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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Baked Potato Quiche: Mama's got it Loaded!

Eggs being as cheap as they were last week for Easter, I decided to buy a little extra.  I am Always up for a 'good' deal.  I was getting so tired of boiled eggs, having been hunted, added to Potato salad and also made into egg salad.  So, I needed a change up and I thought, why not make a quiche.  The first quiche I ever had was cooked by Mama, back in the 70's, they were all the rage.  I have been making them since.

A quiche is basically a custard with vegetables and/or meats added.  After you get the basics down, only your imagination can stop, just how many different kind of quiches you will be able to make.

Ingredients

5 Eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 sour cream
1 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese ( I use hoop cheese)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar
2 potatoes
1/2 pound bacon
5 green onions
2 tablespoons chives
1 refrigerated pie crust
salt & cracked black pepper
Canola oil

If you are not a fan of pork, you can substitute turkey ham.  Just dice up your turkey ham and fry it off in a little canola oil.  I do not recommend turkey bacon.

                                Slice & Dice


Do your slicing and dicing first.  Peel your potatoes and dice them, medium dice.  Place your diced potato in a bowl of 'cold' water, set aside.

Slice your green onions and set aside.

Place your bacon in the freezer for around 45 minutes before slicing.  This will make it so much easier for you to slice your bacon.

Slice across the bacon strips to make an 1/2 inch dice.

Fry it!
Place your bacon in your frying pan, turn the burner on a med/low heat.  Crisp your bacon and set aside.

The reason why you want to put your bacon in a cold pan and then turn on your burner is, this coupled with the lower heat, will help you render out most of the fat.

Drain your bacon grease, place the frying pan back on the stove, med/low heat, add 2 tablespoons (More if needed, you do not want dry potatoes) of canola oil and fry your potatoes until they are brown and cooked through.

The last minute, turn your heat up to medium/high, add your green onions and saute.  Drain off the oil.

On a plate, place your potatoes, green onions and bacon.  Allow them to completely cool.

As they are cooling, top those ingredients with your chives.

                              Whisk Away!


In a bowl add all your eggs and beat, as if you were making scrambled eggs.  Set aside.

In another bowl add your sour cream, milk, cracked black pepper, a touch of salt and stir.

Remember :  You are adding bacon and it contains a lot of salt.

Add your sour cream and milk mixture to your eggs and mix, just until incorporated.  Set aside.

The Dreaded Pie Crust!
Mama used frozen pastry pie crust, ever since I can remember.  The women could put up some dumplings that made you want to put your head in the bowl and just inhale the goodness, screw the stink'in napkins, you know what I mean.  But apparently we do not possess the pie crust gene.

You can also use a frozen pie shell, not a thing wrong with that but, I find the refrigerator versions that are out there, are far superior.  Those are the ones I recommend.  I know Mama later on also used the refrigerator pie crust.  If you do use a frozen pie shell, use the deep dish variety.

I used an 8 inch disposable cake pan, instead of a pie plate.  When plating I find it so much easier and I like the presentation.  I want you to butter and lightly flour the cake pans.  This will help with the un-molding of the quiche.

Place your crust in your cake pan and gently (using your knuckle) push the pie crust out to the edges and up the sides.  Do not push hard on the sides, as you do not want to thin it out too much.  Roll the excess crust to make a small edge around the cake pan.  Make sure you keep your crust cold until you are ready to use it and also, if the crust gets a bit warm after molding it into your cake pan.  Place your crust in the refrigerator for 5 minutes and then continue with the next step.

The Cheese!
I have used two cheeses, I like the hoop cheese as it has a great melting quality and I use the sharp for that little bit of a kick we all like.  As with all quiches you make, this is yours, add what kind of cheese you like.

This is one part of this recipe you really can just use what you like but, try to mix the cheeses so you have a good melting one and then a smaller portion for the vibrant flavored cheese.

