The Perfect Crustless Quiche

crustless quiche slice

February 17 was a big day for my family this year. Not only was it my mom’s birthday, but it also was the first time they came to visit Nashville. Ever! And while I’ve been wanting my parents to visit ever since I first moved last February, I’ll be the first to admit that in the valley of a few weeks ago, it felt a little impossible. So I’m thankful to say that in fact, we had a busy four days, filled with many moments where I’d look at Tim and say, I’m not in pain!, amidst marathons of Downton Abbey, antiquing in Franklin, a visit to the gym and grabbing them Olive & Sinclair chocolate-dipped popsicles at Hot and Cold. It all started when they arrived early Friday morning, having braved a 6 AM flight to get here, and so we had a birthday breakfast waiting—and the star of that show was this quiche.

quiche for brunch

Here are the reasons I like this quiche: 1) You don’t have to make a pie crust. It’s not that I have anything against pie crust (especially not this foolproof one!); it’s just that sometimes, say the weekend where you’re already making two other pies, one pumpkin and one lemon meringue, you don’t feel like another. And even sans crust, I love how this quiche holds together beautifully, firm and solid, like an egg bake.

2) It’s a meal in itself. It’s true this quiche was our breakfast, alongside sprouted cinnamon raisin English muffins and fruit, but it could just as easily be lunch or dinner, maybe with greens on the side.

mid-brunch

3. It is the perfect blend of flavors. I hesitate to use the word perfect here, mostly because it feels a little pushy amidst a sea of competing opinions for the best this or the most delicious that, but I’m doing it anyway because, objectively, this quiche was so good, everyone had seconds, and the one small piece that was leftover after the five of us ate it was gone the next morning. And also, you know how sometimes you cook a new recipe and all you think is how it’s missing something? This quiche was the exact opposite: it was precisely as it should be, from the dispersion of spinach and chard to the blend of three different cheeses.

But beyond that, perhaps the most convincing argument, if you want to know the truth, is that my mom, the birthday girl herself, has asked me for this quiche recipe three times, and something like that hasn’t happened since the Great Pot Roast of 2010. After that kind of ringing endorsement, I don’t know what else to say but that here, I bring you, Mom and everyone:

our new favorite crustless quiche!

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Sprouted Coconut Cocoa Banana Muffins

sprouted coconut cocoa banana muffins up close

The first week Tim and I got back to Nashville, while we settled into a regular rhythm of making meals and paying bills and sharing a home office together, I began tackling the to-do list that follows a wedding. There were thank-you notes to write, bank accounts to merge, a pretty major name change to take care of—at the DMV, the social security office, with basically every account I have on record anywhere—and even looking back now, with it all done and finished and behind me, I can tell you there were definite low points (i.e., AT&T: Why is it so hard to get two existing users spun off into a new account? WHY?) and definite high points (i.e., these muffins).

baking muffins

I’ve always been the kind of girl to crave a couple hours alone in the kitchen. When I used to work a regular office job, I’d often come home at the end of the day, tired and not really wanting to go anywhere, and I’d comfort myself with cooking (eventually with my camera and you guys to join me, and thus this blog was born). Sometimes I’d play music or watch an online TV show in the background. Sometimes I’d talk to myself out loud. What mattered was the way it felt like downtime—cooking doesn’t always feel like that.

dark chocolate

If you talked to our friend Corri, for example, who came over for dinner last week, he could tell you what a different kind of cooking looks like. He could tell you about walking into a house and seeing both cooks still in the kitchen, green beans on the stove, chicken in the oven, flour all over the counters, and about hearing the sad, sad story of two back-to-back attempts to remake macarons and failing. At some point during our meal, I’m pretty sure I was apologizing to him for apologizing, that’s how bad things had gotten in my mind—and I do mean in my mind because the reality was our meal was perfectly good, thanks to that very capable man I married—but rather than loving my time in the kitchen and my contributions to what we were eating, I had been frustrated by it, by how my results weren’t matching my expectations.

baking banana muffins

I think that’s part of the difference between baking for leisure and baking for a purpose, and I think that’s what made these muffins such a highlight of our first week of Nashville married life.

muffins in the oven

There were a lot of things I was doing for a purpose that week: waiting for two hours at the DMV, mailing cards, sitting down with Tim to plan our monthly budget—but baking these muffins? That was different.

one sprouted coconut cocoa banana muffin

Because when you’re baking one morning in your pajamas while your husband works in the next room, you can talk to yourself, you can spill flour, you can burn something—you’ve freed yourself to. But when you bake for company or for a business or for the first time at a Thanksgiving dinner with all your family, you constrain yourself into thinking something must be how it must be and anything else is disaster. Or at least I do that.

