Sunday, April 18, 2010

Asparagus Quiche with Mushrooms & Shallots

I found this recipe at:

I used asparagus out of my garden. As I only planted 10 crowns last year, I don't have enough to eat all at one time, so I freeze about 2 spears a day. I finally had 8 ounces of asparagus, so I thawed it and used it in this recipe. I don't have a quiche pan, so I used a 10" square glass pan.

Asparagus Quiche with Mushrooms & Shallots
Makes a 10-inch quiche, serves 8.


quiche pan, lightly coated with cooking spray
large skillet
medium mixing bowl


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic
8 ounces thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
6 eggs, beaten
12 ounces low fat cottage cheese
fresh ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C.
2. In a large skillet, sauté the sliced shallots over medium heat until they are soft, then add the sliced mushrooms and garlic. Sauté until the mushrooms are soft and tender. Spread the shallots, mushrooms, and garlic all over the bottom of the quiche pan.
3. Layer the asparagus pieces over the mushrooms, then sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the shredded cheddar on top.
4. In the mixing bowl, stir together the beaten eggs, cottage cheese, and remaining cheddar cheese. Pour the mixture over the asparagus layer, spreading to the edge of the pan.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Notice there isn't any salt in the recipe. Asparagus seems pretty salty by itself, so it really doesn't need any extra. I refrigerated the leftovers and am eating them today. They are good even after microwaving!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garden report 4.17.10

Today I spent nearly four hours in the garden, weeding, planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. I'm trying to remember to wear sunscreen everytime I go outside for a long period of time now. I recommend Bullfrog Sunblock Quik Gel Sport Spray as it goes on clear without needing to be rubbed in. Now I'm relaxing inside with a bowl of pistachios and a BIG glass of water.

Here's what I planted today:

First, I planted seeds of borage, sweet william and cardinal climber vine in hanging plant baskets, similar to these: 18" Hanging Basket. The Hubs and his mom bought me two of these last year from the dollar store and I had no idea what to plant in them, so they were empty all last summer. I put the baskets on the front porch. Hopefully no critters get in them!

I also planted my squash and melons in the garden today. Four seeds each of Charentais Melon, Butternut Rogosa Violina Gioia, Marketmore 76 Cucumber and Fordhook Acorn Squash. I planted them in a row right in front of the trellis, and between each type I planted marigolds and sunflowers. The same bed will also have okra in it, but I won't plant those seeds until May. The Cippolini onions are in that bed, looking good. I  have spinach and a lettuce mix planted in between the onions, but it is SLOW to germinate. I started out attacking bugs right off the bat by sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the seeds. Hopefully that will help keep squash bugs and squash vine borers out of the garden. *cross fingers*

I replanted beets, kohlrabi and carrots because half of the seeds never germinated. I'm not very impressed with the germination rate of the seeds I bought this year. Next year I'm probably going to branch out and not buy everything from Baker Creek, which is sad because they are a local seed company. However, when the germination rate is less than 50 percent I'm not inclined to purchase from them again. Mostly it's the root vegetables I'm having issues with. The tomatoes, peppers and some of the eggplant came up really well inside. Hopefully the squash and melons have good germination. I planted 2 seeds in each hole just in case, though! There was an extra spot in the root vegetable bed that I didn't know what to do with, so I planted about a dozen green beans in there today, Bush Blue Lake.

Whew, and then I planted herbs in with the asparagus. Last year, at the end of summer, Wickman's Nursery had all their herb seeds for 25 or 50 cents a packet (I can't remember which), so I bought: Triple Curled Parsley, Italian Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Sweet Basil, Blue Spice Basil, Compact Basil and Cinnamon Basil. I had Thai Basil left over from the last house, so I also planted some of that.

It's been so nice lately, and I've put the tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings out for several hours everyday. I keep their soil moist, and they all seem to be doing ok. I'm a little leary about putting all of the seedlings out, since the Missouri Extension office doesn't recommend planting nightshade plants outside until mid May. So I convinced myself to only plant one of each type outside, so if they freeze at least I'm not out all of the seedlings. That means I have one of each: Thessaloniki, Black Cherry, Amish Paste, Cour di Bue, and a Yellow Pear that I bought. I planted all the artichokes outside. And then one of each of the peppers: Banana, Poblano, Golden Marconi, Red Cheese, Quadrato D'asti Rosso and Anaheim. Once I get all the peppers planted, I'm going to fill in between them with onions. I still have about a third left of each bunch that I bought from Dixondale Farms.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sometimes you have to improvise...

... and as a beginning bread baker I'm not quite comfortable with improvisation, but it works, some of the time.
I'd been looking for a wheat sourdough bread recipe, because I tried to make sourdough bread with wheat flour and it didn't rise very well. Since wheat flour is heavier than white flour, it needs a little boost, in the form of baking soda or yeast. I found the following recipe on and tweaked it.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Makes 2 loaves

4 1/2 cups flour (1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)
3 3/4 cups warm water
1 cup sourdough starter

1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup olive oil
5 cups flour (1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)

The evening before, mix the first three ingredients in a large bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit overnight. I used the largest of the three glass Pyrex bowls for this.

