Easy Herbed Ham & Cheese Quiche

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Why is it that it seems like everyone does brunch or breakfast for Mother’s Day? Growing up, we always made Mom breakfast in bed. Reservations for Mother’s Day brunches fill up quickly. Do moms prefer breakfast? Don’t they like dinner too? Who knows… Either way, we stuck with the cliche and made a nice Mother’s Day brunch for Ally’s mom with the rest of her family. We’ve had a hectic few weeks (moving, growing a human, working a ton, traveling almost every weekend, etc), so we were looking for some quicker and easier ideas that would still be fancy enough to honor Mom’s special day. (So sadly, doughnuts and bagels were out…)

In the end, we decided to throw together a simple quiche, made easy by the use of store-bought pie crust. It feels a little fancier because, well French words always sound fancier and because we went heavy on the herb! Tarragon was a nice choice and definitely an underutilized herb in our kitchen. We didn’t use fresh tarragon, another nod to our attempts to simplify our morning, though certainly that would probably only improve the dish. Other herbs would be nice here too – I’m thinking sage or rosemary. This quiche was only part of our brunch, as you can see in the pictures of our spread. Unfortunately our monkey bread, while tasty, wasn’t good enough to share just quite yet. We’ll keep working on it!

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Easy Herbed Ham & Cheese Quiche

Ingredients: 
  • 1 store-bought pie crust
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced
  • 1 cup ham, cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • {Oil if needed}
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, brown the cubed ham. If the ham is fatty and releases fat (our was), you may not needed any oil in your pan. If not, add a little bit of oil in here.
  3. After 2-3 minutes or so, add in the onions. Toss to coat in the fat/oil. Saute until softened and fragrant, another 3-4 minutes, and then add the garlic. Cook just another 2 minutes and then set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, tarragon, salt, and several turns of fresh black pepper.
  5. Press the pie crust into a pie pan. Pour the ham, onions, and garlic into the crust, followed by most of the cheese. Top with the egg mixture. Top with the last bit of cheese.
  6. Bake for approximately 35 minutes.
  7. Slice & serve!
Serves 6-8

Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread

Growing up, when we were having a special treat or the whole extended family was together, my grandmother would make us her ‘sticky buns.’ Now that she has passed away, my mom thankfully has taken on the responsibility of the sticky bun making! It was only after I was probably in my mid-20s that I realized what we called Grandmom’s sticky buns was what most people call monkey bread. You know what I’m talking about… those sweet, sugary, pull-apart balls of doughy deliciousness that taste of cinnamon and frequently have chopped nuts attached! (This is a point of contention in my family – nuts or no nuts?! The two parties are bitterly divided and therefore Grandmom and Mom make one dish with and one dish without the nuts. I’m on Team Nuts, for the record.) As I was writing this post, I decided to look up the history of monkey bread. Fun facts for your bank of useless knowledge: 

  • Monkey bread was termed such because we eat it using our fingers, pulling apart each chunk, which was thought to mimic the way monkeys eat. 
  • Alternative names include: monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread (I guess this is where we got our sticky buns moniker!), pinch-me cake, bubble bread, and Hungarian coffee cake.
  • The origin of this treat is probably the Hungarian-Jewish arany galuska, brought to this country by Eastern European immigrants in the late 1800s. 
  • American monkey bread differs from arany galuska as each dough ball is dipped in butter, which was not part of the original recipe. 

So there you have it – more knowledge than you ever knew you needed about monkey bread! Now this version is a savory adaptation of the sweet breakfast tradition. The base concept is the same; dough balls, dipped in the butter, stacked haphazardly prior to baking, and eaten pulled apart with fingers. While I love the original, this cheesy, herby version is amazing! It’s an amazing alternative to regular bread to accompany dinner, but it definitely would still work as a breakfast dish. 

Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread

(Adapted from Home Skillet, by Robin Donovan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted & divided
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 tbsp of melted butter, milk, and water. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit for ~10 minutes, until frothy. 
  2. Stir in the flour and salt. As it comes together, switch to kneading the dough with your hands. Once you have a dough ball, place it in a clean bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 90 minutes. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  4. Mix together the two cheese in another bowl. Remove 1/2 cup to another small bowl.
  5. Add the garlic and herbs to the main bowl and toss together. 
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until roughly 1/8th inch thick. Spread the cheese mixture onto half of the dough and then fold the other half over top. 
  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into small squares. Roll each square into a ball. 
  8. Using the remaining melted butter, brush butter on all surfaces of your cast iron skillet. Then dunk each ball into the butter prior to placing in the skillet. Layer the balls across the bottom of the skillet and then stack into further layers as needed. 
  9. Sprinkle the dough balls with the reserved cheese.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes prior to eating. Run a knife around the edges and then flip the skillet over onto your serving platter. 

