Mushroom asparagus quiche — all it’s ‘cracked’ up to be

Quiche

Something about quiche used to really weird me out.

I’m far from a picky eater, but I’ve never liked eggs. It’s weird, I know — especially given I’ll try just about anything. But no matter the style — scrambled, sunny-side-up, in an omelette — or flavor, I’d prefer to skip breakfast completely. I’ve been known to make a sandwich.

When we hosted friends for brunch after Oliver was born, I was looking for a quick vegetarian recipe that might look vaguely impressive to a well-traveled foodie couple (what? It’s the truth). I had that “new mom” sheen of greasy hair, half-closed eyes and unbrushed teeth, so . . . it couldn’t be complicated. I mean, just getting to the grocery store was a feat unto itself.

In my internet wanderings, I stumbled upon this mushroom asparagus quiche recipe from Taste of Home. Its base is a store-bought can of crescent rolls, friends. I can get down with that.

It’s filling, hearty and incredibly tasty — so much so that Spencer and I have made it many times since, usually doubling the mushrooms because mushrooms are life. It’s a great dish to make on a Sunday and slice up for breakfast leftovers during the week. It reheats beautifully and holds together well.

This quiche? It’s just really delicious. Good enough for me to have reevaluated my hatred of eggs as a whole . . . though, to date, this is the only acceptable vessel I’ve found for them.

But who knows. A few more bites and I just might come around.


Quiche

Mushroom Asparagus Quiche

1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and rubbed sage

Separate crescent dough into eight triangles; place in an ungreased 9-in. pie plate with points toward the center. Press onto the bottom and up the sides to form a crust; seal perforations. Spread with mustard; set aside.

In a large skillet, saute the asparagus, onion and mushrooms in butter until asparagus is crisp-tender. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in asparagus mixture. Pour into crust.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

Recipe by Taste of Home


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Oliver’s first Easter with easy French toast casserole

Easter was fun.

Really, truly fun.

In sharp contrast to Christmas, when I was stressed and overworked and dead exhausted and so completely overwhelmed I wanted to just get the whole thing over with already (sad, but true), Easter was . . . enjoyable.

It helped that we weren’t all sick. December was nothing but colds, coughs and croup, and it was awful. Now the weather is beautiful, the trees are in bloom, flowers dot lawns and the sun is shining . . . ahhh. I feel better just typing all that!

It was Oliver’s first, given he was born the Sunday after Easter last year. Because he’s four months older than he was at the holidays, he also seemed to better “get it.” He’s much more interactive now, more mobile and vocal. Though the nuances of a religious holiday were certainly lost on him, he looked darn cute in pastels — and even cuter with vibrant eggs. And bunny ears.

Blackmail for when he’s mouthing off at 16, eh?

Easter

Easter eggs

I was my better self on Sunday. The self that is in the moment, happy to be doing whatever she’s doing, wherever she is . . . running around and maybe anxious, but still aware of it all. Because it was Oliver’s last “first” holiday, I wanted to document it — but even more, I wanted to live in it.

This has been, for sure, the longest shortest time.

In two weeks, my baby will turn 1. He’s already practically a toddler, scrambling to keep up with his friends at day care and older cousins, not yet moving but definitely taking everything in. It won’t be long before it “clicks,” and then we’ll have a new problem: a child who runs faster than we do.

In that vein, I’ve given myself permission to . . . well, to let things go. Just a bit. A bit! Because we often welcome friends and family, sometimes without notice, I’ve had to fight down this … this urge to scrub, tidy and organize. To seem like a family with two working parents who still keep a spotless home.

But our home is not spotless. Even during those first few months at home, I felt like I had to keep the house impeccable even with a few scratched-together hours of sleep. It was hard to let go of those old insecurities about others not seeing you “at your best,” but I eventually accepted something had to change. That something was me.

