A marathon of a brunch

10-10-10. The Chicago Marathon.

While thousands of people were busy running 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago, I sat back, relaxed and had mimosas and bunch on my patio. Ok, so I got up and ran 4 miles before making brunch…and got passed by the Kenyan’s twice.

On the menu was:

I’m going to have to ATTEMPT to do the scones justice and give them their very own post. For today, you’ll have to settle for the quiche and candied bacon.

Artichoke quiche taken from weightwatchers.com:

Ingredients

1 spray(s) cooking spray
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion(s), red, thinly sliced
13 3/4 oz canned artichoke hearts, without oil
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 cup(s) regular soy milk
2 large egg(s), lightly beaten
2 large egg white(s), lightly beaten
3 oz regular soy cheese, grated mozzarella variety, divided (about 3/4 cup)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Boil 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and tarragon. Cook until artichokes are heated through, about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together milk, eggs, egg whites, 1/2 cup of cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Pour into prepared pie plate. Scatter onion mixture evenly over egg mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
  • To bake quiche, create a water bath: Set a large sheet pan with sides on a flat surface. Place pie plate on sheet pan. Pour hot water around pie plate so it goes 1/2 inch up sides of pie plate (do not get water on quiche). Carefully lift sheet pan to prevent splattering water and place in oven. Bake in water bath until quiche is set in center, about 45 minutes.
  • To remove pie plate from water bath, slide 2 large spatulas under pie plate and remove pie plate from oven (make sure to wear oven mitts). Leave sheet pan in oven so water can cool before removing pan from oven.
  • Turn oven to broil. Broil quiche 3 inches from heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into 8 pieces.

Accidentally candied bacon

I’m not sure exactly what I was trying to do with this bacon but it turned out pretty good. I just knew that I didn’t want bacon sitting around and I might as well have company help me consume it. Much healthier to split a package of bacon up amongst friends than to consume it all by oneself.

My initial plan was to pop the bacon in the oven(still on 350F for the quiche) with some freshly cracked pepper on it and a nice dusting of brown sugar. Doesn’t that sound tasty? Well, I went to the cupboard only to discover that I was out of brown sugar. I did find some maple syrup though. So, I layed the bacon out on a tray, generously cracked fresh black pepper over it and gave it a nice covering of maple syrup.

I popped it in the oven and headed out to the patio to enjoy a mimosa and start in on the brunch foods. I got a little distracted by watching the marathoners and forgot that my bacon was in the oven all together.

The maple syrup may have gotten slightly over-cooked and became more of a toffee like substance that turned in to almost candied bacon when it started to cool. The final consensus: surprisingly tasty and all the bacon was consumed. What a successful mistake!

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Hot pumpkin oats

I am the queen of quick/on the go breakfasts. I have made slow cooker oatmeal, so that I have hot oatmeal upon awakening. I have eaten my fair share of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I embraced the fall and added pumpkin to my yogurt. And when my yogurt stash ran out and I still had some pumpkin left, I made pumpkin steel-cut oatmeal.

After learning MoreCheeseMoreChocolate’s trick for cutting down on oatmeal’s cooking time, I’ve been enjoying a lot more steel-cut oats. MCMC taught me to soak my oats overnight so that they absorb the water and soften. I just microwave it in the morning to make it hot and it tastes perfect. So, back to the too much pumpkin problem…I simply added it to my oatmeal when I heated it up and sprinkled it with some cinnamon and nutmeg. It looks a little like baby food but smells and tastes like autumn . Topping it off with some pecans or walnuts might just make it perfect.

It’s not pasta. Tricky fruit!

Oh, spaghetti squash. What an amazing vegetable(it’s technically a fruit). Once cooked and a fork is run through it, it’s camouflaged as pasta. Why major Italian chains haven’t capitalized on this and made millions off of a healthy alternative, I’ll never know.

All I know, is that I’ve fallen in love with it. One cup of the stuff comes in at 42 calories, 0g fat and 2g fiber and is a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Vitamin C. Top it off with some lycopene-loaded, heart healthy marinara and you’ve got yourself good health on a plate.