Serves 4-6

Cheddar & Shallot Skillet Scones

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It seems like people have very strong feelings about cast iron skillets, positive or negative. Those who don’t own or use cast iron skillets regularly sometimes are scared of using them, because they think they’re hard to care for. The seasoning of the skillet is a little intimidating unless you’ve read a little bit about it. But on the other hand, those people who own and use cast iron skillets really love theirs. Prior to this past Christmas, we probably the only South Carolinians who didn’t own one.

We’ve been using it these past months for burgers and steaks, and we definitely are on Team Cast Iron Skillet now. But we also got a cast iron skillet cookbook for Christmas and had yet to make anything out of it. These scones were our first choice out of there and accidentally, were perfect for today! We didn’t plan it that way, but what is more perfectly British than a scone? And on today, Royal Wedding Day, where Americans pretend we didn’t rebel against the crown and join the rest of the world in being awe-struck by the pageantry of it all, what better day to share this scone recipe! We’ve now moved on from watching the Royal Wedding to English Premier League soccer football, so we’re basically British today 🇬🇧

We really enjoyed these scones. They aren’t overly cheesy, but have a nice flavor. We topped them with our Bacon Jam, which was basically magical. They stayed nice and moist in the middle, which is great since I think some dislike scones, thinking they’re too dry. And honestly, they’re really nothing like what you think a traditional British scone would be. You probably wouldn’t serve this with clotted cream or Earl Grey. They taste like they came from a Southern cook, instead of a British one, but we’ll pretend.

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Cheddar & Shallot Skillet Scones

(Adapted from Home Skillet, by Robin Donovan)
Ingredients:
  • 8+ tbsp very cold butter*
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 3 turns fresh ground black pepper
*COLD butter is important. Try this: place the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to making the scones. Use a grater to cut into small pieces.
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Whisk together the liquid ingredients and then stir in the cheese and shallots.
  4. Work the cold butter into the dry ingredients. Gently combine with your hands.
  5. Stir the bowl of wet ingredients into the dry bowl + butter. Don’t over-combine, as best you can.
  6. Once the dough has just come together, flour your hands and counter-top and then knead the dough just a few times.
  7. Grease the cast iron skillet with butter. Turn the ball of dough into the skillet and pat down until it completely covers the bottom of the skillet. Slice the dough about 2/3s of the way through into triangles. (Cutting 8 slices is easy, but you can go bigger or smaller.)
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool and finish the slice all the way through before serving.
Makes 8-12 scones

Strawberry Ricotta Toast

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You know how avocado toast suddenly became a thing? Kudos to whoever first thought, “Hmm… let me smash some avocado on a piece of bread, top it was something Instagrammable, and see if people will pay 10 times more than the ingredients are worth for it…” #avocadotoast And Instagram has never been the same.

Well I’m here to tell you that ricotta toast is the next avocado toast. Dare I say it… It may be bigger than avocado toast. Unlike the avocado, ricotta can pair with sweet or savory ingredients. I really can’t think of anything that wouldn’t work with ricotta. And that white background will provide quite the Instagrammable contrast for the toppings. We have a ways to go until my theory is proven – #avocadotoast has been used more than 760,000 times on Instagram, while #ricottatoast is hovering just under 3,000. I always favor the underdog 💪🏼💪🏼

I’ve seen ricotta toast on a few restaurant menus (and a few Instagram shots) and thought it’d be perfect for my breakfast. I have leftover ricotta from our Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle dish the other night. Leftover basil makes an appearance on this one too. Best part about this breakfast was that every ingredient already resided in my kitchen. All of these proportions and ingredients could easily be adjusted to personal tastes as well.

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Strawberry Ricotta Toast

Ingredients:
  • Slice of bread
  • 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • A few strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (preferably a thicker, more syrupy type)
  • Fresh basil, torn
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Toast your bread.
  2. Smear the toast with ricotta.
  3. Top with strawberries, basil, a few turns of fresh ground black pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  4. Instagram your creation.

Dinner Rolls

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At every family meal we have on my maternal side of the family, everyone gets really excited when they find out that my Aunt Bobbie has made the rolls or bread. She’s famous in the family for delicious, fluffy, homemade rolls and bread. At this most recent Thanksgiving, when she was slicing bread to place out on the table, my brother elbowed me and whispered, “Do you think anyone would notice if I just ate all the bread before dinner starts?” For the record Kev, I do think so…

We’re having Friendsgiving today this year, and so I decided to try to make her rolls. It’s never quite as good when you make someone else’s recipe that you love, but I thought it was worth the challenge. I adjusted a smidge from her recipe in the family cookbook, so we’ll know where I screwed up when it’s not the same!

