December 31, 2012


Looking for that perfect breakfast to start off the New Year (or just another morning)? Well, you can stop now. Make this quiche. You won't regret it. It's the perfect balance of rich and savory, and you can add enough vegetables to somewhat neutralize the unhealthiness of the cream. However, I only use a relatively small amount of cream and use milk as the rest of the liquid so I don't feel too guilty eating a second slice. I also add some cheese to hold the whole quiche together and cut the creaminess a bit.

This particular recipe is a variation of my basic quiche recipe. I personally love the colors and flavor combinations of spinach, roasted tomatoes, and sharp cheddar cheese, but you can definitely change the ingredients to fit your taste. Use other vegetables or cheeses; just have fun with it! You can't make a bad quiche.

You may also notice that I use a different crust than my typical pie crust. That's because (gasp!) I've never published a savory tart or pie recipe! This is well worth the wait since you get both a quiche recipe and a crust recipe perfect for anything not so sweet. All that's different is that there is less sugar and no eggs. It brings out the buttery flavor in the crust which, in turn, magnifies the flavor of the actual quiche.

1 1/4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Stick Butter, Chilled & Cubed
5 Eggs
1/2 Cup + 1 T Cream
3/4 Cup + 2 T Milk
1 Cup Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
1 1/2 Cups Grated White Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Drained & Thawed Frozen Chopped Spinach

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse until small lumps remain, then drizzle in cold water until it clumps together.

Grease a 9" pie plate. Roll the dough to fit, then press lightly to adhere. Chill until cold and firm, then prick with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375F. Blind bake the crust for 20 minutes or until barely golden. Sprinkle immediately with 1/2 cup cheese.

Halve the tomatoes and toss in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 10-12 minutes or until shriveled and aromatic. Heat oven to 425F.

Whisk the eggs, cream, and milk together. Stir in the tomatoes,  spinach, and remaining cheese. Pour into the crust and bake for 30 minutes or until deep golden and set.

Makes 1 Quiche
Recipe Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Susan Herrmann Loomis

December 30, 2012

Raspberry Walnut Tart

If you're headed to a New Year's party, you need dessert. If you're going to any party, you need dessert. If you plan on sitting on your couch until midnight tomorrow alone with your cats, you need dessert (don't worry, it's nothing to be ashamed of). Basically, any occasion calls for dessert, and this is the perfect showstopper to eat before you start your New Year's resolutions. The delectable scarlet raspberries pair beautifully with nutty toasted walnuts and buttery, flaky crust to make a tart as delicious as it is beautiful.

I start by making the crust. This isn't your ordinary pie crust (though you could make or buy one); this is a walnut pie crust. It differs from my usual recipe in that there's walnuts (of course), only about half the butter, less flour, egg whites, and powdered sugar instead of regular granulated. I bake it twice, first a blind bake to keep it from getting soggy, and then I bake it again once it's filled. Before adding the filling, however, I brush it with a bit of the remaining egg white. This creates a barrier between the crust and the filling so that the crust remains crisp and flaky, but it should be a very thin film (a pastry brush is good for this) since clumps of cooked egg whites are extremely unappetizing. If you do it just right, a crispy crust is well worth the risk.

The filling has three components: the walnuts, the raspberries, and the custard. The walnuts are simple enough; you just have to toast them. The raspberries are even easier since you just have to wash them. The custard is even pretty simple, too. All you have to do is whisk some eggs with a bit of sugar, flour, leavening, vanilla, and salt. I sprinkle the walnuts on the crust and top them with the raspberries, and then I drizzle the custard on top. It doesn't look like much and often doesn't even cover everything completely, but it spreads and puffs during baking. The top becomes crisp and crackly, and the rest is creamy and velvety. The raspberries float to the top, speckling the tart with a bright red hue.

3 Eggs
1 1/4 tsp Vanilla
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Walnuts, Toasted & Cooled
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 + 1/8 tsp Salt
5 T Butter
10 oz Fresh or Frozen Raspberries
1/2 tsp Baking Powder

Separate one egg. Whisk the white until frothy, then stir a tablespoon into the yolk. Save the rest. Add 1/4 tsp vanilla. Pulse 1/2 cup walnuts with the powdered sugar until finely ground. Add 1 cup flour and 1/8 tsp salt. Pulse in the butter until small lumps remain. Whisk in the egg yolk mixture. Add cold water until it begins to clump.

