Spinach & Cherry Tomato Quiche

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Summer’s here. I checked: a high of 94F in Long Island today. It’s totally official. Never was there ever a better afternoon for an iced coffee!

I checked out a beautiful farm in Eastern Long Island this past weekend. They were up to the brim in plump blueberries, greens, rhubarb and herbs. A lovely reminder that tomato season is soon upon us! Perfect raw, roasted or thrown into a quiche like this. I used cherry tomatoes, but you can use whatever you like. The best part? Throw in whatever you have (the sadder it looks in your fridge, the better) and give it new life in a quiche or frittata. This is my favorite way to use up veggies. All that protein in there makes this dish a triple threat– good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All summer long.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 1 package store bought pastry dough or frozen pie shell
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, trimmed and washed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cups creme fraiche
  • 1/3 cup grated sharp gruyere cheese
  • 6-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. If using frozen pastry, take dough out of the freezer to defrost 2 hours before you’re ready to use it.
  2. Fit the dough into either a 10-inch quiche or springform pan, making sure you have enough dough to form a crust around the edge. Sprinkle the gruyere onto the crust.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Cook spinach and until wilted, about 5 minutes. Spread the spinach over the cheese.
  4. Beat the eggs, creme fraiche and garlic together. Pour mixture over the spinach and cheese mixture. Slice cherry tomatoes and arrange on top. Sprinkle with chives and black pepper.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

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Beignets

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

“I’d give my right arm for one of those beignets!”

I still laugh when I remember hearing those words. The request came from one of my husband’s friends. In order to save her precious limb, I immediately went into the kitchen and made a big batch of these babies. I love my husband so much that I woke up at 4:30am that next morning to fry them so they’d be super fresh. That, my friends, is true love.

If there’s one thing I learned from making these doughnuts, it’s this: don’t overwork the dough and be *very* gentle when handling before frying. You want as much puff as possible before it hits the oil. And, drop into the oil ever so gently so they don’t collapse.

Secondly, pile on the powdered sugar!!! There is not much sugar in the dough itself, so I promise it’s okay. Pair 3 of these with you morning coffee.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 24 beignets

*Dough needs to be refrigerated overnight

  • 1 package instant dry yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp) I prefer SAF Red Instant Yeast)
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (100-115 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • vegetable or canola oil (for deep frying)
  • confectioners sugar (for dusting)
  1. Put the warm water into a large bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast and a couple teaspoons of the sugar and stir until thoroughly dissolved. Let sit (also called proofing) for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk. Gradually stir in 4 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and thoroughly blended. Beat in the shortening, then add the remaining flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating it in with a spoon until it becomes too stiff to stir, then working in the rest with your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight in a greased bowl.
  3. Roll the dough out onto a floured board or marble pastry surface to a thickness of 1/8 inch, then cut it into rectangles 2-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches with a sharp knife.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 360 degrees F.
  5. Gently transfer the dough to the oil (don’t over crowd the pot). Fry the beignets about 3 or 4 at a time until they are puffed out and golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per batch.
  6. Turn them over in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown, since they rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff out.
  7. Drain each batch on paper towels, place on a platter lined with several layers of paper towels, and keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until all are fried.

Recipe courtesy of Food.com.

Blood Orange Cream Doughnuts

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Confession: doughnuts are my guilty pleasure. When you’re craving a pillowy cloud of dough filled with cream, chocolate or jelly, nothing else will do. Long Island is seriously lacking in good doughnuts (sorry, Dunkin, you don’t count) and this recipe is going in my arsenal for good!

Citrus season is in full swing. Those beautiful blood oranges are begging to be used. Their color is so vibrant and their flavor, robust. This cream filling is to die for. Punchy, zesty, but not too sweet. Try not to eat it by the spoonful before you fill the doughnuts. I dare ya! My husband took these all to work so I snagged this ONE photo before he ran off with them… Oh well. I’ll just have to make more.

Makes 12 doughnuts

Doughnut Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 cups bread flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 qt vegetable oil, for frying

