Bacon & Mushroom Quiche- a brunch and breakfast-for-dinner favorite!

I'm straying from my Thoughts for Thursday format a bit because I feel pretty strongly that I don't want to blog for the sake of blogging. I want my posts to be inspired, and I don't ever want this place to feel like a burden. I love having this outlet; for lack of a more eloquent characterization, it simply makes me happy.

 I am a major creature of habit who is working very hard to feel a little less self-pressure these days, so I am going to write what inspires me without being tied down to a routine of specific posts on specific days. It may be hard to believe, but deviating from routine is ROUGH for me. We'll see if I survive this exercise in flexibility, ha! 

That being said, I wanted to share a fun, yummy meal the Catfish and I made this week. It was a simple, sweet moment for the two of us; it was just about us working on a project together and enjoying each other's company. This was a nice departure from the all-about-kindergarten theme in our house these past weeks. 

So, without further ado...
Quiche is one of my very favorite things to eat! It's so versatile that it makes a great breakfast, a sure-to-impress brunch and even a yummy dinner. One of my favorite things about a homemade quiche is that you can dress it up any way you'd like. If mushrooms aren't your thing, leave them out! Like asparagus and feta? Throw 'em in! Once you have a good handle on the process, the possibilities are endless!
For this quiche, you'll need just a couple of ingredients:
a pie crust (this is soooo easy to make, I promise!)
8 oz. mushrooms of your choice, sliced or chopped
2/3 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar jack 
7 slices cooked, crumbled bacon
7 eggs (I prefer jumbo go big or go home, right?)
kosher salt
black pepper

If you're feeling adventurous, you should definitely give homemade pie crust a whirl. I'm a big cheating cheater who likes to make pie crust in a Cuisinart and, so far, no one's been the wiser! 

Here's my quick and painless recipe:
What you'll need for the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
7 tablespoons cold (this is super important!) butter, in pieces
roughly 2 tablespoons cold water
a good pinch of kosher salt
*note- I usually add a tablespoon or two of sugar if I'm making a sweet dish- you can also play around with cinnamon and other spices depending on what you're making)

Start with the butter, salt and flour and pulse until the mixture looks like pebbles.
 Drizzle in the water, VERY slowly. Be conservative here- you can always add more, but once you've poured too much, you're stuck! 
 Run the Cuisinart for about a minute until the dough forms a ball. Be patient here- fight the urge to add more water until you're sure you need it. If your dough isn't forming a ball, add another tiny bit of water and give it another go.
 Wrap your dough ball in Saran Wrap then refrigerate it for roughly a half hour. If you go longer, that's fine, but you may need to leave it on the counter for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.
 Be liberal with flour as you roll your dough into a flat disk shape.
 To pick up your dough, roll it around your rolling pin. This is one of my all-time FAVORITE tricks. Works beautifully!
 I usually snip my dough with a kitchen scissor, leaving about 1/2 inch hanging over the side. Save that extra for a yummy little dessert later! You can add some berries or sliced apples and spices and make a little tartlet. Or, just sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake!
 Tuck the hanging dough under and pinch all the way around. I use two fingers (a little rough to illustrate when needing my other hand for photos!).
 Add the chopped mushrooms and bacon,
Sprinkle with cheese while striking a sassy pose, of course.
 Then I usually throw the crust back into the fridge (a cold crust is a happy, flaky crust!) while I make the egg mixture. 
This is one of those recipes that is really fun for the kids to participate in making. My sassy, swimsuit-clad sous-chef helped me crack the eggs into a bowl then carefully added the cream.
 Next she ground some pepper and sprinkled in a good pinch of Kosher salt.
 Then whisked her little heart out until the mixture was airy and combined. 
 Next I poured the egg mixture into the prepared crust
 and baked it for about 45 minutes at 360. It should puff up then set in the middle if you give it a jiggle (that's how you'll know it's done). Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
 My accompaniment of choice is usually a mixed green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, but in the interest of using what was on hand, I opted for a romaine salad with peppers from the garden, green onions, chopped mushrooms and a delicious homemade poppy seed dressing. 

This is one of my husbands favorite breakfast leftovers. That, my friends, is a high compliment since he is not typically a leftovers kind of guy! 

What's your favorite breakfast-for-dinner meal?

Curried Ginger Summer Squash Soup

Fall is just around the corner, so I have been doing a lot of thinking about fall comforts, especially warming soups. This is the perfect soup to make now and freeze for a cool fall day. The summer squash gives this soup an incredibly creamy and rich texture; it will be like eating a cream soup with none of the guilt! I love the flavor of curry, so when I ran across a simple curried squash soup in Food & Wine, I knew I had to try my own hand. I changed quite a few of the proportions, eliminated the butter and garlic, added some fresh ginger and found a winner! The vibrant orange color of the squash and curry just scream FALL IS HERE! 

