Save your brunch reputation: All-in-one quiche

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Behind every one of these glorious, drool-worthy photos is about six dirty dishes. While I hope everyone is buying into the idea my kitchen is as clean and organized as the pictures could allude to, that is a misconception akin to believing Twinkies have an incredibly long shelf life (fun fact: Twinkies are good for about 45 days). No, the way I cook is not graceful and is honestly without much thought.

Brief examples of my careless cooking technique:

  1. I commonly try to flip things that with my eye-hand coordination result in at least half of the food on the burner, smoking up the kitchen in a matter of seconds.
  2. I always, ALWAYS try to “soften” butter in the microwave, but end up melting half of it all over the microwave tray. This, of course, leaves me no choice but to use a piece of bread to lap up the golden nectar that is buttah.
  3. When I cook, I require an apron. For the safety of my shirt of course, but also because I tend to wipe my hands constantly on my jeans. There is a pair that’s so coated with flour in the seams, they look vaguely acid washed.
  4. The shopping list is never complete and a grocery run mid-recipe is generally required to complete any dish. Almost makes that Samsung refrigerator camera seem like a logical option rather than a first-world misuse of technology. Almost.
  5. If I’m cooking, I can be exceptionally cavalier about the needed ingredients, questioning the recipe writer like we all did Britney Spear’s sanity in 2007. But I’m a devoted recipe follower when baking is involved. I know you don’t mess with science.

It’s understandable that watching me cook can make my mom’s toes curl…Kind of like how when she’d ride in the car with me during the learner’s permit era and press the imaginary brake on the floorboard. It wasn’t exactly subtle, but neither was I when taking corners.

But for an experienced cook to watch another would-be chef blunder about, it must be torturous. This quiche is actually one of the first dishes I made for my mom when she visited me for the weekend. Barefoot in my kitchen, I slopped the quiche mixture on the floor, over-poured the Bisquick mix, and was a general human tornado. Despite the process, the brunch was a complete success. The quick quiche gave me enough time to whip up muffins (via Betty Crocker, my heroine), chia seed pudding fruit parfaits, mimosas, and coffee.  It may have been the mimosas, but I saw in my mom’s eye this was the meal that showed her I could cook.

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All-in-one quiche

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Bisquick

2 tablespoons of soft butter

3 eggs

1/4 tablespoon salt

1 cup dice ham, bacon, or sausage

One medium onion or 2 green onions (finely chopped)

A single 4 oz. can of mushrooms (drained)

1 cup of cheddar cheese

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Directions:

Beat the first five ingredients together. My mom always used her blender to mix the ingredients, so I decided to give my Nutribullet a heftier call in life than blending frozen fruit. Worked out well, but now with the mixer having “tasted” meat, I’m not sure if it can go back…

Next, stir in the meat, onion, and mushrooms to the mixture. I added fresh parsley and tomato slices on top for color and, ya know, taste.

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Pour into an ungreased pie pan and sprinkle the cheese on top. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Take from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Words of wisdom: This quiche doesn’t have a great structure to it for plating. The Bisquick forms a type of crust on the bottom, but it’s about as flimsy as any of the Bachelor’s girlfriend pairings. You can also add various types veggies or different cheeses to the recipe, customizing it to your heart’s or taste bud’s desire. Easily reheated in the microwave, it’s a great breakfast or lunch dish for later. I would caution against trying to freeze it. However ,you won’t have enough leftovers to even try to stow it away for a rainy day.

The all-in-one quiche is a dish that’s meant to be shared. This weekend save some moola and invite the brunch crew over to kick it old school in the kitchen. While trendy restaurants will always have their appeal and do remain at the core of my social outings (sorry friends, you’re important too), your kitchen is the most intimate of dining settings and is always in style. And if they’re truly your friends, they won’t judge your careless cooking technique too harshly.

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Kindred Cookbook: Ode to the Original Meatball

There’s a childhood memory I fall back on when I think about meatballs. Like many other 1990s Millennials, Disney heavily influenced certain aspects of my youth including, oddly enough, meatballs. You may remember the now classic scene in “Lady and the Tramp” where Tramp oh-so graciously nudges the final meatball to Lady, where she bashfully flaps her long eyelashes up at him (seriously though, those lashes should get an endorsement from a makeup brand. Those puppies are thick).

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And then she doesn’t eat the meatball. All romantic notions are squashed and stomped on in this moment. Thusly, my young self determined the “meatz-a-ballz” Tony served up to his four-legged clientele left something to be desired.

Conclusion – My mom’s meatballs were far superior, a thought I continue to stand by today. Disney has yet to prove me wrong.

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My grandma was the first to actually create and record this recipe for the collection and its a dish I’ve long enjoyed. Often advertised as a quick and easy meal (though by my standards it takes a slight bit more effort), Mom would throw this meatball dish together between teaching guitar or piano lessons, popping them in the oven just as her next student walked through the door to play another halting rendition of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” My mom’s patience clearly stretched beyond the kitchen.

Paired generally with a baked potato and frozen sweetcorn (one of the many benefits of having a farmer’s daughter background and access to a garden rivaling Adam and Eve’s), this is a true Kristiansen family classic. Yes, that was the alternate title to this blog series.

I paired my meatballs with boiled colorful potatoes and fresh parsley.
I paired my meatballs with boiled colorful potatoes and fresh parsley.