Place & Pour
In your pastry shell, add your potato mixture, making sure it is well distributed. You do not want one person to get all the bacon (and it not be you now), so move things around.

Place your cheeses on top of your potatoes and make sure to evenly distribute the cheese.

Then top it all off with your egg custard.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 375 degrees.  All ovens vary so, you are looking for a pie that does not jiggle and feels firm to the touch in the middle.

Make sure to allow your quiche to set for 10 minutes until you try take the shell out of the pan to plate it.

                                             Show it Off!
You have worked so hard for this rich and delicious dish, why just serve it out of the tin.  get your best cake plate and place your crowning glory on it and display this lovely quiche.

This is the reason why I use a disposable cake tin, so I am able to cut it and slide the quiche out and place it on its mantle.

                                       Yep, Mama Loaded it!
I will be making a simple salad with a ground mustard vinaigrette, this helps cut the richness of my quiche and makes for a perfect combination. It is like having a sweet piece of cake but, you cut the sweetness with a scoop of ice cream.

For a few recipes I use for special occasions, like holidays and when guest are coming, please visit some of my other recipes...

Potato Salad:  Done Mama's Way!

Orange Compound Butter

I would like to thank my friend Jamie for helping me make this article.  No one can hold a whisk like she can.:).

All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different, it is acceptable and appreciated) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

Make Do

Having been around some of the best cooks (in my opinion) and having the privilege to be able to watch in admiration as they make the most delicious plates of Italian cuisine, has helped me become a better cook.

One of the things I do love about Italian cooks is, they use what they have and not only make do but, make it mouthwatering good.

This recipe is dedicated to all the wonderful cooks that have brought me to the point I am and also, instilling in me to never stop watching and learning.

Ingredients

2 large eggplants 

1/3 cup olive oil (you might need a bit more or, less)

1 1/3 cups grated parmesan


Vegetable broth 

3 cups water
2 carrots
1 onion
5 green onion tops
1/4 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

2 cups cottage cheese (I use small curd)
1/2 cup romano cheese
5 green onions
2 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Tomato Sauce

1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounce can)
1 cup diced tomatoes ( you can use can or fresh)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 carrots diced
2 (heaping) tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

I use the tops of the 5 green onions and just throw them in my broth pot.  I only use half the broth for this recipe, by all means, put the rest in the fridge for another night.


Easy As 1, 2, 3

Place your water in a medium size sauce pan. No need in cutting up the green onion tops and cut your onion in half and add to the pot

Grate two carrots straight into the pot.  Add red bell pepper and cracked black pepper, bring to a boil.

When your broth comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium high heat. 

Cook for 30 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of broth left over.  All ovens are different, you might have to cook it a bit longer so it will reduce enough.  You are intensifying the flavors.

When your 30 minutes are up, add your salt and mix. 

Drain your brother through a strainer, while catching the broth in a bowl and set aside.


Fill'er up Please

 Go ahead and make your filling.

Place your cottage cheese into a mesh strainer. Take a fork and press out as much liquid as you can. 

Dice your green onions and saute on medium heat for 2 minutes. Until they become soft.

Grate your romano cheese and while you are grating. Why not grate the parmesan you will be needing later on in the recipe.

In a medium mixing bowl add the cottage cheese, green onions, romano cheese and cracked black pepper. Mix well.

Taste and then add your salt, it might take a bit more or less of salt. As romano cheese will differ and some are more salty than others. 

Then add the egg yolks, mix well, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.


Filling A bit Saucy

I find it is best to have all your ingredients ready to go at this point.

Dice up your carrots and cut your red bell pepper into big chunks. 

Set them on the stove, with your broth, Ready to go.

In a medium size sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan, turn your burner on medium high heat.

Add your tomato paste to your pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Stirring the tomato paste the whole time, pressing the tomato paste with the back of a wooden spoon.


More Sauce Please


Add bell pepper, carrots and red pepper flakes to the tomato paste and continue cooking for 2 minutes, on medium heat.

