Cooking

Mushroom, Leek and Asparagus Quiche

Mushroom, Leek and Asparagus Quiche

We made this quiche in a mushroom class the other night. We used a traditional pie crust and it came out great. The first time I made this recipe, I actually used a different dough.

Sometimes there are happy accidents in the kitchen. This recipe is one of those. I had made kolachy for a friend. Kolachy are filled cookies, made with a cream cheese based dough. There was some dough leftover, and I did not want to waste it. I decided to use it for a quiche. Well, technically a tart, since it was baked in a tart pan. I looked through my fridge for what I had, and came up with the combination of leeks, mushrooms and asparagus. I also had a nice chunk of Swiss cheese, so away I went. The rest was pretty easy. I just added the eggs, half and half and seasonings to complete the dish. You could, of course, use any crust recipe you prefer. I must admit, the kolachy dough worked really well. I would most definitely make this recipe again, using the cream cheese crust. I did include the recipe for the kolachy dough at the bottom of this post. So here is the recipe. Hope you enjoy it.

Mushroom, Leek and Asparagus Quiche

1 unbaked pie shell*
2 T. oil or butter
1 c. sliced leek- white or light green part only
4 oz. sliced mushrooms- I used baby Portobello
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and sliced
4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
2 T. flour
3 eggs, beaten
¾ c. half and half
1 T. fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste

Roll out crust to fit a 9 or 10- inch tart pan. Place crust in pan and trim edges. Chill crust until ready to use. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In skillet, heat oil or butter and cook leeks until tender. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are golden. Set aside. Steam asparagus for 3-4 minutes, or until just tender. Set aside. Combine flour with cheese and toss to coat. Spread cheese in prepared tart shell. Top with the mushroom and leek mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the eggs with the half and half, dill and hot sauce. Pour over the mushrooms mixture in the tart shell. Add the asparagus. Place in preheated oven and bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Turn down heat to 350 and cook for 20-25 minutes longer, or until crust is golden and filling has set up. Serves 4-6.

 
* While I would normally use a more traditional pie crust, I ended up using the dough I normally use for my kolachy. It was leftover and seemed like a nice choice. The kolachy dough is 3 sticks of softened butter, 8 oz. of cream cheese and 3 cups of flour. Mix all ingredients until smooth and chill until ready to use. It was leftover, so hard to say how many crusts a full recipe would make. I would think you could easily get three crusts from one recipe. You can, of course, use your favorite pie crust recipe.

Easter Cupcakes

Trio of Easter Cupcakes

These cupcakes would make a great dessert for Easter- or any time. They are also a fun dessert for kids to make.

I started out by making a double batch of my classic white cupcakes- recipe follows. To add a little color to the cupcakes, I divided the batter into three bowls and tinted each of them a different pastel color.

As I filled the pans, I just added a spoonful of each of the tinted batters in them. They came out really nice.

I made three different cupcakes: bunnies, chicks and nests.

I also made a double batch of white chocolate frosting. You could certainly make a vanilla buttercream, if you prefer.

Details on how to make each of them are listed below.

Classic White (Vanilla)  Cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they springs back to the touch. Makes 12.

White Chocolate Frosting

6 oz. white chocolate – if using bars, chop before melting
1 stick (4 oz.) cold butter, cut into cubes
1-2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Melt chocolate. I just melt mine in a microwave safe dish, but you can use a double boiler. Let chocolate cool down a little. Beat butter into the melted chocolate. Beat until smooth and then beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy. I normally beat for 5 minutes or longer. If too thick, add a few drops of water or milk. For this recipe, I made a double batch of frosting.

Bunnies

extra white chocolate

food coloring- pink or red

chocolate chips

pastel ( pink) M&M’s

Make bunny ears by melting some white chocolate and putting it in a piping bag or bottle. On wax paper, make outline of the ears in white chocolate and allow to cool/harden. Place a drop or two of pink or red food coloring in a microwave safe bowl and add some white chocolate. Melt in microwave, being careful not to burn the chocolate and stir until it turns pink. Pipe the pink chocolate into the middle of the ears. Allow to harden before peeling off of the was paper. Using a star tip, pipe frosting on cupcake. I made three layers – to add height to the cupcake. place ears on cupcake and add chips/candy for eyes and mouth.

