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Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

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Sunday started off as a pretty ideal day (and then both Illinois and Purdue lost, but that’s another story). I got Brent to go to yoga with me. I promise it didn’t take that much pleading. He enjoys it when he goes. Sunday morning’s class was not a beginner class though, so it ended up being quite a workout. To recover from the sweatiness, we had a kickass brunch planned. We nearly always order eggs benedict when we go out to brunch and I feel like we’ve been talking about making it ourselves for like a year. Well, we finally got around to it.

Base layer: flaky biscuits from Cooking Light. I made these quickly before we headed to our class. We split the biscuits and put them under the broiler to toast them up a bit. On top of that we put some lighted heated lox-style smoked salmon.

The eggs presented a problem. We’ve never poached eggs before, which doesn’t seem that difficult, but we were trying to do it at the same time as making hollandaise, which we’ve also never done. It ended up being quite the cluster in the kitchen, so we abandoned the poaching and just fried some eggs over eggs. We still get runny yolk and the process was a lot more familiar.

The hollandaise sauce is actually super simple, BUT you really have to get the timing down. Our first batch curdled because we were still dealing with the egg issue and the sauce was left on the heat too long. My advice is just to save the hollandaise for last because it comes together in like 90 seconds.

After assembly, we spooned some sauce on and sprinkled with some smoked paprika and capers to complete the towers of deliciousness.

We totally scarfed these in like 2 minutes. So delicious. And now that we’re benedict-making pros, you can expect more brunch posts in the future. 😉

Other fun news: my cousin and his girlfriend are coming to stay with us while they visit Seattle. They’ll arrive on Wednesday and I really hope we have good weather for them. I’m very protective of Seattle and I want people to love it as much as I do, so I always hope for gorgeous weather when people visit. My parents are also coming to visit in April and I’ve very hopeful the weather will be beautiful by then! Good thing we got that guest room put together!

I Must Tell You About This Sandwich

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Hey all. Not much posting going on over here due to studying for boards. I registered to take my exam and it’s less than 2 weeks away! The big day is Wednesday February 2nd. I’m nervous, but more than anything I want to get it over with!

We’ve been eating a bit at home and a bit out, and I want to play catch up and blog about some fun places some time, but for now I have only a sandwich. A collaborative effort between Brent and I, this sandwich includes homemade brioche (from Artisan Bread in 5…), homemade mayonnaise (whisked to perfection by Brent), and the world’s thickest bacon (Whole Foods). I baked the bread last night, but everything else was done this morning after our workout. While Brent worked on the mayonnaise I got to work toasting our bread (via the broiler on our oven because we have no toaster) and frying up the bacon.

Total sandwich assembly: toast the brioche, slather each side with half a tablespoon of mayonnaise, add a handful of organic spring mix, add one slice of bacon cut in half (2 slices for Brent), add 1 fried egg (2 for Brent). As you can tell Brent’s sandwich was double the size of mine, but even the smaller version was the most simple and delicious sandwich I’ve eaten in recent memory.

This brioche is pretty outstanding. I need to build more sandwiches with it. It’s back to the books for now, but I’ll update later when I’m done cramming! 🙂

Broccoli Quiche

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I like baking and making pastry dough, and I’ve made a ton of frittatas, so I’m not sure why I’ve never attempted a quiche before. Eggs for dinner are always an easy option for me, so quiche seemed like a perfect dish to try with my new-found free time.

I actually thought it would be pretty simple to make, and while it wasn’t overly difficult, the pastry dough definitely gave me a bit of a hard time. Our apartment runs really warm – it’s 72 degrees in here and our heater is not on right now! – so I think that warmth made it difficult for me to keep the dough as chilled as necessary, but I made it work!

Pastry Dough for one 11″ Quiche:

  • 1 3/4 c. AP flour
  • 1.5 sticks of butter (3/4 c.), cold & diced
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. ice cold water
  1. Whisk together flour and salt.
  2. Using pastry cutter or stand mixer, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand (a few lumps are fine).
  3. Slowly stir in water a tablespoon at a time, just until dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Push dough together with your hands into a ball and flatten into a disc about 1″ thick.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour (making it the day before is super easy).