Add your vegetable broth and Italian herbs to the pan and cook on high for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, add your crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and honey. 

Bring back to a boil then turn your stove down to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour. 

Make sure you stir your sauce every now and then, so your sauce will not scorch. 

When your hour is up, add your salt and mix well. Set aside.


Fry: Not!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

I have made many eggplant parmesan casseroles and I find that after I did completed the step they wanted me to and most of the time it would turn out a bit oily. 

Eggplant is a sponge for any liquid, so please keep this in mind.

That is why I use my oven, so I am able to cut down on how much oil I use.  

Take two cookie sheets, spread olive oil on the bottom of both sheets.  Slice your eggplant in 1/4 inch rounds.

Place the rounds on your cookie sheets, then on the tops of your eggplant, with a papper towel, baste the tops of your eggplant. Please just baste the top once and move on because, if you blink, the eggplant will absorb all the oil and look dry on top. 

Place in the oven for 9 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside. Lower the temperature of your oven to 350 degrees.


Assembly Line


I am using a 12 x 7 casserole dish.  Grab your filling, sauce, eggplant and set up your station.

Place 1 cup of the tomato sauce on bottom of your casserole dish.  Place a layer of your eggplant.

Keep the layers com'in


Top the eggplant with your filling.

Add the tomato sauce on top on the filling.

Top with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. 

Top with another layer of eggplant. Top with half of your remaining sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.

If you want to add more cheese to your casserole, feel free to do so.   

I am only giving you the basics, you use your imagination,  make it your own if you like.


Finishing Touches

On your third and final layer.

Place a layer of eggplant.

Pour the remainder of your tomato sauce on the eggplant.

Top with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Cover the casserole dish with tin foil, making sure it doesn't touch the top of your casserole and bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes are up, take your tin foil off and bake for another 15 minutes. 

This will help you acheive a crispy goodness of cheese on top of your casserole.


As my Grandson would say "TA-DA!"



Now, make sure you allow your eggplant casserole to sit on the stove for at least 20 minutes. This way it has had some time to firm up and it will be easier to cut. I know it will be very hard for you to have to wait but, it will be well worth it.


Add a salad or a nice piece of your favorite bread and dig in.


Please try out another of my favorite recipes...


Baked Potato Quiche:  Mama's got it Loaded!


All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different and acceptable) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

The Alabama 'Green' Way: Bugg & his Dog Toy




Just A Pup

Just how great it would be if there were puppies that did not eat your shoes, the television remote or 'another' pair of your socks. 

In our Bugg's case, this would also include, all things that will fit in his pie hole and that would even include, pie.

Remember Yellow Labs: If it fits or not, insert in mouth.


I can not even count how many times I have heard 'the experts' say "you must walk your dog, an hour a day.".  I said they are full of it.  Most of us do not have the time and also, some of us that think out of the box, can find a better solution on how to exercise our dogs.

All you need is, some land, a dog, a bit of Alabama ingenuity and you too can have a puppy that is as exhausted and as well content as our Bugg.

This games requires very little effort on your part.  The cost will matter how many extra of these Alabama frizzbie's you have.  I can tell you by experience that:  Your dog will look at you with pride, in how smart you really are, after you add this new game to their (keep the puppy from eating every thing) arsenal.


Alabama Frizzbie

Since I'm the photographer, I have asked Uncle Billy to assist me in this demonstration.


First off:  We collect all our old plastic lids that have been accumulating over the years and we go outside with Bugg.

Next:  Grab your lawn chair and place your lids or better known in these parts as, Alabama frizzbies.

Also dress for the weather. Uncle Billy had to run in and change into some long pants, as it was a cool morning here in Southern Alabama.

Now both Bugg and Uncle Billy were ready to go!


Ready?!?!
Just one tip before the games does begin: Do not forget to bring out a bowl of water or in Bugg's case, a bowl of ice. 