My sweet neighbor, J., of the beautiful floral arrangement from a few weeks ago, gifted me with two gorgeous squash her son brought home from a farm where he works. They stared at me from the counter for a few days before I realized that I could put these beauties to good use as a soup for the fall. The best part? It freezes beautifully!
What you'll need:
2 large summer squash, peeled, seeded and chopped 
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (forgot to add my ginger to the picture, oops!)
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
32 oz. chicken broth (swap out vegetable broth if you want to make this a vegetarian soup)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Kosher salt
black pepper

After a good deal of peeling and chopping my squash and onion, I heated my oil over medium heat in a large pot. Next, I added my ginger and onion and gave it a good stir for a minute (incredible smells!). Next, I added the squash, curry powder and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. I tossed this mixture to incorporate all of the ingredients then let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I added the chicken broth then brought the mixture to a rolling boil before reducing to low heat. I added another good sprinkle of salt and grind of pepper, stirred, then covered the pot and allowed the soup to simmer for about 35 minutes. 
 Next I broke out my absolute favorite kitchen tool, my KitchenAid immersion blender and spent a few minutes blending my ingredients into a smooth, velvety soup. LOVE. 
 The immersion blender is fantastic for soups and is a godsend if you make your own baby food (hint, friends with littles, this soup would be a fabulous baby food for fall/winter! You could play with (or eliminate) the curry until you have the perfect flavor for your baby's sensitive palate).
Before portioning, I took a taste and adjusted my salt and pepper. This is my number one tip for any kind of savory cooking. TASTE IT before seasoning. You can always add more salt, but you can't take salt out once it's in a dish.  You'll notice that I rarely if ever put salt/pepper amounts in a savory recipe. This is why! So, season after every step and be sure to take a taste here and there to adjust. Salt is the ingredient that can make or break your dish, so use it wisely!

I was able to get six pretty large lunch portions of this soup for my freezer (and that is taking account the rather large bowl I accidentally ate while portioning this out!).
 What's your favorite fall comfort food?

Thoughts for Thursday

Well, tomorrow's the big day! 


Of course both of my girls came down with whopping ear infections early in the week, poor things. Thankfully they're both on antibiotics and have had a good day or two of rest before our new 'normal' begins.

While the girls rested (and I use that term loosely!), they became watercolor fanatics. They cranked out probably close to 50 paintings in two days. 
 Before everyone in our house came down with this nasty bug, we took a quick trip out to Parky's Farm, one of our very favorite spots. Here we are watching the girls climb one of the play structures. So much fun!
 And back to being at home...I spent a lot of time baking and cooking this week, trying to take advantage of the time indoors. I made a huge pot of curried squash soup (recipe coming very soon!) for the freezer and tried out Glorious Treats rocky road cookies with a few variations. I subbed out toasted pecans for walnuts and changed up the drizzle, using equal parts melted chocolate and marshmallow with a splash of heavy cream. Pretty darn close to cookie perfection- highly recommend!
And guess what I've been drinking while shamelessly wolfing down these cookies? Yummy mudslide and coconut mocha k-cups. These two are definitely helping with my resolution not to hit Starbucks once or twice a day!

And these? These two are FANTASTIC.

We also visited a new dentist on Wednesday - I swear if adult doctor's offices were like this one, we'd never shy from making an appointment!
 They even had an old-school Pac-Man game in the lobby! The kids received little swag bags and balloon animals at the end of their visit. 
It was a great experience!
I'm loving seeing all of the back to school pictures on Facebook- we'll be right there with everybody tomorrow, gulp! Off to enjoy my last few moments of no-school-aged children!

Strawberry-Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

My sweet friend brought me this sign for my kitchen, and it couldn't be more true!

This is one of my favorite frosting recipes to make in the summer when raspberries and strawberries are plentiful and inexpensive. I paired it with Glorious Treats perfect vanilla cupcakes which are, like their name states, perfection! This frosting is a basic buttercream that is infused with fresh berry flavor. The acidity of the berries tempers the richness of the buttercream making for a perfect frosting. So delicious!

I sent this batch to work with my husband, and they were quickly devoured!

What you'll need:
about a half cup of strawberries

a small handful of raspberries
vanilla extract 
two sticks of butter
a teaspoon of water
kosher salt
3 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
red food coloring
roughly a teaspoon of milk 

First, I pureed the berries with the water (wish I'd have had some berry extract or juice on hand here!) and vanilla. Next I used this random little tea strainer that has been taking up space in my gadget drawer for an eternity to separate the seeds (because seeds in frosting would be disastrous!). Saved me the trouble of having to pull out a bigger sieve.

 I knew I'd find a use sooner or later!
 Then I mixed the softened butter (I microwaved it for 25 seconds straight from the fridge) with the strained puree, milk, powdered sugar, a few drops of food coloring and salt. You can adjust the amount of liquid by eliminating or increasing the milk based on how thick your frosting is. 
I used my handy little Ziploc bag fitted with a 1M Wilton tip to frost each cupcake. I went a little lighter than usual on quantity because, with the richness of this frosting, a little goes a long way!
I made these for a function at my husband's work, but I have big plans to add raspberry liquor to this frosting in the future! I also fought the urge to add pink sprinkles. I felt bad enough making my husband bring in pink treats (ran out of cocoa powder, so this was Plan B!) that I opted out of additional girly touches!
  I'm thinking too that next time I may make a berry filling....mmmmm......

Thoughts for Thursday

I don't have a whole lot to share this week in the way of random thoughts...shocking, I know! I've spent a good amount of the week on tasks related to Sweet Thing starting kindergarten. We've made, missed and rescheduled dentist appointments, planned the big back-to-school haircut and bought some cute little last minute dresses for Sweet Thing's big foray into the world of public education. 

 In the midst of all of the running around, I got a good laugh out of this little gem:

I've been doing a pretty decent job weaning myself off of my one sometimes two a day Starbucks habit. Saw this and thought perhaps it was created just for me!

Just enjoying these last few moments of summer before fall arrives...

This little sassy-pants will be a teenager before we know it. 
Where does the time go?
 And nothing makes me happier than Sweet Thing bolting from the car in search of ripe cherry tomatoes from our little garden. 
She gobbles them up the way I down Starbucks. 
Off to our last few big adventures in our last full week before school begins...