Sun-dried Tomato, Spinach, & Mozzarella Quiche

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I started a new job a few weeks ago and for the first time since high school, I have to pack a lunch. I mean, obviously I brought lunch to work in the last 10 years, but this has to be a lunch that needs no microwave which is a new restriction. Most of my leftovers usually require a reheat and sandwiches get kind of old so I’m on the lookout for things to make that can be eaten cold or at room temp. A quick jaunt through my mental catalog of meals brought me to the conclusion that quiche is basically the queen of no-muss, no-fuss anytime eating. They’re kind of amazing that way. Shockingly, I did not even need a trip to the grocery store to accomplish this – I just kind of threw it together with things I had on hand. Something about doing that just makes me feel like I’ve made it as a competent adult so I’m sure I’m going to do something really dumb in the next few days to knock me off my moderately high horse. I’m waiting for it.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach, & Mozzarella Quiche

2 T unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1/2 t dried thyme

salt & pepper

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup mozzarella (I used fresh cigliene but you could also use shredded)

1/4 cup parmesan, shredded

1 pie crust, partially pre-baked and cooled (I used this one)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. While the oven heats, melt the butter in a medium skillet and add the onions, thyme, salt, & pepper. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent but not brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside to let the onions cool a bit. Crack the eggs into a large glass measuring cup and beat them slightly, then add the milk and whisk until smooth. Salt and pepper this mix too – just use your judgement, not too much and not too little. Sorry, I really believe seasoning is a personal matter.

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Scatter the spinach over the bottom of the cooled crust, spreading it evenly. Now throw down the onions and sun-dried tomatoes, again making sure to spread them evenly around. Place the mozzarella balls at appropriate intervals around the quiche-y landscape. If you’re using shredded mozzarella instead, mix it with the spinach before you spread it in the crust. Now pour the egg and milk mixture over the whole mess to really seal things together and top it with the shredded parm and we’re almost home-free. Put the quiche in the preheated oven and bake until things look golden and puffy and delicious, about 45 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack until room temperature, then dig in! Quiche is a super-food (no, not in the way you’re thinking) since it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and enjoyed cold, room-temp, or reheated. In closing, quiche is awesome and I’ll brook no arguments, thanks.

In case you’re like, “Pre-bake the crust? What the hell is that all about?” there are super-easy directions at the bottom of the pie crust recipe I linked. Read them and commit them to memory and you’ll never have a soggy pie crust again. Soggy pie crust is the worst. It’s even worse than shrunken pie crust, which I have still never managed to avoid, no matter how closely I follow the directions. But a shrunken pie is better than no pie at all, wouldn’t you agree?

Also shrinkage, it’s a thing.

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The Best Tuna Salad Ever

IMG_4547First things first – I’m kind of embarrassed to even write this post. Tuna salad is a weird thing to get excited about. It’s one of those foods that’s soooooooooo good, yet makes you feel so strange about loving. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t smell great. Any time you eat tuna in your home, you must take out the trash right after because whatever receptacle housed that fish is never going to not smell fishy, no matter how much rinsing you do. Plus onions are involved so you do the math – stinky fish + stinky onions = don’t go near anyone for a little while after you eat this unless they too have enjoyed an illicit & smelly snack.

Well now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why I love this so very, very much. For one thing, there’s no celery. Why has celery been invited to all the salad parties in like the last 100 years? You can’t get tuna, chicken, egg. or potato salad without that stringy little weed mucking up the works to save your life usually! If you can’t tell, I kinda hate celery. Which is why I was so delighted to discover that this tuna salad has none of that horrible substance and instead has dried cranberries which I absolutely love. Whoever thought of this combination is a genius. I know I never would have on my own. So now it’s time to own up – I have been trying to re-create the Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna Salad in my own kitchen for the last three years and I think I’ve pretty much gotten it down pat. For a little backstory, I discovered the salad when I was driving past a Whole Foods nearly every day to visit a family member who was in the hospital. It was kind of a trying time and I used to stop at Whole Foods to pick up something to eat that wasn’t made in the hospital while we hung out there every night. This salad and a crusty roll from the bakery department were my go-to meal and brought a little happiness (for me at least) to a pretty dark time.

