Crustless Quiche

This is another recipe adapted from Diane Phillips’ Perfect Party Food and can be made in greased muffin tins for individual servings instead of the pie tin; in this case bake for only 25 minutes.

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 shakes Tabasco sauce
  • 2 scallions (white and green), finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. beef chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 3 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
  1. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Stir in the scallions, chorizo, and cheese until blended.
Do-ahead: At this point you can cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 10 inch pie pan with nonstick spray.
3. Pour quiche batter into pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the quiche has puffed up above the rim of the baking dish, 40-50 minutes.
At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 6 weeks. Defrost and bring to room temperature. Reheat in 350 F oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Micro-Steamed Hoisin Salmon and Vegetables

For all that I love having long, slow cooked meals that fill the house with their delicious aroma and welcome us home after work or play, it’s also nice to have some recipes that can be thrown together somewhat quickly without any prep ahead of time. These are the recipes that need to be really easy and tasty and tempting for the moments where we want to eat something homemade but feel lazy and the takeout menu starts sounding like a good idea.

I thought this recipe (adapted from Anne Byrn’s The Dinner Doctor) sounded perfect for addressing that kind of need; it’s healthy, claims to have 10 minutes of prep and only 6 minutes of actual cooking time. Who needs 30 minute meals when you could be done in half that time?  In reality, the prep took a bit longer than promised, but the results were worth it. Sharper knives (or getting the butcher or fishmonger to slice the fish for me) would have shortened my prep a LOT and probably resulted in a prettier looking final dish since mine looked a bit mangled. Luckily, the flavors were great and it was a nice change from our regular routine. We served the dish with steamed quinoa and rice (a 50/50 mix).


  • 1 lb salmon, 1.5 inches thick (could also use grouper or other fish fillets)
  • 8 oz fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (would have been even better diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots or pre-shredded carrots
  • 4 scallions, both white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3 T hoisin sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T rice vinegar (we added more to our rice/quinoa)


  1. Cut the salmon into 1 inch wide strips and place in 2-quart microwave safe dish. Top with sugar snap peas, carrots, ginger, and scallions.
  2. Pour the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar into a small bowl and stir until well combined. Drizzle over fish and vegetables.
  3. Cover dish loosely or top with plastic wrap (peel back one corner if using plastic wrap to allow steam to escape).
  4. Cook on high in microwave until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, 6 minutes. Stop every 2 minutes to gently stir and reposition the fish so that the outside pieces are moved to the inside. Microwaves vary in power; you may need to add another minute for the fish and vegetable to cook through. We ended up adding 30 seconds.
  5. Serve!

    Looks messy, smells wonderful, tastes great!

    Looks messy, smells wonderful, tastes great!

Pesto and Tomato Frittata

Researching recipes to prepare for a birthday brunch for our two year old (can it seriously already be time for a second birthday party?), I wanted something easy, accessible, and preferably something that I could make ahead so I had less to stress over the day of the party, especially since we planned to host the party at a local park. Since we wouldn’t have access to electricity while at the park, I couldn’t use the crockpot (which I usually do whenever I have a party and don’t want to be cooking right up until the guests arrive). Luckily, I found some good ideas in Diane Phillips’ Perfect Party Food. The self-proclaimed “Diva of Do-Ahead” offers a lot of interesting ideas and recipes in the thick book, but unfortunately I have to return it to the library before I get to try out very many of them. I’ll update with pictures when I test out the recipes.


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


1. Coat a 10 inch round baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until blended. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella, the pesto, and the tomatoes. Pour into prepared dish and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

(At this point you can cover and refrigerate overnight)

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the frittata until  puffed, golden and set in the center, 35-40 minutes.

At this point you can let it cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Serve the frittata cold or at room temperature, or reheat covered with foil in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes.

