Session 12 – Mushroom Quiche

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Today’s recipe is for Mushroom Quiche, credits to Cheryl Bayard. This is a handwritten recipe done by me at some point, so I have a feeling the original recipe card was in pretty rough shape, physically. Cheryl was either someone from church that Grandmom Rubright knew, or a fellow teacher that my mom knew. I’ll see if I can get the story straight when I talk to Grandmom Rubright next.

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This recipe made me nervous. I love quiche! But every time I have *ever* tried to make one, it comes out a complete sloppy disaster. I have been attempting for years, I kid you not. Thankfully, best friend Randy came to the rescue! Randy frequently makes a delicious crab and bacon quiche as host gifts and they are always immaculately set and the flavors are to die for. When discussing my next blog project with him, he gave me the best advice that I clearly had never yet received: do not overfill the pie shell.

Now, this seems simple and pretty obvious. But, from never talking methods over with someone with experience baking quiches, it was something I never considered. My personal cooking/baking style is to blend flavors and add in complimentary ingredients. Therefore, I had always been a bit zealous and my fillings were often piled high or too densely packed into the pie shell. And then, I would try and cram in ALL of the egg mixture as the recipe called for. After baking, for longer than the recipes called for, I would still end up with an undercooked sloppy mess that I would have to toss. Every. Time. What perplexed me is that I was following the recipe! Why didn’t it work if I just added a few chopped asparagus stalks?! This time, I was determined to avoid these pitfalls of the past.

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This recipe is a joy to make for mushroom lovers. Anyone who doesn’t love mushrooms, find another recipe with what you’re looking for, don’t just try a 1 to 1 substitution with another vegetable. (Note above pitfalls 😉 ) I kept most of the original ingredients the same, except I swapped out shallots for green onions (a much more sophisticated and complimentary flavor, I assure you) and added some booze to this recipe by sautéing the mushrooms and shallots in white wine as well as butter. I just love the resulting smells and flavors. It really brings out the earthiness of the mushrooms. You can use any white table wine or pinot grigio for the best result. I used some delicious blocked swiss cheese, hand grated, and added a touch of hand grated creamy havarti that I had on hand, totaling 2 cups of cheese as the recipe called for. Into the pan with the mushrooms it goes, stirred until combined.

The filling goes evenly into the pre-baked pie crust, making sure there are no noticeable clumps of dense mushrooms or dense clumps of cheese. After making sure the filling is level, I poured in small amounts of the egg mixture, giving time for the thick liquid to sink through the gaps in the filling before adding some more. When the liquid was just about to the top edge of the pie crus, I stopped. There was a mushroom or two peaking through, but I did not let that deter me. I sprinkled on the grated cheese and added some nutritional yeast for good measure, then baked the quiche with my fingers crossed.

The Results

A gosh-darn miracle! The quiche came out perfectly. The crust adds some buttery texture and the filling is creamy and aromatic. Mushroom lovers, this is for you. I split up the quiche into slices and took them to work for a delicious and filling breakfast – which I highly recommend if you have no one to share the spoils with 🙂 . Into the Recipe Box it goes!

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The Recipe

Mushroom Quiche

Ingredients – Serves 4-6

(1) 9″ pie shell (frozen or homemade)
4 eggs, beaten
1 TBSP butter
2 dashes of white wine
1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, diced
2 C swiss cheese, shredded
1 C light cream
1/4 C grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425ºF if using a metal/aluminum pie dish, 450ºF if using a glass pie dish. Brush the inside of your pie shell with small amount of beaten egg. Prick bottom & sides with with a fork and bake for about 5 minutes until golden brown.

Reduce oven heat to 350ºF if using a metal/aluminum pie dish, 375ºF if using a glass pie dish. In a large skillet, add butter and saute shallots and mushroom until shallots are tender and mushrooms half reduced by half. Remove pan from burner and stir in swiss cheese until evenly mixed and put into pre-baked pie shell, making sure filling is level. Beat the cream and pre-beaten eggs together until combined. Stir in grated parmesan and salt and pepper. Pour cream into the pie shell without over-filling. Discard leftover egg mixture.

Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving warm.