After chilling for a few hours, I was ready to get the quiche together. I wanted something simple, so I just bought a head of broccoli and decided to use the chunk of leftover aged Gruyere in my fridge.

Broccoli Quiche:

  • I recipe of pastry dough above
  • 2-3 c. chopped broccoli
  • 6 eggs
  • 1.5 c. half & half
  • 1/4 t. cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c. shredded Gruyere (that’s just what I had, but I think most types of cheese go with broccoli)
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Roll out pastry dough to a 13″ diameter.
  3. Carefully arrange dough in a quiche/tart pan.
  4. Poke holes in dough with a fork.
  5. Using pie weights, dried beans, or a oven-safe pot lid (like me), weight down the bottom of the dough and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove weight and bake for 15 more minutes.
  7. Meanwhile…
  8. Cook broccoli in boiling water for 4 minutes.
  9. Drain broccoli and blanch in cold water.
  10. Whisk (I actually just threw it all in the blender) together eggs, half & half, salt, pepper, and garlic.
  11. Poor egg mixture into the pre-baked pastry shell.
  12. Drop broccoli on top of the egg mixture.
  13. Sprinkle cheese liberally all over the top!
  14. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes – If the mixture still seems a bit shaky it will firm up.
  15. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
  16. Eat warm, cold or at room temp. 🙂

I served the quiche alongside Brent’s favorite side dish – roasted cauliflower. Whenever I give him a choice of veggie sides, he always picks roasted cauliflower.

I thought this turned out really well! Brent kept commenting on how good the cauliflower was, but he ate two pieces of the quiche, so I think he liked that too. 🙂 I also ate another piece for breakfast this morning – just heated it for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven – and that was equally delicious! I’ll have to think of more flavor combos to make.

snOMG! It’s snowing here! This would not have been newsworthy in our prior life in Indiana, but here it’s kind of a big deal. It obviously doesn’t affect me since I have no place to go, but Brent has to get to work tomorrow and any ice makes these hills impossibly difficult to travel on. We’ll have to see what happens over night!

Cobb Salad

Understandably, I’ve been so excited and busy with planning everything that is happening – the move, graduating, job hunting, and everything else – that I haven’t spent so much time in my kitchen. Plus Brent’s been in and out of town for various interviews, so cooking seemed much less worth it.

But eating junk for the next month isn’t going to make anything any easier, so I figured I may as well get my butt back in the kitchen and make some simple meals for us. Last night I made a meal Brent really enjoys – Cobb Salad. He’s ordered a few times when we go out to eat and I know he loves it.

I’m not super familiar with what goes into a classic Cobb salad, but mine included (for 2-3 servings):

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped small
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 of an avocado, diced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4-5oz grilled chicken breast, diced
  • 2 pieces center-cut bacon, crumbled
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled (I don’t love this stuff. Brent put more on his portion)

Brent told me he’d prefer it served with a homemade ranch dressing, but I didn’t have ingredients for that and I didn’t feel like leaving the house, so vinaigrette it was. I made a balsamic vinaigrette by combining:

  • 2T water
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • 1t red wine vinegar
  • 1/2t Dijon mustard
  • 1/2t agave (or use sugar)
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • 1/4t kosher salt
  • a couple grinds of black pepper

The salad was definitely a hit with Brent, and he requested I make it more often. I enjoyed it too. I LOVE when salad greens are chopped real small and I don’t have to wrestle huge leaves onto my fork. I guess I’m a weirdo like that.

Plans for tonight: drink some celebratory champagne and narrow down moving details. I’m just so excited about this move!

“Damn rapini, you bitter as hell”

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The above quote was said by me while eating lunch today. But before I get to that, thank you for the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful day ending in a sushi dinner that involved me stuffing my face with tuna sashimi and avocado rolls. Couldn’t ask for better, right?

Today, I woke up at the super early hour of 8:30am and started doing some laundry. I waited a bit for Brent to get out of bed. He has a super annoying habit of reading his iPhone in bed for at least half an hour before he actually gets out of bed. I don’t know why this annoys me so much, but it totes does. Once it became apparent he would not be joining me downstairs anytime soon, I made breakfast for myself: a faux “English muffin” made on the cast-iron griddle using half whole-wheat artisan bread dough, sandwiched with a fried egg and smoked provolone, along with a bowl of fruit salad using what was left in the fridge.