Your dog will be exerting themselves and they need to replenish their bodies every now and then with water/ice. 

This games does require you to have to at least exert yourself to a certain extent but, remember.  You are not walking the dog for an hour..

You must make your dog sit and pay attention. Not only are you taking this time to exercise your dog, you should also take these opportunities to teach your dog their commands.

You must have control, of your dog, at all times!

Once Uncle Billy has established that he has complete control of Bugg's attention.

Uncle Billy throws the first Alabama frizzbie.


He's Off!
Bugg just knows he will catch this one!

Bugg lines it up..

Bugg Leaps!

Bugg is bound and determined, that he will catch it.

Bugg jumps higher 

and...


Heck!
Bugg Misses it.

That is okay. This is a new game for Bugg.

Bugg might be big but, he is still just a young puppy.

Bugg will be 11 months old this Sunday.

We must have patience with Bugg. 

We know Bugg will get better at this game, as time goes by.

Always the Gentleman
Even though Bugg did not catch his Alabama frizzbie and as we all know, he is such a gentleman.

Bugg still picks up his Alabama frizzbie.

Bugg runs the Alabama frizzbie back towards Uncle Billy.

Uncle Billy waits patiently.

Fooled You!
As Bugg gets closer to Uncle Billy. 

Uncle Billy smiles, Bugg is going to be the nice guy we know he is and run his Alabama frizzbie straight back to Uncle Billy.

Nope, Bugg runs right past Uncle Billy.

I don't think Bugg is really getting the gist of this game.

But yes, I too have to remember, Bugg is just a puppy and he is learning.

Re-Group 
We have gotten to the point (we always do) where Bugg is wanting Uncle Billy to chase him and Uncle Billy knows this is a losing situation.

Uncle Billy sits down.

Uncle Billy grabs his drink and Bugg's Alabama frizzbies.

Uncle Billy then just kicks back and relaxes.

Now, some work still needs to be done. 

As in, you throw (from a sitting position) the Alabama frizzbie.

After your dog has retrieved his/her Alabama Frizzbie, allow them to make a few laps around the yard.

Then toss another Alabama frizzbie, your dog will not be able to contain themselves seeing that Alabama frizzbie in the air and they will drop the one in their mouth and chase after the one in the air.

See, very little effort on your part.

Bugg, You did it!

Uncle Billy throws another Alabama frizzbie.

Bugg sees Uncle Billy throwing the Alabama frizzbie in the air.

Bugg just Can not resist himself. 

Bugg drops his Alabama frizzbie (The one that he has been running around with) and tries to catch the one Uncle Billy just tossed in the air.

Bugg jumps and

Bugg catches it.

Here I Come!
Bugg turns and looks at Uncle Billy.

Bugg starts to run back towards Uncle Billy with the Alabama frizzbie in his mouth.

Uncle Billy hopes, that maybe, just this time! Bugg will actually bring the Alabama frizzbie back to him. Bugg doesn't.

So Uncle Billy throws another. 

Bugg will drop the Alabama frizzbie he has in his mouth and once again, run and try to catch the next Alabama frizzbie flying through the air.

He just can not help himself!

There is just some thing about those big blue things floating in the air, that Bugg just can not resist. 

This will be repeated until Uncle Billy runs out of Alabama frizzbies.

Okay Bugg
I know in the picture to your right, Bugg looks as if he is posing for a cute picture but, this is not the case.

You see, just as when Bugg plays sticks, he also plays Alabama frizzbie in the same manner.

Bugg will grab his Alabama frizzbie and not return the Alabama frizzbie back to me.

Bugg just runs by me, as if to say "Come and get it, if you can."

I have learned not to fall for this and so that just means one thing.

We end up with this...

All Mine!
Bugg's way of playing this game is unconventional, to say the least.  I admit that but, in my defense. Bugg is a very well trained pup. Bugg has been trained the command 'come' since he was 2 months old. 

