Misc Vegetable Quick Quiche

Kolbasa, Onion, and Green Bean Quiche

A few months ago I was in the mood for a quick easy meal. Having nothing on hand except for my trusty pantry, I thought of making a quiche… but the idea of making a crust was too much effort.

Thankfully I discovered a method of quiche-making that doesn’t involve creating a separate crust. You simply mix the flour in with the eggs and veggies, layer items in a pie plate, and leave it in the oven till toasty done, around 40 minutes. Just long enough to do dishes and take a shower. Now that’s multitasking.

It makes four portions. You will want to leave some to cool for a snack later on… the delicious creamy insides contrast the popover-like crispy outsides perfectly.

Add whatever veggies you like or have on hand: carrot, green beans, mushrooms, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc. Precooking makes them very soft in the final quiche, using uncooked makes them crunchy, do what you enjoy!

Add whatever cheese you want, provided it is a melting cheese.

Add whatever meat you desire. Bacon is the obvious choice. I bet it would be great with pepperoni!

A simple, easy, versatile pantry recipe… that’s my style of cooking! I’m sure you’re dying to go make it, so go on my friends, enjoy a quiche!

Misc Vegetable Quick Quiche
Adapted from Allrecipes

1/2 lb of meat. I really enjoyed kolbasa sausage, in a half inch dice. Ground beef works surprisingly well, as does the obvious bacon.
1-2 cups of vegetables, as described above. I always use a small/medium onion in addition to other veggies.
1/8 cup butter for cooking vegetables and meat
1/8 cup butter, melted for egg mix
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.

1. Precook any vegetables in the butter. Precook the meat as well. Set aside to cool.
2. In a small mixing bowl, mix flour and milk. To prevent lumps, to all the flour mix in half of the milk and mash it vigorously to break up any lump. Add in a small bit more milk, mix vigorously, and continue doing so until all the milk is incorporated smoothly.
3. Break up and mix eggs and seasoning. Add flour/milk mix and melted butter, mix to combine. Add in cooked vegetables.
4. Butter a pie plate. Layer the bottom with the meat, followed by the cheese, then pour the egg/veggie mix gently overtop.
5. Bake for 35-45 minutes. You want a deep crunchy crust. Do not open the oven while it is cooking or it will deflate!

A simple, easy, versatile pantry recipe… that’s my style of cooking!

Lemon Poppyseed Cakeloaf

Lemon Poppyseed Cakeloaf

Sometimes you want a little light something to go with tea. Consider this recipe! The poppy seeds add a wonderful deep taste, a perfect foil to the tart lemon. It’s not quite as dense as a loaf, but not quite as light as a cake, hence cakeloaf.

Lemon Poppyseed Cakeloaf
Adapted from Allrecipes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
juice and zest of two lemons
1 cup plain yogurt
Anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup poppy seeds, to your taste

Preheat oven to 350F and grease two loaf pans.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a smaller mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs and give it a whip.
In an even smaller mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and lemon juice, then add to the sugar mix.
Finally, in the smallest vessel you have, roughly mix the lemon zest and poppy seeds.

Combine it all together by pushing the flour to one side in its bowl, add the liquid ingredients, and mix in the flour bit by bit, giving it a quick final hard beating at the end.

Divide into the loaf pans and bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 minutes or so. I turn down the oven to 325 for the last fifteen minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack.

Lemony Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa. What an interesting ingredient! It’s one of the few non-meat foodstuffs that contains all the essential amino acids needed for us to be healthy. It’s also not a foodstuff that I cook with often due to unfamiliarity.

I decided to change that.

Turns out it is a dead simple food to cook – simply boil then simmer on medium for 10 minutes or so. So pretty much the standard cooking method for all grains.

As with grains, the challenge becomes taking the ingredient and dressing it up so it enters the realm of deliciousness.

This Lemony Quinoa Salad is a great way to do so. All the ingredients work together in perfect harmony – the lemon and parsley give the salad a lovely bright taste, the cumin and paprika add layers more flavour in the background – but it is really the toasted pine nuts that make this salad amazing, so do not skip that step or omit the ingredient out of laziness, or you will miss everything this salad has to offer.

