Monday, April 13, 2015

Quiche Lorraine

Last year when I invited my mom to our house for Easter and told her I was thinking about serving quiche, she nearly had a heart attack!  Growing up, I never liked quiche and adamantly refused to eat it on the (many) occasions my mom served it.  Imagine Mom's surprise when I told her I was going to completely change my typical East brunch menu to feature a dish I claimed to hate.  My mom had a great recipe at her house, but since that was three hours away, we combined was she could recall from the recipe with a basic quiche from Julia Child.  The result was a hit.  And I ate two helpings!  Now, this quiche is becoming an Easter tradition!

1 9-inch piecrust, frozen or homemade
6 strips bacon
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place piecrust in a pie pan and bake 5 minutes.  Leave the oven on.

Chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces.  Cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from skillet and let drain on a paper-towel lined plate.  Pour off all but two tablespoons bacon drippings remaining in skillet.  Saute onion in drippings until translucent.

When the piecrust is done, layer the bacon, onion, and cheeses over the partly baked pie crust.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Pour over the cheese mixture in the pie crust.

Bake the quiche for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350, and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes longer.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Strawberry Sparkler

Easter Brunch is just one of those meals that requires a special cocktail.  I wanted something fun and refreshing, but also something colorful, like an Easter Egg this year.  I'm not a huge fan of champagne, but the sparkly stuff does lend itself well to brunch beverages.  So, I went rooting around in my fridge, did a little internet searching for inspiration, and came up with this lovely drink!  It reminded me of a pink tulip and tasted just like Springtime!  This is the perfect signature cocktail for a bridal shower, spring luncheon, or for no reason at all!  Enjoy...and Happy Easter!

2 cups hulled strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1 bottle chilled Prosecco or other dry sparkling wine
Mint sprigs, whole strawberries, and orange slices for garnish

In a blender, puree strawberries and orange juice until smooth. In a pitcher, combine strawberry puree and prosecco.  Stir gently. Serve garnished with sprigs of mint and additional whole strawberries and orange slices.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

This Month: Easter Brunch

It seems as though I've hosted Easter the last couple of years.  However, this year was just the four of us.  With two little guys, Easter is exciting.  This year, since my husband was out of town (with the kids) during Holy Week and I was working, it was a tad bit hectic and I had to make some concessions when it came to normal traditions.  The timing simply didn't work out...and I was too exhausted...to dye Easter Eggs and put out carrots for the Bunny Saturday night.  Instead, I bought plastic eggs and filled them with chocolates while the boys were out of town.  I prepped brunch the night before Easter too, and we went to early Mass (hello 7:00!) instead of the normal time so I could max out on "relaxing" on my one day off in a nine-day period.  I repeated my brunch menu from last year, and it was a hit once again!  I set the table with butter yellow, sky blue, cream, and taupe linens and dishes.  The colors just say "Spring" to me, and of course I love my bunny plates!  Two $6 bunches of tulips in dollar vases and my table was complete!


Lemon-Poppyseed Scones


Mixed Berry Salad


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St Patrick's Day

You all know by now that I'm a Notre Dame alum proud of her Irish heritage.  So of course St. Patty's Day is a celebration in my family!  My dad loved Corned Beef and Cabbage, but I'm just not a fan, so I normally make something different.  This year was especially fun because with two toddlers, we got to have a Leprechaun Hunt in our house, and when everyone arrived home from school and work, we found a big mess left by our little prankster...and some of his treasure!  It looked like he ran off in a hurry, so perhaps we scared him off when we opened the garage door!  So, we enjoyed a festive Irish meal with some of our leprechaun's abandoned treasure (chocolate "golden" coins) for dessert.  I hope you love this meal as much as we did!  Slainte!


Irish Soda Bread
Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake


Irish Stew

Having graduated from Notre Dame and having some Irish heritage in my family roots, St Patrick's Day is cause for celebration in my house.  Normally I whip up a Shepherd's Pie, but this year I wanted to do something a little bit different.  I'm not a big fan of corned beef and cabbage, and I remember a fabulous Irish Stew that I had in Cork when I visited Ireland years ago.  This year I did some research and found this fabulous recipe.  My husband gobbled up the leftovers before I could holler "Blarney!" so I guess I'll just have to make it again!!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 onion, coarsely chopped 
3 carrots, coarsely chopped 
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot, and brown the meat, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides. Sprinkle with flour, and stir lightly to coat with flour. Stir in onion, carrots, dark beer, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cover.

Place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven, and cook until the beef is very tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 45 minutes.

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.

Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mash the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.

To serve, place a scoop of colcannon onto a plate, make a hollow, and fill with braised beef stew.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Colcannon

3 slices bacon
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk, warmed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.

Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mash the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Parmesan Steak Fries

I've tried making French fries before.  While tasty, they didn't have the right crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside texture for my liking.  And, I'll be honest, when it comes to fries, I tend to prefer the smaller shoestring variety than large steakhouse styles.  Until I made these.  Not only are they super easy, but they're incredibly versatile.  There are endless ways to change the flavors and seasonings to fit just about any meal.  And let's face it, when you're serving a steak dinner, big wedges of potato are a whole lot more sophisticated than a side of fries!  Serve these with your favorite dipping sauce or a dollop of flavored butter....or eat them plain.  The world is your oyster; enjoy!

3 large egg whites
3 baking potatoes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg whites into a shallow dish.  Wash the potatoes and cut each into 6 long spears.  Add to the egg whites and turn to coat.  Place the parmesan in a separate shallow dish.

One at a time, remove the potato spears from the egg whites, allowing the excess to drip off.  Roll the spear in the parmesan, coating each spear evenly on all sides.  Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake, without turning, until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living.