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Spinach, Potato, Bacon & Goat Cheese Frittata

September 27, 2011

Several months ago, a friend of mine brought a delicious frittata to a Bible study potluck. It was the first dish on the table to be completely eaten and gone, even before everyone had gotten a first serving! I came home raving about this wonderfully savory frittata to Will, at which point he insisted we make it. A few days later, I attempted to recreate her delicious dish for dinner (who says you can’t have frittata for breakfast and dinner?!). The flavor was good, just as I remembered, however, I don’t own a nonstick pan, and I think a nonstick pan is one of the key factors in making this dish really work. Otherwise, you end up with a stuck mess on the bottom of your pan, like I did! A frittata is a very versatile dish, in that you can serve it warm out of the oven, or at room temperature. Either way, get ready for it to disappear quickly!

Spinach, Potato, Bacon, & Goat Cheese Frittata

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh spinach

1 lb. red potatoes, diced in 1/2-inch pieces

7 slices bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces

10 eggs

3 Tablespoons half and half (you could also use milk)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to top of oven and set to broil.

Place spinach in saute pan over medium high heat, cooking until wilted. Take off heat and allow to cool, squeezing out excess liquid. Cook potatoes in microwave, then dice into bite-sized piece. Cook bacon until crispy, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Whisk eggs, half and half, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in bowl until combined. Add spinach, potato, and bacon to egg mixture, mixing thoroughly. Melt butter in a saute pan (preferably nonstick) over medium heat. Once butter begins to foam, pour egg mixture into pan. Drop 1/2 cup of goat cheese evenly into the egg mixture in the pan. Turn heat down to low. When the eggs have set and thickened, and only the surface is runny, run the skillet under the broiler for a minute or two, or as soon as the frittata “sets.”

Note: A frittata can also be cooked completely in the oven. Place egg mixture into a round, buttered baking dish. Bake in oven heated to 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until frittata is no longer runny.

Serve and enjoy!

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Flavorful Fridays: Tomatoes, Basil, & Mozzarella Salad

September 23, 2011

September is a great month. Aside from celebrating Will’s birthday, it’s a great time for produce where we live. Because the days are still warm and beautiful, we have heirloom tomatoes and basil that are still ripe and fresh at the farmers’ market.

A few weeks ago, I needed to use up a tomato and some last few leaves of basil before my visit to the farmers’ market the following day. I had a little wedge of mozzarella left over from making pizza earlier in the week, and I decided to make a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad. It’s super easy and quick to make, and it tastes so fresh, reminiscent of the early days of summer. I drizzled a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top for extra flavor, not that these ingredients needed it. I hope you give this salad a try and enjoy those last few weeks of warm, summer weather!

Tomatoes, Basil, & Mozzarella Salad

2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced

1 cup basil, julienned

1 cup mozzarella, grated

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Dice tomatoes and place in salad bowl. Julienne basil leaves and add to bowl. Grate mozzarella cheese and add to tomatoes and basil in bowl. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss, serve, and enjoy!

Flavorful Fridays: Orzo with Tomato Vinaigrette

September 2, 2011

Last month, for various reasons, I found myself in a dinner rut–essentially I was making almost the same dinners every week. In an effort to climb out of my rut, I pulled up some recorded episodes of Giada at Home for inspiration. Sure enough, Giada did not disappoint. Out of the three episodes I watched with Monica, we compiled a list of six delectable dishes that we have to try. This week, I made Giada’s Orzo with Tomato Vinaigrette. She uses smoked salt, but I didn’t want to go the store to purchase it, so I substituted the smoked salt for coarse sea salt.

This orzo pasta is extremely light and fresh. It can be served either hot or cold, and just as easily be a side dish or the main course. And, the main ingredients are tomatoes and basil, what else do you need? I hope you enjoy this pasta dish as much as we do.

 

Orzo with Tomato Vinaigrette

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 pound orzo pasta

Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon salt (Giada used smoked salt, but regular works as well)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

Place the tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the skins are charred in spots, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

For the vinaigrette: Place the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and toss until coated. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints

August 28, 2011

Cookies are quite possibly the perfect dessert. They pack a lot of flavor (and sugar) into their small size, yet are extremely satisfying–whether you are making them to get your sugar fix at 11:30 pm or baking them to take to a dinner party. They can be elegant or messy, light or dense, crumbly or soft. In whatever form they take, I love to bake, and I love to eat, cookies. Because I love cookies so much, I’m always looking for new cookie recipes.