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (from about 6-7 oranges)
  • 1 tbsp fresh blood orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and sugar. I have best luck with luke-warm water. You can’t have it too hot or you’ll kill the yeast. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes, until it begins to foam.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, mix salt, eggs and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the milk and 1 cup of flour. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated.
  3. Change your attachment to the dough hook. Turn mixer to medium-low and add in the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments. The dough will come together in a sticky ball. Turn mixer to medium speed and “knead” the dough until it slightly elastic.
  4. Turn the dough out into a large buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it someplace warm to rise until it has doubled in volume. I find the best place to do this is on top of a warm oven. I let mine rise for about 2 hours.
  5. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to be about a ½ inch thick and cut into 3 inch circles (you can use a biscuit cutter, or a drinking glass). Place the dough circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do not reroll scraps. You an fry them separately for snacking, or discard them.
  6. Allow to donuts to rise one more time, until they have at least doubled in size, and appear to fluffy and filled with air. I let mine rise about an hour.
  7. While the donuts rise, preheat cooking oil to 370 degrees in either an electric fryer, or on a stovetop in a heavy bottomed dutch oven.
  8. Fry each donut until it is golden on the bottom, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Be very careful when transferring the donuts to the oil, if they are handled too much, they will collapse. The finished donuts should be golden on each side, with a white ring around the middle, this shows a perfectly risen donut, and will ensure that it is nice and light in the center.
  9. Place fried donuts onto a paper bag or paper towels to drain any extra grease.  Toss donuts in granulated sugar, and place on a cooling wrack to cool to room temperature.
  10. To prepare the filling, in a small pot whisk in blood orange juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Continue whisking on medium-low heat until it starts to thicken slightly. Whisk in butter one tbs at a time. Once the butter has been added, continue whisking until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it has cooled completely.
  11. In a mixing bowl, whisk heavy cream and salt together until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the blood orange mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes.
  12. Right before serving, cut small holes in the side of each donut, I do this with a paring knife in the shape of an X.  Place filling in a piping bag, fitted with a round tip (a long tip works best). Fill and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bakeaholic Mama.

Weekend Waffles

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

It’s Saturday morning. You roll out of bed at 10:12 am after a week of stress. If you’re like me, you have a laundry list of things to do today. But, first things first. You offer waffles to your husband and he nearly tackles you as he leaps out of bed.

I don’t know about you, but a hot stack of waffles gets me pretty excited! I’ve come to love the act of preparing waffles our pancakes on a weekend morning. Something about it is ever calming. Maybe it’s because your day job is a distant memory and you’re not going to give it one thought for the next 48 hrs. Maybe it’s the sizzle of the batter on the hot skillet. Whatever it is, it’s intoxicating. It’s the weekend.

I’ve probably tried half a dozen waffle recipes. All, up until this point, have been hardly memorable. This one is via my friends at Food.com. I tell you no lie: these waffles are killer. Absolutely genius. Lord knows why I didn’t whip egg whites into the batter sooner. This means only one thing: crispy exterior, fluffy and light interior. I mean, what more could you ask for?

It gets better. Freeze the leftovers and toast them the next day or the next week.

Lazy weekend, commence.

Prep Time: 15 mins / Cook Time: 5 mins / Serves: 6-8

bew-1-ingredients

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

bew-2-process

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

bew-3-final_1

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

bew-4-final_2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cups flour (I prefer King Arthur All Purpose)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1-3/4 cup milk of your choice (dairy, almond milk, etc)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl. Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.
  2. Add milk and melted butter to dry ingredient mixture and blend.
  3. Gently fold stiff egg whites into mixture.
  4. Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack so they retain their crispiness. Enjoy with butter, maple syrup, and fruit! I also freeze these and re-heat in a toaster oven. Excellent waffles in a pinch.

This recipe is adapted from Food.com.

Whipped Basil Feta & Cherry Tomato Toast

TOAST 2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Oh, how I love summer vegetables! Lately, I don’t even want to think about eating meat. All I can think about are bountiful, beautiful summer vegetables and fruits. All the heirloom, cherry and grape tomatoes. All the basil (a real obsession… good thing it grows like a weed). I’m especially in the mood for light meals for lunch. Open-faced toasts are super popular today. You are familiar with the avocado toast revolution. You’ve seen the avocado rose break the internet. A nice change from all the avo are cherry tomatoes: plump, juicy and full of flavor. I picked up feta at the grocery store today for a salad I’m making later in the week. Looking through my fridge, I decided to, quite literally, whip together the feta with a little Greek yogurt. Seasoned with salt, pepper and a little onion powder. I folded in fresh basil because I simply cannot get enough of it! A rough chop releases all the herb oils, getting all that flavor into the cheese mixture. I like to be heavy on the salt and pepper. Under seasoning is a sin.

Check out your local farmers market and bring along a big basket! I’ll be stocking up on all the summer fruits and vegetables this weekend. Also pick up a big loaf of Ciabatta or Sourdough. Or, try this spread on smaller crostini for a party starter. Don’t worry– the avocado rose won’t mind taking the back seat this time. Go on and get toasty!

TOAST

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yields: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of Ciabatta or Sourdough bread
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 10-12 cherry tomatos, sliced
  1. Drizzle olive oil on toast slices. Toast in toaster oven until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip feta and yogurt on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Season with onion powder, salt and pepper. Whip for an additional 1 minute until incorporated. Fold in chopped basil.
  3. Spread feta mixture evenly on 4 slices of toast. Slice cherry tomatoes and distribute evenly on top of toast. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Warm Grains Arugula Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Nothing makes me happier than feeling satisfied and full after a good meal. I don’t mean that bloated, overly full feeling…I mean the good kind! After a meal that is full of wholesome things that keep hunger at bay. This salad is totally one of those meals. I am a huge arugula fan– even just coated in a little olive oil, it’s peppery and so tasty on it’s own. Coated in this avocado vinaigrette it’s on another level! The warm grains wilt the arugula a little, making each bite full of flavor and packed with protein. And, as I always say, throw on a couple of soft boiled eggs and you’ve got yourself a real meal.