On the day of baking, stir down the sponge. Mix in the baking soda, salt, honey & oil. At this point, I poured the sponge into my Kitchenaid mixer bowl, as it was already too big for the Pyrex, and still didn't have the flour in it.
Mix in bread flour. Knead dough for five minutes in the bowl.
Let dough sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease two loaf pans. Divide the dough in half and put in each loaf pan. I used a glass loaf pan I use for banana bread, which I wouldn't recommend using for this bread as it is angled on the ends. I only have one loaf pan, so for the other loaf I used an Baker's Secret Nonstick 8-Inch Round Cake Pan.
Cover and let rise for 2 hours or until dough is risen over the edge of the pan. My kitchen was about 70 degrees, and it took closer to 3 hours to rise enough. After an hour and 15 minutes, I put the pans on the back of the stove top, turned the oven on for 5 minutes and then turned it off. This seemed to help.
Bake the loaves at 425 for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until it sound hollow when tapped.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chardonnay #3 and two dinners

For the last several days, I've been drinking out of a bottle of Alamos Chardonnay, an Argentinian wine. I believe I have found the first Chardonnay that I enjoy. It is not bitter when cold, nor when room temperature. Yesterday's dinner was a vodka cream sauce pasta, and this evening's was creamed spinach and pork tenderloin. It went well with both dinners.

Below are recipes for both dinners, both so that I remember how I made them, and to share.

Vodka Cream Sauce Pasta

1/2 a package of store bought dry pasta, boiled
1 jar of Vodka cream sauce (I used Classico.)
about 4 oz of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
Seasonings: basil, parsley, thyme, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cook the chicken in a skillet with olive oil until finished. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and onions and saute until tender. Add more olive oil if needed to prevent sticking.
When tender, add the entire jar of sauce and stir until well coated.
Fold in the pasta. I say "fold" because the skillet will be full.
Add the seasonings. This last summer, I had a lot of herbs, so I froze them into ice cubes. I used an ice cube each of basil, parsley and thyme. If you have fresh use it!

I ate sauteed asparagus alongside the pasta.

Creamed Spinach

This recipe is adapted from one I found on, a weight loss website.

1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 Tbsp butter
olive oil, as needed
4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c milk (I used 2%, but you could also use 1/2 and 1/2 or heavy cream and reduce the amount of sour cream used.)
1/2 c grated parmesan
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg

Saute the mushrooms and onions in the butter, and if necessary add olive oil. When tender, add the spinach and cook until warmed through. Add the sour cream and milk. Stir to "melt" the sour cream. Add the seasonings and parmesan.

I ate the creamed spinach alongside pork tenderloin. Delicious!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Garden report 4.6.10

Whew! I went to see my family for Easter, and when I came back home the garden seemed to have exploded!

The asparagus grew into a jungle. 7 of the 10 crowns I planted last year have come up. Last week I planted another 10 that may be ready to eat next year.

The rhubarb returned from winter "hibernation". I transplanted the rhubarb from our last house. I didn't use any of it last year, to let it get settled in to its new home. But I see rhubarb pie on the horizon this year!

The elephant garlic reminds me of flower bulbs. Probably because it's from the same family as lilies.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Garden report 4.2.10

Yesterday I discovered a mole terrorized two of the raised beds. He rummaged around in the lettuce and carrots area, and also in the bed that has onions-that will have tomatoes in the next couple months. Good thing I purchased castor beans from Baker Creek, as they will definitely get planted in the raised beds this year.

It looks as though everything I planted has germinated. All the shallots and elephant garlic poked through the dirt. The rhubarb has come back. Woot woot! The sage, which I was convinced had died, is coming back. The peppermint, spearmint and lemon balm (from Grandma Ettling) have come back.
In the root vegetable bed, the peas, kohlrabi, radishes, lettuce, and spinach have germinated and have their cotyledon leaves. The parsnips and carrots have not germinated. I should clarify on the peas: the little marvel and the sugar snap have come up, but not the snow peas. The seed was old, and I wasn't expecting it to come up. I'll probably plant a few more peas to get rid of the seed.
Last year I planted asparagus, and of the 10 crowns, only 5 have come back so far. The gentleman at Schaffitzel's told me to "Be patient" because they may not be ready yet. I went ahead and planted 10 more crowns, and marked them with bamboo stakes so I know I can't eat them until next year at the earliest.
Inside, I replanted the artichokes, most of the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers into larger containers. I started the seeds in clay pots that I made in ceramics class, with at least four seeds per container. Then I transplanted them into 8 ounce clear plastic cups after they had at least two sets of true leaves. Then I'm transplanting into 16 oz red plastic cups, which will be the last transplant until they go into the ground. I was only watering them once a week, but as they are getting larger, they need water at least twice a week.
The tomatillos are working on their first true leaves, as are the cilantro, dill and basil. The parsley is slower, which is expected since parsley, parsnips and carrots are all the same family and parsnips are known to germinate VERY SLOWLY.
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