December 29, 2011

Cheddar & Spinach Quiche

There are few things I love more than an easy crust. Especially an easy (and delicious) crust filled with gooey cheese and fluffy egg.

As I am not shy about admitting, homemade pastry crust terrifies me and I have definitely not mastered it. Mostly I just avoid it (which is probably also why I have not mastered it, too). That being said, the crust for this quiche can be pressed into the pan by hand. Thank goodness! It's also made half wheat and half white flour for a nutritious twist.

This quiche is fast for a weeknight, but also impressive enough to serve to dinner guests. The filling can certainly include your choice of cheeses and vegetables or even meats. Here I used onions, spinach, and cheddar because that was what I had on hand. A quiche is the perfect, foolproof canvas for customizing and getting creative.

It's also downright cozy and comforting on a cold winter's night like tonight. Even the dog was begging to join the table.

Cheddar & Spinach Quiche with Press-In Crust
1 1/3 cups white-wheat flour
1 1/3 cup white flour
1 t. salt
2/3 cup canola/vegetable oil
4 T. cold water

Quiche Filling:
6 eggs
2 1/3 cups milk or heavy cream (I used a mix of 2% and 1%)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
generous dash of ground nutmeg
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 T. oil for the pan
5 oz. (slightly less than half a bag) frozen chopped spinach
1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced

Crust: In a large mixing bowl combine the flours and salt. Then add the oil and water and mix with a fork or  your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs. Using a quiche pan with a removable bottom (If you use a pie plate, half the recipe for the crust) press the dough mixture into the bottom and evenly up the sides of the pan. Place in the oven at 450 degrees to pre-bake for about 10 minutes.

Filling: Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and once hot, add the onions. Stir 2 minutes, then add the spinach and cover. Cook until tender, about 6-7 minutes.

In the meantime, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt. Remove the onions and spinach from the heat and pour into the egg mixture. Stir to combine.

Remove the quiche pan from the oven and pour the egg mixture into the crust. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the center is set and a knife inserted comes out clean. If the crust or top begins to brown too rapidly, cover with tin foil.

To remove the quiche from the pan with bottom intact, place the pan on top of a can and allow the sides of the pan to fall away from the crust. Slice and serve with a side of salad or other vegetable.

December 14, 2011

Quick Holiday Protien & Fiber Fix: Red Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

It's the holiday season, which means my regular food intake is easily composed of, and in excess of, the following: butter, sugar, white flour, and party appetizers. I am sure this is something you can also relate to.

As much as I enjoy all of the above items while I'm eating them, I do not enjoy it when my holiday pants don't fit, my stomach hurts, and I feel lethargic. Those are all unfortunate side effects. So I looked around and found an answer to this problem in my pantry: red lentils.

This is an easy, delicious, and deceivingly sweet tasting way to get a high protein, high fiber, and nutritious lunch or dinner in between all of those other goodies. It's ready in 20 minutes or less and can be portioned out in to lunch for the week, leaving you time and energy enough to deck the halls, scramble for that last minute gift, or simply relax in front of the fire!

Quick Simmered Red Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli:
2 T. canola oil
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium to large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 16oz. bag of red lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1 bag or box of broccoli florets
Salt & Freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers and can be spread around the pan. Add the onions, stir, and cover. Allow them to cook for a few minutes, then add the sweet potatoes, garlic, and spices. Stir and cook 1 minute, then add the lentils and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are just soft, anywhere from 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli florets and stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve either alone, with crusty bread, or as a side.

December 2, 2011

Maple Cinnamon Granola

Crunchy, nutty, and positively scrumptious in cold milk. I twisted a recipe for regular granola and incorporated the rich flavors of maple, cinnamon, and vanilla. M was asking me to get granola from the store so he could mix it into his favorite breakfast cereals. I knew I had whole rolled oats, and I also knew that store bought granola's are delicious but also fraught with fat and sugars. It was time to try my hand at a granola I had some control over.

The gently spiced sweetness of the cereal is balanced by its generous use of toasty nuts, including walnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Each time I've baked up a batch my mind has been exploring the creative possibilities. I plan to bake a batch that incorporates pureed pumpkin and another that involves peanut butter (two of my favorite flavors). It would be easy to do -- simply stir in the different flavors when mixing up the wet ingredients.

This granola is simple to make and the big batch will last you well throughout the week... which is good, because it will easily find its way into more than just your morning cereal bowl. Try it on top ice cream at dessert, or over Greek yogurt for lunch, too.

Maple Cinnamon Granola
2 cups whole rolled oats
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Fiber One original cereal, finely crushed, or wheat germ
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. pure vanilla extract
Optional: dried fruit such as blueberry, cranberry, and cherry

Grease a 15x10 baking pan. In a large bowl combine the oats, walnuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, Fiber One or wheat germ, and peanuts. In another bowl whisk the honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the oat mixture. Pour into the baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring after the first 20 minutes. If desired, stir in dried cherries, blueberries, or cranberries.

Spread on a large piece of foil to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for two months.


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