Apple, Gorgonzola, and Bacon Quiche

This was one of those recipes that I so could’ve given up on – at least once or twice – or eight times.

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

And the results were pretty darn good, if I say so myself.

So bear with me (and this recipe) if you decide to read through my post or try making this.  (Though many of you, I’m sure, would totally rock this from the start.)

The Recipe:

Apple, Gorgonzola, and Bacon Quiche, a hybrid of Hub’s and my recipe

1 recipe of Pate Brisee:

(2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 t salt

1 t sugar

1 stick sweet butter

4 T vegetable shortening

1 t lemon juice

about 1/4 c ice water

Place flour, salt, and sugar in bowl of food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Break/cut butter and shortening into 1 T cubes and add to flour.  Pulse until the consistency of coarse sand.  Add liquid a little at a time, pulsing in between, until dough begins to come together.  Pour onto clean surface and form into a disk.  Chill 1 hour or overnight.  Remove 1 hour prior to rolling.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line crust with parchment or foil (spraying with cooking spray first).  Prick bottom with fork.  Fill pie with weights or raw beans.  Place weighted pastry in oven.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Remove weights/lining and continue to cook until crust looks dry.)

5 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces

2 red delicious apples, unpeeled and grated (quick tip: squeeze out as much of the extra apple juice from the pieces as possible so your quiche isn’t extra liquid-y)

5 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled into small chunks

1 1/4 c half n half

3 large eggs

Cover bottom of crust with a thin layer of bacon.  Top with layer of cheese and then layer of apples.  Add additional layers if needed.

Mix half n half with eggs and beat with fork until yolks are broken and incorporated.  Gently pour over crust, filling to the top.

Place on cookie sheet in oven and bake at 375 degrees for at least 45 minutes, until puffed up and not jiggly in the middle.  (A knife inserted into middle should not reveal any liquid.)

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

So, it all started out with the Pate Brisee.

I’d made this several times before, so I assumed it was going to be a breeze.  Until I got distracted when adding my ice water and accidentally poured in too much.  This made it a little sticky, but I just thought that maybe as it rested in the fridge, it would dry up a bit.

It didn’t.

Let’s just say when rolling it out on my lovely large counter-space using my brand new pastry roller, it stuck.

To everything.

And would not come off.

I thought about giving up (just for the day) and trying again tomorrow, but I decided instead to re-roll it into a ball, let it rest, and try again with a significant amount of flour-dusting on everything.  And hallelujah, it worked!

I placed it into my dish… and promptly realized I didn’t have any parchment paper or foil.

So, I improvised with a lightly greased (on the bottom) ceramic dish and some beans.  And that seemed to work pretty well.  Until I tried to remove it to cook the bottom of the crust.

And it stuck.

After much wrangling, using oven mitts and a little strength, I got it free with minimal damage.  I placed the crust back in the oven to finish baking, thinking all would be well.

And then the bottom of the crust puffed up like a little balloon.

(I was seriously getting frustrated at this point.)

I popped it with a fork, added a few more extra pokes of the tines, and placed it back in the oven until it finally looked dry.  Then I took it out to rest and started prepping and adding the filling.

This is what it looked like heading into the oven.

I cooked it about 40 minutes on convection and thought it looked done.

It wasn’t.  This picture was taken right before I cut out a slice that disintegrated all over my plate.  Sorry no pictures because at that point I was just too mad.

Anyways, I could’ve given up again… but I didn’t.  I placed my crust back in, scooped over the filling, covered the quiche with a pan lid (remember no foil), and put it back in to cook longer.

Finally, about 20 (yes 20) minutes later, it was finally done.

(At this point, Hubs had had to leave for his meeting, and I’d fed the boys since they were starving – and complaining – and all around driving me nutso.)

(Oh, and you get no pictures of the full final product.  Let’s just say it was not pretty.)

I cut myself a slice to enjoy alone… and enjoy it I did!

I’m going to admit here that I am not a fan of bleu cheeses.  At all.  Yet a mild and tangy gorgonzola, paired with a sweet red delicious apple and chewy salty bacon, over a crisp and buttery crust… Mmm-mmm-mmmmmm, it was good!

(Even all alone after a hugely frustrating experience.)

And when Hubs finally got home and had a slice, he couldn’t agree more.