I must note I’ve never once eaten these meatballs with spaghetti before, which may unintentionally categorize them as Swedish meatballs (the brown sauce listed below may also assist in that labeling). I chalk this up to my mom and grandma never being big fans of pasta in general. Upon further reflection, the only hot pasta I’ve ever seen grace my grandma’s table is buttered noodles with breadcrumb topping. Yes, it is as caloric and beautifully buttery as it sounds. My mom has always said she doesn’t see the point of paying for pasta in a restaurant because it’s a cheap food people dish out too much for (the true secret to success for Olive Garden and Noodles and Company).

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Grandma’s Original Meatballs

Ingredients:

1/2 lbs. ground beef

One medium sized onion chopped fine

2 T. “catsup” as Grandma wrote

Dry bread crumbs as needed

1/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 t. salt and pepper

Directions:

Just combine all the ingredients. You can make the size of the meatball as you wish. Do take care not to handle them too much in the “ballin'” process to avoid making them tough.

The words “as needed” are as terrifying to a new cook as “10% battery remaining” are to anyone else. But for the bread crumbs, it really is all about touch. The consistency of your meatball should be moist, but not fall apart.

You can also brown on the stove top or just put in a dish and cover with either of the sauces listed below.

Alternatively, you can bake the meatballs in a casserole dish or (as Grandma directly writes) “the old-time way is in a cast-iron skillet.” Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the meatball, at 350 degrees.

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Sauce option number one:

Ingredients:

1 can of cream of celery or mushroom soup

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1/3 of the soup can full of milk

Optional: A few drops of brown gravy sauce

Directions:

Mix and spread over meatballs when about half way cooked.

Sauce option number two – Tomato (as pictured)

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Ingredients:

3 T. brown sugar

1/4 cup “catsup”

1 t. dry mustard

3 T. vinegar

Directions:

Combine and spread over meatballs a bit before they’re completely cooked. Grandma notes this sauces is more than needed for 1/2 lbs of meat, but it keeps and you’re able to just save for later. Though I’m unsure what this would be a good addition to…Ideas, anyone?

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I must note I find it fairly hilarious this sauce is labeled as a “tomato sauce.” That’s giving catsup higher praise than it probably deserves and falls into the Congress-esque thinking that a form tomato puree constitutes a vegetable. Perhaps this falls more under the category of a glaze?

Meatballs, I feel, are continually undervalued. For their quick preparation (not counting photo time, prep took me about 20 minutes for both meat and sauce/glaze) and overall taste, why have we limited meatballs to play the unloved sidekick to spaghetti or to be consumed when visiting Ikea?

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Easily frozen or just sorted into various meal-prep containers, the meatballs are a great and simple supplement to a winter dinner. Warm, moist, and hearty, they fill that special section of the stomach only meat and potatoes can satisfy.

Kindred Cookbook: Recipes from my family history

Fate basically sent me my New Year’s resolution. Or challenge, if you prefer. Fate happened to come in the form of my mother and grandmother, as it oddly and frequently seems to do. And also in the not so humanistic form of a cookbook. Since acquiring an apartment and subsequent kitchen of my own, Mom and Grandma have cheered me on in my maiden voyage of culinary culture in a manner not unlike an overzealous Zumba teacher (“YOU can do this! You have it in you to fulfill your grocery needs!”). If we were to follow this analogy, I’m essentially that person in the back row, awkwardly three steps behind, my ponytail hitting others in the face during attempts to “shimmy.”

In a loving effort to more deeply immerse me in my galley-style kitchen, my mom and grandma kindly put pen to paper, recording all of their timeless recipes. Classy chicken continental, a meatloaf so moist it makes all others look like old hags that spent too long in the sun, and a pie crust that has won many a county fair blue ribbon. Did I mention we’re from the Midwest?

A total of 85 recipes carefully collected over a combined 148 years (you can guess the ages of Mom and Grandma, though with that total I’m guessing neither would be pleased if you did). By no means is this a summary of their time spent in the kitchen, but for a chef that’s more of a hash slinger, this is beyond an adequate jumping off point. And this year, on this blog, I’m cooking through them all.

My goodness, what am I getting myself into?

The recipes thankfully vary in skill level (Easy day? Hello, cheese strata! Ready for a challenge? Step on up Swedish Plätta. Grandma thankfully subtitled that as tiny, thin pancakes). Each week will come a new recipe and an adventure in my 4×6 foot workshop. I’m predicting my grocery bill and floor scrubbing will at least double. But I’m hoping so will my understanding of this foreign kitchen land (not that I haven’t visited, but I’m not a frequent flyer per say). Mom and Grandma are the kitchen equivalent to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team in Rio. Unshakable, eyes on the prize, and simply put, solid. Though perhaps a bit less flexible.

To enter into their kitchen during crunch time is kind of like being the away team at homecoming. Intimidating and scarily impressive. With the upper body strength of a football player, I’ve watched Mom lug a 20 pound turkey from the oven. Grandma has broken blazing hot buns apart with her bare hands! Sometimes I find the dishwater too warm! But now I’ll have the home team advantage, knowing where all my utensils are and making nice with the vintage oven that can flare up temperature tantrums akin to Alec Baldwin.

For those of you who are preparing to brave this journey with me, thank you. I of course welcome any advice you’re willing to impart. Anyone who is anticipating this blog to be filled with cholesterol-friendly, heart-happy, fuel food, I will kindly direct thee elsewhere. My family’s Midwestern roots rear their heads (vines?) through recipes like the beloved Tater Tot Casserole (Hot Dish, for my Minnesota friends. Though that argument is for another time), Molasses Crinkles, and dare I say it, Potato Chip Cookies. So, if your New Year’s Resolution involved decreasing your trans fats, carbs, and consequently, happiness, begin that search elsewhere. If you’re placing yourself in dietary detention, welcome to your new homepage for food porn.