Goat Cheese and Sausage Quiche

My husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary this month! So we celebrated by dropping the kids off with the grandparents, going out for Ethiopian food (amazing. seriously.) and then going to Trader Joe’s. We’re so romantic. (and we did drive to a few beautiful lookouts in the city before we got pelted by a crazy rainstorm.) But  really, we love that store!  He bought me a beautiful orchid plant (one of my favorite flowers!!) and then we wandered around the store tossing whatever delicious things we felt like getting into our basket. One of those things was goat cheese. I don’t often buy it because it’s fairly expensive, but hey, it was a special occasion! 🙂

So then I had this delicious goat cheese, and had to come up with something to do with it. Then I remembered this Italian sausage I’d stuck in the freezer, plus some fresh spinach we had in the fridge… and one thing led to another, and we had a quiche!

goat cheese sausage spinach quiche

The beautiful and delicious end result! This golden, fluffy, flavor-packed quiche.

This meal took a bit longer to prepare than most of my meals because I made the pie crust, cooked the sausage, sautéd the veggies, made the filling, and then the whole thing had to bake. The prep time was probably about 30 minutes, then the bake time was about 45. So plan ahead a little bit for this meal! It would be great for a brunch, or even for dinner. But if you’re like me and don’t like to get up early, you probably won’t be eating this for breakfast (unless it’s as leftovers).

Start off by making the pie crust. For my tips and recipe, check out this post. Or if you really want (but I’m telling you, it won’t taste as good!) you can use a frozen or refrigerated crust.

Then cook the sausage in a medium frying pan. I used an Italian sausage, the bulk kind (like ground beef) not links. It adds a nice flavor and texture to the quiche, and complements the goat cheese well.

While the sausage is cooking, slice the onion into thin slices, and toss in a small frying pan with the butter to caramelize. While the sausage and onion are cooking, slice the mushrooms and chop up the spinach.

caramelized onions and mushrooms

Once the onions are turning golden, add the mushrooms, stirring often. When the mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown, add the spinach.

caramelized onions mushrooms and spinach

Cook, stirring often, until the spinach is wilted. Mix the vegies with the cooked sausage, and set aside.

Prepare the egg filling by whisking the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and paprika together in a medium bowl until frothy.

goat cheese sausage spinach quich recipe

Pour the sausage and vegetables into the pie crust, and sprinkle the goat cheese on top.

quiche recipe with goat cheese sausage spinach mushrooms

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie crust. (Or you can just mix everything in with the eggs, and pour it all together into the pie crust.)

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, or until the quiche is set (if you’re not sure, stick a butter knife in the center. It should come out clean). Remove quiche from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. If you’re worried about the edges of the crust burning, you can cover them with foil for the first 25 minutes of baking.

goat cheese spinach sausage quiche

Goat Cheese and Sausage Quiche

1 9-inch pie crust
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/2 large onion
4-6 mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare the pie crust, if making homemade. In a medium frying pan, cook the sausage until browned. While it’s cooking, slice the onions and mushrooms, and chop the spinach.

2. Heat a small frying pan with a little bit of butter. Add the sliced onion, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the mushrooms, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Add the spinach, and cook until the spinach is wilted. Mix with the sausage and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, paprika, salt, and pepper until frothy.

4. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle in the goat cheese. Pour in the egg mixture. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until quiche is set. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Makes on 9-inch quiche, approximately 8 servings.

 

change it upYou could also add (or substitute for some of the other vegetables) red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and/or roasted garlic.

Advertisements

How to make a pie crust

I love making pies. I’ve talked about this before, but seriously, it’s almost therapeutic for me. There’s just something so satisfying to me about making the whole thing from scratch – crust, filling, everything. And it just tastes soooo much better than those horrible frozen pies, or the ones in the grocery store bakery that have probably been sitting there for a week and don’t seem to actually contain real fruit.

And maybe it’s just because I like to make them, or maybe I’m just a snob, but there really is a huge difference between a pie with a homemade crust and a store-bought crust. I know, it’s just the thing that holds the filling together. No one eats pie for the crust. But still, if you start with a good crust, the whole pie is better. Trust me.