Press the dough into a greased 9-11" tart pan. Freeze until firm.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375. Grease a sheet of foil and press onto the tart; fill with pie weights or dried beans/peas. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and immediately brush with the remaining egg white. Lower heat to 350F.

Combine the remaining eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Spread the remaining walnuts on the crust. Sprinkle with raspberries, then pour the custard on top.

Bake the tart until just set, about 30 minutes.

Makes 1 Tart
Recipe Adapted from Cooks Illustrated and

December 29, 2012

12 Most Popular Posts of 2012

It's been a long year. A good one, but a long one filled with a plethora of recipes. As you can tell, my blog went from an occasional creative outlet without a real domain to a well-maintained website filled with delicious recipes and mouth-watering pictures (at least I think so; just let me be proud for a few minutes). To celebrate a year of blogging growth, I have compiled the 12 most popular recipes of 2012. I'm taking requests for 2013, so, if you want a recipe for a specific dish, feel free to post ideas in the comments. Enjoy!

December 23, 2012

Tomato, Red Pepper, & Quinoa Soup

I know, I just posted a recipe for tomato soup. This one is different though. Waaaaaaaay different. This time, I'm not roasting the tomatoes; I'm roasting some red peppers.  Oh, and it's a little spicy. You can adjust the heat to fit your taste, but trust me. It's better spicy.

To start, I char the peppers. If you want to feel empowered, you can skewer them and roast them over a bonfire (or the burners on your stove, but this only works if your stove actually has a flame). However, I prefer to go the easy route and use the broiler in my oven. Simply remove the core and seeds and then quarter the peppers. Stick them on a tray near the broiler and let them roast until they are blackened. Don't worry about burning them; you want that charred flavor. You don't want a mouthful of burnt peppers, though, so I immediately transfer them to a plastic bag and seal it. The steam from the hot peppers magically loosens the burnt skins, so, after about 15 minutes, I can scrape them off. And voila! Charred, but not overly so, red peppers! You can use these in almost anything; I like them in salsas, salads, and, well, soups like this one.

The soup can't be all red peppers, since I did promise you tomatoes and quinoa in the name and all. There are two types of tomatoes in this recipe: fresh and canned. Pick your favorite type of red tomato for the fresh one; it should fit in your hand, but there aren't many other qualifications. If it's too big, only use part of it. If it's too small, grab another one. I also add a can of crushed tomatoes because it's just the right balance of tomato chunks and tomato juice (appetizing, right?).

For those of you who don't know what quinoa is, it is the newest fad in dieting. It is similar to couscous, those little beady pasta things that taste SO good. It is extremely healthy, so I like to use it in this soup instead of low-nutrient pasta. I cook it before adding to the soup so that I know it is perfectly cooked, but, since I add it to hot soup and let it sit for a little while, I always cook it for less than I am supposed to. You want actual bits of quinoa, not mushy clumps of healthiness.

This soup is amazing in every way, including color, taste, texture, and even (gasp!) nutrition. It's the best antidote for the cold, both temperature and sickness. Plus, it makes enough for leftovers. I know what I'll be eating for the next few days and I hope you'll do the same.

2 Red Peppers, Seeded & Quartered
1 Tomato Diced
1 14.5oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Small White Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 T Olive Oil
1/8 tsp Cayenne (to taste)
1/2 tsp Chili Powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
2 Cups Vegetable Broth
3/4 Cup Cooked Quinoa
1/2 Cup Milk
2 tsp Hot Sauce

Broil the peppers for 10 minutes or until blackened. Immediately place in a plastic bag. After 15 minutes, scrape off the skins and slice.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and garlic; cook until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and red peppers. Stir in the vegetable broth, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth. Stir in the quinoa and simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the milk and hot sauce.

Makes 6 Servings
Recipe Adapted from Alyssa Rimmer

December 15, 2012

Asparagus & Leek Soup

I'll be the first to admit that I don't really like a lot of vegetables. Soups are one of my favorite ways to incorporate a lot of different ones, and I don't have to like all of them because the flavors blend together and cover up whichever vegetables I don't like. Soups are also the perfect winter food because they are so warm and comforting.

