browned. Flip bread and cook the other side until done. Place french toast on plate, and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon or cinnamon sugar. Serve with pancake syrup.

Yummy,yummy french toast! And yes, I am sitting at the table blogging this as my parents are finishing their meal. It was that good!

Happy cooking!