Monday, May 21, 2012

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

I helped host a baby shower last week for a beautiful adopted baby girl.  She's been adopted into a sweet sweet family and they are overjoyed to finally be a "family" by her arrival. ;)  The shower was simple and sweet in yellow and white. 

My friend and I made tissue paper pom-poms and the food for the event consisted of a delicious pineapple punch (recipe to be posted soon), mini quiches (following the recipe from my quiche post), mini strawberry shortcakes and mini lemon-meringue tartlets. 

The lemon meringue tartlets were an experiment, and they turned out deliciously. I regret that I didn't get a picture of the final product until after the shower, so they had been refrigerated and were not as pretty as they were originally, but the recipe was simple and definitely worth sharing!  (Note - these are not gluten free) 

Lemon Meringue Tartlets: Pictures follow: 
1. Gather your ingredients.
For the tart:
- won-ton wrappers 1 package (24 min)
- lemon pie filling 1 can
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 lemon (halved)

(For 24 tartlets I used a mini muffin pan, and only needed one can of lemon creme pie filling.)

1. Spray the mini muffin tin with non-stick spray or olive oil. 
2. Place won-ton wrappers inside to form a cupcake-liner-like lining. 
3. Coat with egg yolk to avoid over-browning
4. Zest peel of both lemon halves, juice the lemon halves into a bowl and combine with lemon pie filling.
5. Spoon lemon pie filling into won-ton crusts.
6. Bake according to won-ton wrapper instructions. Approximately 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees, until won-ton wrappers lightly brown and pie filling settles.
7. Refrigerate and add meringue on day of event. 

For the meringue:
- 3 egg whites
- 6 tablespoons of sugar (finely ground baking sugar is best)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

1. Coat wonton wrappers with egg yolk to prevent more browning of pastry.
2. Beat egg whites until frothy; gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Add vanilla or other flavoring. 
4. Spoon onto tartlets. Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes, until meringue is nicely browned.
5. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly then place for presentation and enjoy!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Melt-in-your-Mouth Quiche

Today I want to share my recipe for a melt-in-your-mouth quiche that is a proven family favorite at our house.  My handsome husband - who could not stand quiche previously- requests mine any time we have a carton of eggs in the fridge. I love making it because it's versatile and relatively easy. The kids love it too, and I love that they are getting plenty of good veggies every time they eat it!  

My recipe was adapted from the "Joy of Cooking" cookbook.  The version I made is gluten-free, but made with regular all-purpose flour it's delicious. 

The Crust: 
"Pat in the Pan-Cheddar/Parmesan Crust"
1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Toss the following ingredients together in a bowl:
      - 1/2 cup lightly packed extra sharp cheddar cheese (or 3/4 cup if omitting         
        parmesan cheese)
      - 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
      - 2/3 cup gluten-free or all purpose flour 
      - 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I use kosher salt)
      - 6 Tbl (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/4inch pieces
3.. Cut butter into ingredients until mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs
4. Press and pat dough directly into pan, lining bottom and sides. Thoroughly        
    prick bottom of crust with fork.
5. Bake in oven at 425 for 18-22minutes - until golden brown, then remove and    
    paint with uncooked egg-yolk & pinch of salt, covering evenly. Return to   
    oven with this glaze for 1-2 minutes to set. 

Select Your Ingredients:
      This time I used fresh Roma tomatoes, spicy turkey breakfast sausage, fresh    (minced) green onions, fresh minced spinach, Fresh minced basil, cheddar cheese, and bacon crumbles. 
      I usually see what I have and improvise based on what's available. Feta cheese is a favorite of mine, but I didn't have any this time!  
      I also chose to incorporate the egg-white into my recipe that was left from the egg yolk I separated to use on the crust. Using more yolks makes the quiche a bit richer, but the extra egg white added a fluffiness that I appreciated.

Making the Quiche filling:
      1. Remove prepared crust from oven.
      2. Preheat oven to 375. 
      3. After selecting and preparing ingredients by mincing, whisk together the          
            1 cup milk
            1 cup Half & Half or Cream
                  (You can use just milk, but the more cream you use, the richer the   
                   quiche will be.)
                  3 eggs (plus remaining egg white/optional)  
            1/8 teaspoon black pepper
            1 pinch of ground/grated nutmeg
            1/4 teaspoon of salt if salty meats are not used in quiche (I omitted this)
        4. Whisk in minced vegetables (spinach, basil, green onions)
        5. Sprinkle the base of the crust with selected meats (bacon and sausage)  
            and heavy vegetable items like tomatoes
        6. Cover with 1/4 cup of cheddar or parmesan cheese
        7. Pour the custard-like mixture over the meat, into the crust

Return to oven to bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden brown, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Slice with spatula and Enjoy!!!! 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Week 2 Menu - GF

Menu: Week 2 ;)

(minus the white flour)

                                       Photo by roxy0316 on February 28, 2011

3. Panera CopyCat (but better) Broccoli Cheese Soup

This week's meals were a BIG hit. Having tried several of them...I highly recommend recipes from Real Simple. If you've never attempted one of their recipes, give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

I've also been finding a lot of meal inspiration on Pinterest.  If you are a Pinterest user, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but if not - you are definitely missing out!!