This particular soup is packed with healthy vegetables and not much else. You can even make it vegetarian and vegan if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and a bit more oil instead of the butter. The fresh thyme adds a mellow herbiness and depth of flavor, and it complements the leeks and asparagus perfectly. The spinach is there for flavor, vitamins, and color, so you can definitely add more if you so desire. I also throw in some potatoes to thicken the soup and make it velvety and rich without using cream. It doesn't take too many potatoes to do this, but it is a crucial component in layering flavors and capturing the ideal texture.

You wouldn't normally expect leeks and asparagus to pair well together, but they do in this soup. It's the best thing to warm you up on a cold day, and it's healthy, too, so make it often and eat as much as you want!

1 T Olive Oil
2 T Butter
2 Leeks, Washed and White & Light Green Parts Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1/2 lb Asparagus, Chopped
1/4 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled & Diced
3/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Spinach
4 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Oregano

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the leeks and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the asparagus, potato, and spinach; cook until the asparagus softens. Stir in the vegetable stock, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.

Simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Blend until smooth.

Makes 4 Servings
Recipe Adapted from

December 9, 2012


Honestly, I've already eaten my fair share of latkes. The little nuggets of potatoes are both creamy and crispy, and Hannukah is the best excuse to eat them. I've been inhaling them for a few weeks already, but it is finally socially acceptable to eat plates and plates of them. This recipe is unbelievably easy to make, so you will never use a box mix again! You simply peel and shred some potatoes, drain off the liquid, mix them with onions, eggs, and some matzo meal to bind the mixture, and fry to your heart's content. It is Hannukah, after all, so don't even bother trying to bake these. You have to fry latkes; one of the main rules of eating during Hannukah is to fry as much as possible to remember the oil that lasted for 8 days. This is one of my favorite holiday recipes, and I know that it will soon become one of yours, too.

2 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Quartered
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Matzo Meal
1 1/2 tsp Salt
Oil, for Frying

Grate the potatoes. Place in a clean towel over a medium bowl and squeeze to drain the water.
Using a food processor, pulse half the potatoes and onions until mostly smooth. Place in a large bowl and add the remaining potatoes. Combine the egg, matzo meal, and salt. Add to the potatoes and mix until cohesive.

Heat some oil in a large skillet. Press the potato mixture into small patties and fry until golden and cooked through.

Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

December 6, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

Remember those cans of tomato soup that your mom would crack open and serve with a hot, buttery grilled cheese? This is just like that meal, but even better. I slow roast my tomatoes to develop their flavor and add notes of caramel, and then I add a variety of Italian herbs and spices. There really isn't much that makes this unhealthy, so it is perfectly fine if you indulge on seconds or thirds.

I start by taking an obscene amount of tomatoes and roasting them. Sure, fire-roasted ones are delicious, but roasting at 300 degrees brings out the natural sweetness and draws out the moisture without leaving a charred aftertaste. To add even more tomato flavor, I add a whole can of tomato paste. Well, a whole can may not look like much since, if you've ever seen a can of tomato paste, they are smaller than my palm. However, tomato paste is twice as concentrated as tomato puree, so one can is just enough to add a deep crimson color and robust taste.

I like to add some Italian flair to the soup by adding in a handful of fresh basil and thyme, blended with plenty of fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, and some dried herbs. You can adjust the proportions and amount of spice to fit your taste. I also add a splash of lemon juice for a bit of acid to break up the richness, and I thin the whole mixture with chicken stock (or vegetable broth if you are vegan or vegetarian) and a bit of red wine.

If you want to make the soup look pretty and presentable, the deep scarlet hue will certainly suffice. I also like to garnish it with some fresh herbs, like leftover basil or thyme leaves, or even some homemade croutons. They couldn't be easier to make! Just cube some bread (day-old works well), toss it in some olive oil and garlic, and bake at 375F for a few minutes until golden and crisp. If you sprinkle some Parmesan or provolone on top, it will be just like those grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. There is no way to mess up that combination, but this is one of the best ways to enjoy it!

4 lbs Tomatoes
1 Yellow Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/3 Cup Red Wine
2 Cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 6oz Can Tomato Paste
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Chiffonaded Basil
1 T Fresh Thyme
1/2-1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp Oregano

Heat oven to 300F.

