Monday, January 13, 2014

Make ahead quiche

This past summer was a banner year for Swiss chard and other leafy greens from my CSA. I didn't mind, I love the stuff, plus I knew I'd want greens come winter. Some members did grumble quite a bit over it though. Bet they'd welcome it now.

What I did was I froze tons of it. Well what was tons of it fresh anyway - chopped, blanched and frozen it's a LOT smaller. Still as tasty and almost as healthful though. Basically it's as easy as it sounds - I roughly chopped the greens, and in the case of chard (and escarole) the stems, and quickly dropped it all in some slightly salted boiled water. I swished them around for a few seconds (but no more then a minute) and then quickly transferred the greens to a waiting bowl of ice water, where I swished them around until cool. I then removed it from the water, squeezing out as much liquid as I could and froze it in reasonable portions (I did 1 cup containers).

Now that its winter and my CSA share consists of root veggies, I'm glad I did all that. I'm preparing for the birth of twins (if all goes on schedule they come out next week) and trying to cook some meals in advance. I have a ton of venison sausage from my husband's autumn hunting trip so I decided on making a few quiches as they are easy to pre-make & freeze, balanced complete meals, and are very forgiving in the reheating process - over baking by 10-15 minutes is no big deal.

I opted for the easy route of store bought, pre-made pie shells in the disposable aluminum pie plate - I know I won't want to bother with extra dishes with two newborns... plus I used my nice Pyrex pie plates at Christmas for pumpkin pies and of course left them with various family members (I'll get them back eventually).

Once the crust is established (and indeed you can skip the crust altogether if you prefer) quiche is ridiculously easy. Mix a bunch of ingredients with egg and bake, basically. I opted for low fat cheddar cheese, greens, venison sausage and eggs. I made four all together, two with straight kale, and two are a mix of escarole and Swiss chard. The sausage is without any casing and simply cooked and crumbled. As for the eggs, I did about 2/3 whole eggs and 1/3 egg white just because, well, it's a lot of egg. I super finely chopped the greens in the food processor and decided what the heck and instead of shredding the cheese, just went ahead and chopped the cheese up in the same method - I can't imagine it will make a difference.

Quiche (makes 2 deep dish 9" quiches)
2 - 9" deep dish pie shells
3 cups blanched greens, room temp, finely chopped
8 oz cheese (I used low fat cheddar), shredded or finely chopped
7 large eggs
5 large egg whites
1.5 cups cooked, crumbled sausage, cooled
salt & pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350. In a big bowl beat the egg and egg whites with the salt and pepper. Add the greens, the cheese and the sausage. Mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake for either 1 hour (or until center is fully set) and eat, or bake for 45 minutes, allow to cool and freeze. To eat bake another 30 minutes (from frozen state).

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sweet Potato Bread

Its a snowy day so its some sort of law I'm supposed to bake, right? Oh wait maybe the law is about preparing food in advance of giving birth... Well either way I did. 

My husband is a good man who usually eats anything I cook without complaint. But for some bizarre reason he does not love sweet potatoes. This is very odd to me; they are so tasty. And a hassle because we get a lot of sweet potatoes from the CSA. He can usually be coaxed to eat them, but he never really enjoys them. Meanwhile we had some monster huge ones that needed eating.

I got a massive, and so far seemingly really good, cookbook for Christmas (Good Housekeeping Step By Step Cooking) which I've been perusing lately. I saw an interesting looking recipe for sweet potato biscuits which I considered. But I've been in a mood for sweets, muffins, cakes, etc. So I decided on sweet potato bread. Mind you this is not a recipe in the book. But then to me, recipes are mere suggestions, not rules. I figured I could modify the banana bread recipe.

Of course in the spirit of suggestive recipes, I changed a few other ingredients as well, mostly based on the reality of what I had on hand. All purpose flour was switched for mostly whole wheat, butter was joined with coconut oil due to a lack of enough butter, brown sugar mixed with regular sugar because I just opened a new bag and want to use it before it hardens. And I added chocolate chunks, because I had some and why not? Oh and I doubled the recipe to accommodate having 2 cups worth of sweet potato (and to have an extra loaf for freezing). The cinnamon blend is something I've mentioned before and always have on hand (mostly cinnamon, mixed with some ginger, nutmeg and clove). Much of the directions however are from the cookbook.

The result is delicious. And nutritious. And enough to enjoy some now, and freeze one loaf for next month when I'm dealing with two newborns and in no mood to cook. And finally, husband approved.

Sweet Potato Bread (makes 2 loaves)
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon blend
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp coconut oil
4 eggs
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup water
chopped walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chunks (about 1/2 cup total)

Pre-heat oven to 350.
In a big bowl whisk together the flours, cinnamon blend, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer (I used a KitchenAid stand mixer with the whisk attachment), blend the sugars, butter, oil and eggs on low, then increase to high speed for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the sweet potato and water. Mix until well blended. Then slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated. Finally mix in the nuts and chocolate.
Pour the mix into two greased loaf pans. (Its ok if it looks like the pans are only half full, it rises quite a bit). Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.