This week I have my FINAL final.....maybe, ever! I graduate on Saturday, and am starting Grad school the way I started it.....expecting! ;)

We didn't make it to every recipe on our list, but those we did try were fantastic!  I should have been better about taking pictures, but....I was too busy enjoying the delicious food!  We tried 4 of the 6 recipes we listed, and this week plan to make the existing two.  The chicken with white beans and tomatoes was delicious. The beans ended up taking on a smokey roasted garlic flavor, and were good as leftovers as well! The skirt steak with chick peas, tomatoes and feta was one of our favorites. It was also VERY easy. This meal will be on repeat.  The gyro meat with tzatziki sauce was delicious, but sadly, wasn't 100% gluten free. It was nice for a quick meal though. The sauce was slightly labor-intensive, but my family LOVED it.

Last, but not least-  the cauliflower parmesan crust pizza. My family devoured the pure deliciousness. It wasn't as crisp as we normally like our crust, but it was every bit as tasty! Another family favorite - with some extra veggies snuck in. You can't beat that!!  I DID manage to get a few pictures of that delicious meal before it was devoured. Our toppings were organic pasta sauce with garlic, roma tomatoes, spicy breakfast turkey sausage, mozzarella cheese and fresh arugala. It was FANTASTIC! We followed the directions, but next time I might make a double batch - knowing how quickly it disappeared!

Have a good evening! Bon apetite!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gluten-Free Meal Planning- Week 1

Hey friends!

This week has been a BIG one!  I took my certification exam and only have two finals left to take before I graduate with my Master's in Speech-Language Pathology! What a journey it has been! 

This week my (awesome) husband requested that we trial a gluten-free diet and see if that had any impact on our health. He has been battling Eosinophilic esophagitis, and it's often related to undiagnosed gluten allergies, among other things.  Being the supportive wife I am (sometimes - lol) I decided we would give it a shot! If it helps his health, I'm game!

We've been using a weekly menu to get ourselves organized, and it's really helped de-stress pre-dinner planning. If you aren't already meal-planning, I highly recommend it!  We usually make a simple meal plan at the beginning of the week (Sunday is our planning day). We select as many meals as we need for the week, but we don't assign them days. Then as the week progresses, we pick what we have time to make, as dictated by our schedule.  It's been a good method for us. 

On that note - here is our Gluten Free Meal Plan - for this week: 

1. Chicken With White Beans and Tomatoes 

from Real Simple
from Real Simple

4. Homemade Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Better than Panera!)

Beth @ Eat-Drink-Smile

That's it for this week!  Have a good one! Anyone on a gluten-free diet that can make recommendations?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Prepping for time at home....

I am one HUGE step closer to wrapping up my long-awaited Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. We just took comprehensive exams and I found out - I (along with my entire graduating class) PASSED!!!!!  It was a thrilling victory and I'm happy to be one step closer to graduating. That being said......

I am very nervous about what's coming. I will soon be a mom to 3 kiddos! I had anticipated getting my degree and quickly finding a job to begin my new career....God had VERY different plans. I graduate in May and a few short months later, we'll welcome #3.  We're thrilled, and thankful for God's provision and for the further evidence of his plan in our lives.

That being said, this new plan has me re-evaluating a lot about my current attitude about staying home. I don't know why, but when I attempted staying home once before, it was not the joy-filled occasion I had dreamed that it would be. Being on one income meant we were financially a lot less able to do many of the fun and creative activities that I had dreamed we would be doing.

I found out that given so much freedom, I was a lot lazier than I had previously imagined myself to be. I occupied my time with a lot of crafty endeavors and really enjoyed having time to complete them, but I also found myself frustrated when my children needed my time an attention.....this was not how I wanted things to be.  I tried to include them in activities, but then was frustrated by the mess and lack of structure.....which again....was due to my own poor planning and poor attitude.

Don't get me wrong - we did A LOT of fun activities together, but the problem I really ran into was that our fun activities lasted only a few hours each day...and the day was much longer than that.  I began to feel isolated and lonely.  The pressure of planning fun and exciting activities every day - that would keep the kids out of the sweltering heat - and that would give them lasting memories and education....was so much pressure.  I felt like I didn't have the energy and stamina to provide hours of entertainment to my children...and I felt like they were nearly unable to occupy themselves.

Admitting this is not easy friends. I really dislike this part of my sinful attitude.  At times,  I really began to resent our long days together.  I also resented the work that came along with staying at home.  Finding joy while preparing every constantly, while everyone around me made messes...My attitude was wrong and so my time at home was not what it should have been. I don't want to let that happen again. I don't want to be lazy and self-absorbed this time.

I am planning on being a little more organized this time around. I want to develop a summer curriculum, an organized plan for dealing with our day to day. I'm hoping the structure I provide will allow me the freedom from the daily planning pressure and I hope it will also give the kids a sense of security about what to expect throughout the day.

Do any of you have any great suggestions for things that work for you? How do you manage your time at home? What does your day to day look like? How do you entertain your kids and maintain time for yourself? Tips appreciated!!! ;)

Monday, February 06, 2012

2012 Valentines

So, I saw a few great Valentine ideas on Pinterest, and decided to give it a go.

Here's a board with some of my favorites! A Little Season-ing Board

I ended up doing something like this:

June bug was a willing participant. Little Mermaid - not so much. But we made it work.

Here are my final products!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Fascinating indeed!

I just realized that I didn't share any pictures of the actual event. My sister-in-law's wedding was amazing. She was breathtaking and the day was the most perfect imaginable. If you live anywhere nearby, I highly recommend Chateau Julien for your wedding & reception.

Here are a few pictures from the big event!

I should add that these pictures don't even do the people or the event justice. I got there and realized that I had left my "real" camera at home. These were all taken on my iPhone. Thank goodness I had it with me!

Wonderful day & a wonderful reason to celebrate. Congratulations!!!!!