Moroccan Marathon

Picking recipes is something of a hobby of mine, but sometimes I spend too much time thinking of all the things I could make and have trouble actually picking what’s for dinner so I asked my husband to pick a recipe for us to try. He definitely spend a lot less time deciding on a recipe than I do, but that is in large part because he does not actually read the recipe at all. This is how we ended up spending 3 days working on a single dish, Moroccan Stew we found through Gojee. For someone cooking without an infant in the house, or with a fully stocked kitchen, this probably won’t take as long. Fortunately the results were delicious and tasted unlike anything we’d made before. The chickpeas added some nice texture and the figs melted into the sauce, giving it an unexpectedly nice fruitiness.

One of the first steps of the recipe is to make the spice mixture used to marinate the meat. The spice mixture is called Ras el Hanout. Our local grocery store doesn’t stock the spice mixture, but we discovered weeks later that you can purchase it inexpensively at Cost Plus. This recipe seems like one that could be adapted pretty easily to go in the crockpot (follow the recipe through step 3, then dump everything in the slow cooker and let it work its magic).

Ras El Hanout

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne

Combine all the spices together. Store in a cool, dark place.

The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of turmeric as well, but even after making a grocery run, we didn’t have any and made do without. The recipe can be halved. Even after halving the recipe, you won’t use all of the mixture and will have some to store for future recipes.

Hearty Lamb Stew with Chickpeas and Figs.

Moroccan Stew - packed up for lunch with cilantro and quinoa.

Moroccan Lamb Stew


1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 – 3 pounds lamb shoulder or leg, cut in 2 inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 – 14 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
2 cups chicken stock
12 dried Calimyrna or Turkish figs, halved
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons ras el hanout
1 – 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Harissa or red chili paste
Fresh cilantro sprigs


1. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Mix to form a paste. Place lamb in a large bowl. Rub paste all over lamb. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate covered up to 24 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or oven proof pot with lid over medium-high heat. Add lamb in batches and brown on all sides, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer lamb to a plate or bowl.

3. Add onion and carrot to the same pot. Saute, stirring up the brown bits, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and continue to saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, figs, cinnamon stick, ras el hanout, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

4. Return lamb and any collected juices to the pot, submerging it in the stock. Add additional chicken stock to cover, if necessary.

5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot. Transfer to oven and bake until lamb is falling apart tender, (about 2 hours).

6. Transfer pot to stove. Remove lamb and vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil uncovered until sauce is reduced by about half and thickened, skimming fat.  Stir in chickpeas. Taste to check for seasoning. If necessary add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the stock. Return lamb and vegetables to pot.

Recipe may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, skim any collected fat from surface. Rewarm over medium-low heat or in a 325 F. oven. Serve with prepared quinoa or couscous. Pass bowls of harissa and fresh cilantro around the table as condiments.

We made a quick pot of quinoa in our rice cooker as we finished up the recipe and it was delicious! Be prepared for your entire house to smell of the rich, spiced aroma of the dish.


There’s just something about the holiday season that seems to make many feel like baking; something about the cooler weather, friends and family visiting, and the lack of worrying about how one looks in a bathing suit seems to spell out a stronger desire for fresh-baked goods. I’m not immune myself, which is why I was testing out some new cookie recipes recently – Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip cookies and a shortbread with jam cookie.  Both turned out well, but I’m partial to the first since it has a lovely combination of three types of cookies. The friend I was baking with preferred the shortbread. The results of both recipes have been disappearing faster than I would like from the kitchen, though, so I’m going to need to bake again before hosting my annual family get together.

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip Cookies (aka Everything Cookies)

Adapted from Peanut Butter Cookies IX on


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 heaping cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Notes: These were delicious as is, but I plan to try to improve them by adding some dried cranberries, fresh ground nutmeg, additional cinnamon, and or more chocolate chips.

Shortbread Cookies with homemade Cranberry-Berry Jam and Kiwi-Lime-Pineapple Jam in the front two rows, Everything Cookies in the back.

Shortbread Cookies with Jam

Adapted from Berry Shortbread Dreams recipe by Mildred Sherrer.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup seedless jam (I used two types of homemade jam: Berry Cranberry and Kiwi-Lime-Pineapple)
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in extract; gradually add flour until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until easy to handle. Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 1 in. apart on un-greased baking sheets. Using the back of a 1/8 tsp measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center. Fill with jam.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 14-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. While cookies are baking, combine glaze ingredients.
  3. When cookies are done, remove to wire racks to cool.  Use a fork to stir up the glaze again; drizzle over cookies.