So, if you’ve made it all the way through this story with me, you’ve probably got the patience to make this recipe.  And you’ve already know some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Crazily enough, I’m looking forward to making it again.

(Though probably not for a long while.)

Maple Bacon Biscuits

I’m kind of late to all the cooking trends out there.

I only started eating quinoa about a year ago.

I still sometimes mix up macaroons and macarons.

And whenever I hear about chia seeds I still think of the, um, inappropriate Chia Pet we had growing in our dorm room.

So, it’s not surprising that it took me until Summer of 2012 to finally give in to the maple-bacon craze.  (Hey, I’m only about two years behind, right?)

I figured Hubs deserved a decadent breakfast for Father’s Day since his birthday meals were pretty much a bust.  Plus, we’d saved all those calories by throwing out the cheesecake… so ooey-gooey maple bacon it was.

(Plus it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions.  Who knew I’d be just as bad at remembering delicious foods to make, than if I’d resolved to work out?)

The Recipe:

Maple Bacon Biscuits, adapted slightly from Eat, Play, Love

Syrup

1/2 lb bacon, cooked until medium brown

1/3 c brown sugar

1/4 c all-purpose flour

1/4 c maple syrup

2 T melted butter

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9” round pan (a springform pan is helpful but not required).  Chop the cooked bacon into bite size pieces and then combine with the remaining syrup ingredients.  Stir until thoroughly combined and spread over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

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Biscuits

2 c all-purpose flour

2 1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1 t salt

1/4 c shortening

2 T butter

3/4+ c low-fat buttermilk

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together.  Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry dough blender.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk.  Gently blend the dry ingredients into the buttermilk forming a ball of dough.  Add additional buttermilk as needed – one teaspoon at a time.  Drop oversized tablespoons of the biscuit dough over the syrup in the pan until covered. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 475 degrees and then turn the oven off.  Leave the biscuits in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove the biscuits from the oven and immediately turn the pan upside down onto a serving platter. Lift off the pan and scrape any remaining syrup over the biscuits.  Pull apart to serve.  Best served warm.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Okay, let’s just go over the main ingredients again… we have maple syrup, we have bacon, and we have homemade biscuits.  Is there anyone out there that thinks this is a bad idea?  I mean seriously – when you take several very tasty items and put them together, of course you are going to end up with something exponentially amazing.

You need a close up?

I thought so.

Anyways, I think I ended up using a little more bacon than called for, but really, not a bad thing.  The combination of the sweet maple-y sauce with the salty bacon and butter-y biscuits… wow!  It certainly perked us all up first thing in the morning.

(I also have to add the stand-out ingredient for me was the biscuits.  We all absolutely loved them – and the next time we have a down-home meal, they’re going on the menu for sure.)

Maybe there’s actually something to all these culinary trends… 😉

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Be sure to enter my giveaway for a Williams-Sonoma gift card – go to this post for more information.  🙂

Cuban Street Tacos

Now, don’t be getting your hopes up.

(Though I think if you follow my advice and do-nots, you probably would get an amazing dish.)

Anyways, we’re backtracking a little, and talking about Hubs’ birthday dinner.  Now, as I mentioned in the last post, I put together this dish the morning of Hubs’ day in the crock pot.  We were looking forward to sharing it with some very good friends for dinner.

Well, that was before.

Before I started not feeling well.

Before we made the mistake decision to have take-out Chinese for lunch.

Before our friends cancelled on us.

So, as dinner time rolled around, we were pretty much ambivalent about dinner.  Frankly, we were still fairly full from lunch – and were very overwhelmed by the complex aroma coming from the crock pot.  So, Hubs made an executive birthday decision: we’d save the tacos for the next night and have a light dinner instead.

Here was our exciting meal:

(No, you are not mistaken – peanut butter and jelly with Doritos.  What can I say, we were reliving our teenage youth.  And darn, it tasted good!)

