Holiday Par-TAY 2010

No Fight Back Friday post, I’m afraid – we are having our annual employee holiday party tomorrow, which we host in our home.  So Beloved and I are working from home today (not a bad idea, as it is snowing quite hard outside) between cleaning the house and preparing food.

There was no struggle to decide what to serve this year; Beloved made an executive decision that besides the apple pie I bake for the party each year (one of our co-workers is a huge apple pie fan and I will send whatever is left home with him), rolls to make sandwiches and one of those huge tins that contains three types of popcorn, everything will be more or less on our diet, although I will be generous with the Splenda in a couple of dishes (cocktail meatballs and a sugar-free cheesecake).  I debated on whether or not to buy crackers for the spreads I’ll be serving – pimento cheese and the strawberry cheese ring (using sugar free strawberry preserves) – but decided to use sliced raw vegetables instead.

Anyhoo, this is what I’m serving:

  • Mixed Nuts
  • Spiced Nuts
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Meat and cheese platters with rolls and condiments for anyone who wants a sandwich
  • Crudité
  • Vegetable dip
  • Pimento Cheese
  • Strawberry cheese ring
  • Cocktail meatballs
  • Bacon-stuffed cherry tomatoes
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Apple Pie
  • Sugar-free Bavarian Apple Cheesecake

Not a bad little spread…but I better get on the ball, to say nothing of the bathrooms – why do we only look at our house when we’re having company?  Sometimes I think the only reason we have parties is so the house gets a truly good cleaning.

Have a lovely Friday, y’all, and an even better weekend.

Roasted Red Pepper and Poblano Quiche

I am busy, busy, busy today, but here’s a recipe for the crustless quiche I made for brunch yesterday morning, with some sausage from Wilbur and pan-fried sweet potatoes.  If you want to make it with a crust, you can find the instructions for it here.

Have a lovely Monday, y’all.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Poblano Quiche

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Poblano Quiche

serves 6

1 medium poblano pepper

1 medium red bell pepper

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and veins.  Place them, cut side down, on a shallow, foil-lined baking pan.  Roast them directly under the broiler of the oven until charred;  wrap them in paper towels, then seal them in plastic storage bags and let them sweat at least 10 minutes.

While the peppers are sweating, melt the butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the peppers from the plastic and paper towels, then peel, dice and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt pepper and cumin.

Spread the peppers and onion in the bottom of a well-buttered deep-dish pie plate, then sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Gently pour the egg mixture over all – it should come up nearly to the top of the pie plate. Carefully place the quiche in the top half of the oven.

Bake at 375º F until the quiche is browned and set, 35 – 45 minutes. Let it rest at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Poblano Quiche on Foodista

Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quiche

An update:  I’m feeling better.  As of this writing, Sunday night, I’m able to go 8 hours before taking any pain medication (it had been at 6 hour intervals like clockwork since the tonsillectomy).  I’m down 7 pounds – there had to be something good in all of this – and I’ll be back in the office today, even if I go home early.  And I may; it’s still only been 6 days, and I get pooped pretty easily.

I’m also eating.  Not a lot – I’ve been tracking what I eat and I’m only taking in about 700 calories a day (there’s the 7 pounds), but it’s better than ice water and beef broth.  Since I’m stuck with soft foods, I’m eating things that I normally don’t; mashed potatoes, grits – I even had a pancake at 2 a.m. Saturday (it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be).  Sunday morning, though, the last thing I wanted was something bland and since I was feeling pretty good, I whipped this up.

I made the quiche crustless, since I couldn’t – and wouldn’t normally – eat it.  If you want my recipe for a quiche crust, go here.  Nor did I take the picture; I wasn’t up to hauling out the photography equipment and doing a place-setting.  But it felt awfully good to cook something, especially something that was so delicious.  I threw the onion in the food processor and chopped it finely before caramelizing it and sliced the sweet potato very thinly with a mandolin before parboiling, but that was just to make sure everything in the quiche was a soft enough consistency and small enough size for my poor sore throat – next time I will probably just thinly slice the onion and cube the sweet potato.

Yup, I’ll make this again – it tasted just wonderful, and had just enough texture to keep it interesting without being too hard to eat.  In fact, it was so good I had two servings…and it only took me about half an hour to eat them.

Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quiche

serves 6

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

Pinch of sugar

1 large sweet potato, about 1 pound, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

Preheat the oven to 375º F; generously butter a deep dish pie plate.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and brown, about 10 minutes.  Do not let it burn.  Add the pinch of sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 2 – 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil; add the sliced sweet potato.  Return to a boil and cook for three minutes.  Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, basil, salt and pepper.  Overlapping slightly, layer the bottom of the pie plate with half the sweet potato slices.  Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the slices, then layer with the remaining sweet potato.  Pour the egg mixture over the top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Just Some Friday Randomness

Random Drops of WaterBecause I got nothin’ else.