It’s insanely easy, too. Preheat your oven to 450F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out and discard the strings and seeds. Place halves face down in a 9×13 cake pan. Pour 1/4c water in the pan, around the halves. Bake about 45 minutes or until outside of shell is starting to lightly brown.

Once cooled slightly, flip over and shred with a fork.

Places “noodles” in a bowl and top with marinara.

Twirl with your fork and enjoy just like the real deal, but without inducing a carb coma.

Easy butternut squash

I remember my mom making acorn squash as a kid and hating it. Ok, I don’t remember actually ever trying it, but I just knew I hated it. That memory led me to 20-some years of resistance to sweet potatoes and most squash.

A good deal(99 cents a pound for organic squash) and some curiosity led me to recently purchase a butternut squash and a spaghetti squash(upcoming post). This purchase also made me discover that I love squash.

Most recipes I found for butternut squash called for peeling and cubing it or making it into a soup. By the time I got around to cooking it,  I didn’t have the patience to do either. I decided to take matters into my own hands, do things my way and cross my fingers that they didn’t turn out to be a complete disaster.

I started by preheating the oven to 450F. I cut the butternut squash in half and made criss-cross scores in the meaty part of the squash with a knife. Dig out the small amount of strings and seeds; discard. Then, place the squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. I sprinkled the squash with salt and pepper then put a decent amount of brown sugar on the top.

I popped those suckers into the oven for about 45 minutes or until fork tender all the way through.

We ate them with a spoon straight out of their skin as a very hefty side dish. Two people could easily split a half of a half. They were the perfect combination of sweet with hints of peppery goodness. Brian exclaimed, “It tastes like candy!” on his first bite. If that doesn’t convince someone to eat a vegetable, I don’t know what will.

Pumpkin delight

Sorry for the long delay in new posts. I have been very busy with work and had an unexpected quick trip to Iowa. The trip probably would have went faster had we not had to spend so long at the reststop looking for a lid for my vending machine coffee. Jeremiah thought it might have gotten stuck in the machine…

 

Alas, no luck. I dumped out half of the coffee in the parking lot so it wouldn’t spill in the car and kept on truckin’.

You’ve probably been waking up everyday since I last posted and have been wondering what I’m eating for breakfast. If that’s the case, worry no more, I’m going to tell you.

I call it creamy pumpkin delight.

I simply take fat-free vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt(my favorite) and add about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of pure pumpkin to it.

It tastes like creamy pumpkin pie. If you want to make it even healthier, you can mix in other things to make it even more tasty. I think my favorite thing to mix it with so far is Raisin Bran. It reminds me of pumpkin raisin bread.

Melted leeks and poached disappointment

I had been excited about making this recipe for a long time. I had found it this summer and stuck it away waiting to make it for one of the first chilly nights, causing my expectations to rise. Well, they rose and they rose and I thought about this recipe day after day. One day, the temperature dropped and so did my love for this recipe. I had already decided it was a keeper and would be great to make as a starter for dinner parties. I was wrong.

These are the quantities per person:

  • 1/3 cup melted leeks(about 2 cups uncooked) 
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup simmering chicken stock
  • a handful of Parmesan or other hard cheese, grated as finely as possible (about 1/2 oz)
  • 1 large egg( and a tsp or 2 of vinegar to poach)
  • 2 Tbs butter

Use mostly white part and a little bit of green part of leeks. Cut in half lengthwise and wash well to get grit out. Slice into thin(about 1/8in) semi-circles. Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add leeks and a table-spoon or two of water. Simmer until water is almost all evaporated, adding more as needed to soften the leeks. I cut the amount of butter in half to one tablespoon to save on fat and calories. I don’t think this really affected the overall outcome at all. Once water evaporated and leeks softened, put 1/3 cup of the melted leeks into the bottom of a soup bowl.