Brent and I planned to attend Buskerfest in downtown Fort Wayne this afternoon, and to combine it with a workout, we decided to walk there – downtown is about 5 miles from our house. I’m leaving for Chicago for a week starting tomorrow, so I figured I should try to eat the rest of the produce left in the fridge before I left. For “lunch” Brent sauteed some rapini (broccoli rabe) with olive oil and garlic, and I topped that with roasted beets and goat cheese. Ummm, beets and goat cheese are obviously amazeballs, but this rapini? Not so much. Like the title of the post says “bitter as hell.” Sometimes I talk smack to my food – I’m gangsta like that. I ate most of it, but I don’t think it’ll be making a repeat appearance. Lunch also included an iced coffee. Caffeine was necessary before our long walk.

Then we embarked on our trek downtown. The weather was so much more tolerable than it’s been lately! It was about 80 degrees and super sunny, but we took water with us. Here are some of the shots from our trip. (Everything here on out is courtesy of the iPhone camera.)

Blogworld, meet downtown Fort Wayne:

Look, tall buildings! Shocking, right? That might be a bit uncalled for, but sometimes Fort Wayne really brings out the saracasm in me. We arrived at Buskerfest and watched a few of the performers.

That lunchtime salad did not really hold me over and after 5 miles, I was feeling a bit hungry, so we headed to one of our favorite places in the Fort, J.K. O’Donnell’s. We each got a half-pint of one of the rotating taps, Goose Island “Sofie” – a Belgian Style Saison. I was in love with this beer, and I love that they offer half-pints. Although, after the sandwich, we each ordered another half-pint, but it made me feel like I was drinking less.

We also split the Smoked Salmon Club, served with “chips.” The sandwich is slices of smoked salmon, arugula, bacon and tomato chutney on pumpernickel bread. Unfortunately, they were out of arugula and gave us spinach instead. Totes fine, but the arugula was missed. It adds more flava. This sandwich is always a winner though. I love that tomato chutney.

After another street performance, we made the hike back to the house. It seemed wayyyy hotter on the way back. I spent the last few miles really looking forward to the A/C and the couch! After a bit of relaxation, I started making dinner. Hmmm, when you write a post about all your meals, it really seems like you do nothing but think about food, huh? Anyway, dinner was more of that half whole wheat artisan dough, flattened into pizza dough and topped with some leftover sun-dried tomato pesto.

Then I topped it with three (yes -3!!) cheeses: mozzarella, goat cheese, and Parmesan. I’m a daredevil, I know.

After 12 long minutes in the oven, I was able to enjoy this:

It was insanely delicious. I’m on the couch with a beer and Revolutionary Road playing now, and I think I’m going to bed early, but I wanted to leave you with a funny photo of Larry running like crazy through my in-laws garden (they have a huge 7 acre property).

His flapping, flying ears crack me up!

One month out

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Wow, this summer is flying by. We’re almost half way through it! I only have 4 more weeks of summer classes and only 1 month until my 25th birthday! I’ll admit I haven’t been feeling my best this summer. I’ve struggled with school, and the loss of my grandmothers, and stress about what will happen when I eventually do graduate. All that has added up to feeling overwhelmed and kind of retreating into a little black hole of eating pizza and taking to bed when feeling stressed (which is all the time).

But here’s the thing — the next month is going to fly by regardless and I need to stop using feeling busy and stressed as an excuse not to treat myself well. So I’ve decided to set some goals with myself. Take the extra 15 minutes a day to make myself food that makes me feel good about myself. Use my workouts as a stress-reliever rather than zoning out in front of the TV. Realize I don’t need to make any decisions yet and just concentrate on finishing my summer semester strong. Hopefully I’ll actually more things to blog about too!

I did manage to make delicious and healthy food this weekend, and last week. Here are some of my favorites:

Spinach, tomato and feta frittata:

Hummus, tuna, and veggie wrap — I am obsessed with wraps right now.

And tonight’s dinner, salad with seared Ahi tuna

I’m going to finish watching Last Comic Standing and then get to bed. I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!

