Tag Archives: vegetables

Mini Quiche Tartlets

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Why hello! We’re back!

It has been an almost unprecedented length of time between blog posts–Caty, as semi-avid readers of the blog will know, has posted every once in a while about her concoctions in her dorm kitchenette, but the two of us have not blogged together since Christmastime. Half a year, nearly! This is due to the fact that geography has separated us for much of this semester– she’s been kicking butt at school in NYC and writing for  NYU Spoon, while I was traversing Peru and volunteering at an orphanage. (I decided not to dedicate an entire post to Peruvian cuisine as it was not my favorite, but you all might be delightfully disgusted to know I sampled both alpaca and guinea pig meat while I was there, as well as some more appealing empanadas and tamales.)

However, we’re both back in our little town, and though we’ve been sad to end our years’ adventures I think it’s safe to say one of the upsides of summertime is going to be blogging more frequently and being able to enjoy each other’s company again. Summer is a beautiful time to cook; one of my favorite things to do this time of the year is pick over fruit and veggies at farmer’s markets and make something delightful to eat on the porch on a sunny late afternoon. So, rest assured we will be bringing you lots of treats to look at (and make, if you want!) in the upcoming months.

We kicked off our summer cooking a couple days ago with these scrumptious mini quiches. Quiche has been one of my favorite foods since I was little, partially since I am a sucker for anything with a pie-like crust, and these little guys were no disappointment. Quiche is wonderful because you can put really anything you like in it and it’ll still taste good. Most kinds of cheese and meat bits work great, as well as virtually any vegetable. We ended up making these with goat cheese and a small assortment of veggies (sundried tomatoes, swiss chard from the garden, and mushrooms) and they were delectable. The crust is buttery and couldn’t be easier to make; we used the same reliable 4-ingredient dough recipe we’ve been counting on for years now. It’s the perfect summer snack or meal and so easy and adaptable. Enjoy.

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Mini Quiche Tartlets

1 recipe pie dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch  Swiss chard, stems and leaves divided, both chopped
1 clove garlic
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, minced
¼ cup mushrooms, sliced and sautéed if desired
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 ounces goat cheese, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Press pie dough into four greased mini tart/quiche pans, poke with a fork a couple of times, and cover with aluminum foil. Fill aluminum foil with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil/pie weights/beans and bake for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the chard. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add chopped Swiss chard stems and a dash of salt. Cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Mince the garlic with another dash of salt. Add garlic and chard leaves to the skillet and cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and milk with a wire whisk. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. After the crusts have cooled, divide 1 ounce of goat cheese between the four crusts, then add chard, tomatoes and mushrooms. Top with the remaining goat cheese. Pour the egg mixture on top of vegetables.
  6. Bake the quiches at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until set.

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Ultimate Lasagna

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So, I’m not really sure what to call this dish. “The Best Lasagna Ever” is a bit subjective, right? “Roasted Red Pepper, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna with Whole Wheat Pasta” sounds like a carnivore’s worst nightmare and fails to mention the chunks of Italian-style chicken sausage simmered into the sauce. “Homemade Lasagna” doesn’t sound right either. If I’m giving you a recipe for it, isn’t it homemade by default?

Perhaps I should just tell you about this “Ultimate Lasagna,” a carb and cheese-lovers favorite casserole that I created from many different recipes. It features layers of homemade chunky tomato sauce, homemade whole wheat pasta, homemade ricotta cheese blended with sautéed spinach, roasted red peppers and mushrooms and a generous helping of a combination of smoked mozzarella and regular mozzarella. It sounds complex, like a fan of Old English literature, but it’s not. It’s perfection in casserole form, if I do say so myself.

The great part about this dish is that you don’t have to make every component from scratch. I probably wouldn’t have made my own pasta, ricotta and sauce and roasted my own red peppers except for the fact that I am on spring break and nobody’s around, so the kitchen has become my best friend. If you’re pressed for time, you can just as easily use prepared ingredients, or prepare the sauce, ricotta and veggies a couple days beforehand. The components are pretty easy to make, even the pasta–but it all takes time. Fortunately, I think the finished product is well worth your time.

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Ultimate Lasagna

Ricotta Sauce
1 recipe ricotta (or 1 15-oz container)
6 oz fresh spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Tomato Sauce
1 recipe tomato sauce (I added 1/2 can tomato paste to thicken)
2 chicken, turkey or regular sausages (I used Italian-style chicken)

Vegetables
2 roasted red peppers, diced
2 Portabella mushroom caps, stem & gills removed, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper

Whole Wheat Noodles
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or, 1 cup wheat & 1/2 cup white)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water

To Assemble
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 1/2 regular mozzarella and 1/2 smoked mozzarella)

  1. Add 2 diced sausages to tomato sauce and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add spinach, salt and pepper. Saute until the spinach is wilted. Let cool, then mix in a medium bowl mix together ricotta, spinach, egg, parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. In the same skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add mushroom pieces and sauté about 5 minutes, or until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 375. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles.

