Ham and Cheese Quiche

You know, I could get used to this empty nest thing.  It was kind of nice this weekend; we picked up our eggs as well as a double share of our CSA Saturday morning (we are flying to Vegas to visit Darling Daughter Thursday afternoon and won’t be able to get the last share of the season) and spent most of Saturday afternoon and early evening processing what will freeze/can/keep well.

Sunday we did a whole lot of nothing, if you can count watching movies and television (we started Orange is the New Black on Netflix) and crocheting “nothing.”  I did make us a late brunch, which consisted of the last watermelon of the season (“G always tells me, ‘No seeds in my watermelon, Meema!'” “That’s because Papa hasn’t taught him how to spit them yet”), zucchini fritters with homemade ketchup, and this recipe.

Not the most innovative meal I’ve ever made, but the quiche?  She is delicious.  And pretty darn easy to boot – what more could you ask for?

This has a ton of dairy in it – I used vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk with a great deal of the cream in it (which is why the recipe calls for half and half) and some beautiful aged, raw milk cheddar.  My sinuses weren’t happy about it later, but it was well worth it.  You can, of course, leave out the cheese and substitute full-fat coconut milk and it will still be quite good, as well as Whole30 compliant if your ham has no added sugars or nitrates.

Ham and Cheese Quiche. Ham and cheese are a perfect combination, especially paired with onions, leeks, peppers and made into a delicious, crustless quiche!

Click the image to enlarge

Ham and Cheese Quiche
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cubed cooked ham
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 10″ deep dish pie plate.
  2. Melt the ghee or butter in a large sauté pan over medium low heat and cook the onion and leek until soft and fragrant; stir in the bell pepper and ham. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt and pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Spread the onion and ham mixture over the bottom of the buttered pie plate and scatter the cheese evenly over the top. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie plate and carefully transfer to the oven (the dish will be very full).
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned on top and a knife inserted in the center of the quiche comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 348 calories, 26.6g total fat, 251.6mg cholesterol, 1039.4mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 9.1g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 2.6g sugar, 18.2g protein

Kale and Walnut Pesto

I’m back.

It was a great, if very busy, week between the graduation and birthday celebrations.  I did a great deal of cooking, but little of it documented – I simply didn’t have the time.  That’s over, however, and this week I’m back on schedule.

The farmers markets are in full swing, we’ve begun to receive our CSA shares and our vegetable gardens are going like gangbusters, which can only mean one thing:  we are drowning in vegetables.  Right now, I have 3 different kinds of kale in my refrigerator, spinach, garlic scapes, several different kinds of lettuce, broccoli rabe and at least a quart of strawberries – most of which will make appearances in my recipes this week.

Here’s the first of those recipes, which makes really nice use of kale.  I’m not much of a pesto person; in fact, I’d never made it before.  I’m not sure why, because it is ridiculously easy and this recipe, while kind of unusual, is just delicious – bright and lively and extremely flavorful.  So much so that a little bit goes a very long way – a serving is about 2 tablespoons.

I wouldn’t recommend this with fish; it will simply overwhelm it.  It was great on grilled chicken, though, and if you’re so inclined, it would be marvelous on a good, hearty pasta.

If you’re not a fan of garlic, I’d reduce it to one smallish-sized clove.  Also, don’t leave out the lemon juice; it really complements the heartiness of the kale and walnuts, and gives the dish some much-needed brightness.

Kale and Walnut Pesto.  Put a seasonal spin on a classic condiment!

Click photo to enlarge

Kale and Walnut Pesto
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • [i]makes about 2 cups[/i]
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 ounces kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the walnuts, lemon juice, kale, garlic and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until well combined. With the food processor running, add the olive oil, pouring in a thin, steady stream.
  2. When the ingredients are thoroughly combined, transfer the pesto to a bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 93 calories, 8.9g total fat, 2.8mg cholesterol, 54.1mg sodium, 78.9mg potassium, 2.1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 2g protein

Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Happy Monday, everyone – I hope your weekend was nice.  Ours was; the weather was gorgeous and Sunday we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a couple of Beloved’s Killer Margaritas while we tried not to laugh at The G Man when he called everyone “butt-head.”  Ah, 3-year-olds…they’ve gotten to the point where they realize they can shock people (or make them laugh) with what they say.

It’s funny when you’re the grandparent.

Sunday is also usually my “brunch” day, and I was at a bit of a loss this weekend.  Then I ran across a picture over at Foodgawker depicting a version of this recipe and said, “That’s it!  We’re having those for Sunday brunch!”

I have to tell you, as far as Beloved was concerned, this was a huge hit – he loved them.  I must admit, they were pretty darn good and they weren’t that difficult at all – it’s just sausage, scrambled eggs and baked sweet potatoes with a little cheese.  And really, the cheese is optional so if you’re avoiding dairy it’s really no big deal.

The recipe calls for regular breakfast sausage, but it would be great with a good hot Italian sausage or even a Mexican chorizo, and it’s perfectly suited for whatever else you might want to stir in; it’s a wonderfully versatile recipe.

Leave out the cheese and it’s Whole30 compliant, too.

Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. All of your favorite breakfast foods stuffed in a delicious, nutritious sweet potato!

Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and pat them dry. Poke several holes in the surface with the tip of a sharp knife and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they give a little when gently squeezed. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  3. While the potatoes are baking, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink in the center. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and discard all but a tablespoon or two of the fat.
  4. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium low. Whisk the eggs in a bowl; cook in the fat from the sausage until softly scrambled and fluffy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl, reserving the skins; lightly season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the sausage, scrambled eggs and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese until well-mixed. Spoon the mixture back into the reserved sweet potato skins and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.
  6. Return to the oven and bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are heated through.
  7. Serve with salsa, if desired.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 414 calories, 29.2g total fat, 256.5mg cholesterol, 642.8mg sodium, 456.4mg potassium, 13.8g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 3.1g sugar, 22.9g protein

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork

This is one of those recipes I sorta pulled out of my, um, refrigerator.

We’ve been so very, very busy with work this week and I’d taken a small pork shoulder roast out of the freezer with the intention of putting in the crock pot Monday morning for barbecue pulled pork that evening.  Insomnia and our morning schedule conspired against me and I forgot all about the roast and the crock pot.  I was kicking myself over it when Beloved suggested I throw it in the pressure cooker.

That made sense, so I did.  Then I started a quick version of my Maple Barbecue Sauce and wondered what the heck I was going to serve it all with.  Well, The Young One would eat barbecue pork-stuffed baked potatoes every day of the week if I made them, but I was more in the mood for something like…soup.  So I compromised and made baked potato soup.  Then I piled the pork in the middle of the soup, topped it with bacon and cheese and called it good.

Actually, it was better than good – it was incredibly, amazingly delicious.  The Young One, who tends to be lukewarm about soup, and Beloved, who tends to be lukewarm about white potatoes, both inhaled this, then went back for seconds and inhaled those, too.  It was declared “the best thing you’ve ever made, Mom!” and Beloved didn’t really say anything because he was too busy eating it.

I have to admit – I really liked it too.  So much so that I ate the little that was left for breakfast the next morning.

The list of ingredients and instructions are long, but it really was simple and came together in just over an hour.  Of course, if you have leftover barbecue pulled pork, it will come together in about 20 minutes, since all you’d have to do is make the soup and the microwave really comes in handy in that regard; I’m of the opinion that if you have a tool, you should use it.  Mostly we use it to heat up leftovers, so it’s nice when I can use it for a more “legitimate” purpose.

This would be good with just about any meat that is chopped and mixed with a delicious barbecue sauce, so if you don’t do pork, try it with chicken thighs.

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork.  All of the goodness of a BBQ pork stuffed baked potato in a comforting soup.

Baked Potato Soup with BBQ Pork
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Pork
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder or picnic roast
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Soup
  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces bacon, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.
  2. Rub the pork shoulder with the salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice. Heat the reserved bacon fat in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat and brown the pork shoulder on all sides. Add the chicken stock, tamari and onion to the shoulder.
  3. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a large, heavy sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened into a sauce, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Scrub the potatoes well and prick them all over with the tip of a knife. Microwave them for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft and cooked through, turning the potatoes every 2 minutes.
  6. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out of three of the halves into a large saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low; add the milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Stir in the flesh from the remaining potato half; season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  7. Remove the pork shoulder from the pressure cooker and trim away any excess fat if necessary. Using two forks, shred the meat and transfer to a large bowl with the barbecue sauce, mixing it well.
  8. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and carefully mound the barbecue pork in the center of each. Top with the cheese and bacon and serve immediately.
  9. Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 20.6g total fat, 100.1mg cholesterol, 1404.3mg sodium, 1237.3mg potassium, 45.4g carbohydrates, 2.9g fiber, 25.8g sugar, 34.3g protein

Pizza Sauce

It’s Monday.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

(Really…it’s all I can say – menopause has stolen my brain this morning.)

Anyhoo.

Why are you posting a recipe for pizza sauce, Jan? you may be asking.  Could it be that you made pizza this weekend?

Well…maybe.  You’ll just have to wait and see, now won’t you?

Why did you make pizza sauce when you can buy it in a jar? might be your next question, to which I respond:  Really?  There are all of two brands of bottled pizza sauce at our local grocery store and the second ingredient on both of them, right after tomato sauce, is sugar.  Well, the name-brand one actually lists high fructose corn syrup – the organic brand lists organic cane sugar (at least it is free from GMOs).

To heck with that, I also say.

This was a very off-the-cuff preparation – I just started throwing things in a pan and half an hour later I had a surprisingly tasty pizza sauce.  My only regret is that my herb garden is still dormant (although both the thyme and sage are showing signs of life) and I had to depend on dried herbs – fresh would have taken it over the top from “surprisingly tasty” to “should be its own food group.”

Plus, it’s just drop-dead easy – no chopping required – ready in 30 minutes, and costs less than that jar from the grocery store that is full of sugar.  That’s a win in my book.

Note:  My sauce had a rather “rustic” texture; I’m not sure if it was due to the dehydrated onion or the tomato sauce I used was some I’d canned last summer.  Whatever the reason, I liked it, but if you want a smooth sauce, just blitz it with an immersion blender.

This will thinly sauce one 10″ – 12″ pizza, which is fine for me – I don’t like a lot of sauce (or cheese) on my pizza.  If you do, you can easily double the recipe.

Pizza Sauce - Good sauce is essential to great pizza, and a great homemade sauce is quick and easy!

Pizza Sauce
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • [i]makes about 1 1/4 cups[/i]
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or other hard Italian cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool; season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Discard bay leaf before using.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 77 calories, 1.3g total fat, 3.7mg cholesterol, 410.1mg sodium, 508.8mg potassium, 13.5g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 7g sugar, 3.2g protein