Sunday, December 23, 2012

...Tastiness - Spinach and Bacon Quiche

We're getting together with friends later today for brunch.  At 4:00.  Because B works nights and our friends are always happy to adjust plans so he can join us.  So, I whipped up some tasty quiches for us to enjoy.

This is a recipe I found when I did a brunch for H's 3rd birthday party - one week before L was born.  I needed something easy and delicious.

The things I love most about quiche:
          1 - It looks fancy.
          2 - They're relatively easy to make.
          3 - You can serve quiche hot, cold, or at room temperature, which makes it a perfect dish
               to take somewhere.

Unfortunately, I don't remember exactly where I found the recipe, so I can't give credit.  The quiche was a hit at the party then, and I hope it will be enjoyed today, too.

This is my first recipe post.  I hope to do more - especially this summer once we start receiving our CSA boxes.  I'm looking forward to trying new things with the veggies we get.  Anyway...I digress.  The quiche.

Bake the pie crusts for about 15 minutes @375

Fry the bacon.  Try to keep your hands from sneaking in and snacking.
I really just love bacon.

Drain all but about a tablespoon of bacon grease.
It sucks pouring hot things down the drain.  So do what I did. Hurry up and drink a can of beer.
Pour the grease into the empty.  That's right.  A can.
A can of Coors Banquet, in fact.  We're classy.
Saute the onions until translucent, then add the spinach.

Mix it with the bacon and put it in the pie.
See the can of Banquet bacon grease in the background?  Classy.

Grate some swiss cheese.  Do it.  Don't buy it already grated. That's powdery and gross. 

Sprinkle some swiss on the pies.

Mix this stuff.

Ladle the mixture slowly over the goodness already in the crust.
Top with more cheese.
I forgot to take a picture of that part.  It's my first time!

Bake it.
You might have noticed that there are 2 quiches pictured here.  That's because I made 2, duh.  I just doubled the recipe.  These do freeze really well (in a foil pie pan, of course), so if you're making one, you might as well go ahead and save yourself some time in the future and throw one in your freezer for later.  I'm taking both to our gathering today.  Now I wish I'd have made 3.

Here's the real recipe:

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

  • 9 inch pre-made pie shell
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded swiss cheese
  • 6 to 8 ounces spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  1. Pre-bake that pie shell.  I threw mine in the preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
  2. Cut the bacon into little pieces and cook it in a large skillet until it's pretty crispy.  Transfer it to a paper towel covered plate.
  3. Drain all but about a tablespoon or so of bacon grease.  Add the onions to the grease and saute until translucent - about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach to the skillet, and let wilt, stirring often.  This only takes a minute or two.  Toss the bacon back in with the veggies, then transfer the mixture into your pie shell.
  5. Spread 1/2 the cheese on the bacon-y goodness.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the 3 eggs.  Add the half-and-half, mustard, salt and pepper, and whisk well.
  7. Slowly ladle the egg mixture onto the now cheesy, bacon-y goodness.  
  8. Top with the rest of the cheese.
  9. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes.
  10. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Note:  You could easily make this without the bacon by just using a little olive oil to saute the spinach and onion.  But why would anyone omit bacon?  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

...Another Holiday Tradition

Santa Cookies

When my mom was growing up, her mom, Grandma Dorma, made Santa cookies.  It was a thing.  A big thing.  I don't remember the exact number or quite how the story goes, but when my Uncle Larry (who is not my uncle, but rather my mom's 1st cousin) and Grandma's bff Gertrude's son, Bob, were in Vietnam, Grandma made something insane like 82 dozen Santa cookies.  (This could be an unbelievably extreme exaggeration.  Sue me.  I can't remember what I did yesterday, let alone exactly how the story goes.  I just know it was an UNGODLY amount of cookies.)  They're no joke.  Roll-out sugar cookies (with lemon extract because frankly, we're lemon people) with chocolate chip eyes, a red hot mouth, and a coconut beard.  Back in the day, Grandma used to make a powdered sugar and milk frosting.  Then, after they had cooled and the frosting had hardened a bit, each cookie was individually wrapped in a fold-down top sandwich baggie.

Well, my mom (together with my grandma as long as she was able) continued this tradition with us growing up.  Grandma gave her "The" Santa cookie cutter.  I remember waiting at the end of the counter for the dough scraps to make my own cookies in the toaster oven that were covered in red hots and chocolate chips.  I made some pretty great cookie worms back in the day.  I also distinctly recall severe stomachaches from stuffing my face with as many chocolate chips and as much raw cookie dough as I could handle.  

One year, after she learned about the power of the Internet probably in 2001 or so, my mom found the original manufacturer of said cutter.  And they were going out of business.  Or maybe she was just feeling nostalgic.  Whatever.  So my mom bought a set for me and for each of my 3 female cousins so we are able to continue the tradition with our own children.  
Disregard dinner cooking in the background.
For a few years, I made them religiously.  And then I had kids.  Wasn't the point to do this with my children?  Yeah.  Well.  Maybe when they're older.  Luckily, my mom still makes them every year.  And every year, my brothers and I each receive a box of them in the mail.  And the boys get party mix, too.  This is a point of contention.  But she claims she doesn't send me party mix because she sees me.  I don't understand how this logic works.  
Yesterday, after H ate his lunch, B told him he could have a Santa cookie from Grana.  H was concerned that we wouldn't have enough to leave for Santa.  (Yep, another tradition.  A Santa cookie for Santa.)  After he made sure Santa would, in fact, be getting a Santa cookie, H set to work eating his cookie.  Then he started cracking up.  B asked him what was so funny.  

