Saturday, April 16, 2016

Southwestern Quiche

Southwestern Quiche

On our anniversary in March, we went to our local French Bakery. It's a really cute place in a brick bungalow which used to be a private residence.  The bakery is right next to an old white farm house which has been converted into a very nice French Restaurant called Le Petit Chablis.  Both restaurants are owned by the same couple; the husband is from France and his wife is American.  I've been to the bakery a number of times since it's been open, but I've only been to Le Petit Chablis two times in the 24 years we've lived here.  It's fancy and expensive, but we are planning to go again some time soon.

At the bakery, we shared a little quiche and I want to say it was called "Cowboy Quiche". The quiche was made in a small, individual-serving size round tart pan and the ingredients included chorizo sausage, green chiles, and cheese, and it was all baked into a pastry crust.  Of course this inspired me to make a green chile quiche at home.  I had all the ingredients at home with the exception of monterrey jack cheese.  I have been using pepper jack cheese in quiches lately BUT I think the pepper jack cheese I am finding at the store is a bit odd.  It seems like more like "processed cheese food" and it seems to melt funny and pool up to the top of the quiche when it bakes.  So this time around, I decided I wanted to use monterrey jack cheese.  For my quiche, I also decided to use some precooked turkey breakfast sausage since I had it on hand and it's much leaner than chorizo.  I think chorizo would be really good in this quiche.

Southwestern Quiche


1 un-baked pie crust (Click HERE for the pie crust recipe I use) or use a frozen crust (such as Pillsbury brand unbaked pie crust found in the freezer section) or use your favorite pie crust recipe.
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (I used 1/2 of a small Vidalia onion)
1/2 of a red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced
4  precooked Johnsonville brand turkey breakfast sausage, diced
1 can (7 ounce) Ortega brand mild fire roasted green chiles, well drained
3 large or extra large eggs
1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate; flute if desired. Cover bottom of pie crust with shredded cheese; set aside.

2. Spray a non-skillet generously with non-stick cooking spray, heat skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno pepper, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper;  cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (about 4 or 5 minutes).  Add the diced precooked sausage to the pan, lower the heat to medium low, and cook an additional 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, to warm through.   Spoon the sausage-vegetable mixture evenly over the cheese in the pie crust. Sprinkle the drained green chiles over the sausage-vegetable in the pie crust.

3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs, evaporated milk, and an additional 1/4 salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Carefully poor the egg mixture into the pie crust over the layered ingredients.

4. Bake the quiche for approximately 50 to 55 minutes. Quiche is done when a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow quiche to stand for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing into 8 wedges.

The quiche was quite spicy when it first came out of the oven, but got significantly mellower when we had the leftovers over the next few days.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sunday's Hike

The doggies and I went for a walk on Sunday morning. We go to this stretch of the river more than any other hiking place. It's just a few minutes from our house by car. 

We missed the sunrise due to sleeping in a tad but the morning light was interesting and kept changing during the walk.  I am posting these photos in the order in which they were taken. 

These photos were taken 23 hours ago. 

Last night, we had rain, thunder, and lightning and it's still raining now. 

Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Little BBQ Steak Meatballs

Little BBQ Steak Meatballs

Well, I don't think I am going to win any food blogger photography awards for these photos, but this recipe is a tasty treat!

At a recent hotel stay (Embassy Suites), I had some tasty BBQ meatballs.  The hotel offers a Manager's Reception/Happy Hour with appetizers and drinks for free each evening.  One night they had little bite sized meatballs in BBQ sauce.  The meatballs were not drenched in sauce; there was just a nice coating of BBQ sauce on each meatball.  It got me to thinking how I could make these meatballs at home.  I thought my family would like them.

This morning after our walk down at the river, I whipped up these mini-meatballs in no time at all.  I did try one (or two) with a little drizzle of BBQ sauce and they are delicious.  When we want to have these for a meal today or tomorrow, I just plan to warm them up in a skillet with a little bit of BBQ sauce.  When I baked these today in the oven, the meatballs got nicely caramelized on the bottom.  They ended up tasting a bit like steak since is used steak seasoning in the meatballs.  To make these meatballs small and similar in size, I used my little scoop that looks like an ice cream scoop. Each meatball is right around 1 tablespoon in size (smaller than a walnut).  I got 29 meatballs out of one pound of ground hamburger.  I think these would be a great appetizer at a party.  I think we will have these as a meal with a salad.

Little BBQ Steak Meatballs

1 pound of ground beef (93 percent lean/7 percent fat)
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (about 20 to 24 grinds McCormick Parsley Grinder)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil; spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (I used my hands to work all the ingredients together).
Shape the beef mixture into 28 to 30 meatballs (1 tablespoon in size).  Place on prepared baking sheet; leave space around the meatballs so they are not touching.  Bake in the preheated in oven for 12 minutes.  Serve with BBQ sauce if desired.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Close Encounter of the Big Horn Sheep Kind

Oh! Hello you handsome fellow!  