Serves 2

Ingredients for Salad:

1 5 oz package of organic baby arugula

1/2 cup rainbow quinoa (yields about 1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa)

1/4 cup red lentils (yields about 2 cups cooked lentils)

2 eggs

1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Avocado Vinaigrette:

1/2 ripe avocado

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

  1. Cook your quinoa to package instructions. Or, as a general guideline, rinse quinoa in a strainer for 2 minutes to get off the natural coating. If you skip rinsing, you risk getting a “soapy” flavor so make sure you rinse! Dry quinoa or toast lightly in a pan to dry. Add quinoa to small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat to low and cover for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and leave covered for an extra 5-7 minutes. If you still see some water remaining after this time, put the pot back on low and allow it to soak up the remaining water. Season with a little salt and set aside.
  2. Cook your lentils to package instructions. Or, Add lentils to a pot with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook covered for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how soft you want them. For salads, I like a little firmness. 10 minutes will do it. Season with a little salt and set aside.
  3. Rinse your arugula and let dry or run through a salad spinner. Set aside.
  4. For the avocado vinaigrette, combine the avocado, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth and incorporated. With the processor running, stream in the olive oil until creamy.
  5. To bring 2 eggs to a soft boil, fill a small pot with a few inches of water and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to rapid simmer and gently drop in eggs. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes. 5 minutes for barely set and 7 minutes for a more set yolk. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and run under cool water for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, add vinaigrette. Add arugula to bowl and stir to coat evenly. While still warm, mix in cooked quinoa and red lentils. Top with graded parmesan cheese. Peel soft boiled eggs and break open over salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Sweet Pea and Avocado Toast

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I know this isn’t exactly breaking news, but: Avocado Toast began to have it’s moment in the spotlight in the last 2 years and is still shining strong. There’s just something about it that makes everyone all happy, including me. I’ve had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I almost always top with a fried egg (or poached like this, if I’m feeling fancy). It always begs for a generous sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes. Sometimes some black sesame seeds. Any way you slice it, this toast trend is here to stay. In my last post, I showed you my take on Giada De Laurentiis’ mushroom pizzettes. I’m working my way through another 3 of her recipes this week. Today, I present to you her recipe for this toasty number: Sweet Pea Avocado puree topped with a pretty poached egg. #PUTANEGGONIT is a thing, and that thing makes all toast better. What I love about this recipe is the addition of the pea to the avocado. The lime juice and mint in there add such freshness! It’s a complexity that you don’t get from avocado alone. I always love a kick of red pepper flakes. This is the kind of breakfast or brunch you make for yourself on your off-day from work, when you can sit back with the paper (or your Instagram feed, let’s face it) and a nice cup of coffee. Take your time and savor this one.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp graded lime zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and diced in the skin
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 (3/4″) slices of Batard loaf or other small rustic bread loaf, toasted (I used Sourdough)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Flaked salt (I used sea salt)
  1. In a food processor, combine the peas, mint, lime zest and juice, salt, and olive oil. Pulse until the peas are coarsely chopped. Spoon out and add the avocado and pulse to combine and form a coarse spread. Set aside.
  2. In a shallow medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of water with the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust the head to maintain the gentle simmer (don’t allow it to boil). One at a time, break each egg into a small bowl; swirl the water with a spoon, creating a vortex, and gently slide the egg into the simmering water. Use a slotted spoon to gently coax the egg white up and around the yolk.
  3. Repeat with the remaining eggs (depending on the size of your pan, it may be easier to do just 2 eggs at a time so you can keep and eye on them and not crowd the pan). Cook the eggs 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolk is still soft when touched. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain well on a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Spread a good amount of the pea puree on each piece of toast. Top with a poached egg. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, Cook Happy, 2014.

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

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Photo credit: Ashley Cuoco

Here comes a bold statement: these are the BEST blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. Ever.

Yesterday, I made 6 huge muffins for my family’s Easter brunch. After nearly devouring one, I had to make 6 more knowing how quickly they’d disappear! I haven’t had the best luck with muffins in the past, but these by far have turned out the best. Soft and fluffy on the inside with a crunchy, sweet crumb top. Bursting with blueberries (frozen, but you’d never know) and there’s a hint of cinnamon that’s delightful. Perfect with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

Yield: 6-8 large muffins — Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line your cups with pretty parchment paper liners.
  2. Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and baking powder in your mixer. Add the vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in *blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To make the crumb topping, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Break up with fork and sprinkle generously over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Perfect, bakery style muffins! Eat them warm!

*Be sure to rinse frozen blueberries in a strainer under running water at least 3 times. This will prevent the berries from running their color. In the colder months, frozen blueberries work perfectly. You won’t be able to tell the difference. I buy a big bag of frozen berries at Whole Foods and they are delicious.

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com.

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Photo credit: Ashley Cuoco