Monday, July 3, 2017

Cherry Tomato and Basil Quiche

My garden is producing an overabundance of cherry tomatoes! We have 2 different kinds of plants, Sweet 100s and Black Cherry. My kids don't really like to eat them, so I needed to find a recipe and use some of them up! I was able to use about 50 in this quiche, but depending on the size of your tomatoes, you might want to go with less than that. I loved the tomato, basil, and ricotta flavor! I even use fresh basil from my garden too! I must give a warning with this dish though, the tomatoes are like little volcanoes, so be careful not to spew hot tomato seed lava all over yourself. I shot some out onto the floor in my first bite. :)

Cherry Tomato and Basil Quiche
adapted from
1 9in. deep dish prepared crust (like Pillsbury crust, or make this Quick Pie Crust)
50 cherry tomatoes (depending on size)
4 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmesan (I grate mine from a Frigo wedge)
6 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place crust into quiche pan of pie pan. Prick bottom and sides of crust with fork. Cover crust with foil, poke a few holes in it, then press it into the crust-lined pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the crust looks dry but not brown, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the oven; reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange the cherry tomatoes on top of the crust. You might want to use less than 50, especially if your are on the large side. It's totally your preference. They'll move around a little when you pour the filling on top, so you might do a little rearranging later.
3. In a medium sized bowl, mix eggs, half and half, and ricotta with fork. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, chopped basil, salt, and pepper.
4. Pour the filling into the baking dish. If needed arrange the tomatoes so they are not all cluttered into one spot.
5. Bake the quiche into the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or just until it starts to brown on top. 6. Remove from the oven, let cool for few minutes before slicing.

Keep leftovers stored in refrigerator.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Strawberries and Cream Victoria Sponge Cake

Happy Father's Day! Today I'm making a banana cream pie, as requested for dessert, but wanted to post something because it's been a long time. Last month I went to a British Baking class at Sur la table. We learned to make meat pies, scones, and this cake. It's a basic yellow sponge cake with a strawberry and whipped cream filling. I made it last week for my in-laws and it was just as yummy as I remembered! What's interesting is that you use a food processor to mix the cake, which I had never done before. When I made it at home I used my KitchenAid and it worked just as well. They also had us whip the cream by hand, which I recommend for children if you have lots of bored kids at home in the summer like me. ;) I'd like to try it with a different filling like peach, or raspberry. I also love that the only decorating you have to do is sprinkle powdered sugar on the top!

Strawberries and Cream Victoria Sponge Cake
adapted from
8 ounce unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole milk
½ cup strawberry jam
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP powdered sugar, for dusting cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the rack in the center. Lightly butter the bottoms and sides of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Dust pans with flour and shake out the excess (or use baking spray with flour).
 2. To prepare the cake: Place all the ingredients except the milk in the food processor and process into a thick batter. Add milk and pulse until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cakes are springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
3. To make the filling: Place jam in a medium skillet and warm it over medium heat to loosen the consistency. Remove from heat and fold in strawberries. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment add cream and sugar; whisk on medium speed until cream holds firm shiny peaks.
4. To assemble cake:  Transfer one of the cooled cakes to a cake plate. Spread the strawberries over the top of the cake. Top the berries with the whipped cream using a spatula and starting from the center of the cake and smoothing it out towards the edges. Place the second cake on top. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the cake generously with powdered sugar and serve.

Makes 1 (9-inch) double layer cake

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lemon Marshmallow Popcorn Bars

Yellow is one of my favorite colors! It makes me think of daffodils and tulips in the spring. When we lived in Washington state, we would go to the tulip festival and see rows and ROWS of amazing flowers (see pics at the bottom of this post). Popcorn also makes me think of spring because it looks like those little white blossoms on trees. These treats are similar to the marshmallow rice cereal variety, but made with POPCORN! Skinny Pop Original Popcorn works great in this recipe (you can see their products here). I added in some lemon flavor with zest, mini lemon marshmallows, and crushed lemon candies. Yep, get your kids to pick out the yellow mini marshmallows from one of those multi colored bags. :) Once you've got the basic recipe down, you can change up the flavors too!

Lemon Marshmallow Popcorn Bars
3 TBSPs butter
1 TBSP lemon zest, packed (1 large lemon)
10 oz marshmallows
10 cups popcorn (I like Original Skinny Pop, see pic below)
2 cups yellow mini marshmallows (or whatever you can get from the bag of colored ones)
2 oz white almond bark or vanilla chips, melted
2 TBSPs crushed lemon candies (lemon drops or lemon heads)

1. In a large pot, melt butter over low heat until melted. Add lemon zest and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in popcorn until mixed well and popcorn is covered with marshmallow mixture.
3. Add yellow mini marshmallows and stir to combine.
4. Press into greased 9x13 inch pan.
5. Drizzle melted almond bark over top and sprinkle on the lemon candy.
6. Cool and cut into squares.

