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Meatless Mondays: Fancy Grilled Cheese with balsamic caramelized onions, rosemary roasted cauliflower and roasted red peppers

Just short of a year since my last post, it’s about dang time I post something on here. ūüôā

We’ve had a few peeks at Spring around here in Seattle lately, but we all know that it’s not even near time to put away the comfort food recipes. This one is fortunately not THAT bad… after all, it’s all veggies!

When we are short-ish on time or too lazy to come up with a full meal, we like to make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches in our house. Basically that just means sauteing or roasting some veggies or using up some leftover meat from the fridge and putting it into a grilled cheese sandwich. Easy-cheesy!

While this photo really does NOTHING for the sandwich, it really is a fantastic flavor combination – you really gotta try this! ūüôā

We like to get all fancy like with our grilled cheese round here y'all!

We like to get all fancy like with our grilled cheese round here y’all!

Ingredients

Bread – crusty/rustic type is preferred (I used day old Ciabatta bread with fantastic results)
Butter, softened
2 small onions or 1 large one, diced
2 Tb. Balsamic vinegar
1 red bell pepper
Half head of cauliflower, cut into very small florets
Dried rosemary
Celery salt or kosher salt
Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Sliced mozzarella cheese (or any other melty white cheese)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Hardware
Roasting pan/cookie sheet
Aluminum foil
Spatula
Frying pan
Saute pan
Paper bag

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Melt a pat (Tb. or so) of butter into a saute pan over Medium Low heat. Throw the diced onions into the melted butter and stir to coat. Cook slowly until caramelized. Once caramelized, pour the balsamic vinegar in and stir to coat. The vinegar will reduce and further caramelize the onions.
  3. Put the small cauliflower florets on one side of the foil lined pan. Drizzle with olive oil, celery salt, garlic powder (or fresh garlic, not garlic salt) dried rosemary and ground pepper.
  4. Rub olive oil all over the red bell pepper and place on the other side of the foil lined fan place. Place pan in oven and check every few minutes. Once the pepper starts to get charred flip it over so the other sides get charred as well.  Flip the cauliflower so it gets a good roast on all sides.
  5. Once the cauliflower and peppers are done pull the pan out of the oven. Place the pepper into a paper bag and fold it shut. Let the pepper sit in the bag for about 5 minutes to sweat – this will loosen the charred skin so you can easily remove it. After you have removed the skin, cut the pepper into thirds.
  6. Slice your bread and cheese (if necessary). Butter the bread and sprinkle with garlic powder. Heat up a frying pan on low heat.
  7. Once your pan is heated place your bread with the buttered side down. Spread on the caramelized onions and then layer with mozzarella cheese, roasted cauliflower, feta, roasted bell pepper, more mozzarella cheese and then top with the other piece of bread with the buttered side facing up.
  8. Press the sandwich down with a spatula and cook on a low temp for a few minutes until the bread is golden brown, then carefully flip the sandwich over and continue cooking until the cheese is ooey-gooey.
  9. ENJOY! ūüôā

Servings: 3 sandwiches

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Irish meets Polish: Corned Beef & Cabbage Pierogi

Corned Beef & Potato Pierogi. The best of Irish and Polish foods combined!

This is one of those posts that I almost want to start with a “why bother.” Why bother because I am posting on how to use up those delicious St. Patrick’s day leftovers a week later. Likely (aka hopefully) you don’t have any left, but perhaps you froze some of your corned beef for later. If that’s the case, then you’re in luck. But even if you need to create the filling from scratch, these are some delicious and SUPER EASY pierogi.

In our household the Polish (that’s me) and Irish (that’s my hubs) play nicely, so what a lovely way to combine some of our loves into one tasty lil’ dumpling.

Side note: depending on who in my family you ask, some will tell you that we are German, others will tell you we are Polish.

I made these pierogi a little more healthful by using half whole wheat flour and substituting plain Greek yogurt for what would be sour cream.

This recipe created enough dough for me to make about 40 pierogi. I boiled and sauteed about 20 of them for dinner and leftovers the next day. The other 20 I froze for a quick weeknight dinner. They need to be frozen individually first (so that they don’t all freeze together in a big clump) by laying them out on a pan sprinkled with cornmeal and once frozen throw them into a freezer bag and back into the freezer. I have a feeling I (or my hubby) will thank me for that later.

