Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Diann's Quiche Lorraine

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This is a recipe that my mom, Diann, use to make when I was a kid. What I like best about it is that I can use non-fat milk with it, and the egg/milk/cheese mixture still sets. It's such a versatile can add just about any meat or veggie. In the version below, we've used bacon for 2/3 of it, and left the last third plain for Katie.

Diann’s Quiche Lorraine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sprinkle 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese on bottom of deep dish pie shell*

Mix together:
4 eggs
3/4 C shredded Swiss cheese
1 3/4 C skim milk
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
8 strips crumbled bacon

Pour mixture into the pie shell. Bake 50 minutes or until custard is set, and a knife comes out clean.

Note: I always put a cookie sheet under my pie pan to catch drips!

*The Best Pie Dough
Cook's Illustrated
Double Crust 10-inch Regular or 9-inch Deep-Dish

When rolling out the dough, roll to a thickness of about 1/8-inch thick (about the thickness of two quarters).

For a double-crust 10-inch regular pie
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
13 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with some flour. cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into two balls with your hands, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into 4-inch-wide disks. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

A handy trick: I had trouble lifting the bottom crust up and placing it in the pie pan. It kept breaking apart. So, I rolled it out on a Tupperware pastry sheet, set the pie pan (upside down) centered on the crust, and with the help of my husband, carefully flipped the pan/crust/pastry sheet. The crust landed nice and neat right in the pie pan!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shrimp Pasta Salad with Cucumber and Dill

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This morning Katie declared that she was going to make dinner for the family tonight. I really didn't know what to expect. I was thinking a tortilla with beans or something creative yet possibly inedible. When I went to the store I asked her what she needed for her dinner. She asked for 1 pound of peeled & deveined shrimp and fresh dill.

Later I was tinkering on-line, and Brian was watching basketball, while we listened to Katie working in the kitchen. She washed, chopped, prepped, and cooked like a little pro! Every now and then she had a question (What does "al dente" mean?), but for the most part she just worked quietly and efficiently. Suddenly she declared that dinner was ready. I walked in the kitchen just as she was putting the final touches on the dish...sprinkling fresh dill, salt and fresh ground pepper in the bowl, as she mixed it up.

Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of seafood. Katie LOVES shrimp, cucumbers, and pasta, and was thrilled to find a dish that included so many of her favorites. I ate it without the shrimp, and Katie was quite happy to take my share for herself!

In the end, Katie declared that while it was good, it wasn't her favorite. It had a heavy lemon-dill flavoring from the dressing. Next time, she said, she'd keep the dressing separate, rather than mix it all together....which was her polite way of saying she liked the shrimp, cucumbers, and pasta!!

So, though this one won't become a family favorite, I was just too tickled with what she made that I had to share. Who knows? You may just love it...especially if you're a fan of lemon and dill flavoring!

Chicken Caesar Pizza

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This is one of the few recipes that I make by heart. I never measure anything...just totally eyeball it. You really can't mess it up!

Pizza Dough (You can make it or buy it. I get mine from our favorite pizza place...they will sell just the dough ball, even though they don't advertise it.)
Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Newman's Creamy Caesar Dressing (of course you can use other brands; I've tried several, and seem to like this one best)
8 oz. Chicken, chopped
Garlic, minced
Olive Oil

Place your pizza stone in the oven if you like a crispier bottom. (If you like a softer bottom, skip this step).
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (This allows the stone to heat up in the oven too.)

Heat up a skillet, and stir-fry the chicken pieces with 1 TB Caesar Dressing.
Press a clove of garlic into the pan.

Roll out your dough.
As soon as your stone is hot, take it out of the oven and assemble the toppings quickly.
The dough will sizzle a bit as it's placed on the hot stone.
Drizzle olive oil over the dough, spreading it evenly.
Press two cloves of garlic on the dough, and spread that evenly.
Add the cheeses and chicken mixture to your liking.

Cook for 10 minutes.

Variations: Sometimes I add a bit of olive oil to the pan with chicken or I'll add a little Caesar on the dough. I also like to add fresh basil when I have it, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, or other toppings. Feta or goat cheese would also be good on top.

Coming Out of Hibernation & Blocking the View

Pin It Life in the Pacific Northwest seems to slow down for the winter. The rains come, the sky is grey. The plants have died back, and whatever didn't get cleaned up in the fall gets leggy or weedy looking. As soon as spring arrives, everything seems to come alive...flowering plum and cherry trees, star magnolias, and bulbs galore. This is when I come out of my hibernation, which I never really intend to just seems to happen.

I did get some indoor projects done during my hibernation. My office/craft room had become a dumping pit for the past year. There was one visible path from the door to the computer. The rest was full of piles. That got cleaned up in January. Closets and drawers were cleaned out and a carload of stuff was donated.

This past week I finally sewed some valances and made a curtain for the patio door. I've had the fabric for nearly a year! When we moved in, the house came with wretched vertical vinyl blinds. They were functional...until the slats started breaking off one by one. We were at the point where we had a good 18" of uncovered space. I also added a simple muslin curtain in the kitchen window. The cording for these blinds broke awhile back. Recently we noticed neighbors with binoculars in the window sill (Katie actually saw them using them once!) and so it was time to quickly escalate the blocking of their view into our home.

We have planted trees and put in a trellis with evergreen vines...but those all take time to grow to really block the view. This winter, during the storm of all storms, our Little Gem magnolia (5 years old at this point) snapped in half from the weight of the snow. I was kicking myself for not brushing it off....hindsight.... So, last week I went shopping for the largest landscape evergreen magnolia I could find (a Timeless Beauty). In the pot it looked HUGE. It was a heavy sucker. Yesterday Brian dug a big hole and we got it in the ground. Once in the hole, it didn't look quite so big. In fact it's a little smaller than the other one, but it will grow. Once it does, it will be effective at blocking the view from their patio window into ours.