My mom is a wonderful cook, but she just refuses to make her own pie crusts. She’s convinced it’s too much work, too hard, and never turns out right. But I promise, they’re really not that hard! So I’m going to share a few tips, tricks, and my go-to recipe so that you can make your own pie crusts and dazzle everyone with your amazing pie-making skills.

how to make a pie crust 1 First, let me introduce you to my friend the pastry blender. This simple little kitchen gadget makes all the difference in making perfect pie crusts. They’re pretty cheap, and you can find them anywhere they sell kitchen tools. But this thing does most of the work for you.

Put your flour and salt in a large bowl, and mix together. Then add the shortening, and use the pastry blender to mix. Use a scooping motion to cut the shortening into the flour. You’ll probably need to occasionally scrape some of the shortening off the sides of the pastry blender.

how to make a pie crust 2

See in the picture above, there are still large chunks of shortening, but it’s starting to get this crumbly texture. Keep using the pastry blender, in that same sort of scooping motion, to break up the shortening and blend it in to the flour.

how to make a pie crust 3

This is about the texture you want it to be – nice and crumbly looking, almost like lots of little pea-sized lumps. Now you’re ready to add the water. Use cold water! This keeps the shortening from melting. I know some people even use ice water, but as long as it’s cold, it’s worked for me.

Start adding the water one tablespoon at a time. You can keep using the pastry blender at first, but I usually end up using my hands once it starts getting soft and sticky.

how to make a pie crust 4

Your dough should look about like this – a little bit sticky, but still kind of flaky. If it won’t stick together, add a little more water. If it’s really sticky and wet, add a little more flour. Don’t over-mix or knead it, just mix till it will stick together and form a ball. You want a nice marbled look (you can see it better in the picture below). Form a ball, and turn it out onto a floured surface to roll it out. Press the ball flat with the palm of your hand. You can refrigerate the dough for about half an hour now, wrapped in plastic wrap, before rolling it out – some say it’s easier to roll and makes the crust more flaky. I usually don’t (because I don’t plan ahead and have enough time…) and mine still turn out fine.

how to make a pie crust 5

Roll it out until it’s nice and thin. If it starts to tear, wet your fingers and patch it back together. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin too much, rub a little more flour onto the rolling pin. When rolling the dough, use firm and even pressure on the rolling pin to push the dough out and away rather than down. Change directions often to create a circle. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly round. Mine never are. You’ll trim the edges later anyway. You just want to make sure it’s roundish so it will fit in your pie pan.)

You can see that nice marbled look in the picture above – it’s the shortening not completely blended in with the flour. This is what makes the pie crust flaky! That’s why you don’t want to over-mix it.

Once you think it’s thin and big enough, turn your pie plate upside down over the crust to measure; it should come out at least one to two inches all the way around the edge of the pie pan. If it’s big enough, you’re ready to move it to the pie pan!

how to make a pie crust 6

The best way I’ve found to do this is slowly and gently lift one side and fold the crust in half. Then, still slowly and gently, lift one side to fold it in fourths. Now pick up the wedge of crust, move it to the pie pan, and unfold it. If there are any tears, wet your fingers and press the crust back together.

Now trim any extra around the edges (you can leave a little extra either to make a decorative edge, or to seal the top crust on) and fill your pie! Or if you’re making a cream pie or other pie that doesn’t need to bake, poke a few holes with a fork in the bottom and side, and bake the crust. (The holes keep it from puffing up or forming bubbles in spots.)

And here’s my favorite recipe! Makes one 9-inch crust

Basic Pie Crust

1 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup shortening
3-4 Tbsp cold water

Mix flour and salt in a medium or large bowl. Add the shortening, and use a pastry blender to cut it in to the flour (see tips above).

Once it has a nice crumbly texture, about the size of small peas, begin to add the water one tablespoon at a time. Continue adding water until the dough becomes sticky enough to form a ball. If it gets too sticky, add a little more flour.

Roll it into a ball, then put it on a floured surface and press it flat. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about half an hour if desired (some say it makes it easier to roll out, and flakier). Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough. It should be about two inches larger than the pie pan. Slowly and gently fold the dough in fourths, transfer to the pie plate, and unfold. Mend any tears with wet fingers gently pressing the dough back together. Trim the edges, and you’re ready to fill the crust! Then just bake according to the directions for that pie.

If you’re making a pie that needs a pre-baked shell, use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottoms and sides, then bake it at 475 for about 15 minutes (check after 10). Let it cool, then fill.

