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This weekend we celebrated my lovely mother’s birthday with a little family brunch. I broke out my savory french toast recipe and revamped the crustless quiche with new flavors. I think it’s my favorite version yet. The sausage made it a super hearty version, while the bell peppers added just the right sweetness to balance the salty bite.  Happy brunching!

crustless quiche part 2 italian

Crustless Quiche Part 2, Italian Style
via mrs. harding cooks

10 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. shredded cheese (I used white cheddar this time)
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 green onions, chopped
1 lb sweet italian sausage
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 small onion, finely diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined and no lumps remain. With a wooden spoon, stir in cottage cheese, 3/4 of the shredded cheese, melted butter, and green onions.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and break into small crumbles. Remove to a paper towel and let cool slightly before adding to egg mixture. Leave the grease in the pan over heat, add bell pepper and onion, and saute a few minutes until soft and tender. Add the garlic and saute a minute or so more. Add chopped spinach and cook a few minutes, until wilted. Add cooked vegetable and spinach to egg mixture and stir to combine.
Pour into a 9×13 pan, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until browned around the edges and lightly browned in the middle. Serve hot! Or not – this reheats well.

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You’d think it was the bacon marmalade that makes this amazing dish, but it was the carrot harissa puree that really knocked my socks off. This dish is dinner party perfection – and besides my awesome friends was quite possibly the highlight of my new year’s eve!

seared scallops with bacon marmalade and carrot harissa puree

Seared Scallops with Bacon Marmalade
via food and wine

1/2 pound cold thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons harissa
1/4 cup heavy cream
16 large sea scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 25 minutes. Add the sugar and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the onions are glazed, about 2 minutes. Return the bacon to the skillet; season with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Keep the bacon marmalade warm.
In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the carrots until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. In a food processor, combine the carrots with the butter and harissa and puree until smooth. Add the cream and pulse until incorporated. Season with salt and black pepper. Scrape the carrot-harissa puree into the saucepan; keep warm over very low heat.
Season the scallops with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the scallops and cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the scallops and cook until just opaque throughout, about 1 minute longer.
Serve the scallops over the carrot-harissa puree and top with the bacon marmalade.

I’m pretty proud of the job I did cooking this year! I pushed myself and my tastebuds (and my husband’s!). I had some wins and some losses, but overall it was definitely a success!
Here are my favorites meals from the year:

Comforting and Warm:

best of 2013 comforting and warm
The Best Ever Turkey Chili / Sweet Onions with Lentil Stew

Quick and Chicken-y:

best of 2013 quick and chicken
Roasted Chicken & Beets with Couscous and Yogurt SauceOne Pot Lemon Chicken & Zucchini

Summer Magic:

best 2013 summer magic
Grilled Poblano & Corn Quinoa with LimeGrilled Chicken & Asparagus Salad with Parsley Pesto

Meatless: 

best of 2013 meatless
One Pan Farro with TomatoesAsparagus Carbonara

For the slow cooker:

best of 2013 slow cooker
Sunday Night Italian Meatballs / Slow Cook Corned Beef & Cabbage

Yum! What were your favorite things you made this year? I’d love to hear your best recipes.
Here’s to new flavors and challenges in the new year!

A belated post for Hanukkah! We hosted this year and I made latkes (with a corned beef main course). I love this latke recipe for the flavor boost from the chives and the extra crisp that the panko addition gives. Short on time and energy, I used a 2lb bag of frozen shredded hash browns instead of peeling and shredding potatoes and they turned out fabulous with a lot less work.
These turned out so great, I’m thinking about making latkes more of a regular thing. One of our favorite local restaurants serves them as a brunch side option and now I’m dreaming of these with a few perfectly poached eggs. Yum!