While you are cooking the leeks, heat water on the stove top to cook quinoa according to directions on the box. When done and fluffed, put 1/2 cup of the quinoa on top of the leeks in each bowl.

In another pot, poach an egg. I have linked to you how to nicely poach an egg. I am terrible at poaching eggs and much like Julie in Julie and Julia, I really need to commit myself to the kitchen one day and go through a dozen eggs or two to perfect it. Take your beautifully poached egg and set it gently on top of the pile of melted leeks and quinoa you have placed in the bowl.

Also, simmer chicken stock in another pan on your stove top. This might be where I messed up. I happened to be at Brian’s when I was making this and he has limited cooking supplies. So instead of heating it up on the stove top, I simply microwaved the stock to warm it. Well, while the broth is simmering you are to slowly whisk in the 1/2 ounce of parmesan. I pulled the stock out of the microwave and attempted to do this and my parm clumped together and made a melty parm ball in the broth(which you can see sitting on top of the egg). Once simmered and whisked, slowly pour around your mountain of leeks, quinoa and egg.

There, now you have melted leeks, quinoa and poached egg in Parmesan broth. Taste it. It tasted buttery and salty to me. Tasty but not amazing like I thought it was going to be. It would be delicious when I was sick and salty was the only thing I could taste. Quite honestly, when I’m sick enough that all I want to eat is salty soup, I won’t be feeling well enough to stand in the kitchen to make this.

Fortunately, we had gone to the farmer’s market that morning and bought really delicious multi-grain bread. I spread some herbed goat cheese and sprinkled a little extra parmesan on it and broiled it in the oven for a few minutes. Toasted cheesy bread can save any meal!

Roasted vegetables

Sometimes I get a little overzealous in the produce section. If I was cooking for a family of 4 or 6, the amount of produce I buy would be perfectly acceptable. But really, I buy for me…and sometimes cook for Brian.

These are the vegetables I bought to be the side dish for our turkey burgers last night.

Completely acceptable for 2 people, right? I ended up not even using the butternut squash at all. I used carrots, parsnips, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, a sweet onion and red potatoes. I also tossed in a few cloves of garlic.

For comforting roasted vegetables, heat your oven up to 400F, wash and clean all of your vegetables as necessary. Take the skins off of your potatoes if you prefer. I always leave mine on for the added nutrients. Cut all of your vegetables into about 1in pieces so they cook evenly. Toss vegetables with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you desire. Place in single lay on pans or trays, like so:

 

 Put pans in the oven for about an hour or until veggies are fork tender and starting to brown. Here are my veggies in the oven:

Just the the right amout of veggies for two…times three.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any after pictures, but they turned out great…thank goodness, because I’ll be eating them all week.  Brian had never had a parsnip before and loved them. I think they are a very under used and delicious veggie. So, if you haven’t ever given them a chance, go out on a limb and do. These roasted veggies are a great warm, healthy and comforting food to accompany all of your fall meals.

You call them garbanzo beans, I call them chickpeas.

Why buy it for $4 a tub when you can make it for about a buck? Seriously simple and delicious.

Grab a can of chickpeas. Open, drain and rinse. Dump them in your food processor. Throw in a clove or two of garlic. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of water(add a little towards the end as needed to adjust to preferred consistency). Add the juice of almost a whole lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. Notice that I was completely rebellious and didn’t add any tahini? Well, I refuse to buy a big tub of it when I only need a tablespoon. No one was any the wiser.

Chop away!

After it was processed to a nice consistency, Brian and I did a taste test. It was missing something. No, not tahini. It needed more of a kick. We could have added more garlic, but we wanted spice. I turned down the idea of crushed red peppers. So, what should we use? Secret ingredient….drum roll please…

WING SAUCE!!!

We ended up using about twice as much shown in the picture, but it made it perfect. And all the credit goes to Brian. This turned out to be a great appetizer to nosh on while I was roasting up veggies and preparing turkey burgers(post yet to come).

Look at that smooth and creamy consistency. I want some more now!