This is mainly going to be a list of ingredients because you can make this salad for just you or you can make a big-ass bowl of it to last all week for lunches and snacks. Yummmmmmm

– Packaged Yellowfin tuna (I buy the pouches but cans are fine too)

– finely diced yellow onion

– dried cranberries

– lemon juice

– finely chopped Italian parsley

– honey

– mayo

– garlic powder

– salt & pepper

– distilled white vinegar

Okay so I know you’re thinking “Honey? WTF?” but just trust me and put about a tablespoon in there. Same goes for the vinegar and lemon juice since you only need a little to provide that acidic bite that you’re after. Like I said, the proportions are really up to you based on how much you need but less is more when it comes to the liquids. A runny tuna salad is a terrible tuna salad they always say. Well maybe they don’t, but they should. Just taste as you go and experiment and I swear, this will be the best tuna salad of your whole stinkin’ life! Get yourself a crusty roll (or if you really want to be lazy just a few slices of plain ol’ bread) and make yourself a sandwich. If you’re feeling really ambitious, make these rolls and then eat your homemade tuna salad on them. Go ahead, feel smug. You earned it.

Double Pea Pasta with Ricotta & Lemon

IMG_4298Even though we’re all grown-ups and we deep-down know that we’re all equal and all that crap, do you ever go somewhere and just feel so much like you don’t belong that it is downright insane? This happened to me the other day at a very beautiful fantasyland store that is peopled with the clothes and accessories that imaginary me wears in her perfect life where nothing ever gets dirty and you never have to wear sensible shoes and shares a name with a class we all either took or flirted with taking in college. I’ll let you ponder that crazy run-on sentence for a minute….got it?

Okay good, onward with the story – so I’m walking around just taking in the vibe and daydreaming about the aforementioned perfect fantasy life and I decide that yes, I can have a candle. An overpriced but very delicious-smelling candle is definitely on the menu today. A little treat and then I will go. I get in line with my $22 candle and even though I already told myself that this is an acceptable splurge purchase I was kind of agonizing over it a little when I hear the total of the woman in front of me – $463. Then I glance behind me and see that the woman back there is easily holding like $600 worth of lovely clothes and that’s when it hits me – I really do not belong here. I am sandwiched in between two people who are dropping a combined grand like it’s nothing and here I am hemming and hawing over my $22 candle. Sheesh. Talk about a reality check. So then I drove to the grocery store (a place where I can generally afford things) and bought the ingredients for this pasta which did not cure my Anthro-Rage but definitely did help a lot. Carbs and cheese tend to do that don’t you think?

Double Pea Pasta with Ricotta & Lemon

(adapted from Everyday Food)

1 lb gemelli or other fun tube-shaped pasta

2 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1-2 cups snap peas, fresh or frozen (I just used the whole little package but sizes may vary)

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

1/2 cup (eyeball it) chopped fresh italian parsley

3 scallions, white & light green parts, thinly sliced

4-6 strips of bacon, thinly sliced

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

zest of 1 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

Put a large pot of water on the stovetop to boil and heat a medium skillet to crisp the bacon. When the pan is good and hot, throw the bacon bits in there and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, stirring as needed. Get a plate lined with paper towels ready and when the bacon is crispy, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and lay it on the paper towels to drain.

When the water boils, add a generous palmful of salt to the water (I use kosher) and add the pasta. After about 4 minutes, add both the frozen peas and the snap peas to the water with the pasta. The pasta should be al dente after around 3 more minutes which is the perfect amount of time to cook the peas – cool, huh? Make sure you don’t overcook the pasta. Mushy pasta is like the #2 biggest cooking offense behind overcooked meat in my book. Anyway, take a glass measuring cup and scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta & peas and set it aside – we may need it for the sauce.

After draining, add the pasta and peas back to the pot and throw in the butter, ricotta, scallions, and parsley and mix well. If you need to, add a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce and help it coat the pasta. Salt and pepper generously throughout the mixing process, then add in the bacon bits and most of the zest (I saved a little zest to garnish the plate).

IMG_4297Serve this dish with some crusty bread, a crisp white wine and maybe some lightly dressed greens and it will solve all your problems. Okay, that’s a lie. But I promise it will taste really yummy so that’s something at least.