Egg Sandwiches and Coffee

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Sounds like the perfect start to a weekend morning, doesn’t it? I’m trying to relish such things because today is my last day before heading back to school. Yesterday was equally laid back and indulgent. I spent the afternoon drinking beer and watching our alma maters lose in the Big Ten tournament. At least Illinois put up a surprisingly good fight. Anyway, back to my breakfast:

The bread was the 100% whole wheat bread I mentioned making in my previous post. Topped with Smart Balance mayonnaise (because of my cholesterol :(), spring mix lettuce, sliced tomato, and some sliced avocado. I loved it. And I think my sandwich was better than Brent’s. His had a runny yolk and no avocado. Why bother? Served with dark roast coffee in my super old Illinois mug.

I have big plans to shred, walk the dogs, clean the house, and try to get a head start on some school work today. My first labor & delivery clinical starts tomorrow at 6:30am!

Faux English Muffins

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Oops! I told you I would be back with the last of the olive oil dough, but then life got in the way. School seems so all-consuming this semester, and I’m worried my healthy habits will be a victim. Between stress-eating (and some stress-wine drinking) and lack of workout time, and just general “OMG-I-don’t-want-to-cook-today-was-so-hard-and-i-think-tomorrow-will-be-worse-and-my-clinical-instructor-hates-me” syndrome, I haven’t been so impressed with my commitment and modeling of a healthy lifestyle (which I think is so important for a nurse especially) lately. Ugh. Don’t let my whining fool you though. I still get really excited about things like giving injections and Getting To Observe In The Operating Room!! 😀 It’s just really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes.

Sorry for that ridiculously self-pitying tangent. My point was that I’ve been busy, as I’m sure all of you have as well. Such is life. One day this week, I found enough time to make a fun and delicious lunch. I used the last of the olive oil dough to make a faux english muffin. I put my cast iron griddle over medium heat and put a small flattened ball of dough into an English muffin ring. I cooked it for about 7 minutes on each side.

Isn’t that a glorious looking sandwich? After slicing and toasting, I topped it with a fried egg, a slice of cheddar and a large handful of spinach. This lunch was beyond satisfying. Fast food breakfast sandwiches have nothing on this. Yum. I want to make another one.

I’ve recently rediscovered how wonderful sandwiches can be. They can be super simple, or over the top and crazy delicious, or just somewhere in between like this one was. I have to remember that taking time out to enjoy a simple lunch is so worth it, now more than ever.

Brent Makes Breakfast

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Although I may do most of the cooking, I would say Brent is actually more resourceful in the kitchen than I am. I think he developed this skill while cooking for himself and trying to spend as little money on groceries as possible. Plus when you eat everything, you probably don’t worry about failed experiments as much as I do. This is why he’s usually in charge of weekend breakfast. As long as we have potatoes, he just throws whatever leftovers we have into the skillet and tops it with eggs.

This week we had fingerling potatoes, onion, garlic, corn, black beans and pico di gallo, topped with eggs and some pepper jack and cheddar cheese. A perfect diner breakfast — cheaper and quicker than going out.

Here’s Brent’s. Ewww. Runny yolks.

hpim3119And here is mine. Brent thinks it’s kind of pathetic that I’ll only egg my eggs scrambed or fried hard on a sandwich, but he still makes them for me anyway. What a sweetheart.

hpim3126This was a very filling breakfast, even though “breakfast” was at 11am. That must be why the day went so fast. We got new tires for the car, and I had an eye exam. Before we knew it, it was 6pm. For the rest of the night, I’m trying to get some laundry done and baking bread. I actually already made a loaf today, but I left it cooling on the rack on the counter while I got my exam, and Lucy ate it!!

Green Eggs & Toast

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Sorry, no ham. As I was rather fitfully drifting off into dreamland last night, a moment of genius struck — I should put a glob of pesto into my scrambled eggs tomorrow morning! Hoping I would remember my brilliance come morning, I fell asleep.

hpim3023Although Brent, who has become a bit of a food snob, turned his nose up at their odd appearance, I thought my green eggs were quite tasty. Unfortunately, it’s been a real drearzilla of a day out there, so this meal has in fact been the highlight of my day so far, but all that is about to change (hopefully). I have an interesting baking project on the agenda…