Can't see him!?!  Let me zoom in a bit for you. 

I see you up there. 

Just let me look at you for a bit. Don't worry; I don't want to harm you. I just can't believe how majestic you are and how lucky I am to see you on my hike today. 

I can't help but wonder how many times I've walked past you and missed seeing you. 

You blend into the terrain so very well. It was wonderful to see you today!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Turkey Meatballs with Feta Cheese

I keep tweaking my meatball recipe. This time I used only ground turkey. Jennie-O brand has some pre-seasoned, packaged ground turkey which I find at my local Kroger store. I now use this in place of pork Italian sausage in soups, on pizza, and mixed in with jarred tomato marinara sauce over pasta. I add a few items to bump up the flavor. 

We are trying to eat a lower carbohydrate diet. My husband suggested we have Italian meatballs in marinara suave with feta cheese sans pasta. It was a great meal with a salad. 

Turkey Italian Meatballs

2 pounds ground turkey (Jennie-O Italian   Seasoned Lean Ground Turkey)
1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs 
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated or minced 
1/3 to 1/2 of a small onion, finely grated or minced
1 egg
3 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

Spray two 13" X 9" X 2" pans with non-stick cooking spray. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; use you hands to work all ingredients into the ground turkey.  Shape turkey mixture into 16 to 18 meatballs (sized a little larger than golf balls). Place in prepared pans, with space between each meatball (so they are not touching while baking). 

Bake meatballs uncovered, in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. 

I added half of the meatballs to a jar of tomato marinara sauce in a pot and simmered it for about 5 to 8 minutes, while I made up a salad. We had the meatballs and salad with some crumbled feta cheese and it was a flavorful, lower carbohydrate meal (and two leftover portions for easy lunches later in the week). 

I froze the other half of the meatballs for future meals. 

Ancho-Chile Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro-Lime Quinoa and Fresh Pico de Gallo

I made up this nice plate for myself and snapped this photo with my iPhone as I sat down to eat my meal.  Just after I took this photo, I dropped my iPhone into my plate of food.  Doh!  Don't do that, but do try this recipe.  It's good!

Ancho-Chile Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro-Lime Quinoa and Fresh Pico de Gallo

We are trying to eat healthier and focus on lean protein with fresh fruits and vegetables, and we are trying to stay away from the carbs we love so much: bread, pasta, tortillas, etc.  For some recipe inspiration, I flipped through a magazine from 2014.  

I found a pork tenderloin recipe; I knew my husband would NOT go for the Pineapple-Papaya Salsa, so I made Fresh Pico de Gallo instead.  I also made up some Cilantro Lime Quinoa.  When I try a new recipe, I always wonder if it's going to be a flop, but my husband really LOVED this recipe.  He ate all the leftovers so we got 5 servings out of this recipe.

You can see the spice rub in the photo above.  I had all the ingredients on hand which is always nice. I thought I had purchased a PLAIN pork tenderloin but when I was opening up my packaged tenderloin, I saw it was called "original" (looks like it was pre-seasoned).  I did rinse my pork tenderloin under cold running water to remove some of the "goo" from the packaging and patted the tenderloin dry with paper towels before coating it with the spice rub.

Ancho-Chile Crusted Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin (I used Hormel brand: 1.5 pounds, the label read "original")
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over pork tenderloin (see notes above); coat the entire tenderloin with the spice mixture.  Place tenderloin in a gallon sized zip close bag and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. 

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place pork loin in a baking dish (I used a 13" x 9" x 2" glass Pyrex dish).  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  I was in a hurry to get this on the table so I cooked this at 425 degrees.  The original recipe calls for cooking the pork tenderloin on the outdoor grill. 

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 cup water
pinch of kosher salt
a few tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro leaves
the finely grated zest of 1 lime
the juice of half a lime

Bring the water and the pinch of salt to a boil.  Add in quinoa, cover with a lid, reduce to low; simmer for 17 to 20 minutes, without removing the lid on the pot.  When done, add in the cilantro, lime, zest, and lime juice from 1/2 a lime; fluff and stir with a fork.

Fresh Pico de Gallo

4 or 5 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, finely diced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced (use less if you don't like spicy)
1 fresh clove of garlic, finely minced
the juice of half a lime
1/2 of a small onion, I used a sweet Vidalia onion, finely diced
a few tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
a few pinches of granulated sugar to offset the spice/heat

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl; toss with a fork to combine.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Snowy Hike Today

We want for a nice, snowy walk this afternoon 

The dogs especially had a great time. 

In this last photo, you can see the light showing through from the far side of the tunnel. I love this place!