Food52

Golden Panko Latkes with Sour Cream and Chives
via food52

6 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated (about 2 pounds)
[or a 2lb bag of frozen shredded hash browns]
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped chives, or more to taste (divided use)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups panko breadcrumbs (extra crispy)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup canola oil

Mix the sour cream together with another tablespoon (or more to taste if you wish) of the finely chopped chives and refrigerate.
Wash, peel and (medium) grate Yukon gold potatoes. Squeeze and drain excess potato liquid once grated. If using frozen hashbrowns, start here. I found it them easier to work with once they had begun to thaw a bit. Add salt, white pepper, and 3 tablespoons of finely chopped chives. In a separate bowl beat 2 eggs till frothy. Add eggs and flour and mix thoroughly. Form into patties about 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Cover with panko breadcrumbs on each side.
Using a large skillet, heat oil which should cover the bottom of skillet and 1/2 way up the sides of the patties. Test first by dropping a teaspoon of mixture into hot oil. It should quickly fry but not so hot it burns (just like when making falafels). The secret is getting the oil to the correct frying temperature so as to flash cook the potatoes to crispy perfection on the outside but remain soft yet cooked on the inside. Once you’ve cooked the potato pancakes serve hot immediately along with the cold sour cream & chive mixture.

Two pans, just a little mess, and a whole lot of chicken and veggie goodness. I love a perfectly roasted piece of chicken with crispy, peppery skin. The Brussels sprouts were perfect tossed with the lemon pieces. I skipped the potatoes for paleo (ok, maybe I tried one or two to make sure they were done coming out of the oven!), but my darling husband said they were just right with this dish. I did pretty much all the prep right on the baking pans, much to his relief, and voilà! One tenth the mess, but all the flavor.

Chicken with Lemony Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Chicken with Lemony Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
via real simple

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, or other cooking oil

Heat oven to 425° F, with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Combine the butter and mustard in a small bowl. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and loosen the skin, using your fingers. Spread the mustard butter under the skin of each thigh, dividing evenly. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, rosemary, lemon slices, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken on the top rack until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part (avoiding the bone) registers 165° F, 20 to 27 minutes. Roast the vegetables on the bottom rack at the same time as the chicken, tossing once, until tender, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve the chicken with the potatoes and Brussels sprouts on the side.

Chicken with Lemony Potatoes and  Brussels Sprouts

This is the paleo dish I’ve been hearing about over and over, so I knew we had to try it. And it is everything they’ve all been saying! This is super-satisfying, veggie-packed, starch-free deliciousness. It’s fried rice plus wow. Also, bacon! I can’t remember the last time I put bacon in anything. It’s terrible. What have I been doing? Of course, you could leave out the bacon and make this totally vegetarian, too. I imagine it’s perfect about a thousand different ways.

cauliflower fried rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice
adapted from just pinch me

1 small head of cauliflower, separated in florets
3 slices of uncured bacon, cut into small dice
3 large eggs
1-inch knob of ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
1 tablespoon of chopped mint
2 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)

Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor until the pieces are about the size of rice, and set aside. Toss the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and fry until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Whisk the eggs with a little pepper and pour into the skillet. The eggs will spread out and make a very thin fried omelet. Cook for a minute on one side then flip over. When eggs are done remove from the pan, cut into thin bite size strips and set aside.
Turn up the pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onion, cook about 5 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and cook until just browned. Add the ginger while stirring, then the cauliflower pieces. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce (and any other sauces), salt and pepper to taste. Finish by adding the bacon, fried egg strips, herbs and the sliced green onions. Stir well and enjoy!

I was looking for a new chili recipe this weekend and stumbled across a post labelled The Best Ever Turkey Chili. A bit skeptical at first, I read through the ingredients and saw my favorite thing to add to a soup or stew: beer! I was sold. There were a few minor tweaks I made, such as adding a bit of cumin (can’t live without it in chili!) and doubling the beans (more is better!) and a little bit of shredded carrot to cut the acidity, but the flavor of this chili really was the best I’ve ever made. I know I’ll be coming back to this recipe again and again.

best ever turkey chili

The Best Ever Turkey Chili
adapted from food52

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon hot paprika
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2/4 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Dash of cinnamon
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 cup dark beer such as Leffe Brown
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
Dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Sour cream, chopped chives, cilantro, shredded cheese for toppings

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, grated carrot and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the chili powder, cumin, hot paprika, coriander, oregano, and cinnamon; stir and allow to cook until aromatic, 1 minute. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until lightly browned. Pour in the beer and allow to cook down slightly. Add the tomatoes, beans, and a dash of hot sauce (to taste). Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Top with sour cream, chopped chives, cilantro, and/or shredded cheese.