Friday, July 27, 2012

Apple-Cheddar Quiche

I've always resisted the apple-cheese combination. I know a lot of people like it. I've seen slices of apple pie with a big slice of melted cheese on top. But it always turned me off. The thought of pairing cheese with apples just didn't do it for me. 

Then one day a few weeks ago, I was making lunch for my son and was cutting up slices of apple and cheese. For no good reason, I took a piece of each and ate them together. And it was good!

So when I was looking for something for brunch last week, I stumbled on this unusual quiche and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did, because I think it was fantastic. It was a little change from the typical quiche and the apples and cheddar balanced each other nicely. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something a little different.

1 unbaked pie crust (I used a frozen pre-made crust that was in my freezer)
2-3 tart, firm apples (such as granny smith) peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Fit the pie crust into a 9 inch quiche pan or pie plate. Arrange the apple slices in the pie shell. My quiche pan fit 2 good sized granny smith apples. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the apples. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk and spices. Pour the mixture evenly over the apples and cheese. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

Recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine

I made this the night before brunch and served it at room temperature the next day. It was great that way. I also warmed up a piece for dinner later that night and it was great warm as well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Baked Donut Holes

Baked donuts. Easier and far healthier than fried donuts. And who can resist a cute donut hole?  

Not kids, that's for sure. Because I made this batch of 24 donut holes and by the end of my brunch last week there were 4 left. Those 6 toddlers and preschoolers went to town on the donut holes. But that's okay. I can easily make more because these were SO quick and easy to make. You can find the original recipe here, although I altered it a bit.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour

Preheat over to 375 and grease a mini muffin pan (mine has 24 spaces, so I only needed to do this once.) Mix sugar and melted butter or margarine in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, and then the baking powder and flour until ingredients are just combined.  Fill muffin cups halfway. Bake 15-20 minutes. Tops should be a light golden color.

Meanwhile, melt another 1/4 cup of butter or margarine in a large dish and add about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar to a large Ziploc bag. Once the donuts come out of the oven, cool slightly. Then roll in the melted butter and place in the sugar. Shake well to coat and then set aside to cool.

I might make these again next time I have to bring something to a playdate. They were quick, easy and yummy. Tasted just like a donut hole! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Spinach Tomato Quiche

More from brunch!

I have a lovely little raised backyard garden going this summer. I made it using cinderblocks and I have tomatoes and some flowers growing in the garden and then flowers and herbs in the holes of the cinderblocks. My tomato plants have just been on fire this summer and I can't keep up with all of these amazing tomatoes. I am also in the process of trying to clear out my freezer and pantry items. I like to do that about once a year, just to use things up. So when planning brunch, I was also trying to make as much use of what I had on hand.  A quick look through the freezer netted me some ready made pie crusts and a thing of frozen spinach, and I found several cans of evaporated milk in the pantry. A little Google search brought me here, the inspiration for this quiche.  It was incredibly simple to put together and just took a little forethought to take the pie crust and spinach out of the freezer the night before. And it tasted great!

1 ready made pie crust
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1 cup evaporated milk
2 large eggs
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
1/3 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat over to 350. Spray pie plate or quiche pan with cooking spray. Roll out pie crust into pan.

Mix spinach and sour cream in a small bowl. Make sure that as much moisture as possible has been removed from spinach, or your quiche will be soggy. In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs and salt and pepper. Stir 1/3 cup on the milk and eggs into the spinach mixture.  Spread the spinach on the bottom of the crust and top with the tomato slices. Spread the cheese on top of the tomatoes. Pour the remaining milk and egg mixture into the pie plate.

Bake for 45-55 minutes.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Brunch Fare

I love brunch. I love brunch foods like muffins and scones and quiches. I love the mix of sweet and savory dishes.

I had some great ladies over for brunch this morning. Despite the flies that invited themselves to the party, we had a great time.

My brunch menu consisted of two quiches (spinach/tomato and apple/cheddar), blackberry scones, mini muffin cinnamon donuts, salad with blackberry vinaigrette dressing, fruit, coffee and friendship tea. I'll share them all eventually, but today I'll share the recipe for the friendship tea.

I'm not sure where this recipe came from. It was on a card in my recipe box. I found it while poking through, looking for something else. It sounded good, and I had everything I needed, so I thought I'd make up a batch.  I'm glad I did! It was great. I kept it hot, but it would have been great iced, especially for summer. It would be great in the winter for a nice holiday drink, too.

Friendship Tea:
2 1/2 cups cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
6 black tea bags

Combine all ingredients except tea bags in a medium sized saucepan and brink to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and spices. Pour into a carafe or serve straight from the stove.

This tea made my kitchen smell SO good and it tasted amazing. I will definitely be making this again. And probably soon, because I still have all the ingredients to make another batch. Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Best Ever Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love carrot cake.

It is so flipping good. And healthy. I mean, there's all those carrots in it, right?