I woke up this morning with my right hand swollen as all get out, unable to move my thumb at all.  My arthritis strikes again!  And leaves me wondering what the hell I did in the middle of the night to bring this on.  I’ve spent all morning wrapping, unwrapping and re-wrapping my hand in an Ace bandage – the bandage helps with the pain (somewhat), but I can’t type with the damn thing on and it makes my fingers fall asleep after awhile.  This is NO fun and I wonder how my girl Twenty Four at Heart manages with her entire right arm being out of commission.

Of course, there’s an upside to everything:  it’s keeping me from compulsively playing with this promotional Rubik’s Cube keychain one of our business partners gave everyone in the company.  (It has a small “made in China” sticker on it in the corner…I guess I won’t be chewing on it, either.)

Speaking of the middle of the night, I had this bizarre dream where someone was trying to give me a large, marquis-shaped, violet-tinged diamond to replace the one in my wedding set.  It was gorgeous.

Beloved, dear, I think my subconcious is talking to you.

Alert the media – I have no idea what I’m making for dinner tonight.  Just that it will include squash.  And maybe carrots and celery.  And rice.  Chicken?  Water chestnuts? Ginger?  Oh, and onions (sorry about that, Tricia!).

Okay, I’m dragging out the wok and making a stir fry.  I’m glad that’s settled.

My search terms have been mildly interesting this month – as usual, I get a lot of visits from people looking for recipes, but over 120 hits for “scalloped potatoes” alone?  Damn, I never knew the dish was that popular.  And “banana bread” wasn’t far behind it.  (I also got a lovely lecture from someone about my White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe, informing me that white chocolate is not real chocolate.  Hey, I didn’t name the stuff – I just use it to make cake frosting.)

Hmmm – I have a surplus of baby carrots (they were on sale last weekend), and some raisins.  And if I’m not mistaken, some Nestle’s White Morsels.  All I need is some pineapple…oh, I bet we’ll be eatin’ carrot cake before the weekend is up.  (Note:  if you ever decide to make the carrot cake, use the white chocolate cream cheese buttercream to frost it; it’s much better than the icing included with the actual carrot cake recipe.)

Where was I?  Oh, yes – search terms.  My favorite one this month has got to be this:

“Is there a disorder that makes you creampie a lot?”

I have no idea what that means, but it cracks me up every time I see it.

One last thing, you bunch of crazies dear readers – yesterday’s post on barbecue got Beloved searching the interwebz frantically for a new smoker/grill.  He’s decided on The Big Green Egg.

The thing ain’t cheap.

Which is not to say we can’t afford one, because we can, but I’ll have to pay for it with the money I’ve been saving for the solid oak, Amish-made bookshelves he’s been lusting after for the living room.   I’ve told him this, and he’s now waffling back and forth.  (He stares at our cheap and not necessarily matching present bookshelves and goes, “Hmmmmm” and then turns around and tells me that since The Egg is green, it will match the outside of the house.)

I believe he needs some help deciding, so I’m taking a poll:

Solid oak, Amish-made bookshelves that will look absolutely fab with our vaulted, cedar ceiling, or a 200 lb. ceramic smoker/grill that will hold a 20 lb. turkey?  Oh, and that matches the outside of the house?

Of Grits and Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate GravyThis post isn’t really about grits; I just liked the way that sounded as a title.  I suppose I can throw in a gratuitous aside about how I love ’em and can’t eat ’em without thinking about Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, when he goes off on a tangent that includes the phrase, “The entire grit-eating world.”  Which includes me.

So.

Now that I’ve gotten my movie reference for this post out of the way (and notice how I never even brought up my misgivings about Marisa Tomei and her Oscar), let’s move on to chocolate gravy, shall we?  Because, yes, it is a very real thing.  Apparently a purely Southern thing, too, although I have to admit that I’d never heard of it until recently.  I was saved the humiliation of excommunication from The Society of All Things Southern, however, by this post from BooMama, who is one of the most hysterically funny bloggers on the interwebz, in my not-so-humble opinion.  Since she is also just about the most Southern blogger I’ve encountered on the interwebz, I feel slightly better about my ignorance of what is apparently a Southern Culinary Tradition.

I must say that I am further mollified by the fact there is no Wikipedia entry for it.

When I first heard of chocolate gravy, my first reaction was, “Ewwwwwww!” for I had an immediate vision of my beloved cream gravy with a hunk of bittersweet – or worse yet, unsweetened – baking chocolate thrown in.  What it really is, though, is more of a chocolate sauce made of sugar, cocoa, flour, milk and/or water with possibly a touch of butter and vanilla, depending on who’s recipe you’re using.  These crazy, wonderful Southerners then pour it over biscuits and eat it for breakfast.

Oh, I am SO all over that – we’re having it for brunch this Sunday.  The Young One won’t know what hit him, for if there’s one thing he loves more than biscuits, it’s chocolate, and it goes without saying that I am not about to pass up an excuse to legitimately eat chocolate for breakfast.  Oh, no.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.