Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

A friend's birthday just happens to fall on New Year's Eve, so every year he hosts a joint birthday and New Year's celebration. In the past several years, he's done a potluck dinner. This year I decided to make a quiche using vegetables I had on hand. My parents were having a dinner party the day after New Year's, so while they cooked up a storm for that, I made a second quiche for the family's New Year's Day dinner so they didn't have to worry about that. Both went over very well - my mom proclaimed the recipe a keeper.

1 9in premade pie crust
5oz frozen spinach, thawed
8oz mushrooms, thinly sliced (I prefer cremini, but whatever suits your taste)
1/2 small onion, diced
splash of dry white wine
1 cup milk
3 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup cheese (I used monterey jack, but whatever suits your taste)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake the pie shell for about 10min. Cool.
2. In batches, saute the mushrooms with a splash of wine for flavor until the liquid released from the mushrooms evaporates and it browns. Caramelize the onion. Lightly saute the spinach until just wilted; drain the liquid. Combine and set aside.
3. Combine the milk, olive oil, and flour. Whisk in the eggs. Add the spices and cheese and mix. Add in the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Pour into the quiche shell (sprinkle some cheese on top if desired). Bake for 40min or until the center is firm and no liquid comes out when a knife is inserted. Optional: Broil on low for 5min to brown the top. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Basic Alfredo Sauce

I recently discovered a great alfredo sauce recipe that works as a base for lots of different dishes.

Ingredients (serves 2, generously):
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons parmesean cheese
chopped fresh mozzarella

The directions are super easy: Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, add cream, salt, pepper and parmesean cheese. Return to heat and stir until ingredients are combined and cheese is melted. Do not boil. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir until melted/almost melted. Toss with your favorite pasta, and add whatever you want - veggies, meats, fish. This is a perfect base for lots of pasta dishes and it's easy to get creative with this one! I served it over baby penne and added sauteed mushrooms.
(And no, not everything I cook has heavy cream in it - I had it left over from the Penne Alla Vodka below and I thought Alfredo would be a good way to use it up. But it sure is good :P)

Chocolate Chip Coookies

In my opinion, you can't beat plain old Nestle TollHouse for chocolate chip cookies! I practically have the recipe memorized. In case you don't here it is -

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 12-oz package of chocolate chips

Directions: Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each egg. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 9 to 11 minutes. Enjoy with a big glass of milk!

mmmmm chocolate chip cookies :)

Penne Alla Vodka

When I'm craving cheap, easy, comfort food there's one meal I usually turn to: penne alla vodka. I've been using the same recipe for several years and I've always gotten lots of positive feedback:

Ingredients (for 2 very generous servings or 2 smaller servings and some leftovers)
1/2 pound penne (I like to use whole wheat penne to be a *little* healther)
garlic powder
1 14-oz can tomato sauce (plain sauce with nothing added, e.g. Hunt's - not a prepared pasta sauce that's ready to heat and eat)
1/3 cup vodka
1/3 cup heavy cream (you need the real deal - no half-and-half)
parmesean cheese
fresh mozzarella cheese (to top)

Directions: Prepare pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, heat the tomato sauce over medium heat in a frying pan. When tomato sauce begins to boil, add the vodka and garlic powder/salt/pepper and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes. Add the cream and turn the heat to low. Stir well. Add the pasta, and stir to coat it well. Stir in a good amount of parmesean cheese (1/4 to 1/2 cup) and serve immediately, topped with more parmesean and fresh mozzarella!