Here is the recipe – be sure to comment and let me know how you liked them!

Ingredients

Dough

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. olive oil

Steps for preparing dough

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl using hands to mix together until a dough forms. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment can also be used for this. The dough will be very sticky at this point.

2. Take the dough out of the bowl and put onto a well floured board. Divide the dough in half. Knead each piece of dough a few times on the floured surface until less sticky but still tacky. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

The dough just hangin' out waiting to be made into pierogi

3. On a well floured surface, roll each half of the dough into a thin circle, 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough using a 3-inch circle cutter.

All ready to be filled with yummy fillings!

Filling

I used the leftover potatoes and carrots from my crock pot that were cooked with the corned beef. Cooking the potatoes with the corned beef provided a lot of flavor to the potato filling. If you are making this from scratch you will need to boil some potatoes.

1 medium onion, diced
5 potatoes, peeled and boiled
butter to taste
1 cup shredded swiss/gruyere cheese (or other sharp cheese)
leftover corned beef, shredded

2 tablespoons of butter for browning the pierogi

Variations for filling: Just potato and cheese or ground beef and onion

1. Caramelize the onion with some butter and olive oil. Remove the potatoes and carrots from the liquid in the crock pot and heat them up in a pan. Add the caramelized onions to the potatoes and mash together. Add the cheese and mix together.

2. Place 1 tablespoon of the potato filling in the center of each circle of dough and lay a small piece of corned beef on top and fold over. Press and seal into half-moon shapes. Use a little water to seal the pierogi. Using the tines of a fork press around the edge gently to get a good seal.

Fill 'er up! Almost there...

Filled and sealed. Ready to be cooked and eaten! YUMM!

3. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pierogi for 8 minutes, or until they float. Remove from the water and drain.

4. In a saute pan, melt some butter. Sear the pierogi for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan. The pierogi will need to be sauteed in batches.

Garnish¬†with green onion and serve with sour cream (or more Greek yogurt if you’re trying to save calories). I served this delicious dish with a green salad.

Enjoy!

Amazing Brunch Recipe! Basil Spinach Quiche Lorraine

Basil Spinach Quiche Lorraine

Mmmm... Basil Spinach Quiche Lorraine full of egg-y custard deliciousness and a flaky buttery pastry crust.

I’ve been meaning to get this post written all week, however, I’ve been rather busy. Oh wells, life goes on.

The other night we were craving some brownies. I typically insist on making them homemade, because I’m a purist like that (and they are JUST as easy to make with less artificial ingredients), but I happened to have a gluten free Bob’s Red Mill brownie mix in my cupboard that could afford to be used. To my horror we were out of eggs though, so I made the trek down to the store to get some more. I was in luck because they had free range vegetarian fed eggs on sale – two cartons for $5. I don’t see that pricing very often around here for non-conventionally raised eggs, so I obliged and picked up two cartons even though there are only two of us who hardly eat our weight through eggs in a typically week. I figured somehow I was going to find a way to use up these eggs even if it required a week of nothing but deviled eggs. Heh. I’m not that evil.

Enter good idea #1: Quiche. I have to say that I haven’t had many affectionate feelings towards quiche, although I have tried my darn hardest. I like the little mini ones that my mom used to make when she owned a tea shop years ago, but the moment you start talking the 9″ pie sized quiches I get a different idea in my head. It isn’t that the idea of buttery pastry and egg-y filling with delicious¬†mix ins¬†are the issue – it is more the texture of said egg-y filling that I haven’t been a fan of. The large ones always seemed to have a “watery” texture, and I wasn’t sure if that was a consequence of not baking properly, not baking long enough, or using fillings that give off too much juice during baking which¬†ensued an undesirable “watery” texture.

That said, my idea of quiche was transformed a few years ago when I was a starved college student held up at Tea Zone in Portland (If you live in the Portland, OR area you MUST check it out – it’s an awesome tea shop/lounge in the Pearl¬†District). I don’t know if my long hours of studying translated into some type of self-induced hallucinations when I must have quite mistakenly ordered a quiche (or perhaps I thought I had ordered a crumpet, or scone). Either way, no harm nor foul was done to me through subsequent bites (ne scarf-age) of decadent buttery pastry and light egg-y goodness. Quite the opposite actually. My delightful experience with Quiche Lorraine from Tea Zone¬†entirely changed my outlook on quiche.