It's just, I 'allow' Bugg to play 'this' game, his way. 

Bugg's Alabama frizzbie game is: I must catch all these blue things, unload them at my fort and after I have captured all the Alabama frizzbies. The game is over.

I'm okay with that.


Please take the time to enjoy more Bugg stories...
Our Dog Bugg: Explained!
Yellow Labs are a mouth full
Bugg, 'The star" and the Alabama scanner


All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different and acceptable) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pain Remedy: Bath Pillow: Done Mama's Way!

Those of us with Muscle diseases and those with chronic pain know that, a good hot bath can ease our muscles pain away.  But, if you do not have the right 'bath' pillow, what good does it really do, may I ask?

What?!?!

Is this how you look after taking a (supposedly) hot soothing bath. As you ease down into that hot water, your muscles already start to fill better.  Then you place your head on the last (already tried most) bath pillow you decided to give a try and there you lay, neck bent, as it lays up against that bath pillow, the pressure does nothing to help you combat that pain.

Why not get a pillow that floats in the water and takes that pressure off of your neck and shoulders.

I have been living with chronic myofascial pain for over 23 years.  I have tried a lot of gizmos/gadgets/tips on the hopes that it would help me have a more productive and enjoyable life.

This is one of the tools in my arsenal...

My Ahhh-Ha Moments

Some years back I had taken my kids to the swimming and as I was sitting in the sun watching them playing around in the pool, floating one more than one noodle floatie and that was when it struck me.  Why not make a bath pillow out of the noodle floatie, it might work so.

I went home and cut down a floatie to fit my bath tub and I must admit, it was the most relaxing bath I have ever had and I have yet to take a bath without this one tool in my arsenal, to combat the daily pain I live with.

CUT UP!



The best tool for this job is a serrated knife, it will cut through your noodle floatie with ease.  You want to cut  your floatie so you will have a inch of space between the floatie and the sides of your tub.  This way your head will be floatng in the water and that will relieve the pressure you get from most bath pillows.  Store your floatie in a place where it is able to dry out, as moisture can cause bacteria to develop and that is not a good thing.

My Bath Recipe... 

2 cups of epsom salt 1/2 cup of batherapy with lavender.  Pour your epsom salt into your bath tub while the water is running, this will help dissolve the salt.

Then I add my batherapy after the tub is half full of water and then mix the water with your hand so as to combine all your bath ingredients.

I like my bath water to be hot and hotter the better but, this is your bath, so adjust the temperature so as to fit your likes.

Remember:  This is your bath & time, so have it your way.

Ease On down 


I place my foatie in my bath tub, where my head will be and I slowly ease on down.  I lay on my side, place the pillow under my neck and then I turn on my back.  Yes, it will take a few adjustments to get your 'new' bath pillow just right but, you will get the hang of it in no time.  Make sure to place the pillow right under the back of your neck.

You will amazed just how relaxing this bath pillow is and talk about cheap, my noodle floatie cost me one dollar.

The fact that your head is floating freely and not pressed up against the back of your tub, will allow your body to freely float and not add a bit of pressure.  Yes folks, after one use, you will never again be on the search for the best ever bath pillow, you have already found it.

Now, That' More Like It


So now you have learned my secret on how to have the most relaxing bath you have ever had and so please share this secrets with those you love, they will appreciate you even more so.  That is after they think you are nuts by just suggesting this idea.

After using your new bath pillow you too will have a smile on your face, just as my grandson did after his floatie (Mommy) craddles his neck while he was having his bath time.

Do not:  Use this floatie on infants/children.  Using this photograph of my grandson, was to show, just how relaxed you should look and feel, after finding out my secret of the best bath pillow out there you will ever find.

Another tool in my arsenal to combat muscle pain...



At times, just a good hard laugh will take away a lot of your woes...

Our (My) Company, Our (My) Employees & the Alabama Scanner
All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different, it is acceptable and appreciated) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)