buttered muffin

These muffins didn’t have to be anything special, just a way to use up ingredients and a way to relax for a few afternoon hours. Heaven knows, Tim and I would eat them regardless of how they ended up tasting. I found the original recipe online, where it came with high reviews, and I improvised ingredients with what we had (hello, huge sale on sprouted wheat flour at Whole Foods!) and ingredients I wanted to add.

muffins in cake stand

When I brought one to Tim, sliced and buttered and still steaming hot, it was just a happy bonus that we liked them—not too sweet, the perfect vehicle for a little jam or honey, yet chocolatey and cakey and a nice morning treat.

buttered muffins

And so it was these sprouted coconut cocoa banana muffins that, set beneath a glass bowl, first graced our dining room table, the dining room table that Tim built, and made our first week together in our first house feel a little more special, a little more right, a little more like home.

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Spelt Belgian Waffles [+ a new blog design!]

spelt belgian waffles

A few days after I came back from Oregon, one night while Tim and I were working side by side, I told him I didn’t know if I wanted to blog anymore.

It was weird—not just because we’re in the midst of working and talking about wedding plans but because I love blogging. I’d be the first to tell you there’s nothing like the feeling of sitting down to write precisely what you want to say, organizing the chaos of life into cohesive sentences and paragraphs, feeling that satisfaction of yes! that is what I mean! when you hit publish and receiving feedback in the form of comments from people who have become your friends.

But I’d wrestled with these thoughts while I was in Oregon, surrounded by big bloggers with book deals, international press trips, specified knowledge so out of my world that they’d literally left me speechless when they talked, and really, I’d been thinking about it before then. I find new blogs I like every week. I’m so impressed by the talent—by bloggers who put hours and hours into crafting original, interesting, beautiful material on the Internet for the rest of us to enjoy—and when there’s so much out there already, I wonder sometimes why I want to add more.

We’ve talked about it a few times the last couple weeks, in between drafting seating charts and making homemade ravioli for dinner and pinning table decorations and beginning to move Tim from his three-year bachelor pad to our future home. When he brought his waffle iron sometime last week, we ate spelt Belgian waffles topped with sorghum for breakfast and liked them so much, we made them again, with strawberries, for Sunday night dinner with friends. We’re doing the everyday things of life even as we prepare for the great event of ours, with my giant white dress hanging in my house, our honeymoon booked, plans for me to fly home tonight.

And thinking about that right now makes me glad to have this blog to remember it. Because while I expected, ten days before our wedding, to be telling you about the pumpkin cake my mom’s making or the cookie table our friends are contributing to or how excited I am that it’s all really happening, the thing I most want to say now is this: I am thankful to be marrying someone who, in the midst of it, set aside time to talk about issues as in-the-grand-scheme-of-things-unimportant as blogging, who helped me decide to keep doing it and, thanks to his WordPress genius, showed me how to give it a facelift that makes me excited to come back here next month.

Anytime I start to wonder if blogging is worthwhile, I’ll just remind myself: it brought me Tim.

See you soon.

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Blueberry Scones + UPrinting giveaway

I am not even ashamed to admit that I love a good bargain. I clip coupons; I buy $15 desks. When Jeni’s celebrated its new Nashville location with free scoops of ice cream last week, we were front in line. And when Whole Foods had a $1.99 sale on organic blueberries June 17, you know I bought a whole case.

A whole case.

mixing blueberry scone dough

Organic blueberries, which typically go for more like $4 or $5 a pint, are definitely on my top five list of favorite fruits. They are packed with antioxidants. They’re delicious by themselves, and even better with cream. They’re great to freeze for morning smoothies; they’re great to eat with milk and cereal. And, on top of all that, they remind me of Tim—because he wrote about them in one of the first ways we got acquainted.

blueberry scone dough unsliced

So really, I guess you could say it was my bargain-loving instinct—and the 12 pints of blueberries that accompanied it—that we can thank for this recipe, a pretty basic adaptation of a simple blueberry scone. Mixing the dough couldn’t have been simpler: it took 15 minutes, maybe, and even with the added 20 minutes of bake time and more to clean the kitchen, it was still somewhere under an hour total, which is a pretty small investment for what you get in return.

blueberry scone dough circle

These scones are really beautiful to look at, flecked with the deep purple stain of blueberries and nicely shaped into golden triangles of dough. Fresh out of the oven and topped with a little butter, they are pure heaven. I ate four.

scones on baking sheet

I told Tim, while we ate them yesterday afternoon in his kitchen (where I, yet again, forget to bring my camera and resorted to iPhone/instagram tactics), these scones feel like something you’d be served at a bed and breakfast in Maine, where wild blueberries are simply everywhere, worked into menus from breakfast to dessert.

fresh scones

I think I’d rather like to go back to Maine, if only for all those blueberries. But for now, I’m glad to have a freezer full, as well as these scones, to enjoy.