Anyways, I’m telling you this because I’m thinking letting the meat stew in the juices overnight may not have been the best idea…

The Recipe:

Cuban Street Tacos, adapted slightly from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

4-lb boneless pork butt or boneless pork top loin roast, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 T kosher salt

1 T canola or vegetable oil

2 c chicken broth or stock

1/2 t pepper

1 t ground cumin

1 t chili powder

1 t dried oregano

2 bay leaves

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño, minced

1 onion, peeled and halved

juice of 1 lime

1 medium orange, halved and juice, rinds reserved

Rub the pieces of pork all over with salt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, until the oil is shimmering and hot.  Add the pork and sear each piece on all sides, working in batches, if needed.  Once browned, remove the pork to the slow cooker.  Into the same pot used to sear the pork, pour in the water and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged spatula or wooden spoon to get up all the delicious brown bits from the bottom.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the pork is very tender.

Remove the bay leaves, onion and orange rinds from the pot and discard.  Remove the pork and place in a bowl and set aside.  Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot on the stove and over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Let the mixture boil until it reduces to about 1 cup and is thickened slightly, about 10 -15 minutes.

Shred the pork and place on a large patter.  Spoon the sauce over the pork.  Serve in tortillas garnished with onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and additional lime wedges, if desired.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

So, after this cooked for about seven hours, I turned it off, let it cool, and placed it in the refrigerator.

The next day, about an hour before we were going to eat, I placed it back in the slow cooker and turned it on high – and then followed the rest of the directions given.

I shredded the fork-tender pork, tasting a bit to make sure it was warm.  And let me tell you – it was amazing!  The mix of orange, jalapeno, and all the spices made for a treat for the tongue.

As I was sampling shredding the pork, I had the sauce simmering away on the stove top.  Once it had reduced quite a bit, I spooned some all over the gorgeous pork.  (Big mistake.  Big.  Huge.)

(Oh, and 10 points if you can name that quote.)

See, what I forgot to do is the most important thing you can do when cooking: taste your food.

Thinking things were still all wonderful, I plated up some amazing looking tacos.

It wasn’t until I took a huge bite that I realized something was seriously wrong.

Apparently, as the sauce had simmered, and the liquid evaporated, it got salty.  And I mean salty; as in spit-out-your-bite, salty.  As in the whole batch was ruined, salty… all that mouth-watering pork I’d tasted, ruined.

Let’s just say I was not happy.

I also want to say that I have made several of Mel’s recipes and they have all turned out perfectly.  So, I’m betting I did something wrong: whether it was leaving it sit overnight, using too much salt, or I don’t know.  So, I’m thinking if this sounds good to you, you should definitely still try it.

Just be sure to taste everything before you add, mix, or serve it.

(And yes, we did have pb&j again.)

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Be sure to enter my giveaway for a $20 gift card to Williams-Sonoma… check out this post for more information.  🙂

Gluten Free Breakfast Casserole

I escaped this weekend.

Away from putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own.

Away from early mornings and constant chaos.

Away from checking off my list of a hundred things to do.

Away to just be me – with a bunch of positive, intelligent, crazy-fun, supportive gals.

This weekend was my book club’s first ever overnight getaway.  We met up at a gorgeous cabin in the mountains, surrounded by snow, and right next to a gorgeous serene lake.  We played games, discussed life, drank a tad, and ate a whole bunch.

(It was heaven.)

That’s where this recipe comes in.  I was partially in charge of our breakfast Sunday morning, and I was really excited to find this casserole that fit the bill for the food sensitivities in the group.  Plus I was relieved to see how easy it was – since I still get very nervous cooking in front of and for other people besides my family (and I wanted to be sure I could still make it if I was, um, perhaps a tad ‘under the weather’ in the morning).

It was exactly what I was looking for.

The Recipe:

Impossibly Easy Breakfast Bake (Gluten Free*), adapted from BettyCrocker.com

2 packages (10 oz each) pre-cooked all natural sausage (gluten-free)

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 c frozen hash brown potatoes (gluten-free)

10 oz shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 c Bisquick® Gluten Free mix

2 c milk

6 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

*You can only guarantee a full gluten-free meal if all ingredients are gluten-free.*

Heat oven to 400°F.   Spray 13×9 inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

In skillet, cook bell pepper and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  When onions begin to turn translucent, add sausage.  Cook for another 3 minutes.

Mix sausage mixture, potatoes and 1 1/2 c of the cheese in baking dish.

In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, eggs, salt and pepper until blended. Pour over sausage mixture in baking dish.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake another 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Half the fun of making this meal was the conversations had while actually cooking.  One of my friends was my sous-chef, and she chopped up the veggies while I worked on some of the other (minimal) prep work.  We just chatted away while doing our parts of the recipe.  This only confirmed my belief that cooking can really bring people together when they’re in the kitchen, helping each other out.