Store covered at room temperature. Best served the same day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Poppy Seed Dressing

This is such a yummy and easy dressing! I make it to use on these Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders (also from Our Best Bites). THEN I use the leftovers on salad, maybe with with strawberries and candied pecans or mandarin oranges. I have even made it with my immersion blender, which I love, because clean up is a breeze. 

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp mustard
1 green onion ends removed (roots and where the green part starts to get floppy)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp poppy seeds

In a blender, combine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and mustard. While the blender is running, add the green onion. Continue running the blender and add the oil in a steady stream and is fully incorporated into the dressing. Pour the dressing into a serving or storage container and whisk in poppy seeds. Serve over leafy greens.

OR throw everything into a bowl (minus poppyseeds). Blend with immersion blender until smooth. Stir in poppyseeds.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders

I've tried a few different versions of these sliders and this is my favorite one. I especially like it with the Our Best Bites Poppyseed Dressing spread over the rolls, but you can use any kind that you like. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of the dressing to be spread evenly over both sides of the rolls, but I find that the bottom of my rolls ends up too soggy if I spread a 1/4 cup of dressing over them. I prefer to use a little less and only spread a little on the bottom and the rest of it on the top. We eat these up fast, so it might be a good idea to make 2 pans. ;)

Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders
adapted from
1 dozen Hawaiian Rolls
1/3 cup Our Best Bites Poppyseed Dressing (or any poppyseed dressing)
6 slices Swiss or provolone cheese, cut into quarters
18 thin slices honey or brown sugar ham
2 TBSPs butter
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp Creole or other mild coarse-ground mustard

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13" baking dish with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Slice the rolls in half. Don't separate them.
3. Spread a small amount of dressing on the bottom rolls, just to barely cover them (we don't want them to be soggy). Spread the remainder of the dressing on the top half.
4. Place a cheese quarter on each roll
5. Place 1 1/2 slices of ham on each roll.
6. Place another cheese quarter on top of ham on each roll.
7. Carefully turn top half of rolls over onto the bottom half and place the entire thing into the prepared baking dish.
8. In a small bowl, melt the butter and whisk in the poppyseeds, dehydrated onion, and mustard. Spread it evenly over the tops of the rolls.
9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pecan Pie Bars

Happy Pi day! These are so good! Pecan pie is my absolute favorite pie and these bars are very similar. They don't have the gooeyness of the pie, but still have all the flavor. The crust is kind of like a cross between a shortbread cookie and a pie crust. I like them better the 2nd or even 3rd day. I also like to freeze them wrapped individually. My kids pull them from the freezer to take them in their school lunch, and they are thawed by the time they eat. Now go make some pie!

Pecan Pie Bars
adapted from
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
6 TBSPs sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 TBSPs heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 pound pecans, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. For the crust, beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes.
3. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined.
 5. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan, making an edge about 1 inch up the sides like you would a pie crust . It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
6. For the topping, combine the butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
7. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
8. Stir in the heavy cream, pinch of salt, and pecans.
9. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
10. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.
These freeze really well!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ground Beef Scalloped Potatoes

I don't have time for too many more of these nice wintry comfort food meals. It's been in the 80s here already and it's only February! I adapted this from a recipe I found on pinterest (taking out all signs of mushrooms). My family loved it! It is a bit of prep work, bit was totally worth it for the responses I got. If you have a mandoline, I recommend using that to slice your potatoes because it's fast and makes them all uniform in thickness. I have a CHEAP one (like $5, see pic at bottom) that works just fine and I cut my potatoes on the thinnest setting which looks like 1/8 of an inch. Might be good with bacon...just saying.

Ground Beef Scalloped Potatoes
adapted from 
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups thinly sliced potatoes
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1 cup beef broth (or water and bouillon)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 8 x 12in. baking dish.
 2. In medium skillet, cook the onions and ground meat, seasoned with salt and pepper. Once meat is browned, mix in 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp paprika. Drain the grease, remove meat mixture from pan and set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and beef broth, blending well and bring to a boil, whisking the entire time. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Once the mixture comes to a boil again, whisk just until thickened--anywhere from 2-5 minutes
 4. Layer into the baking dish 1/3 of the potatoes, then spread 1/3 of the soup mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the meat mixture, and top with 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat layers with another 1/3 of the potatoes, soup, meat and then the cheese. Finish with one more set of layers in same order.
5. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover baking dish, spray side down. Bake for 45 min, then remove the foil and bake for 15 more. Stick a fork in to see if the potatoes are soft, if not add 5 more minutes.