In the last year, I have cried and I have laughed and I have welcomed friends into my living room with matted hair, smudged eyeliner and dirty diapers forgotten on the floor. When we volunteered to host an Easter brunch last Sunday, I had to fight — almost physically — an urge to clean and tidy like no tomorrow, panicking in the hours before my parents, grandparents and aunt arrived because I was worried everything was not . . . up to snuff.

But it was fine. And if it wasn’t, they would never have said anything — and surely cut us some slack. So does it really matter?

We served this French toast casserole on Easter morning, and it’s the epitome of what I love in a recipe these days: delicious, filling and quick. It can — and should! — be partially prepared the night before, meaning your work in the morning is minimal. It involves sprinkling on some brown sugar, popping it in the oven and going on your merry way.

Until you return with a fork.

Which you will do — and very quickly. Its aroma can’t be denied. Plus, the leftovers reheat beautifully for breakfasts later on . . . you know, if you have any left.

After our brunch, we had a really nice afternoon visiting with my grandmother, cousins and family in Virginia — complete with Ollie’s first Easter egg hunt! He was more concerned with beating any surface like a drum than actually seeking eggs, but he did realize they make excellent maracas.

I’ll listen to his beats any day.


French toast casserole 1

Easy Apple French Toast Casserole

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 (8 ounce) loaf of French bread, cut into bite-sized pieces and slightly dried out
2 cups milk
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch ground cinnamon, or to taste
1 jar (15 ounces) scalloped cinnamon apples
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or more as desired

1. Grease a 9×12-inch baking dish.

2. In a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup brown sugar and butter together over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves into butter, about 2-4 minutes. Pour into prepared baking dish and spread 2-inch layer of bread pieces over the top, lightly pressing bread into mixture to soak it up.

3. Beat milk, eggs and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Pour milk mixture over bread into the baking dish, moving bread as needed to make sure all bread absorbs liquid. Spoon scalloped apples over bread, spreading between pieces as desired. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 8 hours to overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove and discard plastic wrap from dish, then sprinkle with remaining brown sugar over the bread mixture.

5. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy, refrigerating any leftovers to enjoy later!

Recipe slightly adapted from AllRecipes


French toast casserole 2


Glazed lemon olive oil muffins: tart, sweet, addictive

Lemon olive oil muffins


Though I was never much of a breakfast eater until I joined Weight Watchers (and came to understand the morning meal really is important), I’ve always been a fan of the humble muffin. And, you know, baked goods in general, but especially before work . . . when I’m hungry and really need a boost.

Like so many, I’ve been working to integrate healthier versions of favorite foods into our diet. Typical muffins and pastries are too much of a splurge for yours truly, but I love scouring the Internet for tasty, lower-calorie baked goods so I can continue bumbling around in the kitchen and make my husband super glad he married me.

Enter Nosh My Way’s Lemon-scented Olive Oil Muffins, a dense and almost cake-like treat that can operate as both dessert and/or coffee accompaniment. With a fresh citrus punch in the batter and the glaze, these muffins are a delicious way to say “good morning.”

Or “good evening.” Or just, um, “hello.” Whatever works for you.

The glaze is the real highlight — don’t skimp on the good stuff. You could even poke holes in the cooling muffins to allow even more of that delicious sugary mixture to infiltrate, just like I do with the Key lime cupcakes.

Apparently I have a thing for fruit-flavored treats?

Eh, there are worse things.


Lemon muffins


Lemon Olive Oil Muffins

Recipe from Nosh My Way

Ingredients for muffin:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons 2% milk
Fresh juice of half a lemon (or about two tablespoons)
1 egg
1 egg white

Ingredients for glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Grated lemon rind (optional)

Directions:
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, lemon rind, olive oil, milk, lemon juice, egg and egg white in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until well combined.

Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter evenly into 10 muffin cups coated with cooking spray or cupcake liners.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pans immediately. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon rind and 3 tablespoons juice in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon glaze over each muffin; let stand 5 minutes or until set. Garnish with lemon rind, if desired.