I did have a minor mess up (from skimming, of course!), and I added the frozen hashbrowns to the egg mixture, but alas, all turned out well.

I was so busy chatting, cooking, and serving that I really didn’t take any good pictures.  So here is the one from the Betty Crocker website.  (Mine looked exactly like it.  😉  Well, pretty close at least.)

I wish I could take pictures this good.

I finally remembered to take a picture at the very end of the meal.

If this picture tells any story, it would be that the casserole was pretty darn tasty.   It was a typical egg/sausage bake – but I loved the sweet red bell peppers throughout.  I got several compliments which made me feel good – and I was glad that it was truly gluten-free this time (unlike my attempt at gluten-free cookies in December).

Besides the good food, friends, and fun, the best part was how refreshed I felt returning home.  I was so happy to see my family and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.

Now I just gotta figure out how to plan a weekend away more often.

Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops

The weather here has taken a definite turn towards fall.

Sunny days are much fewer and far between (plus it’s getting dark at night much, much earlier), so I wanted to make this grilling recipe before I wouldn’t be able to anymore — or at least before I’d have a ton of excuses why I couldn’t.

I’d had such success with the Neely’s Honey Orange BBQ Chicken recipe, so I was looking forward to trying another one of their easy, saucy, grill recipes.

The Recipe:

Grilled Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops, from The Neely’s on foodnetwork.com

4 (1 1/2-inch thick) center cut bone in pork chops

Neely’s Seasoning Salt:

  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t celery seed
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t smoked paprika

Sweet and Tangy Glaze:

  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c tablespoon real maple syrup
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Season the pork chops lightly on both sides with the Seasoning Salt. Remember, we aren’t rubbing the chops.

Grill the chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Brush them with the Sweet and Tangy Glaze the last 5 minutes of grilling. Internal temperature should register 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the chops from the grill to a serving platter and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I’m not gonna lie, I might have skimmed again (assuming it was so easy, there was no room for a mistake).

And that might have caused me to, um, rub the pork (insert 13 year-old boy snicker) with the Seasoning Salt – as opposed to just sprinkling it on lightly as it specifically says in the recipe.  That may have made the chops a tad bit salty.

Looking at this picture, and all the Seasoning Salt, I relive my mistake once again.

There was some good news, though.

1.  Hubs’ piece was less salted, so you really got a chance to enjoy the sweet and tangy glaze.  And it was really good!

2.  This is what I served with the delectable quinoa I made, so I still call the meal a success.  (And this might possibly explain why I had 4 servings of the quinoa – besides how tasty it was.)

The final verdict – I would definitely make this again, following the directions much more closely.  It had the potential to be a really good pork chop.

If only I hadn’t messed up.

Live and learn.  (I hope!)

Adobo Pork Tenderloin and Glazed Carrots

I admit it. I’ve been slacking on the dinner meals.

It’s just so much easier to make a quick baked good or salad nowadays. Then I’ve felt like I’ve cooked, so I can slack for the rest of the week.

Well, that stops this week. I’m going back to at least one dinner a week.

Promise. (Or at least I will try my very, very best.)

So I saw these recipes several weeks ago, and they completely caught my eye. I’m usually not a pork person, but it looked so delectable at Sweet Caroline’s Cooking that I had to give it a try.

And bonus! It had built-in yummy side-dishes, too (though I only used one.)

The Recipes:

Adobo-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin, adapted from Sweet Caroline’s recipe

2 T smoked paprika

1 T sweet paprika

1 T black pepper

1 T salt

1 T chili powder

2 T brown sugar

16 oz. pork tenderloin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim silver off tenderloin. In a small bowl, mix paprikas, black pepper, salt, chili powder and brown sugar.

Thoroughly rub both sides of pork tenderloin with dry rub. Preheat skillet or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat and pan-sear pieces until golden brown on both sides. Transfer tenderloin piece to rack on cookie sheet and place in oven. Cook until done, about 6 to 8 minutes for each inch of thickness–about 25-30 minutes total.