Oh and hey! Before the recipe, one more thing: A UPrinting Giveaway!
[UPDATE 7/25/11: The winner of the giveaway was Jessie V! Congratulations!]

Details of the Giveaway from UPrinting:
The winner receives:

  • 50 pieces 8.5″ X 11″ brochure printing
  • 100lb Paper Gloss
  • With Folding (Half Fold, Trifold/Letterfold, Z-Fold, Roll Fold, Accordion Fold)
  • Outside and Inside printing, 2 Business Days Turnaround
  • Free shipping

Restrictions:

  • Open only to US residents
  • 18 years old and above only
  • Contest ends tomorrow, June 30, 2011 at midnight CST [NOW CLOSED]
  • Winner cannot have won another UPrinting contest in the last six months

How to Enter:

  • Simply leave a comment on this post, stating what you’d do with the prize AND/OR telling me your favorite way to eat blueberries.
  • Winner will be chosen via random number generator July 1

Disclaimer:
This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, an online printing company. Visit UPrinting.com for more information about brochures and available brochure templates. UPrinting will get in touch with the winner for the prize claim within 30 days.

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Banana Coconut Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies

You know those people who are always telling you how busy they are? It’s kind of annoying because really, we all make the time to do the things we really want to do. Even when we’re crazy crazy busy, we still eat, for example—or at least, I still eat—maybe you sleep or meet your friend for coffee or buy a new lamp for the living room. The point is, I’ve always thought to myself, even when it was my own voice I was hearing say it, that hello? You say you’re too busy, but really you are just admitting that you don’t want to make the time for something.

But then the last few weeks happened.

cookie recipe

And what I’ve been realizing—amidst taking trips to Chicago, having guests in town, looking for new work, planning a wedding, staying in touch with friends, and dealing with everyday emergencies like an ant problem or a shower curtain that continually wants to fall down—is that sometimes, being too busy is less about all the actual things you’re doing and more about what those things do to your mind. It can be hard to just sit and think and process things, even when you want to. You start to feel lost in it all and you start to forget really obvious things that you should remember.

cookie dough

Last weekend, for example, I had my leftovers packaged up at lunch—and then forgot them at the table.

I took some out-of-town guests on a tour of Franklin—and got lost twice.

While things on the to-do list are getting accomplished (caterer picked! engagement photos done! jazz band found!), I feel kind of at a loss as to how to do anything more than just tell you about them. I worry that I’m becoming the girl who not only tells you how busy she is but then when you do get her talking, has a one-track mind of WEDDING.

Yikes.

sucanat syrup

Thankfully, yesterday and today, I’ve been given a little bit of everyday time—time to return to work, time to write a blog, time to think about all of these things. And also thankfully, I am continually around a man who is much less ruffled by the activity and to-do lists than I am.

So last night, we made cookies.

cookies coming out of oven

We’ve made these cookies before, a few months ago, pretty soon after I’d moved to Nashville. They’re an adaptation of a sugar-free recipe in Dr. Josh Axe’s Real Food cookbook, which uses just bananas and maple syrup as the sweeteners. The first time, they were like banana macaroons—oddly shaped the way coconut macaroons tend to be, but with the hint of banana flavor providing the sweetness.

Last night, when we used buckwheat flour instead of spelt and a simple syrup (half Sucanat, half water, heated over the stove) instead of maple, we ended up with an even more different version: gray in color (thank you, buckwheat) and less sweet.

cookies

Regardless though, these funny little mounds of baked goodness were fun to eat—and hard to stop eating—making them perfect for whatever schedule you find yourself in, be it busy weeks, everyday weeks, or something in between.

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a fried egg on toast

Monday morning, I fried an egg and put it on toast.

i like eggs

I like eggs. Eggs are simple.

toast

I also like toast. Toast is simple, too.

I know many people who read food blogs do so in order to find inspiration, motivation, new ingredients or new recipes, but I’m afraid that isn’t what I’ve got for you today. Instead, I have a fried egg. I have toast. I have the comfort that comes from what is familiar and routine, particularly when that something is being slowly enjoyed and savored.

fried egg on toast

It’s true this post is nothing earth-shattering, but it is important. It is worth some attention here. Because listen, this very basic, very everyday, very beautifully simple breakfast is also a reminder: it’s a reminder that anytime you find yourself in the midst of things decidedly un-simple—be they budgeting, taxes, packing, moving, or finding a new place to live—you still have basic kitchen routines, like frying eggs, to return to.

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