Results? Pretty darn good, but shockingly, not exactly the same. Hers are fluffier. But these are still pretty fluffy, especially if you eat them right out of the oven! (How else would you want to eat them…?)

Dinner Rolls

(Recipe from my family cookbook, by Aunt Bobbie, obviously)
Ingredients: 
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 1/4 tsp yeast
Instructions: 
  1. Sift together the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a bread hook.
  2. Stir the yeast into the warm water.
  3. Beat the egg and then whisk in the sugar. Then add 2 tbsp of melted butter, followed by the water and yeast.
  4. Pour all of the wet ingredients in with the dry. Start the stand mixer and knead for 3-4 minutes.
  5. {If needed, add tiny amount of flour or water to combat too sticky or too dry dough.}
  6. Place dough ball in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 2 hours.
  7. Divide dough into individual rolls. Bobbie suggests 24; we did 18. Place rolls on a baking sheet.
  8. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and generously brush on top of all the rolls.
  9. Set aside for another 2 hours to rise again. They should double in size.
  10. Finally, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Waffles

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Want to know a secret? I actually don’t prefer chocolate chip waffles. I know this is blasphemy to the American public in general, and my husband in particular, but I really just like a plain ol’ waffle. But today is Selim’s birthday, so breakfast is to his preference, not mine. And let me tell you, that man loves chocolate! He doesn’t just want a handful of chocolate chips in his waffle, he wants several in in every bite, plus more sprinkled on top! So that’s exactly what I made for him this morning.

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I used the basic waffle recipe from our bible of cookbooks, The Cook’s Book, and stuffed the batter with chocolate chips. The result was delicious and overloaded with gooey chocolate! If you love chocolate even half as much as my husband does, give these waffles a try. IMG_20170624_200834.jpg

 

Oh, and… HAPPY BIRTHDAY SELIM!!! 😘🎂🎉💘🎈🥂💕

 

Chocolate Chip Waffles

(Adapted from The Cook’s Book)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Optional toppings: fruit, syrup, honey, whipped cream, more chocolate chips!
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon).
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir together.
  3. Add the melted butter and vanilla to the batter, stir up until all ingredients are well-combined.
  4. Add the chocolate chips, stirring just once or twice so the chocolate chips are well-dispersed.
  5. Using a ladle, scoop batter into your waffle maker and bake per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Number of waffles depends upon the size of your waffle maker – ours made 4 large ones.

Southwest Baked Frittata

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Today during class, I turned to my friend, rattled off the random ingredients in my fridge, and asked her to tell me what I should make for dinner. To her credit, she immediately answered with great ideas! (I would’ve been like, “Uhhh… good luck with your dilemma there bud…”) So thanks Victoria for the idea for tonight’s dinner! Where would we be without our friends?

I baked this frittata (still looking into whether or not baking it makes it not a frittata, but in the meantime, we’ll go with it…) mostly because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to successfully make it and flip it on the stove. I’m not that graceful and flipping a frittata without breaking it seems out of my league… This version is super easy and tastes great! But while with a quick google, I can find a ton of recipes for “baked frittata,” the word frittata literally comes from the Italian for “fried.” Oven baked ≠ fried. That’s about as far as I cared to look into it. Someone correct my terminology!

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Southwest Baked Frittata

Ingredients: 
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 links of chicken sausage*
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 5 turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium pan on your stove.
  3. Once heated, add the garlic and cook for just 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slice the sausage length-wise, then slice into half-moons. Add this to the pan with the garlic. Cook for ~10 minutes, until beginning to brown.
  5. Add diced red bell pepper and the corn (sliced off the ears). Add a splash of water and cover the pan. Allow the vegetables to steam for just another 5 minutes or so.
  6.  Meanwhile, whisk together your eggs and the milk in a large bowl. Whisk for several minutes.
  7. Then add in the hot sauce and spices. Give another good whisk to combine.
  8. Drain off any excess water or oil from the pan on the stove. Then add the contents to the bowl with the eggs. Stir all the ingredients together.
  9. Spray a 9×9 pie pan with cooking spray. Pour the contents of the bowl into the pan.
  10. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. (Check for doneness by inserting a knife towards the middle of the dish – check for any runny egg.)
  11. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to the oven for just a minute or two until the cheese melts.
*We love Trader Joe’s chicken sausage. There are a ton of varieties that would be great in this dish; I used the garlic chicken sausage this time.
Serves 6.