Cut the tomatoes in half. Spread on a cookie tray, cut-side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 3 hours or until shriveled.

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Stir in the roasted tomatoes, lemon juice, thyme, and basil. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine, and balsamic vinegar, then stir in the chicken stock, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, then puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6
Recipe Adapted from

November 27, 2012

Pear Cranberry Gingerbread Tartlets

It's hard to pin down just one flavor of fall. I can never decide between spices, gingerbread, cranberries, apples, pears, and many other delicious ingredients. Oh, and a pop of citrus doesn't hurt, either. The best thing about these tarts? They have a bunch of those flavors. You can pick out notes of cinnamon, molasses, orange, and caramel, not to mention the velvety spiced pears and the tart cranberries. The recipe is a bit complex and has multiple components, but it is worth the time and effort to build the layers of flavor.

The crust is always my favorite part of the pie (or tart). Sure, plain or chocolate is delicious, but this is a spiced gingerbread crust. It is rich and buttery with that unique molasses flavor, and it is a great base for all the other ingredients. The crust stays crisp and is the perfect foil to the tender fruit piled on top.

These are not your average pears; they are tossed in orange juice and cinnamon and sweetened with brown sugar. I add cornstarch to absorb some of the liquid, keeping the crust from getting soggy. I then fold in some fresh cranberries. They are only available this time of year, so I buy a few pounds and freeze them. This is one of my favorite cranberry recipes because they add a beautiful color and tang. They almost roast in the oven to caramelize and shrivel, like little cranberry raisins (craisin lovers, this is for you!).

The final piece of this delicious puzzle is the orange caramel. Yes, you read that right. Orange. Caramel. All of the goodness of sticky-sweet caramel is perked up by a dose of orange. I use both orange zest and juice to boost the flavor while retaining the right texture, and you can always add more to heighten the citrus flavor. I drizzle it on top of the fruit before baking so the fruit absorbs some and the rest thickens to bind it all together. If you have any left over after drizzling and licking the bowl (don't worry, I won't tell), you can spoon it on top of the finished tartlets. The orange balances the cranberries and pears, and the gingerbread crust has a pleasant aromatic quality that pairs well with the orange. I love this recipe for the color and the flavor, and it is just the quintessential fall recipe.

2 1/4 Cups Flour
1 Cup + 2 T Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp Ginger
1 T + 1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Cloves
3/4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Sticks + 1 T Butter, Chilled
2 Egg Yolks
3 T Molasses
6 Pears, Diced
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 tsp Orange Zest
2 T Cornstarch
1 1/2 Cups Cranberries
1/2 Cup Cream

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, 6 T brown sugar, ginger, 1 T cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt. Pulse in 1 1/2 sticks butter. Combine the molasses and egg yolks and add to the mixture. Chill for 15 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, orange zest, cream, and remaining butter in a small pot. Boil until thick, then whisk in 2T orange juice.

Preheat oven to 375F and grease 14 4" tartlet pans.

Roll the dough to fit the pan and chill until firm. Prick.

Combine remaining cinnamon, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and cornstarch. Combine the pears, remaining orange juice, spice mixture, and cranberries.

Spoon the fruit mixture into the pans and drizzle with caramel. Bake for 15 minutes or until pears are softened and crust is crisp.

Make 14 Tartlets

November 18, 2012

Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Admit it; you love those sweet potato dishes that are so full of marshmallows you can barely taste the potatoes. They are tasty, but sometimes you want some sweet potatoes that taste sweet but also taste like sweet potatoes. This is that dish.

The sweet potatoes alone have a wonderful contrast of textures. I cut them into two-bite pieces that get crispy on the outside but soft and creamy on the inside. Those are then tossed with crunchy bits of pecans and a sticky, buttery maple syrup glaze. It tastes like fall but is also reminiscent of those marshmallowy casseroles that everyone is addicted to.

1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 1/2 lbs Sweet Potatoes
2 T Oil
2 T Butter
1 1/2 T Maple Syrup
Pinch Chili Powder

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.

Heat oven to 350F.

Spread the nuts on a cookie tray and toast until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Heat oven to 400F.

Toss the potatoes in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a cookie tray and roast until tender and golden, about 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Melt the butter in a small pot. whisk in the maple syrup and chili powder and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the pecans and drizzle over the potatoes.

Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from Aida Mollencamp

November 11, 2012

Garlic & Mustard Green Beans

Green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving staple, but I have a refreshing change. These green beans are packed with flavor and are so easy to make. They are much faster than other recipes, too, so you can spend more time making other delicious foods. I love the combination of sweet roasted garlic and sharp mustard, a perfect foil for tender green beans. This recipe is sure to brighten your Thanksgiving feast, but it is also easy enough to make any time of the year.

1 lb Green Beans, Washed & Trimmed
6 Cloves Garlic, Sliced
2 T Olive Oil
1 1/2 T Mustard

Heat oven to 450F and line a cookie tray with foil.
Toss the beans with the garlic, olive oil, and 1/4 cup water. Spread on the prepared tray and roast for 15 minutes.
Toss the beans with the mustard immediately and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

November 7, 2012

Roasted Mushrooms

In Thanksgiving dinners, mushrooms tend to assist other dishes instead of being the star; this recipe will change all of that. You will want to have these instead of your turkey, your stuffing, even your pie. They are just that good. There is a bit of an Italian flair with the balsamic and the garlic; however, the flavors are still relatively mild, allowing the dish to fit with the rest of your meal and letting the true earthiness of the mushrooms stand out. You can use any type of mushrooms you want, even mixing a few varieties together, but I like to use plain old white or cremini mushrooms. They cook just right: tender throughout and not burnt on the outside. I know you'll love this recipe because it is so easy and so delicious.
1 lb Mushrooms, Cleaned & Trimmed
5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
2 T Butter, Cubed
Combine the garlic, oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade and let sit for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Heat oven to 425F and line a cookie tray with foil.

Spread the mushroom son the prepared tray and sprinkle with the butter. Roast for 10 minutes or until tender and browned.
Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from Cheryl Bevergae Barnes

November 2, 2012

Glazed Carrots

My family loads our Thanksgiving table with rich, luxurious foods, but I always search for something to cut the wave of heaviness. These sweet and somewhat spicy glazed carrots are a fantastic way to break up y meal, and I'm sure you'll love them, too. This recipe is incredibly simple, and you can cook the carrots ahead of time and just glaze them before serving to make your day a little easier. The flavors are mellow and blend well together, but they are still unique. It is also a wonderful canvas for other flavors; feel free to throw in some orange zest or your favorite spices when you make the glaze. You can also change the amounts of chili powder or add some cayenne or hot sauce to alter the degree of spiciness. This is an excellent chance to experiment with flavors, and it will be delicious no matter what!

1 lb Carrots, Washed, Peeled, & Cut into Coins
2 T Butter
2 T Honey
1 T Lemon Juice
Pinch Chili Powder
Pinch Cinnamon

Bring some water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the carrots and boil for 8 minutes or until almost tender. Drain.

Melt the butter in the pot. Whisk in the honey, lemon juice, chili powder, and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the carrots. Cook until syrupy and tender, about 8 minutes.

Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from Sunny Anderson

October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies

If you've ever had a pumpkin whoopie pie, prepare to celebrate because these are just like the cookies in a whoopie pie. They are soft and moist, more like heavenly bite-sized droplets of cake than cookies. I make them exceptionally small to get the texture just right, but be careful or you'll end up inhaling half a dozen of them.

Don't feel bad, though; they really aren't that bad for you. At least when you compare them to all the other (inferior) cookies you've had in the past. Because of the incredible amount of pumpkin, these cookies are chock-full of those things called vitamins. Oh yes, I said it. The mortal enemy of dessert, something actually healthy, is in something this delicious. How could that be? Well, you'll just have to make this recipe and find out.

2 T Sugar
1 1/3 Cups Brown Sugar
1 Stick Butter, Softened
1 Egg
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree*
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Cloves

*If you use a standard can, you'll have just enough to make a batch of pumpkin cinnamon buns

Heat oven to 350F. Line cookie trays with parchment.

Combine the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

Cream the sugar, brown sugar, and butter together until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin puree. Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 tsp of the spice mixture.

Using a small cookie scoop, roll the dough into balls. Place on the prepared trays and bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden.

Makes 30
Recipe Adapted from Marcy Goldman