Sorry if I disappointed anyone by not having cute ideas for the pie crust edges. I usually just use a fork to create a ridged look, or put a crust on top – which I’ve usually cut a heart or other shape in the center of. Maybe some day I’ll get more creative and share some decorative ideas! In the meantime, go make a pie and see how simple and delicious it is to have a homemade crust!

Crispy Cajun Chicken with Creamy Avocado Pasta

Apparently I’ve gotten really lazy about posting new recipes lately… I’ll blame it on the fact that I’ve had allergies or a cold for about a month now. But really, I’m probably just lazy. I have several new recipes that I’ve even taken pictures of, I just haven’t gotten around to sorting/editing the pictures and writing up a blog post. Maybe I’ll get a burst of motivation and have lots of new posts soon! Or more likely they’ll trickle in eventually…

But here’s a recipe for the delicious Cajun-inspired meal I made last night. It was so simple, and so delicious, I had to share it!

Cajun chicken pasta with creamy avocado sauce

Crispy Cajun chicken, pasta with a creamy avocado sauce, grilled corn, and all topped with sharp white cheddar.

To get started, put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Then flatten out the chicken breast with a meat mallet.

time saverI love meat mallets! Seriously, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! Cooking a whole chicken breast on the stove or grill can take a long time, especially the huge, thick ones you always seem to get these days. And cutting raw chicken is 1) gross and 2) time consuming. But flatten it out a bit with a meat mallet, and it cooks so much faster! Then if you need it in smaller pieces, slice it up after it’s cooked.

crispy Cajun chicken recipe

Then rub the Cajun seasoning and corn meal into the chicken, and toss it in a pan with a little olive oil.

crispy Cajun chicken

Once the bottom side is nice and crispy and browned, turn it over and keep cooking until golden, or even slightly blackened. The corn meal gives it a nice crispy texture on the outside.

While the chicken is cooking, get the pasta cooking, grill or pan-roast the corn, and make the sauce. To make the sauce, put the avocado, tomato, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and Cajun seasoning in the blender, and puree until smooth. (I love using avocados to make “cream” sauce – they’re so creamy, but with that delicious avocado flavor!)

creamy avocado Cajun pasta

When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and return it to the pan. Stir in the sauce, and heat through. It doesn’t need to really cook, just heat.

crispy Cajun chicken pasta

Slice the chicken, cut the kernels from the corn, and shred the cheese.

grilled corn

Serve the pasta onto plates, and top with chicken, corn, cheese, and a few extra sprigs of cilantro. Enjoy!

crispy Cajun chicken with creamy avocado pasta

I also make my own Cajun seasoning because the packaged stuff is soooo full of salt and other random preservatives, which is silly because it’s just spices and spices don’t have them. Anyway, you can just use a store-bought Cajun seasoning, or make your own. This will make more than you need for this recipe, but you can save it for other recipes, like Cajun fries!

Cajun Seasoning

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp bay leaves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper

And now for the main event:

Crispy Cajun Chicken with Creamy Avocado Pasta and Roasted Corn

1 large chicken breast
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp corn meal
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry pasta, such as bow ties or shells
1 large avocado
1 small tomato
1 lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 ear corn
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar

1. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Flatten the chicken with a meat mallet, and rub with the Cajun seasoning and corn meal, and add to the frying pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, then turn and continue cooking.

2. When the water come to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

3. While the chicken and pasta cook, grill the corn. (I used a George Forman grill, but you can just put it in a frying pan and turn it occasionally.)

4. Make the sauce by putting the avocado, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, Cajun seasoning, and garlic in the blender. Puree until smooth.

5. When the pasta is done, drain and return to pan. Stir in the sauce and heat through. Slice the chicken and cut the kernels from the corn.

6. Serve the pasta onto plates and top with chicken, corn, and shredded cheese.

Makes about 4 servings.

One note – because the sauce is avocado-based, it doesn’t reheat very well. It can be saved and reheated, but it’s much better eaten fresh!

Food Revolution Day!

I love Jamie Oliver. Well, I kind of love British television in general. But I really love Jamie Oliver! Not only does he have great recipes, but I love the ideas and motivation behind what he does: trying to help people learn to eat and cook healthy food. That’s kind of the whole reason I started this blog – to help people learn how to cook healthy meals that are still practical on a tight schedule and/or budget.