Protip: *Don’t forget to pre-bake the pie crust!!!* As stated above, don’t be afraid to have leftover egg mixture. The secret to a wonderfully, evenly baked quiche is to NOT over fill the pie shell with either filling or egg mix. Also, feel free to add a layer of parmesan or nutritional yeast to the top of the quiche before baking for a nice browned effect on top.

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Session 11 – Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Aaaand I’m back! Happy Holidays, everyone 🙂 I hope you have been enjoying the fall holidays thus far. Sorry for the absence – broken foot, life, yadda yadda. I wanted to get back in the swing of things with a pumpkin bran muffin recipe. I love pumpkin anything, and have never experimented with bran or wheat germ before.

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This recipe was curious – it called for bran cereal. I found some bran flake cereal that contained “sun activated antioxidants”… I did not leave the flakes in the sun to test this theory. The recipe called for nuts but I am not a fan of pecans so I substituted blueberries in half the batter (pumpkin and blueberry is a tremendous combo). It’s a two-ish step process to make the batter, and takes only 20 minutes to bake. The wheat germ I had was non-toasted, so I had to toast it quickly in the oven which only took about 5 minutes. Fill the muffin tins 2/3rds of the way and you’re good to go!

The Results

The muffins were good! I especially liked the batch with blueberries in them, they gave the muffins a nice zing. This recipe will not be a keeper for me, however. It was a little too much effort for a mediocre result – I don’t usually have the basic ingredients on hand, and now I have an excess! The muffins are very dense and don’t spring up in the oven. They keep the same rough shape as how you spoon them into the tins. The bran taste is one I appreciate; I might try this again with whole wheat flour for a more multi-grain approach. For the record, my roommates liked the muffins! They are best toasted with butter 🙂 .

The Recipes

Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Ingredients – makes 8 muffins

3/4 C whole bran cereal
1/2 C skim milk
1/2 C canned pumpkin
1 beaten eg
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP melted butter
1/2 C flour
1 TBSP toasted wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 C chopped pecans (optional)
8 pecan halves as garnish
blueberries (optional)

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, lightly crush bran flakes and pour in milk, submerging the flakes. Soak for 3 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, and butter. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center, add bran mixture and stir until moistened. Fold in pecans or blueberries, if using.

Grease muffin cups and fill each 2/3rds of the way. Top each muffin with a pecan half or desired garnish and bake at 400ºF for 20-25 minutes. Cool and serve.

Approximate Nutritional Information

160 Calories, 4g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 210mg sodium, 3g dietary fiber, 6% RDA calcium (US).

PROTIP: You can use non-dairy milk and butter if you choose without affecting the bake consistency!

Session 10 – Broccoli-Cheese Delight

A belated Happy Father’s Day to you all! I neglected my parents in favor of celebrating my best friend from college’s wedding day in northern New Jersey. Before I left for the weekend, I was able to give a new recipe a whirl! “Broccoli-Cheese Delight” – seems to be in Grandmother Rubright’s handwriting, though there is no name to attest that fact; I’ll have to ask her! I had never seen anything like this recipe before, one that called for cheese and eggs with the vegetables. It was hard to envision the end result, but I was game to investigate!

As shown above, the secret ingredients in this dish were onion and garlic powder, powdered bouillon, and ricotta cheese. An interesting mix for sure. The original recipe called for frozen broccoli, but I used fresh broccoli instead, cutting the heads down to small florets. Then, you blend the secret ingredients with eggs and some cheddar cheese, combining with the broccoli in a baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes. I added an additional step by topping the dish with Nutritional Yeast – an alternative to parmesan cheese. It creates a nice crisp top. Ultimately, this is a very straightforward recipe, and doesn’t take long to put together at all!

The Results

This recipe was pretty good. The resulting dish was very similar to a quiche, only quite as eggy. The ricotta gives an interesting texture to the dish, it doesn’t smooth much through the blending process. I personally would like to try reworking this dish to get a creamier texture, perhaps adding some milk or cream, so it is going on the chopping block. I would also up the amount of cheddar to 1 cup.

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Fun fact, I got adventurous one morning and had a scoop of this broccoli dish for breakfast with a fried egg on top. That, was amazing. Recipes below!