For Noodles:

  1. Mix together flour and salt in a shallow dish. Make a well in the center of the flour and add egg and water.
  2. Beat the egg and into the flour with a fork until the dough comes together, then use your hands to knead it. Roll into a ball and let rest for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 9 even pieces and roll each piece into a 9×3″ rectangle. Place the noodles aside, storing in 3 layers of 3 noodles. Cover each with a piece of damp paper towel.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

To Assemble:

  1. Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×9″ baking dish.
  2. Place three noodles in the pot and boil about 30 seconds. Remove from the water, rinse under cold water, pat dry, and layer on top of the tomato sauce.
  3. Spread about 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, followed by 1/2 of the peppers and mushrooms, 1/3 cup of mozzarella and then another 1/3 of tomato sauce.
  4. Repeat the process to make another layer–you should have used up the peppers/mushrooms and ricotta and have 3 more noodles, 1/3 tomato sauce and 1/3 cup mozzarella remaining.
  5. Boil the last noodles and layer on top of the tomato sauce. Spread the remaining tomato sauce on top then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Place an oil-coated piece of aluminum foil over the lasagna and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned. Cool 15 minutes before cutting & serving.

Adapted from Chow and Naturally Ella

Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Skillet Pizza

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After a long and seemingly endless winter break, I am back at college in the city. I took a small cooking hiatus (unless you count instant oatmeal as cooking) in order to settle into second semester, but here I am to share with you something Wright Time for a Schnack rarely features–a meal, not dessert!

I will admit that I’m quite partial to baking, but I do enjoy cooking myself a nice meal every now and then. When I saw this bacon and brussels sprouts pizza on How Sweet It Is, I knew I just had to try it. It has all the makings of a perfect meal: brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables (especially if they’re roasted), and everything’s better with bacon. Oh, and cheese. Enough said.

My roommate Hannah and I spent Saturday afternoon at the Union Square Greenmarket in search of fresh ingredients for our pizza. It was fantastic to see the greenmarket open post-Nemo. Less than fantastic, however, was the amount of watery slush we had to trudge through to get there. Oh, the joys of the New York City in the snow.

Unfortunately, this pizza isn’t too college budget-friendly. However, if you’re splitting the cost of ingredients with someone else, and you have leftovers for lunch tomorrow, and you taste the sheer genius of the ingredient pairing, you forget that paid almost $10 for bacon. And thanks to the wonderful cheese man at Whole Foods’ fromagerie (did anybody know they called their cheese shop a fromagerie? They do. It was printed on the cheese label), I was able to get exactly the right amount of cheese that I needed for this pizza. Apparently you can ask for a specific amount of cheese at the cheese counter, and they will cut it to size for you. I did not know this before. My life has changed for the better.

Let me forewarn you that the skillet pizza method is not foolproof, especially if you don’t have the proper ingredients (like a pizza peel, or a broiler in your oven). Albeit a couple mishaps and a crust that was overdone in a few spots, we ended up with a tantalizingly delicious pizza. The skillet pizza method is wonderful because it takes only minutes to cook–if your oven is equipped with a broiler.

Basically, what you need to do is heat a skillet under a broiler or on the stovetop for ten minutes until it is hot. Don’t touch it or else you’ll sear your fingers off and that would not be fun. Then, after artfully layering ingredients on the pizza dough, which should be set atop a well-floured pizza peel (or, in our case, a wooden cutting board), you’ll want to slide the pizza onto the skillet. This is where we had a bit of trouble–some of the ingredients tumbled into the skillet and started cooking on contact. If this happens and you’re quick enough, you’ll be able to position the pizza in the skillet and scrape the melted cheese off of the surface and onto the dough, wielding only a spatula and oven mitt. The oven mitt is necessary, as this is dangerous stuff. After you have settled the ingredients back onto the dough and had a quick tantrum about how sad and un-artistic the arrangement of the ingredients are, you will need to act quickly and place the skillet under a broiler for only about 2 minutes. Yes, 2 minutes. Unless you don’t have a broiler, in which case you will put the skillet on the top rack of your oven heated to 400 and hope the crust doesn’t overcook.

Drizzled with balsamic glaze (Hannah recently returned from Italy and brought back a bottle of balsamic crema, which is thick balsamic syrup. It’s amazing), this pizza is complete. The balsamic balances the salty bacon, Brussels sprouts and cheese beautifully. Unfortunately, because of our lack of broiler, the crust and cheese didn’t get that toasty look, but the pizza was delicious nonetheless. I recommend serving it with a side salad composed of whatever you can find in your fridge and pantry–red peppers, tomato, avocado, nuts, dried fruit–to balance the heartiness of the cheese. And don’t be surprised if someone walks into your room, drawn by the heavenly scent of melted cheese.

For the recipe, head to How Sweet It Is.

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