So tomorrow is Food Revolution Day as sponsored by Jamie Oliver!

 

Please, go check out the website. There are some awesome activities all over the world, many sponsored by restaurants or other companies. See if there are any near you! Or just participate by cooking some healthy meals, sharing this on your own blog, Facebook, etc., sharing recipes on the Food Revolution website, and helping others learn to cook and eat healthy food!

One of the things he talks about is teaching our kids about food , “where it comes from and how it affects our bodies.” This is so important to me! My little boy is not quite three, and he already helps me in the kitchen so much – getting ingredients, stirring, kneading, etc. He also helped me plant our garden, and it’s so exciting the few things we’ve harvested so far because he got to experience the whole process from planting to eating! We also talk about the food we eat – what’s in it and how it helps our bodies. I love hearing him say things like “protein helps my muscles so I can be strong!” (while flexing his little arms) or “Carbohydrates give me energy!” (not that he needs any more!!) It’s just too adorable to hear his little voice try to say things like potassium and vitamin and beta carotene. It’s never too young to get kids involved in the kitchen and understanding what they’re putting in their bodies!

And just because I love Jamie Oliver, let me share one of my absolute favorite cookbooks in the world with you:

Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals.

15 minute meals

My sister was in London a few months ago and bought this for me, and I absolutely love it. We cook something from this at least once a week. All of the meals are fresh, delicious, and healthy. And best of all – so quick to make! (Although I will say, many of them take me more like 20-30 minutes, but some of that is children underfoot, or not having a food processor.)

But really people – join the revolution!!

Apple Pie Bran Muffins

A few months ago, we decided to stop eating (and buying) cereal. I’m working on a post with lots of healthier alternatives (that are still fast!) but for now, I’ll give you another muffin recipe. A lot of muffins are basically just cake that we’ve convinced ourselves is ok to eat for breakfast. Not these babies!

apple pie bran muffins

its good for youThese are full of whole-grain goodness, protein, and no sugar or oil! (Well, no processed sugar – there is natural sugar in the apples and honey) Oh, and honey is basically a super food.

We make a batch of muffins almost every week, and it lasts about a week for breakfasts or snacks since we don’t eat them every day. They’re quick to make, really tasty, healthy, and filling. And one of the reasons I love to make muffins is that my little boy loves to help me make them!

making apple pie bran muffins

He’s such a good little helper in the kitchen! (When he’s not trying to snitch bites of dough or spilling things… Also, I don’t know what’s up with the tongue sticking out.) He stirs up all the dry ingredients for me while I mix the wet, and he puts the muffin liners in the pan, and he puts the ingredients away when we’re done with them. And he also sings the “Muffin Man” song while we make them. He’s pretty adorable sometimes.

This recipe is adapted from my Honey Orange Bran Muffins recipe, but I made enough changes that I decided to give these their own post.

Start by mixing up all the dry ingredients – the oat bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt – in a large bowl.

Peel and chop the apple into small pieces.

apple cinnamon bran muffins recipe

Mix the wet ingredients – the yogurt, applesauce, eggs, honey, vanilla – in a smaller bowl. Fold in the apple chunks. Then pour the yogurt mixture in with the flour mixture, folding together until everything is moist.

honey orange bran muffins recipe 1

 

Spoon into muffin pan (I use paper liners) and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.

apple pie bran muffins recipe

They should be turning golden on the top. Let them cool on a wire rack, and enjoy! These muffins tend to look a bit lumpier on top than the other ones, but they’re still delicious! (And healthier since I subbed out the sugar for applesauce!)

no sugar apple cinnamon bran muffins

Apple Pie Bran Muffins

1 cup oat bran (wheat works too)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 small apple

1. Preheat oven to 350. Mix all dry ingredients – bran, flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt – in a large bowl.

2. Peel and chop the apple into small pieces.

3. Mix all wet ingredients – yogurt, eggs, applesauce, honey, and vanilla – in smaller bowl. Fold in apple pieces. Pour into the large bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir until combined, and all ingredients are moist.

4. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan (or with paper liners). Fill each muffin about 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until tops begin to turn golden brown. Let cool on wire rack.

Makes about 18 muffins