I made my own birthday cake again this year. Not because I had to, but because I wanted carrot cake and I wanted to make it. I found my inspiration here.

This cake has an obscene amount of carrots in it. It came out great and didn't last long. Here you go:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cups drained crushed pineapple
1 pound grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare three 8" or 9" cake pans with crisco and line with parchment paper.

Grate the carrots. Use your food processor, if you have one. Otherwise, you'll be grating carrots for a very long time. I used my food processor. It took about 5 minutes.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl (I prefer my Kitchenaid stand mixer), combine the eggs, oil, both sugars, vanilla, buttermilk and pineapple. Mix in the dry ingredients. I usually mix in about 1/4-1/3 of dry ingredients at a time, so as not to have a cloud of flour erupt in my face from the mixer.

Once ingredients are well mixed, stir in the carrots. Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pans for 30 minutes, then remove and continue cooling on racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 oz softened cream cheese (I use Neufchatel cheese)
1/2 cups softened unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar (you can add more if you need/want it)

Combine cream cheese and butter and beat until creamy. Beat in vanilla. Add in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. If the frosting is not thick enough for you, add more sugar until it is.

Assemble the cake by spreading about 1 cup of frosting between the layers and the remaining frosting on the top and sides. Sprinkle the pecans on top of the cake.

All that was left by the end of the day

This cake was moist and flavorful. I really enjoyed the addition of the pineapple. It added a bit of sweetness to the cake. I don't make carrot cake often (as much as I love it, I love so many other cakes that I am always trying new things) but next time I get a craving for carrot cake, I think this is the one I will make.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dirt Cake

I found this unfinished post from nearly a year ago that I apparently started and never finished. Oops! Oh, well, it doesn't lessen the awesomeness of this dessert, one of my all time favorites!

Dirt Cake

I'm in the middle of my summer vacation here at my mom's house in Maine and having a fabulous time.  I love it here.  The weather has been (mostly) beautiful and we've had an enjoyable time relaxing by the pool and just enjoying what Maine has to offer (which is lots, by the way.)

But, being away from my own home isn't going to keep me out of the kitchen!  But turning on the oven on a hot day? No, thank you.  So, when we had a beautiful day earlier this week and had company in the form of one of my favorite people in the world, I wanted a cool and easy dessert.  Dirt cake totally fit the bill.  Normal dirt cake is made with classic Oreos and vanilla pudding, but I like to shake things up a bit. Sometimes, I use lemon cookies and pudding and call it sand cake!

1 lb Orea cookies (I'm cheap and used generic Oreos, chocolate ones and yellow ones)
8 oz cream cheese (I prefer the lower fat neufchâtel)
1/2 cup softened margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
12 oz Cool Whip
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, mix the sugar, margarine and cream cheese until well blended and smooth (make sure there are no lumps!) Fold in the Cool Whip.

Either in a food processor or in a large ziploc bag with a rolling, crush the cookies (but not too fine, a little bit chunky is okay). 

For one large dessert, layer half the cookies at the bottom on a 13x9 pan, spread all of the filling on top and then top with the remaining cookies. Chill for at least a few hours.

For individual desserts, layer in small bowls. Clear dessert bowls work best :) Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

White Chocolate Berry Trifle

Occasionally, I get so inspired, I come up with my own creations. I am particularly proud of this one that I created as a no bake, portable, Independence Day dessert.

It's light and easy and goes together quickly (took me about 30 minutes).

8 oz marscapone cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups Cool Whip (divided)
48 ladyfingers
1 lb strawberries
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
2 cups blueberries
1 cup white chocolate morsels

To make the filing, in a medium sized bowl, beat the cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups of Cool Whip and beat until well blended. Set aside.

For the white chocolate ganache, in a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup Cool Whip. Microwave for 40-60 seconds, stopping in 20 second intervals to stir.

To prepare the strawberries, wash and hull them, then cut into bite sized pieces. Add 2 Tbsp powdered sugar and mix until dissolved. This process is called macerating and brings out the juices in the berries. Those juices will soak into the ladyfingers.

Meanwhile, prepare a springform pan by lining the sided with plastic wrap and then snapping the bottom into place. Arrange ladyfingers around the sides and bottom, reserving enough for one more layer. Spread half of the prepared strawberries on the bottom, followed by half of the filling and the remaining ladyfingers. On top of the ladyfingers, spread the remaining strawberries and then drizzle the ganache over the berries. Spread the rest of the filling over the strawberries and then spread the cleaned and dried blueberries over the top in a single layer. For the final touch, drizzle more ganache over the blueberries. Chill for at least 3 hours to allow the filling to set and the juice from the berries to soak into the ladyfingers.

To serve, open the spring for pan and remove the plastic wrap. The ladyfingers become very moist and cake-like with the juices from the berries. And I think it looks pretty impressive with the ladyfingers all around it! Enjoy!

This post is linked to:
Sweets for a Saturday