BEWARE: This recipe or a visit to Tea Zone may just change your mind about quiche as well. So, If you are quite happy hating on quiche, then you better be on your way. Shoo!

My husband wasn’t too thrilled at first mention that I wanted to make quiche for dinner. That’s ok, I pushed ahead. Besides, I knew I could change his mind, and I had eggs to use up¬†damn-it! After it came out of the oven and we dug into it, he was whistling a different tune and went back for seconds, or thirds… He just wasn’t thrilled to take it for lunch the next day so all his macho buddies could tease him about eating quiche (apparently it’s a girly meal). So moral of the story… it was pretty much amazing for dinner, as well as leftovers for lunch the next day, and brunch today! The whole time I was eating it – I elicited images of Julia Child, weird. I will definitely be making this meal again and probably serving it at my next brunch gathering with friends.

For my pastry dough purists out there.. I reluctantly have to tell you that I didn’t make my own pastry dough for this. I know, I know… the shock! the horror! I had a leftover pie shell in the freezer from my holiday pumpkin pies, so I used that instead. Plus, I don’t own a pretty quiche pan. But, that one shortcut alone made this an easy meal to throw together for a weeknight meal. I had bacon left from the gluten free/dairy free Potato Leek Soup I made a few days ago, as well as spinach and basil that I wanted to use up in this recipe. So now you see why my Quiche Lorraine was fortified with additional yummy goodness.

And now you have it.. the recipe. Make it, eat it, weep, and change a few people’s minds about quiche.

Servings: 8, but it’s pretty tasty..you might want more.

Tools: Hand mixer or stand mixer, baking sheet, sheet of aluminum foil to tent quiche while baking

Ingredients

Frozen 9″ pre-made pie shell, take out of freezer about¬†20 minutes¬†prior to cooking
1/2 lb. bacon – cooked, drained and crumbled. Reserve about a tsp. of bacon grease.
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 whole eggs
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup swiss or gruy√®re¬†cheese (I used a mix of both – it was a bag from Trader Joe’s)
handful of fresh basil, chiffonade cut
pinch kosher salt
ground black pepper

Garnish: Fresh chiffonade basil or sliced green onion

Steps

1. Take pie shell out of freezer. Prep ingredients above. Preheat oven to 375¬į and make sure oven rack is on center position.

2. Cook bacon in skillet until crisp. Take out of pan and place on paper towels. Drain bacon fat, but reserve about a teaspoon in pan (you will cook additional ingredients in this). When cool, crumble or chop up bacon.

Carmelized onion

Now you know I don't have fancy pans, but I can show an onion a good carmelization.

3. Heat pan with reserved bacon grease on medium heat. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook until carmelized, it should be light brown in color.

Caramelized onions meet Spinach. Acquaint yourselves.

4. Add fresh chopped spinach to pan and stir. Add a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and stir. The little bit of salt will help draw the moisture out of the mixture so that it doesn’t make the eggs “watery”. Cook until leaves wilt and moisture cooks out. Add the nutmeg and stir.

5. Crack eggs into a medium sized bowl (or stand mixer) and add cream. Blend the eggs and cream together on low speed for about 15 seconds until it is well beaten. Mix in (by hand) the onion/spinach mixture, bacon, cheese, and basil. Add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.

6. Place pie shell on baking sheet. Pour egg mixture into pie shell. Tent the foil over quiche, making sure to cover the crust on all sides to keep your crust from burning during the baking process. Carefully place the baking sheet and quiche into oven (My egg mixture sloshed a bit, but at least it was on the baking sheet and not on my floor or oven).

7. Cook for 35 – 45 minutes. Check after 35 minutes. Quiche is done when egg mixture is set and doesn’t jiggle easily.

8. Take quiche out of oven and let sit for a few minutes prior to slicing and serving. You will notice that when it was in the oven the egg was fluffier, it should set a bit for a flatter top once it is cooling. Slice and garnish with chiffonade of basil or sliced green onion. I served this with a spinach salad.

Bon Appetit!

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