Chicks

Frosting tinted yellow and green

mini chocolate chips

fruit roll up

Using star tip, pipe the chick’s body onto the cupcake in yellow frosting. Pipe on head and wings. Pipe green frosting  around chick to form a nest. Use mini chips for eyes and cut fruit roll up for beak.

Nests

Frosting tinted green

egg shapes malted milk balls- or you could use jelly beans

Pipe green frosting on cupcakes to make nests. Add three, or more, candies in the middle for eggs.

Piping pink filling in ears

Piping pink filling in ears

rainbow cupcake

rainbow cupcake

bunnies

bunnies

Chick cupcake

Chick cupcake

The nest cupcake

The nest cupcake

Amy’s Easter Hummus

Amy’s Easter Hummus

Hummus is always a favorite at parties around here. I’ve made classic hummus and have made variations with roasted peppers, black olives and garlic scapes.

I always remember the time my dear friend, Amy, wanted her hummus to be really colorful. It was for her Easter dinner. I believe that was the same year she dyed the egg whites for the deviled eggs. Amy really knew how to get the details right.

She and I had talked about how best to make tasty, colorful hummus. She decided to make spinach hummus and beet hummus in addition to her classic hummus. She wanted something that tasted good, but looked like Spring. She ended up with a beautiful array for Easter dinner that year. Tasty, too.

Here are the directions for making them.

Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, drained, or about 2 cups cooked garbanzos

1/4 c. olive oil

2 T. lemon juice

2 T. tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 cloves garlic

salt and hot pepper sauce to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Chill. Serve with pita bread, crackers or fresh vegetables. Also nice spread in a pita bread with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Freezes well.

Green Hummus (Spinach)

Make the original hummus recipe from above but add 2 c. fresh spinach and ½ c. chopped cilantro.

Pink Hummus (Beet)

Make the original hummus recipe from above but add 2-3 small cooked beets.

Note: You might want a little more salt in either of these recipes or a bit more lemon juice.

Miss you, Amy.

Chocolate Easter Egg Biscotti

Chocolate Easter Egg Biscotti

After a friend mentioned that she would love my Easter Egg Biscotti even better if they were chocolate, I decided to try to make her some.

The biscotti are really just a big cookie, baked around an egg. Once cooled, I drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze. They are such a fun treat for Easter.

You don’t have to precook the eggs used in the middle. They will cook when the biscotti bake around them. If your eggs are already hard- cooked, that is fine, too. You can used dyed eggs or brown eggs.

This is the end result of my experiment. I used the original recipe, and added cocoa powder. Worked out really nice, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The original recipe came from the mother of a childhood friend. Rose made them with shortening. Over time I started making mine with butter, instead. The only change is, I chill the dough 30 minutes, or so, before using.

Chocolate Easter Egg Biscotti

1 c. shortening or butter – I use butter
1 ½ c. sugar
4 eggs
5 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 c. milk
6 c. flour
¾ c. cocoa powder
24-30 eggs, plain or dyed
Powdered sugar glaze- recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add next 4 ingredients and blend until smooth. Mix flour with cocoa. Stir in flour mixture 2 cups at a time. Dough should be pliable. If dough is too sticky add a little more flour. If using butter in the recipe, chill dough at this point. Take a piece of dough about the size of a large egg and roll until smooth. Place on a greased baking sheet. Indent middle slightly and then place an egg in the center, pressing down slightly. It should look like a nest. Continue with remaining dough allowing about 2-3 inches in between, as they will spread some. You can fit 6-8 on a large baking sheet. Bake 20 –25 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Cool on wire rack before drizzling with frosting. Makes 24-30. Store in the fridge.

Sugar glaze
2 c. powdered sugar
2-3 T. milk or orange juice
1 t. vanilla
Food coloring, if desired
Mix together until smooth and of drizzling consistency.