I don't like coconut, so mom sends ours with extra frosting for the beard. 
"Dad.  Santa's going to look at these cookies and say 'Hey! That's my face!'  He's really going to love coming to our house."  Yeah he will, H.  He sure will.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

...Some Favorite Traditions

"It's the holiday season...the holiday season...and doo doo doo... Santa Claus and uh-something something..."  The most wonderful time of the year?  Usually.  This year has felt a little strange without much cold weather and snow, but we're surviving and keeping up with our favorite holiday traditions.

I love Christmas Cards.  

Nowadays (is that really a word?) it seems that this is the only time of the year that I look forward to opening our mailbox.  H and L really love looking at their friends and family hanging in the doorway across from the dinner table.  It's amazing the kinds of discussions seeing the cards daily has sparked.

And this is light compared to most years! But I suppose it's still early.
Disregard the messy kitchen in the background.

Ugly Ornament Exchange

So this is a tradition I enjoy with one of my favorite groups of girls.  What seems like a lifetime ago, I worked in the world's gitchy-est Italian restaurant, where I met a group of ladies that have become a very important part of my life.  We set a yearly schedule of dates to get together once a month.  And there is never a sober girl left at the end of the outing dull moment.  Our December outing each year involves an ugly ornament exchange.  There's a lot of pressure to find just the perfect bauble for someone else to be embarrassed to hang on their tree.  But we were once again all successful.

The lovely gem I received from Kelly.
This ornament has it all: a monochromatic hummingbird suckling the gaudy flower, with a nipple stem on the back 
What I wore for girls' night - I could really use a better place to take outfit photos
Sweater: Loft, Jeans: Express, Shoes: Madden, Necklace: gift from Anne
Near Photobomb by naked H

Christkindlemarkt, Chicago

This tradition is one that B and I started when we were dating, and it is the one that we hope to continue for years to come with our kids.  Now, it is rumored that B and I are fans of German food and beer.  We try to eat said German food (read stuff our faces with schnitzels and sausages, potatoes and pretzels, and boot after boot of beer) as regularly as possible.  (This explains some of the whiny "I need to lose weight" posts.)  And we've made it a mission to raise our children to appreciate this delicious cuisine, as well.  

Each year at the Christkindlemarkt, we stuff our faces, drink Gluhwine, and add a new ornament to our collection. 
Our first Christkindlemarkt purchase in 2003: the Santa that tops our tree 
H goes to town on his own bratwurst (no hot dog this year!) with a side of potato pancakes 

Santaland at Macy's

I'm going to begin this part of the post by stating that I am NOT a fan of Macy's.  There. I said it. I loved Marshall Fields, and I just feel that Macy's is a major step down from my beloved Fields.  Their customer service is lacking, and is it really that hard to clean a washroom?  Okay.  I had to get that out of the way.

Part of our Christkindlemarkt tradition used to be to walk to the Marshall Fields on State Street to check out the windows.  Each year, the artists at Marshall Fields would tell a different story or fairy tale in their window displays as you walked from the north end of the block toward the south.  This is another wonderful aspect of Marshall Fields that vanished.  Sure, they still decorate the windows.  But it's just NOT the same.  And some traditions are hard to break, and so we still walk the windows at Macy's even though B and I know that we're bound to be disappointed.

It's now worth it because I must say that the Macy's on State Street does Santa well.  As you wind your way past the toy department (well played, marketing department) and through the children's department (another nice move), you end up in Santaland.  There's a lot of cuteness to keep the kiddos entertained while waiting to see the big man: snowmen singing ("Mom! Frosty didn't have a carrot nose! Who is this snowman?"), animals hibernating in a house that dance when you push a button, a telescope to see Santa, and so much more.  Unfortunately, Santaland doesn't come with a guarantee that your kid won't freak out upon laying eyes on the big man, himself.
Luckily H was composed enough to tell Santa what both of them want for Christmas. 
And the tree in the Walnut Room is always beautiful.
L and H - mesmerized
My favorites by the tree
Thanks for dressing up today, B!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

...4 Useful Limbs

This was not the post I was thinking of this morning when I took this picture.  I imagined coming home from work and incorporating this photo into a "Getting Dressed: Casual Thursday" kind of a post.  But I'm pretty stoked to not just be writing about what I wore to work today.
Striped top: Target, Chambray shirt: Old Navy,
Green skinnies: Limited, Boots: really old and I don't remember.
Note: There are no crutches featured in this photo!
That's right.  I'm back - all ambulatory again.  Like, I can use my arms independently from my legs.  I can carry things (like my favorite li'l lady).  Finally!  The last 400,000 nearly 4 weeks have been a little rough.  I'm not going to lie, for the first two weeks, I really didn't mind hanging out on the couch, as I was in a lot of pain and standing up at all was pretty painful and difficult.  But then it just got annoying.  Watching B do EVERYTHING around the house made me feel awful, as I just wanted to help.  I never thought I'd say that having someone wait on me would get old.

So...tonight I was able to actually make dinner for my family - something I haven't done in almost a month.  And it felt pretty good.  It helped that I had a sous chef this evening, too.

H sauteing the onions.
His first time using the stove.  Don't worry.  I was right there. 

H adding the cabbage while I stirred.
Working with H in the kitchen makes me even more excited for the fact that we just signed up for a CSA for the summer.  More about that later.  I think I'll walk around a bit.  Because I can.