My sister is currently staying with us while she completes prerequisite courses she needs to get into nursing school. With her, she brought a whole box of recipes. Some are recipes I gave her, some are recipes my mom has passed down to both of us, but the ones I’m most excited about are the recipes that I have yet to try. She has recipes that I’ve never seen before and that make my mouth water as I read through their ingredients. The first one to catch my eye had to be made first: chocolate thumbprint cookies filled with Nutella. These are my kind of cookie. They are so rich and decadent, and they look very elegant. I’m thinking these will be one of the cookies I bake this holiday season to bring to my neighbors.

What do you think:  Do you prefer the Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies or the Nutella Cookies?

 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted

1/3 cup Nutella

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Stir egg yolks with a whisk, adding espresso, if desired. Add the yolk mixture and vanilla to butter; beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.

Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead 6 times or until smooth and shiny. Shape dough into 28 (1-inch) balls. Roll sides of balls in nuts, pressing gently. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving an indentation. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie. Serve and enjoy!

Flavorful Fridays: Ricotta, Tomatoes, & Basil Bruschetta

July 8, 2011

Have I mentioned that summer is officially here? Since the beginning of July, I don’t think our daytime temperature has dropped below 90 degrees! With the high heat outside and the air conditioning running constantly inside, I have a difficult time motivating myself to make an extravagant dinner, or at least a dinner that requires turning on the oven or stove. Because of this, Will and I often eat fairly light during the summer (case in point, we took crackers and brie as a picnic dinner at the park before watching fireworks for the 4th). If you are like us, you probably eat a little lighter as well during this time of year.

One night a couple weeks ago, I was feeling particularly unmotivated to make dinner, and I was staring into the fridge as if it would spontaneously tell me what to make. I had a container of ricotta cheese that I needed to use that week before it passed its expiration date, and I was determined to use it in some way. Most of the recipes I have call for baking the ricotta with pasta, but ricotta is just as delicious “raw.” I had just been to the farmers’ market and had bought a baguette from a local bakery and some perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes. We decided to make a bruschetta of sorts with the ricotta, ripe tomatoes, and some basil growing on our balcony. It needed hardly any seasoning, just a dash of salt and pepper, because the tomatoes and basil were so flavorful against the ricotta. We ended up eating this as our meal, but I am looking forward to making it as an appetizer the next time we have friends over for dinner. Give it a try. I would love to know what you think!

Ricotta, Tomatoes, & Basil Bruschetta

Ingredients:

1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

1 container ricotta cheese

2 heirloom tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup tightly packed leaves of basil, julienned

Salt

Pepper

Directions:

Spoon the ricotta into a large bowl. Add the diced tomatoes and julienned basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly over toasted bread. Serve and enjoy!

Flavorful Fridays: Cantaloupe & Prosciutto

July 1, 2011

My goodness it’s been a while since I last posted! Believe it or not, I have been doing lots of cooking and I have lots of yummy recipes in the pipeline! Since summer has officially begun (the sun has pushed away the June gloom and brought our typical 90 degree summer weather), I thought it only appropriate to kick it off with a refreshing and delicious treat. Cantaloupe paired with prosciutto is such a great combination because sweet and salty are both found in this dish. Serve this as an appetizer at your next dinner party or enjoy it as a light dinner on a warm evening.

Cantaloupe Slices with Prosciutto

Ingredients:

Cantaloupe, sliced evenly

Prosciutto, thinly sliced

Directions:

After slicing the cantaloupe into even slices, take a piece of prosciutto and wrap it around the cantaloupe. Repeat this until all cantaloupe is wrapped in prosciutto. Serve and enjoy!

Flavorful Fridays: More Polenta

May 27, 2011
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So, now that you’ve made the basic polenta and maybe even served it with a Bolognese sauce, what do you do with the extra polenta that didn’t get eaten? You create another polenta dish for your family to enjoy! Marcella Hazan has a recipe that instructs you how to bake the polenta. I plan on following this recipe next time. But, this time, I decided to head in a similar direction my dear cousin Nella takes when cooking polenta. She deep-fries thick blocks of polenta. While I don’t have a deep fryer, I did end up sauteing the polenta in a little olive oil until browned and a slightly crispy coating formed. I made a cayenne pepper marinara sauce to dip the polenta into. The sauce had a quite a bit of kick, but it was good with the polenta.

Directions:

Pour warm polenta into a sheet pan and smooth evenly. Set in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Cut into blocks or strips, depending on desired thickness. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat, placing cut polenta into pan. Cook until slightly browned. Serve immediately with desired sauces and enjoy.

How do you prefer to eat polenta?