Chocolate and original biscotti waiting to be baked
Chocolate and original biscotti, ready to bake

Glazed and ready to enjoy
glazed and ready to enjoy

Easter Egg Biscotti

Easter Egg Biscotti

I get so many requests for this recipe, I decided to post it again. This is a treat from my childhood. Rose Dieglio was the mother of my best friend, Debbi. Rose made these every year, and I loved them. Years later, she was kind enough to share her recipe with me.  I always make a bunch to hand out to friends and family. It is a tradition I enjoy very much.

The dough is a type of cookie. You roll the dough out in pieces about the size of eggs. Make an indent in the dough and press in a tinted egg. The egg does not have to be cooked- it will cook when the biscotti bakes.

The dough will be a little sticky. Just add some flour to your fingers when shaping the dough, if needed.

The original recipe calls for shortening. I make them with butter, instead. If you use butter in the dough- chill it before baking.

For years I made the biscotti with hard cooked eggs, that I dyed. My mom always asked if I needed to cook the eggs. She wondered if the eggs would cook during the baking process. So I tried it a few years ago. I placed a raw, un-decorated egg on one of the biscotti “nests” and baked it with the rest. What do you know? The egg cooked in the oven when the biscotti baked. The lesson here- always listen to Mom. Saves a whole step in making this recipe. Just be gentle when you press the eggs into the dough. They are raw eggs, after all.

Once baked, the biscotti can be topped with a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkles, if you like. Because they have hard cooked eggs in them, store in fridge after cooking.

Easter Egg Biscotti

1 c. shortening or butter- I use butter*

1 ½ c. sugar

4 eggs

5 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

2 t. vanilla

1 c. milk

6 c. flour

24-30 eggs, plain or dyed

Powdered sugar glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter or shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add next 4 ingredients and blend until smooth. Stir in flour 2 cups at a time. Dough should be pliable. If dough is too sticky add a little more flour. Take a piece of dough about the size of a large egg and place on a greased baking sheet. Indent middle slightly and then place an egg in the center, pressing down slightly. It should look like a nest. Continue with remaining dough allowing about 2-3 inches in between as they spread when baking. You can fit 6-8 on a large baking sheet. Bake 20 –25 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Cool on wire rack before drizzling with frosting. Makes 24-30. Store in fridge.

* If using butter- chill dough a couple of hours before baking.

Sugar glaze

2 c. powdered sugar

2-3 T. milk or orange juice

1 t. vanilla

Food coloring, if desired

Mix together until smooth and of drizzling consistency.

Cooling down

Amy’s Hot Cross Buns Bread Pudding

Hot Cross Buns Bread Pudding

The first time I made this dish, it was sort of an accident. It was right after Easter, a few years ago. I was having dinner with friends, and I was in charge of making dessert. I had leftover hot cross buns, so I decided to re-purpose them into bread pudding. It is a great way to re-purpose something into a whole new dish.

The end result was really good. So good, that my friend Amy said it was one of the best desserts I had ever made. I now bake extra hot cross buns, just so I can make bread pudding from them.

You could use home made or store bought buns for this recipe. My recipe for hot cross buns is at the bottom of this post.

Amy’s Hot Cross Buns Bread Pudding

12 c. torn up hot cross buns- I used 8 buns

2 c. half and half

1 c. milk – I used almond milk

1 c. sugar- or less if you are using frosted buns

5 eggs

1 T. vanilla

1 T. cinnamon

Frosting:

1 c. powdered sugar

4 t. milk

In large mixing bowl place the torn up buns. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the buns. Stir to moisten evenly. Spoon mixture into a buttered 9×13-inch pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until bread pudding is set and a little golden on top. While the bread pudding is baking combine powdered sugar with milk to make a frosting thin enough to drizzle. Let bread pudding cool 10 minutes and drizzle with frosting.  Serves 8-10.

Love you, Amy. Miss you.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

These rich rolls are a traditional at Easter. At least they are in my house. The dough is rich and slightly sweet. The frosting on top adds to their sweetness.

Hot cross buns can be served at breakfast, brunch or even as a dinner roll. I have served them with coffee, after dinner. So I guess they can be a dessert, too. If you have leftover hot cross buns, you can use them to make bread pudding. I do!