Yield: 8-10 muffins.
Weight Watchers PointsPlus value without glaze: 3; with glaze: 4


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Classic banana nut muffins

Banana nut muffins


We’re pretty diligent about our fruit around here.

Each Monday finds Spence and I wandering the aisles of our local market, stocking up on whatever is on season and on sale (budgets!). Because they’re cheap and delicious, a bunch of bananas always wind up in our cart — and I don’t usually have a tough time polishing ’em off before they go brown.

But I dropped the ball last week.

Feeling perky on Sunday morning, my energetic husband decided we should whip up some banana nut muffins for breakfast to use up the overripe stash of fruit on our counter. Because I was unwilling to wait a half hour for said treat, I proceeded to eat my usual morning meal while we waited . . . but these? Worth the wait.

And the calories.

The humble banana nut muffin may not be the sexiest breakfast item around, but there’s a reason this classic morning indulgence is so popular. I mean, really — have you ever looked up recipes for banana bread or muffins? There are, um, a lot . . . all purporting to be the best, of course.

I’m not sure if this version is “the best” — I’d need to conduct many, many more delicious experiments before I could make such a proclamation — but I will say they’re quite scrumptious. And because we had no walnuts and were baking in our pajamas, we used what we had on hand for the “nut” portion: almonds with a splash of pecans. Banana almond muffins? Surprisingly good.

Because we love doing weird stuff, Spence was also inspired to sprinkle a few of these with coffee grounds straight out of a bag. We both agreed they added nice color, but not much flavor. So if you have some grounds hangin’ around? Feel free to give your muffins a sprinkle before they go in the oven, but don’t expect a strong coffee flavor.

Adding the actual called-for coffee or espresso, however? That would be an interesting addition. And a good way to add another jolt of caffeine to your morning routine.

I need all the help I can get.


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Banana nut muffins

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients:
3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix in the sugar, egg, espresso (optional), cinnamon and vanilla.

3. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

4 Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

5. Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Muffins are done when tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack. Yield: 12-15 muffins.


Banana nut muffins


An almost, sort of morning person


I’ve never been a morning person.

The whine of my alarm clock might as well be a bullhorn. I wake up with dark smudges of yesterday’s makeup beneath my eyes, my hair a snarled mass of curls. I’m creaky and slow to start. I drag my feet and lounge beneath the covers as long as possible, cracking open an eye only when the idea of being late for work becomes dangerously close to reality. I’m perpetually tired — rundown, even — and down Diet Coke to get me to lunchtime. At night, my lovely white noise machine (or app on my iPhone when away from home) blissfully allows me to get my seven hours of shut eye.

So why am I so bent on getting up early these days?

Between the sunrise trip to a local lighthouse and the fact that I’m actually waking before my alarm goes off s0me mornings, I feel like a strange caricature of my normal self. Part of it is that I’m getting over a cold, I think; no one seems to be on a normal sleep schedule when they’re sick.

It’s more than that, though. In the never-ending quest to find more hours in our days, I’m finding the early mornings to be . . . refreshing. Getting  out of the house early last week, I stopped for coffee and breakfast at Panera while I read a little more of Aine Greaney’s Dance Lessons (which is lovely, by the way). And I still got to work early — even with my detour. My quiet little moment for me.

Not hitting the snooze button four times, pouring myself into the shower and scrambling into some clothes before flying out the door is strange — and amazing. That’s not to say I don’t still value my beauty sleep (I do); I’m just starting to realize those lunatics who get up early on the weekends to photograph wildlife or run on the beach aren’t lunatics at all.

That scares me a little.

I mean, if I can be a morning person — and that’s still a leap, I’ll admit — maybe many of the indisputable facts I’ve gathered about myself aren’t so indisputable. Maybe I really do like lima beans. Perhaps my rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” is on pitch. I could be an excellent pianist, an excellent swimmer, and yellow? Yellow could totally be my color. Complement my olive skintone.

Anything could be possible.

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Are you a morning person —
or more likely to punch a morning person?
At what time of day do you function best?