The Recipes

Broccoli-Cheese Delight

Ingredients – serves 4-5

4 C broccoli spears
1 C part-skim ricotta
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs
2 tsp minced onions flakes (or onion powder)
1 tsp instant chicken flavored broth mix (bouillon mix)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
salt & pepper to taste
optional: parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast

Directions

Preheat over to 350ºF. Spray large square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Cut raw broccoli into small florets. Place evenly in baking dish. Blend all remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour mixture evenly over the broccoli, top with parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast if desired, and bake for 30 minutes or until set and lightly browned.

PROTIP: Watch this in the oven carefully towards the end – you don’t want to over-bake, which dries out the dish.

Session 9 – Quick Chicken Dijonnaise

Happy Mother’s Day! If you are honoring the memory of a mother today, my heart goes out to you and your family. It’s so very hard losing a parent, but hopefully you can find comfort in remembering them on a day like today with other family members. Below are some pictures of my mom when I was little. The left photo is Aunt Maggs and her mom, Granny Meier, on either side of my mom who is holding me (in a super cute bib). The left is my mom and I going for a dip in the Poconos. I am so grateful that my dad was a shutterbug and took so many pictures of the family growing up.

This morning I went out to lunch with my mom’s parents and sister, and being around her relatives (and mine) made me feel like I was honoring my mom’s memory in a very real way. I will never be able to cast off these feelings of missing her, but my 30th birthday being right around the corner adds a level of complexity to this mother’s day in particular. It’s a big milestone birthday, and it is heartbreaking not to be able to spend it with her. I am thankful to be close with my family and have some amazing and wonderful friends to help me celebrate the big day (in New Orleans!).

Coincidentally, I chose a completely handwritten recipe for this cooking session – “Quick Chicken Dijonnaise”. I can pick out my mom’s handwriting out of a thousand samples; I saw it’s distinctive lettering all my life. Most special to me were the notes she left me to find tucked in my luggage on vacations without her or at sleepover camp, or the “boxes of love” she would send me while at college to get me through finals or other minor holidays away from home. One of the great parts of this project is to see her writing again on some of the recipe cards.

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Chicken Dijonnaise, as written, calls for chicken cutlets and a quick stovetop prep. I opted to use a flat of chicken thighs I already had in the freezer and turned the sauce into a marinade! After thinly slicing the shallots and dicing tarragon, I cooked up the sauce on the stovetop and it’s intoxicating aroma filled the kitchen. Off to a good start!

I then trimmed the excess fat off of the chicken thighs and threw them into a gallon ziplock bag with the cooled sauce. After 30 minutes in the fridge, they went into the oven and came out tender and juicy after an hour of baking. I served the chicken with a side of roasted zucchini, but this would also be delicious with rice, potatoes, or any vegetable side.

The Results

This recipe is fantastic. The shallots and tarragon really add a great depth of flavor with a hint of sweetness that is further brought out by the white wine. This would absolutely work well as the original recipe intended with chicken cutlets on the stove, but was equally successful as a quick marinade. A+!

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(…apologies for the non-plated shot…)

The Recipes

Chicken Dijonnaise

Ingredients – serves 4-5

1 package chicken breast cutlets or boneless thighs
1 TBSP butter
2 large shallots, sliced (about 1/2 C)
1/2 tsp dried tarragon (or a few sprigs of fresh tarragon, diced)
1/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C white wine
1 TBSP dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Directions

If using cutlets:
Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat and brown chicken, two minutes on each side. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside. Add shallots and tarragon to the pan, stirring frequently and cooking for about one minute. Stir in broth, wine, and mustard until blended and bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet and once boiling, reduce to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through; about 5-6 minutes. Serve with sauce over the chicken.

If using thighs:
Preheat oven to 400º. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add shallots and tarragon to the saucepan, stirring frequently and cooking for about one minute. Stir in broth, wine, and mustard until blended and bring to a boil for a full minute to cook off the alcohol. Turn off the burner and remove the sauce from heat. Let sit until sauce is room temperature (or place entire pan into fridge for ten minutes or so if you have the room!). While the sauce is cooling, trim the excess fat off of the chicken thighs and place in a gallon ziplock bag. Add cooled sauce, seal tightly, and toss to coat. Let sit to marinade in the fridge for at least half an hour, or overnight. Dump contents of ziplock bag into a glass baking dish, making sure to get out all of the shallots and as much of the sauce as possible. Bake at 400º for 55 minutes, cover with foil if the top of the chicken is getting too brown or dried out. Serve with sauce over the chicken.