Tips: The vanilla extract tints the glaze a light tan brown color. If you prefer your glaze to be a pure white, use almond extract or leave out the extract altogether. I used vanilla since I like how the taste complimented the jam and because I’m allergic to almonds. If your jam is very sweet, you might consider using a little less of it when filling in your cookies since it might overpower the delicateness of the shortbread, especially if you plan to top with glaze as well.

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Cheese Bake

After an afternoon of baking cookies, I was hyped up on sugar and in no mood to cook. Thankfully, hubby was ready to step in and make dinner adapted from a recipe he found online calling for 5 types of cheese in a baked macaroni dish (Original recipe: Wisconsin Five Cheese Bake found on Since we wanted to reduce the amount of ingredients we had to buy to make the meal, we adapted it to what we had in the fridge. You could easily sub in your favorite mixture of cheeses and whatever medium size pasta you have in your pantry.


  • 1 (16 ounce) package bow tie noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mixture
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add bow tie noodles, and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the shredded cheeses. Remove about 1/2 cup for topping and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt and heavy cream. Season with parsley, Italian seasoning.
  3. Pour the ricotta cheese mixture and drained pasta into the bowl with the shredded cheeses and toss lightly. Don’t worry about mixing it too thoroughly, it will melt. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil. Broil for about 5 minutes to brown the top.

Final Results: Totally decadent, even with the minor fat reducing adaptations we tested. It did need some salt, so adding in garlic salt as the original recipe suggested to the cheese mixture would have been nice. It also could have used a little kick of something – perhaps a dash of tabasco to add some heat or a shake or two of cayenne or crushed red peppers flakes. I loved the crunchy bits on top, but if you don’t like a crunchy top to your baked pasta, don’t broil it at the end. The cheese will still be plenty gooey and creamy.

Here’s what the leftovers looked like packed up for hubby’s lunch the next day (I added some cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices to round it out).

Beef Chorizo, Black Bean, and Chicken Burritos

It’s been almost a year since I last posted, and what a year it’s been! We’ve added a new member to our family, and while my pregnancy was remarkably healthy for the most part, I dealt with an unusual form of morning sickness that not only made cooking difficult due to the smells, but also made it so I was not hungry at all. I tried cooking a handful of times during the pregnancy, but the dishes turned out pretty poorly (my first inedible dish!). But now, Baby Monkey is here in person, I’m able to eat again, and I’m cooking food that’s actually edible once more so I’m back to blogging about our experiments in the kitchen.

The following recipe was cooked by my husband (yay!). Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list or the fact that it isn’t a single pot dinner. The taste is well worth it – it has some heat, complex flavors and generous servings.

Beef Chorizo, Black Bean, and Chicken Burritos

Serves 4

Taken (with some minor changes) from Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals.

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 cups white rice
  • 3.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 lb. Beef chorizo, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1.5 lbs. Chicken tenders, chopped small
  • 1 avocado, halved, skinned, and cut into small pieces
  • Handful grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


1. Heat medium size pan over medium heat with half the oil. Add 1/4 of the chopped onion, season with salt and pepper, and then cook for 1 minute. Add the rice, stirring to coat in the oil. Add 2.5 cups of the chicken stock and bring up to simmer. Cover the pot tightly, reduce heat to medium low, and cook rice for 15-17 minutes until tender. Fluff rice with a fork when it’s done.

2. While rice cooks, preheat large skillet over medium-high heat with remaining oil. Add chorizo and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining chopped onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and some salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions start to get tender. Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until chicken no longer has any pink and is cooked through.

3. Combine avocado with the tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and mix to combine.

4. Add remaining cup of chicken stock to the chorizo mixture and bring it up to a bubble. Once it simmers, add the black beans and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (at least a few minutes).

5. Assemble burrito: Put handful of cheese on the tortilla, add rice, and top with meat mixture, then add some of the avocado mixture. Wrap and enjoy!


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