Glazed Carrots, from Sweet Caroline’s recipe

5-6 carrots, stems removed

3 T butter or margarine

Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash carrots to remove dirt. Cut off tips of the carrots. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and season with salt and pepper. Toss with tongs until evenly coated and sizzling, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and cook until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.

The Results:

Okay, I have to give my husband credit this week. He saved me from a couple near-catastrophes while I was making the pork.

First off, I had no clue what “silver” was. Or how to remove it.

(I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but this meal was my first ever attempt to cook pork – hot dogs don’t count, right?)

Anyways, he gave a quick tutorial on what silver looks like and how to thread your knife under it to skim it off. (Knife facing away from your body – always a good tip!)  He might have tried to take over and just do it for me, but I held strong and did it myself.

de-silvered and rubbed with spice

And then I kinda forgot something that should be ingrained in me…oil in my skillet.  My pork immediately started smoking because the spices were burning.  I froze for a moment, but Hubs calmly suggested removing the pork, adding oil, and putting it back on the stove.  That helped me re-focus and start again.

The pork needed to be cooked a little longer than the suggested time, and Hubs recommended letting it “rest” for about 5 minutes before serving.

It was quite divine when finished – the crust was amazing and the inside was still moist and flavorful.

As for the carrots, they were simple and easy – and oh, so tasty!  How did I not know of this 3 ingredient decadence?

garden-fresh carrots

The meal was a hit, but I do wish I’d made the potatoes, too.

 Next time for sure.

definitely needs a little something else served with them

 

Meatball Sliders

I think I may have mentioned this before, but Hubby’s a bit picky particular about his food.  Especially when I’m cooking for him — and on a special day.

For Father’s Day this year, I told him I’d make him whatever he wanted for dinner.  He finally decided, the day before, that he wanted Meatball Sliders.

Normally, this would’ve thrown me for a loop, but fortunately I had recently seen a recipe here, so I knew I could do it.  Though, of course, Hubs already had a meatball recipe I needed to try.

So I did.  (It was his day, you know.)

The Recipes:

Meatballs, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, Nov/Dec 2010

Makes about 15 2-inch meatballs

1 c bread crumbs

3/4 c buttermilk

1 large egg

3/4 lb ground pork

1 lb lean ground beef

1 1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese

1 T dried parsley

1 T red pepper flakes

1 T oregano

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

table salt and ground black pepper

1.  Place wire rack in foil-lined cookie sheet.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Combine bread crumbs and buttermilk in large bowl and let sit, mashing occasionally with fork until smooth paste forms.

2.  Add egg, beef, pork, Parmesan, spices, and garlic.  Using hands, gently mix until thoroughly combined.  Spray wire racks with non-stick cooking spray.

3.  Lightly form into 2-inch round meatballs (I used a 2-inch ice-cream scoop).  Place meatballs, evenly spaced, on racks.  Roast until browned, about 30 minutes, rotating tray halfway through.

The Results:

Another winning meal for me.  Seriously, I am on a role!  (Knock on wood.)

First off, making the meat balls wasn’t bad at all – except for having to stick my hands in the raw meat mixture.  This actually freaked me out a bit (and Hubs offered to do it for me – but I was having none of that).

So he decided to take action shots instead.

This felt awful, and it gave me the heebie-jeebies (that’s a technical term).  But it was over quick and then I was off to scoop some meatballs.

This is the point in the meal where Hubs and I started cracking dirty meatball jokes.  I think I’ll refrain from sharing them here. 

(And you are welcome.)

Now here’s when the meal got really fun.  I realized that we didn’t really have all the ingredients suggested for the home-made marinara sauce I was going to make… so, I made it up.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Seriously, no recipe.  Just from my head and with ingredients we had on hand. 

And guess what?  It turned out so good!

(Just in case you’re curious, it involved olive oil, onions, garlic, crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, red wine, fresh oregano, and fresh basil.  I really, really wish I’d written down what I used – because I want to make it again sometime.  Oops.)

Another Hubs action shot. (He wanted to document this amazing feat for me. And/or maybe make sure I didn't mess up too bad.)

Finally, we placed the meatballs and sauce on King’s Hawaiian Roles (yum) and were ready to eat.

Another wonderful (and unexpected) dinner success.

Hubs was completely proud of me.  (Though I think he’s starting to get a bit jealous.)

I even impressed myself.

(Which isn’t too hard, but I’ll take it.)