Left to sit in the fridge overnight, it becomes even more delicious! This makes it desirable to whip up a double batch and keep it as a quick healthy snack.

Lemony Quinoa Salad
adapted from Allrecipes

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt to taste and pepper if you desire
  • Optional veggies: bell pepper, cucumber, white onion

Cook the quinoa by bringing it and the water to a boil, then simmer on medium for 10 minutes or so, until the water is absorbed. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat while chopping the other ingredients, but stir the nuts constantly as they burn fast.

Chop up the celery, green onion, and parsley and add it to the cooled quinoa. Juice and zest the lemon and add it as well. Add the pine nuts and spices, and mix to combine. Serve!

Makes a great side dish or nice light lunch!

Best of all, you can go wild with what veggies are in it, as long as they are small and preferably with some amount of crunch.

Making Delicious Pierogi

A mixer!

Recently I liberated this KitchenAid mixer from Oldhome. I couldn’t help it – it was sitting all alone in the corner with its parts scattered around. I corralled it as well as some misc baking gear and are putting them to good use here in my kitchen. In fact just a few days ago I used a set of liberated mini silicon muffin liners which made a perfect two-bite tidbit of carrot muffin. I was so impressed that I brought them with me and finally sat down and talked with our closest neighbors the Racine family, who are absolutely lovely people. But that’s another story for another day.

I love pierogi, aka perogies, although technically speaking both the singular and plural of pierogi is pierogi – you never eat just one pierogi after all. As with many things in life nowadays I got to thinking, how can I make my own pierogi? So I googled it. And read. And now the mystery of the pierogi is unravelled and I am on my way to becoming a Pierogi Master! I’m sure I could make 151 types of pierogi, maybe even 451+.

Now, to share with you the secret of the pierogi.

There are two parts: dough and filling. The dough is a non fermenting dough so you can make it anytime; I actually found that using it the day after, cold from the fridge, was easier than using it fresh. The filling can consist of everything and anything. I used leftovers from my fridge as well as some random ingredients I had on hand. I recommend you try the same!

Pierogi Mise

Here is what you need:

5 cups flour
5 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of sour cream
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

Mix the eggs together, mix the salt and water together. Mix together four cups of flour with everything else and gradually add the last cup of flour in as you knead it for a few minutes. Voila, a dough! A LOT of dough. I put half of it in the fridge and still had too much dough left out.

Pierogi stuffing

For your stuffings you can use pretty much anything you have on hand as long as you mix it up with potato – the goal of the stuffing is to be able to make it into little balls easily, and crumbly things fall apart, but not once you add some potato! Above I have potato with red peppers, onions, and mushroom, potato with cheese, and 100% meat. For my next batch I mixed the meat with potatoes and it was much easier to spoon out. Learn from my mistakes friends!

Now, let’s assemble the pierogi.

assembly mise

Divide up the dough before filling. I ended up using 13 grams of dough per pierogi, prior I used double that and got double sized pierogi, it’s your choice!

first roll

Roll the dough out long and flat.

stretching it out

Stretch it out a bit with your hands when it doesn’t comply. Which it will. Lay it out on one hand so that half of the dough goes over your fingertips.

spoon in a bit

Add a small spoonful of stuffing. The key here is to not let any touch the outer rim of dough: wet dough sticks to dough but it doesn’t stick with potato in the middle!

wetting the edge

Wet the hand-half of the dough’s rim with a bit of water…

crimp and shape

…then fold the dough flap over and pinch it shut! Try to get out the air as you go by smoothing the pierogi from the middle out, but not too hard lest the filling come out too. Yes it’s a challenge, but all good foods are challenges!

Now repeat 29 more times and voila, 30 pierogi!

Pierogi making does take a bit of time to do so I advise sitting down and spending an hour or two making tons of pierogi, flash freezing them by putting them on a baking sheet in the freezer for awhile then transferring into freezer bags for longterm storage, and continuing until you are out of dough or stuffing or become tired of making pierogi.

Now I have three bags of delicious pierogi ready and waiting for the day when I need a fast meal!