PROTIP: To learn more about cooking with wine and the basic accepted standards of how/if alcohol burns off while cooking, check out this article. The small amount of wine used in this recipe does evaporate significantly at a rolling boil for a minute, but not all – this is important to note for anyone with alcohol sensitivities (religious or other!)

VEGAN PROTIP: You can substitute vegan butter and veggie broth for the sauce and find a way to use it – it would probably do well tossed in with rice and some veggies/tofu!

Session 8 – Turkey Marsala

In between carting Zeus to more vet appointments and a bunch of weekends out of town, I was able to try out another new recipe from the box! Huzzah! This was a recipe card that clearly came with a Perdue product – Perdue (Young?) Turkey Breast Marsala. I rarely cook with turkey, so I figured this would make a somewhat challenging yet delicious recipe. If you don’t like mushrooms, I can’t help you because they REALLY make this dish (as any good Italian will inform you).

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To start, you slice up a turkey tenderloin, pound out each medallion between two pieces of saran wrap into thin pieces and then saute. It’s amazing how quick a quarter inch thick piece of meat will cook!

Then, you cook up the mushrooms and start making the sauce with some fancy Marsala wine. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get this sauce exactly right. It’s technically a reduction, which means you simmer the liquid for a long time until at least half of it evaporates, aka reduces. The sauce thickens during this process, yielding a nice flavorful consistency without needing to add cream. It takes longer than you’d expect, dependent on how much liquid you start with of course, and requires patience and faith. I had doubled the recipe and thus the sauce because I was going to freeze half of my yield, so I should have waited longer than I did to properly reduce the sauce. But, when it’s almost midnight… you give up some ideals along the way!

Once the sauce is reduced, you throw everything back in the pan to finish cooking and meld the flavors together over low heat. I made some steamed broccoli and long grain wild rice as side dishes.

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The Results

The Turkey Marsala was a success! The flavors were even better the next day after the leftovers sat in the fridge in all of the sauce. The next time I try this, I’m still going to double the sauce but try for a more perfect reduction. I’m also going to let everything simmer together in the pan to really try and blend the flavors more before serving.

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The Recipes

Because you’ve all been so patient, I’ll throw in another bonus recipe. It was not from the family recipe box, but it is a healthier alternative to brownies that features a secret ingredient: zucchini! Plus, it’s VEGAN. Enjoy! (Original Recipe found here!)

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Turkey Breast Marsala

Ingredients – serves 4-5

1 package turkey breast tenderloins
1 flat baby portobellos, sliced
4 TBSP butter, divided
1/2 C Marsala wine
1/4 C water
1/2 C beef broth
salt & pepper

Directions

Slice tenderloin into 1 inch thick medallions. Place a few medallions between the two square sheets of plastic wrap with plenty of room around each. Use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to gently pound out each medallion to about 1/4 inch thickness. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add mushrooms. Saute until cooked down, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the remaining 2 TBSP butter to the pan and saute the turkey pieces on each side until cooked through. Remove the turkey and set aside. Add Marsala, water, and broth to skillet and cook, stirring until liquid is reduced to 1/2 C. Return turkey and mushrooms to the pan and cook an additional 5 minutes or so to bring everything up to the same temperature. Serve warm over wild rice.

PROTIP: Instead of a meat tenderizer, you can use a soup can to flatten the tenderloin medallions. Feel free to use additional spices to flavor the dish, such as garlic and onion powder; add these while sauteing the turkey.

VEGAN PROTIP: You can use this sauce in other recipes by using vegetable broth and vegan butter!

 

Vegan Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients

2 C shredded zucchini, lightly drained of excess moisture
1 1/2
C granulated sugar
1/2 C canola oil
1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, and flour until the mixture resembles wet sand. Mix in cocoa, zucchini, vanilla, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve.

PROTIP: You can also use a 13×9 baking pan and expect to bake for about 10 minutes less time. Monitor the consistency with a toothpick while finishing baking. I swear to you; you will NEVER be able to tell these are veggie based/vegan! I brought them to a bridal shower and they went like hotcakes, just like the typical boxed brownies.

ALLERGEN PROTIP: You can use gluten free flour with this recipe instead of the regular wheat flour mix.