Because the dough is rich, they are slow to rise. If they aren’t jumping out of the pan after an hour or so, don’t worry. They do rise quite a lot in the oven.

After they cool a bit- pipe on the icing in the crisscross pattern that gives these rolls their name.

Hot Cross Buns

 2/3 c. sugar

1 t. salt

2 packages active dry yeast

About 5 cups bread flour

1 ½ c. milk

½ c. butter

2 eggs

1 c. raisins

Icing

¾ c. powdered sugar

1 T. milk

In bowl combine sugar, salt, yeast and about 1 ½ c. flour. Heat together milk and butter until very warm. Beat milk mixture into to flour mixture and beat 2 minutes with electric mixer. Beat in 1 egg and 1 cup flour and beat 2 more minutes until batter thickens. Stir in raisins and enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Place dough on floured surface and divide into 15 equal pieces. Cover with towel and lest rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile grease a 9×13 inch pan. Form dough into smooth balls and place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat remaining egg. Cut a cross in each bun and brush with the egg. Bake for 25 minutes or until buns are golden. Remove buns to wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Make frosting, place in decorating bag and pipe onto buns. Makes 15.

Rainbow Salad

Rainbow Salad

When you hear green or yellow split peas- do you think of soup?  You probably do. But when cooked until just tender, split peas make a great salad ingredient. I often just add some cooked split peas to a tossed salad. They add flavor, protein and a nice texture to salads.  An added bonus is that split peas can be cooked from dry to tender in about 20 minutes. That makes them a great choice when time is tight.

This is one of my favorite salads using both green and yellow split peas.  Fresh and colorful, it is a big hit with vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends. If some of you are looking for new meatless meals ideas, this one is a winner.

The salad uses both green and yellow split peas, along with black beans, butter beans, red lentils and assorted veggies. It is a great combination of colors and textures. It does make a lot, but you can easily cut the recipe in half.

The dish was inspired by my nephew  Danny’s love of sand art when he was a kid. The ingredients are layered in the bowl for a pretty presentation. It is also an homage to the layered salads I remember from my youth. I like this one a whole lot more.

  Rainbow Salad

 1 c. each green split peas, yellow split peas and red lentils

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 c. diced sweet onion

1 c. diced sweet pepper

1 c. grated carrot

Cook split peas and lentils separately just until tender. Split peas, both green and yellow will take 20 minutes. Red lentils will take about 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse each under cold water when done and set aside until ready to use, or you can cook them a day ahead and keep chilled. Each will yield about 2 1/2 c. cooked.

In large glass bowl, place the following ingredients in this order.

Black beans, butter beans, green split peas. yellow split peas. onion, red lentils. carrots and peppers. Pour over dressing and chill several hours or overnight. Serve on a bed of greens.

Dressing *

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. vinegar, I like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2-3 T. sugar

1/2 c. parsley or cilantro

1 t. each chili powder, cumin and salt

dash hot sauce

Combine in a blender or food processor until smooth.

*Note: Any fresh or bottled dressing you like can be used. Balsamic works very well.  I often serve it with homemade Italian dressing.

Spring Lemon Tart

Spring Lemon Tart

This would make a lovely dessert for any Spring dinner. It would be a nice dessert for Easter, too.

I was leaning towards making a cheesecake. I already had cookie crumbs, I could use for the crust. Then, I discovered I only had one box of cream cheese. Not enough for a cheesecake. While searching my fridge for cream cheese, I found a couple of lemons. I suppose I could have made a lemon pie, but I decided to just make something up with what I had, including the cream cheese.

What I ended up with is a sweet/tart lemon dessert. Really nice, actually.

Before I get to the actual recipe, let me talk about the lemons, and including fresh lemon juice in recipe directions.

Recipes will often list the “juice of a lemon” in the ingredients. There is about the same amount of lemon juice in all lemons, so that a little difference, one way or the other, is no big deal. The amount is anywhere from 2-3 tablespoons of juice in a lemon. You might get 4 tablespoons, if the lemon is really big. I have used that phrase in recipes myself.