The Most Amazing Tomato Sauce

I’m taking a page from Gordon Ramsay and calling what I’ve created The Most Amazing Tomato Sauce. And knowing that it’s me making it, it’s also the most easiest tomato sauce. It’s pretty much as close to “set it and forget it” as you can get while not using a Ron Popeil product.

Heritage Tomatoes

Step 1: Wash your tomatoes and arrange artistically for your own photo. Or just wash em.

IMG 4247

Step 2: Cut them in half and arrange on a pan. But be smart and put down a layer of parchment paper first, or else you’ll be like me and spend hours scrubbing off burned crusty bits. Eh, it’s exercise!

IMG 4248

Step 3: Season with salt and pepper. Don’t overdo it, but don’t skip this step.

IMG 4249

Step 4: Cover them with some tasty ingredients. Here I’ve used some jalapeno peppers, my own homegrown spicy peppers, and onions. In other instances I’ve added sweet peppers. Put on what you like.

IMG 4262

Step 5: Put them into a moderately warm oven and forget about them for a few hours. The slower you cook them, the more delicious they will be. Resist the impulse to cook them at 400 degrees as I did the first few times. Try 250F for two hours or so. Your house will smell delicious!

IMG 4263

Step 6: Put everything into a pot and mash it up. Simmer the mixture to reduce it to your liking. If you bake the tomatoes a low heat you won’t have too much to simmer away. I leave the skins on, they don’t bother me too much. Same with the seeds. But add in a teaspoon or two of sugar – it takes away the sharp acid tones and really rounds out the sauce nicely.

Voila, you have a delicious homemade tomato sauce! Eat it, freeze it, or can it – either way your tomatoes have a purpose beyond being a decoration on your windowsill.

Some people ask me why I spend the time/effort making this sauce instead of just buying it from the store. Others are similarly puzzled by why I’d spend time/effort making wool when I could just buy it. Having the final goods available for purchase is nice as a backup, but I take a lot of pride in doing things myself. Doing new things means you always learn new things too. When was the last time you learned how to do something simply by buying the final product? For me, life is all about learning and experimenting and trying new things, and buying a final product from a store doesn’t provide me with a whole lot of value if I am capable of making the item myself. A cast iron pan? Sure I’ll buy that, I don’t have metalworking tools (yet) and that will last a long time. But tomato sauce? I know how to garden, I know how to grow tomatoes, and I know how to make my own sauce (thanks to Google). And now, so do you.

Crab Apple Jelly and Applesauce

IMG 4376

As I’ve mentioned before, we have a crab apple tree. Best of all, there are practically no pests up here, so 99/100 crab apples grew completely unimpeded and with no worm etc.

What do you do with crab apples? I decided to make Crab Apple Jelly, and I stumbled on how to make crab apple sauce along the way.

IMG 4382

Basically you simmer the whole, washed apples in just enough water to cover them. They fall apart really quickly and you can help them with a masher. Simmer for more time, I left them on for about an hour or so. Then strain the liquids from the solids.

We have a few sieves as well as cheesecloth so we decided to separate the mash as such: first, take some mash and let it drip drain, no squeezing it at all. Then transfer that mash into a second sieve but this time squeeze it very much. Finally transfer the exhausted mash into a collecting bowl.

IMG 4380

The first drip drain resulted in a clearish ruby red liquid (the top left spoon). This is what we make the jelly from. The second squeeze drain resulted in applesauce (the bottom left spoon). The leftover mash (in the strainer on the right) will be fed to the animals, though we have a suspicion that it could be used for brewing too.

We canned the applesauce directly after extracting it – after heating it up again and spicing it up with some sugar and cinnamon.

IMG 4384

The jelly needs more sugar added to it than the applesauce, and you have to reduce the volume by almost half, which means a lot of stirring and watching over the jelly else it could burn. You’ll know once you reach the proper stage – your stirring utensil and pot will start getting all jelly-y!

Crab apples are so high in pectin that you do not need to add any for the jelly to set.

My one tree gave us a bit over 11lbs of apples, from which we canned 1500ml of applesauce (3 x 500ml) and around 1500ml of jelly (6 x 240ml).

I quite enjoy the tart yet rich flavour of the jelly. If you need a kick in the pants to help wake up in the morning, I bet Crab Apple Jelly Toast would do the trick!