Sometimes, however, you have to recognize when you have lemons that aren’t “average”.

The two lemons I had on hand were big, really big. When I juiced them, I ended up with 2/3 of a cup of lemon juice. So, in this recipe I used the actual measurement of the juice, rather than saying, “the juice of 2 lemons.” Three or four average sized lemons should give you 2/3 cup of juice.

So here is the recipe for my lemon tart, the happy end result of using what I had, and making it work.

Spring Lemon Tart

Crust:

1½ c. crushed vanilla cookies

4 T. melted butter

Filling:

1 (8oz.) container cream cheese, softened

½ c. sugar

2/3 c. lemon juice

Zest of two lemons

3 eggs

¼ c. cornstarch

Combine crust ingredients in medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into a 9–inch springform or tart pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, make the filling. In mixing bowl combine the cream cheese with the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat well. Add the eggs and cornstarch and beat until smooth. Pour filling over the baked crust and return to oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden on top. Center will be soft, but firms as the tart cools. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. You can dust with powdered sugar, if you like. Serves 6.

Easter Bread Wreath

Easter Bread Wreath

This Easter bread wreath, with eggs baked on top, is a fun bread to make for the holiday. It is a tradition in many families.

I hadn’t made one in a long time, and when I went to find my recipe, I couldn’t locate it. I decided to make a new recipe.

I wanted it to have a lot of flavor- something that would be fun served at a breakfast, brunch or with dinner, but not too sweet. I added spices and raisins, but I could see using other dried fruits.

I left it plain on top – but you could easily add a powdered sugar glaze. No, I did not hard cook the eggs first. They cook while the bread is baking. Saves a step, for sure.

I tested the bread out with friends. Almost half was eaten before dinner, so I am confident to say, that this recipe is a winner. The texture of the bread is really nice and the dough is richly spiced.

I added mace, but if you don’t have any mace, add a little more nutmeg or allspice. Mace is a spice I would encourage you to try sometime. So here is the recipe. Hope you like it as much as we did.

 Cinnamon Raisin Easter Wreath Bread

4½ -5 c. flour

1 pkt. yeast

½ c. brown sugar

2 t. cinnamon

1 t. salt

½ t. allspice

½ t. nutmeg

½ t. mace

1 c. warm water

½ c. butter, melted

2 eggs

½ c. raisins

5-6 uncooked eggs, dyed if you like

Combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, seasonings and salt in large bowl.  Heat together water and butter until warm and add to flour mixture. Beat 2-3 minutes. Beat eggs and reserve 1 tablespoon of the eggs for brushing the top of the bread later. Add remaining eggs and another cup of flour to the bowl. Beat 4 minutes. Add the raisins and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, but still soft. Place in oiled bowl turning to oil top. Note: I actually used my stand mixer, and just left the dough in the bowl to knead, and then covered it to rise. I was able to leave the dough a little sticky this way, using less flour. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. While dough is rising, prepare a pan. Grease a large baking sheet- or use a silicone baking mat. Grease a one cup oven-proof custard cup and place it upside down on the middle of the baking sheet. This will keep a “hole” in the middle of your wreath. If you don’t have a custard cup, you can use a metal one-cup measure instead. Punch dough down and divide in three pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch long rope. Braid the ropes together. Wrap the braid around the custard cup on the baking sheet and pinch ends together to keep the braid from coming apart. Cover and allow to rise until doubled (50-60 minutes). Just before baking, combine reserved egg with a little water and brush the wreath with the egg wash. Place 5 or 6 eggs on the top of the braid- being careful not to press down too hard.  Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. Cover bread with foil and bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped lightly. Here is the only tricky part. You have to remove the wreath, but not drop the glass custard cup in the middle. You can let the bread cool a few minutes before moving. I use a silicone baking sheet so I slide the whole thing off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. I use two large spatulas to lift the wreath up and leave the custard cup behind. If it doesn’t come right out, use a knife to loosen.  Lift the wreath up enough to slide the custard cup out. Let cool before serving- store leftovers in fridge, because of the eggs on top.   Makes 1.

Place eggs on top before baking

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